May 31, 2010

Query Me This...Star of Aurora

Click here for the discussion thread. 

Dear Rick Daley,

I am seeking represenatation for my Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy novel, Star of Aurora, complete at 60,000 words, and hope that you will consider me for your list.

Fennel Starshade, an assassin and retrieval specialist, is assigned the task of retrieving Diandra Samadaxtra, the kidnapped heir to Helathon Samadaxtra, leader of the Planet Aurora Prime. Fennel is accustomed to dangerous missions, but he is more of an executer than a planner, so when he finds himself thrust into a tangled web of deadly interstellar political intrigue he finds himself in uncharted space.

To succeed on his mission, Fennel must join forces with a man he neither trusts nor likes, William Braxsis, an old classmate who was once his best friend. Together they rescue Diandra, but as if the tensions between himself and William wasn't enough to deal with, Fennel now finds that he has the added complication of controlling his feelings for Aurora First Princess.

After a shocking revelation, these three journey to five different Planets and find out that each leader of each Planet holds a terrible secret, each one horrifying by itself, but when all are fitted together, like the pieces of a sinister puzzle, spells disaster. Fennel and William with the help of Diandra solves this puzzle and find a solution, just in time to save millions of people from destruction.

I have pasted the first five pages in the body of the e-mail for your perusal.

I look forward to hearing from you,


K. D. Vassall

Our protagonist has found evidence that the government is being lured into war.  If the country engages in the conflict abroad, its military will not be able to deal with an imminent invasion by a rival nation.  The problem is that the source of the information is a double-agent, and our protagonist is being set up to cause the war he/she is trying to prevent.

Star of Aurora

By K.D Vassall

    Fennel Starshade sat at a corner table nursing a drink that the bartender had dubbed Fireangel. Bluish flames licked the sugared rim of the glass and Fennel sucked in a breath intending to blow it out, but that breath, polluted with smoke and cheap perfume lodged in his throat when he saw the face of the woman that had just walked in.

   She lingered at the door for several moments, the heavy winds behind her blowing her dress around her, molding it to the generous curves of her hips. She cast her eyes around. He knew the exact moment her gaze settled on him. Heat licked up his thighs to his groin, travelling in a rush through his belly to warm his cheeks. The woman gave him a slow smile, her plump lips spreading across even white teeth. He smiled back, enjoying his reaction to her. It made no sense to hide it, she would have seen the flair of red in his Aura.

   She moved through the room towards him. The heat in the bar rising several degrees the deeper she came. One man fell off his stool as she lowered herself into the seat in front of him.  Her blond hair bounced around her and intense green eyes settled on his face.

    “Fennel. You look well,” she said, her voice dripping like honey.

    “So do you…as always Layla.”

    “Well, that is my job,” she said, raising a long, slim finger to summon the bartender over.     

   Fennel grinned. This was not the sort of place where clients were served at the table. You were expected to go to the bar and order your drink. Still Fennel wasn’t surprised when the bartender almost tripped over his feet in his rush to reach her.

   Lalya Cynon was beautiful, and not just in the ordinary way. It was much deeper than that. It was her scent. It was the way she moved. Every shift and shuffle was pure seduction. He had known her for six years. She was one of ten recruited by the Demetrius organization to undergo aural enhancement and trained as a spy. Her number had been three. Classification: a Delilah. She had undergone the procedure to boost her natural talents, which was to capture the attention, to inspire lust and desire.

   At first the other members of the group had underestimated the value of Layla’s ability. One man had called her ‘a glorified cocklifter’, but Layla had proved to be one of the most effective agents that Demetrius had ever recruited.

   Off the ten of them only three remained, number seven, Matthias Vendry: Classification: a Solomon, a man with an incredible talent with computers and general intelligence gathering, and myself, a David. I whittled giants down to size.

    “Demetrius has been in touch. We have an assignment,” said Layla, pushing a thin console across the table towards him.

