Wednesday, October 26, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #14

Dear Agent,

By twelve years old, Ebele Xia Scott's spent half of her life auditioning and she's well on her way to stardom, having performed on Broadway's brightest stages. But Ebi's dreams go dark when her adoptive parents move the whole family to tiny Princeton, NJ. Now if she wants to act professionally, she'll have to audition for the local regional theatre's production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

Ebi expects to awe her castmates with her experience and talent, maybe even teaching them a thing or two about real theatre, until she is forced to share her role with two other girls. Taking matters into her own hands, she concocts a series of sabotages to convince the girls a theatre ghost is haunting them, to scare them into quitting. What Ebi doesn't realize is an actual ghost is waiting in the wings, ready to lead her through scenes of her past, present, and future to show Ebi the importance of collaboration, friendship, and the magic of theatre. 

UPSTAGED, a middle grade contemporary fantasy complete at 51,000 words, is a retelling of Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Fans of the authenticity of Tim Federle's BETTER NATE THAN EVER and the heart of Raina Telgemeier's DRAMA will find much to love in UPSTAGED. 

I am currently an MFA student in Children's Literature at Hollins University. My short fiction has been published and podcasted. When I'm not writing (or reading!), I make costumes for the same Tony Award-winning regional theatre that Ebi snubs. I haven't met any ghosts (yet). 



DIRECTOR'S Theatre Ghost's NOTE 

Marley's dead to start off. That's necessary info, so when he shows up to chat with Scrooge, it's scary. People think of A Christmas Carol as a Christmas story, but it's a ghost story too. In fact, the ghosts are my favorite part. Which might not be surprising, since I'm a ghost too. But I'm not scary and I'm definitely not dead. We'll get into that more later. 

Right now, I want to introduce you to someone. Every few years a person's essence is so disruptive that it jolts me from my rest in McCarter Theatre's dusty, abandoned tower. Ebele Xia Scott is the loudest, and Scroogiest, I've ever heard in the fifty years I've hung around the theatre. Not that Ebi's greedy for money. She just really, really wants--other things. But you'll see soon enough. 

For now, just settle in. 


And enjoy the show. 

Act I, scene 1: 

Whoever scheduled Carol auditions for late August was as dumb as a doornail. By twelve, Ebi did not consider herself a method actor, but she still sat under the biggest air conditioning vent she found in the chaotic theatre lobby, and imagined herself on the cold, winter streets of a Dickensian London. Past the other child actors and their anxious, milling moms, the glass doors revealed a late afternoon hazy with heat.


Bruce Pollock said...

This story is very appealing to me, although I'm not sure the query and the first 250 words are doing it justice. I would definitely ask for more, just to find out! I like the idea of a Broadway baby fish out of water, although Princeton, New Jersey is hardly the hinterlands. Maybe I'd move her to Delaware. Anyway, I can really see a young Brooke Shields type as a mean girl. The story also has satiric potential, if you want to throw in stage parents and the Broadway mishaps in her background.

The Agent said...

I guess I don't buy the conceit of Princeton being so far removed from Broadway that it warrants such disdain. It makes me dislike the protagonist as a brat instantly. Maybe set the story in some real nowhere place. But, because of that instant knee jerk "yikes", I am not interested.

Jessi said...

Thanks so much for your feedback, Bruce and mysterious agent!

C.F. said...

I like the query. It held my interest, but I agree that you character comes off a bit too snubbish for my taste. Maybe find a way to make Ebi sound a bit better in the query and not so in your face better, or so she thinks. I like the way the story started though. It was different and I thought very well done. It seems very unique, so make sure it comes off that way in the query. Good job and hope this helps!

Jessi said...

That does help! Thanks, CF.

Suzanne Warr said...

I was intrigued by the concept and enjoyed it once we got into Ebi's pov, but the ghosts voice felt forced to me. I wonder if it's the format, which distances the reader from a more visceral connection to the ghost?

It's certainly a fun idea!

Suzanne Warr said...

I was intrigued by the concept and enjoyed it once we got into Ebi's pov, but the ghosts voice felt forced to me. I wonder if it's the format, which distances the reader from a more visceral connection to the ghost?

It's certainly a fun idea!

Charles Kowalski said...

Sorry to be late to the party. I love this premise! The query, I thought, flowed very well; it gave me a clear sense of the story and you. I second the motion to move the setting to some unknown town far from Broadway, and either to play up the ghost's narration more or wait until later in the story to introduce him/her/it. Otherwise I think you have a great concept here and I'm looking forward to seeing the final masterpiece!

Jessi said...

Thank you so much, Charles! What kind words and perfect timing for a rough Monday. :)

Jessi said...

Thanks Suzanne.