Title: DRAGON SPOTTING IN GRUMBLING PARSNIP
Category/Genre: MG Contemporary Fantasy
Word count: 55,000
My main character is most uncomfortable with:
Sunshine is the last thing ten-year-old Joshua needs after his red-hot trip into a dragon’s belly to steal its fire.
More than anything, ten-year-old Joshua Quick would like his dad not to be dead. Failing that, he’d like him to at least be dead in a normal way, instead of a shambling, zombie-like way.
Even for the magical village of Grumbling Parsnip, this is unusual behavior. Joshua’s barely over saying goodbye the last time, but with zombie-dad proving uncharacteristically murderous, he must find a way to tuck him up beneath the ground again. An old legend provides the solution: dragon’s fire, the only substance powerful enough to destroy zombie-magic and calm excitable dead people down.
A final twist in the legend makes Joshua’s quest even more urgent: dragon’s fire will not only cure his dad of being a zombie, it might just be able to bring him back to life as well. Nothing’s going to stop Joshua as he sets off on a red-hot adventure to find himself a dragon and climb down inside its belly. Without that fire, he’ll lose the greatest prize of all: the chance to bring his dad home again.
First 250 words:
The village of Grumbling Parsnip sits at the very center of the British Isles. Not the geographical center, which would place it in the middle of a field close to Lancaster, but the magical center, which moves about and is never quite in one place or the other. Road signs sometimes hint at its presence, but often they point in several different directions at once, and sometimes they don’t point anywhere at all.
This is the home of Joshua Quick, a boy with hair so unruly it has several times tried to launch itself from his head in a bid for freedom. Joshua lives in an ancient cottage, tiny and cramped on the ground floor, but with an upper story that balloons out above it, giving it the appearance of an enormous mushroom balanced on its stalk. When it’s warm, the cottage is covered in climbing roses; when it’s cold, in moss.
Grumbling Parsnip is Joshua’s whole world, but that doesn’t mean the village never gets any visitors from the outside. Some people stumble upon its cobbled streets entirely by accident, but there are others who only think they have arrived there by chance.
Joshua’s mother was just such a visitor. She chugged into the village one day in a cherry-red Morris Minor, flowers growing in pots on its dashboard and in knots in her hair. Firmly convinced she was lost, she hopped out to ask directions from the village blacksmith’s apprentice, but, in a relative blink of an eye, stopped being lost and found herself marrying him instead.