Name: Gillian Bentley

Twitter Handle: @_Story_Girl_

YA or MG: YA

Genre: fantasy

Title: The Care and Keeping of Concertina

Twitter Pitch (140 characters max): Rhian’s missing uncle was infamous for a hoax claiming dragons are real. The unusual pet lizard he left her might help clear his name.

1st 250 words of opening: My uncle is well-known in some circles as the first and only person to prove the existence of dragons. He is more widely known as a liar.

At the time it was a big news story, not just five minutes of local interest stuff. My parents don’t really like to talk about it, but I found links to a few youtube channels in a subreddit called, ‘Kevin Hughes, Dragons’. I watched Uncle Kev being interviewed on morning chat shows, meeting people like Richard and Judy. He showed blurry photos he took on his expedition and explained his theory that dragons were the descendants of dinosaurs.

It was kind of sad watching those interviews, because they were on the second channel. The first was a programme called ‘The Rise and Fall of the Dragon Man’ that chronicled the unravelling of my uncle’s ‘hoax’. It only took a couple weeks for Uncle Kev to go from the redemption of cryptozoology to the laughingstock of the scientific community. He lost his job at the zoo.

My parents say, ‘Your Uncle Kevin is dead.’ The Rise and Fall programme said, ‘his whereabouts are unknown’. The subredditors say he went back to the dragons, who are real.
They are real. I know because before he disappeared, Uncle Kev gave my parents a pet for me. He said Concertina was an extra lizard hatchling from the zoo. But I don’t know of any lizards that hiccup smoke and sneeze fire…

Synopsis (200 word max): Rhian’s Uncle Kevin is infamous for convincing the world that dragons were real, before being discredited by a rival academic. Uncle Kevin left Rhian’s family with an exotic hatchling named Concertina and a book of unusual instructions for her care, then disappeared.

Rhian always believed in Uncle Kevin, with whom she shared a fascination with the natural world. She dreams of running away to Patagonia, where Uncle Kevin claimed to have discovered the dragons.

As Concertina grows, she begins displaying some unusual traits, like hiccuping smoke and sneezing fire. Rhian becomes convinced that finding Uncle Kevin is the only way to know what is happening to Concertina. Also, her pet ‘lizard’ might be the proof needed to clear Uncle Kevin’s name.

Rhian enlists her parents help. They travel to Wales to visit the academic who debunked Uncle Kevin, Dr. Delyth Davies. The visit yields surprises about Delyth and Kevin’s storied rivalry, and Rhian is invited to spend the rest of the summer working at Dr. Davies’ research facility. What she discovers will challenge Rhian’s long held beliefs and force her to make a painful choice.

Feedback tips (any areas where you specifically want people to focus?): Thank you for reading! I would especially appreciate answers to the following questions-

First 250: Does the first person narrator work? There isn’t a lot of action in the first 250 – is it too boring?

Synopsis: Is this too vague?