Hi, I’m Katherine, and I am so, so thrilled to be a Pitch Wars mentor in the Adult Category!
You can find my mentor profile here.
What is Pitch Wars?
Pitch Wars is a mentoring program for writers. Authors, agents and other publishing professionals each choose one mentee, whom they help through the revision of their manuscripts to get them ready for the agent showcase in February 2022. During an intense three months of revision, mentors and mentees work together to revise and discuss all things writing and publishing – from overhauling the manuscript to writing a query letter and synopsis, and of course how to prepare for the agent showcase!
I write historical fiction set in the 20th century – from the 1920s to the 1960s, my favorite decades. In October 2020 I signed with my amazing agent, Peter Steinberg of Fletcher & Co.
More about me: I’m a Filipino-British writer who’s been on the mentee (AWP Writer-to-Writer) and mentor (DV Mentor) side, so have experience of the joys and challenges of both.
What do I do when I’m not writing? Well…reading! As you’ll see, my tastes are eclectic. I’m currently reading Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s MEXICAN GOTHIC and have just finished Lucy Foley’s THE GUEST LIST.
I also love classic Hollywood film (Hitchcock, anyone?), theater, and exploring new places.
I live in London, England with my nine-month old son.
What I’m Looking For
Historical Fiction (Upmarket or “Book Club” fiction, Literary, Commercial), Suspense/Thriller (ideally historical, but can also be contemporary), Women’s Fiction
Historical fiction is my specialism – the novel I’ve just completed is set in the 1950s/60s and spans New York, Hollywood, and France. So I would love to mentor someone writing a historical novel set in that time period, or anytime in the 20th century. I definitely can’t resist a novel about old Hollywood or the film industry or Broadway!
18th or 19th century is fine too – although anything further back than the Renaissance is trickier.
Your novel can be literary, commercial, or upmarket (“book club” fiction). On the more literary side is Charles Yu’s INTERIOR CHINATOWN or Robert Jones Jr’s THE PROPHETS, whereas on the other end of the spectrum (commercial), you have Kate Quinn, Marie Benedict, or Martha Hall Kelly.
Bonus points if you have a protagonist who’s BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+, or if you subvert the genre in some way or offer an interesting twist to the genre (such as C. Pam Zhang’s HOW MUCH OF THESE HILLS IS GOLD or Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s MEXICAN GOTHIC). But that isn’t a requirement – what’s most important is that you wow me with the voice and narrative, and a strong protagonist.
Books I love: THE FLIGHT PORTFOLIO by Julie Orringer, THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO by Taylor Jenkins Read, Thomas Mallon’s FELLOW TRAVELERS
Surprise is the name of the game. I want something twisty, mind-bending, and/or unpredictable. A book that will keep me guessing and turning the pages late at night. It can be contemporary (such as Lucy Foley’s THE GUEST LIST, which is more of a whodunnit, or Julie Clark’s THE LAST FLIGHT or T.J. Newman’s FALLING, both of which are more on the suspense/thriller side), or historical (such as Stuart Turton’s THE SEVEN AND A HALF DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE – a crazy story with millions of unexpected twists).
I’m looking for a well-developed protagonist, someone we can root for – as well as characters with concrete motivations who aren’t merely there to serve the plot.
Again, this can be historical or contemporary, as above – though I lean more toward the historical.
Books I love: Chloe Benjamin’s THE IMMORTALISTS
What I’m NOT Looking For
Science Fiction and Fantasy. I do read these occasionally – and as a kid I was a huge fan of Ray Bradbury (I still cry every time I read his short story, “All Summer in a Day”) and I love, love, love Octavia Butler – but these two genres aren’t my expertise.
Please, no rape scenes or child abuse (explicit scenes are a big no – though if necessary for the plot, it can be mentioned or take place off-screen)
Otherwise, I’m pretty open to most things in the genres listed above.
Any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments or on twitter.
Who’s my ideal mentee, and how do I critique?
My ideal mentee is hardworking and dedicated to craft, and willing to edit, edit, edit until the prose truly shines. Publishing is extremely competitive and my mentee understands that there will be setbacks, so someone who doesn’t get easily discouraged is essential, and who is willing to change strategy if necessary.
