Thursday, January 20, 2011

Query 54

The Forbidden Fruit of Faerie

Seventeen-year-old Taren Alder lives in emotional solitude. Between the death of his brother and his parents’ deteriorating marriage he’s never felt more alone. When he meets Elora, a girl who appears to be a teenage runaway, he believes he’s finally found the friend he so deeply desires.

But the daughter of the Unseelie Queen has different plans for Taren. Born into a world of corruption, she's determined to free her people from her mother’s tyranny. If she can obtain the willingly offered blood of a human, the final ingredient in a spell to bind her mother, she can crush the Dark Court and bring equality to faerie kind.

In "The Forbidden Fruit of Faerie," a 75,000-word YA urban fantasy, Taren does everything he can to help Elora start a new life, even introducing her to the world of high school. But in his quest to protect her from the dangers of the human world, he fails to recognize the biggest danger of all: falling in love with a princess of the Dark Court.

I have a BA in English Literature and the magazines "Illumen" and "Sounds of the Night" have published my writing. Thank you for your time.

Comments

I have a question and would really like to hear what others think. I know I've seen a few agents who say they would like to see more YA romances told from the male POV. I get that it's different. I get that YA romance is hot right now and publishers would love to capture more of a male audience. But is a sensitive male in love with a strong supernatural being the recipe for delivering that audience? Who do YOU see as the audience for a tale like this?

The author tells me she's switched focus to the male lead since her first draft of the story, apparently after writing another book that she's shopping now and for which we've recently seen a very attention-grabbing query. If you want to compare the current story line with the original, her query was Face-Lift 578 over at Evil Editor's place.

Seventeen-year-old Taren Alder lives in emotional solitude. Between the death of his brother and his parents’ deteriorating marriage he’s never felt more alone.

I think you can combine these sentences -- "emotional solitude" and "he's never felt more alone" both tell the reader pretty much the same thing.

When he meets Elora, a girl who appears to be a teenage runaway, he believes he’s finally found the friend he so deeply desires.

Since this is his POV, I think you can delete "a girl who appears to be" and use that space to tell us something about why he thinks she's the friend he needs.

But the daughter of the Unseelie Queen has different plans for Taren. Born into a world of corruption, she's determined to free her people from her mother’s tyranny. If she can obtain the willingly offered blood of a human, the final ingredient in a spell to bind her mother, she can crush the Dark Court and bring equality to faerie kind.

I think it would help here to know just how much of Taren's blood she needs so we understand the stakes. Are we looking at a betrayal of friendship if Elora succeeds in getting Taren to simply stab his finger to become her "blood brother" (in which case he never needs to know the truth about what Elora is), or does she need to take Taren back to Court with her, slit his throat with his permission and drain him dry? Is it Taren's trust/heart at risk or his life?

In "The Forbidden Fruit of Faerie," a 75,000-word YA urban fantasy,

Having the title/count/genre here feels off. It would feel more natural, I think, to come at the very beginning, right after a hook sentence (which you don't have in this query -- and that's OK), or at the end. It interrupts the story flow for me being here.

Taren does everything he can to help Elora start a new life, even introducing her to the world of high school. But in his quest to protect her from the dangers of the human world, he fails to recognize the biggest danger of all: falling in love with a princess of the Dark Court.

This paragraph confuses me. The failing to recognize line makes me think he knows Elora is fae. But if that's the case, what line did she feed him that he thinks she is trying to start a new life with humans? If he still thinks she's a human runaway, does he think she's been on the run for 3 years since I'm assuming she's about the same human age as Taren and wouldn't they be juniors? If he does think she's human, maybe phrase it that he's introducing her to HIS high school rather than "the world of high school."

But then I'm back to wondering if he knows what Elora is when I read "dangers of the human world." And I wonder what dangers that means because most teens in the U.S. don't feel particularly endangered, do they? Or are you talking about keeping her away from iron and silver and such?

