Hello and welcome to my Pitch Wars Wishlist!
I really took my time curating this, simply because it wasn't just important for me to write down all of the things I would love to see in a Young Adult novel, but really all the things I felt like I would be strongest at helping you with. By that, I mean, I am not going to ask for anything I do not feel I could do justice. That is not fair on you as a writer and that's not why I am here as a mentor.
So, who am I?
My name is Luke. I was a Pitch Wars mentee last year and I am back this year as a first-time mentor. I started my career as a filmmaker in the UK, so I began writing for the screen when I was 12, before I wrote my first novel in 2014. I turn 29 the day this post goes live, so you could say I've been doing this for a while now. During the agent showcase last year I signed with my agent Lauren MacLeod at The Strothman Agency. I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, where I work as a Youth Addiction Counsellor and Art Therapist with teenagers - with my husband, our three guinea pigs and our miniature dachshund, Tilly who believe's she's my co-mentor.
How do I work as a mentor?
What can you expect from me as a mentor? Well, firstly I will read your manuscript several times and make copious notes about everything - from what I love to what I feel could use some work. I'm calm, patient and hands on. I'm not one of those mentors who will rip your novel to pieces and give you tough love. I'm a counsellor lol I believe in being gentle, firm, and thorough in my approach. Being a Pitch Wars mentee puts you in quite a vulnerable position. This could be the first time someone has truly gone over your manuscript and pointed out what doesn't work. As a result, I would love to actually chat over the phone or Skype if that's something you're comfortable with. I feel like it can be much easier to discuss edits that way as you can hear my voice and vice versa. I will re-read your manuscript again after each pass and really help you polish it up for the agent showcase. Remember, this is YOUR book, not mine. I respect your vision and anything I suggest in-terms of edits are completely optional. If your book is #OwnVoices and you do not want to disclose that, please don't. Share what you are comfortable with and inform me of anything I need to know. There is no pressure to change anything, I am just here to be that objective guide. I am always around to bounce ideas off, too. I would encourage my mentee to text, email, or DM me if they are ever stuck along the way.
Pitch Wars receives a lot of applicants and obviously not everyone will be successful. Please know that I will let those who have applied to me know if they have not been chosen, but I cannot promise that I will be able to give feedback to everyone. It's just simply not possible with how much time I have.
Here are some overall wishes I'd love to see in any genre
- #OwnVoices stories.
- LGBTQ2S+ - it doesn't have to be an issue book, I just want to see more of these characters.
- Diversity - and that's not just limited to race, gender, sexuality, and cultural themes such as religion. I'd love to see more on found families/adoption/fostering and physical and mental disability representation since I grew up with this as a huge part of my family life.
- Authentic Mental Health Representation.
- Emotional boys trying to learn how to be emotional in a world that won't let them. Is that too specific? I think you know what I mean.
- Messy, magical girls who have no time for apologies.
- Global warming and/or factory farming - it's real folks and young people need to be educated about it as much as possible.
- Difficult, hard-to-like protagonists.
- Stories that reckon heavily with grief.
The genres I would love to see in my inbox include...
Contemporary/Literary - I love lyrical contemporary young adult novels. This is a very strong area for me. Send me your joyful, sad, angry, romantic, messy teenagers. Send me stories about hope and loss and finding your way back again. Coming of age stories are my favourite, and I'd love to see a queer rom-com instead of something sad, or what it's like to fall in love when you live with a disability. Send me your realistic stories!
- Thriller - I am on such a thriller kick these days, and I feel like the young adult category has had a real boost in this genre thanks to amazing authors like Kara Thomas and Karen M. McManus. Send me your mystery, your murder, your teenage Tana French stories.
- Speculative/Light Sci-Fi - this genre is sort of a hybrid for me. I don't write a lot of heavy heavy science fiction, but I do read a LOT of light sci-fi and speculative fiction. My first novel was also in this ball park. I would love to see something that reflects current issues in a completely fictional context.
- Fantasy - I have a real craving right now for witches, and I'm talking more along the lines of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or The Craft that something light and bubbly. Send me your dark, occult stories.
- Horror - Stephen King is one of my favourite authors ever. He's an automatic buy for me. I love horror stories in general, though, so send me anything in this genre - especially if it's lyrical, too. If you're hoping to make my skin crawl off, I'm so ready.
Things I don't want to see include...
Stories featuring cruelty to animals (even if it is justified in the world you've created) - I'm sorry I just can't deal with this, and won't. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom traumatized me. On the flip-side, do send me stories about animal rights.
- New Adult - I have nothing against this category at all, I just don't feel I would be the best mentor to do it justice. If you have written something you think is New Adult, but could be Young Adult, then send it along and specify that in your query.
- Problematic Representation - this is very broad and hopefully obvious, but an automatic no for me is false or poor representation of a minority group. Please do your research and utilize sensitivity readers if you go down this road.
- Erotica - Again, I am not the mentor that could do this justice.
- Novels in Verse - I have no experience really writing or reading novels in verse, though I know many other mentors have!
Things I haven't asked for, but could be open to include...
- Re-tellings - I would particularly be interested if they were subverted somehow. Female Robin Hood? Sleeping Beauty saves herself? Romeo and Julian? Send!
- Illustrated YA - I would be interested to see if we could make something like this work!
- Paranormal in General - particularly if it errs on the side of southern gothic and isn't too romance heavy.
- Non-Linear Structures