Author Topic: Not My Story to tell?  (Read 229 times)

Offline Telesphorian

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Not My Story to tell?
« on: September 20, 2022, 11:00:09 AM »
Hi guys! It's been a while, I've got a Query question:

My story is about a gay, Israeli Jew. I am gay, but not Jewish or from Israel. I’m fascinated by the history and conflict in the Middle East as well as the Jewish cultural view of homosexuality which mirrored my own Christian experience. I’ve had a couple people (with publishing experience) tell me this is “not my story to tell” and the agents/editors won’t consider this because I’m not Jewish or Israeli. Should I scrap this project? Or change all the names and cultural specific details to make it a fictional fantasy setting? I feel it would lose the heart of the story in that case. What should I do??

QUERY:

Dear agent,

Seventeen-year-old Ofrey has a secret. And his rabbi father is catching on.

To avoid being ripped from the closet, Ofrey needs to join the Israeli navy. The problem? He’s scared of guns and loud noises. And angry people. And water.

To help Ofrey conquer his fear, a witch infects him with an adrenaline-eating parasite. It doesn't make him brave, but hardens his skin and muscles in proportion to his fear. Fine print: Ofrey's gotta stay scared or the creature will feed on his organs.

Turns out witches can’t be trusted after all. The woman agrees to remove the parasite but only if Ofrey accuses his father of unspeakable crimes, marries her daughter, and joins their demonic cult. Ofrey chickens out.

Yet as his body deteriorates he must find new and unusual ways to terrify himself. He can join the navy and hope it’s scary enough to make him bulletproof—a short term fix. Or trade his yamaka for goat horns and destroy his family.

His Palestinian boyfriend tells him to sell his soul and act straight. (And survive.) But maybe there’s a third option. If Ofrey can grow strong enough to dramatically stand against violence and discrimination it would be worth a martyr’s death. But he’ll have to reach a level of terror he’s never imagined.

Luckily he’s surround by people willing to torture the gay out of him.

FEAROICS is a 110K word YA fantasy that explores racism and homophobia. Growing up, I felt torn between religion and sexual orientation. I hope this lends authenticity to Ofrey’s journey. An English professor in Israel has read and evaluated my manuscript for accuracy and cultural sensitivity.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Ryan Hancock (should I go by RC to be more ambiguous?) :)

Offline Talean

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Re: Not My Story to tell?
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2022, 06:03:43 PM »
I've yet to meet a single ork, goblin, elf, or dwarf, and yet their stories are told by humans all the time. To have a requirement that storytellers be apart of the community they're telling a story about would preclude a very necessary human trait: empathy. If you can't imagine yourself in someone else's shoes, how can you ever consider them as anything other than NPCs to the story of your life? Fiction is fiction, and anyone should be able to write whatever they want.

So long as you aren't trying to pass this off as biographical, write away.
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Offline Lanita

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Re: Not My Story to tell?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2022, 04:54:03 PM »
Hi guys! It's been a while, I've got a Query question:

My story is about a gay, Israeli Jew. I am gay, but not Jewish or from Israel. I’m fascinated by the history and conflict in the Middle East as well as the Jewish cultural view of homosexuality which mirrored my own Christian experience. I’ve had a couple people (with publishing experience) tell me this is “not my story to tell” and the agents/editors won’t consider this because I’m not Jewish or Israeli. Should I scrap this project? Or change all the names and cultural specific details to make it a fictional fantasy setting? I feel it would lose the heart of the story in that case. What should I do??

QUERY:

Dear agent,

Seventeen-year-old Ofrey has a secret. And his rabbi father is catching on.

To avoid being ripped from the closet, Ofrey needs to join the Israeli navy. The problem? He’s scared of guns and loud noises. And angry people. And water.

To help Ofrey conquer his fear, a witch infects him with an adrenaline-eating parasite. It doesn't make him brave, but hardens his skin and muscles in proportion to his fear. Fine print: Ofrey's gotta stay scared or the creature will feed on his organs.

Turns out witches can’t be trusted after all. The woman agrees to remove the parasite but only if Ofrey accuses his father of unspeakable crimes, marries her daughter, and joins their demonic cult. Ofrey chickens out.

Yet as his body deteriorates he must find new and unusual ways to terrify himself. He can join the navy and hope it’s scary enough to make him bulletproof—a short term fix. Or trade his yamaka for goat horns and destroy his family.

His Palestinian boyfriend tells him to sell his soul and act straight. (And survive.) But maybe there’s a third option. If Ofrey can grow strong enough to dramatically stand against violence and discrimination it would be worth a martyr’s death. But he’ll have to reach a level of terror he’s never imagined.

Luckily he’s surround by people willing to torture the gay out of him.

FEAROICS is a 110K word YA fantasy that explores racism and homophobia. Growing up, I felt torn between religion and sexual orientation. I hope this lends authenticity to Ofrey’s journey. An English professor in Israel has read and evaluated my manuscript for accuracy and cultural sensitivity.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Ryan Hancock (should I go by RC to be more ambiguous?) :)

This is a valid concern and one more people should consider. But if you've done your research (it sounds like you have) and if you've had sensitivity readers, you are doing all the right things. Is the English professor Israeli and Jewish? If not, you can find additional sensitivity readers. Just make sure to pay them for their time.

I don't think you should scrap the MS. It sounds like a really interesting story. I hope it all works out for you, and you find the right agent. :)

(I did see a few minor query issues (writing/structure), so you might consider another revision pass before sending it out.)

Offline Berkvase

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Re: Not My Story to tell?
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2022, 01:26:44 PM »
This "not your story to tell" business has been popping up all over the place in the past couple of years and it annoys me to no end. Let the market decide if it's not your story to tell. If it's not selling well because readers find it inauthentic, you'll have your answer. Until then, proceed, and of course, do your research so that the story is believable.

EDIT TO ADD: I see your story has already been vetted, so I think you're good to go.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2022, 01:32:41 PM by Berkvase »