Title: LOST IN NEVER(WONDER)LAND
Category/Genre: UMG Literary Fiction/Magical Realism
Word Count: 60,000
My Main Character would prefer to live in: Sun
Only favor snow ever did Licey was help her tell if people were real or not. Hallucinations never left footprints in the white stuff. Otherwise, sun played the lesser of two awfuls. Packed like medicated rats climbing the walls of the dilapidated group home, even mentally unstable kids knew outside meant escape. Conditions just short of a typhoon were fair game. Air like wet wool blankets in your throat tasted better than air conditioned silence. Besides winter breath hovered behind like wispy clouds of obsessive thought. If she left a trail to follow, why bother escaping in the first place?
Eleven-year-old Licey lost her mind—the voice in her head told her so.
When she’s diagnosed with amnesia and schizophrenia, Licey ends up at Joy House—a ramshackle group home where the young and demented have two choices—either get better or get sent to Arcadia Children’s Asylum. Scrawny and strange, Licey seems like an easy target. She’s not. The loner wields her illnesses like weapons; telling stories to fight back against the kids’ tricks, the grown-ups’ indifference and her own painful unanswered questions. Never knowing where her stories stop and her schizophrenia starts, Licey sets out alone to solve the mystery of why she forgot.
Then Pete—a boy as wild as Licey is unbalanced—saves her when she tumbles from a hiding spot high in Joy House’s huge oak tree. There’s only one explanation how he caught her in midair. . . Pete can fly. Hoping to find more clues with his help Licey folds to Pete’s pestering for explanations of how she sees the world. Soon the other kids aren’t hanging around to harass her, but to listen. When impossibilities appear— talking cats, never-ending stairways, mermaids in the back pond—everyone, including Pete, finds answers to their own problems hidden in Licey’s flourishing tales of wonder.
But Dr. Bander, the ‘Bandersnatch’ of Arcadia, fears Licey’s fantasies signal a final plunge into madness. When he arrives to take her to the Asylum, Pete hatches a dangerous escape plan to fly away with Licey in tow. But Licey’s torn between her forgotten past and an unknown future. To learn the secret of who she was—a truth so terrible it triggered her amnesia—she’ll have to risk forgetting everything again. Or if she flies away with Pete and gives up on reality, Licey might lose herself forever in her own imaginary world.
This novel will appeal to fans of contemporary themes found in PICTURES OF HOLLIS WOODS, OUT OF MY MIND, and BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA as well as the classics this project drew inspiration from, ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and PETER PAN.
First 250 words:
“This place is only pretending to be ordinary,” Licey muttered.
Just like you, the voice in her head laughed at her.
“Be quiet for two seconds so I can think.” Licey ignored the fact she didn’t really have anything to compare ‘ordinary’ to anymore. Her memory stretched out white and empty as blank paper.
The crooked building sat back from the street like a dollhouse forgotten in the woods, overgrown by rose brambles and faded by thousands of days of sun and rain. A huge oak tree blocked out the other half of the sky, twisted limbs poking at the clouds. From its branches hung hundreds of sun-bleached plastic eggs tied on with bits of yarn. They swayed and clacked. High above the rustling leaves a round turret spouted from the roof, a curtain flapped in the wind. Something else moved behind it and Licey’s stomach knotted. Not normal.
You should never have followed those chalk arrows.
She glanced back, her dark braids slipping over her shoulders. The colorful trail on the sidewalk wove back towards town like a dusty snake. “What else was I supposed to do?” the girl grumbled. She hefted her battered suitcase and shifted a stuffed rabbit under her scrawny arm.
You should have stayed put! That’s what a normal kid would do.
“Normal? Are you kidding? I’m talking to myself like a psycho.”
Psychos don’t worry about being psycho.
“That makes me feel so much better.”