From a Q & A with Gordon Reece about his new novel, Mice:
Bullying is a significant and growing problem in the United States. What is the situation like in the other countries where you've lived?Visit Gordon Reece's website.
I think bullying is a growing and significant problem in many, many countries. When I researched girl-on-girl bullying, all the cases I looked at were from the UK, but when I moved to Spain I saw the same thing there. I remember seeing harrowing mobile phone footage on the news of some teenage girls beating up another girl while their friends egged them on with shouts of Mátala! Mátala! (kill her!). And here in Australia we've just had a case, also captured on a mobile phone, where an overweight schoolboy being goaded and punched by another boy suddenly snaps, picks him up, and slams him down hard onto the concrete—you could say it's the story of Mice played out in a ten-second video clip. I haven't yet visited a reading group here without meeting someone who's been bullied themselves or someone whose child has been bullied. So the United States is definitely not alone in this.
What drew you to write about this subject?
Some experiences I had when I was a trainee lawyer got me thinking about bullying in the workplace and the potential for explosive violence in individuals subjected to regular humiliation. Mice was originally to be about a young married couple who are both victims of bullying in the workplace—the husband in his law firm, the wife in the dental clinic where she's a nurse. Girl-on-girl bullying was much in the news at that time, however, and I eventually decided to substitute the couple for a mother and daughter. I also felt the dynamics of the mother/daughter relationship might be more interesting to explore. I know Shelley's bullying has aroused a lot of comment because bullying is such a worrying and pressing problem today, but...[read on]