Dear Query Shark,
Sixteen-year-old loner Scott Foster spends his free time programming and writing science fiction stories. After the death of his infant sister, Scott's parents join an extremist religious sect that promises eternal life in a misguided effort to rebuild their lives and marriage.
Scott is the sole atheist in a congregation which believes that science, free thought, and disbelief are heretical. Though Scott opposes the church's views, he's afraid to tell his parents and risk alienating them. Still, he's horrified to see his parents become different people as they unquestioningly accept the church's radical beliefs.
When Scott's parents find that he is cutting himself (for reasons even Scott doesn't understand), they send Scott to a psychologist. Though initially unwilling to discuss his problems, Scott's loneliness overcomes his reluctance. Asked by his psychologist to keep a diary, Scott writes the story of his sister's death, his parents' conversion to born-again fundamentalism, and the reasons for his lifelong introversion. Scott's journal and his short stories intertwine with his day-to-day life to illustrate his frustration with a family that prizes civility and repression over emotional health.
Scott tries to find religious equilibrium with his parents, attempts to befriend a geeky classmate, and begins to accept his sister's death. As pressures from church and school build, his psychiatric sessions and increasingly sardonic short stories become outlets for his loneliness and frustration.
"The Dead Rise", a 70,000-word young adult novel and my first book, is a snapshot of the isolation of funerals, dogma, and high school. As an atheist who attended a fundamentalist church for two years, I've felt the isolation of disbelief in the midst of public scrutiny.
Per your submission requirements, below are the first (x) pages of the book.
Yup, that works. I'm going to ask for pages on this because of the story. I"m not in love with the very removed, bystander voice in the query letter, but I'm still going to read pages.
Dear Query Shark,
Scott Foster, sophomore and closet atheist, spends his free time programming and writing science fiction stories. After Scott's infant sister dies, his parents join a fundamentalist church in an effort to rebuild their lives and marriage.
Why is he a closet atheist? Were his parents in a more mainstream church before their daughter's death? What attracts them to the more charismatic church? Why ISN'T Scott attracted to it?
Scott's diary entries and short stories intertwine to illustrate a week in Scott's life: increasing pressure from his parents and friends to convert to their religion; his crush on high school princess Laura Hope; his continuing struggles to come to terms with his sister's death and his worries about his parents' new beliefs.
As introvert Scott muddles through the banalities of high school and his dubiety of religion, he attempts to understand his parents' faith, compose an essay for the school's first annual creative writing contest, and connect to another high school outcast.
As an atheist who attended a fundamentalist church for two years, I wrote "The Dead Rise" to describe the isolation of disbelief in the midst of faith.
uh oh. You better be writing it to tell a compelling story. That's always the start of a good novel. All that other illuminating stuff is secondary.
Thank you for considering my book, and I look forward to hearing from you.
The concept is more interesting than the writing. You don't quite have a compelling narrative voice here. You're talking about Scott rather than showing us what he feels. I think you may be biting off more than you can chew by trying to do this all in a single week.
I'd probably read this just cause I like the idea, but more often than not these ok, I'll give it a try end up being rejected at the partial stage cause they're not fully realized yet.
But, I'd read this.