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Women and girls have unique social structures. The concept of “mean girls” is well documented in tweens and teens. In middle school there were the popular girls that rejected anyone that was not pretty and thin as if crooked teeth or acne were contagious. A similar group of girls became the cheerleaders and cool kids in high school and college. Unfortunately, many of those girls never outgrow those tendencies. Those women go on to infiltrate PTA’s, church committees, and work places. I’ve encountered the queen bee and her minions. This is the woman that everyone else defers to. She may not be nominally in charge of a committee or civic group but she is definitely in charge. She is a bully that doesn’t physically dominate people. She bullies people by making them feel excluded and denigrated. Her minions are kept in line out of fear of being thrown out of the group. Thankfully, this social structure is becoming less prevalent as parents are becoming better informed and girls are exposed to more avenues of healthy competition. Still, the rate of change is glacial in the arenas of friendships and bullying. Adult female cliques is one of the themes I addressed in Overlook.

When I was initially conceiving the world of Overlook, I envisioned the local queen bee as  an antagonist. Bullies make good antagonists; they are easy to despise and many of us have been victims of bullying. They can also be cliche. The more I got to know the character of Stacia Curran, the more I came to love her. She is a terror that rules her little fiefdom with an iron fist, but she is also benevolent. She quietly helps the other members of The Lookers when she can and is motivated by guilt more than malice.

If you’d like to read more about queen bees, Rosalind Wiseman wrote the excellent Queen Bees and Wannabes, as well as the follow-up Queen Bees Moms and King Pin Dads.

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