Lynk Manuscript Assessment Service
Manuscripts ready for agenting and publishing
Hot on the heels of our recent successes, a number of outstanding manuscripts have crossed our desk over the last few months. We have worked closely and intensively with these authors to add the finishing touches to their manuscripts, and are now delighted to showcase them here.
Lynk welcomes expressions of interest from publishers and agents concerning the following works.Thank you for your interest.
Meet William. He’s twenty-two. He’s highly intelligent. He’s an acerbic critic of Australian suburban life. And he’s lost.
Overflowing with the riotous immediacy of desire, the novel is a comic-serious exploration of an educated young man’s quest to find his way in the world. A love song to Deliria, Thailand and twelfth-century French poetry, it demonstrates how literary cultivation, savoir faire, bravery, sexual obsession, moral laxity and complete stupidity can exist in the one person.
Deliria is a clever and touching first-person narrative. Impressively, this work of literary fiction manages to be sardonic and moving, cerebral and funny at the same time. It is immensely enjoyable to read.
William, our narrator and protagonist, is a fascinating and engaging portrait of the coming-of-age of a certain type of Australian male: well-educated, exuding a hefty cultural cringe, looking for a place in society and a focus for his hopeless romanticism, trying to have sex, indulging in minor criminality, and attempting to deal with crushing existential boredom. As he muses on life and love, his litany of contradictions becomes apparent: an intellectual snob, he is completely ‘up himself’, yet terribly insecure; he knows so much, yet has done so little; he is very aware of life’s possibilities (in his own fantasising way), yet he has availed himself of so few of them. He is, slowly but surely, going crazy with frustration. And then he meets Deliria …
These layers to William’s personality are interesting and amusing, such as when he describes his ‘average’ looks, then ends with the self-judgment of ‘An interesting guy’. Yet nothing in his previous musings justifies this closing comment. This is good writing: he can be honest only to a point, then his ego kicks in and adds a layer of self-image to the inadequate reality.
Ultimately, the reader can’t help but like William, mainly because his intellectual posturing and sense of alienation from life around him is depicted with such engaging acerbic humour and sarcasm. He is totally in Deliria’s thrall – he is indeed delirious. Hopelessly in love, hopefully in lust, he is a courtly love poet for the 21st century.
At a time when readers are increasingly used to breathlessly paced, action-packed creative works in most artistic forms, Deliria works in quite a different way. Rather than relying on thrills and spills to create and sustain reader engagement, the quality of the prose is what hooks the reader, as the author conjures distinctive and appealing moods and atmospheres to great effect.
Such is the depiction of the empty streets and windy hills of contemporary Adelaide that they feel like actual characters in the story. This is, in fact, a withering yet sentimental portrait of the crushing ennui of a provincial, self-important city, and these contrasting emotions perfectly match William’s worldview. The result is a powerful sense of integrity, and unity between the novel’s internal and external worlds, which is effectively sustained throughout the story.
The post-modern, ironic application of the famed literary conceit of the pathetic fallacy – whereby the natural world directly reflects the mood of the protagonist at any particular moment – is very entertaining to read each time it occurs in the narrative. William manages to establish a kind of knowingness with the reader, along the lines of: ‘Now that Deliria only has eyes for Theseus, I feel terrible’, then he goes for a walk, and sure enough, nature is troubled – in uproar even. In less accomplished hands, this could feel quite clumsy and formulaic, but this author’s touch is sure, and the self-conscious element that this introduces to the novel only gives the text another level for readers to enjoy.
Furthermore, the richness of the images evoked in these pathetic-fallacy passages – their robustness, their detail, their immediate visual clarity – had me looking forward to the next such passage.
In a nutshell, Deliria is for readers who love words and language, who can find the heart of a story in the richness of its prose as much as in its characters and plotting.
Title: Love’s Been Good to Me
One morning Michael Culpepper wakes up in his own bed, alone and wearing his Peter Alexander pyjamas, unsure of how he got there. Then a phone rings somewhere off in the house. It’s only 7 a.m., for god’s sake! Upon investigation, some fellow Michael’s never seen before is standing in his designer kitchen, offering him a cup of his own exquisite brew of coffee. Liberties have been taken, but Michael accepts, and he’s soon glad he did. This guy claims to be Australian, but he has an indeterminate accent, like those people who travel too much and speak too many languages. Overachievers … And then he introduces Michael to a fully-grown black panther, whose accent is definitely Oxbridge.
