Query Letter Example: Historical Fiction

Dear —

It’s the year 1200. Since succeeding to the papacy two years ago, Pope Innocent III has been agitating for a new crusade, one that will finally conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem. But European monarchs ignore his call, too involved in squabbling amongst themselves.

So the Pope turns to two of his trusted men with a mission: to seek out the powerful Presbyter John, an unknown king in the Far East, who has promised to put his vast armies in service to the Pope’s Crusade. But it requires traveling through the treacherous political, religious and mercantile terrain of medieval Europe.

One of the emissaries is Mauro, an older monk who uses logic and reason to deepen his faith. The other man is Nicolo, a young Genoese merchant striving to improve his family’s fortune and his own place in the world. Nicolo is supposed to lead and guide the mission, but the young man carries secret orders from a corrupt Cardinal.

THE EMISSARIES (96,000 words) is an adventure tale solidly grounded in historical fact about the search for Presbyter John. The book will appeal to readers of historical fiction in the style of Ken Follett (Pillars of the Earth) and Noah Gordon (The Physician), and also to readers seeking the accessible social critique of Amitav Ghosh (Sea of Poppies, the Ibis Trilogy).

I did research for The Emissaries in most of the locations mentioned in the book. I have lived and worked in over fifty countries and received numerous international awards for my work in social and trade justice. My nonfiction book, Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee (Chelsea Green, 2008) received a Publishers Weekly Starred Review and the Gold Medal as Best Travel Essay Book from the Independent Publishers Association. I have been the on-air host of two recent PBS specials (“Coffee: The Drink That Changed America” and “Traveling in the 1970s”), and speak regularly at universities and conferences on issues of social justice, international trade and the environment.

Thanks for your consideration.


Dean Cycon

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