Monday, February 4, 2013

Bouncer Post #122

Genre:  YA Fantasy
Word Count:  95,000


Fourteen-year-old Freddy just wants to stay beneath the radar, surviving high school by not drawing attention to herself.  However, everything in her life seems to be going wrong at once.  Her friends are pulling away from her, her mother and stepfather have disappeared into their own little world, her stepbrother’s presence in her house is becoming intrusive, and Freddy’s constant directionless anger is beginning to escape her control.  When a scatterbrained private investigator and a sarcastic teenager named Josiah move in next door and attach themselves to Freddy, it seems just another complication.  Then Freddy and Josiah walk through a door into the middle of a battle in medieval Sweden.  Moreover, Josiah is completely unsurprised that they have done so.

Freddy finds herself bouncing around through space-time, forced to negotiate the perils of Stone Age social customs, futuristic gang warfare, burgeoning hormones, drug-induced poetry composed by a manic-depressive, and an incarnation of chaos with a fixation on squirrels.  Simultaneously, she must both try to find a way back home and puzzle out exactly what her new neighbours—whoever and whatever they really are—want with her and her fragmented family.

THE HOUSE ON GROSVENOR STREET is a darkly comic time-travel tale that also deals with the power, and the danger, inherent in stories.  This 95,000-word novel follows Freddy’s struggle to come to terms with herself against the backdrops of high school and the entire history of the human race, not necessarily in that order.

First 250:

Freddy never knew exactly how well or how badly she remembered that encounter in the park.  She hadn’t done much with the memory—taking it out whenever she touched the key, but not for more than a few seconds at a time—and she sometimes thought she preferred it vague.  But she found it varied much more than her other memories did.  Some things that had happened to her she remembered sharply, as if she had stepped away from the time of the memory only just now; some had faded to a fuzzy grey.  Mel told her once that this was supposedly normal and had something to do with synapses, but Freddy didn’t pay much attention to Mel when she used words that were bigger than she was.  The encounter in the park was sharp and fuzzy at the same time.  She could feel the wood of the bench digging into her legs; she could see the key flashing between the woman’s fingers.  She thought she remembered every word they had spoken.  Maybe she was just pretending she did.  A lot of the images were blurred, incomplete.

She thought it had gone like this:

The voices from the house faded behind her as Freddy tore across the front yard and then the street, heading into the park.  She had run into the park a lot lately.  Her parents didn’t ever really talk any more; it was all screaming, broken by intervals of icy silence.  


  1. The idea of bouncing around through time, dealing with all kinds of cultures, is an interesting one. In your query, I'm not sure if you need so much description of Freddy's present life. You might be able to summarize it in one sentence and then jump to the catalyst for the story - meeting her neighbors and popping to medieval Sweden. A couple more details on her travels might also entice to read more.

    The other thing I'd like to see more of is the stakes: if Freddy hates time travelling, misses her family or whatever the reason she wants to get back home.

    In your first 250, my feeling is that it might make sense to cut from "But she..." to "...a fuzzy grey" in order to get us more quickly to the memory that must be very important to Freddy. I might also suggest to break the paragraph before "The encounter..."

    Good luck!

  2. I agree with Laura on the query about Freddy's present life, but it depends on how much time we're going to spend IN her present life. If we spend more time jumping around through history (which I LOVE), we can cut that down a bit. Also agree about the stakes.

    Your first 250 could be cut as well. Your writing is strong in this sample, but we don't need as much before the memory. I wanted to get to the memory before the 250 were used up (because I want to read more!).

    Best of luck!

  3. Your story premise sounds fun and exciting, and I'm curious about Freddy's strange neighbors and their ability to time travel through doors! I also like your voice in the first 250 words. Both of those together make this a book I'd really like to read! Good luck in the contest!

  4. First, I want to say that I really like the humor that is obviously woven through both your query and the story! Your voice is great! Like everyone else I get a little lost in your opening paragraph. Not that the writing is bad! But that's a lot of musing about the memory and how memories work. The images are wonderful but I'm not sure it's needed.

    Overall I want to read on and learn all about Freddy and her time travels and her new mysterious neighbors!

    Good luck!

  5. Thanks, guys. The fact that you have all mentioned that I go on about memory for too long is probably a clue of some sort. I'll look into shrinking that paragraph down. Regarding Laura's comment about too much emphasis being put on Freddy's life before the time travel: actually, this is a big part of the story. I hate and fear queries and can never get them right, but perhaps I shall someday find a way of expressing the fact that the novel is sort of half time-travel fantasy, half contemporary-set mystery revolving around what happens when a fourteen-year-old kid trying desperately to fly under the radar at school finds herself nursemaiding two apparently supernatural people who seem to want something slightly sinister from her and her siblings. Whenever I try to explain it clearly, all the words get in the way.