I read an interview in the Boston Globe with Michael Zadoorian, author of The Leisure Seeker. He said that 16 agents turned down the book, mainly because it was the story of a couple in their 80s, one dying of cancer and one who has Alzheimer’s. The couple yearns for one last adventure and takes off in their ’78 Leisure Seeker RV along Route 66 to Disneyland against the wishes of their grown children and doctors.
One agent wanted him to make the couple younger. After all, aging and death are not sexy. As a society, we do everything in our power to resist both. Yet, the agents who passed on the book failed to recognize that there can be beauty and tenderness and humanity in these stories that are just as important (more important!) than sparkling vampires and crime-fighting forensic medical examiners.
The good news for Michael is that an agent “got it” and signed him right away. A publisher snapped up the book a week and a half later.
I have to believe there will be an agent that gets Cissy’s story. The one agent who critiqued my first chapter for a webinar loved my writing and the story premise but wondered how much the book would refer to the heinous act (incest) and how much the story would stay in the present.
The book is not about incest and Cissy is not a victim. My hope is that the reader (well, first an agent) will see that she is a thoughtful, quirky, funny and passionate protagonist trying to figure it out just as we all are. Her relationship to her world is a little off center but the lessons she learns are ones we all faced at one time or another.
The good news for me is that Michael’s agent presented at a writers’ retreat I attended last year. I queried her last week and she emailed to request the first 20 pages of my manuscript, which I mailed her today.
Even if nothing comes of this, I feel lucky to have an opportunity to share Cissy’s story beyond a one-page query letter. It only takes one person to get it. It may be sooner or it may be later. But I know someone will.