Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Marie DayEscape From NowhereJulie Marney LeighMGMagical realism50000

‘Escape from Nowhere’ is a 50,000-word magical realism novel for middle grade readers. It will appeal to children who like atmospheric stories like those by Eloise Williams.

A young familiar with magical powers she can’t yet control, searches for a way to escape the witch who has imprisoned her in a shapeshifting house on the Yorkshire Moors.

Nobody comes to the hospital for ‘Nowhere Girl’, the child with no memory of her past. When spooky whispers call for her return to the moors, she escapes the hospital to discover the truth of her identity. Lost in a thunderstorm, a howling beast in pursuit, Nowhere Girl accepts the help of two strangers. But their tiny stone house and the animals that visit the garden harbour many secrets. 

When Nowhere Girl discovers her real name is Kasia, memories start to return. She is a witch’s familiar, able to change between child and panther form. To her horror, she realises the strange house where she’s seeking refuge is the house she ran away from. Xandrina, the witch, had always told her escape was impossible. But Xandrina hides a secret and needs Kasia’s magic. Can Kasia learn to use her growing magical powers to rescue the other familiars and break free from the witch forever?

I’m a member of SCBWI and though I predominantly write for children, I enjoy writing stories for different ages and genres. My flash fiction for adults has won competition prizes and been published in anthologies including National Flash Fiction Day. I’ve had writing for children published by Aquila magazine and BBC online. In March this year I won the Writementor Children’s Short Story competition.

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider my story. 

Best wishes,
Marie Day


Chapter One

The curtain around my hospital bed is torn. 

I press my cheek against the cold window and the distant moors creep into view. That’s where they found me. One look at those jagged hills and last night’s dream claws into my mind.

‘Before you ask, I’ve no idea how it happened.’ My breath fogs the glass. ‘It doesn’t matter how many of you interrogate me, I don’t remember.’

The nurse runs her fingers through the rips in the curtain. ‘No one’s interrogating you…’ She pauses. This is the part where she’d say my name. If she knew it. If I knew it.

‘Call me Nobody.’

‘I won’t do that, my angel. You are somebody. And you’ll remember everything soon enough. It’s only been a few days.’ She examines more holes on my bed sheet and runs her hand underneath the pillow. ‘No sharp objects lying around.’

‘Course not. I’ve got…’ My voice breaks. ‘Nothing.’

She leans over and gives my arm a gentle squeeze. ‘Are there any names you like?’

‘No.’

‘Poppy, Isabelle, Georgia…’ She lists every girls name ever. ‘How about River or Storm? Those feisty green eyes make me think you’ve got a free-spirited name.’

‘None of those are my real name.’ I leave the window and pace the small room. ‘And before you ask how I know, I just do.’

I scratch the dressing above my eyebrow. The cut itches. If she catches me, she’ll tell me off again. I don’t want the glue to come off because it could leave a bigger scar.

‘It doesn’t make any sense,’ she whispers.

‘You’re telling me. How come I know that’s called a bed?’ I spin around pointing at the contents of my private room. ‘That’s a table, that’s a window, you’re a nurse. Nurse Isla Mackenzie. How come I remember your name, but I don’t remember my own? Or where I’m from?’

She pokes her fingers through another set of rips in the bottom sheet. ‘I meant this doesn’t make sense. I’ll change the bedding.’ She taps her name badge. Nurse Isla. ‘Maybe I’ve got a problem with my memory too. I don’t remember telling you my surname.’

I shrug and dig my hands into the horrible pink dressing gown. ‘Must’ve seen it somewhere.’

Worries about me cloud her sunny face. ‘Why don’t you go down the corridor to The Den while I make your bed?’

The Den. Exactly what I need. A roomful of kids bored of being in hospital, staring at me. The girl no one wants. The girl from nowhere.

‘You might make a friend.’ The nurse tugs the top sheet from the bed.

‘I doubt it,’ I mumble but leave anyway. If Nurse Isla’s run out of questions, there’ll be someone else with a briefcase full of them along soon. That’s all this place is. One question followed by another. I greet each one with the same silence because I have no answers to give them.