Author Talks: B. M. Carroll on Who were you at school? The shy one? The silly one? The social butterfly?

1980s, Cork, Ireland: I was definitely the quiet one at school. I lived in Blarney, a village located five miles outside Cork city, and my parents decided to send me to the ‘city’ for secondary school. A distance of five miles means nothing in Australia, but in Ireland it was quite significant at the time. Blarney was firmly in the countryside and my new school, North Presentation, was very firmly in the city. I didn’t know a single familiar face. This would have been fine if there were others in the same boat, but not so: everyone at North Presentation was from the immediate local area and suspicious of outsiders. I talked with a different accent – a country accent – even though I lived only a few miles away. I dressed differently, as in less fashionably, although this was the 1980s and I use the term ‘fashionable’ loosely. So, it’s fair to say that I stood out. A few memories are quite vivid. A unit of lockers falling on me during a class-wide game of chase, my nose pumping blood. One of the ‘mean’ girls was hugely protective of me in the aftermath (which made the blood totally worth it!) and I willingly participated in the cover-up from the teachers. Another day involved a visit to the hospital, when I fell and badly grazed myself during PE. A girl (who I was quite wary of) put up her hand up to accompany me to the hospital. We had a wonderful time together in A & E. She regaled me with stories about her brother (who had a penchant for stealing cars and kept ending up in court) and the hours flew by as we waited to be seen. There was a happy ending to my secondary school experience … I found my feet and my voice in my senior years and have friendships today which have survived thirty years and ten thousand miles of distance.

In Who We Were I wanted to examine the concept of transformation and redemption through the lens of a high-school reunion. Each character is introduced to the reader via their original yearbook entry, a snapshot of who they were back in 2000, the year they graduated. As the story progresses, they each receive an anonymous updated yearbook entry, a snapshot of who they are today, and we get to see what has changed for them over the past twenty years. Some characters who were shy (like I was) have blossomed away from the constrains of the ‘herd’ environment at school. Others who were self-absorbed and cruel have evolved into devoted parents, responsible citizens, and kinder human beings. But not everyone has changed. Some present with all their old prejudices intact; it’s soon evident that they’re just as nasty or annoying or cliquey as before. The reunion is a chance for everyone to reconnect. It’s also, unfortunately, the perfect opportunity for revenge.

2020, Sydney, Australia: My school days are a far-distant memory. I’ve lived in Sydney’s northern beaches the last twenty-five years, almost as far away from Cork as geographically possible. I am a mum of two, a lover of books and fashion, and I get a thrill from meeting new people. Friends who know me today would classify me as an out-and-out extrovert. I’m as different as can be to that ‘quiet girl’ from Blarney.

Who We Were

A gripping novel about the power of childhood cruelty, and how it makes us the adults we become.


Katy is not the shy schoolgirl she once was, and she’s looking forward to showing her classmates who she’s become.

Annabel was the queen bee. But her fall from grace changed her life forever.

Zach was cruel, but he thinks he’s changed.

Robbie was a target. And he never stood a chance.

The reunion will bring together friends and enemies, many for the first time in decades. But someone is still holding a grudge…

Published by Allen & Unwin
Released 28th April 2020

Click here to purchase from Booktopia

About the Author:

B.M. Carroll was born in Ireland, and spent her early career working in finance. She is the author of eight novels, her most recent being The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy, which was described as ‘irresistibly good’ by Liane Moriarty. She lives in Sydney.

5 thoughts on “Author Talks: B. M. Carroll on Who were you at school? The shy one? The silly one? The social butterfly?

  1. Terrific story. What a transformation! I went away to school when I was 13, but I always felt like an outsider. Perhaps because I’d had such a solitary childhood, on the wide open plains of outback NSW, and had become my mother’s main helper and confidant when my father abandoned his family. I am still an introvert, but much happier than I was then! I’ve told my story and my mother’s in my memoir, This Place You Know; see It’s great to see real life being turned into fiction, as you have done, B M Carroll.

    Liked by 1 person

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