Abi Elphinstone

Abi Elphinstone

April 22, 2015


After 96 rejections, Abi moved on to a new book and found success with THE DREAMSNATCHER. Before submitting her query letter to agents, she approached a literary consultancy to make sure her manuscript was as polished as possible. As destiny would have it, an agent happened to be one of the readers, and she fell in love with the story. The query letter was written and sent, but at this point it was a mere formality that resulted in a contract with agent Hannah Sheppard and later on a publishing contract with Simon & Schuster. Her book released was just a couple months ago and is now available. Congratulations Abi!


Dear Hannah,

Thank you so much for agreeing to take a look at my manuscript, The Dreamsnatcher.  I was so excited to learn that you have worked with authors like Frank Cottrell Boyce and Eva Ibbotson at Macmillan!  I recently read Eva Ibbotson’s The Star of Kazan and loved her portrayal of the Romany gypsy boy, Zed, not unlike Alfie in my book.

The team at the literary consultancy might have mentioned that I submitted a manuscript about Romany gypsies a year ago to a selection of literary agents. I wasn’t signed by an agent but many expressed an interest and asked me to stay in touch.  Most agents said that they loved the characters and the concept of using Romany gypsies and all the associated folklore but they asked me to come up with a more original plot.  Having since spent time pouring over Romany gypsy superstitions, interviewing a wildcat owner, researching witchdoctors and attending multiple courses on plot, I hope I’ve now got a much more original and exciting plot! I realise I’ve only got one shot with the manuscript though so I’d love to get it as good as possible before I re-submit it and am so ready to re-work plot angles, characters, relationships, settings etc if you think it wise.

In a nutshell, the book is about a headstrong twelve-year-old Romany gypsy, Moll Pecksniff, who is orphaned at birth and discovers that she is part of an ancient prophecy read long ago in the Oracle Bones.  Together with two unlikely companions, a wildcat and a runaway from Skull’s camp, Moll must defeat the Shadowmasks, the country’s deadliest witchdoctors, and reclaim the Amulets of Truth.  But there are riddles, codes and curses in her way and she must break them all if she is to save the prophecy and restore peace to Tanglefern forest.

The Dreamsnatcher is the first book in a trilogy and it stands at 65,000 words and is aimed at 9-12 year olds.  The second book, Soul Splinter, sees Moll and the gypsies outlawed to caves down by the sea and a journey to the criminal underworld of Inchgrundle throws up problems with Barbarous Grudge and his smugglers, as well as the remaining Shadowmasks.

Despite being branded ‘unteachable’ and ‘prone to spasmodic outbursts of tiresomeness’ at school, I now teach part-time and write full-time.  I am a member of SCBWI, attending frequent author talks and writing workshops and I have recently set up a blog, www.moontrug.com, for children wanting to write stories, invent words, dabble with incredible facts and read book reviews.

While I hope The Dreamsnatcher’s fast-paced plot riddled with enigmatic clues will appeal to fans of Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, I also hope that those who engaged with Emily Diamand’s dynamic characterisation of Lilly and Zeph in Flood Child will enjoy the unexpected friendship that arises between Moll and Alfie.  Similarly, children who were excited by Philip Pullman’s strong female protagonists (both the half-feral Lyra and the strong-willed Sally Lockhart) or David Almond’s wonderfully original Mina will admire and empathise with the spirited and unique Moll Pecksniff. Above all, it will appeal to children craving a classic outdoor adventure away from the technological overload of the modern world.

I have enclosed a synopsis and the first three chapters.

Many thanks,

Abi Elphinstone


To learn more about Abi’s query letter experience, check out her post The Art of Rejection.