With Pitch Slam behind me and CP duties complete, it’s almost time to draft my next novel:
If Found, Return to Astropop.
Let me give you the [rough] pitch before I prattle on about the plotting for this many-tentacled monster.
Unaware of one another’s gender or appearance, two teens find themselves mutually smitten by reading each other’s journals.
FULL (Rough) PITCH
When sixteen-year-old Astropop finds his/her previously lost journal, Astro discovers the mystery person who returned it (known only as Pippopotamus) read his/her innermost thoughts and traced Astro’s movements like a teenage P.I. This stranger believes s/he is smitten with Astropop—sight unseen. Astro knows this, because teenage Pip wrote a journal in response.
As Astro re-reads his/her own forgotten words, and those of Pip, Astro is amazed at how simple letters on paper can bond complete strangers. In fact, Astro is completely smitten with Pip, too. Using unintentional clues in Pip’s journal, Astro engages in a little P.I. work of his/her own to search for the anonymous Pippopotamus.
With the confessions and intimate stories in the pair of books tangling with Astro’s real life in uncanny ways, Astro reaches the end of both journals. On the last precious page, Pip left one final clue. Perhaps accidental, perhaps intentional. Astropop can finally meet this intriguing stranger face-to-face, but fears, if s/he does, their inexplicable connection will be broken.
If Found, Return to Astropop has been percolating for a while. I’m in the final stages of [ridiculous!] outlining. Not because the process is ridiculous. I love it; it’s essential for me. But because this story requires…more than any story I’ve attempted before it.
With 3 separate timelines overlapping: the present, Astro’s journal written 6 months earlier, and Pip’s response journal written 3 months earlier, it’s a beast to manage. Along with those interwoven timelines, I’m also juggling a calendar (noting meteor showers & moon phases important to Astro), a grid of the 3 interwoven arcs, and a complete outline packet for each of the 2 MCs. Plus a OneNote file with random scenes, dialogue lines, imagery. Oh, and extensive research on both arborsculpture and architecture (specifically Art Nouveau).
Confused? Yeah. I would be, too.
Thankfully all these tools help give order to the chaos I’m attempting to wrangle.
This story is rich, layered, insanely interwoven. The timelines wrap back on themselves (in a sense). Events in the present mirror the completely different stories in the 2 sets of journal entries. Yet, the happenings have a completely separate arc all their own. But align. But stand alone. (SEE WHAT I MEAN!?)
To add to the challenge (because this is apparently not enough…) I’m keeping Pip’s gender ambiguous. For reasons.
And, for just a little more personal push, this will be my first Contemporary YA. At least, it’s 97% Contemporary, with about 3% Magical Realism thrown in? I mean, I’m guessing here. It may be considered MR all around. I just don’t know which bucket it fits in. The setting is our world, 100%. Everything works as we know it. But the way the three layers align in uncanny ways, there is a hint that something more than mere chance is at work.
So is that actually 100% Magical Realism?
Hell if I know. But it’s a story I must absolutely tell.
Even if my brain Astropops in the process.