Rase McCray

Connor Portis: A Novel by Rase McCray

On the morning of Connor Portis’s twelfth birthday, his parents quarreled about where the picnic basket was. In the afternoon, they sniped about who had left the National Park pass in the window. At dusk, barely done with the family fishing trip Connor had asked for instead of a party, they fought about their marriage. So when he saw the UPS truck approaching in the other lane, Connor willed it to cross the median, hoping for a scare, a crash, a scar that might always remind his parents how sad they’d be if he died, how selfishly they’d overlooked him. And unexpectedly, the truck did veer, ramming the Portis’ Subaru and killing his parents instantly. Only Connor survived.

But he can’t think of that now. The truck veering proves that Connor, like Harry Potter, is a wizard. Magic exists! The novels are true! Soon, he and his two foster “siblings” run away from their new home, determined to find the wizarding world he’s sure exists—in spite of mounting evidence that their lives are merely normal and magic-less. In the spirit of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, Jonathan Ames’s Wake Up, Sir!, and Zachary Mason’s The Lost Books of the Odyssey, this tragicomic revisioning of Don Quixote follows Connor, Jacob, and Annie as they confront the consequences of believing in the extraordinary dreams of storytellers.

Rase McCray received his MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Cincinnati and his MFA in Creative Writing from Hollins University.

Arielle & David: Talk about twists and turns! This pitch threw in three whopping switcheroos. When an author can do this in their pitch, it makes us confident he knows how to handle plot. The specificity of the images that start the pitch also make us confident that you can write. Well. Then there are the excellent comparable titles—titles that help agents and editors understand where, exactly, your book fits on the bookshelf. What can be improved? While the comp titles are great, they’re also a confusing. You’ve got a 12-year-old protagonist, which puts this book squarely on the middle grade shelf. But the books you’re referring to are either YA or adult. That makes us concerned that you don’t quite know your audience or your category. It also wasn’t clear if the first paragraph is merely the setup for the book or whether this happens farther along. If it’s just setup, then we don’t get quite enough arc in the second paragraph. We might cut the first a little bit, so we can get more of a feel for what’s going to happen in the bulk of the book.