CURRENT QUERY DRAFT (V. 6) IN #23
Greetings! In this query I'm hoping to stress my novel's diversity (characters with disabilities, characters from nonwhite and non-English backgrounds, powerful female characters and LGBT+ characters), partially because a LOT of agents I'm planning to query have this explicitly written on their wishlist, partially because I just think it's generally an accurate description of my novel and it's more interesting. How can I weave this into the query so it'll catch an agent's eye? Any advice is welcomed :) --
Una is a rollicking, plus-sized libertine who loves life - especially the parts involving strong whisky, singlestick fights and naked men. It’s 1889 in a gender-swapped Victorian Scotland, Una’s got a burning ambition to travel the world. Unfortunately, her mother’s got a burning ambition for her travel in on the 7:45 train every morning, to waste her life in some screamingly dull office clerk’s job. Una can’t win. But how can she transcend middle-class convention and live the voyaging life she craves…when she has all the insight and maturity of an undercooked tattie scone?
Meanwhile, in Berlin, young father Otto is in trouble. His infant is hungry, his employment prospects are abysmal, and his breadwinner wife’s just vanished. Has she abandoned him? Otto doesn’t know. But the rent’s due now. When a broad-minded friend suggests he sell the one valuable item left - himself - Otto very reluctantly agrees.
Still, isn’t it just ‘a job like any other’? Unfortunately, he finds it’s not. Born of Turkish-German heritage, Otto is a POC who’s fetishized, degraded and treated like an ‘exotic’ stereotype by his female buyers.
Roaring drunk on a trip to Berlin, three months hence, Una meets Otto making trouble at a late-night café. Immediately smitten, Una means to take advantage…but changes her mind. She might be a lecherous rake, but she’s a principled lecherous rake, damn it! Money is one thing. Mutual desire is another. Otto’s stunned; he’s never encountered such principles before.
When their paths next cross, the industrial northern cityscape of Glasgow provides a unique backdrop to a new problem. Otto’s violent wife is back. He’s out of the frying-pan and into the fire. Isolated and at her mercy, Otto wants out, but divorce is considered unspeakable.
Una’s half-hearted attempts at a conventional career fail, but a political awakening dawns as she tries to secure justice for a wounded Otto. When Una’s male friend develops a crush on the bisexual Otto, an LGBTQ+ romantic intrigue only complicates matters further. As the abuse escalates and endangers Otto’s very life, Una finally realizes it’s time to stop larking about. Nobody will save Otto if she doesn’t. But can rescuing him help Una find herself? Could achieving her own ambitions be bound up together with his fate? And can she do it before the killing blow is struck?
Darkly comic, feminist as hell, and featuring multiple diverse characters (including a POC LGBT+ protagonist) this Alternate History runs to 98,000 words. ‘The Unwife’ hits the Venn diagram between feminist sci-fi (Naomi Alderman’s ‘The Power’, Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’), and quirky Victoriana (Michael Faber’s ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’). The novel’s themes explore how the struggles of POC, disabled and LGBT+ characters intersect within a brutally sexist historical society. I’m a Scotswoman with an MA degree in Scottish Literature from Glasgow University (currently doing my PhD elsewhere), who’s worked in the novel’s setting as a Victorian re-enactor. My fiction was recently longlisted for the annual Mslexia novel prize.
I am querying you because [personalized information based on agent's twitter feed/wishlist/website etc].