Published by Delacorte Press on May 30th, 2017
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.
Hi guys and welcome to our tour stop for the awesome sounding book, One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus. Keep reading to find out how she tackled writing in four different points of view. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
I’ve always loved ensemble casts. So when I came up with the idea for ONE OF US IS LYING, it seemed natural to tell it from multiple perspectives. I envisioned a modern day Breakfast Club—a brain, a jock, a princess, a criminal, and an outcast all meeting up in detention—that takes a dark turn when only one of them doesn’t make it out alive. Who better to narrate the story than the remaining four?
But it’s not a simple thing to write multi-POV, especially in first person while trying to keep readers guessing about whether or not they can trust each narrator. From my perspective, the two most important things were to make sure each character had a distinct voice, and a separate, compelling arc that tied into a cohesive storyline.
I’ve always done character worksheets, but I went extra in-depth for ONE OF US IS LYING. I knew I had to understand these people inside and out, because if one character ended up stronger than the others, that character would take over. Along with their family life, hobbies, physical descriptions, strengths and flaws, I sketched out their favorite colors, songs, foods, and any other detail I could think of. I didn’t use everything, but the exercise helped make the characters more rounded and relatable.
I also created playlists for each character, which I used to switch my head space when writing. I listened to those songs so many times over the course of a few months that I don’t think I’ll ever stop associating them with my characters. “Breathe” by Anna Nalick, for example, will always and forever be Bronwyn and Nate’s song. Over time, I learned that some characters came more easily during different times of the day, or in different settings. I wrote Addy best in coffee shops, and Nate best late at night.
While multi-POV has challenges, it also has a lot of benefits:
- A large, well-rounded primary cast provides more characters for readers to potentially connect with and relate to. And multi-POV not only lets the reader know how characters see themselves, but also how other important people in a story perceive them.
- In a mystery, it helps to build tension and reveal information slowly. One of my favorite techniques is to lead a character close to a critical reveal, and then switch perspective before he or she gets there.
- It allows you to give different perspectives on the same event. You don’t want to overuse this and become repetitive, but in small doses, it’s powerful. It was important to me, for example, to show each character’s reaction to the pivotal moment when they know their secrets are revealed and they’re suspected of a crime.
Ultimately, writing ONE OF US IS LYING from four perspectives made the characters very real to me—so much so that I still occasionally have conversations in my head with each of them. And I hope they stay with readers, too.
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.