Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Guess the Plot
Weird Tattoos and Low IQs
1. Amateur sleuth Benny Collins has Down's Syndrome, but that doesn't stop him from taking on murder cases that have the police stumped. Also, weird tattoos.
2. A funny, poignant memoir which focuses on my teenaged sister's dating habits.
3. Why do so many young women get lower back tattoos? Why would a man have anime characters permanently inked onto his arm? And why do people choose tattoos in languages they don't speak? Homicide detective Zack Martinez ponders these questions and more while investigating the death of star basketball player Mkembe Balawa.
4. Mindy "Razor Mouth" Huggins details her descent into the hell of Mall Goth, a bizarre world in which a parent's credit card and no concept of appropriate attire are only the beginnings of extreme peer conformity.
5. Tattoo artist Truck Parker makes his living off the stupidity of youth. But when a busload of mentally challenged prison escapees arrives, all wanting tattoos of Einstein, Truck drives them across the Mexican border where tattoos are cheap--and human life is cheaper.
6. The only clues are the woman's tattoos: ostriches battling each other with swords. Can Bo Bumble, The Dense Detective, figure out where his teacher disappeared to before the bell rings, ending fifth period?
WEIRD TATTOOS AND LOW IQS, a 65,000 word Young Adult mystery, features Benny Cooper, an amateur sleuth with Down's Syndrome, whose disability outfits him with a unique perspective on solving crime. [What a dilemma. Normally I would mock this idea with exaggerated examples and sample dialogue from the book, but that wouldn't be PC. Or would those with Down Syndrome be more offended by my not giving them mockery equality?]
Benny loves "Wheel of Fortune," does a great Fonzi impression, and has dance moves that rival his idol, John Travolta's. [So far he's just like Evil Editor.] [These days, Travolta's lucky if he can squeeze through the door of a dance studio.] One thing he isn't, however, is a private detective—at least not until Benny's dysfunctional parents accuse him of his beloved MiMa's murder following his discovery of her severed foot.
[Benny: Mom, look, I found a foot.
While the police seem to be stuck in a quagmire of paperwork and bogus leads, Benny takes an online quiz that tells him he is most like TV detective Dave Starsky and decides that he can and must find MiMa's killer. [According to an Internet description, Dave Starsky, was loud, brash, enjoyed street life and ate a diet of junk food. To me, this calls the validity of Benny's quiz results into question.]
At Siesta's Home for the Elderly and the Active, Benny delves into the dark underbelly of South Florida's retirement community where he befriends MiMa's secret lover, Henry. Confused but certain he is doing the right thing; Benny falsely accuses Henry and thus unwittingly ruins the relationship between Henry and his lifelong companion, Rose. Now, the police won't listen to a thing Benny has to say. [Now they won't listen?
Cop: This case is nothing but dead ends.
Captain: I guess it's time to bring in Benny Cooper.
Cop: Apparently you haven't heard. Benny broke up Henry and Rose at Siesta's Home for the Elderly and the Active.]
Captain: Damn. How about a psychic?]
What's more, Benny must learn to waltz, try to cope with his little sister's first boyfriend, track down a thieving cabbie, and keep his first secret all within a matter of months. [Three items per list, please. No more, no fewer.] Despite some bungling, [He's more like Inspector Clouseau than Starsky.] it is Benny's disarming demeanor that allows him to obtain secret information and turn his supposed disabilities into his greatest source of ability. [Killer 1: We did it. We robbed the bank, murdered MiMa, cut off her foot, and got away with it.
Killer 2: Hey, shut up! There's a guy right there listening!
Benny: I've always had a thing for blondes. Like you said, Feldman: Everybody deserves a second chance. Hutch do you got any more questions?
Killer 2: Whew. Okay, continue your boasting.]
WIERD TATTOOS AND LOW IQS seeks to give people with mental disabilities and their loved ones a protagonist with whom they can identify without examining societal implications. [You might put "without examining societal implications" at the front of the sentence so it clearly modifies the book rather than "identify." Also, it wouldn't be overly immodest to say "gives" instead of "seeks to give."] Like Benny Cooper, I am from South Florida where I worked with people with mental disabilities through the Special Olympics and a pen pal program. [No need for "Like Benny Cooper."]
Certainly there is plenty of fiction featuring people with various disabilities making good. And certainly Down Syndrome isn't rare. And it's fiction, so even if it's unlikely Benny could solve a crime, who cares? However, while I know there's a wide variance in the cognitive abilities of those with Down Syndrome, I'm in the dark as to what percentage are young adults who could handle a detective novel. That would be the main concern: is the market big enough? And in the likely case that it is big enough, can you convince an editor that it is? If you're querying editors who aren't necessarily in the know, maybe a couple stats are in order.