I’m honest – I’ll tell you what is and isn’t working, and suggest ways in which we can improve the manuscript, query letter, pitch or synopsis. I’m supportive and will be your biggest cheerleader. This relationship is one of trust. We’re in this together. My mentee is also my peer, so while I give guidance, I’m not authoritarian at all.
Let’s say you are in the agent showcase and not getting many full requests, or getting requests but then passes – the latter is particularly painful, but most writers fail at this hurdle since they give up at this stage. But you are so close – and as a dedicated writer, you would realize that and continue to edit, then give it another go. Persistence is the key – easier said than done, but it’s so true!
Of course, the process should be fun too, and the mentor-mentee relationship would be a give-and-take one, positive and nurturing.
I’ll be doing the #AskMentor Chat on Pitch Wars’ Twitter on Sunday, Sept 12 at 8pm EST and Friday, September 24 at 8pm EST. I will also be taking over Pitch Wars’ Instagram account for a “Day in the Life of a Mentor” on Sunday, October 24.
Even more about me…in case you were wondering…
I am a 2021 Desert Nights, Rising Stars Fellow at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing in Tempe, Arizona, and a Finalist in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.My writing has received support from the Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Cill Rialaig, Ireland, Norton Island Residency, Maine, Faber Llull Residency, Spain, Historic Joy Kogawa House, Vancouver, Hambidge, InCahoots, and Sundress Academy of the Arts. “The Party”, a short story about Vita Sackville-West, was performed at the Tara Arts Theatre, London. I’ve received fellowships and/or scholarships from Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Aspen Summer Words, Colgate Writers’ Conference, Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, Loft Literary, Key West Literary Seminar, and the Arvon Foundation. I have an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford University. I’m passionate about writing fiction that challenges how we view history.
BEST OF LUCK – YOU’LL ROCK THIS!!!
Pitch Wars 2021 Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists
- Anna Kaling (Accepts NA)
- Ian Barnes (Accepts NA)
- Jackson Ford
- Jake Nicholls (Accepts NA)
- Jesse Q. Sutanto and Grace Shim
- Charish Reid and Denise Williams
- Saara El-Arifi (Accepts NA)
- Rosie Danan and Ruby Barrett (Accepts NA)
- Carolyne Topdjian
- Falon Ballard and Brooke Abrams
- Mary Keliikoa (Accepts NA)
- E.A. Aymar
- Amanda Elliot (Accepts NA)
- Kelly Siskind
- Vaishnavi Patel and Sarah Mughal (Accepts NA)
- Mary Ann Marlowe and Laura Elizabeth (Accepts NA)
- Mia P. Manansala (Accepts NA)
- Peggy Rothschild (Accepts NA)
- Natalka Burian
- Courtney Kae and Jenny L. Howe (Accepts NA)
- Rochelle Karina (Accepts NA)
- Swati Hegde (Accepts NA)
- Nanci Schwartz and LL Montez
- Paris Wynters
- Hudson Lin
- Sarah Remy (Accepts NA)
- AM Kvita (Accepts NA)
- Heather Van Fleet and Jessica Calla (Accepts NA)
- Melissa Colasanti (Accepts NA)
- J.A. Crawford (Accepts NA)
- Michella S. Domenici
- Yvette Yun and Marith Zoli (Accepts NA)
- Sari Coritz and Rosalie M Lin (Accepts NA)
- Stephenie Magister and Noreen (Accepts NA)
- Regina Black and Nikki Payne (Accepts NA)
- Farah Heron and Namrata Patel
- Alicia Thompson and Amy Lea (Accepts NA)
- Lyn Liao Butler
- Preslaysa Williams (Accepts NA)
- Keena Roberts and Molly Steen (Accepts NA)
- Alexandria Bellefleur (Accepts NA)
- Samantha Rajaram
- Ashley Winstead
- Clay Harmon (Accepts NA)
- Rob Hart
- Cole Nagamatsu and Sequoia Nagamatsu
- N.E. Davenport (Accepts NA)
- Katherine Lim
- Alexia Gordon
- Cynthia Pelayo (Accepts NA)
Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2021 Mentors’ Wish Lists. To view the wish lists by genre, visit this link.
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Hi Katherine! I’m going to be pitching a 20th century historical for Pitch Wars, but… it’s horror. I know you don’t mention horror, but you DO mention Mexican Gothic (twice!), and I may be using it as a comp title for some similarities to my manuscript. Would I be totally off base to send a historical horror to you as a potential mentor?
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