Sunday, February 22, 2015
First 5 Pages February Workshop - Thompson Rev 2
Dear Ms. Sampsel,
I am hoping you will be interested in my 100,000-word YA fantasy novel, THE KEYS TO MIST AND LIGHT. It is the first in a planned trilogy about a “messiah” who refuses to sacrifice herself to save her world.
Lockrey Margathom, daughter of the clan chieftain, struggles with the limitations of her life: the all-encompassing religion that rejects her for being half-nymph, the clan leaders who ignore her because she is a woman, and the man who will marry her to become chieftain, but will want nothing more from her than an heir. When she learns a demon is destroying her world, she accepts she must give her life to save Mavornia… unless she discovers some worlds are meant to die.
The manuscript combines the philosophical exploration of His Dark Materials with the stylistic accessibility of The Lorien Legacies. I am querying you because you expressed an interest in relatable protagonists in YA fiction.
While studying at Cornell University, I interned for the Irish parliament during the peace process, where I learned first-hand how religion colors political and socio-economic issues. I worked for James Fallows on his book Breaking the News, How the Media Undermines Democracy and briefly at U.S. News and World Report.
Nicholas Kristof published my poem “The Doorbell” about the Iraq War on his New York Times blog (available by searching my name and the title) and I contributed a chapter to the first two editions of Skyhorse’s Cutting Edge Therapies for Autism. I have material ready for a sequel.
Many thanks for taking the time to consider representing me.
Name: Meghan Thompson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Title: THE KEYS TO MIST AND LIGHT
Lockrey sat straight on her bed, her heart pounding against her ribs. She couldn’t see. There was no light through the window. No shadows. The embers in her fireplace were dead. She reached out to grab a candle, but misjudging where it was, felt it fall away from her fingertips.
Instinct told her to scream, but she fought to calm herself. She was eighteen star cycles old – not a child who called for her mother because she was scared of the dark. Besides, she wouldn’t give the tower gossips any more reasons to talk about her.
A slight movement on the edge of her bed felt like someone sitting down. “Hello?” she said, but she couldn’t hear her voice – the word was swallowed by the dark. Lockrey’s pulse raced and beads of moisture formed on her temples.
Then, she felt the cold. Tendrils of iced air touched her feet. She kicked, curling her toes underneath her. It reached her knees, like some small creature crawling up her body. She slapped at her legs and jumped up, then tripped, falling hard onto the flagstone floor. She stayed still, steadying herself like she used to when she was a small child lost in the elvgrove forest.
A freezing vapor engulfed her and when next she inhaled, it scratched her throat and burned her lungs. Her body shuddered and her limbs thrashed. She coughed and clawed at her face as if to remove a mask.
Something was inside her.
Unable to move, she heard in her mind a voice edged in hate. It whispered, “Are you… Are you the Redeemer? I will find you… your soul. It will all be over soon…”
Lockrey’s mind filled with thoughts that weren’t her own and her body convulsed, as though rejecting her. The room dissolved and images flashed before her, like she was flying fast to another land.
Suddenly, she was in a cart next to a boy, perhaps four star cycles her junior and a girl, no more than eight. She tried to scream and reach for the children, but they ignored her like a ghost in the wind.
What is happening? Where am I? Why can’t they see me? Fighting to anchor herself, Lockrey quieted her thoughts and observed all she could of her surroundings. If she discovered where she was, perhaps she’d find a way back.
The boy next to her sat tall, his chest puffed out and his eyes alight. His dark-green skin told Lockrey he was from the Eastern Edge and the way it stretched tight over his lanky frame told her he needed more food. The tiny girl, who shared his features, watched his every movement with large almond eyes. Both children reeked of neglect: straggly hair, threadbare robes, distended bellies. Brown dust kicked up by the army that marched all around them was ground into their every pore.
The army, Lockrey now noticed, consisted of cressl beasts, which stretched in every direction. Their moss-colored bodies, covered in spikes and scales, required no armor. Their five-clawed feet stomped the ground in time to a quick-paced drum. These beasts served one purpose, destruction, and were the minions of the kings of the Eastern Edge. She tried to shut out the sight of them, but had no eyes to close.
As the clan chieftain’s daughter, she had been well educated, but she’d never been beyond Mythenrock’s borders. She’d never truly grasped the scale of this vast, desert-like plain. Lockrey understood now why her father said the Eastern Edge was nothing but a hard land, lived in by violent people and deadly beasts.
Turning her attention back to the children, she saw the boy glance down at the little girl, his mouth curving wide, revealing brown, crooked teeth. Reaching to the floor beside him, he opened a bag and pulled out a robe.
“Sister, put this on,” he said, handing her the heavy fabric. The girl pulled away, wrinkling her nose against its bitter smell. “Come now,” he said, “it’s not for very long. And by wearing it, you will earn all the pleasures in the world.” She hesitated. He leaned in, adding to the incentives, “And you will see mother again!”
She accepted the robe with a hint of a smile.
“Look!” said the boy, pointing toward the horizon. “That’s the village we’re going to. We’re nearly there now!”
Just as he spoke, the drumbeat increased to double time and the cressl began to run. The synchronized pounding of their feet was too loud for the little girl, who covered her ears and ducked her head into her brother’s arm.
As Lockrey looked in the direction the boy pointed, she instantly found herself floating, it seemed, at the head of the army next to a man wearing a fine, blue cloak over a silver tunic. She assumed by his attire and position he must be the army’s captain. His skin was lighter green than the boy’s, but his body was far better fed and accustomed to battle, judging by the scars that covered him like twisted ropes.
He sat upon a raysol, a giant rodent with sunken eyes and hairless limbs, which he rode with abandon. Racing ahead of the army, he entered the village the boy had seen.
Lockrey wondered where the people were. They couldn’t have been gone long – doors to tight-packed cottages swung loose on hinges and smoke still curled from chimneys.
The captain glanced around the nondescript hamlet and said aloud, talking to himself, “They haven’t gone far.” He looked down the length of the central road that ran parallel to the Mavornian Ocean, just visible in the distance, and whispered, “What are we meant to dig for here? Warriors cannot work in riddles. I need more information.”
He started to head back to the army when something caught his eye. Lockrey noticed it, too: a reflection. He lifted the reins, leading his raysol toward the temple in the village green. The captain’s jowls twitched and his eyes narrowed. “Oh, they make this so easy,” he said and rode back to his deputies.
“They have locked themselves in the temple,” he told them. “Destroy it.”
“Shall we take the men for labor, first?”
“No, waste of time. Burn it. We will capture men from Mythenrock’s army; if we need more, I’ll request a slave transfer from Vardra.”
“It’s made of crystal; does that burn?” one of the deputies asked, tentatively.
“That’s what the girl-child is for. Let her brother handle it.”
With that, Lockrey was again riding in the cart, which sped along, throwing the children from side to side. The cressl around them bawled, their fanged faces contorting with naked hunger. As they reached the farmland on the outskirts of the village, the army halted, though the beasts were like coiled springs, scratching at the ground.
Through their lines, a man, who, Lockrey guessed, was the captain’s second, approached the cart and said, “Is the martyr prepared?”
“Yes, Marshall Dregna,” said the boy, standing to attention. “I have taught her what to do. She is ready to be received by the eternal kingdom.”
“Good. The time has come.”
He waited while the children clambered onto the back of his raysol, then rode, with Lockrey hovering beside them, through the lines of cressl to the edge of the village. With a nod from the captain, Dregna put them down again and they walked toward the temple, holding hands.
When they reached it, the boy held out a tentative fist and knocked.