Wednesday, February 19, 2014



Genre: NA


 Ivan killed his mother. His father hates him. His brother beats him. He is Durochka, the Little Fool.

And then the firebird comes, stealing sculptures from his beloved mother’s garden.

His family won’t believe what he has seen, so Ivan, an autistic twenty-three-year-old, goes out alone seeking proof of the mysterious bird. He teams up with Grey Wolf, Keeper of the Ostyak Forest. When they discover the truth, everything they have ever believed about their world is turned upside down. They are thrust into the center of a conspiracy to bring down a foreign government, unsure of who to trust or what consequences their choices might hold.

The key to Ivan’s survival may lie with a spy crucial to the rebellion, a woman code-named Trojan Horse. A woman who has Ivan’s eyes. A woman who knows Ivan’s face. A woman callous enough to walk out on an autistic son.

First sentence:

A midwife placed her hands on the small of Vasilisa's back, pressing hard to relieve the pain of the contraction.


  1. I think your concept is extremely intriguing and the first two lines of the pitch are compelling and beautiful. I got a little confused after that. I was unsure whether the whole story was set in a fantasy world or if if this was more magical realism or maybe a portal type story. I also wondered whether Grey Wolf was really a wolf or if this was a code-name like Trojan Horse. I found the sentence beginning "When they discover the truth" overly vague. I wanted a little more detail about the terrible secret and why it would have important consequences for Ivan. If you can make that second paragraph as evocative as your intro, this will be an awesome pitch.

  2. I at first thought this was a folklore piece. It also had tones of mythology. But I am not so sure now. Somehow, I think more clarity is needed in the beginning. I liked the overall idea, though. when I got to the end, I wanted to know more about how and why his mother left. Good luck!

  3. I love the first two lines and the last paragraph. They're evocative and well-paced. The middle, however, needs a bit more clarity, especially surrounding the discovery Ivan and Grey Wolf make. Why does it have such dire consequences?

    I'd also like a few more details as to the genre. This has a real mythic feel and a distinctly Russian flavour; is it contemporary? Historical? A folk tale retold?

  4. I'm concerned that this isn't quite *right* (for lack of a better word) for NA. The character is 23 but will college students be able to relate to him? This whole thing feels very young to me. And with NA still expanding, right now its mostly just contemporary romance. The "out there" books throw in some paranormal in their romance. Not to say NA shouldn't/can't have books like this, just that I'm not sure you'll have much luck placing it. (I'm no agent though, so do your research and ignore me if you disagree)

    I'm also confused about the first paragraph. How did he kill his mother and what is "Durochka"? And "the little fool" feels very middle grade which is super confusing since it's listed as NA.

    I'm not really sure what my advice is here. Cutting the first paragraph and starting with the fire bird (and adding "beloved late mother's garden" or something to tell us she's dead since that's clearly important) would alleviate a lot of my concerns, honestly. Just be careful of the voice here and not making it too young.

  5. This is just fascinating, but it needs genre clarification. I got a folklore/fantasy vibe at first, but then you used the term "autistic" and that threw me for a big loop and left me feeling confused. The writing is strong, but I just can't place the story in my head. I think a little clarifying could go a long way with this one. :)

  6. What I like: I like what happens here: ‘The key to Ivan’s survival may lie with a spy crucial to the rebellion, a woman code-named Trojan Horse. A woman who has Ivan’s eyes. A woman who knows Ivan’s face. A woman callous enough to walk out on an autistic son.’

    What I would like: I am not sure, but I think you’re trying to pull off a world that’s half in Ivan’s head. If so, it isn’t quite clear enough. To pull something like that off in short format, I think you need to make sure that we can see both the real world and the imagined world clearly in a single description, as you accomplish in the final paragraph with Ivan’s mom – if you can pull it off, it could be a lot of fun.

    Great job!

  7. I adore this pitch. You need to include the actual genre - NA is a category. I'm wondering if it's Magical Realism. I understand how Ivan killed his mother, it's in the first line as well. There are a lot of agents looking for increased diversity and I think this would be a fascinating read.


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