Geraldine Cassels – YA Dystopian – HUNTING DOLLY

Dear WriteMentor agent,

I am seeking representation for my Young Adult dystopian novel, HUNTING DOLLY, which is 73,000 words long and aimed at older teenagers. I include my first page for your consideration.

In an autocratic regime, clones known as Dollies are ranked by intelligence and ability. Each wear a different colour of the rainbow: red highest, violet lowest. All must serve, and all are hunted for sport.

EM knows nothing of this. At sixteen, she has lived in solitude in the wild for four years since the death of her father, and the disappearance of her mother. When a nameless injured teenage boy arrives at her hideout, the hunter becomes the hunted, as EM becomes embroiled in the Dollies’ fight for freedom from their sub-human existence.

I am a classroom assistant in two rural Scottish primary schools, a rewarding and creative job. When not child-wrangling, I love to write, read, edit, bake, occasionally fall over whilst doing yoga, and walk in local countryside. The writing bug infected me about twelve years ago, and I find there is no cure.

Having completed a middle-grade novel, as yet unpublished, I decided to give voice to Em, and found more freedom in this YA project, which I see as a blend of Brave New World and The Hunger Games.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Geraldine Cassels

 

HUNTING DOLLY

Half a ton of fur and maternal instinct has me stuck up a tree. C’mon, Mama bear, you know my smell; I’m no threat. Not my fault you were hunched under that big old oak.

My foot slips. She swats, misses by a whisper. Up higher, I crouch, read her through ropes of wet hair. She’s raw rage, all – go near my cubs and I’ll pulp your brain. Yeah; I get you. Why’d you think I’m up this tree? Plate-sized paws shake the trunk, but I’m steady.

Had set out to hunt after a swim in the lake when I crept through brush, found her skulking. Stupid to run, but I saw blood on her claws and kinda freaked.

I scramble higher, break through the crown out of sight, see if that’ll calm her. Endless treetops roll down before me. Chill winds off the mountain at my back bite so much I climb down a bit, not too close, cos she’s still at it; batting the trunk, growling her threats.

At last, she goes quiet. Easing down, I hook my legs over a limb, dangle upside-down, and shift a clump of leaves. Big mistake … huge, cos she starts at me again. What the hell’s wrong with you? You’ve never been this aggressive before. Is one of your grizzlers hurt?

Can’t see the twins, so I swing up and scale over the other side to get a look at where she’d been. By the oak’s roots is something pink. Not like guts-pink; not skin or feathers either. No, it’s like … But that’s impossible.

‘Wha’d you find, Mama Bear?’ I say it soft, my voice unbelieving. It kinda stops her flow. She huffs, backs away to the oak. Her big head turns my way one last time before she sniffs, gives that grunt I know is her cub-call. She lumbers on past her find, past a half dozen more trees til I see leaves shiver, boughs shake, and two furballs rumble down to trail her south down the valley.

I stay a bit longer til birds break into dusk-song. Landing soft, I crouch and listen. Safe now, I think – Mama and cubs should be well into the valley by now. Under the oak, I stare at a ragged bit of cloth, half rusted by blood. I pick it up, run it through my fingers. Feels the same, is the same cloth as my nightsuits. I’ve a boxful at home, but red, not bright pink like this. Was about fourteen before they fitted right, but I wore them long before with sleeves and legs rolled-up. Papps always said never wear them outside – only for sleeping in.

Where’d this come from? Haven’t seen another human for four years since Papps died, and it’s eight years since Mam went missing.

I stuff it in a pocket, unsheathe my knife and look around in all directions. No sign of anything else like it, and no sign of where the blood came from either.

 

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