Back to School: Bullying with Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe comes to life in my middle grade novel Room of Shadows. But how did the story come to life? It started with bullying.
In third grade I was bullied by a boy whose name I don’t even remember. I was paralyzed by fear that he would grab me on the playground and march me off God knows where to do God knows what.
I longed to hurt him, and at the beginning of this novel, in the person of David Cray, I finally got my chance. David turns on Jake Bragg, his bully, and pummels him. Then David’s anger, unleashed and out of control, summons a spirit in the old house where David and his mother live in Baltimore. It turns out to be the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe, trapped in the house for 150 years, during which he has morphed into a soiled, sick, twisted version of Poe known as the Raven.
Suddenly, mysteriously, the bullying resumes, but this time the targets are David’s own enemies, starting with Jake Bragg. Who is bullying them and why? David asks the question and is afraid of what the answer might reveal.
I’ve written a discussion guide for Room of Shadows that includes questions about bullying. Read or download the discussion guide here.