Thursday, March 17, 2016

Agent Wish List: Joan Paquette #4

TITLE: The Ruby Locket
GENRE: YA - Dystopian

Dear Joan Paquette,

I am submitting a YA novel of 64,000 words for your consideration. Please find below the first 250 words. The Ruby Locket is a YA dystopian novel told from the two points of view of Kerina and Saxon. It tells two different stories about two different lives but one connected future. 

Saxon finds Kerina near death on the outskirts of the Utopia community. She wakes with no memory, just hunted images she struggles to understand.

Saxon discovers Kerina is Okodee, a genetically engineered trait found in few people. She is being is pursued by those who know her Okodee secret. Saxon finds out the death of his parents was no accident. To find answers they set off together on a quest of self-discovery.

Along the way Saxon learns the truth of his parents’ murder just as Kerina discovers her true identity and their worlds collide forever.

My debut YA novel, Destiny Road was released by Morris Publishing Australia (Sep 2012). The publishing contract was won through a writing competition. Destiny Road is a contemporary story of decisions and consequences for 16 year old Jessica. In 2015 I was honoured as a participant of the Maurice Saxby Mentorship Program. 


There’s nothing else to look at, except the body slumped on the ground.

‘Do you think she’s alive, Manny?’


‘Must be a wanderer.’

‘Shut yer mouth, Saxon,’ Manny hisses, looking around. ‘It don’t matter if she is ‘cause either way she’s dead. Now let’s go!’

‘We can’t just leave her here to rot.’

The dustland stretches out before them. A crimson stain spreads across the sky.

Manny checks his watch. ‘It’s late. Constance will be gettin’ worried.’

The days are longer at this time of year, but it will soon be night. They don’t want to be out here when darkness falls.

‘We gotta burn her,’ says Saxon. ‘It ain’t right not to and you know it.’

The brothers stare at each other, waiting for the other to give in. It won’t be Saxon. It never is.

‘All right, fine. We’ll come back and get her early tomorrow morn. You can help me take her to work at the Crematorium.’ Manny’s footsteps crunch on the gravel as he skulks away.

Saxon pinches the bridge of his nose. A habit of frustration picked up from his late father. It doesn’t sit well with him leaving the body here. Wild animals might find her. He squats and stares, careful to keep some distance. The girl’s long, black hair is matted, spilling out around her head. Her skin is blistered and peeling. Dirt streaks her face with dark lashes crusted closed. She might have been pretty before death found her.


  1. The first line is killer! (heh, no pun intended) I would keep reading based on that alone.

    But, unfortunately, after that, I lose interest and this is mostly because I feel ungrounded. There's a lot of dialogue between 2 (more?) characters and I don't know who they are, where they are or what's going on. It's definitely a lot of floating head syndrome.

    I think slowing down a bit, grounding us in the characters and setting, will really help to make this opening pop more than it already does.

    Super good luck!!

  2. I agree with the above comment re: the excerpt. Also, explain what at an Okodeeis in the query letter, too. There's a difference between intrigue and throwing out words that don't mean anything to the reader yet. You're nearly there, though!

  3. I disagree with the above comments. I wondered who the boys were which poses questions and keeps me reading. You didn't make me wait long as you soon describe the two brothers. Very well in 250 words. Now I want to know who she is.

  4. The narrative tone is lovely here--smooth and effortless, really pulls you in to the story. My first overall concern, though, for my personal list is that the genre is a non-starter. Unfortunately, dystopian is at or beyond saturation for most of the market right now. Something would have to utterly blow me out of the water for me to keep reading knowing that it's dystopian; it's just been done too much before and it's too hard for the worlds to feel fresh.

    As far as the opener, as I said, the writing is fluid and immersive. But I did have a similar problem to the other piece I read with regards to starting with dialogue. After the intriguing opening line, we are dropped into the middle a scene with no context on character 1, character 2, or the body-character 3. It's hard for me to feel a proper sense of urgency or connection with these characters and their situation when know nothing about them or their world. It's possible that in reading further this would snap into place, and the writing is strong enough that I would probably keep reading a bit more to see what happened next. But unfortunately, in this case combining that with the dystopian slant makes it a no-go for me.

    Props to the author on excellent narrative voice, though!