This writer is looking for an agent.
PITCH/UPHEAVAL: Martine strives to restart her life after a devastating fire, but when she finds the bones of six women and babies—aged 250 years old—in her garden, her sense of safety is shattered, and she feels compelled to pursue these murders while she fights for custody of her surviving child.
UPHEAVAL is an 83,000-word novel that straddles different genres: women’s; mystery; and historical, both fictional and non-fictional, but I would probably classify it as upmarket women’s fiction, likely to appeal to book clubs. It is written in a past-present framework; the past primarily through diary entries of a woman of the time. A writing comp might be THE WEIGHT OF WATER by Anita Shreve or the classic DAUGHTER OF TIME by Josephine Tey. The novel also has a very strong theme of loss and renewal, and THE WAVE (non-fiction) by Sonali Deraniyagala and the film MANCHESTER BY THE SEA are a different kind of comparable.
Martine struggles to restart her life and reunite with her nine-year old daughter, Sophie, two years after a devastating fire in her colonial-era Newport, Rhode Island (USA) home that killed her husband and son. As she recuperates from her serious physical and emotional injuries, her burgeoning sense of safety and optimism is shattered when the remains of six murdered females and their seven infants, determined to be 250-years old, are discovered in her garden. Closely thereafter, Martine’s aunt—who raised Martine and was the only mother Martine ever had—sues for custody of Sophie, believing that Martine remains too broken to parent her child.
Trusting that her house cannot become a welcoming family home again until the taint of these murders has been cleansed, Martine pursues the mystery of these deaths, with the assistance of the interesting and interested Medical Examiner, Benson, while she fights for custody of her daughter. Her historical investigations lead her into the world of “burking,” murder for medical experimentation, a not uncommon crime of the eighteenth century, and Martine fears that her diarist and mentor, a pregnant Quaker living in Newport in 1760, may have become a victim of a learned man-midwife (ob/gyn).
I became intrigued with the subject of burking after reading of the uproar in the British medical community over an article pubished in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine that used statistical methodology to theorize that the two most famous 18th century OB/GYNs, Drs. Smellie and Hunter (considered heroes to this day by many in their field), used hired assassins (“burkers”) to kill pregnant women in order to perform C-sections research. I pondered what if Dr. Hunter (who fled London in the 1760s in the midst of burking rumors) instead of retreating to the Continent, as was believed, came to the American colonies instead? So did this novel evolve.
I wrote Congressional testimony in Washington, DC, for many years as well as published articles on banking in industry publications. I won the Maryland Writers Association first prize for best mainstream/literary novel in 2011 for my first novel, THE LAST MONUMENT (unpublished). I've been involved for many years as a parent, volunteer, and supporter of a non-profit providing grief counseling in Washington, DC. I was an American history major in college and grew up in Newport RI, the location of the novel--and a major character in the book.This novel was represented unsuccessfully by an agent last year; during this Covid confinement, I made substantial revisions.