Rebecca James Talks Writing from Multiple Viewpoints

James, RebeccaToday I’m pleased to welcome bestselling author, Rebecca James who has written her latest novel from multiple viewpoints, and is talking about it here on DeeScribe Writing.

Rebecca is the author of Beautiful Malice, Sweet Damage and her most recent work, Cooper Bartholomew is Dead.


I guess in an immediate and simple sense I wanted to write about the death of a genuinely nice and well-loved boy. But I also wanted to write about family secrets and troubled friendships and love and betrayal and jealousy and resentment and fear. All these strong human emotions. I love thinking about them and I love writing about them.


I decided to write in four different voices when I started thinking how a single event or situation can be seen so many different ways depending on who is doing the looking. We all ‘see’ things from the narrow prism of our own experience, our own prejudices and desires and emotions. It’s almost as though everything that happens around us becomes part of our own story.

As I started writing Cooper Bartholomew Is Dead I realised that this was not only Cooper’s story, it was also Sebastian’s story, and Claire’s and Libby’s too. It made sense to let them each have a voice.

Unfortunately, though, I don’t know that I have any concise or clever tips on how to do this.  Writing is hard! I would definitely say, though, that it helps to try and inhabit each character as much as you can while writing — it’s all a matter of empathy!

From a more mechanical point of view it will make the different voices more distinct if they use different vocabulary, sentence length, slang, things like that.


Cooper Bartholomew is Dead is a fast-paced read that’s full of great characterisation, tension and surprises.

Killing one of your main characters on the first page is always risky, but Rebecca James manages to connect the reader with Cooper and use his death to make us want to know how he died.

Cooper is a very likeable guy who sadly has just found the girl of his dreams before his unfortunate demise. She’s the one who refuses to believe that his death was suicide.

Libby is the other main point of view character in Cooper Bartholomew is Dead. She believes that just because Cooper was found at the foot of a cliff, that doesn’t mean he took his own life. And why would he? He has Libby, a job he loves, plans for a future business and good friends.

But when she delves into the circumstances surrounding Cooper’s death, Libby discovers secrets about him and his past that shake her beliefs, and make her realise there’s a lot she didn’t know about him.

Cooper Bartholomew is Dead is told from four points of view. There are the main characters, Cooper and Libby, and secondary characters, Claire and Sebastian.

The author cleverly distinguishes between them by writing the main characters in first person present tense, and the secondary characters are in third person past tense.

The story also moves between the present and the past showing the events that happened up to Cooper’s death and the fall out from it.

The characters in this book are beautifully crafted with flaws, fears and qualities that make them multidimensional and as readers, we care about every single one of them.

This is a gripping story of love, betrayal, friendships and family. The story centres around a group of late teens so it could be read as YA or new adult.

The dialogue, interaction and dilemmas are authentic and engrossing.

The author of Beautiful Malice and Sweet Damage, Rebecca James shows us once again that she is a master at combining complex plotting and intriguing characters to produce a compelling read.

Cooper Bartholomew is Dead is published by Allen & Unwin and is priced at $19.99 RRP. It is recommended for readers aged 16+.