Sex On Trial

Read Erin Kelly's thought-provoking guest post, then make sure you're signed in and comment below for a chance to win a paperback copy of her psychological thriller He Said/She Said!

Cornwall, on the rugged west coast of England, 1999. Laura and Kit are at a festival to see a total eclipse of the sun. In the hushed aftermath, they interrupt something terrible. Back in London, Laura can’t forget what she saw. Months later, when she is the star witness in the rape trial, she is so convinced that the accused man is guilty that she tells what she thinks is a little white lie on the stand. After the verdict, she is less sure she did the right thing. Over the years, doubt gives way to fear for Laura’s sanity and for her life.

He Said/She Said is a mystery novel with a difference. Crime fiction is usually a euphemism for murder—whodunit is one of the oldest stories ever—but I’d wanted for a long time to write about a different crime. A crime that, unlike murder, has touched almost everyone you know. A crime with survivors.

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

It had been a background hum for years—the media stories about rape convictions that focussed not on the victim’s pain but on the rapist himself, the damage done to his career over one “moment of madness.” When that hum turned into a roar, I started to screenshot these stories whenever they turned up on my phone. Within six weeks, I ran out of storage, and something was running out in me too. Patience. I was ready to write.

To do my subject justice, I read and researched for six months until the time eventually came to head into a courtroom. I sat through two sexual-offense trials: one in Cornwall, in the very courtroom where my fictional trial takes place, and another in the Crown Court close to my home in London.

The experience changed me in ways I could not have predicted.

I’ll be honest: I knew the legalities. I really went there for the detail and atmosphere—the stuff that can’t be cribbed from a legal textbook—and there is plenty in an English courtroom. So much of my sense of legal drama had been gleaned from The Good Wife, but we do things on a smaller scale. It’s more formal and less performative than in the US. Our barristers still wear 18th-century wigs and gowns, for a start. Cameras are not permitted in English courtrooms, meaning that TV news coverage of trials is still illustrated by chalk sketches of the defendants.

I uncovered the tiny moments of drama and mystery amid the grinding boredom of evidence and waiting. That middle-aged woman weeping into a Kleenex beside me in the public gallery, for example. Was she the mother of the guy in the dock or the victim who had just given her tearful evidence via video link so she wouldn’t have to face her attacker in court?

But these were incidentals compared to the real lesson of my time in court. I was very aware how prejudice about women skews the way juries see victims. A good jury will be aware that it doesn’t matter what she was wearing, whether she was a virgin, how much she drank, or why she accepted a lift from that guy that night. All that matters is whether she gave her consent. I knew all this. I was a good, woke little liberal. This is what I wanted to explore in my novel.

What I hadn’t counted on was the strength of my preconceptions when it came to the men on trial. Spoiler: both men were found guilty—one of voyeurism and one of indecent assault. In both cases, the evidence was pretty overwhelming. There were digital and forensic trails. On both occasions, I was able to hear them chatting with their families and lawyers in the lobbies before.

I knew all this. I was a good, woke little liberal.

One guy was almost a caricature of a sex offender. He was in his early 20s but dressed like an old man. He stared at his shoes, spoke in mumbles, and I could see his dandruff from the public gallery. Of course, he’s guilty, I thought to myself before he even took the stand, just look at him. In the next heartbeat, I was disgusted with myself; where did that come from? What happened to giving everyone the benefit of the doubt? I’d internalized myths I despise: the idea that men rape because they’re weirdos who can’t get laid rather than to exercise power and harvest others’ dignity. Was I really so stupid as to equate a lack of social skills with guilt? For a split second, yes I was.

The second guy was virtually another species. A college athlete, he’d made the most of his good looks with grooming and tailoring. Well-spoken, well-educated, he clearly came from money. His barrister was a woman in her mid-40s: glossy, polished, terrifying. She shredded the claimant and dismissed solid evidence so convincingly that just for a moment I found myself thinking: no way this lovely young man could have hurt a woman.

