Let me start by saying that how I came up with the idea is not pleasant. In fact, it's downright heartbreaking and it made me cry.
I have a niece, she is now 10 years old and her name is Sarah. Sarah was born with a hearing defect that left her almost deaf and she has to wear hearing aids. This little girl is the most caring and thoughful person I've ever known. When the Tsunami hit Japan, she asked her mother to help her bake cookies so she could sell them and send the money to the people of Japan. Every time a disaster hits our country or someone else's, my nieces first thought is, "How can I help them?" and she springs into action, whether it's making cookies or creating buckeye necklaces. She then takes everything she's made and sets up a table wherever she can find people.
On the day that I got the idea, I was at a family cookout. Sarah has two cousins and the three of them were in the backyard. The two cousins were whispering to each other and Sarah's father saw them. He told the girls that it wasn't polite to whisper in front of his daughter. The youngest of the two cousins looked at him and with a snotty look on her face said, "Why? It's not like she can hear us anyway."
Sarah was 7 or 8 at the time and she was totally oblivious to what had just happened. All she wanted to do was hang out with her cousins and it broke my heart. At that moment, I knew this was a story that I had to write. It was a story that needed to be told. I went home and immediately started doing research on bullying. I was shocked by some of the things that I learned. For instance: UNICEF reports show that 16% of able-bodied children are bullied compared to 82% of children with disabilites. That number is horrifying and that is why I wrote The Little Rednecks.
This is not acceptable to me nor should it be to anyone else. Bullying is a major problem and not just in this country. It is a worldwide epidemic and it must stop. If I can empower one child or person through this story then hopefully, I have succeeded in making the world a little better for a child who may be physically challenged.