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When She Was Me: A Debut Thriller

When She Was Me, the debut thriller by Marlee Bush

Author Interview + Book & Author Info!

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When She Was Me

When She Was Me

“A nail-biting story of sisterhood, suspicion, and suspense. When She Was Me weaves together past and present seamlessly to create a twist you won’t see coming.” — Tracy Sierra, author of Nightwatching

There’s only one way out of these woods…

Ever since that night, twin sisters Cassie and Lenora have been inseparable. As the sole permanent residents of Cabin Two, their refuge on an isolated Tennessee campground, they manage to stay away from prying eyes, probing questions, and true crime junkies. Just the two of them, Cassie and Lenora against the world. The peace and quiet is almost enough to make them forget what happened all those years ago. Almost.

Until a teenage girl camping at the neighboring cabin goes missing, and the memories come rushing back. As the crime becomes ever more recognizable—they know better than anyone that so-called ‘happy families’ can be anything but—each sister suspects the other knows more than she’s letting on….

Trapped in the isolating, claustrophobic wilderness, Cassie and Lenora must piece together the truth of what happened—and the sinister truth lurking in their own pasts—before it’s too late.

A taut, captivating read perfect for fans of Sally Hepworth and Kate Alice Marshall, When She Was Me is a story of sisterhood, obsession, and the ways secrets stalk us like shadows.

When She Was Me is eerie, captivating, and full of twists.” — Darcy Coates, USA Today bestselling author of Dead of Winter

To purchase When She Was Me click on any of the following links: WALMART, AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLEBOOKSHOP 

Interview with Marlee Bush —Author of When She Was Me 

Hi Marlee,

I’m so pleased to have you join me on my blog, congratulations again on your debut!

When She Was Me centers on twin sisters Cassie and Lenora. What drew you to writing about twins?

First thank you so much for having me! 

So when my identical twin nieces were born a few years ago, I started researching into twins and just became so interested in them. I knew I wanted to write a story about sisters but making them twins added a whole new layer to their relationship. 

Though my nieces aren’t anything like Cassie and Lenora (my sister wants me to make sure I clarify that) I did try and communicate that same unique twin bond into the story.


When She Was Me is located in the wilderness of Tennessee. Tell us about that environment and how it plays a role in your debut thriller:

When She Was Me is very setting heavy. It was always supposed to be that way even in my earliest drafts. The isolation and wilderness factor is so important to the narrative.

These sisters are hiding from something, and they’re truly disconnected from the outside world. Also it was really fun to play with the creep factor of being in the middle of the woods on this practically abandoned campsite.


Tell us about your journey to publication with When She Was Me:

Buckle up, it’s a long and bumpy ride. Though this is my debut novel, it’s actually the fifth novel I’ve ever written. I tried for years to get an agent with several manuscripts. There were so many times I just wanted to give up, but I love to write. Even without the validation of publication writing brought me so much joy.

 I will say when I started querying this one, my experience was different from any of my previous manuscripts. I got an agent within a few weeks, and she is literally the best in the world. The book wouldn’t exist today without her vision for it. My submission process for When She Was Me was also a dream. It was all the best kind of whirlwind, and my editor is such a rockstar. I’m a better writer after having worked with these amazing women. 


What writers influenced your first novel? (and the four others you wrote before this one found a home!) 

So many! My very first novel (which will never see the light of day) was probably most influenced by Twilight. Every novel after that seemed to grow and change with me. I wrote in several different genres before landing in the thriller space.

For this book, and the one before it, I really read a ton in the genre and discovered so many authors I absolutely adore. But, to keep it simple, I’d say When She Was Me is probably most influenced by Shirley Jackson, Riley Sager, and Sally Hepworth. 


You have degrees in Criminology and English, the perfect combination for a thriller writer. How does your education play a role in your writing?

There is usually an investigation of some kind happening in most thrillers. My background in criminal justice has been so helpful in keeping those aspects of the story as realistic as possible.

Though I do take creative license occasionally, for the most part, I wanted everything to be accurate.


What are you working on now?

I just finished edits on my second thriller which comes out in 2025 with Poisoned Pen Press, and I’m editing what will (hopefully) be my third thriller with my agent currently. There’s also another little project I’m working on that’s super different. Hopefully I’ll be able to talk about that one really soon too!


Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:

The secret to getting published? Don’t give up. I swear if you beat down enough doors and absolutely refuse to stop, one day you WILL get there. Be persistent. Have hope. And read like crazy in your genre. 

Also try not to base your happiness on arbitrary goals that you have no control over. I used to ask myself if I only had one day to live what would I choose to do with it? The answer for me wasn’t writing or anything publishing related. It helped me keep life in perspective on those especially hard days in this industry. I’m rooting for every person reading this who is in the trenches!

Marlee Bush — Author of When She Was Me

When She Was Me

MARLEE BUSH lives in Alabama with her husband and children.

With degrees in Criminology and English, she’s obsessed with true crime and documentaries. Her favorite stories to tell are the kind that make you double check the locks on your door at night.

Learn more about Marlee by visiting her website, or check out all of her links here.




Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell

Elena Hartwell

Author and developmental editor.

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