Title: THE COSPLAYER
Genre: YA contemporary, own voices
Word Count: 54,000
Hot/cold (from my character Holly’s POV):
Cosplay, the act of dressing up as characters from fandom, is sixteen-year-old Holly Carlisle’s escape from the anxiety disorder she’s never been able to control. Doctors haven’t helped, and Holly can’t bear the thought of taking medication – her good friend Google has told her all about the disastrous side effects. Her online alter ego, Momo, remains Holly’s only treatment… and a closely guarded secret. Transforming into Momo behind closed doors, Holly can become someone she’s too afraid to be in the real world. Only Holly’s best friend Rosita knows about Momo.
When Holly meets Noah at her favourite bookshop, she’s smitten. Not only does he share her interests, but he understands her struggle with mental health. But when Holly’s identity as Momo is revealed to the entire school – in the form of a blog branding Holly a slut and exposing a selection of her cosplay photos – Holly begins to wonder who she can really trust… BFF, boyfriend, or no one at all.
With her anxiety out of control in the form of frequent panic attacks, her school life falling apart, and trolls emerging to torment her online, Holly is forced to confront her illness and decide on the kind of life she really wants to live – with or without Momo.
THE COSPLAYER is an #ownvoices YA contemporary based on my own experiences of anxiety and panic disorder as a teenager and young adult. It will appeal to readers of Fangirl and Under-Rose Tainted Skies.
First 250 words:
I was dressed as a villain: Lina, the corrupt sorceress, from the video game The Last Realm. My ensemble included a glimmering, fake-crystal jewellery set, a long black dress with a transparent, star-dappled train, and a blonde wig that fell to my waist. My eyebrows had been paled to white with a clever make-up trick, and a pair of silver-grey contacts hid my usually brown eyes.
Brushing hair from my wig out of my eyes, I smiled. I felt powerful. Strong.
Dressed as Lina, I was someone to fear, which was ironic, considering the real me was afraid of everything.
I glided down the stairs with my hand on the banister, like a queen, following my best friend Rosita, who was already at the front door.
Taking a deep breath, reminding myself that I was Lina, a sorceress with incredible powers inherited from demons, I stepped over the threshold.
The street was empty, but I already felt like I was being watched. The fencing, the shrubs, and the flowers seemed to have eyes. I imagined my neighbours standing at their windows, peeking through the net curtains, pointing at the weird girl next door. It was only a matter of time before a dog walker appeared, or a woman pushing a stroller—more eyes to ogle and judge me.
Sure enough, a woman with a brightly-dressed toddler in tow turned onto or street. In an instant, Lina disappeared, and Holly was back. I froze as they approached my house.