Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #13

Dear Victoria Marini,

Fifteen-year-old Clay goes to Strawberry Hill for the camping, not the ghost hunting. His friend’s stories about a ghost on the hill and her fairy friends are not exactly the stuff nightmares are made of, especially since ghosts aren’t real and fairies are lame. Sure, people have died for unexplained reasons on Strawberry Hill, but that was before modern day science. A fresh body would solve the mystery, not that he is volunteering. Science can explain anything.

At first, the only thing Clay discovers during the ghost hunt is that the electromagnetic field detector can double as a football on a long boring night. Then he stumbles on the ghost and her friends, an ancient race of creatures once known as the fey. They give him access to their power, with an unnamed price attached to its use. He doesn’t plan to find out what that price is until his friend’s sister is hit by a car. Payment doesn’t even cross his mind when he puts his hand on her back and feels her bones realign through her skin.

Clay is instructed to return to Strawberry Hill at midsummer for payment, but the fey won’t tell him why. He tries to convince himself that everything is normal, which is difficult to do with a ghost and the bloodthirsty fey tagging along. No one is safe when the shadows have teeth. All he has to do is survive until midsummer and hope the fey let him go home when they’re done with him. If Clay isn’t careful, he could end up as another ghost on Strawberry Hill.

A classic ghost story with a twist, SHE CAME FROM THE HILL is for the younger end of YA and is complete at 58,000 words. Tweens and young teens who enjoyed the creepiness of Neil Gaiman’s THE GRAVEYARD BOOK and friendships in the classic movie THE GOONIES may enjoy this. Thank you for taking the time to read my query.



Nothing thrived at the far end of the park. Even laughter died at the first stunted tree. Clay tightened the straps on his overnight pack and pedaled up the steep path. He could have skipped the shortcut if Alex, who had the communication skills of a wet cell phone, called an hour earlier. Thick dust swirled around him and filled his lungs, making it difficult to breathe. He pedaled faster, his feet moving with the rhythm of his breath.

Dust clung to his skin like cobwebs, even after he left the park behind. He coasted down the road and skidded to a stop in Alex’s driveway. His friends were scattered around the yard, none of them in uniform. Clay brushed the dust from his scout shirt. They needed to take scouting more seriously, even if they were only going because none of them could drive yet. A summer without camping wouldn’t be summer.

Alex aimed a small camcorder at him and a light flashed in Clay’s eyes.

Clay shaded his face with his hands. “Alex!”

“The enhanced light works!” Alex turned it off, leaving Clay seeing spots.

“What’s the camera for?”

Alex shut the screen, leaned forward, and whispered, “The camera sees what we can’t.”

“Cameras don’t see. They record.” The scout master didn't let them go anywhere at night, no matter how quietly they sneaked out of the tent. Alex would not bring his camera unless he had a plan for it. “Is there really a scout camp this weekend?”


Amanda Foody said...

Your query is a little too long, but it's definitely interesting! The part about doubling as a football can probably be cut, and I think your first paragraph can be shortened a bit. I really like your title. Super creepy.

I was a little confused in your opening if his friends were scouts too or they just happened to be there when he showed up. Also, some of your metaphors/similes doesn't really do it for me. Dust like cobwebs.

I would definitely keep reading, though. I like Clay's outdoor-sy character.

Kristen Wixted said...

I love the creepy title too. I'm a little confused why merely stumbling on the fey gives him their power, and maybe that's not important, but it's kind of bugging me.

I do think you have a great ghost story, regardless!
Good luck.

Chelsey said...

Oh man, I love this if only for the "even laughter died..." line

Suja said...

I love the voice in your query and the first 250. I agree the query could be trimmed a bit, like the line about the field detector.
Sounds like a good ghost story

Utsav said...

I have had the opportunity of reading this somewhere else and as was then, it's still all parts awesome! The tension in the sample is extremely cool.

Victoria Marini said...

The voice in your 250 is working. I love the exploring the unpaid debt he's made with the fey. I did have some concerns. First, the query is a little bit too long and I think you could make it a bit clearer. Lines like "science can solve anything" and "He doesn’t plan to find out what that price is until his friend’s sister is hit by a car" could be cut without damaging the query. Second, paranormal YA is saturated right now and you've got ghosts AND fairies and I'm not sure what purpose this ghost serves. It sounds like the chief conflict here is between Clay & the fey. While I suspect the ghost is a victim of the fey, I'm worried that - rather than a fresh spin - this is simply too much. Still, I'd keep reading.