Name: Margo Rowder
Genre: YA Dystopian
At the ceremony on Ava’s fifteenth birthday, the candle on her cake will determine whether she’s a Whisperer or a Leader.Though everyone says it’s “written on the wind,” Ava won’t let some weird fairy-tale tradition control her fate. She blows out her candle with a fan hidden behind her back, making herself a Whisperer: one who must not sing solos with the choir, cry or laugh in public, or speak louder than 30 decibels. Because a fearful society is a controllable one.The Whisper Rules have kept the world quiet, low tech, and catastrophe-free, ever since the social-media spread of food shortage rumors caused the Great Scream and killed half the population. But Ava can’t seem to fit in with any part of this society, so she opts out by not speaking at all. As she looks and listens more closely, she sees cracks in the system and hears rumblings of change to come.Ava finds a few glimmers of light in the Rules: she can still sing with the town choir, next to a tenor who makes her pulse race and her heart strong. She also escapes regularly to the library, the only place Whisperers can hold authority. While discovering others’ writings and recordings there, Ava finds her own voice. When her mother’s high-powered politico boss plans to silence Whisperers in unspeakable new ways, Ava is ready to come clean about everything– in front of an audience of thousands – and take a stand.Ava’s point of view, at turns confident and vulnerable, will appeal to fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and John Green. My writing has won awards from YALitChat and Chicago’s Printer’s Row Lit Fest, and I’ve written short fiction for Cricket Group’s FACES Magazine. I am a member of the SCBWI and have completed two courses from the ICL. By day, I draw on over a decade of marketing experience and tech savvy to write copy and brainstorm digital marketing solutions for clients like Mastercard, Heineken, United Airlines, and Google.
First 250 words:
When she’s not squealing in my ear, I love Michele Mondale like a sister.
“‘Sunny conditions at 3:46’? How the Helen of Troy am I supposed to believe that forecast?” She gapes down at her gleaming ’ponder, like it might unwrap itself from her wrist and make a run for Port Arthur.
To save my eardrums, I inch away from Michele on the stone bench. Just a little, though. Best friends can be touchy. And tonight is her Fifteen ceremony. Out here in her backyard, her neighbors and extended family will find out if she can keep talking, or whether she’ll have to whisper from now on. The world’s done this for eighty-something years, ever since the Great Scream – something no one wants to talk about, even though it runs our lives.
Every day for the last two weeks, I’ve woken up thinking about this Whisper Rule –the one about the candle ceremony. The one that sets everything in stone. More and more, I’ve been going downstairs just to stare at the page in our dried-out book:
Some will be Leaders: One’s fifteenth birthday candle, when alight for three minutes outdoors, marks one a Leader.
I inch back toward Michele.
“Your party’ll be great. You’ve got a whole team behind it.”
My voice seems to fall flat in the damp air. I bite my lip. Why remind her how many people will be watching? My Fifteen won’t be nearly as big as hers, but just a split second of imagining shrivels my stomach.