teacher crushes & karma

I’ve been getting a lot of sweet emails about Take Me There and from first-time readers of When It Happens, since it was recently released in paperback.  Knowing that there are people in the world who are relating to my books and having fun reading them means everything to me.  I also love answering readers’ questions.  Michael A. sent these discussion questions about Take Me There

SPOILER ALERT:  You might not want to read on if you haven’t yet read Take Me There and are planning to.

1.  Rhiannon and James were considered good friends to each other; I could tell.  Based on what I got from the story, is it possible that their relationship could become more intimate; more than just friends in the future?  It sure seemed that way at the end when they were dancing together.  Also, would you say that Rhiannon secretly loved James all along even though she openly denied it at first?  She said that they were just friends but they also hung out a lot too.

What’s interesting about these questions is that they are among the ones that I want my readers to answer for themselves.  I purposefully left some questions unanswered (at least, directly) so that my readers could form their own conclusions.  So even though I have my own opinions about the connection between Rhiannon and James, I don’t think my opinion matters.  What’s important is what you come up with as you’re reading.

Okay, that totally sounded like one of those annoying teachery responses when all you want is a clear answer.  But I think it can be really fun to imagine how the story continues.  Imagining what happens next or during times when we never find out was something I did a lot as a young reader.  All of that imagining definitely helped build my writing skills.

2.  Nicole seems to have this ongoing struggle with her feelings between Danny and her teacher, Mr. Farrell.  Would you say that it was wrong for Nicole to have the feelings she had for Mr. Farrell?  Sure it shouldn’t be boyfriend/girlfriend kind of relationship but just a simple fact that a student really likes her teacher.  Would you say it would be more friendship-based rather than romantic?

Nicole’s feelings for Mr. Farrell are definitely romantic!  She fantasizes that they are in an intimate relationship and thinks that she wants those fantasies to become reality.  I absolutely do not think Nicole’s feelings for Mr. Farrell are wrong.  It’s never wrong to feel affection for another person, regardless of who that other person is.  Our feelings are part of who we are and should never be denied.  Feelings can’t hurt others; actions can.  So having romantic feelings for someone and actually being in a physical relationship with them are two very different things.

Nicole has the type of crush on Mr. Farrell that I had on a teacher, so I can relate to her obsession.  That whole scene with the chalk dust on Mr. Farrell’s sock?  Totally happened to me.  The teacher I was crushing was actually a TA in college, but the intensity of my affection for him was very similar.  I think it’s pretty common for a student to have a crush on one of their teachers at some point and maybe even believe that the affection they feel is love.  However, Nicole’s feelings were more intense than a typical student’s since she had other unresolved issues she hadn’t yet dealt with.  But fantasies are never wrong because they don’t hurt anyone.

3.  What exactly is karma?  I kind of got the idea as I was reading the ending but how would you describe it?

Karma is a type of energy that responds to positive thoughts and actions.  If you are someone who puts out positive energy into the world by being optimistic and doing good things for other people, then the idea is that you will receive good things back.  But!  Karma is not about doing something good just to get something good back.  Like, you can’t help someone carry their groceries home and then sit around waiting for a $50 bill to blow down the street right at you.  Although I did once find a $50 bill on the candy rack in a deli.  I held it up, but no one claimed it.  Maybe karma was involved – we can never know for sure.  Karma’s about how all of your actions, as a holistic unit, affect your fate.

4.  How did James spend that money Mrs. Schaffer gave him?  I have a feeling that he did just what she wanted him to do with it…

Your intuition is correct 😉

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