Calling all volunteer readers

We all have moments when we’re reading books and we think, wait what? What is the author doing? WHY DID THEY WRITE THAT? I WISH I COULD TELL THEM THAT WAS A TERRIBLE IDEA!

Now is your chance!

I need readers. I have a manuscript called Hold back the night. It’s 74K words, which is slightly on the shorter side of standard for contemporary fiction.

The elevator pitch, blurb, or whatever you want to call it, is:

New Year’s Eve 2015, Dublin, a young Australian woman is sexually assaulted by a man she sees on a daily basis, in a bar, in front of a camera. Her instinct is for silence but, as she is continually exposed to her attacker, the pressure builds, and she must learn to accept the support of those around her or risk blaming herself forever.

If you’re intrigued, I’m happy to send the first chapter so that you can see if it’s something you would like to read. I will not be offended at all if you read it and say no!

What I need:

People who like to read, who can read it in a month or so, and can make critical but useful comments. I have thicker skin than it might seem, and I need it to be good. So bring it on! I’m specifically looking for:

  • As much information as possible about scenes/paragraphs/sentences that you like or don’t like, and why
  • Any time you are confused
  • Anything that seems clichéd
  • Anything that seems unnecessary
  • Anything that you want more information about (particularly subplots or characters)
  • Anything that would make you stop reading and why (e.g. boredom)
  • Typos, clunky sentences, bad grammar (only if that’s your thing)

What you will get:

  • My endless thanks
  • Book vouchers! Because who doesn’t need more books in their life?
  • (If you actually don’t need more books in your life, this can be exchanged for something more useful)

Things to know:

  • It’s a draft, there are mistakes
  • It’s about sexual assault, right from the first chapter, and may not be for everyone
  • It’s fiction, please don’t look for yourself, people I know, or me
  • Projects are fun, and if you like reading and/or writing, something like this can be quite rewarding!

So, for an obligation-free sample of the first chapter (as the salesmen on TV say), send me an email (

Also, if you’re wondering where the title comes from, check out the haunting Ms. O’Connor.



By Alison Theresa

Writer in progress. Australian in Birmingham. MA student at University of Birmingham. I write words and sometimes people publish them. I am working on my fourth (and fifth) novels.

3 replies on “Calling all volunteer readers”

[…] And I just spent the weekend in Winchester, at the Writers’ Festival. I attended talks, an open mic night (though I didn’t get up), workshops, drank too much wine with other brave and hopeful writers, and had one-to-one interviews with an agent and the director of Salt Publishing. Unfortunately, these interviews confirmed a truth that has been dawning on me for some time: the novel I’ve been submitting still needs work, and even then it is not inventive enough to be a debut. Debuts need a bit of pazzazz. They need to be crowd-pleasing and flashy, a Scott Hastings rather than a Ken Railings, even the literary ones. In some ways this is good, because I don’t need to do the structural changes yet. I’ll keep working on Harriet Starling, as that strikes me as a better debut, and maybe in a couple of years I’ll return to Hold Back the Night. […]


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