I’m seeking representation for THE GEARS OF WAR, a 60, 000 word YA steampunk set in fantasy versions of
Ever since his sister died in an airship bombing raid, Kiyoshi has been keeping his grief-maddened mother stable by masquerading as the dead girl, clothing and mannerism including. When his mother unexpectedly dies, he’s left a very gender-confused teenager.
Determined to find the man within himself, Kiyoshi heads to the war front as the pilot of a mechanical steam weapon. His plan is hindered by a samurai who, believing that Kiyoshi is a girl in disguise, is intent on protecting ‘her’ from both the enemy and their fellow soldiers’ attentions. Kiyoshi is unable to discern if the attraction he feels for the samurai is real or a product of the years he spent pretending to be a girl.
Kiyoshi soon learns that the enemy has been sacrificing their own people to animate war golems with their souls. He meets a runaway golem on the battlefield, a former human girl named Jiao who managed to free herself from the magic that keeps golems bound to obey their master.
Together they embark on a quest to find a dragon to grant their deepest desire. Jiao wants to be a human girl and Kiyoshi is starting to think that’s what he wants to be, too.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
THE GEARS OF WAR
Every morning, Kiyoshi rose from sleep as a boy with messy hair, a slim frame and, usually, an urge to pee.
Every morning, he rolled up the futon and knelt before the shrine honoring his sister’s memory, gazing at her sunny face and burning incense for her. Aiko, the name on the picture said. Aiko, meaning beloved. Beloved of an entire family, jewel in the eyes of her parents and role model in the eyes of her little brother.
Every morning, he brushed his long hair until it lay straight and still against his back, dipped fingertips into bowls of cosmetics to outline eyes and lips and slid into one of his sister’s kimono.
Every morning, Kiyoshi entered the kitchen as a dead girl.
“Aiko!” her mother said, waving her chopsticks. “You’ll be late for work again. Hurry and eat.”
“Yes, mother. Sorry.” Aiko’s lips were always quick to smile with infectious cheer; they spread now in sheepish apology and the smile was returned.
Kneeling at the low table across from her mother, Aiko began her assault on the feast spread before her: miso soup, steamed rice, a rolled omelet, a bowl of fermented soybeans and various pickled vegetables. She ate as if to fill a bottomless hole, wielding her lacquered chopsticks like a weapon to slay her breakfast.
“Eat, eat,” her mother said. “You’re a growing girl and you have a day of hard work ahead.”