Clash of the Query Letters 2023—2nd Place

Congrats to Synte Peacock for winning second place in the Clash of the Query Letters 2023! Here's what our judge (Michelle Barker) had to say:

Project Iceworm is a compelling combination of sci-fi and thriller with a historical foundation and promises an edge-of-your-seat read.

Sample query letter for manuscript submission


Dear Agent, 

After a fraught relationship goes south and her beloved advisor is denied tenure, PhD student Daphne Drell has had enough. She is fed up, burnt out, and craving solitude. So when she is offered the chance to spend a month at an ice camp in northern Greenland, she jumps. 

Daphne arrives at the Orion ice camp thinking she will finally have time to collect her thoughts, immerse herself in work, and find her zen. But when an injured stranger (“the iceman”) shows up out of nowhere, things spiral out of control. The iceman says he escaped from Camp Century, a secret nuclear city under the ice some thirty miles away. Believed by the world to be abandoned, he claims Camp Century is now a high-security prison, and that its most dangerous captive is a man who went missing nearly two hundred years ago. 

Daphne’s rational mind refuses to accept this. But when one of her colleagues attempts to murder the iceman, and then a drone strike kills half the camp, she is left questioning everything. Knowing that staying put is likely a death sentence, she decides to risk her future scientific career—and her life—to discover the truth behind Camp Century. 

As she faces hunger, crevasses, and men trained to kill, Daphne discovers not only that what the iceman said is true, but also that the secret kept under wraps in Camp Century all these years has the power to bring down human civilization. 

PROJECT ICEWORM, a sci-fi thriller complete at 84,000 words, will appeal to fans of Dan Simmons’ Terror and Harkness’ Discovery of Witches. Inspired by questions surrounding Franklin’s doomed 1845 expedition and based on historical events, the narrative alternates between three interwoven storylines set in Greenland, Cambridge (UK), and Washington DC. A former scientist, I studied geology at Oxford, obtained my PhD at Columbia, and have spent time on ice camps in both the Arctic and Antarctica.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely,

Synte Peacock

Query letter example for fiction thriller mystery

Synte Peacock grew up in Northern England; a land of umbrellas, marmite soldiers, and Ee Bah Gum. She studied geology at Oxford, got a Ph.D. at Columbia University, did research on oceanography and climate change at Los Alamos, and taught at the University of Chicago. She has been involved in fieldwork in both the Arctic and Antarctic, where she developed an interest in all things icy.  She currently lives in Boulder, Colorado, where she is raising various forms of life, including chickens, tatsoi, and teenagers.


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