26 February 2011

Query Test for A Beautiful Chill

How does this query sound?

* * *

On a stormy December night, Eric Schaeffer, the new professor at a small college in the Midwest, thinks he is doing a good deed when he picks up a rain-soaked young woman as he is leaving campus. The woman is Íris Magúsdóttir, a graduate art student from Iceland. That rainy night turns into a snowy weekend and the castaways, two of life's losers, together rediscover warmth. Eric, raised to be a gentleman and shackled by his sense of propriety, has twice before given his heart to a woman only to be betrayed. Fate seems to be giving him one more chance, so he tries to win this strange yet beautiful woman. Íris, as Eric gradually learns, has a twisted past born of childhood abuse and the sex clubs of Toronto, Canada. She is trying to create a new life yet her past continues to haunt her and joining the Wiccan sisters on campus doesn't help.

But the weekend must come to an end. Eric goes back to classes, committees, helping his colleague who has been accused of sexual harassment, and dealing with the surly visiting writer. Íris continues the struggle to paint and market her art while fighting off the advances of her professor, competitive art students, and her own cruel memories. Eric can't forget her, searches for her, becomes obsessed, then accepts that it was nothing more than a one-weekend stand. Íris quickly forgets him only to soon discover she is pregnant. Her friends on campus and online convince her to tell the father--now awkward because she has started attending Eric's class.

Íris doesn’t want this man, her professor, in her life, but when she tells Eric, rather than being relieved he is ecstatic and believes his mundane life has finally been rewarded. He wants to help her and persuades Íris that they should try to be a family for the sake of the baby. However, with her acceptance of his assistance, rules necessarily come into play. Thus begins the battle of wits between a wild girl wanting to be proper and a sullen gentleman who desperately wishes to be outrageous.  Neither will give in without a fight, of course, not until their mind games bring them to a devastating climax where only one can win, yet both might lose!

A BEAUTIFUL CHILL, a literary novel complete at 140,000 words, is far from being just another tale of a teacher-student affair. This realistic portrayal of what happens when opposites attract goes against stereotypes at every turn and mocks every cliché. With flashes of life in Iceland and Viking lore, a campus mine field of gender politics and academic in-fighting, cut-throat art exhibits and skirmishes between Christian and Pagan students, A BEAUTIFUL CHILL’s short, alternating chapters tell each character’s side of the development then disintegration of their unlikely relationship.

Stephen M. Swartz has published stories and poetry in literary journals and written both a symphony and a dissertation while teaching in the U.S. and Japan. After traveling the world, he now lives in Oklahoma, where he teaches writing.

No comments:

Post a Comment