When I started to write a book about cyberbullying, I didn’t think I’d end up writing it from the point of view of the girl who’s seen as the bully. But that’s what happened when Sasha Bayley emerged as the narrator: the thin, pretty girl, jealous of her talented friend. There’s so much more to Sasha, though, besides her love of music, and I hope that You Don’t Know Me gets readers thinking about who the real bullies are.
My favourite scenes to write were between Sasha and a boy called Elliot, who’s a computer hacker with a not-totally-perfect respect for the law. There’s something about an anti-hero … Think of Hannibal Lecter, or Shrek. I personally think female anti-heroes are the best, though, and there aren’t enough of them. If you’re a writer, please create some more! Meanwhile, here are my top five, and a few others for your consideration.
1. Lucy Van Pelt from Peanuts
Lucy is Linus’s older sister in the cartoon strip, and the word ‘crabby’ could have been invented for her. That girl is not just ‘feisty’, she’s plain MEAN. And badass. And totally unapologetic. Love her.
(Note: when adults tell little girls they’re ‘feisty’, they often mean ‘behaving with inappropriate gusto’, and the little girls often back down and feel embarrassed. I think this is a BAD THING. You go, girls. You have a world to run when you’re grown up. You need some practice.)
2. The girls of St Trinians
They are wild, rebellious and, where possible, criminal. In the books and on film, they stick together, cheat, lie and intimidate their way out of all sorts of tricky situations, from hockey matches to gambling syndicates. Their headmistress is a man in drag. Do we secretly want to be them? Yes, yes we do.
3. Violet Elizabeth Bott
Just William’s nemesis. The girl who gets what she wants by offering to ‘thcweam and thcweam and thcweam until I’m thick!’. OK, so not exactly a role model. William is terrified of her, and rightly so.
4. Elizabeth I
Blackadder is one of the best TV anti-heroes of all time. But the one person who gives as good as she gets in series 2 is Elizabeth I, played by Miranda Richardson as a sort of Violet Elizabeth Bott on speed. She’s beautiful, malicious, all-powerful and unpredictable. Blackadder never knows if he’s going to survive the episode. Love. That. Girl.
5. Veronica from Heathers
Veronica, played by Winona Rider, is a bit nerdy and falls out with the popular girls – the Heathers – who bully her. She gets together with another outsider, J.D., who sets about, er, killing people who annoy them. Even Veronica isn’t sure about this, but she has her own way of solving the problem. Very bad. Very dark. Very cool.
Other Bad Girls I love, in no particular order, are:
1. Scarlett O'Hara
2. Lisbeth Salander
4. Emily Koll, from Heart-Shaped Bruise
5. Dr Doofenshmertz’s daughter, Vanessa, from Phineas and Ferb
And not forgetting the Bad Boys …
1. Horrid Henry and Just William
2. Artemis Fowl
3. Tom Ripley (as opposed to Tom Riddle, but him too)
4. Doctor Doofenshmertz
5. Captain Jack Sparrow
(I suppose that was technically a Gimme Fifteen. Sorry, Chicklish. My bad. ;))