Title: THE SECRETS THAT DIVIDE US
Genre: YA Mystery
Word Count: 65,000
How Did You Fall for Writing:
I’ve always loved language. In college I took a career survey filled with questions like “Would you rather fix a car or write a novel?” Of course I chose “Write a novel” every time—it was my top pick. But because publishing a novel seemed unattainable, I studied journalism as a practical way to use my skills. After years working for newspapers and websites, I’ve asked myself, “Why not me? Why couldn’t I become one of the creators I’ve always admired?” So now I’m chasing my long-dormant passion for fiction writing.
Being swept away to a wealthy grandparent’s mansion in the English countryside could be the adventure of a lifetime—or a fatal run-in with ghastly family secrets.
Sixteen-year-old Lizzie Lowe is a spirited girl from the wrong side of Santa Monica Boulevard. Her life is upended when a millionaire grandfather she's never met shows up. What’s more, he wants Lizzie's bone marrow for her secret twin sister, Annie. Her dad loathes the grim old man for stealing away one of his daughters in the wake of their mom’s death, but Lizzie jumps at the chance to help the sibling she’s always wanted.
The sisters’ reunion is heartfelt, but Grandfather's Gothic mansion is far from welcoming. Everything about Blackweald Hall—from the gun room packed with animal-head trophies to the polite-yet-sinister housekeeper—gives Lizzie the creeps. When Lizzie unearths a letter that implicates multiple suspects in her mother’s murder, and then discovers that her grandfather axed the police investigation, she has no idea whom to trust.
When Annie is hospitalized, Lizzie must turn to Teddy, her sister’s cocky prep-school friend. Goaded by Teddy’s aloofness, Lizzie lashes out and reveals her suspicions about the murder. Teddy—who confesses he’s been grieving his own family’s fracture—vows to help Lizzie, and together they race to unravel the mystery. But everyone at Blackweald Hall is hiding something, and digging up the past may provoke a desperate murderer to kill again.
THE SECRETS THAT DIVIDE US is a modern reimagining of Gothic classics like JANE EYRE. It will also appeal to fans of April Henry's THE GIRL I USED TO BE and Maureen Johnson's TRULY DEVIOUS.
First 250 words:
I didn’t have a clue, as I pedaled my battered Schwinn home from the library during a blistering West L.A. heat wave, that soon I’d be drenched in rain and blood, shivering with fear and cold outside the mansion where my mother was murdered.
On the August afternoon when everything began, not a breath of wind stirred the towering palms on Santa Monica Boulevard. Pushing hard, I zipped past six lanes of crawling traffic as sweat plastered my shirt to my chest and soaked my bra. I raced across the boulevard just before the light changed.
“Get out of the way, kid!” yelled a guy in a beat-up El Camino.
“Sure thing!” I called back with mock cheerfulness, resisting the urge to flip him the bird. “But I’m not a kid—I’m sixteen.” I flashed him a grin, but he scowled, gunned his engine, and drove away in a cloud of black smoke.
It was a far cry from the cool refuge of the library, which had become my favorite haunt over the summer for a million reasons. First, unlike my dad’s tiny apartment, the library boasted air conditioning. Second, I was almost guaranteed not to run into anyone from Santa Monica High. Third, I wanted to avoid the awkward situation at home with my dad and his new and very pregnant wife, Sonia.
Okay, that was only three reasons, but no matter how much I wanted to stay at the library, my dad insisted I come home for “family dinner” every night.