Thursday, August 26, 2010

10 Pitch Entry #25: MarcyKate

Title: THE GHOST WRITER


Genre: YA Ghost Story

Eighteen-year-old Tessa James can’t even watch Casper the Friendly Ghost without nightmares, so when letters written in a foreign language appear on her nightstand she does her damnedest to ignore the implications.

Soon Tessa realizes the letters are pieces of a diary, and the tale of Ava Dubois, a runaway millgirl turned rising starlet, begins to unravel. As Tessa is unwillingly drawn into Ava’s past, connections to the present become stark—and scary. Manchester’s Castle Theatre, her employer and once Ava's, is about to produce Hamlet, the very play canceled by Ava’s untimely death in 1935. A bizarre series of accidents plague the theatre staff, while the steady stream of letters and rumors of ghosts force Tessa into a dangerous game. Tessa wants no part of it, but the spirits won’t leave her alone, nor will the suspicious detective investigating the accidents. With the body count piling up—in the past and present—Tessa must checkmate her ghosts and Ava's if she wants to live long enough to have a future.

10 comments:

  1. I like the idea of ghost-diary mystery/haunted theater. But if this girl can't even watch Casper, wouldn't ghost letters on her nightstand send her into a nervous breakdown?

    I would start the query with a slightly rewritten second paragraph: Tessa finds mysterious letters on her nightstand; comes to realize they're some ghost diary; she slowly (not too slowly) puts the pieces of Ava's story together and unravels the connections to past and present; but as mysterious accidents at the theater and ghost rumors pile up, can Tessa stop the ghosts/unmask the bad guy/otherwise save the day before the shady detective/bad ghosts can stop her?

    Think it's a great story idea and would want to read more. Good idea for Tessa to be reluctant to get involved (really, who wouldn't?) but drawn in nevertheless.

    Could be interesting, too, to weave in a little history/theater lore into the letters as Tessa has to figure them out.

    (Aside: If the notes are in a foreign language, how does Tessa figure them out? And is it French or Spanish or Esperanto -- logically, what would a mill girl turned starlet speak?)

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  2. Love this. I'm just like Tessa (although I got through Casper just fine) but if letters appeared on my night stand, I'd probably freak out, not ignore them. I'd beg my parents to move out of state!

    That being said, I think this book sounds awesome. As freaked out by ghosts as I am, I'd pick this up in a store. :)

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  3. I'd cut 'slowly' but otherwise I love this.

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  4. Interesting premise! Very much like Phantom of the Opera.

    I think Casper kind of kills the somber mood I'd expect from this thriller-like ghost story (unless I'm missing the concept?).

    I wonder exactly how the MC is drawn into Ava's past and what the bizarre series of accidents are. It's important to keep mystery in query, but it's also important to not be too vague. And I'm left wanting more of a cliffhanger ending...

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  5. What a cool concept! I love the idea of the haunted theater and the past and present stories that are tied together.

    I'm a little thrown by the first sentence. It starts everything off with a little more of a lighthearted vibe by mentioning Casper, so when things continue on a more serious route, I'm a little off balance.

    I also wonder if you could be more specific and mention the language the letters are written in.

    This sounds spooky and mysterious...I'm so interested! Good luck!

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  6. Very cool concept! But I feel like I should let you know my knee-jerk reaction, since an agent might share it--it sounds quite a bit like the 90s PBS series "Ghost Writer" to me. With the title similarities, and the fact that ghosts are communicating via words, my first thought would be, what makes this different from that concept?

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  7. Great query and story line. Perhaps start the query with this: When mysterious letters written in a foreign language appear on her nightstand, eighteen-year-old Tessa James does her damnedest to ignore her growing suspicions of who's sending them. I agree with the others that you might want to name the language.

    I liked your second paragraph. It gives us just enough details of the connection and problem. And you nail the problem and stakes with the last two sentences. Good luck.

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  8. Eighteen-year-old Tessa James can’t even watch Casper the Friendly Ghost without nightmares, so when letters written in a foreign language appear on her nightstand she does her damnedest to ignore the implications. (I agree with the others-not sure about the Casper the Friendly ghost comment, seems out of place compared intensity of the rest of the pitch.)

    Soon Tessa realizes the letters are pieces of a diary, and the tale of Ava Dubois, a runaway millgirl turned rising starlet, begins to unravel. As Tessa is unwillingly drawn into Ava’s past, connections to the present become stark—and scary. Manchester’s Castle Theatre, her employer and once Ava's, is about to produce Hamlet, the very play canceled by Ava’s untimely death in 1935.(Oh I like this, theatre setting and ghosts make for a great combination) A bizarre series of accidents plague the theatre staff, while the steady stream of letters and rumors of ghosts force Tessa into a dangerous game. Tessa wants no part of it, but the spirits won’t leave her alone, nor will the suspicious detective investigating the accidents. With the body count piling up—in the past and present—Tessa must checkmate her ghosts and Ava's if she wants to live long enough to have a future. (not sure about this last line, I stumbled a little on checkmate her ghosts.)

    I really enjoyed this and would love to read more, this is very well done.

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  10. Thank you so much for the comments! I love the Casper line, but it sounds like it's a darling that needs to die - better to know sooner than later! I've revised it a little bit below. Thanks again!
    _____________________________________________
    Eighteen-year-old Tessa James gets cold and clammy at the slightest thought of ghosts, so when letters written in a French appear on her nightstand she does her damnedest to ignore the implications. Soon Tessa discovers the letters are pieces of a diary, and the tale of Ava Dubois, a runaway millgirl turned rising starlet, begins to unravel. As Tessa is unwillingly drawn into Ava’s past, connections to the present become stark—and scary. Manchester’s Castle Theatre, her employer and once Ava's, is about to produce Hamlet, the very play canceled by Ava’s untimely death in 1935. A bizarre series of accidents plague the theatre staff, while the steady stream of letters and rumors of ghosts force Tessa into a dangerous game. She wants no part, but the spirits won’t leave her alone, nor will the suspicious detective investigating the accidents. With the body count piling up—in the past and present—Tessa must checkmate her ghosts and Ava's if she wants to live long enough to have a future.

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