Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #7

Dear Mystery Agent,

For Hagai's 17th birthday, he receives a stone from his mother that shows visions of the future. The thing is, Hagai thought his mother was killed ten years ago.

The bravest thing Hagai's ever done is put peppers in his stew, but when the stone shows his mother alive and in danger, he sets out to find her. Air pirates are hunting the stone too, and it's not long before a young pirate named Sam nicks it. Hagai tracks Sam down and demands the stone back--politely, of course, because Sam's got a knife.

Oddly, Sam offers him a job. He needs someone non-threatening to consult a seer hiding among the monks, and he reckons Hagai is as non-threatening as they come. Hagai agrees, intending to turn Sam in at the first opportunity. But when the seer says Sam is the key to finding his mother, Hagai chooses his mother's life over the law.

Though Sam has the Imperial Navy and the world's most ruthless pirate on his keel, Hagai joins Sam's crew, headed toward some godforsaken island he's never heard of. He doesn't trust Sam, and the stone haunts Hagai with visions of his own death. Nonetheless, he's determined to change the future and find his mother, if it's not already too late.

AIR PIRATES is an 84,000-word YA adventure. I think it would appeal to readers of Scott Westerfeld's LEVIATHAN trilogy. My short story "Pawn's Gambit," set in the same world as AIR PIRATES, has appeared in BENEATH CEASELESS SKIES.

I've pasted the first 250 words below. Thank you for your time and consideration.



"You've been here every day for a week, mate," the shopkeep said.

"Good stew." Sam tugged his hood, keeping his grimace carefully shadowed. He had thought he could say it with a straight face.

"I ain't seen you in town before. You waiting for someone?"

Sam slurped his pepper stew. Though if there was pepper in it, Sam hadn't found it. Hadn't found much flavor at all, really--he suspected his stew had come from the same pot all week.

The shopkeep eyed him warily. "You ain't a knocker, are you?"

"Wouldn't be a smart question if I were, aye?" Sam glared like a hungry wolf. He was only eighteen, but he could make an imposing figure when it suited. The sword at his hip didn't hurt either. Sometimes it was best to let folks think you were dangerous, as showing them only caused trouble.

Other times--and the way the man fidgeted with his greasy apron told Sam this was one of those times--it was best to play it friendly. Sam smiled. "I'm just drumming you, baron. I ain't gonna kill anyone."

"Course." The shopkeep laughed nervously. "But you are waiting?"


The Agent said...

How does Hagai get the stone from his mother if she isn't there? Other than this question, I want to know more about the world they live in. Give one or two sentences to the world building. I'm assuming it's future, but then you compare it to Levithan which is Steampunk. Identifying your genre more specifically will better target your agent.

Sample Page: I'd keep reading, but I'd pay attention to your dialogue (I'm always wary when scenes begin with dialogue). Also, I was expecting to pick up with Hagai right away, so I was pleasently surprised when it started with Sam (and I had no idea he was so young--I was expecting someone more like Captain Shakespear from Stardust, from the description in your query).

Sharon Bayliss said...

I like the idea of a YA novel about young pirates. That sounds fun. I am curious, are they traditional pirates a ala Captain Hook/ Jack Sparrow? I assumed so except for the title, what do you mean by "Air Pirates?"

I think your query would be improved with a little simplification. I don't know if I need a lot of the plot details in the third paragraph. I would remove most of that and just add enough info to show that Hagai becomes an unlikely pirate in order to find his mother. That's a nice idea for a premise, but it's a little watered down in specifics.

Good luck!

Theresa Milstein said...

I was also confused by the start of the query. It does sound like the mom gives him the stone. Other than that, you have a good hook.

Starting with dialogue is sometimes confusing because we don't have any setting or idea of the characters yet. But it made for interesting tension once I got into it. Good luck!