Name: Marte Mittet
Twitter Handle: @MarteMittet
YA or MG: YA
Title: This is no courtyard
Twitter Pitch (140 characters max): 15yo Vuk is sent to a POW-camp in Norway to die. Vuk survives, the Nazis lose the war. For the Norwegian ex-guards there is Hell to pay. #YA
1st 250 words of opening: The man strolls down the dirt road in no particular hurry, and I wonder who died to put that smile on his face. It is chilly tonight, but the sky is clear. The midnight sun sets the fjord on fire and highlights the gold in the young man’s hair. He’s casually dressed in a brown air man jacked and loose-fitted trousers that billow in the breeze. One of his hands clutches a sixpence hat and swings in cadence with his steps. The other is tucked into his trouser pocket. I don’t know if he’s armed, but who cares? He’s been drinking, and that will work in my favor.
I’m well hidden among the trees lining the road. Their mid-summer foliage tangles together, creating a dense wall of green, the perfect lookout. When he passes, I follow. The rustle of the wind masks the sound of my steps. Still he senses me and turns. It doesn’t matter. I’ll make my presence known soon enough.
He sways ever so slightly, peering into the thicket, but he keeps both feet on the ground. My heart speeds up, I guess in anticipation. This is it. I would recognize him anywhere. The slim nose, the smug mouth, and those eyes like the northern fjords. He’s handsome in that Scandinavian way. Fair, lean, tall. Clean cut features that would look good on a woman as well. A cliché of a man, if ever there was one, but what’s not to like?
Synopsis (200 word max): When the Nazis invade Yugoslavia, fourteen-year-old VUK joins the Partisans with his older brother PEDJA. Their unit is betrayed and the brothers arrested.
The brothers learn they are being sent to different work camps in Norway, and vow to escape and meet up in neutral Sweden.
When two other prisoners flee from Vuk’s camp, the Nazis’ reprisals are swift and brutal: thirty-nine men are randomly picked and mowed down with machine guns. Vuk decides to put running on hold.
Pedja’s camp closes down, and Vuk is reunited with his brother. Pedja is emaciated and sick, and Vuk realizes if he’s to survive, they have to escape. When another prisoner’s escape doesn’t result in executions, Vuk and Pedja make a run for it.
The brothers are betrayed again, and end up back in camp. But there is no use for prisoners who can’t work. With Vuk watching, one of the Norwegian guards shoots and kills Pedja.
Vuk runs again and with help from local farmers, he manages to get to Sweden, where he is trained by communist militarists.
With the war finally over, Vuk goes back to Norway and revenges his brother’s murder.
Feedback tips (any areas where you specifically want people to focus?): Does the synopsis do its job? Is the pitch too flippant?