Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #40

Dear Agent:

Seventeen year old, Sophie McConnell lives in a world of truth, sense, and logic, right up until her dead mother shows up for soup and a bit of a chat.

But, Sophie’s fine. Really.

It doesn’t matter that her father takes them away from their place by the sea.
It doesn’t matter that she never seems to sleep, or that she’s starting to act this side of crazy.
It doesn’t matter that she’s forgetting how to be Sophie.

But when some mysterious guy shows up on her doorstep--under the strict instruction of her mother--to take her back where she came from, it matters.

Going back conjures up images and truths she’s not ready to face of a place begging her to remember. But if she remembers, then she’ll know her name isn’t Sophie. She’ll know her mother and her ran away from their history, their belonging, their real life, a long time ago.

She’ll know there’s no logic or sense left, just facts. And the fact is, she’s a lie.

Sophie follows a trail of truths amongst a land that remembers, where the past lifts the edges of the present and slides itself underneath. She stands before the people of the land as their chieftainess returned to them, and she’s trying to remember that person, when all she really knows now is how to be Sophie.

Two worlds. Two Sophie’s. Which world to stand in? Which girl to be?

KORU, complete at 82,000 words, written for the upper end of the YA market, touches on magical realism through the influence of Pacific Island mythology. Comparative titles based on their emotional landscape, would be ‘Jellicoe Road’ and ‘The Sky is Everywhere’. And as an alternative positioning, playing on KORU’s magical realism elements, I’d pull on ‘Imaginary Girls,’ by Nova Ren Suma, or ‘Evermore,’ by Alyson Noel. Of course this is all work I greatly admire.

I have included the first 250 below and should you wish to see anything further, please let me know. Thank you very much for your time.



Fact One

Possibility died. Logic, sense, they were the next to leave, and I started my slow claw to something else--someone else. It should’ve been easy for someone like me. I’m the product of lies. I am a lie.

But, the facts.

It was Tuesday. The sun shone, the sky blue. I got home early--Tuesday being my cruisey day, if anything could be cruisey about senior year. The wind started picking up, pelting my legs with black sand. I bolted for the back door, fiddled my key into the lock and swung myself inside, but as soon as it clicked shut, I felt it.

Something wasn’t right.

The seashell chimes tinkled in the window. Mum made me take them down, said it pained her hear them, but there they were after weeks of only a bare string whipping in the breeze.

I stepped in further.

The curtains breathed against opened windows, the room full of blinding light. I do not come home to light filling in spaces, or the smell of sea air forcing out the staleness of a house locked up in goodbyes. I come home to a cocoon of darkness, stillness--a careful-how-you-walk kind of quiet, one that’s touched the edges of death.

I slid my backpack off my shoulder and beyond the thud of it hitting the floor, I heard her. ‘Hey, Soph.’

Her voice sent a jolt straight through me, a shock that riddled me with pain and something else--longing.

And she sounded so…normal.  So very normal. So very Mum.


Janet Johnson said...

I really like your writing. Lots of great imagery and emotion.

On your query, there was a grammar mistake: "her mother and SHE ran away" (instead of her).

"under the strict instruction of" threw me, too. Feels a bit off. Perhaps "on her mother's orders"?

And the line about the lifting the edges . . . it's beautiful, but it's pretty vague.

Overall, I felt like I needed just a few more details to really be pulled in. The writing really is beautiful, but it was all too vague. I wanted something a little more solid to understand the plot.

As for your page, there was a typo in the 6th paragraph: "pained her TO hear them . . ." (to was missing). But otherwise, it was really gorgeous writing. Beautifully done!

Best of luck with this. :)

Anonymous said...

Love the idea - and this idea of her identity.

I had trouble with the following bits:

"he’ll know her mother and her ran away from their history, their belonging, their real life, a long time ago."

"Sophie follows a trail of truths amongst a land that remembers, where the past lifts the edges of the present and slides itself underneath."
- I feel this world needs a bit more explaining - difficult to grasp.

The first part I think would be better starting at "The curtains breathed..."
I liked the first bit but better later on. This way, you start in the action- the bit I found most compelling to read.

All the best! You've got a great piece. Would love your imput on mine - number 20! Thanks!

Lori M. Lee said...

I love the idea and your first page is great. I would have definitely read on. The only thing is that while your query started out great, you lost me halfway in. It started to become too abstract and I lost sight of what the actual conflict is.

Lindsey R. Loucks said...

The repetition in the query kind of annoyed me, and I agree with Lori above that it becomes too vague. I wasn't quite sure what the story was about.

The first page was super intriguing, though! Best of luck to you!

Unknown said...

I like the start of your query, and I love your first page and all it suggests.

I agree with other commenters, though, that the rest of the query is a bit dreamy and vague - I think this is one case in which you don't want the query to echo the tone of the novel quite so much.

Good luck!

The Agent said...

I can't say that I completely understand the story's premise based on the query, but I really really like the way it's written. It's a bit long but unfolds so beautifully that I want to follow and see where it leads.

That guides me through the opening paragraphs, which feel a bit amorphous and not quite grounded as I would like for the start of a story. (Then again, that may well be appropriate to the story itself!) I'm on the fence but intrigued; I would read on.

Rebecca said...

The query is well-written, and like others said, starts off great. And then around the 5th paragraph my mind faded out and I lost track of what I was reading. The query gave great clues as to what the story is about, without saying exactly what the story is about. So I'm kinda confused, but I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. You're sample was amazing. You have great talent and really set the scene for your readers. Great job!