Name: Nicola Keller
Twitter Handle: @nicola_writes
YA or MG: YA
Genre: Contemporary/historical Timeslip
Title: Red Fox Hiding
Twitter Pitch (140 characters max): An art thief and Nazi loot. Can Max steal a painting, unravel Gramps’ secrets and stop an innocent man going to jail? Time is running out.
1st 250 words of opening: ‘Order!’ A voice calls when the judge arrives.
He seats himself behind a desk, on a sort of stage. Below him voices dribble to a stop until the only sound in the courtroom is of a fly trying to force its way through one of the high, closed windows. The wooden panelling on every wall amplifies the sound of its frantic buzzing until finally it drops onto the sill, immobile in the thick, velvety summer air.
Hunching down in my seat in the public gallery, I can’t look at the accused man in the dock. He’s being charged with stealing a painting. He didn’t. I know he’s innocent because I stole it. Only the first witness being called stops me running out of there, down the long, echoing corridor and out into the street where I can breathe again.
The witness is Gramps. He walks in so slowly. His papery hands clutch the handrails and he half pulls, half climbs his way up the three short steps to the stand, arms shaking with the effort. I grip my seat, wishing strength into him. When he smiles at me, I feel sick. I was supposed to look after him this summer but now he’s here, and it’s all my fault.
Synopsis (200 word max): This is a dual narrative story centred around two, unconnected, boys and a painting which was once Nazi loot. MAX learns about his grandfather, SANDY’s tragic past, and hears of a lost painting of him and his brother. He vows to track it down, wanting to bring peace to his dying gramps, but his search causes the police to close in, sure they are on the trail of notorious art thief, RED FOX.
Meanwhile, PAUL hopes the painting will build a bridge to his emotionally remote, art dealer father, MIKE. He persuades the owner, IRIS, to put it into STOLEN, Mike’s latest exhibition. When the police warn Iris that someone is after it, Mike arranges a forgery to display, convincing the police that the exhibition is really a cover for Red Fox’s activities. Mike is arrested. In the confusion, Max slips into the gallery and steals the painting for his gramps.
Max and Paul meet at Mike’s bail hearing. Gramps is called to identify the painting. In the stand, he confesses to a secret identity. He is Red Fox. He has spent a lifetime, using his job in insurance, to track down and restore Nazi loot to its rightful owners.
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