Guest Blog by horror writer Joslyn Corvis, author of “Pimped to Satan”
Introduction by Sumiko Saulson
In honor of “Women in Horror” month, I invited fellow female horror author Joslyn Corvis to come by and tell us about her new eBook, the darkly humorous “Pimped to Satan”. I was surprised when what I got back was a response to one of the few stories in my most recent work, the short story anthology “Things That Go Bump In my Head,” that is not in any traditional meaning of the word a horror story: although it may be a venture into a personal kind of horror. That is “Hungry Minds”, an autobiographical short-short of about 500 words regarding my experience with being on the receiving end of junior high school bullying, and how reading the works of horror writers over the school lunch break likely saved my life. You don’t have to buy “Things That Go Bump In My Head” to read the story: it is one story that I offer for free both on my blog and on Smashwords.
And now, without further ado
Guest Blogger Joslyn Corvis
It was my original intention to do a guest entry on Sumiko Saulson’s blog to promote my new ebook, “Pimped to Satan.” Yesterday I read quite a bit of “Things That Go Bump in My Head” by the one and only Sumiko and decided “Pimped to Satan” (two mentions of my book so far, because I just *had* to work it in there somehow), could wait because I was so inspired by one of the stories in her book that I wanted to do something different. That particular piece, though very short, hit really close to home. Of course, you’ll have to purchase a copy of her book and read it for yourself to know which one I’m referring to. So, this blog entry is basically my response to a story from Sumiko Saulson’s “Things That Go Bump in My Head.”
I was a bookish introvert as a kid. I still am. In the third grade I picked up a book about sea monsters; that’s where I first learned about Ogopogo. I think I heard about Champ on Unsolved Mysteries, but he was in the book as well. As a baby bat (which is usually used to refer to a young goth, but I didn’t actually go goth until I was around fifteen so in this context, read baby bat as “kid”) I read books about the supernatural with enthusiastic voracity, preferably true stuff.
In my younger years I was picked on. My lunches were stolen on a daily basis, and I would be too afraid to talk to anyone or go to the teacher to turn in a paper, so the other kids would call me stupid. For the most part I was ignored because I was so painfully shy, something I still struggle with sometimes. But I didn’t have many friends and stayed inside during recess for the most part, doing extra credit reports on animals and people. Why the shift from supernatural to animals and biographies? Simply because the school libraries in my district had a lame and outdated selection of YA scary stuff. But eventually my social status changed from “invisible” to “target”.
I still didn’t really have many friends at that point, but I was picked on mercilessly. It didn’t matter that I dressed differently than everyone else because I was different inside, not to mention overweight. It’s almost as if other kids can pick up the scent on someone who doesn’t fit in.
It was happening in front of the teachers, but they turned a blind eye. There was an eerie experience I had at home, of the supernatural kind, and some boys threw a sock at me. The flying sock resembled what I had seen, a bat-like creature, so I fell to my knees and screamed like a crazy person. The vice principal was walking by with another faculty member and when I composed myself through my embarrassment, I sheepishly said, “Um, they were throwing things at me.” She glared and walked on. The only time something was done was when one of the girls from a clique who was bullying me every…single…day…got a little too close for comfort and awakened the sleeping tigress, so to speak. She made a few comments but finally after one on my weight, it got physical. And yes, I started it, but even though she was harassing me, she got off the hook without even a reprimand; I had to go to Behavioural Adjustment Center and was told to report it when someone was picking on me. Why? The teachers didn’t do anything, anyway, even when they saw it going on.
Part of the problem was that I didn’t feel anyone was in my corner. I tried reaching out and they tried to listen, but I don’t think anyone knew what to do, and no one could really understood how deeply it was affecting me. I’d get the common answer of, “He probably has a crush on you.” Well, I could go with a Rush-Limbaugh-esque term to add a little humour to my alleged popularity with boys, but I’ll refrain.
Sometimes I would go through these mental breakdowns and just cry uncontrollably because I couldn’t take it anymore. It was bad enough that I’d started believing what the bullies had said about me, but I also heard adults whisper that I brought it upon myself because I was weird. I wasn’t like other kids. If she would just be more like everyone else…. In response to that, refer back to my statement on the keenness of the olfactory abilities of children to pick up on that scent of “Eau de Different.” Besides, if you’re not picked on for one thing you’re picked on for another so does it really matter? But when you have a lack of support, you feel helpless and hopeless, not to mention deserving of that treatment.
