Category: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Word Count: 82,000
Pitch: Seventeen-year-old programmer Ariela hacks a top-secret immigration database to escape her artistic underwater community where she doesn’t belong and pursue admission to her dream school on futuristic Iceland’s forbidden surface. THE LITTLE MERMAID meets CINDER.
First 250 words of manuscript:
I sing like a dying humpback whale.
Which is unfortunate because during talent exhibitions the musician skill set always performs after the voice. Since my graduating class has a billion singers, the musicians are stuck waiting to test until the late afternoon. Every other artistic medium cut their school day short and headed home. But not me.
I sit closest to the stage door of Ragnar Theater, my legs stretched long in front of me, crossed at the ankles to avoid anyone looking up my grey accordion skirt. The silky notes of saxophones caress my skin and the low bass lines of cello warm-ups melt into my blood, drowning out the steady whir of the oxygen filter.
The boy next to me—Atlas Bjarkisson—taps his warty fingers against the scuffed black floor, like he’s practicing piano. He leans over to me with a huff. “Can you stop with that? It’s distracting.”
I raise an eyebrow and glance to my laptop. While he’s been practicing for his piano exposition, something I probably should be doing, I’ve been typing on a different set of keys.
I offer a curt, “No,” and continue typing.
He says under his breath, “Stuck-up bilun,” and jams his fingers harder against the floor, as if to drown out my typing with his fake piano playing.
The bilun insult stings, even though I should be used to it by now. Calling me a failure is hardly original. I’ve already been held back a year and everyone knows it.