Today I welcome back Stuart West, author of Tex, the Witch Boy (read my review here) for a Q&A about Tex, bullying, and what's in store in the future. Welcome, Stuart!
Bullying is a big theme in Tex, the Witch Boy. Why did you choose this theme?
Because it’s an important issue that just won’t go away. The bullying incidents in the book, as outlandish as they may seem, are all true. They either happened to me or a friend of mine. My daughter recently graduated from high school where bullying is still very much alive, perhaps even worse. Some of the methods have changed over the years. Schools may claim a “bully-free” policy, but it’s still prevalent, particularly in cyber-bullying. [My son's school uses a program for this, and he's commented that it doesn't work well from what he sees.]
I’d like to reach bullied teens, give them hope, maybe deliver the message in an entertaining manner without being preachy. It’s the kind of book I wish I’d read while in high school. [I totally LOVED Tex's conclusion of what he needed to do. IMHO, it's the only way to stop the problem.]
What advice do you have for dealing with bullies?
There’s an unspoken rule amongst teens that “ratting” ain’t cool. Bullied kids choose to live with their torment, because they don’t want to be known as the kid who told. What poppycock! Times have changed. I would tell bullied kids to be a hero, take a stand. Find a sympathetic adult’s ear and let them know what’s ]going on. Not only would you be helping yourself, but undoubtedly countless others as well. [Good advice!]
I love the witchcraft in your book. How did you come up with it?
Research! And a lot of made-up stuff. Sometimes I just got lucky (as in the “pentagram” being dropped onto the United States map with Kansas being the center. It’s total hokum, of course, but it’s moments like that that make writing fun!). [LOL!]
I also cyber-chatted up a couple of witches. One applauded my portrayal of witchcraft. The other? Not so much! He took me to task over a few things. Since then, I’ve taken his suggestions into consideration and hit upon a few of these elements in later books. But I did have to reinforce to him it’s a work of fiction, not a study of witchcraft! [Wow! That's pretty cool!]
You have a lot of characters I'd call stereotypical in your book (the jock, the anarchist, the lazy gym teacher, etc.) Is there a reason you chose to use these tropes rather than redefining them as something different?
All stereotypes are based in reality to a certain extent. High school’s a breeding ground for stereotypes more so than adulthood. Teenagers are a constant work in progress, not having figured out who they are yet (identity is a theme I tackle in the second Tex book, Tex And The Gangs Of Suburbia). With the social structure of high school being what it is, cliques unfortunately force teens into categories. It’s sometimes an “unchosen” platform kids build upon.
Sure, there’s an “anarchist” in the book, but anarchy’s not his entire character, nor what defines him. Jocks? Well, yeah, I have jocks in the book. They’re in every high school.
Here’s the deal, Mary. All of these characters are real. I was Tex (um, not a witch, nor as brave). Olivia’s a combination of a girl I knew in high school and my daughter. The gym teacher? Based on a truly sadistic coach from my junior high days. The anarchist? A friend of my daughter’s as was Josh. Like Tex, my father was in a wheel chair. Bob Bellman, the most frightening bully? He terrified me so much in high school, I feared for my life on a daily basis. He also ran down a friend of mine in the parking lot with his car. Every character in the book is “real (except possibly for the detective).” Even Mickey, the mentor witch, is loosely based on my wife’s grandmother. [This must be why they feel so life-like in your book. You really understood the characters so we could connect with them as if they were people we interacted with on a daily basis.]
If I ever see the bully again, I’m going to call him a stereotype. Then run! LOL. [LOL! Sounds like a plan. Just make sure you're wearing your sneakers!]
I know you have a second book in the series out, and a third in the works. Do you have any further plans for Tex or will you be playing with something new?
The second book, Tex And The Gangs Of Suburbia, was released last month. The third and final Tex book, Tex And The God Squad, unleashes in December. After that, I have an adult paranormal thriller set for early next year. Then it’s back to high school with Elspeth, The Living Dead Girl (a spin-off character from Tex And The Gangs Of Suburbia). Then I’m thinking of putting the kids to bed for a while and trying my hand at more adult fiction. But I never say never. I’ve been kicking around a Tex in college idea. [Wow! That's a lot to look forward to!! Best of luck with all of them!]
Is there anything else you'd like us to know?
Thanks for hosting me, Mary! It’s been fun!
You're welcome, Stuart. And the blog is open for you to come back anytime!
Haven't read Tex, the Witch Boy yet? Or are you looking for Tex and the Gangs of Suburbia? You can find Stuarts books here:
Want to know more about Stuart and keep up with his future releases? You can find him at: