After Cult Of The Snake, I stayed with the young adult theme and wrote a 33000 word novella called Underground (It Started With A Kiss). Designed specifically for the YA market, it has been rejected twice so far (I could call this a ‘novel’, because YA novels tend to start at 30000 words, and I almost sold it as a YA novel). However, the second rejection only came after I felt I could not translate it from Australia to the USA (one of the monster types was based on koalas, for God’s sake!) and the editor did not think Australia was a strong enough selling point for American young adults. which means either American young adults are idiots, or this editor is vastly underestimating his audience. I’m inclining towards the latter. I’m also inpressed that the turnover in the YA market seems to be about twice or three times the speed of the adult market.
So we come to that 45600 word disaster Stranger In Town. I started the story maybe 10 years ago, worked on it on and off, and finally felt I had the ending to make it work.
I like the main character, and I think the three main characters are actually reasonably well written. But the bushfire doesn’t ring true, the town’s response doesn’t ring true and the monsters are too damn convenient. It just does not feel like it worked. But it was completed, and it shall sit there with some others and not be submitted unless I decide to do some serious editing. I mean, serious editing.
The story involves a cryptozoologist whose department has been shut down, but his last task is to investigate an animal at a remote South Australian community. It turns out this animal has even killed someone, though authorities don’t believe it. However, things are not as they seem with this animal, and when two petrol tankers have an accident, creating a severe bushfire, the animals head for the town and now people are being eaten. Only one thing can save the humans…
Standard monster tale, just poorly done.
The hotel conformed to the stereotype of a country pub Karl had built up in his mind.
The majority of those present had been at work all day and had come in with their partners, while another substantial group were the older members of the local community. But, as he had feared, as soon as it became known just who he was Karl was immediately the centre of attention. He had wanted to relax after the discovery he and Dawn had made at the abandoned train station, to come in here for a nice meal. But the food sat uneaten and cold on the plate as everyone seemed to have story to tell this apparently sympathetic man about the monster of the place.
Most seemed to agree with Leroy – that it was one of the Aboriginal kadnomeyu. However a few others disagreed – some quite vociferously – and they said that what they had seen was not lizard-like at all, but more like some sort of large, hairy man-beast, like the more traditional yowie. But one thing they all agreed on – there was definitely something living just outside the town.
“So what do you think, Mr Hawkins?”
Silence fell over everyone and every single eye in the place was focused on him, waiting for his answer. He could sense a sudden change in the atmosphere. While not hostile, it was suddenly suspicious. He had just been tested, and how well he answered was going to determine the success or failure of this last hurrah for the entire Department.
His own eyes searched for Dawn. She merely smiled at him; she had a naïve faith in what he was going to do in Kandoo Creek. “We found some carcasses at the train station today,” he said quietly. “I’ve taken photos and measured the bites and sent the data back to Adelaide. They’ll let me know what did it in a few days, I hope. But what it means is that something is living out there.” The murmur that ran through the bar was one of relief and several people started to chat about what he had just said, but he coughed and raised his voice a little. “It might just be a pack of wild dogs. It might be some escaped zoo animal. It might even be some animal thought extinct. But I know there is something here and because I did not recognise the tracks or the markings in the wounds, I can’t say what it is. But as to if it is a humanoid, I am sceptical. However, if it turns out that that is the case, then I will do my best to find it. But that’s all I can offer.”
“It’s not dogs,” growled one man and the mutter of agreement ran like a wave across the assembled people.
Karl nodded. “No, I agree, it’s probably not. But I can’t discount anything. Sorry. I’m here to find the truth…”
“But you do think there’s something out there?” the barman – a young man with a limp who everyone called Skip – asked.
“Oh yeah, there’s something out there,” Karl agreed. “I just don’t know what and I don’t want to say…”
“You believe us.” It was a statement, not a question, and it broke the suspicious mood straight away. The talk started again almost immediately and once more Karl was being waylaid by more and more stories until Dawn stood up. “Let the man eat!” she snapped, a slight smile on her lips.
The additional rejections are for Underground. I know it’s novella length, but it was still submitted as a novel, not a novella.
Rejection total: 112 + 2 = 114