My name is Penny Hooper AKA The Girl Who Whispered. I am a published, award winning, multi-genre author, blogger and activist.
From an early age I have been writing. My mum told me I used to write stories down on paper from about the age of eight, I would call her into my bedroom and read them to her.
I was also told I wrote a story about a butterfly when I was a child, I don’t remember the story, but I have since decided to dedicate a new one to that lost childhood story (It’s still a work-in-progress, but you can read the first part of it here; Butterfly House).
My upbringing was a strange one. I grew up in Swindon, in England. I was extremely shy at school, prefering to keep to myself and only had a few select friends, both in Primary School and Secondary School (and even now!)
But what set me apart from many children all over the country was that I had selective mutism. This is where I got the name; The Girl Who Whispered (You can read more about this here; Why “The Girl Who Whispered”?).
I struggled through most of my life with my condition, it affected school, my social life and my mental health. As a result of this I would like to hide away from the real world and escape into books (like Harry Potter) and anime (I was a massive Dragon Ball Z fan!)
Life has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Making friends. Loosing friends. Relationships. Break ups. Undiagnosed Depression. Moving to Australia. Moving back. Medication. Counselling. And lots of questions; What am I supposed to do with my life? When will I finally be happy? What can I do to fix my depression?
Today, I cannot tell you I am 100% better. But I can tell you I am much happier than I was. I stopped listening to the voice in my head that says “you’ll never do this”, “you’re a nobody”, “you’re worthless” and just did the things I want. So what if I finished my Master’s Degree in my thirties? So what if my career starts later than most? So what if it takes me longer to grasp something? I am not perfect, but I’ll damn well be trying my best!
I also learnt that my depression wasn’t an easy fix. I couldn’t take a magic pill and be rid of it. It was a complex issue that resulted from my childhood, my selective mutism, my teenage years and the way I perceived things and dealt with things.
But one thing that I always found helped, was reading. Escaping into the world of books. I found myself escaping my boring, depressing and lonely life in books. Harry Potter was my first and probably my biggest obsession. But I have others like Divergent, Hunger Games, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, they all helped me escape the real world.
Although I was always an avid writer when I was a child, which dwindled after I went to school, my love for writing came back when I was a teenager. I mostly used to write little fan-fiction stories I’d keep to myself, pretending I was in the world of Harry Potter, or writing stories where I would pretend I was someone else.
Then one day I realised I should turn these stories into books! I had a voice through writing, I had a way of both communicating my ideas and thoughts without actually speaking, and of course escaping the scary real world.
So that is where I am now, writing my own stories.
I hope one day my writing with inspire others, help others, communicate issues around the world and of course help someone escape the real world.
I also hope to do more, but use my real voice instead, whether that is a video-blog, singing, acting or public speaking… I, one day, want to make up for the loss of voice and help others!