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A Pitch Wars Team Interview with Kathryn Powers and her mentors, Rajani LaRocca and Remy Lai

Wednesday, 30 January 2019  |  Posted by Gwynne Jackson


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 . . .

Kathryn Powers – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Rajani LaRocca – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Remy Lai

Remy Lai – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Rajani and Remy, why did you choose Kathryn?

It’s such a fun book with humor and heart and beautiful prose. Kathryn is a tremendous writer, and we were swept away by the adventurous spirit of this story, its feisty, furry protagonist, and the hilarious cast of characters (including our favorite, DOGS!)

Kathryn, why did you choose to submit to Rajani and Remy?

After doing lots of research on the MG mentors, I submitted to #TeamPITA because they seemed like an all-around awesome duo! I connected with the likes and dislikes on their wish list, and hoped my manuscript might be a good fit for what they were looking for in a mentee. (Plus, PUPPY GIFS!) I was so thrilled when they contacted me to request my manuscript, and our personalities meshed. I still can’t believe they picked me to be their mentee, and I feel super lucky to have not one, but TWO talented mentors to shepherd me through this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Rajani and Remy, summarize Kathryn’s book in 3 words.

Pirates. Hijinks. Ferret!

Kathryn, summarize your book in 3 words.

Ferret! Scallywags! Fun!

Rajani and Remy, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Rajani: I once thought a certain singer’s voice reminded me of breakfast sausage. I still do. Okay, that was probably not what you were looking for. How about this? I once threw my daughter a Harry Potter birthday party that I secretly wished someone would have thrown for me. I wrote the Sorting Hat’s poems for everyone, and my husband recited them via a cell phone hidden in the hat. Everyone took classes, and we had a Quidditch game!

Remy: Sometimes, I eat chocolate for breakfast. And ice cream for dinner.

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

I already feel like I’ve gained so much from my Pitch Wars experience in working with my mentors for this first month! While it would be wonderful to find an agent who falls in love with my novel during the agent round, I will be very happy if I end Pitch Wars with new writing friends, expanded knowledge on technique and craft, and a kick-butt manuscript!

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

I’m a writer, illustrator, and 100% kid-at-heart. And if I had to guess, I think I’m probably the only Pitch Wars mentee whose manuscript was inspired by their kleptomaniac pet ferret! I’ve loved books with talking-animal protagonists since I was young and my pets always seem to find their way into my manuscripts. My Pitch Wars project, PIRATE FERRET, came to be after living with a feisty little ferret named Link. He stole everything from granola bar wrappers to bags of toilet paper—and ultimately my heart. I hope the ferrety adventure I’ve written brings readers as much humor and joy as Link brought to my life.

Check out Rajani’s upcoming release, MIDSUMMER’S MAYHEM…

Coming June 4, 2019

Can Mimi undo the mayhem caused by her baking in this contemporary-fantasy retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

Eleven-year-old Mimi Mackson comes from a big Indian American family: Dad’s a renowned food writer, Mom’s a successful businesswoman, and her three older siblings all have their own respective accomplishments. It’s easy to feel invisible in such an impressive family, but Mimi’s dream of proving she’s not the least-talented member of her family seems possible when she discovers a contest at the new bakery in town. Plus, it’ll start her on the path to becoming a celebrity chef like her culinary idol, Puffy Fay.

But when Mimi’s dad returns from a business trip, he’s mysteriously lost his highly honed sense of taste. Without his help, Mimi will never be able to bake something impressive enough to propel her to gastronomic fame.

Drawn into the woods behind her house by a strangely familiar song, Mimi meets Vik, a boy who brings her to parts of the forest she’s never seen. Who knew there were banyan trees and wild boars in Massachusetts? Together they discover exotic ingredients and bake them into delectable and enchanting treats.

But as her dad acts stranger every day, and her siblings’ romantic entanglements cause trouble in their town, Mimi begins to wonder whether the ingredients she and Vik found are somehow the cause of it all. She needs to use her skills, deductive and epicurean, to uncover what’s happened. In the process, she learns that in life, as in baking, not everything is sweet. . . .


Check out Remy’s upcoming release, PIE IN THE SKY…

Coming May 14, 2019

A poignant, laugh-out-loud illustrated middle-grade novel about an eleven-year-old boy’s immigration experience, his annoying little brother, and their cake-baking hijinks!

“Pie in the Sky is like enjoying a decadent cake . . . heartwarming and rib-tickling.” ―Terri Libenson, bestselling author of Invisible Emmie

Sometimes life isn’t a piece of cake . . .

When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he’s often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao.

To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she’s at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they’ll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama.

In her hilarious, emotional middle-grade debut, Remy Lai delivers a scrumptious combination of vibrant graphic art and pitch-perfect writing that will appeal to fans of Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s Real Friends, Terri Libenson’s Invisible Emmie, and Kelly Yang’s Front Desk.



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

One Comment
  • Remy, Pie in the Sky sounds like a fun read!
    Rajani, I wish I’d had a birthday party like the one you threw, though my son’s 7th potions-themed birthday party was pretty epic.
    Good luck, Kathryn! You’re definitely in good hands!

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