Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Us

I have the pleasure of interviewing multi-published, award winning author and editor Lea Schizas on her Virtual Book Tour for her latest book, Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Us. Welcome, Lea. Bubba and Giganto is a story about two high school boys who must deal with bullying. This is a subject familiar to many young people who are challenged with the same or similar circumstances your characters face. Lea, would you and Bubba and Giganto give us your thoughts on the effects bullying has on a person’s, young or old, life? Let’s start with you, Lea.

Bev: Why did you choose this subject for your young adult novel? Is it personal or just something that aroused your interest?

Lea: It’s totally personal. My children had met up with several bullies during their elementary years and I met up with parents who did nothing about it. When confronted by me as to what was happening the parents found every excuse in the book to cover and protect their children. I find that is wrong. Teaching begins at home. I remember a time when a parent came to my house to tell me about a situation concerning one of my daughters and I brought my daughter in front to hear it. Why? To give her the chance to defend herself and see if there was a misunderstanding. It turns out it was a misunderstanding and the mother apologized for bothering us. However, I thanked the mother for having the courage to come to my house and making me aware of a possible situation I might have been able to intervene and guide my child.

There has always been one particular incident that has been in the back of my mind that sparked Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Us. Although this event doesn’t have bearing to the novel, it does involve bullying. One of my twins, while in kindergarten, had a confrontation with a grade sixer. Have to explain that my girls have always and continue to be protectors of others. Anyway, this older child bothered another younger student and my daughter spoke up. After school, the older child grabbed a present my little one made for me for Mother’s Day at school, and broke it. She came home in tears. I immediately called the mother, told her what happened, and this was the Mother of the Year response: “I gave my daughter permission to beat yours up if she ever mouths off to her again.”
ME: “She’s in kindergarten. Your daughter is in Grade Six.”
Mother of the Year: “I don’t care. Your daughter needs to learn when to shut up.”

I’ve never forgotten that situation and I know that mother hasn’t either because she continues to cross the street whenever she sees me after the blasting she got from me. I guess she was never put in a situation where the other person defended themselves so her own bullying tactics came to an abrupt end where I was concerned.

Bev: Bubba, tell us how being picked on by other kids makes you feel.

Bubba: No one ever picked on me other than making fun of my name. I never let them continue. But it reallys irks me when I see bullies picking on kids who can’t defend themselves. That’s why I get into trouble all the time…I jump in to protect students and get slammed right in the midst of trouble. Would I change things? Heck no. I know it bothers my parents but they know I’m not the one starting things up.

Bev: Giganto, why do you think some kids bully others? Is it for attention, or to prove that they’re tough, or because they’re just mean kids?

Giganto: I don’t think they’re mean intentionally. They just don’t have guides to show them right or wrong. I’m sure it’s for attention, maybe the lack of attention from home and they bring that anger to school.

Bev: Lea, do you think teens will be better able to cope with the bullies in their lives after reading your book and seeing how Bubba and Giganto deal with them?

Lea: My aim is to show the hurt bullies inflict on others. There’s a danger zone they don’t realize they are forcing some students to enter. Bullying causes depression, a feeling of not being wanted, especially when you have several students surrounding you and all chanting on behalf of the bully. They do this because of fear of repercussion. If students realize the harm in this action then perhaps less bullying will pop up.

Bubba and Giganto take a less aggressive action to defend themselves but even this action is dangerous because the child who is bullied is hiding a secret.

Bev: Bubba, do you think a bully who reads this story might see him/herself as a bully and want to change his/her behavior?

Bubba: I’m really hoping. Life for Giganto was tough before I befriended him. I admit my approach wasn’t the best at the time but that was because Giganto was scared to admit something to me. That fear and keeping that secret scared the beegeebees out of me. I understand why he kept it but told him I’d kick his butt if he ever held something back from me again. He was scared students would add more insults if they found out what his secret was. It was bad enough they made fun of him for his size or wanting to be on the school soccer team. He kept thinking he’d be supplying them with more ammo for more name calling.

Bev: Giganto, what, in your opinion, is the best way to deal with someone who’s bullying you? Ignore them? Fight back? Tell a teacher or your parent? Other?

Giganto: I tried to ignore them but it was hard walking into school everyday and meeting up with the Bad Tag Team. There were only three kids but these kids ruled everyone so no one ever came to my defense. The few who did either were shoved in a locker or given a wedgie. So I avoided everyone. Never told my parents because I was afraid they’d come to school and make it worse for me. I see now that would have been the best thing to do and tell a teacher so maybe they could have put some sense into these kids.

Bev: Does anyone have anything else you’d like to add?

Lea: I just want to say that I’m very proud of Bubba and Giganto. Their adventure continues but this time another student with a disability is the target from new bullies and my heroes will try to intervene. However, one of them disappoints the other at some point.

Bubba: Only thing I want to say is to parents – please think twice before naming your child. I still can’t figure out why my parents couldn’t name me Bruce, or Bobby…Bubba?

Giganto: I want to thank Bubba – and I love your name – because he taught me more than soccer. He made me see what a fool I was holding back something very important that put my life in danger.

Bev: Thank you for giving your readers a glimpse into the effects bullying has had on your lives and what might help someone who’s tempted to pick on others to change their attitude. Now, Lea, what are your current projects?

Lea: I’m in the process writing a nonfiction book on autism with a co-writer, Litsa Kamateros. Also, two of my children’s picture books have been accepted for publication: Libby the Odd Squirrel to be published by 4RV Publishing and I Don’t Want A Haircut by Guardian Angel. I’m also currently working on several other novels for adults.

Bev: Where may your readers learn more about you and your work?

Lea: They can hop on over to my website: http://www.leaschizas.com/ and read what I’m involved with, find my other websites, groups, newsletters, and blogs.

Bev: Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your busy life.

Lea: Thank you for having us today, Beverly. We had a blast.


  1. Ladies...wonderful LOL interview. I firmly believe too the actions of the parents are what make bullies worse. Well done!


  2. Thank you so much, Beverly, for hosting me. I've put the reminder to one and all to come and read the interview. More will be coming...or else. GRIN

  3. What a great interview. I learned so much more about Lea. Bullying is an ongoing problem and the parents do make it worse. My daughter is a fourth grade teacher and has problems with the parents of her students. All because she expects her students to do the assigned work. Some of the parents think their child should be exempt from the stress. Go figure.

    I think it's our society in general, there are no real consequences for one's actions.