Those who know me well, have probably heard some of my teaching horror stories. For years I have been wanting to do something with all those moments that were too bad—and good—to forget. I have taken situations while teaching and put them into stories before.
When a middle school student once said, “Does this look like a face that cares?” I used that as the opening line of a short story called Blackboard Galaxy.
When I was really stressed about my difficult teaching job divided between two schools, complicated by knowing I was about to be laid off due to budget cuts, I channeled my pathos into Five Tips for Outsmarting Satan—And Your Students. I included the horrible details of my life at the time of not being given a full prep period or lunch, dealing with unrealistic administrators, and my experience with human resources. When life gave me lemons in the form of students urinating in the garbage can and condoms opened and left everywhere in the classroom, I used that material. I named the neighbor teacher after my real neighbor teacher who took me under his wing and mentored me, Mr. Frost. Fortunately, the real Mr. Frost wasn’t evil.
I have been a teacher for seventeen years. I have an endless supply of stories and horrible teaching moments to use. Sooner or later, I knew I would be able to use these in a novel. Possibly ever since I read Harry Potter while I was in college to be a teacher I was obsessed with the teachers in Harry Potter. Everyone was talking about how they were waiting for their owl to give them their acceptance letter. I was waiting to be a teacher at Hogwarts.
I have included many of those real life experiences in the series, WOMBY’S SCHOOL FOR WAYWARD WITCHES.
Here are some things from my own life that influenced Hex-Ed and Witches Gone Wicked:
As a school teacher, I have an abundance of weird stories and situations that I channel into my writing. Some of these experiences include:
I have substituted for a sex-ed teacher which was a horribly uncomfortable experience. It is the worst possible lesson to give to a substitute teacher. Many of my subbing experiences inspired Hex-Ed and the teaching scenes in Hex-Ed.
I am only five foot. Even when I taught middle school I was shorter than most of my students. For the first ten years of my career I was mistaken multiple times as a student.
The Starving Artist
I have sold art at the Eugene Holiday Market and Saturday market as well as many art fairs, but mostly in between jobs. My parents didn’t want me to be an artist. Being an art teacher was supposed to be a step up from the staring artist. As you will soon see, it wasn’t.
I am an art teacher. It is what I know. I thought about changing my protagonist to a music or P.E. teacher but that means I would have to do research. They say to write what you know. I know perspective, shading, how to draw with pen and ink, so it was easy material. I know how many students draw anime and hide the hands of people in portraits because hands are hard to draw.
Ugh. Every school I have ever taught has cut their art teachers at some point. Even in Japan. At my first school I was the fifth art teacher in sixth years. We joked I was the defense against the dark arts teacher from Harry Potter.
Literary Magazine and Art Club
I joined art club and the literary magazine in high school. My art teacher’s first name was “Art” which I thought was brilliant.
The Long Walk Home
While in high school I used to walk home from the freshman campus to my family’s home. Multiple times teenagers threw cans of cat food, milkshakes and other items and my neighbors and myself. It sucks to be a teenager.
In Witches Gone Wicked, Clarissa is in a tattoo parlor and thinks back to a student who had drawn on himself with a Sharpie, writing the word “YOLO” but each letter made out of penises. What would even inspire such such depravity from my mind? High school students at my previous high school. Yes, a student had drawn that on himself. At some point I even looked it up on Google images to see if it was a common thing. What do you know? The internet is full of distasteful tattoos. I wish I had used an incognito window.
More information about the books in this series can be found here: