Greetings, Potential Pitch Warriors!
I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2014, a mentor last year, and I’m happy to be part of such a fantastic writing community once again this year. I will be mentoring adult fiction.
A bit about me: I’ve worked in both the agent and publisher side of the business, then worked in social media for a while, before I left the corporate world to focus on writing. I write upmarket fiction, which usually contains dark and/or surreal elements, and am currently between agents. I’m also a freelance book coach/editor at Author Accelerator. Additionally, I have a personal blog, The Diary Project, in which I transcribe my old diary entries, which caught some national TV attention last year.
What I’m Looking For
While there are certain story elements I gravitate toward, such as the offbeat and the strange, I also love to be surprised, so don’t think if your story isn’t “out there” enough, I won’t love it. Great writing, solid characters, and a compelling story trumps all. Having said that, I do love underdogs, weirdos, black sheep, crazy geniuses, unreliable narrators, the dark and disturbed, and anti-heroes/heroines. I want to be fascinated by the people who inhabit your stories, drawn into their intense struggles (interior or exterior, but ideally both), and compelled to see their journeys through. Give me dialogue that sings and sizzles and seduces me to keep listening, while illuminating its speakers. Give me stories where setting matters, where place is so vivid it could be its own character, whether contemporary or historic, vibrant or bleak, cool or creepy. Not essential, but I always appreciate stories that shy away from formulas/conventions and shatter tropes. And this should go without saying, but I welcome diversity and underrepresented voices.
Upmarket, Contemporary, Historical, Literary, Women’s Fiction, Thriller/Suspense (especially psychological suspense), General Fiction, Hollywood novels (or any dark-side-of-showbiz tales), Horror/Gothic, Epistolary Novels, Offbeat/Quirky, Metafiction, light Sci-Fi (think more time travel or maybe near-future; stories rooted very much in a familiar reality), and Dystopian (I know it’s a tough sell right now, but I still have a soft spot for it). I also love stories that incorporate mystery and/or light speculative elements. And if your book doesn’t fall neatly into a single genre, you had me at hello.
Sub to me if your novel:
- Is somewhat dark, surreal, or edgy but still rooted in reality
- Elicits strong emotions (joy, fear, sadness, etc.—bonus if it will make me laugh and/or cry)
- Contains a twisted love story or a love story with a twist (break my heart or confuse it)
- Is fresh and unpredictable
- Could be directed by David Lynch, Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, or Richard Linklater if it was adapted into a film. Or could be an HBO miniseries.
- Has dialogue that would make Aaron Sorkin or Nora Ephron proud. Or witty banter that could hold its own against Buffy and Gilmore Girls episodes.
- Has a vibe like Black Mirror, The Twilight Zone, The Prisoner, or The X-Files
- Is based on/inspired by a strange true story (crime or otherwise)
- Features inside knowledge of an industry (especially entertainment)
- Is anything like a Charlie Kaufman screenplay
- Is genre-bending/blending and/or plays with form/structure
- Features characters questioning reality and/or “the truth”
- Is set in the 1980s or contains ’80s pop culture references (ditto the ’90s)
- Could be described as “Orwellian”
- Tells a story involving amassing great wealth/success… or losing it
- Is set in the world of tech/start-ups
- Is set in prison (yes, I am a fan of Orange is the New Black, but also Wentworth and Oz)
- Is about addiction/obsession
- Has alternate timelines
- Features a society where everything is normal… except for one bizarre thing
- Has sex and/or gore that serves a purpose and elevates the story and characters (instead of being there to shock/titillate)
- Passes the Bechdel test
- Includes conspiracy theories
- Has a dreamy and/or cinematic feel to it
Please Do Not Send Me:
- Magical Realism
- Space Opera
- Romance (romantic subplots are fine, or even romantic main plots, as long as the genre itself isn’t romance. I’m a sap for a good love story; I just don’t want to know it’s going to have a happy ending)
- Anything that features a made up language or lots of dialect
- Dialogue without quotation marks (I’ll make an exception for dashes, but the prose better be stellar)
- Anything with lots of exclamation marks
- A rough draft
- Any category other than Adult
A Little More About Me
When not writing or editing, I’m probably at the dog park with my White Shepherd (Agent Dale) Cooper or chipping away at my Netflix/DVR queues. I’m a major TV and movie nerd and always looking for a new show or documentary to get hooked on. I like the artsy-fartsy and culty, but also enjoy pure entertainment, which applies to my reading tastes, too. It goes without saying that I love to read, but I’ll say it anyway. I usually have at least three books on the go at once (if I didn’t switch over to ebooks, my packed bookshelves would’ve caved in at this point).
My Work Style
I’m pretty straightforward with my critiques and may give you tough love, but it’s always in the spirit of making the work better. I’ll make sure you know I believe in your abilities and your story, and will offer pep talks when your confidence wanes, but I will expect you to put in the hours to revise the hell out of your book.
I’m happy to have the odd phone or Skype chat but generally prefer to communicate via email. I prefer to use MS Word’s Track Changes for line edits. I don’t use beat sheets and won’t make you use them either, but I’ll still do quality control over the pacing and development of your story and characters. I may ask for more than one revision of your manuscript or a particular chapter/scene. I’ll definitely provide an edit letter, but I generally like to make line edits, too, so expect fairly granular feedback as well as the big picture stuff. You’ll definitely get one thorough read from me and, depending on how much time we have after a solid revision, hopefully a second read.
Authors/Books I Really Love:
- Lionel Shriver (one of my life’s missions is to get more people to read her novels)
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Margaret Atwood
- Milan Kundera
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Jhumpa Lahiri
- Marian Keyes
- Oscar Wilde
- Gillian Flynn
- Possession – A.S. Byatt
- Marjorie Morningstar – Herman Wouk
- House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
- The Raw Shark Texts – Steven Hall
- The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
- Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
- Blonde – Joyce Carol Oates
- Rebecca – Daphne Du Marier
- Prep/American Wife – Curtis Sittenfeld
- Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
- The Beach – Alex Garland
- Valley of the Dolls – Jacqueline Susann
- Night Film – Marisha Pessl
If you’d like to connect on Twitter (and please do; I love chatting with fellow writers), I’m @damiella. If you have any questions, tweet away or leave a comment here.
(Psst! While you can’t personalize queries in the Pitch Wars submission form, if there’s a particular reason you decide to sub to me specifically and you’d like to let me know, you can do so in the comments.)
Looking forward to reading all of your fantastic submissions. Be sure to check out the other Adult mentors below.
* For those doing the scavenger hunt: H.
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