First Page Feedback – Aquila

We’re going to have the occasional two posts a day as I’ve gotten some good responses from editors! Here’s a paranormal/YA title from SEDP…

There are still times when I want to curl up into a ball and die.

When everything that’s happened hits me again and I want to stop breathing and let it all wash away so it no longer has any control over me. Running away. Even after three months.

How can it still affect me so much?

It’s stupid. I was stupid. But it’s over. I need to keep reminding myself of that.

I square my shoulders and take a deep breath, trying to think about the important things, like Lillie and Casper and playing my violin, and not the feel of the slap on my face or the way he looked when he said he was sorry…

“Hey, Ranga, which zoo did you escape from?”

I stick up my middle finger without even turning to see who’s made such an unoriginal insult. Some people have no imagination. They don’t deserve my full attention.

My boots make a light tapping sound on the pathway as I hurry down to the ferry, not wanting to be late. The cold winds whip my hair around my face – red, of course, hence the insult – and I pull my coat tighter around me, trying to keep the chill from totally freezing me from the outside in. Tasmania in the winter – you’ve got to love it.

I don’t, actually, but this might be due to the fact that we’ve only been here for two weeks and, for that whole time, it doesn’t feel as if I’ve been able to get really warm once.

I find a place tucked away in the corner of the cabin and move my fingers against my leg, trying to remember the complicated fingering of the latest piece I’ve been attempting to master – anything to keep my mind off how cold I am. I contemplate, once again, why I decided to leave the car with Lillie rather than taking it over on the ferry to Hobart. It’d seemed like a good idea at the time but in hindsight…

She is waiting for me as I step off the boat, leaning against the bonnet of our little red hatchback, wrapped in a jacket, scarf, gloves and a hat. I can hardly see her beneath all the clothes.

“You should’ve waited for me in the car,” I say as she hands me the keys and I slide into the driver’s seat. “At least it’s sort of warm.”

“The cold makes me feel alive.”

I grin at her, deciding it probably isn’t the most tactful thing to ask if she can actually feel the weather under all the clothes. My Grandmother is the best thing in my life and always has been. Not that I would ever call her Grandmother out loud. She’d decided long ago that any ‘grandmother’ type names made her feel old, so she is Lillie. Not Grandma Lillie or Nanna Lillie, just Lillie.

“Were you able to get what I needed?” she asks, divesting herself of her hat and gloves.

First Page Feedback from Mary-Theresa Hussey

I think this is a pretty effective opening. The opening line is certainly a grabber, and though we don’t get it explained right away, there are some hints and such in the next few paragraphs of what it could be about. Who is the “he” and why does she feel guilty as well? I’m certainly curious.

A few words and phrases get the setting and climate firmly fixed in the reader’s mind and that’s great. However, I wonder about the “Hey, Ranga,” aspect–would some (American) readers think that is her actual name? (I’m assuming it’s a slur from kangaroo? Though I could be wrong.) If so, perhaps her grandmother could use her name so we know who the speaker is? That’s the trouble with first person–you con’t often think about who you are! But readers need to get a strong idea of her identity (aside from sad, talented, sassy and a loving grandchild) so we have a name to hang the story on. 

The last little bit with her grandmother is a bit grounding and prosaic, which could be good, or could feel a bit slow, depending on what happens next. Not much sense of paranormal, but that can come later perhaps?

But certainly off to a good start!

Thanks for sharing–an unusual setting and strong heroine can be very appealing for readers!