Lois Johnson – YA Contemporary – ONE FOR SORROW

Dear Showcase Agents,

ONE FOR SORROW is a 63,000 word contemporary YA novel about the consuming power of first love and a relationship shattered by jealousy, betrayal and revenge.

How can identical twins be strangers? Shared dreams bound them together . . . now secrets tear them apart.

Fourteen-year old Evie feels abandoned when her twin, Nat, shuts her out and makes new friends. Despite Evie’s attempts to remain close, Nat becomes secretive, leaving Evie confused and alone. When Evie falls in love, the rift between the twins widens further.

Evie finds Nat sneaking out of the house and staggering back in the early hours and worries what her sister is up to. When she sees scars on Nat’s wrist, Evie fears she is hurting herself and tries to help her. But Nat’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic until the police wake the family to say Nat is in hospital following a fatal accident.

When Nat confesses she killed someone, Evie fears for her sister’s future. Nat is adamant she is guilty . . . but Evie knows Nat is lying. Can Evie repair their broken relationship enough to persuade Nat to tell the truth about what really happened that night? If she can’t, Nat will be tried for manslaughter and both their lives will be shattered.

I hope this story appeals to readers who enjoy the work of Cat Clarke, Tim Bowler and Sharon Creech.

When I moved to Manchester, complete strangers began calling me Susan. This happened so frequently that I felt like I had an identical twin – someone I had never met. Years later, this idea gradually developed into ONE FOR SORROW.

I have an MA in Writing for Children from MMU and am an active member of SCBWI where I enjoy the lively crit sessions. In addition, I have enjoyed attending numerous writing conferences and workshops, including those held in Winchester, York and Manchester. I have had eight non-fiction books published by Hopscotch and a poem published by Macmillan Children’s Books. Several of my children’s stories have been shortlisted and/or placed in a variety of competitions.  

Thank you for taking the time to read my query letter.

Yours faithfully,

Lois A. Johnson


ONE FOR SORROW – FIRST PAGE

Even with drips of dark hair dye trickling down my forehead, I still look like her.

The ginger hair has gone but I can’t change my mouth or nose. My/Her hazel eyes stare back at me.

My whole life, I’ve loved that we are identical. But not anymore. I need to look like me now. Just me.

Why didn’t I realise we are so different, deep inside, where no-one ever sees?

“Are you ok, love?” Mum calls through the bathroom door.

“Yes, thanks.”

Well, that’s another lie to add to the pile we’re all building. Maybe one day the pile will topple down and bury us . . .

I listen for Mum’s footsteps going downstairs and sigh. She’s always hovering over me. It’s suffocating. And I know that no matter what I do, when Mum and Dad look at me, they’ll always see her too.

The instructions on the hair dye say I have to wait 20 mins. I go into my bedroom and squeeze past the boxes to sit on the bed. Mum says if I unpack I’ll feel more at home.

But some things you can’t put in boxes and bring with you. And other things you wish you could leave behind are with you always – even though you never packed them.

One of the boxes has ‘FRAGILE’ written on every side.

That’s how I feel too – like I could shatter any second.

I put the box on the bed beside me, open the flaps, and carefully lift out the bleached, twisted tendrils of driftwood. I close my eyes and sniff, hoping for the salty tang of the sea. I try to hear the crash of waves or the cry of gulls.

But the only sound is the noise of cars going up and down the road outside and the shouts of neighbours’ kids playing in the street.

I’ve never lived so far away from the ocean.

It’s another 12 minutes before I can wash the colour off. I grab a handful of tissues and dab at the cold trickles running down the side of my face.

I look like I’m melting. If I could melt and remake myself, what – or who -would I choose?

I reach into the box again and the fabric bag of shells rattles. I pull the drawstring open and pick up a tiny periwinkle. I smile at the memory of dusting it off on my t-shirt before carrying it home in the pocket of my shorts. As I turn it round, a few grains of sand stick to my skin. I’ve brought a bit of the beach with me after all.

I think of long summer days, kicking off my flipflops to run along the sand, arms outstretched like wings, while the breeze lifts my hair and streams it out behind me.

But my hair’s much shorter now – ever since we moved here for our ‘Fresh Start’– another attempt to make myself look different from her – my ‘mirror image’.

 

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