Why I’m Now Writing in the Present Tense

Some people say it’s a fad, some look down on it, but I reckon writing in the present tense has lots of benefits.  

I’ve just completed the Curtis Brown Creative online course, Writing A Psychological Thriller. The course convenor, novelist Erin Kelly, says writing in the present tense can make a thriller breathless and more immediate.  

And so, I’ve decided to rewrite my manuscript, a psychological thriller, in present tense.  

I know, I know. Some time ago now, I talked about how I was thinking of rewriting my manuscript from third person into first person. Now here I am again, talking about yet another rewrite, this time changing it from past tense into present tense.  

It just goes to show how many rewrites it takes before you even get close to completing a manuscript. But it’s important to get it right.  

Here are some of the reasons I’ve decided that writing in the present tense is the right thing to do for my story.  

Immediacy. Present tense makes everything more current. It’s all happening right now, rather than in the past. This gives a heightened sense of excitement and a feeling of ‘what’s going to happen next?’

Dramatic. Screenplays are written in present tense so it can give a novel a dramatic, cinematic feel.

Familiarity with the narrator. The reader is right there with the POV character as everything unfolds, seeing everything as the character sees it. Present tense helps the reader feel like they’re on the same journey as the character.

Short, snappy sentences. I’ve deleted so many uses of the word “had”, which has made my sentences look much cleaner and flow more smoothly. This means less words for the reader to trip over when they’re trying to get to the action of the story.

There are some drawbacks to writing in the present tense. It makes flashback scenes a little confusing and clunky. Shifting into simple past when a flashback starts is easier said than done.  

And while writing in present tense has been a good way to make my sentences shorter and snappier, it does mean I have to include more of the trivial events the characters perform, simply because they would actually happen in the natural course of events. 

Not every reader will like reading a story in present tense, just as some readers prefer third person narration to first person narration. There are a few people who’ll get a bit snooty about their preferences. However, there’s shifts from past tense to present tense in Jane Eyre, not to mention Cat’s Eye, so if it’s good enough for Charlotte Bronte and Margaret Atwood…

As always, it’s up to the writer to decide which tense suits their story. It might also depend on the genre you’re writing in. For example, I think present tense works well for a thriller. The best way to find out which tense works best for you is by writing your story in both past and present tenses. Try them on for size and see which feels the most natural.  

I first started using present tense when I wrote my short story The Sound the Sea Makes, which is published this month in Lighthouse – An Anthology. For a short story with suspenseful elements, the present tense worked well as it propelled the narrative forward and kept the pace moving.  

My story sits alongside several other short stories, some written in past tense and some in present tense.  

Lighthouse – An Anthology is a unique multi-genre collection of short stories that celebrate lighthouses. From sci-fi and fantasy to romance and crime – and everything in between – Lighthouse features exciting voices from emerging and established Australian writers. 

You can secure your copy right now by visiting the Lorikeet Ink site.

Mystery of the Month – The Girl in the Mirror

Rose Carlyle’s unsettling debut is a bit like what might happen if the Sweet Valley Twins weren’t as innocent as that dimple on the left cheek made them out to be. The Girl in the Mirror introduces the wealthy Carmichael twins, blonde-haired and blue-eyed beauties. Narrator, Iris, has always been envious of her sister, Summer, who is more popular, more beautiful, and seemingly more loved. Iris wants what Summer has, and when she’s presented with the opportunity to take it, what will she do?

The story begins when the twins set sail from Thailand to the Seychelles on Bathsheba, their family yacht. It’s all smooth sailing until the unthinkable happens and Iris is forced to make a life-changing decision. Complicating things is the twins’ father’s will; when he died he made a rule that the first of his children to marry and have a baby would inherit his $100 million dollar estate. While Summer is married to the perfect man, Iris has recently split from her husband. But in the race for the inheritance, there’s also step-siblings to contend with as well as the twins’ younger brother.

While Iris isn’t always a likeable narrator – she’s out for herself, scheming to marry someone she doesn’t love so she can get pregnant and inherit the estate – there’s something appealing about her cynical view of the world and a relatability in her insecurity, which keeps the reader on her side as she digs herself a bigger and bigger hole.

New Zealand author Rose Carlyle has sailed on scientific yachting expedition and this expertise shows in her writing – the Indian Ocean is the perfect isolated setting for something underhanded to occur. As a debut author, she ticks all the boxes for a page-turning psychological thriller you won’t be able to put down once you pick it up.

