Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pitch Slam Entry 5: Cape of Good Hope, Upmarket Women's Fiction/Book Club


Genre: Upmarket Women's Fiction / Book Club

Word Count: 82,000

Pitch: Fearing threats from a whistle-blowing reporter, newlywed Ruby Stewart returns to South Africa to clear her father of conspiracy to murder. If she fails, her blue blood in-laws will disown her.

First 250:

It began with a wedding announcement I never submitted, no bigger than an airmail stamp, in The Paarl Post, a newspaper I’d never heard of.

When the editor called from South Africa, she said that our announcement’s publication had raised a few questions about my long-dead father, her thick Afrikaans accent turning each word into a scolding. That easily, she took me from being a confident newlywed to a scared six-year-old, grieving for my father, clutching at my mother as, with the precision of a surgeon excising a tumor, she erased any trace of our lives in South Africa.

“Which section do you edit?” I asked, hoping to slow her momentum.

“All of them.”

I pushed aside the dishtowel I’d been compulsively refolding on our kitchen counter. She’d said Paarl was a small farm town. There was no way this paper had a circulation of more than a couple thousand. She probably just wanted to confirm that Dad’s job at the U.S. consulate is what brought him, my mother, and me to Cape Town all those years ago. What other kind of questions could have been raised from a wedding announcement that doubtless ran on one of the last pages, next to the ads for discount cruises to Mozambique or something?

“Who submitted the announcement?” I asked.

“I’m sorry, I can’t share that.”

“What does it say?”

A shuffling of papers on her end. “June tenth. Ruby Anna Dean of Boston, USA was married to Marc Thomas Stewart.”

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