Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May Secret Agent Contest #39

TITLE: Ananke the Suicide Eater
GENRE: YA Horror

Call Dewey looney, but finding out your long-term babysitter just got drafted into the Vietnam War is an earth-shaker. But the craziest part? Rio’s acting like they didn’t watch the draft lottery on TV an hour ago--like he ain’t going to end up dead in ‘Nam.

“What’s this?”

Dewey freezes midway while taking a bite of his eighth taquito. Rio squints at him from the opposite end of the kitchen table with the letter in hand. Jesus, Dewey forgot about it between brainstorming ideas for poems that don’t involve flowers, talking to Indy on the phone about the importance of who’d win a fight: Dracula, Frankenstein, Godzilla, or King Kong, and there was something else he was busy doing earlier but can’t remember. Why is he like this? Oh, yeah, and not to mention Rio is going to freaking ‘Nam.

          Dewey tries to change the subject. “I needa borrow the truck keys. Don’t we need milk and eggs and-”

           Rio’s frown has him stopping his plan dead in its tracks. “I never said I was gonna let you borrow my truck. Walk to the store. I don’t wanna get another call from the cops about you doing that stupid--whatever it’s called--where you stop at a light and switch seats.”

“Chinese fire drill.”

“Why is it called ‘Chinese fire drill?’ What does Chinese have to do with it?”

Dewey shrugs. “So I can go?”

“What? Are we having the same conversation?”

Dewey wolfs down the rest of his taquito.


  1. I love how you jump right into your story! A few things that slowed the pace a bit were the mention of other character name (Indy). That whole part was confusing in the middle of his revelation about the draft letter. Maybe separate it out? And how is this babysitter or why is he important to your MC? Give a little more as to what this means if he goes to Vietnam from your MC's perspective of course.

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback!

  2. The opening paragraph threw me off a bit. It sounds like the setting is the '60's or early '70's. But the draft lottery wasn't televised. Is there an alternative history element to the story?

    I'm not sure who said, "What's this," or what "this" is. Since Rio was holding a letter I thought he might have picked up Dewey's letter from the table, read it and asked Dewey what was going on. But Rio is being drafted.

    The mc feels like it's Dewey. His long-term babysitter, Rio, is there - and Dewey is old enough to drive - has he grown up enough become friends with Rio?

    I really like the dialogue that follows - it feels absolutely real. That exchange tells me so much about the two characters.

    Beginnings are the toughest! I think you've got two very interesting characters - set in an interesting era. I'd like to read on to discover the horror angle.

    1. Thanks so much for giving feedback! It sounds scary but the Dec. 1st 1969 draft was televised on CBS. Again, thanks so much. I definitely got to explain more about Rio :)

  3. The dialogue sounds great! But it's not clear who is who. It seems like Rio is the babysitter, but why would Dewey need one if he's old enough to drive--or is he mentally challenged? Is the narrator another character, maybe a sibling? This will be a solid opener with some clarification.

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback :)

  4. I was completely confused by the first words: Call Dewey looney, but finding...
    For a while, I thought this was saying that Dewey Looney(see I took it as a last name) should have been called(like a phone call) but that wasn't happening now because of some great event that interrupted the MC(the lottery).
    After I got past this hick-up, I couldn't understand the point of view. Is this omniscient? Or is first person POV and just for these first paragraphs there is one MC observing everything and telling us about it?
    This piece has a great voice and I can feel like it is just on the verge of morphing into something amazing, but I can't really get any sense of where the story is going from this opener. I would have thought this is a YA comedy of some kind and do not get a sense of horror. It's very important to set up the 'promise' of what this story is going to be about right from the beginning even if you don't give away too much. Reader should be rubbing their hands together going 'Oh yeah, I don't know what's going to happen, but I know I'm getting set up for some sweet sweet horror.' ;)
    I hope this helps.

  5. I didn't get a horror vibe from this opening. to me it read more YA historical. The Vietnam War was between 1955 and 1975. Therefore the setting of this novel is anywhere between 43 to 63 years in the past, which would qualify it as historical. (It's hard to judge based on one page.)

    More of an eyebrow raiser for me was the emotional disconnect between the subject matter of this scene (discovering a friend/long term baby sitter has been drafted into a deadly conflict) and the tone and randomness of Dewey’s internal thoughts as well as his conversation with Rio. It didn't gel together for me in a believable way here.

    I also couldn't tell if Dewey and Rio were in the United States. I assumed so, but I wasn't entirely sure.

    The voice is phenomenally unique!

    Thank you so much for sharing!