The themes of The Girl in the Mirror reads like a list of the seven deadly sins – particularly envy, greed, and lust, with a generous side-serving of wrath. Readers will need to suspend their disbelief at several shocking plot twists – this is a family with lots of soap-opera-style secrets, the culmination of which leads to a very twisted, very sinister ending that might leave you feeling a little seasick.

The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle is published by Allen & Unwin.

Standout Simile:

I rummage through my life as if it’s a bag of goodies, looking for something that I want to keep. I don’t find anything.

Feeling Like Your Writing Isn’t “Good Enough”

When I was eight years old my father took me to the local skating rink. I hired a pair of roller-skates and did my best, hanging onto the wall and trying not to fall over. I was starting to make progress when a girl about the same age as me coasted past and said with maximum-level snark: “Why have you got skates, if you can’t skate?”

I didn’t know this girl and was quite shocked and hurt by her remark. I thought: “Maybe she’s right. I’m making a fool of myself. I should give up.”

Evidently her words have stayed with me as it’s now thirty years later and the memory of what she said, and how I felt about it, still stings a little.

Unfortunately, to this day, I continue to place too much value on what other people think of me and my abilities.

Recently, I’ve had a few wins with my writing. One of my short stories was commended in a competition. I also won a writing prize for a non-fiction piece I wrote. These successes were a lovely surprise, made me happy, and for a little while, made me feel validated. Someone “important” – the judges in a writing competition – thought what I’d written was worthwhile.

However, my elation was short-lived. Because a few days later I received a rejection. This time, someone didn’t think my skills as a writer were good enough. I let this feedback upset me to such an extent that my triumphs were quickly forgotten.

Why do I measure my self-worth as a writer by what others think of me?

Plenty, if not all writers struggle with imposter syndrome and self-doubt. A writer might receive discouraging feedback after pitching their work to a publisher and feel like a failure. Another writer might receive bad reviews for their latest novel and wonder if it means the end of their career. Or perhaps for some writers, it’s not rejections or the opinions of others guiding their feelings of self-worth but something from within – a voice inside their head telling them they’ll never be good enough.

Sometimes when you feel like your writing isn’t good enough, it’s an indicator you need to improve. Maybe you’ve received professional feedback on your manuscript letting you know it’s not ready, and highlighting areas to work on.

Most of the time feedback on my writing is given constructively and I’m grateful to receive it. However, there have been occasions when feedback has been more critical than constructive. And as we know from reading comments on social media or published reviews, there are also occasions when people are mean for the sake for being mean.

I know that focusing only on the negative reactions to my writing rather than the positive and helpful responses is unhealthy. And I know that how I respond is my choice. I can choose to stay awake all night dwelling on it and second-guessing myself. Or I can do a self-check – is the negative feedback actually helpful? Is there anyway I can improve? If not, I can acknowledge the simple fact that not everyone will like what I’ve got to offer, allow myself to feel disappointed for a little while, then get over it.

Best-selling author, Jeff Goins, offers some great, slightly tough-love advice in his blog post Why Your Work Never Feels Good Enough:

“Let’s name this. It isn’t humility; it’s low self-esteem, and it’s unattractive. Please stop it. This feeling of never feeling good enough is common. I’m not sure that it ever fully goes away. But as a creative, you have to learn how to deal with it, or it will destroy you.”

It’s true that even your closest friends will lose patience with you if you’re a mopey-moper all the time (without a valid reason, of course).

Like all creative pursuits, writing is a never-ending learning process. Even some of the best writers – award-winning authors – still don’t feel good enough. It’s about attitude. I know if I want to succeed, I need to develop a thicker skin and not allow rejections or unhelpful feedback have such a profound impact on how I view myself and what I’m capable of achieving.

Even though the little girl at the skating rink hurt my feelings, I didn’t give up roller-skating. I kept practising. And I got a lot better. I even progressed to rollerblades. And I had fun doing it.

By not giving up, I developed confidence in my own ability. I believed that if I kept trying, I would improve, and eventually my self-doubt went away.

While I wouldn’t be any good on skates these days, applying this same mentality to my writing is the only way forward. By continuing to write, I’m becoming a better writer.

And when that next rejection, criticism or snarky comment comes my way (which it will) I’ll just roll with it.

