Before I get to Jenn’s guest post, I want to mention there’s a Valentine’s sale occurring on I Heart Lesfic. Check out this page for the goodies.
Now the guest post by Ylva author Jenn Matthews. I had the chance to meet Jenn in person last summer. She’s very sweet, funny, and charming.
I’m absolutely thrilled she’s published her debut novel Hooked on You, which is available now on Ylva and you can preorder on Amazon.
Please welcome the fantastic Jenn Matthews.
Why being bullied at school made me want to share the stories that aren’t often heard
Hi. I’m Jenn. I like being different. I’m not different in the way some people are—I don’t wear strange clothes or have hundreds of piercings. Kudos to these people who have found their style. I wear pretty boring clothes (although I do change my hair a lot, it is currently bright pink!), and do reasonably boring things. I walk my dog, crochet endlessly, and work full time as a healthcare assistant in mental health. I have a cat too, who is determined to trip up my forever clumsy wife, who also works in healthcare.
I was semi-popular until I was 14 years old, and we moved from Derbyshire (a countryside town in the middle of the UK) to Weston-super-Mare (a seaside town in the south-west), and suddenly I wasn’t funny or cool anymore. I had a different accent, I said different things. I refused to wear the clothes that were, apparently, cool: high heels and short shirts. I liked playing, being silly and making life interesting.
So, yeah, I got bullied. I had four friends. People called me a freak and ganged up on me before PE. They wouldn’t let me in the gym. I used to stare at people to try to get them to shut up, but, strangely enough, this didn’t work. No one was interested in my story, no one listened.
College was okay, I became a bit more popular. Being weird was a bit more accepted. But still, I was not in the popular gangs, and I still felt like an outsider. I still felt like people weren’t listening to me.
University. Suddenly, there were people weirder than me! There were popular students, but they were pretty boring and the attention and respect was mostly directed at the people that were a bit different. I ended up thriving. I took part in groups, headed the cheerleading squad for the alternative rugby team (don’t ask), and was in a production of the Vagina Monologues for charity. I made people laugh in lectures and seminars. I even had a nickname. I was being listened to and my story was being heard.
Recently, I looked back on my experience and decided, you know what, it’s the interesting stories that are the least frequently told. People on the fringes of society don’t get to talk about their lives, at least not in popular media. Therefore, I want to do it: tell interesting stories about people a little different, or perhaps really different. People with disabilities, people with illnesses, people with learning difficulties. People of different races, backgrounds, religions, classes. Different genders, sexualities, preferences. People that don’t want to tell their stories for fear of abuse or ridicule. People who are afraid.
I’ve already started. My first book—Hooked On You—is about a woman with a long-term injury from the army. She, and the woman she woos, are in their fifties. The story also contains a character on the Autistic Spectrum. My second book—The Words Shimmer—is about a woman diagnosed with dyslexia later in life. My third book contains a romance that begins on a mental health ward, and depicts a whole range of mental health conditions via use of secondary characters. My plan is to include a woman of colour in book four, and a character with hearing difficulties.
I want to tell these stories. I know people that are different. They rarely get their stories told. Therefore, I’m going to, and if you want to, feel free to join me for the ride.
HOOKED ON YOU
Anna’s life’s in a bit of a rut. As a teacher with two great kids and a boyfriend, she seems to have it all. Except…she’s bored as hell. Perhaps a new hobby’s in order? Something…crafty? Divorced mother and veteran Ollie has been through the wars, emotionally and physically. To relax, she runs a quirky crochet class in her London craft shop. She can’t help but notice the attractive, feisty new student. A shame Anna’s straight as an arrow.
But somewhere between the chain stitches, doubles and trebles, Ollie and Anna form a powerful connection they never expected.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Jenn Matthews lives in England’s South West with her wife, dog, and cat. When not working full-time as a health-care assistant at a mental health rehab unit, she can be found avidly gardening, crocheting, writing, or visiting National Trust properties.
Inspired by life’s lessons and experiences, Jenn is a passionate advocate of people on the fringe of society. She hopes to explore and represent other “invisible people” with her upcoming novels.
CONNECT WITH JENN MATTHEWS
Thanks so much for stopping by today.