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A Pitch Wars Team Interview with Susan Lee and her mentor Gloria Chao

Thursday, 20 December 2018  |  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 . . .

Susan Lee

Susan Lee – Mentee


Gloria Chao

Gloria Chao – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Gloria, why did you choose Susan?

Susan’s manuscript made me feel understood and seen because of how much I connected with her characters, the humor, and the Asian-American representation. I already know this book is going to mean so much to so many readers! I also felt that we face similar challenges in our writing, and I hoped I’d be able to help Susan more than I might be able to another writer.

Susan, why did you choose to submit to Gloria?

Gloria’s book, AMERICAN PANDA, changed the way I thought of representation.

After reading Gloria’s book, I had such an ‘a ha’ moment. THIS is how I want to tell stories. Unapologetically Asian-American, even the cringeworthy and awkward parts. Being able to laugh through those parts, even. And remembering that I don’t have to be a teacher of Asian-ness. I can just…be Asian and let that be a story in and of itself.

Seeing Gloria listed as a PitchWars mentor was a chance to work with someone I respect so much, but also someone who has impacted and helped shape the story I wrote and eventually submitted to PitchWars. I could not be more thrilled to be her mentee this year. True kismet.

Gloria, summarize Susan’s book in 3 words.

Voicey, hilarious, heartwarming

Susan, summarize your book in 3 words.

teen drag-queen Cyrano (I cheated)

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

When I’m not writing, you can find me on the curling ice!

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

I want to learn to revise, as basic as that sounds. I want to push myself to dig deeper, try harder, figure things out as I wrestle with making this story the best it can be. I want to be greedy with the time I get with Gloria and pick her brain as often as I can. I want to produce a finished product of a story that will CHANGE THE WORLD (ha!), but most importantly, make the reader laugh until they pee their pants.

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

I have made a career as the head of Human Resources at various tech startups. This has offered me much food for fodder. When your job is 100% about people, you come to realize, we are all, to varying degrees, ridiculous. And there are so many stories to tell…so I started to write them.

I love this manuscript!

I am a huge fan of the drag community, from history to present day to what it’s building for the future. I want to honor that. I am a huge fan of being Asian American (ha!), from history to present day to what it’s building for the future. And I really, really want to honor that.

This story is about honoring people as they are and laughing at ourselves along the way.

Check out Gloria’s recent release, AMERICAN PANDA …

American Panda

An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

From debut author Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn’t always so black and white.

AmazonBarnes & Noble 

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 6 – 11, 2019. We hope you’ll join us to support our teams on the Twitter hashtag #PitchWars.


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