Pitch Wars Interview with Allison Augustyn and Carlyn Greenwald, and their mentors Rachel Lynn Solomon and Kit Frick
Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams.
And now, we have . . .
Allison Augustyn – Mentee
Carlyn Greenwald – Mentee
Rachel Lynn Solomon – Mentor
Kit Frick – Mentor
Mentee: Why did you choose (Mentor)?
Carlyn: Honestly, it was as much about the mentors themselves as the wishlist. I’d been following Rachel since I entered Pitch Wars last year, and thought she’d be so great to work with. So, when the wishlists came out and my book fit enough elements, I figured it’d be worth a shot even if Rachel and Kit weren’t exactly looking for my book. I continued to follow the Twitter feed and live chats and fell more in love with Rachel and Kit by the day. I’ll admit, though, I wavered a few times, figuring my book was too light or didn’t quite fit their tastes. In the end, I wanted to submit to them so badly based on personality and what I heard about how well they fix up manuscripts that I asked if they’d take books with geek culture. Once I got that okay, I gleefully submitted to them and I’m so glad I did.
Allison: I loved what Rachel and Kit said on Twitter and their blogs. They were both funny and savvy, and also really encouraging of everyone who had entered Pitch Wars. I found myself laughing and nodding along whenever I read something they wrote, and they both seemed cool and edgy, yet kind and supportive. Like, the stuff that makes really great mentors and teammates, but also just really good people. Then I heard Rachel on a live show make a joke about being weird, and I was like, “OK, all of this is me too!” and just wanted to hang out with them as friends. It clinched it for me when I found out I couldn’t read either of their books just yet, and was the most disappointed I’ve been since I went to the bookstore and they were out of the latest A.S. King. So I’m really looking forward to 2018 publications, and beyond, and am also extremely excited about the next two months!
Mentor: Why did you choose (Mentee/MS)?
Rachel: Both books have incredible voices that suck you in from page one! Furthermore, Allison and Carlyn push YA boundaries in a pretty fearless way. That’s exactly what we were looking for.
Kit: Both Carlyn + Allison had that killer combo of voice + concept + humor. And the third element wasn’t even one I knew I was looking for, but for both it really sealed the deal.
Mentor: Summarize your mentee’s book in three words.
Rachel: Carlyn’s book, CON: Nerds in danger.
Kit: Allison’s book, OVERBOARD: Sex or swim.
Mentee: Summarize your book in three words.
Carlyn: Comic-Con. Threats. Lesbians. (I really want to say “Kylo Ren ruins everything” but that’s one too many words)
Allison: Sex-crazed cruising.
Mentor: Tell us about yourself. Something we might not already know.
Rachel: I think I’ve already shared most of my fun facts elsewhere, but I’ll go with this one because it’s always fun — several years ago, I was part of a group of people who broke a Guinness World Record for the most natural redheads in one place!
Kit: I am terrified of roller coasters, but have an endless capacity for spinny rides at amusement parks! I once went on the Rotor (AKA Graviton — you know, the one where the floor drops out and you’re stuck to the walls) 5 times in a row.
Mentee: Tell us about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique?
Carlyn: I’m a Manhattan Beach, California native and a college junior attending University of Southern California. I study English with minors in screenwriting and forensics and criminality. I’ve been writing books since I was 13 and I have a few internships with literary agents under my belt. I’m an avid YA reader, where I tend to find my favorites in realistic fiction— contemporary, thrillers/mysteries, suspense, adventure, and historical. Some of my all time favorite books include SALT TO THE SEA, FORBIDDEN, DANGEROUS GIRLS, the Jazz Dent Series, and FANGIRL. I’m also a huge movie/TV buff, where I love smart animation, superheroes, crime dramas and an eclectic list of movies ranging from Wes Anderson to Quentin Tarantino films.
I tend to read and write fairly dark, both in terms of subject matter (a lot of what I write is crime related, or about criminals) and what sort of emotional toil I put characters through. CON happens to be a bit lighter, but still maintains the crime/mystery element, I think. I love gray characters, complex relationships, higher stakes romance, life-or-death stakes, and some great witty banter.
I think what makes CON unique is that it combines a view into a very lively but still not completely understood subculture of nerd and geek culture as it exists in today’s world with the suspense and high stakes of a crime/mystery novel. So, what ended up coming out of it was a very wacky, fast-paced, fun sort of book. My MC is definitely not the 80s’ definition of a nerd, where she comes to represent the passionate, somewhat awkward and anxious but still multifaceted teens that are today’s geeks. As well, I think the intersection of the fandom element and the LGBT element makes the book even more interesting, as LGBT content and fans are huge part of modern fandom culture. Plus, as someone who’s been active in online communities, gone to several cons, and knows many, many fandoms inside out, I like to think the peek into the convention and fandom worlds is unique and feels grounded.
Allison: I’ve been a career nonfiction writer for my adult life (music critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, museum exhibits writer at The Field Museum, and a dusty nonprofit field stint in both Zambia and Kenya), but writing this manuscript is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I aim to write and edit with the same directness and honesty nonfiction requires, while respecting the emotional impact fiction can conjure. I have no doubt I can do this, especially now with additional support! My goal is to tackle real-life subjects like sex, suicide, and depression, but do it with humor. There is a preconception that funny people are automatically happy people who don’t have problems. People are so much more complicated than that, and I’m fascinated by the outward vs. inner personas we all carry. Sometimes that inner persona will force its way out in healthy and unhealthy ways (music/art/writing vs. drinking/sex/drugs), and growing up, I’ve done both. I want to see more of that life represented in YA fiction, and am learning how to push my own boundaries to get there. Onwards to honesty!
Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! And don’t forget to stop by the Agent Showcase starting November 3rd to see how our teams do in the final round.