Dear Tradpub: Here’s my Doorstopper Thriller Query!

(Click on the image to see the full fancy book cover I made in GIMP! Thanks to Bey Deckard for Photoshopping the gene and hourglass!)

As you all know, I’ve been thinking about Going Into the West, sailing away from gayrom to the more lucrative world beyond. And I’ve finally got an idea for a “big book,” the kind of thing that would be folly for me to selfpub – well, that I couldn’t do as a selfpubber, because it would mean writing 200,000+ words “on spec.” And that’s no bueno when I’m trying to pay the bills around here.

So the plan is to try and get a tradpub contract for this puppy. And a cash advance on a query, outline and sample. That said, I didn’t even want to go too deep into this if I couldn’t do a query that would float – if the idea wouldn’t even get me in the door.

(Edit, 9/7: Also, something I can’t believe I forgot to mention – I do have a history with traditional publishing, under my real name, Orland Outland. I had three paperback originals with Berkeley, a couple books with Kensington, and three with Alyson. So I’m no stranger to the processes of deadline, editorial feedback, etc. I’ve only been a selfpubber for the last three years. Thanks to Kboards people who reminded me that you can only get an advance if you already have a tradpub track record…D’oh.)

Fortunately, there was a guy on Reddit, an agent’s reader, who dropped in for an AMA. He let me pick his brain and run the query through a couple of cycles, before I sent it off into the scary maw of QueryShark, a blog by an agent who takes novel idea queries and, well, see title of blog. We’ll see what, if anything, happens there.

But you know me. My favorite thing about selfpub is now now now. So, why not just put it out there, right here, and see what happens? Otherwise I could be treading water, you know, forever, waiting for that shark to bite.

It’s been more years than I can recall since I wrote a query letter, and it was a bitch and a half to get it down to the standard 250 words or less, let me tell you, but…here it is.

Brexit. Trump. Homophobic laws. Most supporters are over fifty. Does social progress mean waiting for them to die?

In the next six months, most of them will.

The virus is selective. Once it’s obvious who succumbs, America’s generational divide will pit young against old in a new civil war.

Long term AIDS survivor Jeremiah Bridges discovers that the antiviral medications keeping him alive well past fifty also keep this new virus at bay. If the world discovers that, the medications will be diverted in a harsh triage, and he and his family will die.

Junior Senator Solange Pierre is thrust into power when 85% of her colleagues drop dead. When she learns what Jeremiah knows, she must make decisions that alter the fates of millions.

Ruthless billionaire Harwick Cromwell, intent on living forever, will burn the world for another five minutes of life. With a private army on his payroll, he will gamble for absolute power and life extension by any means.

Derek Reed is a burned-out Army captain, thrust back into service and the burden of leadership. He must make peace with his father before it’s too late, and decide whether he lets others play God, or if he leads a revolution.

The lines of all their lives will meet in a struggle to determine the future of mankind.

Genetic Comet is a WIP that will run 200-300,000 words. Readers who enjoyed the works of Michael Crichton are the target audience. This is planned as a standalone novel with resolution of its major character arcs, although the world building could support series/sequels.

You wanna read that, right? And you know I’m much better at the character development thing than say, Crichton or Dan Brown. Take what I learned about writing thrillers from the Game Players series, add my multidimensional world and character building, and, hey presto. Oh, and for brevity, I had to leave out the passionate but adversarial romance between the senator and the captain.

I got the idea watching the split in voting demographics for Brexit and Trump, the average age of the Fox News viewer, and caucusing for Bernie Sanders and knowing within a margin of error of 4% or less who in the room, by age alone, supported Bernie and who supported Hillary.

And then of course all these new homophobic bullshit laws in Redneckistan, same thing, the majority of their support from seniors. And I just said out loud, “Fucking old people! Why don’t they just die so we can have nice things!”

Bing. There went the story bell, and I was off. First I thought, where do I set the age bar? Well, who are the visionaries right now, people we love? Who’s the oldest of them? Elon Musk? 45. Justin Trudeau? I mean you can’t kill Justin Trudeau, right? 44.

But what about Richard Branson? Okay, but for every Richard Branson at that age, there’s a thousand Donald Trumps. So tough luck, old boy. 50 it is.

This is going to be a major project. I need stats, lots of stats. I was delighted to learn that 85% of the Senate was over 50, whoo, there’s some social progress right there, bumping all of them off.

