Pitch Wars Interview with Dianne Freeman and her mentor, E.B. Wheeler
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 . . .
Dianne Freeman – Mentee
E.B. Wheeler – Mentor
Mentee: Why did you choose E.B. Wheeler?
When Brenda Drake released the mentor blog hop, E.B. Wheeler was the first name I clicked on. The more I read of Emily’s bio and wish list, the more excited I became. Help with sagging plots and character arcs – nice. She likes mystery and history, so this might be a good fit. I liked her sense of humor, and critiquing style. I got to the end and started over. That’s when this passage jumped out at me: “Not sure if you have enough historical detail, or too much? I’m your girl.” I knew she was talking to me. Reading THE HAUNTING OF SPRINGETT HALL, clinched it. I really wanted to work with her. I don’t know how it happened, but I got my wish. And I feel very lucky.
Mentor: Why did you choose Dianne Freeman?
I loved Dianne’s manuscript. The story caught my attention and pulled me all the way through. It’s already a great story, and I could immediately see how to make it even stronger. In my interactions with Dianne, it was clear that she was enthusiastic, easy to work with, and ready to roll up her sleeves and get some editing done.
Mentee: Summarize your book in three words.
Deception, Death, and Debutantes
Mentor: Summarize your mentee’s book in three words.
Rollicking Victorian mystery
Mentee: Tell us about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique?
Edith Wharton really messed with my adolescence. I was 13 when I read the Buccaneers. It was an old copy my mom had. The story sounded fascinating. Five young women leave their dull lives in America, seeking excitement in London society. Wow, that sounds like fun!
It wasn’t fun. It was heartbreaking.
Even worse, I got to the last page and the story wasn’t over. What? Who publishes a book that isn’t finished? I cried in my frustration. My mom explained that Wharton died before finishing it, so I cried about that too. (I was a very sensitive kid) I read more of her work, and found the completed novels held even more misery. House of Mirth. That should be a giggle-fest, right? Wrong! This continued for some time. I read and cried about these poor late-Victorian characters, whose lives were wretched, and then they died. In desperation, my mom introduced me to mysteries, and the crying stopped.
Life went on. I grew up, went to college, studied business, but squeezed in as much history and English as I could. I had a career in corporate finance, married my wonderful husband, and indulged myself with hundreds of books, most of them mysteries. I took some writing classes, attended conferences, and partnered with a friend to write a book about ghosts along Route 66.
I always wanted to try my hand at fiction, and one day as I sat at my desk, staring at a blank screen, a little thought bubble popped into my head. It was Nan St George from the Buccaneers. I hadn’t thought about her for years.
“You should write about us,” she said.
“Us. The late-Victorians with wretched lives.”
“Noooo, I don’t want to write about wretched lives. Besides, that’s not really my genre. I like the period, but I want to write a mystery.”
“A mystery would do. It might be fun.”
Fun Victorians? Interesting.
Nan wouldn’t leave me alone, and the more I considered the idea, the more I liked it. What if a Victorian woman, stuck in the rule-rut, reached for something more? What if her life became exciting, and she had to solve a mystery? Yes! I like it. I’ll do it.
Mentor: Tell us about yourself. Something we might not already know.
I have some things in common with Dianne that I didn’t know about until we did this mini interview. I also had a (possibly unhealthy) fascination with dark Victorian literature in my tender years. I liked the agony of Edith Wharton’s novels and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s semi-Gothic flavor. Then I discovered Victoria Holt’s Gothic romances and Dumas’s Queen Margot, which had me up all night sobbing. Like Dianne, I don’t actually like writing such wretched, heart-wrenching stories, but there’s still something visceral and appealing about them, and they’ve influenced my writing as well.
Born to Treason
About the book:
Smuggling pages from a forbidden book is a small act of defiance against Queen Elizabeth I, but it entangles Joan Pryce in a plot that may cost her both her heart and her life.
Joan is not only Catholic—her beliefs outlawed by the queen—but also Welsh, a people long oppressed by the English. When Joan’s father dies, she is cast out from her home. Nicholas, the childhood friend she was supposed to marry, is a cold stranger, disfigured by an accident no one talks about. Smuggling religious books gives Joan a chance to do something about the injustices around her, but draws her into a world where everyone has a secret. An agent of the queen is closing in on her, and she must choose between her loyalty to her faith, her country, and her heart. One misstep will land her at the gallows.