This is the synopsis for my novel. Since starting to submit to agents in February, I've had four requests for the full manuscript, three of which have ended in rejection. The third one was rejected after a couple of days, which made me realise I actually LIKED the weeks of waiting for the other ones. I like the walking round with a little nugget of hope in my heart that something exciting just MIGHT be about to happen.
Queen of the World, a literary-commercial tragi-comic magical-realism contemporary novel set in a seaside town in Northern England, tells the story of Marjorie Queen, an ordinary woman in her fifties. Ordinary, that is, except that since her teens she’s been influencing and controlling the world’s weather.
Marjorie doesn’t understand why she’s so drawn to single father Stuart and his daughter Manda but she ignores everyone else’s weather to make things perfect for them. They all go and meet Stuart’s father for the first time. Hugo King is a local artist who, throughout the story, creates temporary sculptures of mythical creatures from natural materials: a sand and pebbles mermaid on the beach, a Yeti made from snow, a carved goblin pumpkin, a chocolate unicorn. As well as Stuart’s father he is also the boy Marjorie loved at fifteen and who she’s spent the past thirty-seven years believing dead.
The shock of this realisation makes Marjorie run away but soon she and Hugo are thrown together as part of a search party for a missing macaw. Marjorie has to confront memories of her late mother and stepfather, Frank. She imagines what she should have done when Frank abused and lied to her and she blames herself for believing his big lie about Hugo.
When Marjorie invites Hugo for a meal he tells her he has a terminal illness, is refusing treatment and wants her help with a last piece on the hill. Marjorie becomes angry and tells him to leave. She cannot bear to lose him all over again.
Marjorie’s visited by past memories that seem very real: Frank’s abuse and the time she and her mother scattered Frank’s ashes but above all, the past she can never return to, particularly the last perfect day with Hugo. After succumbing to a bout of Christmas and New Year depression, Marjorie decides she must help Hugo.
Marjorie, Hugo, Stuart and Manda set off up the hill to complete Hugo’s last ambitious work of art. Hugo marks out the form of a creature and they start to dig trenches but the work is too much for them & they are hampered by weather Marjorie isn’t able to control. In a quiet moment Marjorie tells Hugo what she never told anyone - that Frank sexually abused her. Then she realises Hugo has died. Marjorie does the most ambitious controlling of the weather of her life. By bringing a storm to the hillside, she enables Hugo to go out in a blaze of glory as the final creation is struck by lightning and becomes a flaming dragon that Hugo is a part of.
In other writing news, I have a story, ‘Patricia’, in the Stories for Homes anthology, which is being sold in aid of Shelter and is full of stories with the theme of ‘home’. It’s just an e-book at the moment but there are plans for an old fashioned papery version in the near future.
I had another story and photogragh on 330 words in July. It’s called ‘Hold On Tight’ and was inspired by the Venus and Cupid Sculpture, which is on Morecambe seafront near the entrance to Happy Mount Park and only a short walk along the promenade from where I live.
Finally, my 250 word story, ‘One Eye’ is in the long list for the Lightship One Page Prize. One Eye. One Page. Sal Page. I like that … and I like having another one of those little nuggets of hope.