Michael is left alone with Allan the talking panther, and soon starts to truly appreciate his manners, and his Weltschmerz. But as much as Michael is loving the company, he has to go to work. While Michael is shaving and dressing, Allan converses with Michael’s cat, Louis, and when Michael emerges from the bathroom – looking dapper and ready for the day – Allan has some disturbing news to convey. While Michael was asleep, some men came and took a girl away. Okay, thinks Michael, so there was a girl here. Well, of course, what’s not to love … But he can’t remember who she was. It could have been Emily Roman, the famous popstar he interviewed recently. We did get on rather well, he recalls with a smile. But why would men come and … Allan then adds that when those men came, the scent of blood was heavy in the air.
Already greatly inconvenienced – this is, after all, a challenging start to his day – Michael must now confront mysterious danger, with only Allan and his own compromised memory to assist him. He must find the girl before he finds himself in even more trouble – and before those men come for him, too …
Love’s Been Good To Me is a contemporary surrealist adventure aimed at male and female readers aged c. 20–50 years. It will especially appeal to readers of Haruki Murakami, Bret Easton Ellis and DBC Pierre. Generation X and Y readers, in particular, will identify strongly with the protagonist as he is forced to undertake a mysterious adventure.
The writing style is similar to that of DBC Pierre’s Ludmila’s Broken English, Bret Easton Ellis’s Lunar Park, and selected stories from Michel Faber’s The Fahrenheit Twins. The deadpan humour with which the main character expresses his inner thoughts is reminiscent of cult television programs such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and Peep Show. But the subtext here is quite philosophical – dealing with issues involving relationships, loss, loneliness and self-discovery – so Love’s Been Good To Me will also appeal to more sophisticated readers, and thus a broader market.
The author is now working on the second volume of a three-part series featuring Michael Culpepper, his unforgettable protagonist.
Title: Oric – The Battle for Bayersby Manor
North Yorkshire, England, medieval times.
Oric, The Battle for Bayersby Manor is a very accomplished novel for young adults. There is a smoothness to the flow of the prose that makes for an enjoyable reading experience, regardless of age. Combined with this, a broad spectrum of strong and well-drawn characters, and especially an excellent plot will keep young-adult readers right in the thick of the intrigue until the very last line.
The story moves along at a lively pace, and while there is plenty of incident – something is always happening to engage the interest – things never feel rushed. There is a very effective modulation between faster and slower scenes, which is what good storytelling is all about.
The narrative is ably assisted by its intricate plot, which is perhaps the most impressive aspect of the manuscript. Right from the opening page, we are immersed in a very different world (yet made familiar through the characters and their relationships), and we accompany Oric on his varied adventures as he tries to uncover the mystery of the bequeathed key – and performs many good deeds in the process. The plot features numerous spicy ingredients: boy suddenly and tragically alone in the world, boy finds a new home and master, boy meets girl, boy acquires healing powers and gets a proper foothold in the world. To counter-balance Oric’s endearing journey, there is no shortage of nasty villains lurking in the shadows and the forests, plotting the demise of all who stand in their way. There is also a strong animal presence in the story – chiefly in the form of a cat, a dog and a donkey – as befits a time when man and beast lived in close proximity.
The lead-up to the ultimate battle at the Keep is excellent, as is that climactic set piece itself. And the ending is very satisfying: the villains are thwarted in their devious plans; Oric has risen in the world and has proved his valour yet again; and all is well with Ichtheus and Dian. In short, the good are rewarded; the bad suffer. The ‘moral’ here is sound – violence, theft and nastiness don’t pay – and is reinforced by the contrasting trajectories of Oric and Guwain, who is to the manor born: the former, in his virtue, grows both in himself and in society; while the latter, in his vice, does a disservice to both his elevated position and his family. These twists in the plot inspire strong themes that are most appropriate for the envisaged readership: growing up/coming of age, adventure, emerging adolescent love, the importance of living virtuously, courage and honour in word and deed, and the value of a warm mentoring relationship.
And leaving things open-ended on the last page, with the arch-villain living to scheme again, is entirely as it should be. Readers will be eager for Book Two.
The story also taps a rich vein in terms of its apothecary theme: what’s old is new again (in the sense that many people use such herbal remedies today), so this is a topical element in the manuscript. Readers are likely to respond to this, too, in terms of it being a source of wonder in nature.
The characterisation at work in the story is also very effective. New characters are introduced at good intervals, so we’re never overwhelmed by questions of ‘who’s who’. The core trio of Oric, Ichtheus and Dian are all very strong presences. The two adolescents are good models for boy and girl readers to identify with (and perhaps to feel a bit attracted to); and Ichtheus is a very likeable, appealing character: the older man, wise yet funny in his ways, generous of heart and fair of mind. He’s a bit like the familiar figure of the wise magician; and while Ichtheus does work some magic of sorts, the fact that he does not have supernatural powers only adds to his humanity.
