Friday, October 25, 2013

NOQS Minion 4: PATIENT ZERO, Adult Speculative Suspense

Genre: Adult Speculative Suspense
Word Count: 75,000

My Main Character's Greatest Fear:

I have an irrational fear of guns. Not that guns can’t hurt you, but even the gun in Luke’s safe, official holster makes me squirm.

“What’s wrong?”

“The gun,” I say, between big, swooping breaths.

He pulls the gun out. The idiot. 

“Please,” I beg. “Put it away.” I focus on the pink shades of the hospital room window. Anything but the gun.

“Okay.” He puts the gun back and pulls a pillow on his lap to cover it up. “Better?”

I nod.

He stares at me. He thinks I will tell him why I don’t like guns.

I won’t.


Wonderful Agent,

Even as a senior in college, Quinn is not so good at understanding the difference between bacteria and viruses or explaining to smitten men that she’d really just prefer a dash of random hookups. 

Quinn is good at other things. Like drinking wine in the town’s Civil War graveyard and crafting plucky modern dance routines. But these skills aren’t exactly useful when she wakes up one morning with purple eyes. 

They don’t hurt. In fact, the condition seems to spur speedy healing. After a religious group attacks her—the eyes are evil, obviously—her bloody coughs and broken arms become mere memories within hours. However, as more students’ eyes shift to purple, the violence increases. It becomes painfully clear that the healing disease can’t save you from a five-story fall. Or decapitation. 

Thing is, the religious group isn't responsible for the rash of killings. A small town plus an unknown serial killer is bad, but it gets worse when a quarantine is added to the equation. Once there is no escape, Quinn realizes she can’t rely on “smarter people” to save her and her friends. 

Fortunately, she has a theory. She just needs proof, which demands that she study scientific terminology and hone her deductive reasoning skills. And she will also have to try to work with the local cops. Even if the young lead detective just so happens to be one of those aforementioned smitten men. 

PATIENT ZERO is a 75,000-word speculative suspense. 
I earned a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University and my story “A New Life at 30” was shortlisted in the 2012 Writers & Artists Short Story Competition. My writing has appeared (or is forthcoming) in multiple publications including The Alarmist, The Binnacle, The Idiom, Jersey Devil Press, Northern Virginia Magazine, and On Tap.

Thanks for your time,

First 250 words:

Of course I’d be the one at a frat party talking to a gay guy about how I don’t want to discuss my abstract art with his Sunday school class. If I was normal, I’d be slipping around on the beer-soaked floor while unfamiliar guys tried to curve their fingers around my hips. That’s what Mandy is doing. 

But no, I am explaining to Conrad why my latest art project, which hangs in the campus gallery, is not an homage to Christ. “It’s razors with red paint splattered across them. I know it looks like a circle and then a cross, but—” 

“Yes,” Conrad says. “The circle of life. Rejuvenation. Redemption. Reincarnation. Christ and the blood he gave for us. It was very moving. Art with religious undertones is really meaningful.”

I am in no way shocked. Conrad disappointed his father when he came out. He disappointed his Baptist mother when he joined the Unitarian Universalist church. But he never disappoints God. 

“Finding meaning in art is like finding meaning in life,” he continues. “It’s like finding God.”

"Yes, Conrad, I got it. You. God. Besties. 

I sigh into my horrid Natty Light. “It’s O positive. They can give to all positive blood types, but can’t accept that blood in return. And they can’t help their only outside donor, O negative. The razors symbolize how people bleed to help others, even those who can’t help them.”

Conrad scratches his temple. 

“Um, okay Quinn. Yeah. That’s a really neat idea too.”


  1. SHIVER!!! Would love to see more :) Please send query and pages to

  2. Shriek! Please send to and use Nightmare Query in the subject line.

  3. Shriek! Please send pages to with the subject line Nightmare Query.

  4. Shiver! (Pages, query and synopsis can be sent to emily (at) with Nightmare Query in the subject line.)