This Is Not a Lie

Six Strings, Two Men, One Shot

In 1984, St Kilda is the heart and soul of Melbourne’s thriving music scene. Joel Reed, a brilliant young guitarist and songwriter, has followed his sister Karen to the bohemian beachside suburb to chase his dream of becoming a rock star. On the surface, it seems like Joel has got it all together. He’s in an up-and-coming rock ‘n’ roll band and is surrounded by people who want to see him succeed. However, he is also a high-functioning heroin addict and closet homosexual. Desperately lonely and dangerously self-destructive, he lives a carefully constructed lie lest he be discovered, outed, and shunned by the city’s legion of hard rock fans.

When the band is forced to audition for a new frontman, Joel’s world is turned upside down. Harry Engel, the offbeat and disarmingly charismatic vocalist, rocks up to audition and Joel falls in love but there’s no way he can tell Harry how he feels. He can’t do anything to jeopardise the band’s success and so he continues living the lie — until tragedy strikes and he realises the lie was never going to save them.


This is Not a Lie is an electrifying and emotionally charged novel set in Melbourne’s vibrant music scene of the 1980s. At the heart of the story is Joel Reed, a gifted guitar player and songwriter. As he rises through the ranks of the rock 'n' roll industry, Jesse finds himself confronting not only the pressures of stardom but also the deeply hidden truth of his sexuality.

In an era when being openly gay is still considered taboo, Jesse is torn between embracing his identity and conforming to societal expectations. Amidst the swirling chaos of a hedonistic music scene, Joel struggles with another destructive secret that threatens to consume him entirely: a crippling addiction to heroin.

Against this backdrop of excess and decadence, This is Not a Lie delves deep into the psyche of its protagonist, exploring the complexities of identity, love, and the desperate pursuit of creative expression. Readers are invited to witness the profound emotional struggles faced by those striving to live authentically in a world that demands conformity.

As the story unfolds, Joel encounters a diverse cast of characters—a group of fiercely loyal friends, conflicted bandmates, enigmatic lovers, and compassionate mentors—who help shape his path and challenge his perceptions. Through their intertwined stories, the novel explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and the transformative power of genuine connection.

Far from a glorification of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, This is Not a Lie is a poignant exploration of the collision between artistic ambition and personal demons, set against a backdrop of gritty authenticity and the pulsating energy of 1980s rock 'n' roll. It is a gripping tale that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of self-acceptance, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges such as identity crisis, self-hatred, and tragic loss.

  • Format: novel

  • Genre: contemporary fiction/trauma fiction

  • Pages: 336

  • Publisher: Dixi Books UK

a book cover of this is not a book
a book cover of this is not a book


OMG I am weeping I have just finished your wonderful, wonderful book. I could not put it down. I had to read it in one sitting. My god what a powerful story and what a powerful writer you are!

Anonymous - 30/03/2024

Farrow’s writing is assured, her prose elegant, and the characterization first-rate. Her descriptive eye lends beauty and authenticity to the multilayered, complex narrative. Farrow has crafted a devastating, thoroughly engrossing story.

BooksCoffee@Goodreads - 15/11/2020


Farrow's prose is evocative and compelling, drawing readers into Joel's world with vivid descriptions of the music scene and the atmospheric setting of St Kilda. The author skillfully weaves together the various threads of the narrative, seamlessly blending Joel's personal struggles with the overarching pursuit of musical success.

Sanskrity Jha@Goodreads - 01/07/2023


T.H.I.S. is why I love to read because I feel pretty overwhelmed and moved at the moment. For lack of a better word, let me just say it was freakin' amazing. I think you get me. I found myself floating through the story. Some parts of this book are so incredibly intense and real, I just expected that these two guys would leap right off the pages.

Insha Anam@Goodreads - 18/03/2021


I finished This Is Not A was fabulous! I really enjoyed it. It made me laugh & cry and as I lived around that area in the late 70s early 80s, the book brought back lots of memories. Sometimes life was a bit on the edge then, but I met some amazing people who helped shape who I am today in a really good way.

Thank you so much S.C., you write so well. I could see & feel it all, even the ugliness & rawness & of course the beauty. Loved it!!!!! Your really rock!!!

Deb via email - 23/05/2023