|Mentee Name||Title of Manuscript||Mentor Name||Age Category||Genre(s)||Total word count (approx.)|
|Camille Carine||DIE FOR ME||Sarah Daniels||YA||YA Speculative||96000|
A gun in her hand and a choice: kill herself to spare another or shoot them to save herself. That’s the question a virtual simulation asks Kateryna Barasch every time she tries to Vouch for a stranger.
In a country reliant on Vouching, which equates popularity to worth in the face of overpopulation, Kateryna’s life rests in another’s hands. Left Vouchless on her seventeenth birthday, she’s sent away and given a year to find someone who’ll virtually give their life for her before she must forfeit her own. When she lands a job in the government’s frivolous Chateaux, she must find a way to face the hidden dangers and prove herself to a society that already considers her dead.
Eighteen-year-old Nicholas Cosmos gains the power to rule by giving and receiving more Vouches than anyone. No one knows he cheated. Or so he thinks. Guilty of conscious manipulation, he forces himself to die in millions of simulations to raise his own Vouch count. When Nicholas’s personal assistant confronts him with the knowledge of his crime, Nicholas is blackmailed into an extremist uprising with the very people who wish to dismantle the society that gave him his power.
As Kateryna fights to earn her place within society, Nicholas finds himself, for the first time, outside of it. In a world of shaky alliances and bids for power, they’ll each have to find their place – within the system, or by destroying it.
DIE FOR ME is a queer YA speculative novel complete at 96,000 words. It combines the deadly social media of the Black Mirror episode Nosedive with the cut-throat world of Katharine McGee’s The Thousandth Floor.
I am a Jewish author who is entering my second undergraduate year at the University of Toronto. I have been mentored in the Write Mentor Class of 2020, and I’ve worked with a mentor in TeenPit twice over the years where a previous manuscript won 3rd place in 2018.
Thank you for your consideration,
Camille Simkin (writing as Camille Carine)
Chapter 1 Kateryna
My life ceased to be my own a long time ago, not that anyone knows. After a morning spent in the mega-mall’s designer shops and entertainment hubs—trying on expensive gowns and fawning over our favorite celebrities—my friends and I stop to rest on a bench outside a café. Rays of sunlight trickle onto my shoulders as I throw my head back, reveling in the warmth. For a moment, everything feels normal. I’m almost able to bury the weight I’ve carried since last year, when I first realized my time was running out.
Beside me, Jasmine stretches like a cat and raises her eyebrow in the way that means she’s about to start gossiping. “Was I the only one who saw those V.E officers by the theater? I did not spend sixty commzies to have our day disturbed by some V.E investigation.”
I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed them. The Vouching-Enforcement officers and their silvery suits never bring anything but resentment from anyone. They never come out unless they have to. Anticipation, so thick it runs through my veins like oil, builds within me. Not because I fear the unknown, the wonder of what they are possibly pursuing. But because I know their target.
Lily’s eyes spark. “I can’t even imagine the embarrassment of being taken by them.”
A mother and her child pass us, eyeing our group with interest. Mega-malls used to be the to-go hang out for teens before occupancy-laws forced the entry fee to skyrocket. Now seeing a teen, let alone a group of four, is as rare as seeing an un-refurbished phone.
Jasmine leans into me. “Katie, wasn’t your cousin caught?”
My stomach knots. “Um…”
“Yeah, you had to leave early from Zander’s party to pick them up, right? It must’ve been so exciting, getting to see their headquarters and all!” Tara’s excitement is genuine, so much that her bag falls onto the ground from her lap. She’s always had a passion for true-crime stories. She retrieves the bag with rehearsed gracefulness.
“It was horrible,” I say to distract them from my hesitation. “The place was so bright, it was like stepping into the sun. One thing’s for sure, if they tried escaping from there, someone would definitely take notice.”
The girls giggle, their bubbling laughter twisting something inside me. I should be laughing alongside them, not with faux excitement but genuine mockery. After all, Vouching is the whole reason we’re still here. We each have at least one Vouch. Promptly after our seventh birthdays, when our Vouching chips were implanted, we took each other’s lives into our hands—and did so eagerly. It’s why when each of our seventeenth birthdays passed, we celebrated with no reason to be wary of every V.E officer we saw. That’s why we’re here today, enjoying each other’s company in the mega-mall’s filtered sunlight. Like my friends, my seventeenth birthday has passed without trouble, because I’ve been Vouched for too.
At least that’s what they think.