Name: Caroline Murphy
Twitter Handle: @boybandmumager
YA or MG: MG
Genre: realistic contemporary
Twitter Pitch (140 characters max): 12yo with albinism battles jealous sister, Dad-stealing BFF and time itself in quest to see total eclipse before eyesight fails
1st 250 words of opening: I hate the sun.
I’m sure the feeling is mutual. It sees my ghost-white skin and shoots invisible lasers, burning, burning, all the while shining with merry yellowness. “The sun’s glorious today,’ people say. I adjust my sunglasses, heavy-lensed on my pale nose, and snort. That ball of hot misery would shrivel me to an ooze of flesh and bone if it had its way.
One day it will kill me.
“Come inside, Phoebe. Quick, before you burn!” I hear this so often, even on days when the sun skulks behind clouds. “Are you wearing long sleeves? Sun screen? Don’t forget your sunglasses!” Mum could set this refrain to music, she’s chanted it so often. Even Kyra used to join in. When she used to care.
I miss Mum’s nagging. She spends more time moping in her room than chivvying me these days. “Just tired.” “Not feeling one hundred per cent.” (Kyra says Mum’s ‘depressed’ – I’d be depressed too if I had an annoying daughter like her.) Lately, if Kyra feels like pretending to care, she’ll yell, “Hey, eejit! Don’t forget your sun screen.” And she’ll throw a bottle of Factor 30+ at my head.
I’m reminded of this as I slip my bottle of sunscreen back in my school backpack. I’ve slathered it on. Probably got a white blob on my nose, but who’d even notice.
Armoured up, I step outside into the hostile world.
“Out of the way, eejit!” Kyra pushes me off the concrete step.
Synopsis (200 word max): Walking home from school with fellow science-nerd Kalinda, 12-yo Phoebe is – as usual – trying to avoid the stares that her albinism attracts. She’s ready to pack for a trip to Cornwall for a once-in-a-lifetime viewing of a solar eclipse. But plans are disrupted when Mum throws a suitcase out of the window. Dad’s clothes follow. Looks like Dad is moving out – and in with Kalinda’s mum.
The family trip is cancelled. Phoebe is devastated, but no one seems to care, certainly not her attention-seeking older sister Kyra. And as for Kalinda – awkward!
Phoebe plans to run away to Cornwall – it’s her only chance to see an eclipse, ever, as the vision problems caused by albinism are worsening. She’ll be blind before the next eclipse. Or dead with skin cancer. She’s sure that’s a melanoma on her back.
But Kyra tags along on her journey – and worse still, Dad, Kalinda and Kalinda’s Mum are on the train. With only hours to go, cloudy skies and rail replacement works scupper her dream. But home truths on a plane ride to Ireland help Phoebe reach the eclipse – and see herself and her family clearer than ever before.
Feedback tips (any areas where you specifically want people to focus?): Glurk! Have at me, folks. Yes, I know there’s backstory in that 250. Should I kill it?