Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Sophie TooveyTHE DAY OF THE DICEAnna MainwaringYASpeculative Romance84000

It’s the future, but it feels like the past. Elise farms the land with a community of ten families, the last people left on Earth. She dreads the Casting, where boys roll dice to choose which girl they are paired with for enforced child-bearing, a system established by her aggressive uncle, General Hunter. Elise discovers her mother’s death in childbirth could have been prevented, but the General wanted her dead. Now she fears the same thing will happen to her.

But when Elise travels on the only boat to a forbidden island, she discovers there are other survivors. She returns determined to escape forever, but her plan depends on the privileged William. Their cover-story romance feels increasingly real, despite her cousin Alice’s best attempts to keep them apart. 
Elise begins to consider what it would mean to stay and challenge her uncle’s harsh regime, despite the risk of history repeating itself. Torn between love and freedom, Elise will have to carve out her own path for the future she wants.

THE DAY OF THE DICE is an 84,000 word YA speculative romance that blends dystopian elements of THE GRACE YEAR but with the same belief as S.K. Ali (LOVE FROM A TO Z) that “there’s more love in the world than hate, more hope than fear.” It is the first book in a planned trilogy with crossover potential for older readers. It was selected as a runner-up in the Kate Nash #NearAndFarNov Sci Fi competition and I was offered representation by Paige Wheeler of CMA New York following #KissPitch in February, but I decided that I wanted to pursue representation from a UK-based agency, given that I live in Wales (rainy but beautiful). I was thrilled to be accepted onto the Write Mentor programme with Anna Mainwaring (REBEL WITH A CUPCAKE) as my mentor. Anna says, “PRIDE AND PREJUDICE meets THE HUNGER GAMES, THE DAY OF THE DICE is a richly written, complex and compelling YA speculative fiction novel which asks us to consider what it means to be in love, what it means to be free and what sacrifices we make for the people we love.”

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Sophie Toovey

1

Today is the day I lose my best friend.

Bracing against the sharp wind, I look beyond the last field to the sinister shape of the Infirmary, a crushed metal pinecone marking the edge of Whitecroft, grey against a white-cold sky. I shudder.

This is the place where my mother died.

I would never come here, but Ada suggested we meet in secret. Struggling through waist-high overgrowth, I try not to speculate about what goes on behind these icy walls. There’s a high pitched cry; at first I assume it’s a scream, but then I see the kites making a low circle, their wingspan marked with two ivory strips.

Swallowing my fear, I wait by a pile of discarded, empty sacks, under the looming construction. Overhead, cloud obscures the sun. The Casting will begin soon.

Holding up the carved cormorant, I give a final inspection. I burnt hours worth of candles in the night to perfect it. A thousand memories of running together along the shoreline shaped each feather’s curve.

A parting gift for Ada, before everything changes.

A door nearby swings open, hinges squealing. I’m not supposed to be here. Apparently my mother was good at breaking rules too.

I dart to hide behind a tree, dropping the cormorant in my haste. I clench my fist and silently curse my idiocy.

“I told Charles,” the abrasive voice of my uncle, General Hunter, carries on the wind, along with the cloying smoke from his pipe, “choose one who can bear the most children.”

“Some struggle after three.” It’s the Doctor, his response muffled by his menacing cone-shaped mask.

“They should do their duty,” my uncle snaps. “The less compliant will experience a painful and untimely death otherwise.”

With the pang that never fades, I consider my mother. Even as I took my first breath, she took her last. A painful and untimely death.

“What’s this?”

I shift to watch as the General stoops to pick something off the ground. My nails dig into my palms. Please, no…

The bell rings from the Square. The General tosses it down, then his boot grinds it with a sickening crunch. I can barely wait until they’ve walked a few yards before I run back to retrieve the carving, my heart a frozen lump in my chest.

The wooden cormorant lies in the dust, its wing broken.

I sink down onto the sacks, too numb to cry. I have nothing to give Ada now.

I have never had anything to give Ada. 

All through School, her mother would upbraid me as the ‘disgrace of the nation’, the only one with no father. My mother never revealed his identity. It’s a small town; I can’t escape the permanent stain of illegitimacy. That’s why my uncle never speaks to me.

I pick up the ruined present, and a gasping sob escapes too soon. The General whips round. Despite the distance, he sees enough. He gives a chilling smile.

I crouch lower into the Infirmary’s glacial shadow.