39. HOW TO MAKE A HEARTBEAT – Young Adult Contemporary with a Speculative Twist

Assorted_Uzi_Water_Guns_lgMentor Name: Mónica Bustamante Wagner

Mentee Name: Susan Gray Foster


Category: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary with a Speculative Twist

Word Count: 80,000


When his childhood-crush-now-prom-date dies in an accident, Daniel brings her back to life with a genius experiment. So what if her kiss tastes like blood? She’s alive! Except now she’s pale, cold, decaying. Finding a solution will mean defying everything he knows, but if Daniel can’t, he’ll lose her forever.


The shuffle of a footstep makes me look up from my microscope. I blink. “Grace.” Half my brain is still thinking about stem cells as I scramble to my feet. Everything on my workbench rattles.

Grace gives me a shy smile. “Hey, Daniel.”

I stare. She’s squinting in the sunlight just outside our open garage, fiddling with the handle of Henry’s leash while he sniffs the cholla cactus at the edge of our driveway. If I shut the garage door right now, it would land on her foot—payback for some of the misery she caused me during our middle school years. It’s tempting.

I exhale. “What are you doing here?”

Her eyes go wide and she starts backing away. Crap, she’s going to back right into the cholla.

“Stop.” I maneuver out from behind my workbench.

She hesitates, watching me. “Sorry. I was… just… walking Henry…” She’s wearing an oversized T-shirt and loose jeans that make her look even tinier than she is. With the blur in my eyes from the microscope, I could almost believe we’re still, like, ten—back when we used to hang out all the time—not seniors about to graduate.

I can’t seem to form a single coherent thought. “It’s okay. I was just, uh, looking at urine.”

“Urine?” Grace’s nose crinkles.

I’m suddenly sweating even though it’s only April, nowhere near hot by Phoenix standards. “Um, yeah, you know, pee.”

Henry lifts his leg on the cactus, as if to illustrate.

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