Did YOU do it?
Did YOU kill the most heinous, hateful, gaseous editor the literary world has ever known?
No? Prove it!
83 of the world’s most famous YA authors—think Libba Bray, David Levithan, John Green, Lemony Snicket, and Lauren Myracle—have already written their alibis, which have been collected in the new anthology Who Done It?. They most certainly did not murder their editor, Herman Mildew.
But now the fuzz suspects you. Write an alibi of 500 to 1,000 words and you could win your freedom—plus a thousand dollars! Not to mention a review of your work by New York literary agent Suzie Townsend of the New Leaf Literary Agency. And an invite to a swanky party (if you can get yourself to NYC—and we hope you can!) or a phone call with author Jon Scieszka. Note that you must be between 13 and 18 to be eligible for this contest.
First, the backstory:
Herman Mildew, the most wretched editor alive, has allegedly been murdered.
Here’s what Jon Scieszka had to say about him:
He was mean, arrogant, loud, large, obnoxious, cruel to small furry animals, delusional, thoughtless, difficult, vulgar, negative, likely to take the last sip of orange juice and then put the empty carton back in the refrigerator, intolerant, sneaky, greedy, fond of toenail clippings and strong cheeses, hugely entertained by the misfortune of others, hateful, quick to anger, unforgiving, mean, gaseous, paranoid, belligerent, unreasonable, demanding, smelly, near-sighted . . . in short: an editor. Perhaps even your editor, or the editor of someone you admire.
Some examples of his sadistic behavior, in no particular order:
- He enrolled Dave Eggers in True Romance’s Book-of-the-Month Club.
- He drew mustaches on all of Lauren Oliver‘s author photos.
- He told Mo Willems what he could do with the Pigeon.
Second, the problem:
You, as a talented writer, are a suspect in his murder. Related facts about your predicament:
- You know him.
- He was your editor.
- You don’t know how he was murdered.
- You only know that the murder occurred on a night when you were doing something else.
Third, the solution:
- The alibi has to be imaginative, but also believable. Adele, Jon, and Melissa have vivid imaginations, themselves.
- Use the same writerly talents—indeed the very talents that put you on the late, unlamented Mr. Herman Mildew’s radar in the first place—to describe exactly what you were doing when he was (paraphrasing, not quoting Jon Scieszka): “done in, cut down, rubbed out, bumped off, put away, dispatched, exterminated, eradicated, liquidated, assassinated, fixed, dropped, croaked, or killed.”
- Want examples of how some other writers—whom you might know—handled their alibis? Read the protestations of Libba Bray, Dave Eggers, John Green, Lev Grossman, Maureen Johnson, and many more.
The nitty-gritty details:
In 500 to 1,000 words, following the guidelines above, write your alibi in Herman Mildew’s murder.
You must be between 13 and 18 years old to enter.
How to Enter:
1. Read the full rules.
2. Create an account on Figment.com.
3. Start a new writing of 500 to 1,000 words.
4. Tag your writing with WhoDoneIt on the Details tab.
5. Press “Publish Now.”
6. You should receive a pop-up confirmation of your entry, and in about two hours or so, your piece should appear among the submissions.
You have until Monday, October 8 at 11:59 p.m. ET to enter your story. Voting will run until Monday, October 15 at 5:00 p.m. ET. The top 30 most-hearted finalists will be sent to Adele Griffin, Jon Scieszka, and Melissa Walker, who will select the winners.
The grand-prize winner will receive the following:
- A one-page editorial letter from literary agent Suzie Townsend (New Leaf Literary Agency) who will read up to 8,000 words of your original work. Any form of writing will be accepted: short stories, excerpt from a novel, poems, essays, etc. Both published and unpublished work will be accepted for review.
- An invitation for the winner and a parent or guardian to the SohoTeen launch party in New York City on November 29, 2012, where the winner will get a personal half-hour chat with Jon Scieszca. (If the winner cannot attend, he or she will win a half-hour phone conversation with Jon.)
Eight runners-up will each receive a copy of Who Done It?.