by Fernando Quijano III
What drives the daughter of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish cantor to abandon her family for a man she knows is going to kill her? “Killing Lilith” is the story of a housewife with a life that should be perfect. Her husband is a lawyer to some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood. They have two beautiful children together. And if Martha Stewart died tomorrow, she could step into her shoes without skipping a beat.
But she’s ballooned to over two hundred pounds, her husband’s a philanderer, her daughter’s a drug addict, and her son follows his sister around like a lost puppy for the drugs and sex with her friends. To escape, the housewife begins chatting with strangers on the internet taking on a variety of personas.
As Lilith, she falls in love with the mysterious SlowHand, who takes her down a dark path using the Internet to explore death and destruction. But in the end, what Lilith wants most is for SlowHand to kill her. She tells him. They decide to meet.
Arielle: What a wonderful idea for a book! I love the two opposing worlds coming together. And I love how the family is the antithesis of the stereotypical religious family. I don’t get quite enough of a sense of the arc of the story. The first two paragraphs feel more like the setup for the novel, and the last is all we get for the lion’s share of the book. I’d also like to see a couple of short descriptors of the tension between your protagonist’s faith and her life with SlowHand.
David: This is a very cool pitch. It feels old-fashioned but very modern. This is exactly what publishers are looking for. And readers, too. Something that seems familiar, yet unique. This feels like a movie Hitchcock might be making if he were not dead. It opens with a total grabber. This is a lesson for anyone pitching anything. So many times people start their pitch with a boring piece of information. This is your audition to show that you can write, that you can tell a story. There’s a very good chance that an agent or publisher is going to read your pitch first. And if they don’t fall in love with it, and you, that’s it, you get one of those horrible, hideous, horrendous rejection letters. I should know, I have a box full of them in my office. So you have to start with a bang. Which you absolutely do. I love the whole idea of experimenting with identity. Again, an ancient idea, but one that has a whole new set of possibilities with the Internet. The name SlowHand is great. And I like how it ends. A real cliffhanger. Without, of course, giving away the ending. That being said, it could be better. When it gets vague and generic it loses me. For example “a variety of personas.” You could substitute those words for three different names she uses. It would take up very little time, but if it was done right it would display your writing chops, and give us a picture of the people she is becoming, the personalities she’s trying on. And “takes you down a dark path” are words I feel like I’ve read in so many pitches. It is imperative to make every word sparkle and shine in a pitch. Again, substituting those words for specific images would make the pitch even better, in my opinion. Also, it might be good to have a couple of comparable titles. That “elevator pitch” we talk about, where you sum up your book in five words.