Mystery of the Month – The Search Party

Sixteen-year-old Sadie is missing, lost somewhere in the woods. Her friends form a search party to find her. After all, they know her best – if they can’t find her, no one can. Detective Inspector Robin Fleet is heading up the police operation when he receives an urgent phone call. They’ve found the kids. And there’s a dead body.

These gripping opening scenes immediately hook the reader before we flash forward to the teens, who take turns telling us what happened in the woods. Information is revealed sparingly as we learn more about their friendships and realise they all had a motive for wanting Sadie to disappear. Abi was jealous of Sadie’s beauty, Cora wasn’t happy when her ex-boyfriend Mason started dating Sadie, Fash had a crush on Sadie that had recently become complicated, and Luke, Sadie’s twin brother, always felt like he was living in her shadow. As the search party treads deeper into the forest, their secrets go along with them, and as the trees close in, they fear they are not alone.

The Search Party is the latest crime release from British author Simon Lelic, who has now penned six suspense novels as well as a series of crime fiction books for younger readers. A story that could easily have become complicated with so many alternating points-of-view, it moves along at a snappy pace with short chapters and cleverly placed reveals so the reader is always eager to find out what happens next.

The forest setting is a perfect choice for a twisty thriller – the search for Sadie becoming increasingly difficult as the rain beats down and the characters feel both isolated and exposed, and as if they’re going around in circles. A dramatic climax plays out on the beds of a rushing river, where Fleet chases down the one person who can solve the mystery of Sadie’s disappearance.

The characters are well-drawn and believable – teenagers who feel suffocated living in a small town where everyone knows everyone, some alienated by their parents, others subject to violent behaviour. But at the core of the story are familial relationships and loyalties. I particularly appreciated the relationship between Fleet and his soon-to-be ex-wife Holly, who share a fondness and understanding despite knowing their marriage is over; and Fleet’s relationship with his estranged mother.

With a real page-turner of a plot and complex characters who are all hiding something, The Search Party is flawless suspense-writing that you’ll race through in a matter of hours.

The Search Party by Simon Lelic is published in Australia by Penguin.

Standout Simile:

The rain had dwindled to a mist. With no breeze to disturb it, it hung in the air like a dying breath.

How finding the right setting can inspire your storytelling

Some of my favourite books are famous for their memorable settings. Jane Eyre’s gothic, gloomy Thornfield Hall is the perfect place for Jane to fall for the enigmatic Rochester; and the remote island on the South Devon coast provides a threatening backdrop for the doomed cast of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. These are books where the setting is so integral to the plot and its characters that you couldn’t imagine the story happening anywhere else. It’s because of the setting being exactly as it is that the plot unfolds and the characters respond in the way they do.

It’s been said that Charlotte Bronte was inspired to write Jane Eyre after hearing about a mentally ill woman confined to an attic in Norton Conyers, after she visited the North Yorkshire manor in 1839. Soldier Island and the grand art-deco hotel that features in And Then There Were None were based on Burgh Island and it’s real-life hotel.

Like many writers, I also love to explore old buildings and learn their histories. It’s a great way to get ideas for stories. Who lived there and what were their lives like? Was anyone born in this room? Did someone die? Did someone fall in love? Did they get a phone call or a letter that changed their lives, while standing in this very hallway? In the way that a character behaves the way they do because of their past experiences, the same goes for locations. They have a history that will be informed and affected by the people who have lived there, or passed through that space over time.

My short story The Sound the Sea Makes, a historical mystery, was inspired by the tragic past of the Bustard Head Lighthouse on Queensland’s central coast. When researching Queensland lighthouses for my contribution to Lighthouse – An Anthology, I found a book called Lighthouse of Tragedy by Stuart Buchanan, which describes the history of the lighthouse in considerable detail. In 1887, Kate Gibson, the lighthouse keeper’s wife, disappeared from the cottage. After an exhaustive search of the surrounding bushland, Kate’s teenage daughter discovered her body lying against a tree, her throat slit by a razor. The death was deemed suicide. This story intrigued me and I began to speculate. What had driven this woman to take her own life, and in such a gruesome fashion? Was it really suicide, or could she have been murdered?

Kate Gibson was buried in the Bustard Head Cemetery along with many others who lived and died at the lighthouse, and the opening scene of my short story takes place in a very similar cemetery. While my story is entirely fictional, the idea of a beautiful, isolated lighthouse with a morbid past stirred my imagination and inspired me to write The Sound the Sea Makes, which will be published as part of Lighthouse – An Anthology.

