Dear Ms. Scuito,
I hope you will consider representing DIVE SMACK, my young adult thriller, complete at 82,000 words. I am pleased to be part of this amazing contest offered by author Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat).
Every family has its secrets; diving into his own might get Theo killed.
Seventeen-year-old Theo Maddox lives the perfect ruse: captain of the high school diving team, great friends, killer grades. But at home, Theo resides under the watchful eye of his father--head psychiatrist at the state facility--a man who uses wealth and manipulation to ensure his son’s obedience. Not to mention the respect and admiration of the people living in Ellis Hollow. For as long as Theo can remember, that’s the way life has been. Him, his dad, and the two little pills he’s given at breakfast. All Theo’s has to do is tolerate his dad’s weekly talk sessions, and he’s home free.
Until a family tree assignment at school forces Theo to question things he’s been conditioned to forget. Like the house fire he survived as a child, the sting of his mom’s abandonment on the same night, and the lack of extended family to which he never gave much thought or consideration. So the unexpected return of his paternal grandfather should be a boon--the long lost branch of the Maddox family tree. But within minutes of their first meeting it’s clear his grandfather has a separate agenda. Covert and suspicious, he begins dropping hints about Theo’s parents that reveals a horrific past. Theo begins to question the purpose of the medication he takes daily--especially the new pill that’s been filling his head with freak-outs and memories in dizzying bits and flashes. Not to mention what, if anything, his dad’s ambitions had to do with his mom leaving. Just when Theo is ready to face an ugly truth, his grandfather vanishes. One day before he plans to reveal the biggest family secret of all. Theo elicits the help of his friends in putting together the clues his grandfather left behind. What they discover sets Theo’s seemingly perfect world on fire--literally. He has to act fast. That night. Before anyone else he cares about disappears at the hands of a father who is far more disturbed than patients he treats.
I am a member of the SCBWI, and hold a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art. I have included the first two-hundred-fifty words as a sample for this contest. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
All my best,
My dad once told me it was Mom who started the fire that took away everything, including my memories. Then she split. End of story. Not like dwelling on that now will help me nail my approach. I have a plan: get in, get answers, and get out. Fast. Before Dad has a chance to turn the tables on me. I’m way overdue for what he likes to call our “talks.” Air quotes needed. But today, I intend to pull a switcheroo that puts him on the receiving end of the shrink’s couch.
Adapt or perish.
That’s what my Sociology teacher said about survival of the fittest this week. And it makes sense, in theory. Truth is taking control isn’t my strong suit. Especially with Dad. Most especially when it comes to Mom. Which is why the tiny hairs behind my neck stand like soldiers as I approach our kitchen, anticipating Dad in his usual spot. Waiting for me. I exhale hard, the way I do before every big springboard dive, then plow forward into surprise.
Our enormous kitchen is empty, and the only trace of Dad is his black leather briefcase, left saving his place at the table.
Every morning, for as long as I can remember, he’s been in here. That’s our routine: me, Dad, and the two little pills I take at breakfast. Give or take the occasional hiccup his work presents. Then he leaves me one of his notes.