Fennel saw her aura flair, and the air was suddenly filled with the heavy scent of her perfume, she shifted seductively in her chair. She had everyone’s attention. Fennel knew that this was a trick Layla used on purpose to distract the others sitting close by from what they were saying.

   “What is this?” Fennel asked, even as he took the file and started reading.

   “Details of a plan to invade Earth.”

    Fennel’s eyes lifted to merge with Layla’s green gaze. “It says that the attack will come from Aurora Prime.”


   “The Mage Rulers of that planet have been Earth’s allies for the last three hundred years. They fought alongside us in the second Interstellar War. They would not betray us, not without reason.”

   Layla broadened her aura. The man at the back of the room began to drool. She speared her fingers through her hair, all eyes in the bar fixed on that simple motion.

   “But what if someone gave them a reason?” she asked.

Fennell froze.

   “Have they?”

   Layla gave an almost imperceptible nod. “A Mage Princess has been taken.”

   Dread settled in Fennel’s stomach and wound itself tight. “There are several, which one?”

   “The first Daughter of the Prime, and heir to the throne, Diandra Samadaxtra.”

   Fennel felt the blood drain from his face. “The heir…The heir has been kidnapped…are they certain?”  

Layla gave a curt nod.

   “But by whom?”

   “According to the intelligence, by a rogue faction within our own government.”

   “Why would anyone within our government want to start a war? Surely The Mage Emperor would see that this is a set up?” asked Fennel.

   Layla raised an eyebrow. “The mage Emperor is well versed in Earth History, and knows that there are many humans that value money and power far more than they value peace.”

Fennell sighed, he couldn’t argue with that.

   “Who provided the information?” he asked.

   Layla hesitated before she answered. “William.”

   “William? William Braxsis?  He is a traitor.”

   “He likes to call himself a freelancer…” Layla began.

   “He’s a traitor. The only person William is concerned with is himself. Why would Demetrius even think that any information coming from William is accurate?”

   “Demetrius has never lost contact with William. He has given the organization several leads, all of which had proven to be true. Demetrius has no reason to doubt him now…however…”

   “Yes?” snapped Fennel.

   “Considering the gravity of this situation, Demetrius wants you to verify the information.”

    Fennel nodded, “which is?”

   “That he knows where the Heir is being held. If it’s true Demetrius wants you to escort her to Earth.”

   Fennel’s eyebrows reached for the sky.  “To Earth? Why not home to Aurora Prime?”

   Layla gave a delicate shrug. “Proximity.  If William is right, she is being held in our own solar system on the dwarf planet Haumea, in the catacombs under the Celestial City.  The United Governments will arrange for her safe passage back to Aurora, when you bring her here.”

   Fennel blew gently on the flames rising out of his glass. The red liquid underneath it swirled. He was silent for several moments, gathering his thoughts before he spoke again. He controlled his aura easily, keeping it a steady dark blue so that Layla wouldn’t see his inner turmoil. William was once a member of the Demetrius organization, but his tendency to deceit had gotten him expelled from the program. William had been a David like himself, a highly trained assassin and retrieval specialist. He had a complex, devious mind. Fennel didn’t trust any information coming from William. However if Demetrius had checked it out and declared it to be accurate…

   “This is not usually the sort of matter Demetrius handles. Why doesn’t the government send in its own people?” Fennell asked.

   “You forget that the Haumean Emperor has no great regard for United President Suri. How do you think he would react if Earth’s government forces landed on his planet? Furthermore, Haumea has been in trade talks with Aurora Prime for the last Decade. They are anxious to go forward with their mining project on Jupiter’s moon, Ganymede, but they need Seraphim, which as you know can only be found on Aurora Prime, to run the drills. The First Prime has refused to provide them with it. What do you think they would do if they found out that the daughter of the First Prime…the heir at that was being held on their planet?” 

   “I see your point,” murmured Fennell.

   “Will you take the assignment? Demetrius needs and answer tonight.”

