Wednesday, June 15, 2011

EVIL EDITOR CLASSICS


The query below appeared here in June 2006, and the book was published under the title The Loudest Firecracker in January 2009. Considering the speed with which the publishing industry works, that's the right amount of time for us to assume that the Evil Minions deserve all the credit.


Guess the Plot

When Sid was Sid

1. Kyle Polo's best pitch man has just returned from his Swedish vacation--as a woman! Can they still land the lucrative, and deeply conservative, Churchworld account?

2. He was just an ugly guy who couldn’t get a date. Now he enjoys being a girl. Still ugly though.

3. Now that Sid's a donkey, his scheming brother sells him to a farmer, and moves in with Sid's girlfriend Lola.

4. Sid, a Jewish teenager, writes stories that are close to his heart, until he enters the publishing world and is forced to write commercial trash.

5. Jenny harkens back to the time before the solar flare that changed her boyfriend into a transgender vampirous werewolf. But at least now he’s kind.

6. Sid (short for Siddharth) inadvertantly causes a riot following an India-Pakistan cricket match, and must live with the horrible consequences.


Original Version

Dear XYZ:

I am contacting you for my novel "When Sid was Sid" based on your interest in Indian fiction. [Yes, Evil Editor has long loved the legends passed down by the Sioux and Navajo tribes.] Siddharth, a young boy of ten, lights a firecracker in a crowded market in the bustling town of Poona, India. Unfortunately, at the very same moment the firecracker goes off, Pakistan completes a tensely fought victory over India in a cricket match. [Pakistan over India in cricket? That's like the Cubs winning the World Series. No one's gonna believe it.] The Hindus in the market jump to the conclusion that the local Muslims are celebrating arch enemy Pakistan's victory. [And India immediately launches its nuclear arsenal at Pakistan.] In the angry riot that follows, Siddharth's mother loses her life. Following his mother's death, Siddharth has to make sense of a world that that exerts the harshest punishments for the most trivial of actions.

This incident is only one in a series of matters that compound Siddharth's problems even further. His best friend and neighbor has joined the local right wing Hindu party, and is trying hard to recruit Siddharth into its folds. [To Americans, it may seem silly for a political party to recruit a ten-year-old kid, but in India, an endorsement from the Cricket Riot Kid is analogous to a U.S. party having Barbra Streisand in its camp.] In addition, Siddharth's father has made a career move from making commercial movies to art cinema, which has caused the family to fall upon hard times. [Sure, he's gone from millionaire film mogul to untouchable, but at least he didn't sacrifice his artistic integrity.] [Should have stuck with commercial films, but distributed them in the U.S., where everything foreign is considered art cinema.]

[Great Indian commercial films:

Sleepless in Kanniyakumari

Who Framed Mahatma Rabbit?

Haridas and Krishnamurari Go to White Castle


Great Indian art house films:

The Adventures of Pratishtha, Queen of the Desert

Like Water for Gajar Ka Halwa

My Own Private Rajasthan]


He also applies ceaseless pressure on the naturally left handed Siddharth to be right handed, as the left hand is considered evil in many parts of India. [Especially the northeastern provinces, where all newborns have their left hands cut off to appease the gods and ensure bountiful crops. Of course, if they really wanted more bountiful crops, they'd start by inventing a hoe that can be operated with one hand.] Guided in part by the stories narrated by his mother [Who speaks from beyond the grave.] and grandmother, Siddharth learns to exert his individuality in a confusing and angry world.

This 51,000 word novel is a not a children's story. [No kidding. With death, a riot, right-wing political groups, and babies having their hands cut off, no one's going to think it's Shrek 3.] However, I have chosen a child as the main character as there is no better way to discover unexpected pleasures in a new and foreign land than through the eyes of a child.

I am a communications professional with a Master's Degree from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California. I grew up in India and feel there is an urgent need for honest perspectives on a country that is becoming increasingly visible in the world, without singling out disparate elements of a complex culture to add to an "exotic" aesthetic. [Without what? I realize you grew up in India, but could you speak English?] I also write a detective series covering the adventures of an Inspector who solves cases based on his stupendous knowledge of world history.

[Inspector Viswanathan: The murderer can only be . . . Doctor Antonio Fleeg!

Fleeg: Confound you, Viswanathan, you've done it again! How did you know?

Inspector Viswanathan: The key was my thorough knowledge of the Treaty of Yalta and the military campaigns of Lucius Quietus. Take him away, boys.]

I have begun work on two novellas on this character for my next project. Please find enclosed a SASE envelope for your convenience. I can also be contacted at ________. Thank you for your time in advance.

Sincerely,


Revised Version

Dear XYZ:

I am contacting you regarding my novel, When Sid was Sid, based on your interest in Indian fiction.

Siddharth, a young boy of ten, lights a firecracker in a crowded market in the town of Poona, India. The firecracker goes off just as Pakistan completes a tensely fought victory over India in a cricket match, and the Hindus in the market jump to the conclusion that local Muslims are celebrating arch enemy Pakistan's victory. In the angry riot that follows, Siddharth's mother loses her life.

This is but the first in a series of events (not the least of which is the sudden downturn of his family's financial situation) that force Siddharth to try to make sense of a world that exacts the harshest of punishments for the most trivial of actions. Guided in part by stories told by his mother and grandmother, Siddharth must learn to exert his individuality in a confusing and angry world.

This 51,000 word novel is a not a children's story; however, I have chosen a child as the main character, as there is no better way to discover unexpected pleasures of a new land than through the eyes of a child. I grew up in India myself, and feel there is an urgent need for honest perspectives on a country that is becoming increasingly visible in the world.

Please find enclosed a SASE for your convenience. Thank you in advance for your time.

Sincerely,


Notes

It's not clear whether this remains a series of incidents, or whether it progresses toward a fateful denouement. If there's a momentous, climactic event/decision/whatever, the query should build toward that, just as the book does.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The new title is much better!

I had a look on Amazon, and it seems self-published.

BTW, EE, I liked the way you commented on international cricket. FYI - India v. Pakistan is usually hard fought and a matter of national pride.

Now, I have no idea who the Cubs are and how likely their chances of a World Series victory is, I had no idea how appropriate/ sarcastic/ or ill infomred that comparison was - and I'm sure no other cricket fan would either. Which is good, 'coz you dont want to run the risk of offending either an Indian or Pakistani reader over somethng as dear to them as .... cricket.

150 said...

Sounds trad pub to me: http://www.facebook.com/tranquebar?v=info

Evil Editor said...

Not that there's anything wrong with self publication, but this is published by this company:

Www.Westlandbooks.in/

Which appears to be a megapublisher in India (Tranquebar press being their literary fiction imprint.)

batgirl said...

I wondered about the Tranquebar imprint too, but it's legit. Much better title, and pretty classy cover.