Jo Ramsey has some interesting things to say about RUMORS and her new books. Two of them!
Someone once said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.” Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of people who don’t have anything nice to say and don’t hesitate to say something cruel instead.
Especially in high school.
If you made it through school without having a rumor spread about you at least once, you’re very lucky. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t the target of a rumor, myself included. When I worked in public schools, every level from elementary to high school, I heard rumors about students being spread by other students. Sometimes even by teachers!
Rumors and gossip are not far off from bullying in many cases. Telling your bestie, “Hey, see that girl? I heard she’s pregnant” is just more subtle than going up to “that girl” and slamming her against a locker, but it isn’t any less hurtful. Sometimes words hurt more than actions, especially when those words spread through an environment as closed as a typical high school. Whether you’re in a school of two hundred or two thousand, somehow those rumors spread, because everyone knows someone else who hasn’t heard yet.
Rumors feature big in my two latest novels, Cluing In and From the Ashes. In Cluing In, Jamey Mandel’s best friend Jebbi Randolph has been dealing for two years with rumors that she tried to steal a senior girl’s boyfriend during her freshman year. The truth is that the boy raped Jebbi, but no one except Jebbi and a few of her friends know that. During the story, Jamey’s ex-girlfriend becomes the target of rumors that she’s pregnant—rumors which are unfortunately true. And even Jamey becomes the subject of gossip when his ex blurts out in the cafeteria that Jamey’s still a virgin.
In From the Ashes, book five in my Reality Shift series, the rumor that’s followed Shanna Bailey since sixth grade takes on new weight when Shanna has her first boyfriend. In sixth grade, Shanna was caught in the woods with two older boys, who had conned her into going with them. The immediate assumption was that Shanna was “doing things” to the boys, and that’s the gossip that’s been going around about her ever since. Shanna has never dared tell anyone except her best friend Jonah Leighton and her foster brother Mark James the truth: one of the boys tried to force her to touch him, but was interrupted before he could follow through. Now Shanna’s afraid that since her new boyfriend—along with everyone at their school—knows the rumor, he’ll expect her to “do things” with him, too.
Our society makes a big deal out of rumors. TV shows and magazines are devoted to gossip about celebrities, and don’t seem too interested in whether it’s true or not. Coworkers gossip about each other during their lunch breaks; families talk about other family members behind their backs at holiday gatherings. It really isn’t any surprise that rumors and gossip are so much a part of most people’s school experiences.
That doesn’t mean it’s right, though. Words do hurt, especially when you’re the target of them.
Jo Ramsey is a former special education teacher turned full-time author. She has been writing since age five, and started writing young adult fiction when she was a young adult herself. Her first YA urban fantasy novel, Connection, book one in the Reality Shift series, was published in January 2010 by Jupiter Gardens Press. Since then, books two through five in that series, and books one and two in her series The Dark Lines, have been published by that company. Her first YA contemporary novel, Cluing In, was published in November 2011 by Featherweight Press. Jo lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, her husband, and two cats.