Erin Popelka (erinpopelka on QT) has signed with agent Laura Strachan of Strachan Literary Agency.
Dear Laura Strachan:
I'm seeking representation for my upmarket novel, ALTERED, complete at 81,000 words. Congratulations on your recent sale of Not When I Wanted it So Much! I was pleased to see your interest in a queer perspective alongside unsettling power dynamics. I think my debut novel, which gives President Nixon's National Cancer Act a disturbing twist, would be a nice fit.
Spring, 1985: the United States government's War on Cancer starts in fourth grade. But for ten-year-old friends Linn and Nea, it's just another student assembly. Linn, an only child who is isolated and lonely because of a neglectful, alcoholic mother, seeks the bonds of family through Nea and her parents. Nea, insecure because she is bullied at school, connects with Linn for unconditional acceptance. At the government-sponsored assembly, they're given a choice: risk deadly cancer or get altered by having their reproductive organs surgically removed at puberty. Linn doesn't want anyone else to endure a childhood like hers and chooses to be altered. Nea's love of family leads her to remain intact.
Linn and Nea's friendship wavers throughout high school and college in a country struggling to find a place for altered people alongside the AIDS epidemic; Don't Ask, Don't Tell; and traditional family values. Linn joins the college Altered Rights Group and cultivates a single, independent lifestyle. Nea marries after graduation and has two children. They're content in their separate adult paths until Nea is diagnosed with breast cancer and asks Linn for the help and support that she doesn't receive from anyone else. Linn must decide if she's willing to trade her perfect independence for a family she never thought she wanted.
ALTERED will appeal to readers who enjoy titles like The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker and An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim.
I am a queer writer whose work is forthcoming or has appeared in The Threepenny Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, and Main Street Rag, among others. I founded a community of readers, Must Read Fiction--which reached nearly 19,000 people in the last month--where I interview authors, celebrate books, and offer free giveaways. I have served as a reader for CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature for Women since 2008, and I'm thoroughly thawed after spending two austral summers at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
I'd be happy to send along a partial or the full manuscript at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.