One of the first questions I hear is: “Where did you get the idea for…” and “Who did you base (character) on?” One character in particular that my friends want to know “who” she is? Gregson the Gorgon.
While I’d like to dish a juicy secret and say that Emily Gregson’s based on some hideous soul from my past, she’s actually just an amalgam of character traits I am not a fan of. I wanted her to be someone that Rachel would never gravitate to and lean on, but instead someone that she would find off-putting, with just the right touch of repulsion. So, instead of basing her character on any one person in particular, I made a list of character traits. So, what makes Emily so detestable?
Physically, I imagine her a little bit like Roald Dahl’s Trunchbull. This is a woman who only cares about her personal satisfaction, and definitely not how she appears to others:
She flashed the perma-grin at Rachel again, displaying coffee-stained teeth as she hefted herself into her desk chair, causing it to groan in protest. … With a shrug, Emily unwrapped a chocolate and tossed it in her mouth. “‘S why girls like you stay skinny. You don’t eat the good stuff.”
She’s also narrow-minded and condescending, and has no problems making generalizations about others:
“What made you choose history, anyway? I mean, you were lucky to get a job. Everybody knows that history teachers are coaches who’d rather play ball than teach.”
“Not all history teachers are coaches.” Rachel closed her planner and traced a finger down the edge. “I enjoy history. I think we can learn a great deal from our past.”
Emily barked with laughter, spraying a fleck of chocolate onto the surface of the desk. “Aren’t you the idealistic one?”
As a teacher, people like Emily are one of my greatest frustrations. You can never judge a teacher honestly unless you’ve really been in their classroom (and I mean for more than five minutes), but Hollywood and everyone else are quick to shoehorn teachers into stereotypes.
Will Rachel be triumphant, or will Gregson the Gorgon get the better of her? The only real way to find out is to pick up a copy of Don’t Ask Me to Leave, available in digital and print formats on Amazon and other retailers.