A friend of this blog tells us today:
I’m writing a climate novel involving oil trains, climate and corruption, a mystery about who is responsible for a terrible manmade disaster that destroys a small town in Vermont.
I have now finished it and am reaching out to literary agents. I thought I would ask you if you have run into any other literary agents and/or small independent publishers that are worth reaching out to.
I suspect you know more about this than anyone.
I am taking the liberty of copying my query letter below with some biographical information, to see if anything comes to mind that you might think about it. If you want to read more, happy to provide it, but don’t want to impose. Again, you are doing a terrific job and it’s much appreciated.
Best, The Author
Dear NAME OF LITERARY AGENT, [REDACTED],
This is a request for representation on a new work of commercial fiction titled ''VOLATILE.'' It is contemporary novel about two people thrown together in a man-made disaster, forced to grapple with corporate crime, climate threats and individual redemption.
A few minutes after midnight, a mile-long train with 2 million gallons of flammable crude oil careens downhill, jumps the rails and crashes without warning into the capital of Vermont; its 74 tank cars detonate, creating an inferno that vaporizes over a hundred people and destroys half the town. The disaster leads to a struggle for justice and hope in a new Gilded Age of company corruption and climate risk.
''VOLATILE'' is the story of a federal investigator of corporate environmental crimes who pushes the boundaries of her job, feeling like most men to be a screw up at home and a star at the office. She needs help from a local lawyer who is trying to salvage his career after he called out his colleagues for cozying with industry. They become lovers and allies as they bring an oil billionaire to account for his crimes. The disappearance of the train conductor the night of the crash deepens the mystery of its cause, while an African American train employee, the decedent of Pullman porters, risks his job to tell the truth about corporate crime by his bosses.
This is at heart a personal journey of 2 souls rescued from their pasts, working in the twilight before and after the destruction of a place, a life, a marriage, and a massive crime. Told through these two modern characters that struggle for their own survival and integrity, it is a wrenching narrative about modern law, science and politics, a meditation on an America losing its way. The two search for truth in an oil ascendant America where human influence on the climate and legal immunity for corporate recklessness are the moral conflicts of our age. This is a tale for our times, informed with the hidden and heavy burden that falls on those who can’t help but try to save us from those profiting at the expense of our lives and communities.
The novel, inspired by a real oil train crash that destroyed a small Canadian town in 2013 and the recent surge of stealth “oil bomb trains” throughout America, is complete at 100,000 words. As for past publications, I co-authored a work of nonfiction published by Simon & Schuster. The Houston Chronicle called it “a definitive work;” Newsday called it “important…brilliant;” the Washington Post said it was “magnificent” while the New York Times called it a “powerful indictment.”
I plan to reissue it as an Ebook in 2016 as part of its new book series whose purpose is to make important works out of print available again with new introductions and updated material. It could serve as a partial ''audience platform'' for this novel.
I have been an environmental attorney for 30 years, now working on climate issues. I have represented Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange and I was a government prosecutor in the infamous Love Canal hazardous waste case. I have special knowledge of national political, legal and scientific issues, and this book is the result of two years of intensive research. I have written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, for trade press and for various internet sources. I have done national press over the years, including TV, a PBS special and as a widely quoted print source on relevant topics. I’m fairly well known in the national environmental community and in the press covering the field.
Thanks for your time and attention.