Why “The Girl Who Whispered”?

Hello, my little demons! 😈

I don’t get many questions about why the name “The Girl Who Whispered”, but I have had a few comments that have been made in poor taste, so I want to just explain where the name comes from, why I use it and why some of these jokes are in bad taste.

Short answer: I had selective mutism as a child.

Selective mutism is defined as “a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings, such as school. These children are able to speak and communicate in settings where they are comfortable, secure and relaxed.” – Referenced from https://selectivemutismcenter.org/whatisselectivemutism/

I had no idea there was even a defined term for this until only a few years ago!

Long answer:

When I was a young child, I was bullied. I had red hair and freckles and I was quite reserved and quiet. There are a lot of other complex situations that made me the way I am, and I don’t personally have all the answers, nor do I feel completely comfortable explaining them.

But I will explain that I think it started after a particular issue in Primary School. I remember it quite well, considering I was probably only about 5 at the time. I remember being in a classroom with a load of other children, we were all playing, having a down time or something. There was a particular child, a boy, who decided to rearrange the tables and chairs, but he was deliberately trying to trap me in them, deliberately singling me out. It was at this time that the teacher called us all over, but this boy kept moving the tables and chairs so I couldn’t get out. I think I was the one who got told off for not listening to the teacher, but she failed to notice I wasn’t ignoring her, I was being trapped by this bully.

Somewhere in my little brain I decided enough was enough, after all the years of adults not listening to me, I went into remission.

I stopped talking.

I refused to talk to the teacher. My friends.

Even my parents.

I went home that day and my mum didn’t understand why I wasn’t talking to her. My dad got home from work and he didn’t understand why I wasn’t talking.

I had developed selective mutism.

My parents tried in a few ways to help me, one of which was to send me to a different Secondary School than the other kids. Most of the kids, after completing Primary School, went to one Secondary School. I went to a completely different one. It didn’t work though.

And by then, because the issue hadn’t be addressed properly, it evolved. As a pre-teen and eventually a teen in Secondary School, I had difficulty trying to express myself because of my selective mutism and in the end I found a new way to communicate; by whispering.

I had become The Girl Who Whispered.

Of course, this had it’s own issues. A lot of times people would assume I just had a bad throat and lost my voice – not that I corrected them. I had more children bullying me because I was now different. I had teachers trying to fix me. I had my parents and friends trick me into talking. I had issues with communicating still. Issues with grades. Social issues. And I developed a few bad habits from the social issues (avoidance for example).

My selective mutism didn’t really go away until I became a young adult, when I was about 17 years old when I left school and went to college. All the kids in the class were new, no one knew who I was (until I met one kid who was at my old Primary School, which I remember vividly, but I just hoped he didn’t remember me!)

But I finally had a voice. And some really bad social skills!

Meeting up with old friends, or bumping into those I went to school with was extremely awkward, but I eventually “grew out” of my selective mutism and started talking to them all properly.

A lot of my newer friends didn’t even know about my previous issues. It’s only until recently in the last few years that I started talking about it and opening up.

Also, my selective mutism not only gave me issues with social skills, but I also developed depression and anxiety. Most of my life has been difficult. Even now I get bad days. But the bad days are easier to deal with now, because I kept fighting. I learn to recognise when days got bad. Found healthier coping mechanisms. And grew emotionally.

The ironic thing is, when I was a child, if I got passionate about something you couldn’t shut me up about it (even as an adult). But when I had selective mutism, I lacked that basic need, to have a voice, to speak up for myself.

It still haunts me now, my past, what happened to me as a child. And I’m slowly getting over it, learning social skills, communicating properly, and finding ways to get over my weaknesses (social situations for example).

This is one of the reasons why I write. It’s a silent voice. Because when I was a child, not only did I love reading (as a form of escapism from the real-world I hated so much), but writing was my way of communicating easily. When computers became popular, I used to sit for hours on Instant Messenger, MySpace and Chat rooms, it was a way of being normal for a change – no one knew I didn’t talk properly. I would also write stories, build my own little universe to escape to.

