Melissa Call – YA Historical – LETTERS FROM APARTMENT FOUR
When fourteen-year-old LA girl, Sarah Kincaid, begins receiving mysterious messages emblazoned with a strange insignia, she is forced to confront both the misconceptions and the realities of her childhood. The deeper Sarah digs into these obscure notes, the more she realizes how far in denial she is about the death of her father when she was just three-days-old: a father lost to the brutality of war, forever frozen in time in the jungles of Vietnam. Searching for answers with her best friend, George, Sarah uncovers truths of her own and reveals a secret she’s kept hidden from the only family she’s ever known—her artist mother. Are the dead really gone? Or, can they live on with the stroke of a pen?
Set in 1979, LETTERS FROM APARTMENT FOUR, a YA historical novel complete at 75,000 words, is told in a blend of first-person narration and epistolary format and is similar in style to WHEN YOU REACH ME. The inspiration for this novel comes from the stories my father shared with me as I grew up. Like Sarah’s father, he served as a medic in the Vietnam War.
I have a Master of Arts in Writing from Hollins College and a Master of Professional Writing in Fiction and Screenwriting from the University of Southern California. In 2017, I was selected by Chelsea Sedoti (AS YOU WISH) to be her mentee in the Author Mentor Match competition. Earlier this year, I was chosen as a mentee in the Twitter contest WriteMentor under the guidance of writer and agent Molly Shaffer (THE PURPOSE OF ME).
Thank you for taking the time to read LETTERS FROM APARTMENT FOUR. Per your submission guidelines, the first chapter is enclosed below. I would be delighted to send you additional chapters or the full manuscript upon request.
Chapter One: A Whiter Shade of Pale
I recoil when Mr. Felix’s rough fingers brush against my hand as he gives me the envelope. His cool, scaly skin reminds me of touching a dead gecko at science camp when I was in fifth grade. I pull my arm away like I’ve touched a hot stove. “This came for you,” he sneers.
The amber envelope is too heavy to contain just a letter. There’s something else inside, but I can’t open it with Mom and George and Mr. Felix watching. Especially not Mr. Felix, when I suspect he’s the one who sent me the package in the first place.
He stares at me through slitted eyes, watching me inspect the envelope.
“Where did you find this?” I ask quietly, not wanting to attract attention from Mom or my best friend, George.
He shoves his left hand in the pocket of his beige polyester slacks and shrugs. “It was in our mailbox yesterday. Mother opened it by mistake, thinking it was ours. I guess the mailman made a mistake. Someone,” he smirks, “certainly is keen on you, Pete.”
I ignore his use of my nickname. “Did you keep the outer envelope?”
“Mother threw it in the garbage.” He rocks back on the heels of his shiny black dress shoes.
I ask him if he noticed the postmark. As if he isn’t the person who sent this to me. He knows all too well where this envelope came from.
“As a matter of fact,” he answers, stepping toward me until our faces are this close, “it was postmarked right here in the City of Angels.” He pauses, then asks, “Are you okay, Pete?” his stale breath lingering in the air between us like cigarette smoke. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
I thank him through gritted teeth before scurrying off to catch up with Mom and George who has just closed the security door, leaving me all alone in the hallway of my apartment