Writ­ing for jus­tice

Thorn­hill woman pens novel to spread pos­i­tive change

Richmond Hill Post - - Neighbourh­ood News - by Bree Rody-Man­tha

When Thorn­hill res­i­dent Katie McDon­ald heard the story about Amanda Todd, a Bri­tish Columbia teenager who took her own life in 2012 fol­low­ing months of on­line bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment, she was deeply moved.

“I re­mem­ber I was at the gym when I saw her YouTube video,” said McDon­ald, re­fer­ring to a video Todd posted de­tail­ing her bat­tle with de­pres­sion. “I just started cry­ing while I was at the gym,” she said.

McDon­ald didn’t have a per­sonal con­nec­tion — an ex­pec­tant mother, she spends her days work­ing as a pro­fes­sional copy­writer. But some­thing about Todd caused her to have an epiphany.

“You don’t have to be af­fected by some­thing per­son­ally to un­der­stand how ter­ri­ble it can be.”

At that mo­ment, McDon­ald de­cided to help the way she knew she could help best — through writ­ing. “I de­cided right then, ‘that’s what I’m go­ing to write about,’ ” she said, adding that oth­ers should be in­spired to use tal­ents that they have to make a dif­fer­ence. “I’m a writer and that’s my gift, so that’s how I’m com­mu­ni­cat­ing this mes­sage.”

McDon­ald opted out of writ­ing a how-to or a dos and don’ts–style book and in­stead opted for a fic­tion piece. The now-com­plete work, By­stander No

More, is geared to­ward teens, tweens and young adults. It tells the story of two friends en­ter­ing high school who grow apart amidst typ­i­cal teen tur­moil — gos­sip, pres­sures and tough prom­ises to keep. As one falls vic­tim to phys­i­cal and cy­ber bul­ly­ing, the other finds her­self torn on how to help.”

“There’s so much more than just ‘bul­ly­ing is wrong,’ ” said McDon­ald. “It’s re­ally geared to­ward all kids be­cause, if we haven’t been bul­lied, we all know some­one who has been bul­lied. I wrote By­stander No More in the hopes that I might chal­lenge thought pro­cesses, make some­one think twice about their de­ci­sions [and] mo­ti­vate a teen to stand up for a bul­lied friend.”

McDon­ald is still in the process of pub­lish­ing the book and is rais­ing money via Kick­starter to fund edit­ing, the cover de­sign and dis­tri­bu­tion.

Once it’s fin­ished and avail­able for pur­chase, she hopes to part­ner with anti-bul­ly­ing and sui­cide pre­ven­tion char­i­ties so that sales of the book can help fund pos­i­tive changes for vic­tims of bul­ly­ing.

Katie McDon­ald hopes that her book will change young lives

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