Here on Rock Paper Spirit, I’ve been featuring a lot of author interviews recently and today I’d like to welcome Normandy Piccolo. This interview won’t be set anywhere crazy or weird because the book we’re going to be talking about is Bullied: Dying To Fit In. I feel that an on-location interview wouldn’t be appropriate for this, so we’re just going to have a chat, but I’ll following my usual line of questioning.
Normandy, welcome! Can you tell us a little bit about Bullied: Dying to Fit In and what prompted you to write it?
Well, one day I read a story about a young girl in New York who had committed suicide on the train tracks because of being bullied. I had read other bullying-suicide stories before and they were terribly upsetting. But there was something about this girl’s story that hit home. I cried and tried to understand why I had such an emotional reaction. And it was in that moment I realized the depth of pain I had been carrying inside of me from my own experiences from being bullied. I knew I had to heal, but I also knew I never wanted someone to feel the way I had been feeling for most of my life. Before I knew it, Bullied: Dying to Fit In came to be.
It’s also been nominated for an award, hasn’t it? Can you tell us how that felt? I’m guessing it’s bittersweet because of the subject matter?
Yes. Bullied: Dying to Fit In was nominated for the Advocacy/Social Justice Award for the 2019 In the Margins Book Award. To be honest, I felt very humbled. Because of this recognition, Bullied: Dying to Fit In will be able to get into the hands of many kids who need help dealing with such a painful topic.
At the age of 15 I had suicidal thoughts. And back then, in the 1990s, I don’t remember books like this being around. There just weren’t any. Is it important for you to reach teens who may be contemplating suicide or feeling depressed or is it more important to reach out to the adults who can make a difference in their lives?
I am so sorry to hear you struggled with suicidal thoughts. I did, too. I am so thankful you are still here and helping so many people. You have a beautiful heart and soul, Lacey.
My hope is that Bullied: Dying to Fit In helps teens learn how to overcome and/or better handle negative feelings. I hope the book is also able to help adults who may still be carrying pain from being bullied when they were younger. And, for those who have never been bullied, I hope the books helps them better understand how being bullied feels. To help someone, you must understand how they truly feel, especially if you have never walked in those shoes. We all have past hurts. We all need to heal from those past hurts.
I wrote ‘Bullied Dying to Fit In’ in a certain format to enable the reader to recognize those feelings as “their own”. The format also allows for those who have never been bullied to understand how painful it can be. I hope too, it can help parents who have a child being bullied or lost a child who was bullied to understand the pain their child is or had endured and perhaps answer some of the ‘whys’ this bullying occurred.
This isn’t your only book available, is it? You’ve had quite a varied career! Can you tell us a little bit about your other releases please?
My gift of writing comes from God. I never know what He is going to have me write next. It makes it fun and adventurous. But sometimes it can be emotionally draining, too.
Lately I have been writing on serious topics. Both in my books and on my blog. I will have a new book coming out soon that deals with the topic of ‘Cutting’. Writing such painful topics takes a toll. Thankfully I get to mix-it up a little bit by writing fun stories, too. My latest book, ‘My Little Peanut Does the Nuttiest Things’ recently partnered with a charity that helps low-income children. Details on how people can help this charity will be posted on our websites soon. You can check out my other books by visiting www.NormandysBrightIdeas.com
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot or spirit animal?
My spirit animal is the Golden Eagle. The beauty of this animal is that it rises above a storm by literally using the same storm to push itself upward. Life is full of many storms. You must fight hard not to get your wings soaked and fall to the ground. But if you should fall, the great thing is, you can dry off your wings, catch the next storm and have faith you will soar above it this time.
What does literary success look like to you?
Because of the topics I write about, to me, success is helping someone. If what I write helps one person, my objective has been achieved. I never became a writer for hope of financial success. It’s what God put me here to do. I have been writing since I was five-years-old. I care and like helping people either avoid pitfalls or overcome those pitfalls. In other words, glean something from my mistakes.
Have you ever had an occasion where you’ve changed someone’s life for the better through writing? Tell us a bit about what happened and how you felt.
I did get a letter from a Mom once who read Bullied: Dying to Fit In. She said it helped give her comfort and information on how to better understand what her daughter was going through. When she was done reading it, she passed it along to her daughter. She said the book helped give her daughter a new perspective on her bullying situation. Today, her daughter is thriving. She’s an overcomer.
If you were a pizza, what flavour would you be?
I would have to say a California Four Cheese. I’m multifaceted.
Do you find that you’ve changed since your first book was published? It could be any kind of change at all, even just a little thing that nobody notices.
Definitely. Writing Bullied: Dying to Fit In was very healing. I learned to forgive those who hurt me. Forgiveness is the key to healing and moving on. I also learned to forgive myself. For what you might ask? For allowing someone to have such negative control over me that I fell into a pit of self-hatred. Others hating you feels awful but hating yourself feels even worse. I have learned to love and accept myself. I have finally come to a place where I embrace my imperfections. I’m not perfect. I never will be. And I’m okay with that.
That’s such a beautiful outlook. It makes me think of the butterfly on the cover of Bullied: Dying To Fit In. The cover image with the blue butterfly on the black background really grabbed my attention. Did you have any input in that cover, or any of your covers, or do you leave it up to the designers to take control?
I designed the book cover. I chose the butterfly because of its ability to evolve from one creature, like a caterpillar, into another, a butterfly. It represents the ability to grow, heal and change. I chose blue because blue is often associated with the topic of bullying. Future book covers will be designed by my amazing friend and illustrator, Elizabeth Marie A. I love doing art, but I love writing more.
And because no Lacey interview is complete without this question: what is your favourite biscuit/cookie?
My mom’s homemade Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.
They sound delicious! Normandy, thank you so much for joining me on Rock Paper Spirit today. Can you please finish by telling us where we can find Bullied: Dying to Fit In and your other books online, and also where we can find more information about you?
Thank You so much for the interview on Rock Paper Spirit, Lacey.