Moreover, the very engaging dynamic between Oric and Dian is a joy to read, and is sure to appeal to readers of similar ages.
The author’s use of language is another real strength of the manuscript – the period terminology and the precision of the naming of everyday objects brings the medieval world vividly to life. Readers will be introduced to some (but not too many) new words, which is appropriate for young adults, who should be learning some new terms when they read a book. To assist with these terms, there is a brief Glossary at the end of the manuscript.
In a nutshell, the author displays a thorough understanding of both the world her story is set in, and the mind-set and concerns of her envisaged readers. Oric deserves a wide audience, and is sure to engage those lucky enough to experience it.
Title: The Song of Siori
Captain Hiromi is an experienced seaman, having headed a Japanese fishing fleet for many years. Now, in middle age, he has accepted the offer of leading a whaling expedition – his first.
Izumi is a whale that has, for many years, migrated between the chilly Antarctic Ocean in summer and tropical waters in winter. Now, in the prime of adulthood, she is with child – her first.
Hiromi is a man of many parts. He is a product of his culture, which has for centuries hunted whales for their flesh and their blubber. Conversely, he has been raised in the Buddhist tradition, and has learnt to respect all beings as part of the intricate web of life that sustains everything. He is also a man of heightened sensitivity, as a result of quite recently losing his wife to illness and of now being at sea, separated from his young daughter, who is very precious to him.
When Hiromi witnesses his first whale kill, he is appalled – this is not at all like the fishing techniques he is used to. During the quiet times on the ship, he emails some old friends from the West, who he studied with as a young man. He updates them about his life – his tragic loss, his new job. While expressing sympathy for his loss, his friends don’t agree with his career move – they both oppose whale-killing. This leads Hiromi to recall his own disgust at the kill he saw, and to begin to question this cultural practice and his role in it.
While these events have been unfolding, Izumi has given birth to a healthy calf called Siori, a playful and mischevious young female. Izumi teaches Siori the ways of the ocean, and the bond of love between mother and child grows ever stronger.
As the hunt goes on, Hiromi has a surprising encounter with Siori, and feels the stirring of something new in himself. Feeling confused, he misses his daughter terribly; email contact with his old friends has been good, but in his vulnerability he needs someone close, to hold and to love. So when, the next day, he again encounters Siori – this time with Izumi – and finds them both in great danger, he feels he should act. But that would mean jeopardising his and his daughter’s future financial security …
The marketing strength of The Song of Siori lies in its treatment of a prominent and emotive contemporary environmental issue: whale killing. The issue of commercial whaling, is, it will be seen in the story, analogous to all environmental issues because it reflects our understanding of how we belong in the world. As such, it has broad potential in the field of educational publishing (notwithstanding the challenge of getting a text approved by a State Board of Studies). English, Biology, Society and Culture, and/or Geography activities could be devised and published with the story as a package. For this reason, it would make an ideal book for emerging adults, as it will stimulate discussion about ethical and personal issues as well as helping to develop in the young reader an awareness of the importance of cultural sensitivity when dealing with transnational matters.
There is now an established international trend in picture books (‘graphic novels’) such as The Song of Siori, whose theme centres on a profound experience of universal value. Such publications, which appeal to all ages, include The Peasant Prince by Li Cunxin, The Arrival by Shaun Tan, Angela by Frank McCourt, The Watertower by Garry Crew, From Slave Ship to Freedom Road by Julius Lester, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, and Crazy Horse’s Vision by Joseph Bruchac.
Title: The Dream Watcher
The Dream Watcher is a very impressive and engaging novel for young readers. It is appropriate for its target readership in terms of the language used, the protagonists’ ages and interests, and its exciting and inventive plot, rich with magic, weirdness and adventure.
Right from the opening chapter, we are immersed in a bizarre, fantastical world (yet made familiar through the characters’ relationships), and we accompany Henry and the other protagonists on their varied adventures as they try to make it all the way through the Forgotten Zone – and do a very good deed in the process.
The novel successfully incorporated a number of the conventional/archetypal elements of fiction for this age group: mythical creatures (some doing good, others bad), a mysterious forest, magic, time travel, a dangerous but necessary journey/quest to understand it all, and the child heroes facing and overcoming their fears – in the form of a series of trials – along the way. And all of this adventure is linked to the fate of Henry’s deceased father, meaning that the story retains a strong personal, family thread throughout.
The Dream Watcher also displays a fine understanding of children’s foibles and hopes. It taps a rich vein of humour in terms of what kids love and hate about their lives – uncontrollable hair, vegies that taste superb … the stuff (real and inverted) of everyday life as a child.
