Following Sea

Lichen Bright

Places Like These

Available in print and audiobook.  


A widow visits a spiritualist community to attempt to contact her late husband. A grieving teenager confronts the unfairness of his small-town world and the oncoming ecological disaster. A sexual assault survivor navigates her boyfriend’s tricky family and her own confusing desires. A mother examines unresolved guilt while seeking her missing daughter in a city slum. A lover exploits his girlfriend’s secrets for his own purposes. Whether in Ecuador or San Francisco, small-town Ontario or northern Manitoba, the landscape in each of Carter’s poignant short stories reflects each character’s journey.

Psychologically complex and astute, Places Like These plumbs the vast range of human reactions to those things which make us human—love, grief, friendship, betrayal, and the intertwined yet contrasting longing for connection and independence.

A Spring 2023 Globe & Mail pick 

A 2023 Book of the Year on 49th Shelf 

This Has Nothing To Do With You

When Melony Barnett’s mother commits a violent murder, Mel is left struggling with the loss of her parents and her future. For more than two years, she drifts around the continent, trying to carve out a life that has nothing to do with her past, before returning to her Northern Ontario home and adopting a rescue dog—a mastiff with a tragic history.

As she struggles to help the dog heal and repair her relationship with her brother, Matt, she begins to uncover layers of secrets about her family —secrets that were the fuel for her mother’s actions.

This Has Nothing to Do With You is a compulsively readable novel that follows a dynamic cast of characters, revealing the complexity of the bonds that are formed through trauma and grief—with siblings, lovers, friends, and dogs.


“Unflinching and mesmerizing, Lauren Carter’s novel explores the daily impact of generational trauma, the need to love unreservedly, and a woman inching toward healing by dredging up the past.”—Emily Pohl Weary

“Grommet the Dog is my new favourite character! All his poor, messed-up people held me riveted to the page. Lauren Carter has created a novel for our times: how do we learn to live in a world filled with tragedy? With compassion as big as her talent, Lauren infuses this epic story of the broken-hearted with love, life, and hope. This Has Nothing to Do with You is an antidote to apathy and despair. I’m an instant fan.” – Angie Abdou

“I found it tender and devastating. A deep dive into the trauma created by family secrets — and secret-keeping. Also, an ode to Northern Ontario!” – Sarah Selecky


Get the Press Kit / Book Club Guide for THNTDWY


In the not-too-distant future, thirty-seven-year-old Sandy lives a challenging and unfamiliar life. She survives by fishing, farming, and beekeeping on an isolated island with her partner, Marvin, and friend, Thomson. When the footprints of a thieving child start appearing in their garden, the family must come together to protect both the child and their fragile community.

In the face of scarcity, Sandy still dreams of being a mother. This desire compels her to revisit her earlier life in a city plagued by power outages, unemployment, and protests. There she met Marvin and joined his violent cause, initiating a chain of events that led to tragic and life-altering consequences.

“Imbued with dark lyricism and a disturbingly credible view of the end of the world…A somberly melodic, literary foray.”

“…one of the more realistic recent imaginings of the shape of things to come.”
The Toronto Star

“…the questions of this novel are the questions of our time.”
The Winnipeg Review

Named a CBC Canada Reads Top 40 Book that Could Change Canada


“In Swarm, Lauren Carter imagines with brave sensitivity a dystopian world only one turn of the dial from our own. Fleeing a decaying city, her characters struggle to survive in the rural wild – yet it is the fundamental human emotions of love and longing and the spectre of loss that shape their lives and animate this haunting novel.” – Catherine Bush, author of Accusation and The Rules of Engagement

“…terrifying because of how realistically Carter has built this dystopian world; it could very easily become our world in the near future.”
Coastal Spectator

“The language is beautiful and emotional…”
Publishers Weekly

“Lauren Carter’s enthralling elegiac tale of what happens when the oil disappears is tender and terrifying and absolutely believable. In the same vein as Margaret Atwood and Kazuo Ishiguro’s speculative fiction, Swarm belongs to that illustrious tradition of combining what is human and familiar with life-changing circumstances.” – Susan Swan, author of The Wives of Bath and The Western Light



Following Sea 

Spanning almost two hundred years, Following Sea finds anchor in the submerged regions of the heart. With great care, Lauren Carter wades into family histories and geography, all the while charting her own territories. Carried by the ebb and flow of language, Carter’s second collection explores issues of infertility, identity, and settler migration, offering a tender examination of home. Urgent and intimate, Following Sea leads us along the shoreline of Carter’s Manitoulin memories to show us what she has carried up from the depths.


“Through these poems, Lauren Carter tells a beautiful and heartfelt story of lives lived, lives lost and lives never-to-be. Lauren put her whole self into this work and you can feel it.” – Naomi MacKinnon,


“Lauren Carter’s poems plumb landscapes of precarious settlement in a fluid dance of lament and praise, illuminating the histories of families who carved hope and survival out of treacherous conditions. These poems are grounded in the spare, sensuous language of contemplative attention, at once raw and graceful, quaking with loss. Here, the steadfast cling to life through bitter winters in Northern Ontario, with only slivers of fish for survival, yet, like their descendants, remain lit by the “tiny diamonds” of their dreams. Following Sea speaks to the listening heart, to those who know intimately how barren territory inspires strength that survives generations.” — Lorri Neilsen Glenn, author of Following the River: Traces of Red River Women

“This is a startlingly beautiful collection of poems and the weaving together of nature, grief, history and domesticity bring to mind the work of my very favourite, and much missed childless poet, Mary Oliver. I’ve often felt that grief like ours has the power not just to break our hearts, but to crack them open to a love and appreciation of the natural world a little more intensely than those wrapped up in the hurly-burly of family life perhaps have time to appreciate; whether or not that’s true in general, it’s certainly true for ‘Following Sea’. Whether you’re a seasoned reader of poetry or a first-timer, there’s a richness in Lauren’s words that really nourishes the soul.” – Jody Day, Gateway Women

“I think of Lauren Carter’s Following Sea as a scale that weighs the past against the future. Carter’s retrospective gaze does not dip into nostalgia or sentimentality; neither does it romanticize cottage life or the hardship of settlers. Instead, with depth of feeling and restraint of language, she offers us a balancing act of heritage, hardship, and hope. In her words, “I look backwards / because the future / is too hard to bear.” She only looks to the past; she does not retreat into it. The past and the future pull us at each arm: “All morning // the cemetery / tugged at me, but I didn’t go.” That’s the point. Carter does not disappear into the unknowable past or the unknowable future but plants herself as a fulcrum in the now.” —Ian Williams, author of Personals and Reproduction 


Lichen Bright 

The poems in Lichen Bright follow the protagonist into a spare, stripped down, emotionally bereft relationship … The poems are thoughtful, subtle, and emotionally charged, but not sentimental. Nor do they bog down in their emotion—there is a powerful forward movement to the collection; the narrator has somewhere to get to … there is a craftedness to the collection which displays thoughtful reflection, consideration, and re-consideration. – Laurence Steven, publisher

“This collection is a stunning debut. It has many metaphorical doorways, leading to many readings and re-readings, and the architecture of the book is such that one cannot but stop and wonder at the beauty of Carter’s craft and skill.”
– Kim Fahner, Canadian Book Review Annual

“Her poems… are accessible, concerned mostly with exploring our humanness, and enveloped by the inevitable sadness of life.” – The Salt Lake Tribune

Longlisted for the ReLit Prize


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