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A Pitch Wars Team Interview with Trevor Barnes and mentor, Katrina Carrasco

Sunday, 13 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 . . .

line drawing of a scarescow
Trevor Barnes
Katrina Carrasco
Katrina Carrasco

Katrina, why did you choose Trevor?

Trevor’s book is delightfully weird and engaging, and when I started reading I was immediately drawn in to the characters’ world. The book has a great mix of humor and sharp prose and serious subject matter, all held together by Trevor’s narrative voice and imaginative world-building. I’m so excited to be working with him on THE MINER’S HYMNAL, and I can’t wait to see what he does in revisions!

Trevor, why did you choose to submit to Katrina?

Katrina was far and away my top choice, mentor-wise (even though all of the mentors sound wise and brilliant and full of vim). There were three big reasons I chose her:

1. Her wishlist said she was looking for weird genre-bending stuff combining literary-ish fiction with twisty mystery plots. That is extremely my shit!!!

Also: I’m trying to write queer and nonwhite characters but not from an #ownvoices perspective, so I thought Katrina’s perspective on writing about “the friction between otherness and belonging: what is gained and lost by conforming to societal expectations of gender, race, class and sexuality” (as her wishlist said) could be very helpful for my manuscript. (Spoiler: it totally was.)

2. Her own book sounds badass, and it was already on my radar before I’d even submitted to Pitch Wars: It’s about an ex-Pinkerton detective who switches between male and female disguises while investigating opium smuggling in 1887 Port Townsend. I mean that’s my favorite town AND my favorite type of smuggling.

3. Her bio said she grew up in Southern California and now lives in Seattle. I grew up in Northern California and just moved from Southern California to Seattle. The whole “California native who moved to the Northwest and is a writer and enjoys weird genre-bending mystery-ish novels” thing is, I feel, a very specific type of person who would very possibly understand my weird brain.

Katrina, summarize Trevor’s book in 3 words.

Music murder & mythology

Trevor, summarize your book in 3 words.

Mining, music, murrrrrrrrrrder

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

Every year I purchase a holiday-themed sweater for my little dog. Poor guy.

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

A bunch of money and fame and success and probably snacks!!!

No, not that. Obviously I would like to get my manuscript in good enough shape to land an agent eventually, but I want to be realistic, and that’s not my only goal. Mostly I just want to make the novel as good as it can possibly be. I feel like I had some major blind spots, and Katrina has been incredibly helpful and smart and kind about pointing out what I should fix and what I should keep. Long-term, I’m hoping the feedback I get and the revisions I do during the program will point out my blind spots and tendencies so that I can keep an eye out for those pitfalls in future writing projects, assuming I don’t just keep tweaking this novel for the next seven thousand years.

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

Man I don’t know. I live in Seattle with my very cool poet wife and we watch a lot of Frasier.

I was born in this little NorCal town where there’s a huge gold mine that’s a state park now, and there are hundreds of miles of old mining tunnels snaking along beneath the town. My dad worked in a mine when I was a kid, too. It’s a big thing out where I grew up. For some reason, I started thinking about what it would’ve looked like if the Cornish miners who immigrated to America during the Gold Rush had started a weird religion based loosely on their Celtic mining superstitions? As you do. So the book is sort of an alternate history, set in the present, where this odd cult (which I called Lodeism, after the Mother Lode, which is a real thing and not something dirty I assure you) has started their own private college on the grounds of the old Empire Mine. And then obviously someone gets murdered, and a student at the school tries to solve it while growing increasingly creeped out by this religion.

I’m also real obsessed with music (I play mandolin and tenor guitar and yes the SAXOPHONE), so naturally my manuscript has got bits of sheet music thrown in, which is a big part of the main mystery.

Check out Katrina Carrasco’s recent release, THE BEST BAD THINGS:

The Best Bad Things book cover

It is 1887, and Alma Rosales is on the hunt for stolen opium. Trained in espionage by the Pinkerton Detective Agency—but dismissed for bad behavior and a penchant for going undercover as a man—Alma now works for Delphine Beaumond, the seductive mastermind of a West Coast smuggling ring.

When product goes missing at their Washington Territory outpost, Alma is tasked with tracking the thief and recovering the drugs. In disguise as the scrappy dockworker Jack Camp, this should be easy—once she muscles her way into the local organization, wins the trust of the magnetic local boss and his boys, discovers the turncoat, and keeps them all from uncovering her secrets. All this, while sending coded dispatches to the circling Pinkerton agents to keep them from closing in.

Alma’s enjoying her dangerous game of shifting identities and double crosses as she fights for a promotion and an invitation back into Delphine’s bed. But it’s getting harder and harder to keep her cover stories straight and to know whom to trust. One wrong move and she could be unmasked: as a woman, as a traitor, or as a spy.

A propulsive, sensual tour de force, The Best Bad Things introduces Katrina Carrasco, a bold new voice in crime fiction.

Third Place Books

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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