So the author ‘speaks to’ both the reading and the lived experience of the target market, and does so with a deft, light touch, which is lovely.
The author also plumbs some impressive psychological depths in a very subtle way, as becomes apparent as the story unfolds. For instance, one boy who has been brought up ‘tough’ by his dad becomes a soft, cuddly teddy bear in his dream. Because he has been denied the tenderness – represented by the teddy bear – that every child needs, he acts like a ‘tough teddy’ for most of the story. But then he softens, and hugs a friend. This works well because of the emotions involved, and because the author doesn’t labour any aspect of it. There is some gender stereotyping in the character of Lucy (she longs for a knight in shining armour to come, she cries a lot, and she sews), but then there is the very unfeminine Sally to offset this; and later in the story, in a triumph of individuality, Lucy dumps the whole ‘shining knight’ notion.
Without revealing the ending, suffice to say that the story travels full circle from the opening scene and all the threads are neatly tied up. This is fine plotting, and it gives readers an inspirational message to take away.
Title: The Melody Makers
The Melody Makers are a band of musical instruments that live together in the music department of a primary school – a setting the target audience can readily relate to. The characters are lifeless in our world, but when they are stored away in their cases, they come to life. The inside of their cases resembles the interiors of modern houses, equipped with bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, etc.
When the characters walk out their front doors (but still inside their cases), they step into the magical land of Melody Ville, where all their adventures take place. Melody Ville has streets, shops, parks and rivers – just like a real-life town, except there are no people. And it has similar dimensions to an actual small town: the instrument cases are a bit like the Tardis in Doctor Who, small on the outside but very big once inside.
The Melody Makers’ personalities derive from their respective sound or mood, their geographic or cultural origin, their physical properties, or a combination of these attributes.
It is proposed that the series will commence with a Pilot story that briefly introduces the characters and their world, and then be followed up by character-based stories.
The Melody Makers is similar in some ways to the much-loved Munch Bunch and Mr Men books. The series is aimed at boys and girls aged c. 3–10 years, but could be enjoyed by any age group, including adults who are young at heart and who perhaps grew up reading the works of Roger Hargreaves and Giles Reed.
Musical instruments are incredibly varied and unusual in appearance. They spring from many different geographic and cultural origins, and conjure different sounds and moods. As such, they are the perfect vehicle for creating a cast of vibrant and varied characters with an array of personalities that are both attractive and exciting to children.The Melody Makers series is intended to entertain children and arouse their interest in reading, while gently teaching life lessons and morals through the experiences of the characters (ie. the instruments). In addition, as many children baulk at structured music lessons but are fascinated by the instruments themselves, the series would serve as an ideal teaching aid. Primary school music teachers and parents could use them to spark enthusiasm about learning an instrument that a child may not have previously considered
Title: My Granny Mischa
My Granny Mischa is a celebration. It tells the story of a grandmother’s delight and joy at the imminent birth of her first grandchild. The narrator is this grandchild, looking back to the time ‘before I was born’ and re-telling the grandmother’s account of that happy Spring day when she was told of the forthcoming birth.
The story is a cumulative one, recounting, firstly, the grandmother’s exuberant response to the news that a baby is expected; and then, when she goes to the market, the affirming message from each shopkeeper that the child is wonderfully welcome. This latter section, set in a multicultural food market, draws together young and old, East and West, the Old World and the New – and it features some very tasty morsels from all corners of the globe.
The manuscript includes a short Notes section that provides explanations of all the unfamiliar terminology used, as well as the sources for references in the text. It even presents the recipe for the yummy traditional Russian dish, potato pirozhki, so that children and (grand)parents can make this together, after sharing the tale of My Granny Mischa.
My Granny Mischa stands out from most picture books about grandparents in several ways. Firstly, the story is culturally inclusive: it highlights and appeals to the non-Anglo-Saxon elements of contemporary Australian society, and it does so via that most accessible cross-cultural medium of all – food. Many Australian children today have migrant grandparents, whose exotic ways – and dishes – can be most intriguing.
Secondly, the story conveys to young children an extremely positive message about their own place in society, as first Granny Mischa, and then all of her friends at the market, rejoice in the forthcoming birth.
An added appeal to book-buying grandparents is that the older characters are portrayed as playful and lively (please see also the comment in the ‘Illustrations’ section below).
Further, the child narrator’s gender is not specified, so that both boys and girls may relate to the character and the story with equal directness.
The number of picture books about grandparents is burgeoning – a strong indication that an appealing story like My Granny Mischa will gain considerable traction in the market.