The First Lines Contest

It’s 6 weeks before the official North American release of A Spy in the House and I feel giddy, celebratory, and rather nervous. What to do then, but give away swag? Please join me in celebrating my North American debut – enter the contest, and encourage your friends to do the same!

The first-prize winner will receive a Candlewick Press ARC of A Spy in the House (featuring the cover at left) and one of these custom-made, not-for-sale-anywhere Agency t-shirts.

Don't worry; it doesn't say "Trainee Spy" on the back.

Don't worry; it doesn't say "Trainee Spy" on the back.

Second- and third-prize winners will each get a copy of the UK edition of Spy

That's the Walker Books ed, which looks like this.

It looks like this.

To enter, email me the answer to this question: What’s your favourite first line? Give me the sentence, author’s name, and the book title.

But that’s not all. You may enter a second time by announcing this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook account and emailing me a link to your announcement. Please use some form of the following wording: Win an ARC of Y S Lee’s A SPY IN THE HOUSE, the first novel in the Agency series! Enter at

I’ll announce the randomly selected winners on Thursday 18 February. Good luck, everyone. I can’t wait to read your entries.

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31 Responses to “The First Lines Contest”

  1. Jay Ridler says:

    Hmm.” I am a sick man… I am a spiteful man” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from the Underground. Happy Happy, Joy Joy!

  2. Admin says:

    Ooh – a classic!

  3. joanne Arcand says:

    “Helen had never experienced pain like this before.”
    From “The Wicked World of Women” by Erin Pizzey, a book I bought to turn it into a clock, but as I was gluing the pages together, I became lost in the story of a single mom escaping her vengeful husband….the clock construction had to wait until I finished reading!

  4. Ian Park says:

    You can’t expect an arse like me to tell a story competently.
    The forward to “The hippopotamus” by Stephen Fry

  5. Chris Arcand says:

    “In the middle of the journey of our life
    I found myself in a dark wood,
    for the straight way was lost..”

    From “The divine Comedy Volume 1: Inferno”
    By Dante Alighieri

  6. Sarah says:

    “It was a dark and stormy night.”-A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

    Great contest!:)

  7. Chin Yen Lee says:

    It was a dark and stormy night … Snoopy.

  8. Becky Earl says:

    “Before we go any further I’d better come clean about my underpants.”

    From ‘The Killer Underpants’ by Michael Lawrence. was given a copy at library, flicked it open, and immediately laughed out loud. It’s about a boy named Jiggy who gets some new underpants, but these are no ordinary pants, they are evil and try to take control of Jiggy, and will NOT come off.

  9. Becky Earl says:

    also put the link on my facebook page! 😀

  10. Admin says:

    Thanks, Sarah!

  11. Admin says:

    Classy, Chris. 😉

  12. Admin says:

    Not quite so classy, Auntie Yen!

  13. Christine DeBlase says:

    My Mamma had a dancing heart and she shared that heart with me.

    My Mamma had a Dancing Heart By Libby Moore Gray,

    This book was the first gift my husband (then only pen friend) sent to me and Alex from Ohio.He is a storyteller and it is one of the storys he performs. Since I read it to him (over the phone) and Alex one night, I now perform it not him. It is a simple but beautiful story and it became the mantra of life and love that Alex and I hold to this day.

  14. joanne Arcand says:

    christine: awwww very sweet.

  15. Tara says:

    Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.
    Anne Tyler “Back When We Were Grownups”

  16. Sarah says:

    “It was always messy, cleaning up after a murder.”
    Jennifer Fallon, Wolfblade

  17. Aarti says:

    “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
    -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

  18. Ashley says:

    “In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three.”
    Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.

  19. Laurie T says:

    “Frost began to creep up the walls.”
    – Stargazer by Claudia Gray.

    Wonderful contest!

  20. Admin says:

    Thank you!

  21. Kristen M. says:

    “Monday was the day on which unusual things were allowed, and even expected to happen at the Armitage house.” — Joan Aiken, The Armitage Family Stories

    Someone had to redeem Mondays …

  22. Admin says:

    Ooh, this is good. I love Joan Aiken!

  23. Catherine N. says:

    “The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years – if it ever did end- began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.” — IT, Stephen King

  24. Stephanie C. says:

    ” Imagine a ruin so strange it must never have happened. First picture the forest. I want you to be its conscience, the eyes in the trees…. This forest eats itself and lives forever.” The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

    Technically not a first line, but the entire first paragraph is one of my favourite openings ever.

  25. Julie G. says:

    “I planned my death carefully; unlike my life, which meandered along from one thing to another, despite my feeble attempts to control it.” Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood.

  26. Latoya B. says:

    My suffering left me sad and gloomy.
    Life of Pi by Yann martel

  27. Lizzy says:

    I’m not sure if I’m too late, but I emailed these anyway. I thought it would be fun to post them, too.

    “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
    -Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

    and, of course,

    “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
    -Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  28. I emailed you my entry! :) thanks for this great contest.

  29. Sarah Keery says:

    I always thought I’d died by drowning.

    Cry Mercy by Toni Andrews.

  30. Mel says:

    It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. – George Orwell, 1984

    and I tweeted!

    Thanks, I loved reading the other entries too :)

  31. Robin K says:

    Undead and Unwed
    MaryJanice Davidson

    The day I died started out bad and got worse in a hurry.

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