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A Pitch Wars Team Interview with Waka T. Brown and mentor, Rebecca Petruck

Friday, 1 February 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 . . .

Waka T. Brown
Waka T. Brown
Rebecca Petruck
Rebecca Petruck
Website | Twitter

Rebecca, why did you choose Waka?

Waka’s memoir is about a girl I can relate to (a child of the 80s from the Midwest) in a situation I couldn’t imagine (sent to Japan for five months during summer break to…attend more school). That’s the definition of a wonderful memoir–relatable and unique. Young Waka has a vibrant spirit, while adult Waka has a compelling voice and lovely writing style. Basically, WHILE I WAS AWAY has it all!

Waka, why did you choose to submit to Rebecca?

Rebecca listed several elements on her Pitch Wars blog that made me think we could be a good fit. For instance, she had #OwnVoices, 80s, and humor on her wish list (all matches!) and mentioned she writes MG that’s funny with a strong heart line. I’m aiming for that combination with my manuscript, too — the fact that she pointed out cow poop as funny was also a good indicator — cow poop is hilarious! Also, a fair amount of Internet stalking… I mean RESEARCH showed that Rebecca is an experienced mentor, teacher, and accomplished writer. I was impressed by the sensitivity in which she handled cultural issues in her book BOY BITES BUG as well (a book that I can’t wait for my boys to read!)

Rebecca, summarize Waka’s book in 3 words.

Kanji. Obaasama (Grandmother). Japan.

Waka, summarize your book in 3 words.

Me, Japan? Nooooooo!

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

Another reason I was drawn to Waka’s memoir is that two books I have reread several times are by Japanese authors: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780312427801) and The Seventh Day by Yu Hua (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-seventh-day-yu-hua/1121527537?ean=9780804172059#/). Both are about how regrets haunt us. The former is a thin novel yet wrecked my heart in the best possible way. The latter imagines a man after his death with no one left behind to see to his burial rites. I kept thinking about what an American equivalent might look like and was inspired to begin a WIP!

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

I want to become a better, more versatile writer. Sure, it would be a dream come true to find an agent and publisher, but I’m trying to learn as much as I can in this process so I can continue to improve and apply what I’ve learned to other manuscripts and ideas!

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

I was a 12 year-old Japanese American girl who grew up in Kansas in the 80s. When my parents felt I was losing my Japanese, they sent me by myself to live with my grandmother and go to public school in Japan for five months. WHILE I WAS AWAY is about these five months and so in that sense, it’s uniquely my story. Even so, I feel like anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, or faced challenging family and friendship dynamics could relate. In terms of what else makes me unique, hmm… I’ve been writing screenplays for years and had a short film produced last year… and in my spare time I like to snack on gingersnaps while watching GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW with my three sons.

Check out Rebecca’s latest release, BOY BITES BUG!

Will didn’t plan to eat a stinkbug. But when his friend Darryl called new kid Eloy Herrera a racial slur, Will did it as a diversion. Now Will is Bug Boy, and everyone is cracking up inventing insect meals for him, like French flies and maggot-aroni andfleas.

Turns out eating bugs for food is a real thing, called entomophagy. Deciding that means he can use a class project to feed everyone grasshoppers, Will bargains for Eloy’s help in exchange for helping him with wrestling, but their growing friendship only ticks off Darryl more.

Will may have bitten off more than he can chew as crickets, earthworm jerky—even a scorpion—end up on his plate, but insects are the least of his problems. When things with Darryl and Eloy heat up, Will wrestles with questions of loyalty, honor—and that maybe not all friendships are worth fighting for.

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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