Lighthouse – An Anthology is a unique multi-genre collection of short stories that celebrate lighthouses. From sci-fi and fantasy to romance and crime – and everything in between – Lighthouse features exciting voices from emerging and established Australian writers.

It is now available for pre-order at the limited time price of $0.99. Secure your copy now or find out more at https://lorikeetink.com/lighthouse

Mystery of the Month – The Safe Place

When we meet Emily Proudman she is pretty much screwed. She’s lost her temp job, stuffed up her latest audition, pissed off her parents, and is struggling to scrounge together enough money for a few groceries. But then her handsome, super-rich former boss, Scott, saves her from being hit by a bus. He offers her a job. Not just any job, a dream job. A live-in housekeeper – working for his wife and looking after their daughter in a beautiful estate on the French coast. Ooh la la!

But as we all know, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Emily arrives at ‘Querencia’ and is immediately bewitched when she sees the “two huge whitewashed castles standing sentinel over a fairy kingdom”. Scott’s wife, Nina, informs Emily that their 6-year-old daughter, Aurelia, is unwell. Her skin can’t be exposed to the sunlight. She doesn’t speak. And she’s prone to sudden outbursts of aggression. However, Emily soon becomes fond of her charge, and develops a firm friendship with Nina.

Emily knows she isn’t allowed in the main house, but one day decides to have a little peek. What she discovers is strange and baffling. Things get even more disturbing when a group of hikers stumble onto the property and Nina suddenly becomes hysterical. It’s clear this family is hiding something, but Emily doesn’t realise just how disturbing that something is until she’s so firmly entrenched there’s no possible way she can escape.

‘Querenica’ is the perfect setting for a psychological thriller. No phone reception. No internet. An idyllic, secluded property bordered by a forest – a smokescreen for something sinister. It’s a place where anything could happen, and no one would ever find out about it. The setting also acts as a perfect conflict for Emily – she’s finally found a place where she feels happy, something she hasn’t experienced in a long time. Does she really want to mess it all up?

The narrative alternates between three point-of-view characters, the action unfolding in the present day with flashbacks to the past. This works well and there’s some tragic reveals as we learn more about Scott and Nina’s relationship. Anna Downes has written well-rounded, complex characters, evoking sympathy in the reader for them when they do things they shouldn’t do. Emily is wide-eyed and innocent with a propensity to over share – qualities that means she easily succumbs to the charms and manipulations of Scott and Nina. Her journey from a clumsy Bambi into an empowered Belle makes for a very interesting read.

While the story is a little slow to start with, it’s necessary in order for the reader to fully appreciate the explosive finale, and the horrifying moment Emily realises the safe place she’s come to love couldn’t be more unsafe.

I recommend listening to The Safe Place on Audible. It’s wonderful listening to Anna Downes, an experienced actor, read her own story.

The Safe Place by Anna Downes is published by Affirm Press.

Standout Simile:

Hundreds of special little moments – smiles and frowns and exclamations – are being thrown into the air like bridal bouquets, and I am the only one catching them.

An update on my writing journey

I’m not sure I’ve ever written a blog post about my “writing journey”, certainly not one specifically stating it’s an update on my writing journey. I’m not sure anyone will be that interested – I’m an unpublished writer, not a published writer with a wealth of experience and advice to offer others. And it’s true that no-one cares more about their writing journey than the writer themselves.

However, if for no other purpose than for my own posterity, this is a blog post with an update on my writing journey!

I’m rewriting my manuscript…again!

For the past few years, I’ve been writing a cosy mystery, The Princess Murders. However, after receiving professional feedback, I’ve decided to rewrite it as a psychological thriller. I’m halfway through the rewrite and I’m happy how it’s progressing. I think I’ve made the right decision.

I’ve gotten some positive feedback on my manuscript!

I entered a manuscript competition, Publishable, run by the Queensland Writers Centre. While I wasn’t shortlisted or longlisted, I did receive feedback on the first 50 pages of my work. This feedback was mainly positive and encouraging. I was pleased because in the past I’ve had less-than-positive feedback on the opening chapters of my manuscript (in its cosy mystery form) and have since completely rewritten those chapters. The fact that the readers at Publishable liked my new opening chapters was good news as it lets me know I’m on the right track.