Because we don't really know what Taren is risking by falling in love with Elora, the "biggest danger" bit falls somewhat flat. It goes back again to whether Elora is out to betray his trust or take his life.

I have a BA in English Literature and the magazines "Illumen" and "Sounds of the Night" have published my writing. Thank you for your time.

I think you're reaching a bit in your bio. Sorry. I'm guessing the work for "Illumen" was poetry, which doesn't really qualify as a cred. Nor does the BA. If you sold a short story to "Sounds", then I think you can focus on that: My fantasy short story, "Title," appeared in the Fall 20XX issue of "Sounds of the Night." Your cred being in the same genre as the novel is a plus, although really only a pro pub is going to make an impression.

Now, I've sold a handful of stories to pro venues when I was part of a famous SFF author/editor's stable of writers. But that was quite awhile ago and I don't mention it unless someone specifically asks for a bio. I don't list any creds in my queries and I've gotten many requests for partials and fulls for a couple of novels without them. So really, using that space to elaborate just a bit on your story may be a better use of the real estate.

I have to say, I'm not much in love with the title; it's not grabby, though it does convey salient points of the story. Alliteration doesn't put me off nearly as much as it does others, but there will be folk, I think, who'll sniff at it. But titles are pretty subjective.

This author has in the past demonstrated a terrific ability for taking raw feedback from commenters and turning it into gold. I look forward to posting her redux soon (hint, hint). (awwk, feeling the pressure yet?)

6 comments:

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hi,
Going from freeing her people from her mother's tyranny to bringing equality to fae kind hit me as two different things.

It came across to me that Elora is the real mc because there is more energy/passion in the writing about her than about Taren.

Not because Taren has a bleak life, he reads (to me) a little flat. a prop to get to Elora.
I like the writing, the story sounds cool. Maybe eliminate the first sentence and add his name and age into the second sentence?

Between the death of his brother and his parent's deteriorating marriage, Taren has never been more aloneisolated/lonely in his seventeen years.

Just a thought.
Mac

Matt said...

Just because an MC is male it does not necessarily mean a book is geared toward men. For example: The Notebook.

It goes the other way too. I can't think of any novels at the moment, but there are many video games and movies geared towards men that star females (Tomb Raider, Kill Bill).

In fact, if you know a thing or two about video games, go to youtube and search games that give players an option to choose their character's gender (Oblivion, Mass Effect). Many male players seem to choose a female character.

And, hey, just because I'm a male I can't read romance? I have a sensitive side, too

Anyway, I agree with Mac in that the girl seems more the MC here. The male needs to be more proactive and/or more involved. He doesn't have a clue what's going on around him -- at least it reads that way.

AA said...

I don't see Taren as the MC here, either. He is obviously not in control of the situation. The query is odd written from his POV.

I, also, would like to know what is at stake. I think you mean T must be willing to give his life for E, but it isn't clear.

Keep it up. I can see you're getting there.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

I liked this and thought you've got an excellent start. A couple small tweaks:

I agree we don't get much sense of Taren in the query. How does he deal with his pain? Does he act out, or hide behind a high-achieving facade, or just try to be invisible? And what does he see in Elora? Somebody who understands him, someone who makes him laugh, a puzzle to figure out, etc?

Is this a novel about him figuring out her secret? Or does he figure it out right away and then the story is deciding how to deal with it?

Also - and maybe this is just me - but I can't help thinking "Forbidden Fruits of the Faerie" sounds more like a romance novel than a YA urban fantasy. Like, an old school 80's/90's romance novel. With the big hair and Fabio on the cover. What about just "Forbidden" for a working title?

Sylvia said...

Funnily enough, I was recently reading about the high interest in m/m erotica that is apparently being driven by women (writing and reading). Certainly thinking about Harlequin, the main character is female but it would seem odd not to have the male viewpoint. So I think it follows that the readership for this is female (romance and fairies!) even though the narrator is male.

chelsea said...

Great comments everyone! I am working on the revision right now :)