Teen Author Draws From Her Own Experience In New Novel ‘The Terrible Bullies’

As anyone in school would know, bullying is everywhere and comes in many different forms. But how do we stop it? When you are different from other kids in any way, it’s easy to become the target of bullying. Teen author Riyani Patel understands this issue well and made it the focus theme of her second novel, ‘The “Terrible” Bullies’ (Mascot Books, November 3, 2020).

Riyani looks like a normal teenager, but struggles with tics and outbursts. Her second work of fiction looks at bullying from every angle. It investigates the role of the victim, the bully, and even how the rest of the school and students respond to the mistreatment.

The story follows three main characters—Tanya, Jake, and Diamond—as they up together to stop the new bullies in high school. As the trio begin their freshman year at Bridge Bank High, they want to do the right thing to stop bullying. Despite their best efforts, drama and clashes between the trio, the bullies, and the school principal ensue. Will they be able to stand up to the “terrible” bullies, or perhaps reveal a bigger lesson to be learned by all?

We spoke with the young adult author about how she hopes to continue to use her writing to be a voice for young victims of bullying everywhere, and being open about her own struggles.

The “Terrible” Bullies is your second published novel. What was your writing process like for this one? How was it different from writing book one?

The writing process for The “Terrible” Bullies was very different than The Boy Battle because for the first book, I had help from Mr. David Chappell, founder of non-profit group Literary Legacies. His mission is to help kids write novels and I was his first student. Every Friday for seven months, Mr. David and I would work together on developing the story, creating the characters and making edits to the book. He helped me self-publish the book on Amazon.

Writing The “Terrible” Bullies was very different. First, I wrote all the chapters and developed the storyline on my own. I had more characters (the bullies) to create, developing a different storyline that I thought would be an interest to others and writing about a very sensitive topic, bullying, that affects many students.

Second, I had luckily found a publisher in Mascot Book to help me bring my vision to life. I had to put more work and effort into the second book than the first. They helped me with finding a professional illustrator to draw the front cover. In total, it took 5 rounds of edits to complete the book manuscript.

And third, I had a whole team to help me. The Marketing person helped find ways to promote the book and its message of anti-bullying.

How do you think your age and your perspective as a student influences your writing?

My writing style is simple. I want my book to be a fun and easy read with a good message for teenagers like me growing up on their cellphones. Because I too am young, I can relate my experiences of being bullied to other kids who have been teased, hurt or embarrassed. Not only was I bullied because of my tics, but I saw my friends being bullied. Back in middle school, a group of kids wanted to jump my friend. It was scary.

I am not an adult writing about bullying, I am just another teenager that I hope other teenagers can relate to. I want to inspire kids to stand up for themselves and develop courage to stand up to the bully.

What would you like people to know about living with Tourette’s Syndrome.

Please don’t judge us by our uncontrollable tics. We can’t help it- It is like a sneeze. We are not weird, strange or crazy. It is just how we are as we learn to cope having Tourette’s Syndrome. We are not any different from other kids that want to have friends and hang out.

Living with Tourette’s Syndrome is very hard. It is a neurological condition that affects the brain where you have uncontrollable vocal and motor tics. 1 out of 160 school kids are diagnosed with Tourette’s. For most kids, it gets better as they grow older. But for some, the tics stay with them for their life.

From the age of 7 to 12, I would tic really badly. I would make loud noises, bang my head against the wall, and pretend I was tripping. Anything that would cause me sadness, stress, anxiety, happiness or excitement would make my tics go up. I would feel bad and embarrassed for myself because people would talk about me, think I am weird, and ignore me. That was hurtful. I would cry all the time wanting my tics to go away so badly.

Luckily, I had my friends who wouldn’t treat me any differently. That made me calm down and I wouldn’t tic as often as I would in front of them. To them, I was normal and that made me feel good.

Living with Tourette’s is also hard because of my learning difficulties. It is hard to focus on school because you are trying to learn, but you can’t because you get distracted with your own tics.

A major theme of The “Terrible Bullies” is putting a stop to prejudice and standing up to bullies. Why is this so important to you?

I chose to write about bullying because it is a serious topic that nearly everyone has gone through, whether young or old. I want my readers to understand that bullying is not ok in schools or even outside. People need to develop the courage to stick up for themselves.

Tanya, Jake and Diamond wanted to expose the bullies for the harm they did to the other students. They acted regardless of the consequences. They were scared to confront the bullies, but all three chose to stand up instead of allowing the bullying to continue.

I believe that bullies who don’t change their ways end up being bad people as they grow older. However, not all bullies are terrible. We do not know what they have been going through as well because of something that happened in the past. This book is about understanding and raising awareness.

At the same time, a bullied kid, if they don’t find ways to get help, may end up getting more bullied in the future and may have issues like depression, anxiety or have stress disorders as they grow older. I would like for the bully and bullied person to have a conversation and learn from each other. People are not so different after all.

What’s next for you? Is there another book in your future?

What is next for me, through the message of The “Terrible” Bullies, is spreading awareness to more and more people about why bullying is not okay and needs to stop. And yes, I do have another book in the future. You have to read the ending of The ‘Terrible’ Bullies to find out what the next book will be about.

You can purchase a copy of The “Terrible” Bullies here, and learn more about Riyani Patel here.

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