Bullying is something that I have zero tolerance for. I’ve lived it, but I’m over it now. I’m happy where I’m at and despite the suggestion that I should change in order to fit in, I never caved to the pressure. I’m even able to say that I accept myself now and don’t care so much about what other people think, even when they have something negative to say about me. I still wish I could be a little more this, a little more that, but don’t we all? I no longer hear the echoes of the cruel name-calling in my head; it’s just a distant memory. I’m one of the lucky ones because some people hold onto the pain well into adulthood, as if it’s a part of who they are. For me, it’s not who I am but something I experienced that made me sensitive to the plight of others in that same situation. I’m worried about kids who are currently living the nightmare, because at the time it seems that nothing can rival the emotional toll bullying can take on someone. You try to deal with it the best way you can. In my case? Alone.
Maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t have access to the type of supernatural reading material that I wanted to read, because I had access to other reading material, and as I had mentioned before I loved biographies. When I read about Janis Joplin, a fellow Texan, I was surprised that she had been bullied. She didn’t see herself as this amazingly talented person the way everyone else did. I was even more surprised to learn that she held onto a lot of the negative things people said about her throughout her school years. I knew exactly how she felt. I’d found someone I could relate to!
Everyone talks about putting an end to bullying, but is anyone really and truly taking it seriously? I have contacted the President in regards to the matter and was sent a form email back expressing his concern on the issue along with some helpful .gov links on anti-bullying. I was happy to hear him address it in one of his speeches as well. I even contacted one of the schools I attended to ask the principal what is being done about it. They have some methods that could be better, but it’s a start. His wife was the principal when I attended that school and my friends reported a threat someone made toward me to her. I was afraid, but even so I didn’t want to report it. She said she’d take care of it. And nothing was done. Oh, the irony of it all! I just hoped her husband was the better half! Whether or not you have kids, you can contact the local schools to see what is being done about it and maybe even offer some ideas, because it’s an issue that does need to be addressed.
Kids are like sponges. You can say something around them and think nothing of it, only to find that they’ve repeated it to someone later on. They not only listen to what we say but watch how we act toward others. Whether or not our influence over them is positive or negative, you can be pretty sure that they are going to emulate our habits. Think about what you’re saying about people and how it might affect a child’s sensitive emotional state directly, especially if they feel the comment could apply to him or her. They might even see it as socially acceptable to say those things to others. We definitely don’t want to spawn any more bullies than there are already in existence. My mom always taught me to live by the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. She had always taught me to be kind to everyone by her actions. Even when someone is rude to her, she is often able to soften them by “killin’ ‘em with kindness” as she puts it. And if that doesn’t work? She doesn’t really seem to care.
But my Number One piece of advice is to talk to the children in your life, whether they are your own or if you just happen to be close to them. If anything is going on, you may be able to pick up on subtleties of things they say, or they may just open up to you. When and if they do, don’t take it lightly. Find resources to get help for them, because unless we’ve been there, we can’t know what’s really going on in their minds. Since I have, I can give you some idea: I’m worthless. I’m fat. I’m ugly. I’m stupid. No one cares. Why won’t anyone speak up for me? What’s wrong with me? How can I make it stop? Won’t someone just listen? The whole situation can be psychologically and emotionally scarring.
By the way, things got better when I was in high school. Since it was a fairly big school I didn’t really have to deal with the bullies that much so it was kind of like a fresh start in a way. Sure, I encountered a few jerks here or there, but it was pretty minimal and expected when you have a large group of people. For the most part, the upperclassmen were cooler and more open-minded. And imagine my elation at the high school library’s book selection! It was then that I was finally able to get my hands on some Kerouac, which I’d been dying to read ever since I’d read of his influence of other public figures in their biographies.
So, in closing, I’ll just say that I would like to see a world that is a happier place for children and adults alike. Change starts with each and every one of us treating each other as individuals and human beings, first and foremost. We may not be able to stop bullying as a whole, but we can certainly take responsibility for our own actions. Take my mom’s “Kill ‘em with Kindness” attitude as an example.
Secondly, buy “Things That Go Bump in My Head” by Sumiko Saulson, and once you read it, you’ll know which story I am addressing in this post. Not only will you find that story, but plenty of others that will likely make your own head bump. It’s just an amazing collection. It *has* to be; anything that will make a writer veer from a chance at posting on someone else’s blog to promote his or her own work has got to really be something special.
Have you read “Things That Go Bump in My Head” yet? Perhaps you own it already? If you’ve answered yes to either of those questions, you may now precede to the last paragraph. If the answer is no, I’ll give you a few minutes so that you can find it and purchase a copy.
Got your order placed now? GREAT!
My last comment (and third shameless mention of my own ebook) is to please buy a copy of “Pimped to Satan” by me, Joslyn Corvis, and to remember to show everyone kindness through our actions. Keep horror in books and movies where it belongs!
Where to Find Joslyn Corvis
You can purchase Pimped to Satan right here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/278237 and expect to see it on the Barnes&Noble website in the very near future, as well as Sony, Apple, and other e-book dealers!
Connect with JC:
FACEBOOK FAN PAGE: http://www.facebook.com/JoslynCorvisOfficial