Clash of the Query Letters 2022—3rd Place

Congrats to Camellia Phillips on winning third place in our first-ever Clash of the Query Letters contest.


Dear Agent X, 

I noticed your tweet requesting a heist story, and I thought my middle grade fantasy, RAT, JACK, AND THE IMPOSSIBLE JOB, could be what you’re looking for. 

Eight years after giant tentacled machines invade Earth, twelve-year-old swashbuckling spy Rat and her best friend, cautious inventor Jack, lead a crew of “sewer-smart” orphans. With food running low, they compete against crime bosses for dwindling resources below ground.  

When their youngest crew member falls gravely ill, Rat and Jack will barter anything to afford medicine. Desperate, they aim to steal a valuable power source from the tentacled invaders’ high-tech fortress. But the crime bosses have the only blueprints to the stronghold and are planning their own epic heist to snatch the otherworldly object in ten days. 

Using Rat’s espionage skills and Jack’s wacky inventions, the crew sets out to infiltrate bands of criminals, steal the blueprints, and nab the power source before the crime bosses catch them. But when Rat and Jack uncover the invaders’ secret mythical origins—and discover that the creatures intend to squash the remaining humans soon—the crew’s mission is no longer only to save a friend. It’s to save their city. 

RAT, JACK, AND THE IMPOSSIBLE JOB is a 71,000-word middle grade fantasy adventure novel that also explores grief and found family at the end of the world. The manuscript recently won first place for middle grade in the 2021 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest. Told in two alternating POVs, it combines the monster-fighting of The Last Kids on Earth, the kid-centric espionage and mystery of City Spies, and the atmosphere of The City of Ember.  

My fiction has previously appeared in CALYX Journal and cream city review. I earned an MFA from The New School and am co-curator of the Guerrilla Lit Reading Series in New York City. As someone living with chronic illness, I try to reflect that lived experience in writing for children. This current project is a standalone story with series potential. 

Thank you for your consideration.


Camellia Phillips, author of RAT, JACK, AND THE IMPOSSIBLE JOB, and third place winner of the Clash of the Query Letter contest 2022

Camellia Phillips’ fiction has appeared in CALYX Journal and cream city review. Her middle grade manuscript, RAT, JACK, AND THE IMPOSSIBLE JOB, recently won first place in the 2021 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest. She earned an MFA in creative writing from The New School and is a co-curator of the Guerrilla Lit Reading Series in New York City. A long-time grant writer with civic engagement and social justice organizations, she was selected as a 2019 92Y Women inPower Fellow, a program for rising women leaders in New York City. Born and raised in Washington State, she resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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