Hi PitchWars mentees! Welcome to my wishlist. I know you’re probably reading about a hundred of these right now, so I’ll try and keep things snappy and fun. If you have any questions, you can drop a comment here, but the fastest way to reach me is on twitter – @ KatAliceDunn.
I will accept YA fantasy, sci-fi and historical manuscripts. I will accept NA only if you are willing to age it down to YA in revisions.
Can’t wait to see all your brilliant submissions!
What is pitchWars?
Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months revising their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more.
I’m a YA fantasy author – my debut DANGEROUS REMEDY comes out May 2020 – and I’m also a professional writer and editor in my day job. I’ve previously worked in YA and children’s publishing in the UK but currently work on web content.
I’ve been editing day in day out for the last 7 years at work, with my writing group, in a master’s programme and working on my own manuscript with my agent and editor. I want to share with a mentee everything I’ve learnt, and I hope I can use my experience to help you make your manuscript shine.
THINGS I LOVE
In no particular order, here are a bunch of themes, tropes, settings and plots I would LOVE to see in my inbox:
- fantasy and sci-fi of all flavours
- found family
- interesting structures – think Illuminae or Vicious
- non-western influences and inspirations across fantasy, sci-fi or historical
- tense action and high stakes
- enemies to lovers, and any variant thereof
- brooding villains, anti-heros and complex ‘bad’ guys
- soft cinnamon rolls
- diverse characters and underrepresented relationships, cultures and stories
- all the girls, all of them, in any variety. populate your entire book with women. drown me in them.
- but specifically, complicated girls, unlikeable girls, ambitious girls
- sharp dialogue that could almost be a screenplay
- gothic stuff, ghosts, hauntings, creeping horror
- adventure, action, heists, thrillers
- historical settings
- all the gay stuff, thank u
- political intrigue
- delicious world building
- moral grey areas (or morally grey people, decisions, plots, give me moral complexity in everythingggg)
people making terrible decisions for the right reasons then being haunted by their own actions
- period dramas
- retellings, especially if things get a dark
- explorations of trauma and its effects, and mental health in general
Recent favourites include:
- Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
- everything by Leigh Bardugo
- The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
- Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
- Illuminae by Aimee Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
- Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
- The Poppy War by R.F Kuang
- Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
- Uprooted by Naomi Novak
- everything by VE Schwab
- everything by Samantha Shannon
- Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
- Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
If you’re writing something that could be comped to one of these books/authors PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE send it my way.
TV and Film
Buffy is one of my all time favourite pieces of fiction ever created.
I also love things like: Crimson Peak, The Company of Wolves (an all-time fave, pls check if out if you’ve not heard of it), The Mummy, Indiana Jones, the RDJ Sherlock Holmes films, Star Wars, MCU, Jessica Jones, Stranger Things, Ripper Street, Star Trek.
Things i’m not the best mentor for
- Contemporary – I’m only accepting fantasy, sci-fi and historical this year.
- Pure romance plots. I love a good OTP or romantic subplot in SFF. But if you’re interested in romance specifically as a genre, I’m just not experienced enough in that sort of story telling to help.
- Circuses. I can’t tell you why, I just really dislike them so if you’ve got a circus setting I’m not going to be a good match for you!
- Instalove. I think it can be done well, but I’m pretty fussy about it.
- Paranormal – unless it’s a fresh take, for example if you’re a marginalised writer who hasn’t had the opportunity to explore these tropes yet
- Dystopia, for similar reasons.
- Magical realism. It’s just not my cup of tea.
- French revolution settings. Because my debut trilogy is in this setting, I’d rather not take on a mentee working in this area.
who i’m looking for
Someone ready to work hard. I’m not trying to scare you, but doing heavy edits with my agent and editor has been the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life!
Books are big, unwieldy beasts and doing ambitious work on them is not for the faint hearted – especially on a tight deadline. I’ll be here to offer heaps of support, both practical and emotional, but ultimately you’re going to be the one doing the work so please make sure you’re really ready to make a commitment.
I’m particularly interested in working with writers from outside of North America (especially marginalised writers from the UK – we need to do something about that godawful 1% statistic). But please don’t feel like you have to disclose anything you’re not comfortable talking about when submitting. Of course, I’m still definitely open to writers from North America as well.
I’ll accept New Adult, but only with a view to ageing it down to YA and having a frank conversation about where the market is at.
I’m happy to accept books with ‘dark’ or ‘heavy’ themes, but please put a content warning in your submission for sexual abuse, assault or rape.
HOW I WORK
I would want to spend the majority of our time looking at big picture changes. This means really digging into your characters and plot and pulling them apart to understand how they all work together. Depending on what we agree together, this could involve a complete rewrite, or major structural changes if that’s what the book needs.
I’ll send you a formal edit letter outlining what I think isn’t working, and probably with some suggestions for what you could do differently. We can then talk this through over Skype, email or DMs, whatever you prefer. My suggestions will only ever be that – suggestions. I often find it easier to explain what I think isn’t working by illustrating with an example of something that I think *could* work – that doesn’t mean I’m right, or that that’s what you should do! I’ll only ever include things like that in the hope it might spark ideas for you.
I might also mark up your manuscript if I notice anything in particular that’s confusing, or doesn’t work for me – but in general I won’t do a major line edit with you unless this is something you’re specifically concerned about.
Thank you for reading through my wishlist. I hope it all makes sense – if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment here, or you can reach me on twitter: twitter.com/KatAliceDunn
Pitch Wars 2019 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists
You can get back to the full list of mentors’ wish lists through the blog hop link, or you can use the list of links to other YA mentors’ wish lists below.
- Aiden Thomas (Accepts NA)
- Kelsey Rodkey and Rachel Lynn Solomon
- Nancy Werlin
- Olivia Hinebaugh
- Abigail Johnson
- Rebecca Schaeffer
- Rebecca Coffindaffer (Accepts NA)
- Laurie Dennison
- Sam Taylor
- ST Sterlings (Accepts NA)
- Brenda Drake and Kyle T. Cowan (Accepts NA)
- Carrie Allen and Sabrina Lotfi
- J. Elle
- Andrea Contos (Accepts NA)
- Raquel Vasquez Gilliland and Sandra Proudman (Accepts NA)
- Ayana Gray (Accepts NA)
- Susan Lee and Auriane Desombre
- Julia Ember (Accepts NA)
- SA Patel
- Kat Dunn (Accepts NA)
- Sonia Hartl and Annette Christie
- Jesse Q. Sutanto
- Ray Stoeve
- Aty S. Behsam and Kylie Schachte
- Cole Nagamatsu
- Rachel Griffin
- Adalyn Grace
- Adrienne Tooley and Kelly Quindlen (Accepts NA)
- Ciannon Smart and Deborah Falaye
- Kristin Lambert, Sasha Peyton Smith
- Kimberly Gabriel and Dawn Ius
- Lyndsay Ely
- Jamie Howard
- Jenna Lincoln (Accepts NA)
- Jen Marie Hawkins and Anna Birch (Accepts NA)
- Judy I. Lin
- Leila Siddiqui
- Zach Hines (Accepts NA)
- Hoda Agharazi
- Michaela Greer (Accepts NA)
- Liz Lawson and Jeff Bishop (Accepts NA)
- Lindsey Frydman (Accepts NA)
- Chelsea Hensley (Accepts NA)
- Isabel Ibañez