Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May Secret Agent #22

TITLE: Saving Sarah
GENRE: YA Contemporary

As we enter the police interview room, my brother Ed glares at us from the corner. Sergeant Hanlon watches too, arms folded across his massive chest. A policeman I don't know clatters a stack of chairs in front of us.

"Have a seat." Sergeant Hanlon stares straight at me as if I might be the weak link. I turn away in case he's one of those psychic freaks that can see inside your brain. Mum and Dad perch on chairs either side of me.

Dad wears his 'we can sort this out' smile. Mum taps her fingers on her arm, and I suck on my asthma puffer and force myself to stay calm. "How are you, Ed?"

"Nick off, Sarah. I never asked you to come."

I fake smile "No need to thank me. You know how much I love this place."

Hanlon nods at the other copper. "This is Constable Donald."

Ed stands, grins and holds out his hand. "And I'm President Obama."

Constable Donald ignores Ed. "Doctor's on her way."

Dad leans forward "What's the doctor for?"

My hands start shaking. One look at Ed's huge pupils and sweaty face and you can see he's maxed out on Ice. But he normally sleeps it off without medical help.

"What's wrong with you?" I ask.

Ed pushes his chair up close, jerks his head from side to side, and snorts. "I'm crazy."

Mum turns her back and glances at her watch. "You haven't told us why we're here, Sergeant."


  1. This is good and I'm intrigued. I was confused about dad's, "we can work this out," reaction. Hard to believe a parent would be so calm about his son getting arrested. I'd read on. Nice work.

  2. This was so interesting and unusual. I love being dropped en media res and catching the clues you threw at us. The voice is great, and I really liked the description of the father's we-can-sort-this-out smile. It felt realistic, and I'm definitely hooked!

  3. I LOVE this writer's voice. A knack for dialogue, too, which is tough to do. Love it.

  4. Little bit lost. Ed, Sarah, Constable Donald, Dad, Mum, Sergeant Hanlon.
    How many people are in this room?

    This is a bit weird for me and didn't sell me like I'd want. I love the interaction and dialogue so soon in, but I really wanted to understand what was going on. And I didn't really. Too many people and too many directions.

  5. This piece made me think. I enjoyed considering the different clues - like how Sarah is familiar with Sergeant Hanlon and how she knows about how her brother normally reacts when he's used drugs. I love that Sarah's voice is so strong. I initially liked how Sarah seems to know more about what's going on than her parents but then it also frustrated me that the parents seem so hopeless. (But that's possibly me reading as a parent and not as a young adult!) I really like that there is actually action in this piece - not just a mopey a teenager thinking about his/her life. And I like how the chairs clack!

  6. This was good. I was hooked immediately into the action. Liked the snarky Ed and the secret-keeping Sarah, even the inept silly parents. Honestly, the mother, like she's got other things to do when her kid is in jail!

    Yes, there are a lot of people in this room -- and I wonder why Sarah is there, as she's the sister, but also the voice of the piece -- but they are all clearly drawn.

    I want more from Authoress.

  7. I liked this. The banter is good, and the descriptions are pretty clear. I would keep reading.

    Only three things tripped me up a little (but not a lot). First, when she wonders if Hanlon is a psychic freak--this is contemporary, but the thought sounds like psychics are everywhere; also, if she's familiar with Hanlon, wouldn't she already have a fair idea of whether he's a psychic? Second, when she says, "How are you, Ed?" it seems pretty formal, like she hasn't seen him in a while. Is that the case? Third, I'm not sure why Sarah asks what's wrong with him when she just told us what's wrong--he's maxed out on Ice. She might mean, "What were you thinking?" but that seems to be calling things out in front of the cops... Or is being maxed out *not* the problem here?

  8. Thanks everyone for your great feedback and suggestions.

    Heather, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to respond to questions here, but since you asked...Hanlon isn't really psychic, but he makes Sarah feel uncomfortable because he's good at reading people and working out what's really going on. He's the kind of person you can't hide things from.

    She hasn't seen Ed for a while because he's been on the streets and she's always cautious with him because she doesn't know what sort of a reaction she will get from him.

    Maxed out isn't the only problem here.

    Thanks for your interest, Heather:)


  9. I like this. I'd keep reading for sure. All the characters intrigue me, especially ed and the dad.

  10. I love the energy in this extract.
    I would definitely read on to see what's happening. Very intriguing.

  11. I'm afraid I'm lost. Heather pretty much hit all the points I had trouble with.

  12. I love how subtly you weave information into the action. Dad's "we can sort this out" smile means they're used to having trouble with Ed. Mom's glance at her watch says she'd done caring about it. Ed struck me as very unlikable, but I assume that's deliberate.

    Like Heather, I was thrown by the psychic reference. At the beginning of the story, you have to be doubly careful with things that could be literal or could be metaphor or exaggeration because we don't know yet what's real in this world and what isn't. (Even a genre assignment isn't a guarantee.)

    I would definitely keep reading.

  13. Thanks, Abbe for your feedback.

    It's always fantastic when a reader gets exactly what you're trying to say.

    I can definitely see the point you and others have made about the psychic reference. Thanks for pointing it out. I will reword it in the next draft.


  14. Love it. I love how Sarah seems to be the one with her finger on the pulse of the situation. Everyone else is there with their own agenda. That's how YA's think they are all the time. In this case, tho, she may be right.

    I thought maybe "How are you, Ed?" Was wasted. She knows how he is. She should let him know she knows how he is with something like: "Feeling good, Ed?" knowing he's feeling pretty high. Or maybe that's too shifty for Sarah. She doesn't want her brother to blow up in front of the police.

    Anyway, lovely stuff!

  15. I’m hooked. I’d like to see where this family is going. You made them all feel very real.

    I was confused for a bit with the change from policeman to constable to copper. It’s policeman at the beginning, and being American, I assumed this was America. Then you said Constable so then I thought England. And then the MC refers to them as policemen and then coppers. Maybe be consistent in the term used or say where this is? But it's certainly no big deal.

  16. There are a lot of people in this room. I didn't get a feel for the mc's relationships with any of them, or a sense of the urgency. Is this her brother's first offense? Last chance? Ed's ornery comments gives me a mixed sense of who he is--naturally snarky in stressful situations, or just high. With so many characters in the room, we see and learn more about them than the mc. How does she really feel about Ed on drugs, how does she know what Ice is (just a sense, not backstory to answer these questions). I'd have liked to see more action and internal dialogue here--not a lot, just more to balance out all of the dialogue.

    Unfortunately, I'd pass on this if it came through my inbox. As you can see from the positive reviews above, this may just be subjective. But there wasn't enough character to connect me to the conflict at hand to keep me reading on.