I, one day, would also love to do something where I’m not sat behind a computer screen with written words. I actually love to sing and I have a huge interest in acting.

I remember the first time I actually got to “stand up” and sing to an audience, and although it isn’t as glamorous as it sounds, as I just stood on a tour bus in Brooklyn. But, my goodness, I will never forget that. And I’m so glad my friend got that picture (see below).

10553422_10152376625330938_5388833987590551101_n
This is me singing on the tour bus. For more photos of me, scroll to the bottom of the post! 🙂

Acting is another thing I wouldn’t mind to do – although I’m realistic, I can’t see it really happening, everyone wants to be an actor! – because not only are you speaking out, saying your lines, but you’re also pretending to be someone else… something I wished a lot when I was a child. I wished so often to be anyone else but Penny. (Update: Since writing this blog post, however, I am planning a tour of America, for charity… and I will be filming it!)

Now, though, I embrace it. I embrace who I am and what I went through as a child. It made me who I am today. Okay, I still have a few quirks and flaws, but I hate to imagine who I would be now without it.

I may never have travelled to Australia. I may never have abseiled Forth Rail Bridge. I may never have walked across Sailsbury Plain. I may never have got my Bachelor’s Degree or my Master’s Degree. I may never have met all the interesting people over the years. I may never have flown a plane. I may never have fired that brown bess musket.

And, of course, I may never have become a writer and an author and I may never use my writing to help others.

I am Penny Hooper.

And I am The Girl Who Whispered.

I use this designation to hopefully inspire people.

Keep fighting, guys! ❤

P.s. If you think you know someone who has selective mutism, please try encourage them to get professional help. Do not try to “shock” them into talking. Do not simply assume it “will go” that “it’s a phase”. If it’s lasting more than a few weeks or months, then it could develop into something more serious. Unless you are a professional who understands selective mutism, do not attempt to fix it! I wished my parents or teachers did more, they didn’t, and it got worse and had a negative impact on my life.

P.P.s The song I sang on the tour bus was “Innocent Eyes” by Delta Goodrem.

~~~

Here are a few other photos of me over the years:

~~~

As always, if you liked this post, please do give it a like, and feel free to comment. I’m always happy to hear from people, old and new! 🙂

And do check out my other posts:

I’ve started blogging about my trip to Australia:

Living in Australia – Part 2: My first Christmas away from my parents (Christmas Special!)

My post about my 34km trek across Salisbury Plain tank training ground for charity:

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

A few posts to see my writing:

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper

My website:

thegirlwhowhispered.com

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Copyright ©2020 Penny Hooper
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without prior permission in writing from the author.
Penny Hooper has asserted her right under Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

This story may contain sensitive themes that some readers may find difficult to read.
These themes include, but are not limited to:
Scenes of a sexual nature
Strong language
Rape / sexual abuse
Alcohol abuse

Chapter 1

“Mrs Mark?” I heard someone call. My head shot up from my mobile phone.

Miss! For the last time, it’s Miss! I thought from within my panic.

I groaned and stood up from the uncomfortable plastic chair that I was sitting on and walked extremely nervously towards the two beady and judging eyes that were staring at me.

The woman who owned the eyes held open the looming door for me to walk through. It was the same door that people before me had walked through and had eventually reappeared looking scared shitless but with a mix of relief that the torture was over. I trudged through it self-consciously and into the room that laid in wait.

I woke up feeling fine this morning. Better than fine, I was excited. I knew I had this meeting, it had been circled on my calendar for weeks. I counted down the days. I deliberated for hours, if not days, over what to wear. I had my hair cut the weekend before. I’d even had my nails painted, not something I was too keen on doing. It was a waste of money in my opinion. But I wanted to look the part. Have every chance of acing the day. I told myself over and over that I would ace the interview and I would finally get a job in a hotel. A job I have wanted for years!

But after watching those worried and upset looking faces pile out of the room I was about to enter, my confidence slowly disappeared. These people looked way smarter and even more confident than I am before they entered. I was way in over my head.

