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A Pitch Wars Team Interview with Amy Wagner and her mentor, Cole Nagamatsu

Thursday, 17 January 2019  |  Posted by Lisa Leoni

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 starting on February 6, 2019, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2018 Pitch Wars Teams.

Next up, we have . . .

Amy Wagner
Amy Wagner
Cole Nagamatsu
Website | Twitter

Cole, why did you choose Amy?

I fell in love with my mentee’s novel, both the writing and the characters. I realized fairly early on in reading Amy’s manuscript that I was going to want to read the entire thing. Even though the book has life-or-death stakes, it’s character-driven first and foremost, and Amy’s attention to character is so precise and dynamic that I found myself thinking about the people she’d created long after I’d finished reading. In addition, Amy’s prose is just lovely, and I was really excited to see how she’d approach revisions knowing she was such a skilled writer with a compelling project. Now that we’ve been working together, I’m really excited by the process. It’s great working with someone who’s so enthusiastic and insightful.

Amy, why did you choose to submit to Cole?

I am so excited to be working with Cole. She gets my story in a way that thrills me. I submitted to Cole because of her wish list. Even her list of books captured my attention. Books have always been a way for me to connect to and learn about the world. I read to escape, but mostly I read to understand and dig deeper into the human condition. Cole’s list of novels included some of my favorites. Any I hadn’t read I quickly added to my reading list. She also mentioned Twin Peaks, which held me in its spell as a teenager. I wish I could find my old Double R Diner cherry pie T-shirt! What really sealed the deal for me, however, was Cole’s description of her own novels as, “contemporary realistic settings and elements of fantasy that creep in gradually from the edges.” All of the above led me to believe we had similar styles and perhaps she would like my story. She also included a link to an excerpt of her Pitch Wars novel which was set in a carnival (I’m already in because of the setting). But this was the line that did it for me, “She dreams she can climb the ladder of her spine into another world.”

Cole, summarize Amy’s book in 3 words.

Lyrical. Playful. Secretive.

Amy, summarize your book in 3 words.

Grim Reaper, Poetic, Jell-O

Cole, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I’m terrible at this sort of question. I’m married to another writer, which I think has a big impact on my process. Weird fact: my husband and I met in the US during grad school, but we learned quickly that we had both lived and worked in Japan after undergrad, and that we’d gotten our tattoos at the same shop in Osaka. Another fact about me: I collect a lot of curios. Mostly big-eyed dolls and found animal bones. Collecting bones is a hobby I tend to give to some of my characters.

Amy, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

I’m already satisfied with my experience. Just one month of being a mentee in Pitch Wars has been like attending a master class in writing. I have learned so much already. From talking to my fellow mentees on our Facebook group, to reading assignments from Cole, to her edit letter, it has all pushed me and I have grown. I get it now when contestants are voted out or lose and they always say, “I’m grateful, I learned so much.” I used to be skeptical of such remarks, but now I am making them and it’s not even over! Ultimately I want A Good Story Is Hard To Find to make its way to young adult readers, that is my goal, my dream.

I also hope to gain a family of supportive writers whose work I can champion.

Amy, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your manuscript unique?

When I was young I would walk around with my mother’s makeup mirror tucked under my chin. It produced the illusion of walking on the ceiling. I think that sums up my writing style. I like to explore material in a varied and entertaining way. A Good Story Is Hard to Find exemplifies my unique perspective on complex subjects like death, life, and an afterlife. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all present and none are dismissed. If anything, they are illuminated through my characters Elena and Jasper. I enjoy spinning the ordinary into something special and hope to give readers an experience when reading my story.

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 6 – 11, 2019. If you’re an agent and would like to participate, you must register here: https://pitchwars.org/info-for-agents/.

We hope you’ll join us to support our teams on the Twitter hashtag #PitchWars.

Filed: Interviews

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