My Novel

When I tell people that I’m a writer, one of their first questions is always, “What’s your book about?”  That’s a hard one for me because, as it turns out, I suck at summarizing.  Last week I went to a writing workshop in Seattle and was fortunate enough to get to pitch my novel to an agent.  Guess what, pitching is basically summarizing your novel.  Bummer.  Luckily, I pitched to a fantastic agent who managed to understand all my floundering about and she liked my story.  She asked to see the full manuscript, which is a great honor for me.  Doesn’t mean I’m getting published, but it’s a step.

So, point of all of that rambling is that I’m trying to get better at summarizing.  My current novel, WITHIN, is a YA Gothic Fantasy.  What that means is its a Fantasy book for Young Adults (although adults can read it too, I happen to love YA books) and it’s set in the Victorian Era, hence the word Gothic.

LUCY GELLING is a seventeen year old girl completely isolated from the outside world of Victorian England.  Her adopted family fell into disgrace with the Prince Regent, and now lives in seclusion on the Isle of Man.  When JAMES stumbles up the path to her Manor, he is under the impression that it is abandoned and is intending to use it as a hideout.  He is trying to outrun a horrible secret that could see him hanging at the end of a noose.  Lucy takes a chance and promises to hide James, even though he won’t share the details of his past.

Both lonely, they quickly become friends and begin to develop feelings for each other.  James reveals that he is hiding because he killed a boy who was tormenting him at school. Lucy accepts this and shares her secret; she thinks she’s being haunted.  She has nightmares that leave her with injuries on waking, and is followed at night by shadows that belong to no one.  She has shared this with her family, but they tell her that she is imagining things.

One night she feels compelled by a strain from a violin and in following the sound, sees death’s head with glowing eyes staring at her from an abandoned room.  Terrified by the sight, Lucy convinces her nanny to tell her something of the family’s history.  She learns that they are not the people she thought they were, but in fact have pasts littered with secrets, lies, and bodies.  But even the nanny will not tell Lucy of her birth.  James promises to help her find the truth of her past, but the harder they look the more frightening things get for Lucy within the Manor.  An attempt on her life finally opens her eyes to the truth; someone or something is out to get her.

James promises to take her away from it all, but can she leave without learning the secrets that her family are holding so close?  As the Manor walls begin to close in on her, Lucy may learn that the truth is the most frightening thing of all.

I am currently in the process of querying agents about WITHIN, which means I am looking for a literary agent to represent my work.  I will post excerpts from this and my other works here on my blog.  Hope you like my summary.  If you like my blog, please be kind and register.  That way you get emails whenever I post a new blog and you get to comment.  Just scroll down to Meta and click on register.  You will put in a username and an email and it will send you a link.

Thanks for reading!

Harper Lee and Today’s Readers

To Kill a Mockingbird was published forty-five years ago.  This year Harper Lee, age 88, will release the sequel that no one expected.  Unquestionably it will be well written, interesting, and probably, if not as important as her first, at least a well recognized piece of literature.  But Go Set a Watchmen will be published into a very different world than To Kill a Mockingbird.  Now, I’m not saying that this story is no longer relevant, far from it.  I’m simply curious to see how today’s readers receive and perceive Lee’s work differently now than how it was perceived in 1960.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a book about racial injustice and the end of childhood innocence.  Lee has been quoted as saying that the book was inspired by events in her own life, most importantly on an event she witnessed in 1936, as a ten year old child.  The novel received a Pulitzer Prize, and though far from being the only novel tackling the race issue, it is probably the one most read.

In 1960, Brown v. Board of Education was not even a decade old and segregation was dying a slow death.  The Civil Rights Movement was in the forefront of politics and nearly everyone had a heated opinion.  Into this hotbed of controversy, Lee published her novel that told the story of Scout, a young girl living in the South.  Through her eyes, Lee shows a small town where white men are believed and protected, even when the evidence against them is overwhelming.  We felt Scout’s horror at the outcome of the trial against Tom Robinson.  As her childish belief in the system of justice and in her father’s power are destroyed, we too were disenchanted with the system that would condemn an innocent man simply because of his skin color.

Now, those are the emotions that I felt reading that book in the early nineties, a time where segregation was an abhorrent tradition that ended long before my birth.  I can well imagine that not everyone had that reaction when first reading this book in the sixties.  But it was well received and I believe it aided the Civil Rights Movement.

Fast forward to July 14, 2015 and we will read Go Set a Watchman for the first time.  I don’t know much about this book except that it features the same characters and is narrated by Scout as adult, visiting her father in her hometown in Alabama.  That town was plagued by prejudice in 1960, will anything have changed?

Though far from perfect, we have come far on the issue of racial injustice, but America still suffers greatly from prejudice.  Daily, people are bullied and persecuted for having different skin color, beliefs, or life styles.  Will Lee tackle any of these issues in her book, or will she simply use it as a platform to show us where Scout, Atticus, and possibly Boo Radley are in their lives?  Knowing Lee for the fearless writer that she is, I tend to think that once again, the earth will move.

What do you think?  Will Harper Lee pull out another Pulitzer Prize?  How do you think readers today differ from To Kill a Mockingbird’s generation?