Especially when I had this obnoxious woman finally give me the usual up-and-down look like she had given all the others. Maybe the casual yet slightly formal look wasn’t the best look to go for?

After the hours I had spent in front of the mirror, risking running late for my interview, I had finally decided on this look. I had gone through a number of dresses; from really smart dresses to dresses with those girly plaits in them. I tried a dress with a cardigan, a dress with a blazer. Until I realised it was a little cold and wet today in London, and tights didn’t seem to be working for me. So, I settled on trousers instead. But smart trousers looked too smart, jeans looked too casual. My expensive black shirt I got from a Debenhams sale that was now two years old, also looked too formal—I looked like I was about to go to a funeral. My pink blouse seemed too girly and gave the wrong impression. Even plain t-shirts looked too casual. It took me three hours to finally decide.

I walked in, nearly tripping up as my heel caught the edge of a carpet tile and I stumbled into the room. I felt the palms of my hands go instantly sweaty.

I was being stared at by three faces. Silently judging no doubt. One of the faces was of a woman with pursed lips and glasses with a thick rim hanging onto her thin nose, her hair was short and wiry, as if attempting to look young and hip but failing miserable. Next to her was a slightly younger person, a man this time, but still much older than myself judging by the greying hair on the sides of his head and his thinning hair on top. I would have said he was in his late forties. But the other man had caught my attention; he was handsome. A thick square jaw, cleanly shaven, piercing blue-grey eyes under a small mat of dirt-blonde hair. He also wore a curiously wicked smile on his face as if he was amused by my appearance.

You and me both fella.

I stole a glance at myself in the reflection of the large mirror wall behind them. I looked stupidly under-dressed suddenly. I should have gone for a dress. Or maybe my trouser suit that I had left discarded on my bed. I was wearing black jeans, purple court heels and a plain black t-shirt with a deep purple blazer over the top. My long brown hair looking a mess because I had been sat running my sweaty hands through it nervously.

“H–hi,” I stuttered, when I realised no one was saying anything. Maybe it was up to me to start this interview? Maybe this was part one of the test? Had I failed already?

“Mrs Mark, it says here that—” started the older man with the greying and thinning hair. He looked down at some paperwork in his hands as he spoke.

“Miss,” I corrected confidently, interrupting him speak.

The man looked up from the paperwork and glared at me. I felt my palms getting sweatier. “Excuse me?” he frowned at me.

“I–I’m not Mrs Mark, I—” I started, but got interrupted.

“You’re not Mrs Mark?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at me. “Then, who are you?”

“No, I mean, I am, but I’m not—” I got interrupted again.

“Deborah called for Mrs Mark, why have you come into this room if you are not Mrs Mark?”

“No, wait, you misunderstood!” I panicked. This was going terribly wrong already. “I’m single, I’m not—”

“That’s good to know,” the young handsome man suddenly said. I glanced at him and saw he now had a large grin on his face. I gulped. Was he grinning at me?

Yeah, probably because I am an idiot for even thinking I could get this job.

“Look, whoever you are I suggest you—” the woman started, but she got interrupted. Not by me though.

“What’s your name?” asked the handsome man, sitting forwards on his desk and curiously staring at me as if he was talking to me and ignoring the others in the room. I felt suddenly warmer than usual. His bright grey-blue eyes were gazing right into mine.

“It’s Miss Mark, not Mrs.”

The woman and the older man both sighed in union as the young man gave out a hearty laugh.

“Why didn’t you say that then!” snapped the woman.

“I tried…” I sighed.

“You just assumed she was someone else, Mirren,” said the handsome man, sitting back in his seat, looking casual yet confidently business-like. But his searching eyes had not left my face. “You just assumed that she came in here after someone else’s name was called and didn’t give her enough time to actually explain. In fact it is our mistake for wrongly assuming she was married, it can actually be highly offensive.”

The older woman sat up straight suddenly and looked visibly upset that she had been caught out being rude to someone, even the other man looked a little taken aback, his face even went a little pale.

“But she did just stand there and stutter!” the woman named Mirren started to defend herself. “All she had to do was say that her name was Miss Mark and not try and hit on the men in this room by telling them she’s single!”

