Four solid revisions and a thorough wet towel beating by my sharpest critic, my wife, and my first query letter went out today. I fully expect a rejection. People say rejection builds character. One of my undergraduate professors told me that we all have to get the sock with the bar of soap (OK, that’s not exactly what he said, but it wasn’t far off). I think they’re full of it.
So, for all those in desperate need to read my awesome pitch, or on the off chance a masochistic agent stumbles on my blog, here is my pitch/query letter:
Dr. Helen Collins believes it’s just the flu when an unidentified epidemic spreads across the state. Infection leaves half the population without speech, but with an insatiable desire for human flesh. With a background in Sign Language, Collins becomes the voice for those no longer able to speak for themselves.
In the beginning, communities come together. Tacit support of her unofficial Sign Language seminar by her University opens communication between infected and uninfected friends and family members. Collins and the others learn to exist outside indulgence of their urges. However, looming elections lead candidates to suggest infected ‘Wretches’ are a blight on the economy. Wretches smart enough to go underground do so.
Collins’ Wretch identity is discovered after she speaks in favor of Wretch rights and against mob lynchings. Confronted with new social pressures, Collins concludes that her calling is no longer in the classroom. Instead, she forces Wretches to fight for their right to exist and Normals to acknowledge that right.
On the face of it, The Unpeople is a zombie story from the perspective of the zombie as target rather than aggressor. The Unpeople is at its core a story of ethnic conflict, gender politics, internal versus external Others, and government’s role in determining national identity (including democracies). The title is a play on the zombie ‘undead’ theme and Noam Chomsky’s term ‘unpeople’ describing groups erased from political discussion.
My background is in political theory with a master’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I have several published nonfiction academic journal articles. Though winner of local writing contests, this is my first serious inquiry into more mainstream fiction.
All the best,