Thursday, 18 July 2013

#2 STILL THEY COME TO HAUNT ME (YA psychological thriller)

At 11:15AM, sixteen-year-old Julia is carving her initials into her music stand. At 11:16, her twin brother bursts though the bandroom door. At 11:17, he pulls out a gun. Twenty-two minutes later, Julia is the only one who walks out alive. She remembers nothing that happened inside.

At least, that's what she tells the police.

One year later, Julia has a new house halfway across the country, an assumed name to shield her from the press, and a guest room where her brother's room should be. She's just starting to feel like the scab might someday peel away when she sees the impossible: her brother, staring at her across a crowded restaurant.

The cops don't believe her, and when she sees him again, her parents are ready to have her committed. Even she thinks she's finally cracked. That is, until men in black suits show up at her front door and threaten her to keep quiet.

But Julia won't give up, even if that means fighting her way to the center of what might be a government conspiracy. Not if there's a possibility her brother might be alive. Not if there's a possibility he could tell the world why he did it. And especially not if there's a possibility his return from the dead could expose the dark secrets she thought died with him on the bandroom floor.

STILL THEY COME TO HAUNT ME, a YA psychological thriller complete at 67,000 words, is Gillian Flynn meets Tana French for teens.

First 500 words:

Only one picture of my brother escaped the purges. I keep it tucked inside a split seam of my winter jacket, which the lovely California has assured me I'll never need again. I used to keep the picture, plus the others I'd managed to save from the first purge, in the back of my underwear drawer, confident my dad would stay away lest even the thought of his daughter's lace and satin unmentionables would make him shrivel into dust and ash. I was wrong. This photo only survived because it slipped behind the baseboard, and the only one who is dust and ash is my brother.

It's a good picture. The taker, long forgotten, had managed to catch us both mid-laugh, our dark, curly hair flying about our faces, our arms wrapped around each other. I can still feel the warmth of his cheek pressed against mine, the rough beginnings of stubble scraping my face.

This picture is the very last thing I have of his. My parents' first purge, right after his cremation, left me with more: his swimming varsity jacket, still damp with chlorine and sweat and Axe; some of his books, big fat fantasies with boobalicious warrior women on the covers and page corners so creased and worn they fluttered to the ground like frenzied moths when I flipped through; his deodorant, which I took to wearing until there was only the thinnest sliver of it left, after which I took to smelling it every night before I went to sleep. It made me dream of him, and since I wasn't allowed to talk about him, that was the best I could do.

I lost all the things I'd saved to the second purge, right before my parents sold the house and I became Lucy Black. I'd gone out for a run, still Julia Flynn, and returned to find my things all in boxes, my clothes crammed into garbage bags that smelled like tar. I sank to my knees in my doorway, suddenly dizzy, wondering if I'd pulled a Rip Van Winkle and fallen into a trance, running for what felt like forty-five minutes but was actually forty-five days.

"Mom?" I said hesitantly. She stood from behind a stack of boxes. "What's going on?"

Sweat dripped down her forehead and turned into tears halfway down her cheeks. "There was a photographer in the bushes when I went to take out the trash," she said. "Everybody stares when I leave the house. I can't do it anymore. I just can't."

So that's how we disappeared from Massachusetts, leaving behind bags of trash, our old names crumpled on the floor like dirty tissues, and the eleven skull-sized bloodstains on the floor of my high school bandroom—my brother's goodbye.


  1. I'd love to read more! Please send me the full manuscript at submissions at foxliterary dot com with the title and the words "XMas in July Request" in the subject line. Thanks!

  2. Oh I need this! Please attach the full manuscript as a Word .doc and send to Paste the query in the body of the email, and be sure to put "Xmas in July: Still They Come to Haunt Me" as the Subject line. Thanks!!!

  3. Gillian Flynn and Tana French, all wrapped up in an awesome YA novel? Yes, please!(!!) I'd love to see a synopsis and the first three chapters at

  4. Ugh. I KNEW you'd request this one too, Molly! Gillian Flynn & Tana French fans unite (and then compete)!

  5. Oooo! I would love to read this. Please send me the first 50 in word doc to Please include Xmas In July in subject line. Looking forward to reading-thanks!

  6. I'd love to see the first fifty pages and a synopsis!

  7. I'd love to see the full manuscript! Could you please send the ms to me directly at adriann [at], with the original query letter? Thank you!


  8. I'm hooked. Could you please send the synopsis and the first 50 pages to me at submissions at janklow dot com? Please indicate that the submission is for Stefanie Lieberman and include Xmas in July in the header.

  9. I'd love to see this! Please send query, synopsis and full manuscript to Esubmissions at SarahJaneFreymann dot com--with Xmas in July as the subject line. Thank you!

  10. Hi there,

    I was tipped-off to this great pitch and how right the tipster was!

    I would love to see the full manuscript. You can send it to queries [at] parkliterary [dot] com and put PETER KNAPP REQUESTED MATERIAL in the subject line.

    Thank you, and looking forward to reading!

    Pete Knapp
    The Park Literary Group LLC

  11. Well, you had me with the pitch! What a terrific hook. I look forward to seeing more. All this agent attention is much deserved ;)

    Please send the first 100 pages and a synopsis to query (at) in an attachment and include Xmas in July in the subject heading.


    P.S. Literary Agency

  12. I’d love to see more of this! And apparently I'm not alone! Please feel free to send me the query, a short bio, and the full manuscript at Please write “requested” and “Xmas in July” in the subject line. Thanks!

    Lara Perkins
    Andrea Brown Literary Agency

  13. Tracey and Josh Adams of Adams Literary would like to see the full manuscript! (They're on the road and having difficulty commenting on an iPad!)

    Please send the full manuscript to both and with Xmas in July in the subject line.


  14. I’ve been on the lookout for a YA thriller, and would love to read more of your work! Please send your first 50 pages as an attachment to info (at)—copy your query in the body of the email and put “Xmas in July requested material for Logan” as your subject. Thanks!

    All best,
    The Gernert Company

  15. Guess who has been lurking! ME! And I want this very badly. Can you send me the full, please? Thanks so much!

  16. Can't wait to see this in print!!!

  17. Message from Becky Vinter! Please send the full plus the original query.

  18. Great entry! so want to read more and to know why there were eleven skull-sized blood prints. Nice ending.

  19. Wow, this is really good. No wonder it got All the REQUESTS! This'll be in print in no time! Congrats!

  20. Wow, this is really good. No wonder it got All the REQUESTS! This'll be in print in no time! Congrats!

  21. Yay, Amanda - great entry! I'm so psyched for this. Congrats on all the requests! :o)

  22. Gave me goosebumps.
    Amazing - I hope I get to read it in the future!

  23. I'm late to the party. Comic Con! But I'd love to see the full to


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