The Query

Dear Agent X,
I’m hoping that my novel WHITE NIGHT (approx 110,000 words) is a project you’d like to represent. WHITE NIGHT is based on the 1978 Jonestown mass suicide in Guyana in which 900 people died, told from an original perspective and with a new twist.

Zena Vandermeer, a feisty Guyanese travel journalist, retreats to the rainforest to finally close the door on personal tragedy. Uncanny noises in the night – gunshots, screams, sirens, and a disembodied voice over a loudspeaker – from the nearby People’s Temple settlement lead her to suspect trouble behind the guarded gates, and she investigates. What starts out as an exposé turns into a daring plan of rescue: Zena infiltrates the cult and is drawn into a lethal web of deceit with a madman – and his tyrannical partner in crime – at its centre. Risking her life in a doomed attempt to stop the carnage, Zena finds closure and the ability to love again.

I am myself Guyanese born and bred. I have actually lived on a pineapple farm just a few miles from the Jonestown site, so I know the area and the circumstances well. WHITE NIGHT recalls that event in all its horror, but with enough fictional characters and plot twists – and a dramatic new outcome – to make it both fresh and unexpected. It explores the deeper issues of cult mentality that led to the tragedy, and takes the reader into an unfamiliar and exotic world. As a suspense story with a female protagonist and female victims it should appeal particularly to women, yet is universal enough to draw a large and diverse readership. With its serious themes and an exciting story it bridges the gap between commercial and literary fiction.

I’m a three-time novelist with HarperCollins, London. My novels sold respectably in Britain and extremely well in France, the first two climbing into the Top Ten there. The North American rights for these three novels – multi-ethnic family sagas, set mostly in India – are still available, and several foreign publishers are eager for more work from me.

I currently live in England, but I believe the US market is more appropriate for the WHITE NIGHT story, and I’m looking for dynamic new representation there. I’d be delighted to send you the manuscript.

Thank you etc. etc.

I sent this query to about 10 top US agents.



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2 responses to “The Query

  1. Therese Fowler

    I wish you all good luck with this query. The story sounds compelling to me!

    The US literary/commercial women’s fiction zone is supposedly “hot” these days. Hopefully this will work well in your favor.

    Fingers crossed for you!

  2. Kiskadee

    Thank you! As you will see in the coming days, I’m in the “hot seat” right now!

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