“I don’t think—” the older man started, but got interrupted. This time by me.

“Excuse me!” I snapped. I knew this interview was pretty much ruined now anyway, so it was pointless trying to be nice to these people, and I certainly wasn’t going to let them get away with insulting me! “I walked into this room feeling a little self-conscious. I’ve been looking forward to this bloody interview for weeks. I really want this job, so I was a little nervous!”

“Dressed like that?” the woman whispered and snorted a little, after composing herself from being spoken back to like that. I don’t think she intended me to hear her.

“I’ll admit; looking at how overly dressed you lot are, and the other unsuspecting idiots out there, who have dressed in suits, I do feel just a tad underdressed and out of place. But I didn’t want to be one of those in-your-face suit dressed women in high heels trying to show off my tits to get the job”—I realised too late that my voice was getting louder—“but after meeting you, I feel that actually I’m not right for this job, and my full and undivided commitment would be wasted here in this company and I’d rather find another hotel that accept me for my experience and drive and not because I wore a suit that I’d be stupidly uncomfortable in anyway!”

I span round and went to leave the room without another word, but something else got my attention; the carpet tile I nearly tripped on, it was clearly poking up looking frayed and menacing waiting for its next unsuspecting victim to trip on it. I wondered how many people had already nearly tripped over this obvious health and safety risk. “And for fuck sake, sort these damn carpet tiles before someone trips and hurts themselves!” I finally stormed out of the room without another word.

~~~
Updated: 13/09/2020

Click here to read the next chapter!

~~~

If you’re interested in reading more, it’s now available in e-book and paperback.

Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!
You can check out my other photos on my Instagram, see the link below.

thegirlwhowhispered.com

facebook.com/TheGirlWhoWhispered
instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered/
twitter.com/penny_hoops

To Blog or Not to Blog, That’s the Question

I’ve been having difficulty actually motivating myself to write a blog, it’s not been easy. I think, personally, the reason why it’s not been easy, is because I don’t get a lot of ‘traffic’ through it. But then, if I don’t blog, I don’t get traffic.

I’ve been using Twitter a lot recently though, and at first, it has been brilliant, I love making new connections, even go as far as new friends, meet new authors, learn a few things along the way. But, in terms of actually marketing my work, it’s not been the ‘best’ place to go.

You may plug and plug at your book, but at the end of the day, most of the people on there, are authors in a similar situation as you are! So, why would any author want to actually buy your book, when they’re trying to sell theirs?

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to buy each and every one of their books, and if I ever get recognised, I probably will, just to help them out! But I can’t right now, I don’t have a job, I haven’t got a lot of money coming in (literally only £300+ a month, which I’ve been saving as much as I can to buy a car!) and I’m not sure I have an awful lot of time reading while I’m doing everything else anyway.

So, I’ve had to put myself aside and give myself a darn good talking to. Right, Penny, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. And, yes, I’ve come up with a few ideas, one of which, is that I have decided to publish ‘It’s My Mistake’ on Smashwords, so that’s currently going through another review. But so far, that’s been a good idea, I’ve already had one sale on there, it only went up yesterday!

But the other idea is to blog more!

Now, I have been blogging already, on this new and upcoming site called Steemit (I will blog about this a bit more later) where you actually can earn writing on it! I gave it a go after a good friend of mine suggested it, and it’s been good so far. In fact, I’ve earnt a little bit of money on it! (How to cash out on that money is another question! Still trying to work that one out, but it is possible! It’s just cryptocurrencies, I’m a noob!) And it’s also given me motivation to blog more.

At first, when I realised I was getting more people interested in that – well, they would, they get a cashout if they like/comment on a post themselves! I realised, hey, I can just use Steemit!

But, it’s still new, so not everyone knows Steemit! So, I have decided to push a bit more on Word Press, maybe even write posts like I have on Steemit and see where it goes.

So watch this space! I may very well blog about Steemit itself, if you are interested in knowing more about how to earn money writing (I think I’ve earnt nearly $400 worth of Steem Dollars, which is about the same as US dollars, but don’t quote me on that!) I will also be blogging about my books! Maybe even a sneaky chapter or two!

