My name is Tyler Lawless
I’m just an ordinary girl. I am. I so want to be. I have a lovely family, mum and dad are the best in the world. I have a brother too, Steven, you’d like him. He loves cars and girls and bad jokes. And they all love me. Even though they don’t understand me. How can I expect them to understand me?
You see, I see dead people.
Yes, I do. I wish I didn’t. I don’t want this gift, if it is a gift. I think sometimes it’s a curse. Jazz says it makes me special. Jazz is the friend I made at my new school, St. Anthony’s. She says I’m psychic. Actually, I think sometimes she’s the one who’s psychic.
Maybe I was always like this. Things happened when I was a little girl, things I didn’t understand then. Once I saw a woman standing in our garden, but when I pulled my mum to the window, she had gone. I saw her again, across the street from our house, just staring over at me. But a car passed in front of her, and then, she was gone again.
It was all put down to my imagination. I love making up stories, and this, my mum assured me, was just one of them.
There were other things too. I would catch a movement in the corner of my eye but when I turned, there was nothing there. A voice in the dark whispering things I couldn’t understand. Because I was too young. I know that now.
Do you know if you are going to show any psychic ability, it comes when you’re 12, or 13? You are at your most receptive then, they say. Your body is changing, and so it seems is your mind. Because that’s when it all began in earnest.
I saw my teacher in the queue at the supermarket, Miss Baxter. But of course, I couldn’t have seen her, she’d been dead for six months. She was killed in a terrible accident while she was on holiday. I tried at first to pretend I hadn’t seen her at all. The only person I told was my best friend, Annabelle. We’d been friends forever. I thought I could trust her. But you can’t trust anyone when it comes to ghosts. She betrayed me, turned against me. They all did. They all said, I was weird.
I’m not weird.
I had to move from Grovepark, my old school, and Annabelle, though she wasn’t actually my friend by then. And I moved to St. Anthony’s.
And that’s when things really began to get weird.
OUT OF THE DEPTHS
I love where ideas come from. It’s magic! I’ve written books from blurbs, from a sign on a wall, but this is the first time I’ve written a book from a first line. Tynecastle High School in Edinburgh asked me to give them the first line for a short story competition. The first line is really important, it has to draw you into the story right away. The line I came up with was this one.
‘ I saw my teacher in the supermarket last Christmas. I was surprised to see her. She’d been dead for six months.’
I thought it was a pretty good first line, intriguing, with lots of possibilities. Then I went back to the school after the competition and the pupils were all asking me. ‘ Are you going to write a book with that as the first line.’ Now that was a challenge I couldn’t resist. I began to think about a girl who comes into school one day and says she saw a teacher who had died the year before. Who would believe her? Especially if she had a reputation for making up stories. She’d be called a liar, they’d say she was going crazy, and how would that make her feel? Angry? Upset? Yes, but perhaps also determined to find out the truth. So the story began to grow. But when I get an idea for a story it’s as if my brain is a magnet and it attracts other things I need to bring my story to life. I visited another school, an atmospheric college with statues everywhere. The pupils there thought their school would be the perfect background for a story. I thought they were right. Now I had my location, I had my idea. All I needed was a name for my main character. I found her at another school I visited. A bright eyed blonde who loved writing. As soon as she told me her name, I knew it was the name I was looking for. Tyler Lawless, and suddenly Out of The Depths was born.
At the beginning of Out of The Depths Tyler has been practically expelled from her last school because of her stories about that dead teacher. She arrives in St. Anthony’s and goes on to solve a completely different mystery. I thought I knew the ending of Out of The Depths, had known it all along. But then I thought, if I’ve known, maybe all my readers will know too. There has to be something else, another twist to the story, and I suddenly I realised that Tyler Lawless had a very special gift. A gift even I, the writer, hadn’t known she had. A gift she could use over and over again and I knew then I had to write more stories about her. There are lots of red herrings in Out of The Depths, things that lead you up the wrong path. One of them is even in the title. And there is a reason I named the school, St. Anthony’s college. I love putting things like that in my books. Mysteries within mysteries.
But if you think you’re going to have the mystery of the dead teacher solved in this book, think again. For that, you will have to wait for the third book in the series.