In both cases, my gut had decided before my head had a chance. Class, charm, privilege, even cleanliness came into it. I had questioned good evidence because of preconceptions about the man in front of me. I had acted in a way I would have judged in others. Had I acted out of character, or deep in it, from a place so dark I didn’t know it existed?

It was an uncomfortable experience, fraught with shame and self-examination, but ultimately, it made for a better book because I understood why Laura might make the wrong call in court. Laura, whose morality is a big part of her identity. Laura, who wants to do the right thing so badly she makes the worst mistake of her life. I understood her—and so I could bring her to life.

I wrote the book pre-Weinstein, pre-Time’s Up, pre-#MeToo, but it has never seemed so relevant. I hope that He Said/She Said is a contribution to the conversation around consent we are having with each other but, more importantly, the conversations that we have with ourselves.

Comment below for a chance to win a paperback copy of He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly!

To enter, make sure you’re a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

He Said/She Said Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at beginning at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) May 11, 2018. Sweepstakes ends at 2:59 p.m. ET May 22, 2018. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Learn More Or Order A Copy


  1. Laurie I

    Compelling. I’m wondering what little lie Laura told to ensure that the guilty party was convicted. And, it’s intetesting how what we see can influence us so completely. Human nature is to judge others based on what we see with our eyes. It’s difficult to be impartial when we see someone slovenly dressed and icky as compared to an impeccably dressed individual. This book sounds incredible.

    • Margie McGonagle

      This sounds like a fascinating & very timely read. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book.

  2. Susan Robinette

    This book sounds very timely. I’d love to read it

  3. Rachel Kramer Bussel

    This sounds like a gripping read, and a timely one.

  4. Deborah Dumm

    Sounds like an excellent book.

  5. Liz Buls

    I LOVED He Said She Said! Can’t wait for more stories by Erin Kelly!!

  6. Susanne Troop

    Sounds like a great book!

  7. Kristy H

    This has been on my TBR for a while – would love to win!

  8. richard brenner

    i always wonder about the mother’s of men who hurt women; what did they teach their sons, or what didn’t they teach them?

  9. Mary Woods

    Cornwall always serves as an important part in the atmosphere of any book based there. Catches my attention right away!

  10. Elena Y.

    I am so excited! Hope I can win 🙂


    So relevant to present day…

  12. Cheryl Nichols

    Thanks for the chance

  13. Rachael Pendleton

    This sounds interesting!

  14. Ashley

    Book sounds very interesting, thanks for the giveaway chance!

  15. Laura Shangraw

    This sounds really good.

  16. Renee Rousseau

    Please count me in/I said!

  17. donna

    The book sounds great, hope to win.

  18. Rena

    This is on my TBR list. Would love to win it!

  19. Sherie Lundmark

    Live discovering new authors and this sounds like a great book!

  20. sherrie

    Looking forward to reading!!

  21. sr111

    A tough lady to write about this subject. I want to read it. Thanks Erin

  22. Diane Mason

    I Say, We Say…..we’d like to read He Said, She Said

  23. LMF

    Love thrillers like this!

  24. Gretchen Esser

    Looking forward to another summer reader!

  25. Luda Doddridge

    I would love to read this!

  26. Karen Terry

    Sounds like a winner.

  27. April Keon

    Sounds very compelling

  28. Maureen Wynn

    This book sounds both depressing and compelling – very much hope I win it!

  29. Jean Barber

    Sounds like a winner!

  30. Barbara Bibel

    Very interesting and so timely. I really want to read it.

  31. littlecrow

    Sounds like a fantastic book!

  32. bill norris

    would love the chance to read this.

  33. Margaret Wurth

    Love to read looks like a great book to read thank you

  34. Kate Vocke

    He Said/She Said sounds so good! Can’t wait to check it out!

  35. Shelly McPhatter

    This sounds like a great book. Would love a chance to read it.

  36. Sally Kohlenberg

    sounds both good & timely. Thanks

  37. katevocke

    He Said/She Said sounds so good! Can’t wait to check it out!

  38. Heather Cranmer

    He Said/She Said sounds very intriguing. I would love to know what white lie Laura told.

  39. Toni A Laliberte

    Thanks for the chance!

