Ana Franco (anathebookworm on QT) has signed with agent Chris Kepner of The Kepner Agency.
The inspiration for THE SYMPTOMS OF DYING is a bit of a long story. I have a notebook where I keep story ideas, mostly bits and pieces that don't make a lot of sense. One of these ideas was a story about a girl in a coma, and what could possibly be going through her mind. I drafted a short version of it, and it sounded like YA to me. But after some feedback, I turned the story into a MG and decided to explore what the family of the girl in a coma could be going through. It was easy to decide how Jacob came to life, then. I was searching around Goodreads for LGBT books for children, and couldn't find a lot of them. When I narrowed the search to LGBT books for children including characters of color, I couldn't find anything.
Twelve-year-old Jacob Allen has a secret: he has a crush on his best friend—a boy. At least, it used to be a secret. Now that his family knows, they've got plenty to say about how a relationship with another boy could never work. As lecture-induced panic attacks begin to steal away the person he thought he was, Jacob starts keeping an even bigger secret: he's going to run away from home. He'll leave any day now. It'll be easy—not a soul knows about his plans.
Except his cousin, Olivia.
Twelve-year-old Olivia Taylor has been in a coma for almost a year, but she doesn't know it. As far as she knows, she has spent the last months with an aunt, living in an empty coffee shop. Then she starts hearing the voice of a mysterious boy who's planning to run away from home—he's just outside the shop door, but it's locked, and she can't find the key. Olivia is desperate to help him. Until the boy tells her terrible things about an accident and a girl stuck in a coma, and then she's no longer certain she wants to find her way out.
Jacob already feels lost to a family that can't accept him, and when Olivia's doctors say that he'll need to let her go if she doesn't improve soon, his anxiety climaxes to a crippling point.
To help Jacob, Olivia must open a door that's been locked for as long as she can remember. She isn't sure she's ready to face the real world, but if she doesn't find the key soon, it'll be too late to save Jacob…and herself.
THE SYMPTOMS OF DYING is a dual POV MG contemporary with hints of magical realism complete at 36,000-words. This story features several POCs (including the main characters) and I am a POC myself.
Unfortunately, there is a gap in queer literature for young people—it's particularly hard to find MG books that include LGBT characters of color. I believe that this book will help to fill this gap as well as help young LGBT POC readers see themselves in books written especially for them.