Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bouncer Round 6 #39

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 86,000


At seventeen, Colin Coghill has experienced enough heartache and adventure to encompass two lifetimes. Having lost his father several years earlier during the battle of Grindalythe and spending the last few years recovering great treasure as well as facing massive creatures as he sought retribution, Coghill’s new life as the youngest assistant lecturer at Magdalen College in Oxford, now remains mercifully quiet.

Set in 1910 England, Coghill finds himself in a setting that is perfect; teaching subject matter he loves, in a place he feels the most comfortable, surrounded by a rich tradition of both writing and magic. But the reprieve is short-lived as one-night, monsters of the Darkness crawl out onto the very streets of Oxford searching for him. After a punishing battle that had put both students and faculty at risk, Coghill finally has to accept his role in a war that has been raging for the last two centuries.

Leaving Oxford, Coghill reunites with his best friend Seamus. Together they look for a way back into North Yorkshire and the closer they get, the more frightening the monsters that block their way become. For the first time, trolls, goblins, dwarves, elves, Rangers, Frytons and several of the other peoples of the former North Yorkshire unite in their effort to put an end to the Darkness.

I am a few credits away from getting my Masters in English Literature with a concentration in Fantasy (Tolkien, CS Lewis, Lewis Carroll, GK Chesterton, etc.) and wrote this novel over the past 6 months while taking these classes.

First 250:

Even at seventeen-years old, Coghill’s appearance on the grounds of Magdalen College was a breath of fresh air. Tousled brown hair, broad smile, a hearty laugh and clear, grey eyes, he remained a mystery to student and faculty alike.

During his first few weeks in Oxford, he chose to stay close to campus for inspiration and revitalization.  Coghill recognized that his imagination was nurtured by literature, but also found it renewed by the beauty of the countryside he would see on the long walking tours he took throughout the campus. 

And while he still remained plagued with remnants of the challenges and missteps that appeared to be so vivid and compelling in his dreams, he would give snippets of his adventures to the other members of “The Notions Club” a small literary group he had founded made up of some of the most prolific writers of the time.

Unlike more formal groups there were no rules, officers, agendas or elections, just the opportunity to gather together one night a week, for conversation, drinking and to read passages from their unfinished works.  The members of the Notions Club thrived on conversation and the elusive possibility of finding flaws in the works of the others.  Yes, for them there was nothing better than good conversation and a pint of beer.

Gratefully however, his life over the next few months, would remain mercifully quiet.

As an assistant lecturer to the tenured Professor of Medieval Literature at Magdalen College, it was an opportunity that made so much sense to Coghill at that point in his life, teaching subject matter he loved, in a place he felt the most comfortable, surrounded by friends he loved dearly.


  1. I'm intrigued by your protagonist; I'd like to know more about him (not in the first 250 words, but eventually). I'm also a little bit worried by his situation, simply because I know from personal experience how much education it takes to become an assistant lecturer. Even a seventeen-year-old turn-of-the-century genius would have to hustle to cram all that studying in there and then actually be hired by the university, and it seems he's been spending the last few years (since he was fourteen?) doing something else entirely. It's a neat situation for a young protagonist to be in, but it also stretches credibility.

    Regarding your first 250: again, I sense some interesting stuff here, but there seems to be an awful lot of exposition. You are telling rather than showing, and it's therefore a little difficult to become immersed in the story. I approve of the idea of a medievalist hero, but I want to get to know him organically, not simply be told what he's like and what he feels.

    Good luck in the round, and preemptive congratulations on your Masters...


  2. Really original premise. I love English literature, so anything based in England gets my vote! I agree with Kari that your first 250 has a lot of exposition. The best advice I've received on both my query and first page is to put your MC in the middle of action. The exposition will unfold both through interaction with other characters and through description. Great concept. I'd love to see it start with a meeting of the Notions Club or with Coghill giving a lecture, maybe not letting readers know he's only 17 until after they've seen him in action. Love the name Coghill, btw. Sounds professorial, but then he's this 17-year-old kid. Good juxtaposition.

    Good luck!

    --Amy (#34)

  3. I love the premise! I thought the query was just a little long but the first 250 was wonderful. I love the idea of the Notions Club. I really would like to sit in on one of their sessions.

  4. This concept sounds really fascinating. Your story almost sounds like it's audience should be Adult Fiction, not YA. It might be as easy as switching the age of the MC.

    I know I for one would be really excited to read something about a young college professor that was say 24 years-old. I'm getting my PhD and my husband is a college prof so I would totally relate more if the MC wasn't so young. Plus the New Adult genre is getting really hot right now!

    Carissa -- #24

  5. I agree with the previous commenters. It definitely has more of a traditional fantasy feel (as opposed to young adult). Also, I think your genre is more historical fantasy than urban fantasy (or historical urban fantasy, if you like, but the historical should be there).

    This is a VERY interesting premise, and I think you have a ton going for you! Good luck!

    Larissa (#18)