Sophia Bennett is the author of the Threads trilogy as well as The Look. Her latest, You Don't Know Me is published this month by Chicken House. I really love Sophia Bennett's books and I'm absolutely thrilled that she is here on the blog today with this fab guest post! I thought Threads was an excellent combination of social awareness and fashion. And I thought The Look was amazing addressing image and identity in moddelling and it had this wonderful relationship between sisters.
You Don't Know Me was such a beautiful book about friendship and music and heartbreak. But also cyber-bullying and the positive and negative effects on the Internet. But I'll let Sophia tell you about that. If you'd like to know more about You Don't Know Me or about Sophia Bennett, please do visit the following websites:
Loving and Hating the Internet - A Writer's Relationship
by Sophia Bennett
I’m inspired to write by things that make my heart pound with love and happiness – like friendship and creativity – and by events and situations that make me really, really angry. I didn’t discover this until I was well into the process of writing my debut novel, Threads. I had the heart-pounding-with-love thing going on, but the story wasn’t ‘singing’. It wasn’t until I saw a poster in the Tube about the Night Walkers in Uganda, alerting me to what Joseph Kony was doing to child soldiers there, that I felt so incensed I had to talk about it in my book. My fashion designer, Crow, got her background in Uganda, and the story found its heart.
This time, I’ve picked the internet, good and bad. You Don’t Know Me tells the story of the best and worst of it for a group of teenage girls. The song that gave its name to the book starts from a dark place, where a girl has been relentlessly cyber-bullied by friends and strangers over a relatively small mistake. The lyrics are a plea not to be judged unduly, the way the internet judges people all the time.
Yes, the internet makes me angry sometimes. The horrific recent rape case in Steubenville, Ohio shows just how cruel web users can be. But my Facebook feed was filled with sense of fury about what happened to that girl. Just as it’s buzzing with support for Malala, shot by the Taliban in Pakistan for campaigning for girls’
education. I love the way we can use the web for good. Just think how the pictures uploaded to Facebook by people at the Boston marathon finishing line helped the FBI track down the bombers in record time.
The song of ‘You Don’t Know Me’ changed direction as I was writing it in Sasha’s voice. It started off in the depths of depression, but it ends with the line, ‘Get to know me’. Sasha is, at heart, a hopeful girl. And one who’s addicted to the internet, like me. What she comes to realise is that she needs to take action to affect how it works for her: avoid the haters; reach out to her friends. She discovers how it can be used to spread lies and misunderstandings, but also how she can take control to tell the truth.
The internet gives people a voice. It gives book bloggers a voice, and I really love that. It makes connections. It fosters creativity. Just look at all those apps on your phone.
So while I’m very grateful for Mac Freedom, the app that cuts me off from Facebook, Twitter and the news while I’m writing (which I downloaded from the web, natch), I’m just as grateful to get back online afterwards, find out what everyone’s been up to, sign a petition to save the bees and check my writer friends are OK. Overall, I’m a big fan of Tim Berners Lee and his creation. Thank you, Clover, for letting me use your bit of it for this.