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A Pitch Wars Team Interview with Steve Hanton and mentor, Elly Ha

Tuesday, 22 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 . . .

Drawing of an owl wearing goggles
Steve Hanton
Elly Ha
Elly Ha
Website | Twitter

Elly, why did you choose Steve?

When I read VITIUM, the world and magic of it drew me in more than anything else. I really wanted to explore all the possibilities and potential within it through revisions. I also took a considerable liking to Steve’s writing style in general! Often, I read a line that made me think, “Whoa, I’ve never read it that way before! How did he think of that?” Additionally, when I asked Steve some rudimentary questions about himself and his work, he responded with an email full of details and a personal voice that really made me feel like “yes, this is a guy I want to work with!” I could feel his conviction and thought that we could work through anything together, which was huge considering the Very Taxing edit letter I sent him…

Steve, why did you choose to submit to Elly?

I believe in gut-instinct and, by the time I read Elly’s introduction and wishlist, my stomach was convulsing. Stalking the YA mentor bloghop, I had a bunch of ridiculous lists of potential mentors: “MUST SUBMIT”, “DEFINITELY MUST SUBMIT”, “DEFINITELY DEFINITELY MUST SUBMIT”, etc. Elly was at the top of my shortest list. I love her taste: dark YA, the Poppy War, an Ember in the Ashes. Zelda. Xena! She also likes anime like Inu Yasha and, considering Fullmetal Alchemist is a comp for Vitium, that was massive. Beyond that, as a person at the intersection of different marginalized identities, I’m interested in underrepresented voices in YA. Since Elly is another queer person of color, I thought she’d vibe with that. And her mentoring style—hands-on, editorial, thorough—while daunting, was something I thought I’d benefit from. And there you have it!

Elly, summarize Steve’s book in 3 words.

Afro-Latin Fullmetal Alchemist

Steve, summarize your book in 3 words.

Deadly. Sinful. Machiavellian.

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

I’m graduating from UVA in May 2019 with a degree in Modern Literature and Culture. I’ve recently been struggling with borderline personality disorder, more so than depression and anxiety, but I would love to write a book about BPD just like how I did with depression. For the past year, I’ve been writing a collection of short pieces and poems to document my struggles and experiences as both a mentally ill and queer (ace/aro!) person. Being a mentor for Pitch Wars and AMM has actually helped me deal with my mental illnesses, and the work is something I continually look forward to!

In the mean time, I’m still playing Stardew Valley and have finally gotten my boyfriend to get addicted with me. Currently, I’m watching Hunter x Hunter and My Hero Academia to help fill my awfully depleted creative well. Someone needs to cut me off of Pokemon Go (but my favorite pokemon are Milotic and Eevee). I also need to buy Let’s Go: Eevee, as well as Soul Calibur 6, as well as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Mario Party… No, I do not have a problem.

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

An agent, success and fortune! In seriousness, my biggest wish is to push myself and Vitium as far as we both can go, relying on the patience and honesty of my brilliant mentor and inspiring fellow mentees. Until PitchWars, I was completely burnt out on writing. Now, I finally have the drive to write again–that’s already more than I’d hoped for. From here on, it’s time to put in the work!

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

I’m a Black gay finance lawyer in Boston with too many interests and not enough time (or discipline). Outside of work, I lead a local QTPOC social organization, travel to at least 12+ countries a year on average, and am an avid adult learner (swimming, tennis, photography…considering boxing). I’m a huge nerd for manga, manhua and anime and, in high school and college, I spent some time living in Japan and China. When I was a teenager, I was big into programming, blogging and writing poetry and fanfiction. For a time, I was also so deeply religious that I thought I might become a priest or a monk. I’m a mashup of incongruous, unconventional identities and this all bleeds into my writing in one way or another. You never know what you’re going to get.

What makes my manuscript unique is that it’s a convergence of Catholicism-gone-wrong, manga references and Black Girl Magic. At the core of Vitium, the question I was most curious about was, “how far are these characters willing to go?” I’m interested in stories about good traits taken to dark extremes: we often praise people for being determined, but Vitium explores what happens when determination is taken beyond moral limitations. If someone you loved died, how far would you go to bring them back? It’s a mix of Fullmetal Alchemist and Kill Bill and a whole lot of other stuff in-between!

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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