What inspired the story, The Greenlee Project? I was asked that recently, authors are asked that question frequently about their work. Since this book is important to me, personally, and I believe in the topic, I thought I’d share in detail my inspiration for the book.
Writing this piece took me to a dark place, as a writer, and at times as a person. I became more of a recluse than I appear to be. Typical for writers; but I’m not a recluse. As an author and a publisher, I truly am busy. Why was this piece so hard to write? Moreover, what inspired it?
I was haunted for years by the Amanda Todd case, as a parent, who would not be? However, as the years passed and kids had access to social media tools, bullying started reeling out of control. Suicides started popping up in the news. Unfortunately for a long time, as a society, we became desensitized to the harmful damage that words could cause until kids started killing themselves over texts. It happened to be affecting mainly tweens and teens. I have girls the age (or at the time) of the kids in The Greenlee Project. I started paying attention to what my kids were doing and how their friends were acting and those around them. When they would have arguments with their so-called friends, which got nastier over texts, and eventually parents would have to get involved, I realized two major things. 1) Kids were hiding behind their phones, Ipads, and social media, and 2) they were stronger and crueler when hiding behind those devices. Both things disgusted me.
The final straw, the one that broke the camels back per se, was when I realized with 100% certainty that the kids themselves honestly didn’t understand the damage they were causing. Why? 1) They had no idea how deeply the wounds were that they causing (I didn’t mean it became their standard response), and most importantly 2) They were still kids. Often, good kids. This disturbed me as much as the bullying at times. When great kids get pulled into stupid activities over social media or tools, and within minutes, their lives are forever tainted. Social media devices in the hands of kids that don’t know how to use them can be so dangerous. Kids desensitized over several years it would seem, tv, media, and music to name a few things. Saying things such as “Drink bleach and die,” as a way to be funny or hateful depending on whom they said it too and why. So what on earth was going on and what could we do?
I set about to write a piece that I hoped would hit home and deliver a message that could impact teens and make them think. One that would showcase the damage that social media could inflict upon not just the victim, which is horrific, but the family, friends, community, the person who is the bully and their family if not used correctly. The lives ruined if used to harm, and the consequences of such.
During my research, I visited schools, football games, spoke with teens, tweens, and paid attention to what our kids are doing with their phones, tablets, Ipad, etc. I cannot even begin to claim to understand the tools they know how to use because they change daily. Apps. that do not show up on your data plans. As parents, we likely wouldn’t know how to use them anyway. The things I found out during research, would send chills down your spine. I cannot stress enough the damage tweens, and teens instill upon each other with their words, snap-chat, videos, etc. It is awful, and that is sometimes when they like each other. Our kids believe they are invincible, and that is a terrifying thought.
Greenlee could be any kid in any town, anywhere in America. A normal teen, until one day she wasn’t.
I sincerely hope you enjoy my work. Thank you! Amanda M. Thrasher