Once Removed

Once Removed has a new cover and is also available in paperback!

I enjoy reading novels that explore challenging issues through the eyes of believable characters, books like We’ve Got To Talk About Kevin, My Sister’s Keeper and The Help. Relationships are at the heart of all these stories. Once Removed is about Abby, a young teacher, who suspects her pupil, Beth, is self-harming. Unable to help without hard evidence, Abby risks everything to win Beth’s trust. Narrated alternately through Abby and Beth’s eyes, the reader discovers the impact their relationships have on them and their own self-image has on those relationships.

When I was in high school, a troubled girl showed me the slices she’d made in her own thigh. I was horrified and , in effect, ran away from her. Then in the 90’s self-harm was much in the media and we heard that Princess Diana had struggled with this. Baffled and uncomfortable about not being able to help all those years ago, I read The Bright Red Scream by Marilee Strong and The Scarred Soul by Tracy Alderman, as well as many reputable and informative internet sites.

Just a few of many thought-provoking quotes from my research:

“In emergency rooms, people with self-inflicted wounds are often told directly and indirectly that they are not as deserving of care as someone who has an accidental injury. They may be treated badly by the same doctors who would not hesitate to do everything possible to preserve the life of an overweight, sedentary heart-attack patient.”  © Self-injury: Beyond the Myths, by Deb Martinson 1999

“People who self-harm are experiencing extreme distress. They are not usually attention-seeking or mentally ill. They are in a situation where they have lost control over what is happening to them and have no other means of expressing their feelings or asking for help. They need compassion, support and understanding.”        Young People and Self-harm website, National Children’s Bureau

…a person who self-harms can use physical pain as a way to distract themselves from emotional pain (effectively making their pain physical, not emotional). For others it may be a way to feel something – even if unpleasant – and ‘wake up’ in a situation where they have become so detached they are numb and cannot feel anything.  Truth Hurts; Report of the National Inquiry into Self-harm among Young People

Still a relatively taboo subject, self-injury is more common than people think, covering minor things like biting fingernails until they bleed to truly horrific acts. Recently someone told me a child in their school self-harmed and the school counsellor told everyone to ignore it because it was only attention-seeking behaviour. My heart breaks for that child and others who are left unhelped through ignorance.


Suspecting self-harm, newly qualified teacher, Abriella, risks everything for a troubled pupil. An incident with a craft knife and unexplained injuries are not enough to secure help for the girl. Unsure whether Beth is being bullied or has problems at home, the two begin a friendship. But has the teacher gone too far?

In the midst of Abby’s own complicated life, Beth disappears. Rumour and suspicion ignite an inferno with Abby at its heart. Two lives hang in the balance.

Available as an e-book from Amazon, Smashwords or Crooked {Cat} Publishing.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alexia
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 16:30:42

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