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Pitch Wars Interview with Cole N. and her mentor, McKelle George

Monday, 19 September 2016  |  Posted by Heather Cashman

PW Interviews

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 on November 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have Team Lorem Ipsum . . .


Cole N. – Mentee

Twitter | Website


McKelle George – Mentor

Twitter | Website


Cole: Why did you choose McKelle?

A number of factors drew me to McKelle. First off, the way she distinguished between the speculative fiction that she does and does not like showed me that she was a thoughtful and nuanced reader within the genre. Then when I learned that her upcoming book was a prohibition era Shakespeare retelling, I got super excited. It’s totally unlike what I’m writing, which I love because I know she’ll bring a different perspective to my manuscript. Just as importantly it sounds like a book I need to read, and I think it’s crucial for mentees to be just as excited about their mentors’ work as the mentors are about theirs.

McKelle: Why did you choose Cole and CHIMERICAL?

The thing about Cole is that she is, by her own admission, kind of an “Internet ghost.” So when I was thinking about taking her manuscript on, it was completely unrelated to whether or not she was nice or seemed easy to work with or had a huge following on social media: it was all down to her book. It wasn’t the kind of manuscript I originally envisioned taking on: it’s magical realism, and a bit strange, and sort of haunting, and not quite like any other book I’ve ever read. Even as I was trying to be more pragmatic about my choice, there were certain passages I could still remember, even from a quick read, days later, sentences and paragraphs that stuck with me. (And like Cole, I also like that it’s not exactly what I write, but it is what I like to read. I think the differing perspectives will feed off each other well.) I still think it’s an incredibly special book and wholly unique–and now here we are!

Cole: Summarize your book in three words.

Ghosts. Carnival. Memory.

McKelle: Summarize Cole’s book in three words.

Haunting. Magic. Enigmatic.

Cole: Tell us about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique?

My manuscript started out as my graduate school thesis. I graduated last year, and now I’m married to another writer. We both live in Minnesota and teach English and Writing at a liberal arts college. I do the majority of my writing in public places—IHOP, Barnes & Noble, various coffee shops. I must write with a pained expression or something because strangers are always asking me if I’m doing homework. I usually just say “yes.”
I think aspects of the narration in my manuscript are fairly unique. The protagonist is a carnival psychic who can see other people’s memories and feelings (to an imperfect extent). Though the story is told in first person, there are a number of short sections that read like third, where she conveys the perspectives of other characters. She attempts to be unbiased, but in reality she’s kind of a busybody that overlooks or misjudges the people around her on a regular basis. The fact that the form reflects this makes the manuscript unusual.

McKelle: Tell us about yourself. Something we might not already know.

Oh man, not much else to say. I live in Salt Lake City, and in addition to editing and writing, also work at the public library there as an associate librarian. Books, books, all the time! I recently got to go down to the Utah Shakespeare Festival because they were putting on a production of Much Ado About Nothing–which is, of course, the play my book is based off. It was really good (but the best Beatrice and Benedick combo is still David Tennant and Catherine Tate).
I’m super excited to get to work with Cole and CHIMERICAL, and so far it’s been a blast.


Check out McKelle George’s upcoming release . . .

SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE is a YA historical retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, set in Prohibition-era Long Island. It comes out Fall 2017, from Greenwillow/HarperCollins.

SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE opens with Benedick sneaking out of his prep school dorm room, a ritual many times practiced due to his connection a local speakeasy, the Hey Nonny Nonny. But this time Benedick is taking his typewriter and leaving for good.  Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Beatrice awaits her ride to Long Island, hoping to trade the rules at St. Mary’s Society for Wayward Girls and Fallen Young Women for a quiet place to study for medical college. Instead she finds her uncle Leo and cousin Hero have transformed the basement of their Victorian mansion into the aforementioned gin joint and jazz club. Even more surprising is the collection of boys that have taken up residence at the Hey Nonny Nonny – there’s a rum-runner named Prince, a love-struck Claude, and of course, Benedick, a fast-talking heir of Wall Street wealth and aspiring writer. 

Beatrice thinks Benedick is nothing more than a rich boy slumming it with the speakeasy crowd, while Benedick thinks a know-it-all like Beatrice is sure to ruin the spirit of the only place he’s ever felt at home. Beatrice and Benedick continue to squabble while helping Hero and Prince keep speakeasy alive, but when Prince’s mobster-bred brother John pays their humble joint a visit, it becomes clear more is at stake than a good night of drinking. 

Full of the well-intended misunderstandings, wit, and delicious twists that are hallmarks of a Shakespeare play, and alternating between Beatrice’s spirited voice and Benedick’s self-deprecating wit, Speak Easy, Speak Love is a beguiling reinterpretation of Much Ado About Nothing, set against the ever-changing decadence of the Jazz Age.

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! And don’t forget to stop by the Agent Showcase starting November 3rd to see how our teams do in the final round.



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