Thanks for reading! Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Coming up with Character names…

I’m quite new to being an indie author, so I’m still learning, I do read a few blog posts from others or do a LOT of researching on the internet into best ways to do it, but most of the time I learn along the way.

But one thing I do find that irritates me is coming up with new character names! I wonder how other authors do it, so I figured I’d write about how I personally come up with new character names.

Well, first off, I have a few ‘names’ that are my favourites, don’t ask me why, as some are just random and just stuck with me for no reason, others there are a deeper story that I cannot go into depth about in a simple blog post!

But some names that stuck with me are ‘Alex’ – I love the idea it can be used as either a female character or a male character and I also love the idea of the character being thought of as male and then, whoops, no she’s female! My mistake!
‘Jason’ stuck with me, that’s a long story! But that name probably features a lot in my work – he’s a main character in my book “It’s My Mistake” and he’s also a small character in my upcoming “Rose Garden Sanatorium”. Different people though of course.

Maybe. 😉

Other names that stuck are ‘Taylor’, ‘Hensley’, ‘Morgan’ and ‘Alyssa’.

Don’t ask about the Hensley, I just came across it and it stuck with me.

But of course, stories usually involve a lot more characters and not every book can have the SAME names! So how do I come up with names?

Well, there are four things I do.

  1. I make up a name, think of a name that’s common, or maybe not so common, and as long as I don’t know someone that doesn’t like me, by that name, that they might think ‘hey, she’s used my name!’ – So, some generic ones I’ve used, ‘Dan’ (I know lots of Dan’s, but I figured Dan is too much of a common name so it doesn’t worry me), ‘Sam’, ‘Rebecca’, ‘Olivia’ to name a few.
  2. I research names! My novel ‘It’s My Mistake’ I used names from disney books/films for two of the female characters! Alice being one, I wonder if you can figure out the other?
    Rose Garden Sanatorium has a LOT more research into names, one of the main characters ‘Belphegor’ is a name from Peter Binsfeld who created a list in the 1500s, based on the seven deadly sins, Belphegor is one of the Seven Princes. There are other demons too that I’ve ‘borrowed’ their names and used the information supplied to shape their characters. Even demon species (Legion for example).
  3. I use names that mean something to me, for example, the main character ‘Taylor Brown’, I ‘borrowed’ her last name because I am a big fan of Dan Brown’s books. Another character ‘Mr Cox’ because I am a fan of Prof. Brian Cox (and physics/astronomy of course!), and I’ve also used names from close friends!
  4. Random name generator! They’re ace! Want a common name – no problem. Here’s a list! Want an uncommon name – no problem! Here’s a list! Want a sci-fi name – no problem! Here’s a list! Want a vampire name – I think you get the point!

Regardless of this though, I still find it difficult to come up with names. I feel that I don’t want to be too boring with selecting names (i.e. Dan is such a common name) but I don’t want to go over-board and use such wild and crazy names that the story isn’t believable!

It also depends on the type of story – using common names in a sci-fi book might not be very clever, but using them in a story that is more real-world might be okay.

I also try to use names that aren’t typically British – e.g. Tiffany is more an American name, so I deliberately used that in ‘It’s My Mistake’ to give that character more of an American background. Although I tend to avoid any discriptions that label the character as American other than the name because I don’t like the idea of singling out people based on their background! There is one character in ‘It’s My Mistake’ that is actually African but I’ve not once mentioned they are black. Not because I was worried about discrimination, but because I didn’t see the need.

Anyway! So, that’s how I come up with character names!

It works for me!