  40. Heidi Rude

    This sounds like a very interesting thriller. I’ve never read any of Erin Kelly’s books so thanks for the opportunity to win one.

  41. Kimberly

    This is very interesting and has certainly spiked my interest in reading the book.

  42. Jackie Basnight

    WoW! This is powerful. We tend to judge a person by their appearances first. Makes one think before judging but it is difficult to change the mind-set. Very intriguing.

  43. Diane

    sounds amazing!

  44. Anne

    Captivating and intriguing. Thanks.

  45. lasvegasnv


  46. lfogle1963

    Sounds refreshing to read about a hushed subject, a subject that is finally coming out.

  47. Jill Porco

    Unfortunately claimants are put on trial by defense attacks against the person’s character and/or what she wore or the old was she asking for it question. This kind of stuff is a reason many accused sex offenders get acquitted.

    Your story sounds like a different take on the whole issue. Intriguing.

  48. Sally Schmidt

    Great post, makes you think I definitely need to read this.

  49. Andrea


  50. Ellie

    Great subject and fascinating book.

  51. Anita Nowak

    This sounds like an excellent book, and I would love to read it!

  52. Melissa Freeman

    This sounds amazing!

  53. Jenny Nestler

    This looks like an excellent summer read!

  54. ravensfan

    This sounds like a book I would definitely enjoy.

  55. Darlene Slocum

    Touchy subject but much needed.

  56. Shirley Evans

    This sounds like a page turning, mind bending novel. Would love you win a copy!

  57. David Siegel

    Can’t wait.

  58. Steven Epstein

    send it my way please

  59. Sara Lontcoski

    Very intriguing.

  60. Tiffany

    This looks really good

  61. Martha DeMarco

    This sounds like a great book! Would love to read.

  62. Marilyn Noe

    A gripping story that shows you never know how you will handle being a witness for a crime like this. Judging people on their looks, shading the truth ever so slightly and the guilt of possibly convicting the wrong person. Sounds like a book that will be hard to put down.

  63. Kathy McLaughlin

    I must have this book!!!

  64. Laurent Latulippe

    Sounds like a great book.

  65. Michael Carter

    Please enter me in this sweepstakes.

  66. MaryC

    A reminder that appearances can be deceiving.

  67. JoAnna Koller

    This book sounds absolutely incredible. Would love to read it!

  68. Daniel M

    sounds like a fun one

  69. Cherie Gravette

    Wow! This one is a MUST read! Would adore a copy! Thank you for this chance!

  70. Kati Koster

    This sounds like an interesting read!

  71. Roxanna Buck

    Can’t wait!!!

  72. Jennifer Connolly

    Exploring perspectives here sounds interesting.

  73. Barbara Lima

    Why do men and women see the same things so differently?

  74. Amanda Banks

    I love novels, especially thrillers, set in England!

  75. John Smith

    *I* say: super!

  76. Kathy

    I love Erin Kelly’s books.

  77. Carole L McKinney

    It sounds great. I would love to read this one!

  78. Susan Stickney

    Sounds very timely and well written. If Ruth Ware likes it, count me in!

  79. Bridget Eggers

    This could be a parable for the times. I’d love to read it.

  80. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  81. Janet Gould

    sounds like a great read

  82. Lisa Murray

    Thanks so much for a chance at a copy.

  83. Lori P

    Timely, but it always would have been timely, yes? Would love to read this.

  84. pat murphy

    Hope to win .

  85. Dana

    Looking forward to the read!

  86. Judy Gregory

    Sounds good.

  87. Wilifred Alire

    I haven’t read this author before, looks like a great read!

  88. Linda Cosby

    I would like to read this book.

  89. Phyllis McGuire

    Would love to win!

  90. Jodi Scott

    Sounds wonderful!

  91. Agnes Zelgert

    What a storyline, this is a really hot topic. Thanks for this opportunity!

  92. Marisa Young

    Looks interesting. Would love to win.

  93. Karen Queen

    I will be reading this one!