I’ve joined a writer’s group!

You may have seen my last blog post where I talk about how much I appreciate my wonderful writers group. Being part of a writers group has improved my writing no end. It’s made me more productive, more discerning, and a better writer.

My short story was highly commended!

This month I received the exciting news that my short story “Sit Tight” was highly commended in the Stringbark Tales With a Twist Award. The story has been published as part of the anthology Just Alice. It can be purchased as an e-book or hard copy from the Stringybark website. It’s great to see competitions like these run by writers who support other writers and want to see them do well.

Another short story will be published later this year in a very special anthology!

Thanks to the wonderful writers in my writers group, I was invited to write a short story to be part of a special “Lighthouse Anthology”. I’m very proud of the story I’ve written. It’s a historical mystery/thriller set in Queensland in 1887 about three sisters, one of whom has gone missing. It’s one of several fantastic stories and I feel very lucky to be included along with them. I’m looking forward to the anthology being published by Lorikeet Inc later this year.

I’ve also had rejections!

While I’ve had some wins, I’ve also had countless rejections. When that happens, I always feel really disappointed. I question whether I’m delusional. Perhaps my writing is truly terrible and I can’t recognise that fact. However, after allowing myself to feel disappointed for a day or two, and then reminding myself of those past wins, I try to get back into the swing of things. So far, I haven’t given up. I don’t intend to.

How’s your writing journey going? Please let me know in the comments below.

Mystery of the Month – Inheritance of Secrets

When Juliet’s grandparents are savagely murdered she is forced to consider the possibility her grandfather may have been a war criminal.

Juliet, a successful fiction writer, is left shaken and disturbed by the sudden, brutal murder of her beloved grandparents – the people who raised her. Her father died when she was young, her mother abandoned the family shortly afterwards and then her older sister ran away. Feeling totally alone, Juliet manages to track down her estranged sister, Lily, who is convinced the people who murdered their grandparents have been following her. They want Karl’s engraved signet ring, believing it has links to a Nazi leader.

Flashback to Germany, 1943. We meet Juliet’s grandparents, Karl and Grete, as they hurry to find shelter during an air raid. Told from Karl’s point-of view, we follow his journey as he escapes post-war Germany and befriends a man who encourages him to emigrate to Australia. Karl agrees, intending for Grete to join him when she is able to leave Germany. Things start to get really interesting once Karl is aboard the Fairsea –are all the passengers who they claim to be?

The dual narratives work successfully as Juliet pieces together what happened in Karl’s past that made him the target of someone very dangerous. Karl’s story moves more slowly, giving the reader time to absorb the historical details and imagine the hardships of post-war life – losing your loved ones and leaving everything behind for an unknown future in a strange land. Juliet’s storyline is fast-paced; she and Lily find themselves on the run, wearing disguises to evade the bad guys, desperate to find out the truth. The story culminates in an action-packed, nail-biting finale.

Sonya Bates, a published children’s book author, has written an impressive debut adult novel. Part historical fiction and part thriller, it’s full of unexpected twists and turns. Juliet is believable as the unlikely heroine who finds herself caught up in the dangerous past her grandfather tried so desperately to escape. Family ties, loyalty, greed, and the heart-breaking impact of war on future generations are thoughtfully explored in this solid page-turner that will have you eager for more.

The Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates is published by Harper Collins.

Standout Simile:

My heart pounded with questions and emotions tumbling over each other like seaweed tossed in the surf, reaching out towards answers, then being tugged relentlessly back into the turmoil.

How Joining A Writers Group Improved My Writing

Joining a writers group is the best thing that’s happened to my writing. I’ve been wanting to join a writers group since I started taking my writing seriously (several years ago now). And my wish came true! I was invited to join a local writers group with four lovely, talented writers. I’m so lucky they asked me to be a part of their group. Here’s why.

I’ve got more motivation to write.

Since joining a writers group, I’m writing more than ever! We share a chapter of our work-in-progress each month, enter the monthly Furious Fiction competition run by the Australian Writers Centre, and encourage each other to enter short story competitions. Writing as part of a group who support and encourage each other to keep going has increased my output tenfold. The added bonus? The more you write, the more you learn and improve. I’ve noticed my writing has improved more in the past few months than it has in the past few years.

I’ve learned so much from giving and receiving feedback.

