I just turned in the manuscript for my fifth Jazzi Zanders mystery–The Body in the Past. I beat my deadline–Nov. 4–and it feels good.
In this book, Jazzi is trying to find out what happened to a young girl who died in the house she, Ansel, and Jerod are flipping. Someone pushed her off her family’s balcony at a party to celebrate her being named class valedictorian.
Jazzi learns that people resented Jessica’s successes. She had four smart, fun best friends, but school wasn’t a happy place for her. Neither was her home. She was the class brain, beautiful and talented, good at everything she did, but that only made Lila, Nadia, and others despise her more. Part way through the book, I have Jazzi say, “Who knew high school kids could be so cruel?” But then people told me just how cruel they could be.
I was mostly oblivious during high school. I loved my teachers. I loved my classes. I was one of the class brains with my nose in a book–sheltered and self-conscious, not particularly social. I lived in my own head more often than not. I had a few good friends, and that was enough to keep me happy. I avoided boys. I walked into the girls’ restroom and found girls crying too often because their boyfriends had dumped them to trust the opposite sex. Maybe if I had a brother, I would have understood boys better, but I had two sisters. As it was, I listened to guys have burping contests in Latin class and smack talk with each other in Geometry and decided I could live without them.
A couple of people teased me, calling me Beanpole because I just grew taller every year, but I didn’t really care, so they stopped. Most people were nice to me. A few popular girls even invited to me parties, but I had no social skills and little interest, so that dwindled.
High school wasn’t the best years of my life, but it wasn’t my worst years either. And people have told me some horror stories. Vicious, back-biting girls who teamed up to make a friend’s life miserable. Boys spread rumors that another friend being “easy” when they didn’t get lucky. Boys got bullied. Between hormones and self-esteem, high school was rough for some people. They didn’t fit in. They thought they never would. They didn’t blossom until they graduated and found their place in the larger world, in a place where there were different types of people with wider interests.
In my story, Jessica couldn’t wait to move away and go to college. But she never got the chance. Someone gave her a push and she fell to her death before she could spread her wings to fly.
Was high school good to you? Did you dream about writing even then? When did the writing bug bite you? And if you’re gearing up for NaNoWriMo this November–this Friday–good luck! And happy writing.