Karen McManus: The Teacher Who Made Me a Writer + Blog Tour Contest

Posted May 31, 2017 by Sara | Novel Novice 2 Comments

Today, One of Us is Lying author Karen McManus stops by with a guest blog about a teacher that made a big impact in her life as part of the official blog tour for her new book. Check out Karen’s guest post below, then keep reading to learn more about her book and enter to win a copy!

When I was writing my acknowledgments for One of Us Is Lying, I didn’t have to think twice about how I got started on the path toward being an author. It was in second grade, when my teacher—who was fresh out of college and brimming with ideas and enthusiasm—dedicated an afternoon to having us write and illustrate our own books.

I was a quiet kid who wasn’t known for throwing myself into activities, but as soon as I started this project, I couldn’t stop. By the time the bell rang, I’d already written three books (my first series!). When my teacher saw what I’d done, she said, “Well, you’re a natural storyteller. Let’s pick it up again tomorrow.”

You’re a natural storyteller. I adored my teacher, and when she said those words, I believed them. I kept writing all through grade school, amassing a huge portfolio of short, badly illustrated books. My teacher kept tabs on me throughout, always encouraging me to keep going and even submit my work to publications (we tried once, which resulted in my first-ever industry rejection).

Then I left elementary school, and we lost touch. I kept writing, but by the time high school hit I struggled to finish anything I started, and decided I didn’t have what it takes. I began the college-career-family trajectory and didn’t think about writing again for a long time.

When I finally sat down at my laptop and tried to write again, I was startled at how easily the words flowed. Then they got harder. But this time, instead of quitting, I remembered my teacher’s words: you’re a natural storyteller. When I finally finished that draft—even though it had huge flaws—I felt like I’d finally figured out what I was supposed to be doing.

After writing my acknowledgments last summer, I was inspired to look up my old teacher. I thought she’d get a kick out of the fact that I’d finally become a published author. But this story has a bittersweet ending, because it turns out she’d passed away just a few months before. I wish I’d sought her out sooner, and told her what an impact she had on me. So I’ll tell it to all the educators out there now—your words matter. Someone is listening, even if they’re not acting right away. And they’ll remember that gift you gave of believing in them.

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, & One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

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As a kid I used to write books when I was supposed to be playing outside, and not much has changed. I’m a marketing and communications professional who also writes Young Adult contemporary and fantasy fiction in Cambridge, MA.

When not writing or working I love to travel, and along with my nine-year old son I’ve ridden horses in Colombia and bicycles through Paris. A member of SCBWI, I hold a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of the Holy Cross and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. Which I have never, ever used professionally.

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Sara | Novel Novice
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