Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #19

Dear Ms. Marini,

Because of your preference for edgy YA, and also books with a supernatural bent, I think you might be interested in GHOST LIGHT.

After a heart transplant saves seventeen-year-old Natasha Bassett from the genetic disorder that killed her twin brother Nico, she adopts his lifelong goal of landing the lead in the Richard McAlister Shakespeare Program’s production of Hamlet.

The program only accepts boys, so Natasha takes off for London armed with Nico’s clothes and her survivor’s guilt. She’s banking on her broodiness to send her straight to Hamlet since she’s up against Britain’s most ebullient eighteen-year-old. Alleyn Edwards is so chipper that even his wheelchair radiates enthusiasm. Unfortunately, he’s the best actor Natasha has ever seen, and her feelings for him quickly become harder to hide than her B-cups.

Also, her brother’s spirit is trapped on the physical plane until she gets the role, and he’s willing to do anything to ensure his own return to the grave. Vengeful as he is, the ghost retains the essence of the boy Natasha desperately misses, but if she doesn’t find the strength to let go before the final cast list goes up, she and her rival/crush will become the victims of an increasingly sinister shade.

GHOST LIGHT is a dark Twelfth Night complete with boy-girl-girl love triangle. It is complete at 76,000 words.

I am a member of SCBWI and an MA/MFA candidate in children's literature at Simmons College. My blog, "Sense and Disability" chronicles my misadventures as a young woman with a disability.

Thanks for your consideration,

C.B.



GHOST LIGHT

Upon seeing loved ones appear at the Heathrow Airport arrivals gate, most people show increased excitement--shouting, jumping, tears, etc. At my approach, the bespectacled man in tweed stopped jumping around yelling, “Oi! Bassett!” He gaped like he’d seen a ghost.

In a way, he had.

The sensation of ghost-seeing didn’t have to be sparked by having an ephemeral being appear in front of you. It could come from tripping over a pair of abandoned shoes in the foyer, catching a whiff of cologne on an old coat, or reading a name printed on an official-looking letter on a Wednesday in October. I should have been desperate to escape those things. Instead, I’d charted a course that would inflict them on others.

The closer I got to my godfather, the paler he became, until his skin tone matched the crisp white paper of the acceptance letter in my bag. My luggage trolley fought to list to the left, preferring to join an Indian family reuniting at the end of the ramp. I didn’t blame it.
 
“Hi, Willis,” I said. Maybe I should have waited to make my transformation. I’d ducked into the family restroom on the way to customs to eliminate any chickening out opportunities. I’d been too focused on my own anxieties. Typical of my post-Nico mindset.
 
Next to us little girl shrieked and threw herself into her father’s arms. This snapped my godfather out of his catatonia and he held his arms out to me. “Well met, gentle Natasha.”

7 comments:

rlynn-solomon said...

I love Shakespeare retellings and stories about cross-dressing, so you hooked me right away. I like the twist you have: taking this classic comedy and infusing it with tragedy with the death of Natasha's brother. Your query also has excellent voice and some fantastic lines.

You lost me a little bit with the third paragraph beginning with "Also..." I didn't fully understand her brother/ghost's motivations. Did he want Natasha to get the role? What types of creepy, sinister things start happening? Is he threatening her life? I know you want to hint without giving things away, but I think this would benefit from more specificity.

Your words:
This is a random thought (and maybe it's just me), but the opening line reminded me of the movie Love Actually. Not sure if that was your intention, but thought I'd let you know! I do really love the second line, though, as you let us know it's a ghost story right away.

You have some nice descriptions in your first 250. I especially love how even the description of her godfather seems ghostlike.

Overall, I would definitely keep reading, but like I said before, I think the third paragraph of the query could use a bit of tweaking!

SM said...

Hi C.B. I would definitely move up the part about Natasha's brother being "trapped on the physical plane until she get the role," to the second paragraph of your query. It would help shore up her motivation for dropping everything to try to get the part.
I would also try to tie the "Vengeful" nature of his ghost to the plot of Hamlet.
Good start

Mystic Wyngarden said...

You had me at Shakespeare and Hamlet. Great ideas. I agree that the ghost part seemed almost an afterthought. In your writing, I think you need to work a little at showing, not telling, but it'll be worth it because your story is worth telling.

SM said...

Hi C.B. I meant to leave an example to illustrate my comments earlier, but I was really busy, so I'll take a stab at it now.

After a heart transplant saves seventeen-year-old Natasha Bassett from the genetic disorder that killed her twin brother Nico, she must take his place, fulfilling his dream of landing the lead in the Richard McAlister Shakespeare Program's production of Hamlet in order to free his spirit which is trapped on the physical plane.

The program only accepts boys, so Natasha takes off for London armed with Nico's clothes and a large dose of survivor's guilt. But, she'll need more than her natural broodiness to win the part from Britain's most ebullient eighteen-year-old actor. Alleyn Edwards couldn't be more different than Natasha. A happy soul, his wheelchair even radiates enthusiasm. He's the best actor Natasha has ever encountered, and her feelings for him quickly become harder to hide than her brassier.

Natasha must subdue her brother's vengeful spirit, ensuring his eternal slumber despite his interference. "Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night sweet prince; and flights of angels sing thee to they rest."

GHOST LIGHT is a dark Twelfth Night complete with a boy-girl-girl love triangle. It is complete at 76,000 words.

Good luck with this, like I said I think your query is off to a good start.

SM said...

Sorry I forgot one thing, right after shakespeare's Quote, you might write

She owes him that much.

Victoria Marini said...

I like this query. I’m fan of Shakespeare inspired tales, and the ghostly
element feels fresh enough - thanks to the Twelfth Night twist - that it could
stand up to competition. However, there are some problems with this letter.
First, the idea Nico’s ghost has been following Natasha around, bent on
revenge, right from the beginning doesn’t inspire much faith. Try to heighten
the sense that he slowly descends into fights of violence, revenge, and
madness. It will make Natasha’s ambivalence about her brother more
believable. So, I might begin with the ghostly element, and then close with
this concept that what started as a way to pacify her brother and assuage her
own guilt has become a life or death fight. And in general, avoid starting
paragraphs with “Also.”
And then in the sample itself, I think you’re over doing it a little bit. There are parts of this that feel inaccessible or clumsy. For example, “The sensation of ghost-seeing didn’t have to be sparked by having an ephemeral being appear in front of you,” … I tripped over it. You could have easily said “you don’t need to see a ghost to feel haunted” Or something to that affect. (Don’t judge me! I’m not a writer! Thank you!  ). What I mean is, don’t be afraid to simplify and just tell the story.

K.A.S. #5 said...

I really like retellings, so I love the idea of a Shakespeare retelling. I like the elements you are including: the theater, gender play, ghosts. I would be interested in reading more of this.