Steph Green (phenompen on QT) has signed with agent Linda Pratt of Wernick & Pratt Agency.
I’ve always been a fan of young adult novels—the immediacy, the intensity, the pace—but until recently I never actually considered writing one. I read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and that was the first thing that really allowed me to view young adult writing as serious literature, and to consider that writing for young adults could tackle traditionally adult themes. Then I read The Hunger Games and that cemented the idea for me that there really don’t need to be boundaries between adult and young adult literature in terms of theme, subject matter, and so on—the difference is more in style and how issues are dealt with. I’d had the idea of writing about child soldiers in a book for adult readers, and I decided to see if I could push the limits of what I’d always thought was considered “appropriate” for young adult readers by taking this idea and presenting it for teenagers, writing the violence of war—in its many forms—realistically.
Aside from obsessing and reading about other writers’ experiences, positive feedback from my readers helped me to stay on course. My husband and my mom have been my two biggest supporters, and having them around to assist in overanalyzing rejection letters and remind me what’s great about my book helped a lot.
Use the QueryTracker forums for help with your query letter. I did a revamp based on their feedback and my request rate definitely improved.
Also, don’t quit. I can’t say don’t lose hope because I did and everyone probably does here and there. But there’s nothing to lose but time by forging ahead, and everything to gain.
In this war, everybody dies. Hazel just wants to make it to age sixteen.
Hazel Crafton has been training for war since she was five years old. She has always known that she would be sent to battle—like her parents, her neighbors, everyone. If the poison water doesn’t get her, the thirst will split her lips until they bleed. The marching will grind her down until her bones gleam bleached in moonlight among the collapsed houses and cracked pavement, all that remain of the world, save for the few small towns still scraping by within the warring Zones.
She has been trained to deal with the unrelenting thirst, the countless miles that must be marched, the physical pain of battle wounds—but not the devastation she will face when she must finally make her first kill. Find a weapon. Seek the target. Focus her sight. Feet shoulder-width apart, squared hips, unlock the elbows. Quit trembling! Exhale and squeeze. If she doesn’t want to die, she’ll have to kill.
When Hazel’s best friend, Eugene, asks her to run away with him, she discovers the powerful force of her own will to survive. Though the odds of living through her time as a soldier are slim, attempting escape means almost certain death. And she may not even have the chance to choose for herself if Praha, the mysterious and brutal embodiment of a good soldier, won’t yield in his inexplicable preoccupation with Hazel, and his quest to make her become a dedicated soldier, or die trying.
Hazel has to stay alive. So she must escape. Join the rebels, and take down the military. Save her friends, prove her worth.
Get out alive.
TELL EVERYONE WE’RE DEAD, a completed 77,000-word young adult novel, is the first in a potential series following Hazel’s battle to survive in a world where resources are limited, love is little more than a temporary escape from pain, and everyone is a potential enemy.
I am a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Pittsburgh. I have been invited to read my work at many events, including the Prague International Writers Festival and the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival’s Night of Fresh Voices. I was awarded first place in the Leslie Sander Prize for Fiction. My writing has been published in The Hartford Courant.
(Why I picked this agent)
I am grateful for your time and consideration.