I’ve been picked as a participant in The Writer’s Voice query contest. Below are the query and first 250 words of my Upper MG Fantasy, SHADOWCATCHERS. Wish me luck!
Dear Mr./Ms. Agent,
At only thirteen years old, Zane Blackthorne is the youngest Shadowcatcher on the force. He’s also the best. He has to be. The ridiculous amount of gold he earns hunting down the shadows of tax evaders is the only thing keeping him from ending up back in the slums where he was raised. And he’d rather eat a Narcow than go back there.
Zane thinks he’s hit the jackpot when the Empress commissions him to collect the shadow of a political opponent. Sure, she threatens to sic bounty hunters on him if he fails, but that doesn’t scare Zane. He’s too good to fail. At least, he thinks he is, until a rat-faced urchin named Meescha gets in his way.
Meescha tells Zane that the shadows are actually people’s souls and shows him what happens to those who can’t afford to buy them back. Most, like her father, become husks of their former selves, withering away with agonizing slowness; the rest die instantly, their lives snuffed out like street lamps at dawn.
Haunted by the faces of the suffering shadowless, Zane fails his mission, and the Empress takes his mentor’s soul as punishment. Now Zane must team up with Meescha to rescue the shadows of their loved ones and evade the pair of crazy bounty hunters who would rather capture them dead than alive.
SHADOWCATCHERS is a standalone, 44,000-word, Upper MG Fantasy with series potential. It is told from the alternating viewpoints of Zane and Meescha.
I am an associate member of SCBWI and CANSCAIP.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Zane slouched in the shade of a stall, eating a fig, while he waited for the man he was hunting to appear. The market was empty except for a few servants dragging their feet through the sand. Under their headdresses, sweat beaded on the servants’ foreheads. Zane felt sorry for them. Sure, he was out here, too, but at least he got to hide in the shade.
A cloth merchant, dressed in an embroidered shirt, ducked out of his shop, and knocked sand from the canvas roof with his hand.
Dropping the fig skin, Zane reached into his pocket and double-checked the sketch he carried. Same fair hair and beard, same crinkly eyes, same snaggle-toothed smile. Definitely his man.
The merchant hustled through the market, staying close to the stalls and out of the sun, but whether it was to keep cool or to protect his shadow, Zane didn’t know. Either way, he would have to be careful.
Zane peeled himself off the wall and slipped across the sand toward his mark. Three scraggly chickens clucked into his path, and he stumbled as he sidestepped them. He glanced around, but no one had noticed. The market was a ghost town, just the way he liked it. Most Catchers worked when the market was crowded, and the shadows long, but he preferred the precision of getting up close.