I decided to enter Finding Mulligan in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition (again). I’ve done some significant editing since last year’s contest; everything’s tighter, better dialogue, slightly shorter. Anyway, this contest gives me a chance to win a publishing contract with Penguin. The international Amazon contest stops taking entrants once it hits 10,000 people. Each of us has to send in a pitch statement, a bio, a first chapter, and a full manuscript.
The second round will involve the 10,000 entrants being cut down to 2,000 Second Round competitors based entirely on our pitch.
This is my pitch statement:
What if you fell in love with someone who might not exist?
Cassandra Howard leads a double life. A smart, sarcastic student by day, Cassie is a different person in her dreams—literally. In dreamland, her alternate reality, Cassie becomes a happy-go-lucky, charismatic girl named Dia, and she prefers to keep her two lives separate. That changes when she falls in love.
Mulligan is the perfect dream guy, and in her nighttime paradise Dia has him all to herself, but in Cassie’s world Mulligan only exists as a mysterious painting. Feeling left out, Cassie begins to obsess over finding the waking-world version of Mulligan. Soon enough, Cassie tracks down two people with connections to the painting, leaving her confused as to which one of them is the man she’s looking for. What if her two selves are in love with two different guys?
Unwilling to live in the shadow of her other life forever, Cassie tries to remake her waking-world self in the image of Dia to attract the “real” Mulligan, but her actions blur the lines between dreamland and the waking world until neither girl is sure who she is. For Cassie, finding Mulligan—and figuring out whether he exists—might require finding herself first.
Finding Mulligan combines magical realism, identity issues, and a complicated love triangle (or is it a pentagon?), plus a dash of psychological weirdness. While the concept is unique enough to seem fresh, the struggle for self-definition will be comfortingly familiar to teens. It will resonate with young adults who appreciate self-aware, realistic characters, and will be enjoyed by those who like their romance without a side of fluff. Because of its gifted but fractured protagonist, early readers have compared Finding Mulligan to stories like Life of Pi, A Beautiful Mind, and Fight Club.