And to be honest, sometimes if I haven’t quite figured out what the character should be called, I just add little [name] tags in, continue writing the story and fill in the gaps afterwards! (e.g. [name] walked in to the dank dark bar and was instantly struck by a rancid smell…)

If you’re interested in my books, ‘It’s My Mistake’ is now out on Amazon!
www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0731KDJLZ

Rose Garden Sanatorium to follow soon!

https://www.facebook.com/RoseGardenSanatorium/
https://pennyrosehooper.wixsite.com/pennyhooper
https://twitter.com/penny_hoops
https://www.instagram.com/penny_bones16/

Waiting to hear from The Princes Trust

So, I sent an email to The Princes Trust today. After speaking to a good friend of mine who said my idea was fantastic, it really encouraged me to make my dream a reality.

So, within 5 days, I should get a call from someone at Princes Trust to discuss my business plan. They might be able to help.

If you haven’t read my previous blog post, I will explain briefly. I have this big and very ambitious idea of opening up a hotel chain which has the sole purpose of helping the homeless population.

It saddens me to see people living on the streets, by probably no fault of their own. Yes, I know, some of them are probably drug addicts, but we need to stop pointing the figure of blame and recognise that drug addiction is a mental health issue or at least a form of escapism. I escape reality by diving into a good book or writing my own, but everyone has their way of dealing, and sometimes people turn to drugs and then get themselves stuck!

Anyway, I won’t go into too much detail here, but my aim is to help these people. And if I cannot go straight into the hotel business, then I’ll start off somewhere else and smaller. A hotel is rather ambitious, especially for someone who doesn’t have business knowledge let alone knowing how to run one!

So, for now, I’ll leave that there, I’ll keep you posted with what happens! 🙂

Business/Charity idea

I was reflecting open this social enterprise company in Scotland this morning, they’re mainly based in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but are hoping to expand; they’re called Social Bite.

Click here to go to their website.

For those of you who don’t know, Social Bite is a social enterprise which sole purpose is to change social issues, mainly homelessness in Scotland. They’re a cafe/sandwich chain of shops in these cities, where people can just go to get a bite to eat, but people can also donate money to put aside for homeless people so they can go in and get something to eat. They also stress that 100% of their profits go towards charity, they’re soely driven on making social change!

One of my favourite celebrities gave them a visit once; Leonardo DiCaprio.

I think it’s a fantastic idea, I’m always worrying about our homeless population, and I feel that our government isn’t doing enough to help them, so my heart goes out to the founder of Social Bite.

Other musings I’ve had in the past, in terms of helping our homeless population, usually end up with me saying, “If I get rich, I’ll buy a hotel to home the homeless!”

But I thought this morning, why do I have to be rich to be able to do this? Yeah, I’ll work hard on my book in the hope that it becomes successful and maybe I can use the profits of this to this advantage, but I cannot just assume that I will be a successful author. Besides, I don’t want to be driven to write a book that is soley for making money, it’s for a hobby.

Anyway, back to the point, I know that it’s possible to set up a charity and I could go about it that way to make a change with homelessness (oh, it doesn’t stop with homeless, by the way, I have other areas I’d love to help in, environmental issues, mental health, animals, etc, but I can’t focus on all of them at once, I’ll go mad!) but everyone does this, and in today’s world I see there are too many charities, and some exploit an issue just to pocket a £200k+ yearly wage and then give charities a bad name! So a social enterprise may be a better idea.

So my idea…! Skip right to the point here, what if I were to get a loan (yeah, not a bank loan, I know, they won’t help!) and just buy a hotel business, and turn it into a social enterprise where people can pay to stay at the hotel, and if they want, put money aside for a homeless person for a night. I could offer employment to the homeless people too, work in the kitchens, work in the bar, work in admin, etc, train them up. On the premise that they move on to bigger and better things!

Only, the issue is, I have no experience working in a hotel, let alone running one!

BUT… I am seriously considering this! I can even see potential areas of expansion, a school/university for homeless, hair dressers on site, give a free space to social bite on site too to help them, a joint effort to tackle homelessness.

Although I start thinking up other ways to help other issues, mental health issues, drug addictions, reducing crime, climate change, refuges. But these are all possible ‘expansions’ upon the initial idea.

If there’s anyone out there who know much about running a business, a hotel maybe? Or can offer advice, support or ideas? Feel free to message me! PennyRoseHooper@gmail.com

Off to make this book a worldwide best seller for now…