  94. Anita Yancey

    The book sounds amazing. I haven’t read one of her books yet, but I’m looking forward to reading them.

  95. Destiny Whirlwind-Soldier

    Sounds like a riveting read

  96. Joan Woods

    Erin is a new author to me. I love a good thriller. Would love to win her book.

  97. Ainsley

    Consider me intrigued.

  98. luvlife4ever24

    Sounds exciting. Set in London. Can’t wait!

  99. Bryan

    A crime with survivors. I love that! good luck to all

  100. Karl Stenger

    I would love to read this book.

  101. Jean Feingold

    The idea of a mystery without a murder is intriguing.

  102. Janet

    Fascinating concept. I’d love to read more from this novel.

  103. Esther Whatley

    Interesting premise. Would love to win.

  104. Shannon Baas

    I would like to read this.

  105. Adrienne Gordon

    looks awesome

  106. vicki wurgler

    A crime with survivors-the book sounds great

  107. Sheila Cohen

    I would love to win this.

  108. Laura Levesque

    Sounds very inn interesting! Fingers crossed!!

  109. Evelyn

    sounds like an interesting read


    thanks for chance


    would love to read thanks

  112. Richard Edmundson

    I’d love to win. Sounds like an interesting read.

  113. Ashlee

    Sounds like an interesting book!

  114. Andrew Beck

    I hate it when they tease us with the plot and an excerpt from the book which creates enough interest but then they just leave us hanging! Probably very good marketing.

  115. Karen Hester

    Thanks for the chance to win

  116. bellows22

    This book looks so good – can’t wait to read it!

  117. Susan Mahaffey

    Want to win so I can read this!

  118. Jackie Wisherd

    This book sounds like one I would enjoy reading.

  119. Rhonda Stefani

    I’ve wanted to read He Said/She Said for such a long time now, sounds so fantastic! Seems even more a must read these days in society. Would love to finally have a copy!

  120. Lisa Garrett

    Wow. I love the description of the courtroom during your research. I want to know about the white lie too.

  121. susan smoaks

    awesome, i would love to read this. thanks for the chance to win.

  122. Vicki Andrew

    sounds good, count me in

  123. Linda Peters

    can’t wait to read this one, thanks

  124. susan beamon

    this book sounds interesting. I just finished Anatomy of a Scandal, which has a rape trail as one of its elements.

  125. julie hawkins

    I want to read this on my upcoming vacation.

  126. Ann Muth

    Looks awesome.

  127. Linda Kish

    Those little white lies…never a good idea.They always manage to come back and bite you in the a.. .

  128. Leela

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  129. Ed

    Happy Monday!

  130. Tricha Leary

    Would love to read this

  131. Sherman H.

    Good reviews on this one…can’t wait to read it!

  132. Hesper Fry

    Sounds like an interesting read! Thanks for the chance.

  133. Yana Ryjova

    Sounds super interesting thank you for the chance to win.

  134. trish mckee

    This sounds like a unique read, a twist on a thriller. Thank you for the chance.

  135. Daniel Vice

    I would like this

  136. Sand Lopez

    Sounds great!

  137. Buddy Garrett

    It sounds like an interesting read. Thanks.

  138. Lily Kwan

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  139. JULES M.

    sounds like a great read!

  140. Tiffany

    Sounds really good

  141. Suzanne Timmsen

    We never know what is around the corner. Good writing from Erin Kelly

  142. Beth

    Perfect timing for this book! Would love to win a copy! Thanks!


    A sign of the times…

  144. 릴게임

    I appreciate this article for the well-researched content and excellent wording. I got so interested in this material that I couldn’t stop reading. Your blog is really impressive.

  145. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free.


    I would like to say that this blog really convinced me to do it! Thanks, very good post.


    Thanks for a very interesting blog. What else may I get that kind of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the look out for such info.

  148. riatoto

    I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative..

  149. best chiropractor chatswood

    Nice to read your article! I am looking forward to sharing your adventures and experiences.

  150. what is stripchat

    Stripchat, Chaturbate, and Chatterbate are popular online platforms that offer live webcam performances.

Comments are closed.