Pitch Wars Interview with Caroline Thompson and Rachel Sarah, and their mentor, Brooks Benjamin
Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews
Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their project.
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Meet Caroline Thompson, Rachel Sarah, and Brooks Benjamin
There’s not much I don’t enjoy reading. If the characters are fall-in-lovable, I’m in it for the long haul. Give me contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, horror, anything, everything. However, if I had to pick a favorite I’d have to go with contemporary. There’s just something so alluring about reading a book that lives in the world of “this could totally happen.”
My writing style tends to wax humorous, but I like to think there’s a ton of heart in there as well. I enjoy giving my characters’ stories a backdrop that has some element of the performing arts. Dance, filmmaking, rock bands…the louder, the better. Basically, if there’s something I wish I was really good at, I’ll make my characters take the creative plunge for me. That’s not to say they’re always experts, but darn it if they don’t give it their all.
Caroline Thompson (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.
So many genres speak to me. I have a vivid imagination and enjoy getting lost in other worlds. Sometimes, the science side of me wins and I devour realistic science fiction. I’ve recently developed a love for books that challenge my perceptions about everything and anything. Basically, if the book has heart and amazing writing that takes me there- I’m in. Some of my favorite recent novels? Beauty, by Robin McKinley – My favorite book of all time Wonder, by R. L. Palacio Dark, Wild Night, by Christina Lauren Queen of Shadows, by Sara J. Maas Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard The Martian, by Andy Weir Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson.
Rachel Sarah (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.
I love reading anything contemporary, stories about misfits who asks big questions and fall in love, stories that ask tough questions and show the meaning of small moments. Some of my favorite recent favorite novels?
- The Honest Truth, by Dan Gemeinhart
- The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin
- Small as an Elephant, by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
- Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
- All The Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven
- The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson
- We Are All Made of Molecules, by Susin Nielson
Brooks, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
Paying it forward. Pitch Wars was always there for me. Even the year I didn’t get in, I met so many incredible people who ended up being so important to my writing. And now that I have a chance to give back, I’m so willing and happy to do so. I’ve been on both sides of that publishing gap and if there’s a way I can help out some writers while they take that leap, I’m there.
Caroline, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
I learned about Pitch Wars when I got back into twitter last year. I was so impressed with how much the mentees gained from their mentors that I kept the submission date on my calendar as a goal.
Rachel, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
After I met and married the love of my life (10 years into single motherhood!), I found myself drawn to exploring aspects of the blended family but I didn’t want to write another memoir. Writing middle grade and young adult really intrigued me. When I first heard about Pitchwars, I was amazed that one author (cheers to Brenda Drake!) generously gave her time and energy to organize this contest, and that so many writers around the world stepped up to mentor. I knew this was my chance to get the extra support to transition from memoir to middle grade.
I was an alternate last year with the super-wise Stefanie Wass, who opened my eyes to the subtleties of the middle grade voice. I feel so grateful to have this Pitch Wars community, the most honest, open-hearted and vulnerable group of folks I know… And they’re always they’re to pick you up and cheer you on!
Brooks, what are you most excited for?
Seeing my mentees’ stories go from fantabulous to face-meltingly spectacular. And then watching the blogs during the agent rounds, seeing who asks for partials or fulls, and eventually (fingers crossed) hearing about my mentees getting that life-changing call.
Caroline, what are you most excited for?
Rachel and I totally lucked out with Brooks. He is seriously amazing. I am excited to continue working with him, read his debut novel, and someday take him to a Walk The Moon concert.
Rachel, what are you most excited for?
Working with my incredibly helpful, funny, insightful mentor Brooks Benjamin, whose middle grade debut novel, My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights, is coming out in April 2016!
Caroline, describe your novel in 3 words.
Disabilities. Dolphin. Healing.
Rachel, describe your novel in 3 words.
Secrets. Shame. Searching.
Brooks, describe your mentees’ novels in 3 words.
Total. Dance. Anarchy.
Check Us Out …
Caroline Thompson, Mentee
I live in Southern California, where I dream about rain. I have a lot of varying interests, but reading and storytelling have always been constants. My grandfather has amazing tall tales of his childhood, and my dad encouraged me to help him create our bedtime stories. I guess it’s in my blood! Oh yeah, and I am a proud nerd. Comic Con in San Diego is my favorite week of the year. I love to cosplay!
Rachel Sarah, Mentee
For most of her life, Rachel has written nonfiction. Her first book, Single Mom Seeking: Play Dates, Blind Dates, and Other Dispatches from the Dating World (Seal Press), was a memoir about trying to date as a single mom. Before this, she was a newspaper reporter for 10 years, and then an editor. Her most recent publication? “He Was Ready to Be a Stepdad. Was I Ready to Let Him?” an essay about her own blended family, was published in the New York Times this year. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Rachel is the mother of two amazing daughters, a teen and a toddler. She prefers books over TV, and bikes over cars.
Brooks Benjamin, Mentor
If someone could make a profession out of eating pizza, I’d be CEO of that company. But I’m more than pizza. Kind of. I’m also a reader, writer, and teacher. I live in Tennessee with my wife and our incredibly spoiled dog. My first novel, MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS (Delacorte/Random House) will hit the shelves on April 12, 2016.
My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights
Delacorte/Random House (April 12, 2016)
Football hero. Ninja freestyler.
It’s seventh grade. Anything is possible.
All Dillon wants is to be a real dancer. And if he wins a summer scholarship at Dance-Splosion, he’s on his way. The problem? His dad wants him to play football. And Dillon’s freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, says that dance studios are for sellouts. His friends want Dillon to kill it at the audition—so he can turn around and tell the studio just how wrong their rules and creativity-strangling ways are.
At first, Dillon’s willing to go along with his crew’s plan, even convincing one of the snobbiest girls at school to work with him on his technique. But as Dillon’s dancing improves, he wonders: what if studios aren’t the enemy? And what if he actually has a shot at winning the scholarship?
Dillon’s life is about to get crazy . . . on and off the dance floor.