Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Graine MilnerHazard PerceptionEden EndfieldYAMystery/Thriller74000


‘Hazard Perception’ is a teen mystery/thriller in which new driver Alex stumbles across a people trafficking scheme run by the driver of the coach used by the unwitting visiting French exchange students. 

Alex’s life is going fine – driving test passed, thoughts turning to uni applications and escape from his small-town life and family – when a video clip caught on his dashcam uncovers a dangerous secret. When Alex’s driving instructor disappears, and a teacher is found dead, things begin to look even more sinister. But who’s behind it all? And who can Alex trust? What you think you see, and what’s really happening, aren’t always the same thing. As Alex is drawn deeper into the mystery, and finds out what lengths some families will go to to survive together, he realises how much his own family means to him – and how far he will go to protect them.

‘Hazard Perception’ started life as a NaNoWriMo project after brewing in my mind for some time, and has undergone a number of re-writes since then. It’s now complete at 74000 words. A ‘clean teen’ novel, I think that this would appeal to fans of Sophie McKenzie, Anne Cassidy and Sue Wallman.

I work as a librarian in a lovely secondary school in north London, where I am lucky enough to be able to read all the middle grade, teen and YA fiction I can lay my hands on. I’m a member of SCBWI and have loved the opportunities to improve my writing that this has given me. My middle grade short story, ‘Frog Boy’, was longlisted for the National Literacy Trust and Bloomsbury’s Short Story Prize.

Thank you for your time – I do hope that you enjoy what you read, and that you, like Alex, would like to find out more.

Graine Milner

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Theory

To pass the hazard perception part of your driving theory test, you’ve got to be totally focussed on the road ahead. It’s the only view you get. There’s no rear view mirror POV on that computer screen – hindsight’s 20/20, but too late to be helpful. What good is a backwards glance at the pedestrian you just ran over? That’s a fail.

So you look ahead, checking all those parked cars for the sudden appearance of little children, junctions for cars unexpectedly pulling out in front of you, twisty bends in that country road hemmed in by high hedges. 

And if you click the mouse at exactly the right time, you pass, and everything’s fine.
Real life isn’t like that.



Monday

Emergency Stop

I’m totally focussed on the road ahead, watching the two mums on the opposite pavement next to the pedestrian crossing. They’re busy taking photographs of their kids in their buggies, but it feels more like they’re playing chicken. I have no idea if they’re actually planning on crossing the road or not. I check my hands – perfect ten to two position. It feels like I’ve been here forever. They must have about a million photos by now. They can post them to Instagram later. Please let them post to Instagram later.

I put the car into first gear, and then back into neutral. Les tuts. He hates it when I do that, so I apply the handbrake to cheer him up a bit and leave my hand sort of floating above the gear lever while I try and work out if I should go or not. It would be really bad to run over babies so soon after passing my test. Like, within five minutes. And especially on a pedestrian crossing.

One of the mums takes a step towards the kerb; I move my floating hand away from the gear lever and double-check the handbrake. I am the boss of hill starts. I am calm. I am prepared.

Until an earsplitting shriek nearly makes my foot slip off the clutch. I’d have been rattled by it even if the car windows were closed, but they’re all wide open, rolled down even in November to try to save me from the reek of Les’s cigarettes, so I get the full surround-sound nerve-jangling benefit of the shriek, un-muffled by any glass, straight into my ears.

I check my mirrors while I restart the engine, but I can’t see anything unusual, just the usual boring selection of pedestrians and people out running. I’ve no idea who’s screaming or why, but it’s not stopping, and it’s doing my head in. Les’s too, by the look of him.

But now the buggy mums have stopped again, and I realise that the insane shrieking is coming from one of the buggies. Nobody’s being attacked, but there are some serious anger-management issues going on here.