Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews by Marnise Nicole
Bringing you a closer look each Pitch War Team and their project.
Be sure to comment with support, comments, and questions.
Meet Jenny Rosen, Courtney Gilfillian, and Kim Graff
Jenny and Courtney, tell us a little about yourselves.
Jenny Rosen, Mentee
Hello world! I’m Jenny, I’m 26, and I’m a YA author! I enjoy writing about the complexities of teenage love and loss and getting into the grittier side of tense, unpredictable romantic and familial relationships. When I’m not writing, you can find me plugged into ITunes rocking out to all kinds of music (I’m currently obsessed with the 2006 rock alternative music scene and current singer song writers out of the UK!). I worked in the music industry for many years before I started teaching English as a second language overseas, so I’ve got my feet in two very different worlds and love teaching as much as I loved working with artists. My favorite reads involve off the beaten path YA contemporary romances and thrillers. I love anything wild and edgy that takes typical archetypes and transforms them in an interesting way. My writing style can switch from being very tongue and cheek to raw and hard-hitting. I don’t really sugarcoat characters or the difficulty of their emotional and given circumstances because I find people the most interesting when they’re the most conflicted. I like pushing the boundaries of certain writing conventions. I like word play, poetry, journal entries, reflections, essentially anything that adds different textures/colors to standard prose. I love duel perspective, and particularly enjoy exploring the head space of the YA male. I love reading male protagonist fascinating to explore how teenage boys experience some of the most tumultuous, confusing years of their lives and deal with the pressure of transitioning into young men. So anything with two perspectives, whether it’s something I’m writing or reading, excites me.
Courtney Gilfillian, Mentee
Hi, I’m Courtney and I’m so excited to be part of #teamrevenge for pitchwars!! My favorite genre is YA Contemporary, and I lean towards reading darker/realistic fiction. I love Lauren Oliver, Lauren Saft, and Megan Abbott. My writing style is pretty raw. I tend not to sugar coat my characters experiences, or actions. I enjoy unlikable characters. I just moved to London to start grad school, so I’m curious if my vocabulary in my writing will change while I’m here!
Kim Graff (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself.
I read across the marketplaces—YA, MG, Adult. For the most part, I gravitate towards the darker more gritty novels. My all-time favorite genre has to be horror. A few of my favorite authors in Nova Ren Suma, Courtney Summers, Laini Taylor, Susan Dennard, and Kendare Blake. My own writing always tends to be on the dark side—be that dark fantasy, horror, or gritty contemporary thriller YAs. I’m constantly traveling around and rarely live in one place for longer than a year. I’ve called Sydney (Australia), Angers (France), Montreal (Quebec) my home, and am about to add New York City to that list.
Jenny and Courtney, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
Jenny: I stumbled upon PitchWars last year within about 20 minutes of the submission window closing. It was an incredible opportunity, I had a manuscript, but wasn’t quite prepared for PitchWars. My query was fairly new and hadn’t had anywhere near the amount of critiquing it needed to be ready for mentor consideration. My manuscript was finished, but I still had an inkling that it wasn’t at the level where I knew I could feel fully confident about sending it in for consideration. But I submitted (fairly certain it wouldn’t be picked) hoping that I could possibly get feedback from one of my potential mentors on what the next step for me might be. I was lucky enough to end up receiving incredible feedback from Natasha Neegle who unofficially gave her time to work with me on the novel in depth. Though she wasn’t able to take me on we worked together at different points during the last year. My manuscript wouldn’t have changed and grown the way it did had it not been for her guidance and encouragement. So if you’re a #PitchWars hopeful looking towards next year, connect with CPs, build your relationships in the PitchWars community, and continue molding your manuscript, you’ll be floored by how much you can grow in a year.
Courtney: I decided to participate in Pitch Wars because I wanted one final edit before querying, and someone to make me work really hard and encourage me and to meet new friends, and writers!
Kim, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
I got my agent through a Brenda Drake competition, #TheWVoice. And I’ve gotten a lot out of #PitchMadness as well in the past. The writing community and contest atmosphere that Brenda has created really is amazing, and I wanted to give back. As a freelance editor, I edit and help writers reach the next level with their manuscripts regularly so I feel really comfortable mentoring a manuscript from good to great. Plus, I just love writing queries and creating pitches so I thought it’d be fun!
Jenny and Courtney, what are you most excited for?
Jenny: Watching the novel transform and having a totally new and experienced set of eyes on it. I’m very excited to work with Kim she’s as passionate about the world of political thrillers as I am and I think she really understands the characters and their conflicts so it’ll be great to see how she guides me through the revision process.
Courtney: I am most excited to grow as a writer, make new friends, and get more addicted to Twitter. (Just kidding! I think…)
Kim, what are you most excited for?
The moment when both my mentees’ manuscripts and perfect and polished and they read like a book I picked up at a bookstore. (Then of course when they get their agents, and then sell their books, then when I can ACTUALLY go into a bookstore and admire their finished products.)
Jenny and Courtney, describe your novel in 3 words.
Jenny: Gritty, grueling, love.
Courtney: Blunt, Gritty, and Complex
Kim, describe your mentees’ novels in 3 words.
Dark, nefarious, and tragic
Check Us Out …
Jenny Rosen, Mentee
Jenny had her first short story “Vigilante Green” published in The Huffington Post Teen column after its editors discovered it on Figment.com. She is a permanently Featured Author on Wattpad, a member of the Wattpad Stars Program, and an active member of the community where her YA novels have amassed over 4.9 million hits and an international fan following of over 11,000 members. Earlier this year, her novel THE RUNAWAYS was short-listed in Hot Key Books & Wattpad’s Young Writers Prize finals.
Courtney Gilfillian, Mentee
Courtney is the dark contemporary YA author of IF ONE OF THEM IS DEAD. She is currently at Goldsmith’s University of London working on her Master’s in Children’s Literature. Previously, she worked at Simon and Schuster, in children’s publishing.
Kim Graff, Mentor
Kim is a YA author represented by Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency, and currently interning for Bree Ogden of Red Sofa Literary. Formerly, she worked as an intern at D4EO Literary Agency and P.S. Literary Agency, as well as a personal assistant to best-selling author Gennifer Albin. She’s a graduate of the University of Denver’s Publishing Institute, and a full-time freelance editor at Wild Things Editing. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and on her blog.