Christina Dalcher (MadAboutTheBook on QT) has signed with agent Alec Shane of Writers House.
As for inspiration, well, I suppose I have Lee Child and Jack Reacher to thank. In one of the Reacher books, Child put in a bit of linguistics and I thought, "Wow – I could do this." Given my background (I have a Ph.D. in theoretical linguistics), I figured I was in a good position to create a character who solves mysteries and catches bad guys in a unique sort of way.
Above all, write a darn good book and query only when you're confident it's in the best shape it can be!
The pitch I used in my query is the same one I submitted to Agent Match and is publicly available on the Internet. Here's the letter, but keep in mind that certain elements of the plot have changed quite a bit.
LUCKY THIRTEEN, an adult thriller with a strong female protagonist, would fit on the bookshelf between Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series and Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels. It treads the line between mystery and thriller and is complete at 83,000 words.
In Washington, DC, politics isn't the only rat race.
Linguist and former FBI trainee Danny Jones has lost everything – parents, fiance, job – and now all she wants is to be left the hell alone. Preferably with a nice bottle of bourbon. But when she comes home to a dead girlfriend and a cryptic message from former colleague, Colin, Danny knows she should get involved. When Colin turns up dead and the cops turn to Danny, she doesn't have a choice.
Danny's fallen from university professor to waitress, been booted out of the FBI's Special Agent training program for a one-time screwup, and now – when things can't get any blacker – she's the only link between two unexplained deaths in Washington, DC. With the cops looking closely at her knowledge of Arabic and her suspicious circle of academic colleagues, Danny runs to the only person she can trust – linguist and former cryptographer Eddie Brown, AKA Off-the-Grid-Ed. Too bad he's in love with her. She's been off men since her fiancé got whacked five years ago.
Danny can count the clues on one lousy hand: a pile of love letters from Colin's latest fling, a puzzling lead from a renowned child psychologist, and a recording of two men in a bar. Employing every weapon in her language arsenal – from text analysis to voice recognition to dialect studies – Danny turns those clues into assets.
As the papers report more deaths, Danny finds out just what happened to her friend Colin. And she discovers the identity of the madman who's launched a personal war against adulterers, starting with his own wife.
The race has begun. To save herself, Eddie, and two innocent people, Danny Jones needs to place first.
I have a PhD in Linguistics and a number of published academic works. [Personal note to agent here]