But it’s not all going to be cake and roses, right? I mean, especially in a country like ours where all the infrastructure is held together with duct tape, it’s the old guys who have the tribal knowledge to keep it taped. What happens to the power supply when they kick it? What percentage of infrastructure employees are in what age group? What percentage are workers and what percentage are PowerPointPods who nobody will miss? What’s it going to be like when the largest wealth transfer in history occurs between one generation and the next? What’s the psychological impact of creating a world full of mostly adult “sudden orphans,” almost everyone losing their mom and dad just like that?

And, of course, when the “over 50” discovers there’s a pill to save them, what lengths will they go to to get it? How much of our pharmaceutical capacity has been outsourced to countries that will no longer ship the pills they now desperately need themselves? What will that “triage” look like? Will the 1% hire Blackwater-type armies to seize the meds for them?

I mentioned Crichton because I want this to feel real, to be at least demographically true. I need data, and data takes time to find, and time is money. (I got the idea for the HIV drugs as prevention when the SARS epidemic hit China a few years ago – most everyone in one hospital got sick, except the people on the AIDS ward; the antivirals may have kept them safe from SARS, or it may have been that their immune responses were already stifled and didn’t react to the virus, but, it’s plausible…)

EDIT: I’m still writing about this, putting down all my thoughts (i.e. selling points) as I expand and flesh out the story. So I’ll link here to all further posts.

EDIT EDIT: I’m starting to collect some articles that highlight the generational disparities and conflicts.

Are Baby Boomers turning out to be the worst generation?

Reddit thread/comments on the above article

‘Brexit’ Bats Aside Younger Generation’s European Identity

The Myth of the Millennial as Cultural Rebel (TL;DR, generations are different because the financial and cultural environments in which each lives are so different from that of previous generations, not because of some difference in “character” or whatnot.)

So yeah, I need a tradpub contract for this, I need an advance so I can stop scrabbling here there and everywhere for my daily bread and focus on this.

So, if you’re out there, tradpub agents and publishers, I will eventually do the normal thing and push this through the standard query cycle, but…if I can take the bypass? Save myself about six months’ waiting time? I gotta do it.

Sincerely yours, the newly hatched “Derek Vance”!

2 Comments on Dear Tradpub: Here’s my Doorstopper Thriller Query!

  1. Fantastic idea! Hell yeah, I’d read that. Some thoughts: If the AIDS antivirals hold off the over-50-virus, won’t that become obvious once all the over-50 AIDS patients don’t die like everyone else over 50? That kind of takes the decision to reveal this out of the hands of the junior senator and into the public domain unless the time for an over-50 to die varies widely within the population. But if that’s the case then how could anyone be sure that it’s the AIDS antivirals keeping someone alive and not just some natural variation? Blood test perhaps? And if there is no significant variation in the time from exposure to death, then who will be left to fight over the antivirals if all the other over-50s are dead? Those about to turn 50? If the virus was intentionally created and the creator was aware of this antiviral effect, maybe it is their decision. Knowing this in advance, is there someone they would choose to “exempt” from the virus by providing them with the appropriate antivirals? Is the creator over 50 and they’ve just decided to “sacrifice” themself to enable the change for the greater good of society? What happens when someone turns 50? Do they die from the virus or have they acquired some sort of immunity or has the virus died out? What about someone who thought they were over 50 when they actually weren’t due to some erroneous info about their birthdate? Would people think they had some natural immunity that could be capitalized on? What a delightful idea to chew on! Just don’t break your brain. 😉

    • Good stuff! I see the virus as Mother Nature thinning out the herd, no mad scientists involved. Science moves slowly and cautiously, as AIDS patients discovered in the 80s, so they’ll be slow to commit publicly to the truth. That six month window, which I may extend but it’s got the time punch I need in a query 🙂 at first blurs the fact that HIVers over 50 are surviving. And gives the other over 50s time to go batshit crazy and fight for the pills. It wouldn’t kill everyone over 50, even the Black Death “only” killed 1/3 of the population, some people would have resistance and they would be hunted for their blood both by scientists and nut jobs. The 250 word query is designed to do exactly what it did with you, make you ask lots of questions only I can answer in a full book 😉

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. $30 to IAVA from “A Little Too Broken”! $5,050 and counting! – Brad Vance Author
  2. A Holiday in Trumbodia, Or, My Doorstopper Thriller Redux – Brad Vance Author

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