I’ve now got four experienced writers giving me feedback on a chapter of my work each month. When you’ve read what you’ve written so many times you’re barely processing the words anymore, having other sets of eyes on your work can really help you see it in a different light. It’s amazing what the other writers have picked up in my story that I never would have noticed or considered. My story is so much the better for it. I’ve also learned from reading their writing, about their creative processes and techniques.

I brushed up on my grammar and punctuation.

Confession. I had no idea what an en-dash or an em-dash were until the lovely ladies in my writers group explained them to me. Now, while I certainly wouldn’t call myself an expert on all things dashes, at least I’m no longer incorrectly using hyphens! While I thought I was pretty savvy with grammar and punctuation, it wasn’t until I met the expert proofreaders in my writing group that I realised I still have a little way to go. I’m so thankful they’ve saved me from embarrassing myself by submitting work with dodgy formatting and flaws.

I’ve learned that other writers are just like me.

We’ve all got similar doubts about our writing, the same anxieties about submitting our work and the same dreams and aspirations. And through our love of all things writing, we’ve formed a lovely friendship. Anna, Jodie, Kylie, and Lane: I’m so lucky to have met you. Thank you for inviting me to be part of your group, for sharing your work with me, and for your invaluable advice and support.

(A big shout-out also goes to my long-distance writing buddy, Sarah Fiddelaers, who I also share writing with, as well as our ups-and-downs of receiving professional feedback and contemplating multiple re-workings of our entire manuscripts!)

Lots of writers talk about how it can be a lonely business. But you don’t have to do it alone if you don’t want to! There’s plenty of writers groups out there. While I was fortunate enough to be invited to join my writers group, and even more fortunate when it turned out to be the perfect group for me, there are plenty of places you can find the group for you. Check the writers centre near you (for example, Queensland Writers Centre) or search online for a virtual writers group. And if all else fails, why not start one yourself?

Are you in a writers group? Let me know your favourite thing about being in a writers group in the comments below.

Mystery of the Month – Who We Were

An invitation to a high school reunion drops into your inbox. How do you feel? Are you excited to catch up with old friends? Curious to see how your life compares to theirs? Or does the mere thought of high school strike fear into your heart?

The graduates of Macquarie High are experiencing the full gamut of emotions when they receive an invitation to their twenty-year reunion. But there’s something more sinister going on. Because they’re also receiving threats — ominous yearbook entries written by someone who knows their personal information and details of their most private thoughts. Someone is holding a grudge against these former school friends. Someone dangerous.

B.M. Carroll’s Who We Were features a cast of seven main characters and alternates between their points-of-view. The multi-person narrative is becoming ever-popular in the psychological thriller genre and makes for enjoyable reading when it’s done well. And it’s done very well here. Annabel, the most popular girl in school, is now a mother of three children. Nerdy Katy has since reinvented herself and is the instigator of the reunion. Luke isn’t the type of guy to get hung up on the past. High school bully, Zach, swears he’s changed after meeting his wife and becoming a doctor. Melissa, a successful businesswoman, can’t forget her first love, Jarred… but he’s now Annabel’s husband. Grace doesn’t want her children to be the doormat she was at school. And Robbie, who was brutally bullied by the popular kids, has been living rough and hasn’t seen his family in twenty years.

Yearbook entries from the past are used to great effect, comparing each character’s school persona with their present day selves. While twenty years has certainly made a difference, not everyone has managed to cast off those high school labels. While some are eager to demonstrate how much they’ve changed, others are simply unable, or unwilling, to behave differently. Who We Were is a fascinating exploration of how the social relationships of high school can have repercussions lasting long into adulthood.

The author cleverly inserts a few shady characters into the individual narratives of each main character to keep the reader on their toes, wondering — could it be them? Are they the person sending the threats? While this is a quick read with a great hook, punchy language, and plenty of tense moments, it also touches on serious issues such as mental health and teenage drug use. The nail-biting showdown between the perpetrator and their intended victims leads to a satisfying, although tragic, conclusion.

Who We Were is a page-turning story about second chances, misunderstandings, revenge, and what happens when your life doesn’t turn out how you expected it to when you were in high school. It’ll have you thinking about your own school years and wondering if you’d do anything differently. Would you?

Who We Were by B.M. Carroll is published by Allen & Unwin.

Standout Simile:

He can’t stop. It’s like scratching a scab. He’s bleeding but he has to keep gouging.