Thank you for taking a look at Weird, Fluky Thing, my contemporary teen novel, complete at 43,000 words.

13-year-old Gracie, street dancer extraordinaire, is always making up routines with her best friend, Jacks.  Together they enter a dance competition, where Gracie is shocked to discover she has a secret sister – the incredibly talented ballet dancer, Isabella Bainbridge.  She looks exactly like Gracie, same age, same hair, same everything.  The only thing that’s different is that Isabella is more graceful.  Kind of annoying seeing as she’s the one called Gracie.  How can she be so sure Isabella is her sister?  She spots her dad in the front row, clapping like a madman and bursting with pride when Isabella wins first prize.

She becomes Gracie the detective, determined to find out the truth. She starts by joining Isabella’s dance school, where she takes up tap classes.  There she becomes friends with Isabella, who thinks, at first, it’s just a ‘weird, fluky thing’ that they’re so alike.  As the two sisters become closer, Gracie begins to unravel a situation that’s more complicated than she ever thought possible.  If it all comes out, what will become of her family?

Meanwhile, with all that’s going on, Gracie and Jacks are becoming distant.  But it’s this friendship that proves to be the strongest bond of all.

Weird, Fluky Thingis about family secrets.  It’s also about friendship, identity and dance.  Dance was a major feature in my own childhood and teenage years.  It was a form of self-expression at a time when I wasn’t exactly brimming over with confidence.  I think that’s something young teens can really relate to.

Books that I’ve enjoyed reading recently are Holly Smale’s Geek Girl, Natasha Farrant’s After Iris, and Emily Critchley’sNotes on My Family.  They all portray family dynamics with humour and warmth, even when things become somewhat darker.  I also loved Stranger with my Face, by Lois Duncan.

I live in North London, where I work as a freelance advertising copywriter, and I have an English degree.  I’ve done various creative writing courses, including Sophia Bennett’s at City University, and I’m a member of a SCBWI critique group. I was long listed in 2016’s Times Chicken House competition with a YA novel.

Thanks again for your time,

Louise Roberts

I guess my eyes are my thing.  When I was a toddler, people used to say things like, “Oh, look at her eyes.  They take up half her face!”  That’s a bit of an exaggeration.  I mean, if that were true, I’d look like an alien.  Everything else about me is pretty average for my age.  Height, build, foot size and all that stuff. Except one of my ears sticks out a bit, if you’re going to be picky.  I always sleep on my left side to try and press it down.  It’s not working so far.

I get my blue eyes and my dark brown hair from Dad.  And my freckly nose from Mum.  Her eyes are blue too, but more of a greyish blue.  She has curly blonde hair, but when she comes out from the shed, it’s white with clay dust and she looks like Einstein. When we did DNA and genes at school, I decided to write a list of the things I get from my mum, and the things I get from my dad.  Just for my own record.

The man in the video said, “DNA is the building blocks of life.  It’s what makes you, ‘you’.”  He had a bulbous nose with a bump in it.  I wonder which one of his parents he had to thank for that.  It’s like there are lots of little live things sitting inside you, programming your ear to stick out, or your nose to get bigger. It makes you think.  Like there’s a pattern in everything and you can’t really do much to change it.

 

Chapter 1.   

 

I shuffle downstairs in pyjamas that are so baggy they’re clearly designed for a baby rhinoceros.  If my parents are expecting me to experience some kind of massive growth spurt this summer, there’s no sign of it happening yet.

Mum’s making herself some coffee and she doesn’t even turn around to speak to me.

“Gracie, I’m in the shed all day.  I’ve got a deadline.  Are you cycling over to Jackie’s?”

“Yep.”

“Don’t forget your homework.  You know your dad will ask me if you’ve done it when he calls tonight.  See you this evening.”  With that, she disappears outside with her mug, leaving a trail of coffee drops.

My mum’s a potter, and her studio is the shed in the back garden.  I’m not allowed in there, on no account, ever.  Her stuff is arty and ‘contemporary’, and it’s sold at art fairs and posh shops like the one at the Tate Modern in London.  She’s always working hard to meet ‘impossible deadlines’, and covered in dust, as if she’s just walked out from an explosion.

As for my dad, he’s away on business a lot, looking after a chain of hotels. This means I have the freedom to do whatever I like most of the time.  I don’t get to see him much, but when I do, he gives me presents.  Last time he came home, I got a gorgeous silver charm bracelet.