   Fennel looked down at his glass again. The fire had burnt the sugar into a slick paste. He took a deep breath and blew out the fire before bringing the glass to lips. The sugar burnt his lips even as the sweet red liquid slid down his throat.

Click here for the discussion thread. 


Jenny said...

Okay, my first reaction was "Fennel? Seriously?" Especially with Diandra, Helathon, and William, it threw me.

Otherwise, I think the story could be interesting but the query isn't well fleshed out. (Having three weeks or less and no actual novel can do that to you, of course...)I'd like to know what the "shocking revelation" is and a bit more about what happens at the end--maybe not everything, but a hint of what's to come to make me want to read more.

I liked the pages better than the query. Layla seems like a blatant attempt to hook the reader through sex appeal, but she's also well-described and I like that it's a cover for her real purpose. I really like the the group of ten spies and how they're labeled as archetypes(Solomon, David, Delilah), too--I'm wondering if that's an integral part of the story; William is but we don't know whether the others are involved.

wendy said...

I think both the query and story excerpt were very well-written. Like Jenny before me, I found the pages easier to read. But there was something missing from them - charm or authenticity perhaps? There was nothing that reached out and grabbed me. It was words performing well on the page, doing what they were supposed to be doing. Characters were interacting, talking and acting in a way that was individualistic to them, but there was nothing that made me really care. No heart or something. Nothing to really admire in those characters. They were too hard-nosed without any vunerabilities. If they had some vunerability that they had to work to overcome or something engaging about them, something I could feel attracted to, warm to, that story would entice me so much more powerfully. It's not really the exterior of beauty or exciting action that is the stimulus for interest in itself. Your characters need something more to define them, to make them more real and especially to make them more appealing.

In the old Bond films (not the new ones) I was led to admire Bond and care about him but not so much for his looks and exciting adventures and the trappings that went with it. He was incredibly in control and courageous, larger than life with a swashbuckling air and original quirks and sayings that give us a solid perception of the kind of man he was. The little hobbits in the book versions of Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit are no oil paintings to look at, no exitement-plus kind of characters, but they're endearing and portrayed with such flavour and personality. Their dialogue is very individual to the kind of people they are and fun to read.

Some of your word use isn't evocative enough for me which makes the query hard to slog through and get a grasp of the flavour and meaning. Might I suggest that instead of Fennel being assigned the task of 'retrieving Diandra' he is rescuing her? You might retrieve an item but you rescue a person. I had to read the first sentence several times to get the meaning because of that one word which didn't quite accurately describe the situation.

I liked the pun of Fennel finding himself 'in uncharted space' with his difficult mission. That worked for me. I liked the concept of each planet holding a secret that will only be revealed as Fennel visits each one and probably has to surmount the challenge each one poses. Your ideas are good. I just feel the story or wording needs more flavour and heart, something essentially original to this story that makes it more unique and, therefore, more real. Also I'd like to see something more endearing, something to capture the heart and interest of the reader.

You've got great potential in this story, I think. Just make the writing and characters more individual to the world they're in - and more real and appealing. Give the reader something to hang on to - to reach out and touch and be touched by.

K.D said...

Jenny...Wendy, thanks for the feedback.
Jenny, the name Fennel just popped into my head.He is named after a herb because Fennel's mother was a chef. I know that it sounds a bit loopy, lol. I did have a bit of trouble writing a query for a novel that doesn't exist so I know the query has some weaknesses. I'm glad you like the pages though, it was fun to write.

Wendy, I know that the characters come over as a bit cold at first. If I decide to work on this as a novel I would humanise them a bit as I went on. I am a very new writer. I started my first novel three years ago and one of the problems I know I have is getting into the action from the first page...defining the characters and the setting quickly. I have a tendency to do a lot of description and build up. I think that is a weakness you probably picked up on. When I do a rewrite I will try to make Fennel and Layla a bit more loveable.
Thanks again to both of you.

wendy said...

What a lovely, open-minded, thoughtful reply, K.D. Thank you and good luck with Star of Aurora. Hope it does really well.