Shelf Unbound: What do you think makes cyberbullying particularly dangerous, compared to the pre-Internet era? Feely: What makes it more dangerous is the fact that with social media bullying has the potential to attack someone not just a few hours a day, but 24/7. There is no getting away from cyberbullies. As a result teen suicides have risen. After I wrote Saving Phoebe Murrow, I researched teen suicides that resulted from cyberbullying. I found case after case. It was frightening. Also, most parents haven’t yet figured out how to deal with their children’s social media habits. It’s an entirely new area of oversight to which parents must adjust. Schools, too, are having to take a more active role, but are they? And what legislation should exist to curb cyberbullying? How will it be enforced? Most adults are having trouble keeping up with technology, but teens embrace this new frontier, much to the chagrin of their parents. A challenging aspect of writing my novel occurred in figuring out what type of “justice” could be imposed on the bully in the story. At the back of the book, I do provide a little information on
cyberbullying resources. One that I would now add (in addition to The Megan Meier Foundation) is the Family Online Safety Institute in Washington, DC. Shelf Unbound: What do you want readers to take away from this novel? Feely: A few things occur to me. One is to remember the fragility of teens, in this case, girls, but also how cruel they can be to one another, something that at least in part is learned behavior. It illustrates how important it is for women and mothers to remember that their behavior becomes a model for their daughters and all young women. Another is about social media, of course. One of my hopes is that women’s book groups, after reading the novel, will discuss a variety of parenting issues and how to deal with the social media aspect of their teenagers’ lives. (I have participated in nine women’s book groups thus far – in person or on Skype – most of which had very lively discussions.) And, finally, I hope people ask themselves how we, as a society, need to deal with bullying of any sort? As parents, as teens, as citizens. I hope the novel engages people in such conversations and discussions.