Ask Daphne! About My Query LXXX

December 10th, 2010 • Kate

victorianbootsjpgVictorian-style boots for Tally’s Victorian-era novel, as follows:

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

London, 1882.

Seven years ago, Emil Aleric and his sister were kidnapped. Emil survived. His sister didn’t. So when he hears news of a serial killer rampaging London, he’s convinced that his former abductor is on the move again. The peculiarities of the murders– a note quoting Alice in Wonderland is found at each scene– go hand in hand with the name his tormentor fashioned for himself: The Hatter. When his guardian, Officer Corwin James, is put in charge of the case, Emil thinks it must be fate.

Corwin’s not to keen on Emil having anything to do with the case, but Emil’s extensive knowledge of the murderer’s methods is too invaluable to waste. Yet as the two get closer and closer to tracking the man down, Emil realizes exactly what confronting his past will mean. He can live with the nightmares. But if he fails to avenge his sister’s death, he doesn’t know how he’ll live with himself– if he lives at all.

Complete at 51,000 words, MAD AS A HATTER is a YA historical novel written in alternating points of view. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


This is certainly an intriguing query, and probably something that would entice me to read the first pages, and see how I feel about the character. Because that’s what I don’t get a ton of here — a sense of who Emil is as a character. So he’s convinced his abductor is out and about again — how does that make him feel? Is he terrified? Does he see it as an opportunity?

How does he feel about his guardian (and how did Emil get partnered with Corwin? Are they related? Was he the original investigating officer? What’s the backstory?) working the case?

For me, the turning point is the sentence, “But if he fails to avenge his sister’s death, he doesn’t know how he’ll live with himself– if he lives at all.” I feel like this is structured to be the real hook of the story, and yet, I can’t help but wonder how he’s lived with himself for the past seven years, since he failed to keep his sister alive the first time he encountered the Hatter.

Additionally, I think you want to specify who the two alternating points of view are from — I’m assuming Corwin is the other one, but if so, I’m leery about bringing an adult protagonist into a YA story. Why isn’t it just Emil’s tale to tell?

What do you think?

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10 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query LXXX”

  1. Karma Says:

    I like it! Obviously The Hatter is a Jack The Ripper type and I've been told a very eclectic and utterly notorious client of yours (hint: it's MJ) is writing something along the same lines (in terms of Jack The Ripper I mean.) I hope you take this on it sounds very intriguing.

  2. stephanie Says:

    I must admit, this does sound like an intriguing story. I like that the murderer dubs himself The Hatter, rather than the media. It gives you the idea that he is a bit mad in that he loves what he does and takes joy in it. Very creepy!

    But I have to wonder the same thing about the alternate POV's. The entire query made it seem the story centered around Emil, and then I read that it alternated, and my first thought was, Really? Who's the other protagonist? Corwin? Isn't it a YA novel? Why would there be an adult protagonist? So perhaps that should be made more clear, and, if necessary edited.

  3. Kelsey M Says:

    I think the alternating point of views could work if Corwin's was pretty limited, with speculation, or police reports, and then maybe what he thinks of Emil, then to transition into Emil's story again, which should be the heart of the book.

  4. Shannon Says:

    Here's my try – having never read your MS:

    The signs are clear that the Hatter is the same serial killer that kidnapped Emil Aleric and murdered his sister seven years ago. Emil would know – so far, he’s the only survivor.

    It’s all the same – the note quoting Alice in Wonderland found at every scene, his special taste of torture – everything. When Emil’s guardian, Officer Corwin James, is put in charge of the case, Emil sees it as his chance to end his seven years of aguish for being the only survivor.

    Corwin has seen what happens to survivors when they confront their predator and it’s not pretty, but Emil’s extensive knowledge of the murderer’s methods is too invaluable to waste. As they piece their way closer to discovering the serial killer, seven years of burying his feelings threaten to consume him. He must try to push through the pain and memories while he tries to stay alive … again.

  5. Mark R Hunter Says:

    I'd be hypocritical to be against having an adult POV in a YA novel — mine has one! I think readers will buy it, but only if the adult is kept as a secondary character; the story should be primarily from the POV of the younger protagonist. For a brief look into the adult world, or for information the main protagonist can't know, it should be workable.

  6. Janet B Says:

    Hey, I think this is good. Address Daphne's suggestions in your query but don't change it otherwise. No offense to Shannon, but I would stick pretty closely to what you already have.

    One small error–shouldn't it be "Corwin's not too keen" (too not to). This should get requests.

  7. JJ Says:

    I don't buy Emil's guardian leading this case. Wouldn't it be considered conflict of interest? If any evidence is found and Emil is helping I think that would further taint the evidence and render it useless in court.

    Who are the alternating viewpoints told from? I'm guessing the two characters you've mentioned but it isn't clear and having an adult in the YA story seems a bit off…not to say it can't be done.

    Although this isn't a type of story I'd read, I do think the Alice in Wonderland bit is interesting. Good luck to you!

  8. TCarmona Says:

    I was thinking that maybe the alternate point of views were Emil and the Hatter?

    Also…I NEED those shoes!

  9. Tally Says:

    Thanks everyone 🙂 I've considered taking out Corwin's POV (yes, he is the other POV) but the people who've read the manuscript say it's good, since he's in his twenties. And before people tell me he's too young to be a guardian, it's a little more complex in the novel. Thanks again!

  10. Joelle Says:

    It sounds very interesting. Maybe it's just my odd taste, but I think The Hatter's point of view would be interesting and a nice dose of insane. But that's probably just 'cause my mom watches a lot of 48 Hours.