Excuse me while I die with embarrassment

“I’m sick of immortality”  (MM)


You know that “duh” emoticon that bangs its forehead with a fist, over and over and over…?  That’s me.  J.Jarrold is a sci fi agent.  I picked him because he’s a sci fi agent.  Unable to sell ULTRA as a “normal” novel (i.e. straight fiction) with a sci fi twist (lots of those these days…), I thought I’d just sell it as straight sci fi.  Remember those tricky comparisons you have to make?  The whole sell rests on those comparisons.  And what do I pick?  Straight fiction.  Not sci fi.  How fucking stupid am I?  No wonder he didn’t even look at my submission.  What’s even worse, is that I don’t read sci fi anymore.  What sci fi writer doesn’t read sci fi.  I used to.  It was all I read.  But I got sick to death of body-horror stuff.  That’s all anyone seems to write now:  no mind-bending, just genetic-manipulation.  Yawn.  And I don’t want to know how the inside of a spaceship works.  What does that leave me with?  Fantasy?  Aaargh.

This is the submission letter:


Dear Mr Jarrold,


I would like to submit to you my novel ULTRA about the return of a kidnapped child – to the wrong family.


When Claire Halward is returned, seven years after being abducted, her memory is wiped.  DNA tests prove conclusively who she is but her father knows she is not.  There is only one person who knows her:  her abductor.  A man who never sleeps, John Fox is forced by Claire to tell her the truth, but the truth is as unpalatable as the obvious conclusion, that he is a paedophile.  He believes that he was himself abducted as a child – by aliens.  Retained as a drone, he worked an operation using genetically identical non-birth twins to generate a pre-annihilation force that opens a layer of space called Ultra.  Claire’s father recalls inadvertently killing the real Claire but Claire – or Chloe – no longer knows who to believe.  In a final twist, it is revealed that the “twins” come from twin Earths, just as John Fox destroys the last of his proof.


Like “Before I go to sleep” by S.J. Watson, ULTRA exists in a middle-class world with memory loss at its core.  Like “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger, ULTRA has a science fiction premise at the root of a straight-forward mystery-thriller.  Like “Replica” by Lexi Revellian, in ULTRA a pair of impossible identical twins exist in a world where only one of them can survive.


I have enclosed the first six chapters as requested.





The irony is that I hated The Time Traveller’s Wife, Replica is really second rate and Before I go to Sleep is written-by-numbers.  So I compared my novel to novels I don’t like.  I think this is called shooting yourself in the foot.


About susannahjbell

I am a writer of science fiction and other strange and surreal works. I mostly write novels and the occasional novelette. My published works include A Doorway into Ultra, the Fleet Quintet and the Exodus Sequence. I live in London in an attic flat but really want to live in a tree. I wanted to be an astrophysicist but would settle for an alien abduction. I write because I don’t know what to read.
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2 Responses to Excuse me while I die with embarrassment

  1. Nicci says:

    I think your synopsis is rather good. It certainly drew me in and made me want to read it. Good luck !!

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