Mother and daughter, Janeen and Samantha Robichaud team up to write a fictional book about bullying at school and the effect it has on one particular 13 year old student, Laura Wellington.
Monday, December 23, 2002
By Matthew Ralph
COMMERCIAL TWP. – A file folder of children’s stories, sketches, plays, notes and various other writings rests on the coffee table of a home in Laurel Lake beside a couple of glossy covered books and a thick manuscript.
The display, which Janeen Burkhardt Robichaud gathered proudly with the help of her daughter Samantha, is the product of a dream she has been pursuing since she was a child in Millville writing plays for the other children in her neighborhood to perform.
It’s also a dream, or a bug as some may call it, that her 13-year-old daughter Samantha caught in elementary school when she was asked to write a story.
Like mother, like daughter, she drew from the experiences in her neighborhood, penning a story about her neighbor’s dog. She has been writing ever since, she explained.
Earlier this year, the duo began collaborating on a book, Samantha sharing her personal experiences as a 13-year-old in school facing peer pressure and bullying that helped inspire Janeen to create the character Laura Wellington and tackle different teen-age issues head on.
“The book deals with bullying and the effects it has on one student,” Janeen said, talking about her third self-published novel, They Killed Me, which takes a slight twist from her first two adult-themed romance novels Candy and Candy 2.
Janeen, a graduate of Millville High School, recalls the bullying and name-calling she experienced, but felt it was important to collaborate with her daughter in order to represent the modern school environment.
“There’s a lot of things that have changed since I was in school,” Janeen said. “But there are a lot of things that are the same, like the name-calling and the constant picking on each other. I thought it was particularly important with this book to get the message out about how destructive this type of behavior is and how much it can hurt someone.”
In the writing process, Janeen felt a lot of the emotions she had when kids would purposely butcher her last name or make jokes about a particular trait, but for Samantha she is living the experience.
The main character, as Samantha explains, is someone who doesn’t particularly attract people, but is a girl she could see herself hanging out with.
“It doesn’t matter what they look like on the outside,” Samantha said. “It’s the personality.”
Given her input for the book, she is excited about the release and confident that many of her peers will be able to draw something out of its main theme.
“How Laura is with her friends reminds me of all the good times my friends and I have,” Samantha said. “I don’t think everyone in my school would listen to the message in it, but it’s definitely something we can all relate to.”
Like Janeen’s first two books, They Killed Me is available through the print-on-demand publishing company iUniverse.com, a site that has fulfilled Janeen’s dream in more ways than one.
In addition to printing her books and making them available through all major book retailers, Janeen has joined an active list serve group through the site that connects her with other authors she would otherwise never be able to interact wit in her rural surroundings.
The group of authors recently collaborated on a book of short stories and a recipe book. But it is this latest collaboration with her daughter that is a special holiday treat for Janeen this year – one both writers will appreciate when the glossy covered copies arrive in the mail, adding to the already large collection of writings floating around the Robichaud household.
For more information on Robichaud’s works, visit her website at http://www.geocities.com/candyjaneen.