Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews by Marnise Nicole
Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their project.
Be sure to comment with support, comments, and questions.
Meet Courtney Leigh and Summer Spence
Summer Spence (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself.
I read EVERYTHING. No, really. I’ve been obsessed with George R.R. Martin since 1999 (waaaaay before it was cool), grew up reading Nancy Drew, love detective novels like Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky, Harry Potter quotes will be engraved on my tombstone, and love love love ALL Young Adult – contemp, fantasy, historical, suspense and everything in-between. The Hobbit was the first “grown-up” book I read on my own, and I’ve always wanted to go on a grand adventure… which is probably why I couldn’t put down Choose Your Own Adventure books!
My writing style tends to be lyrical with a ton of literary influences, but I’m pretty grounded in the real world. I like to see how contemporary characters deal with fantastical problems. When I write, it’s all about the character — I studied classical acting in college and have learned to tumble deep into the rabbit hole of a character’s life. I like to understand WHY people do things and how that WHY changes the course of their life. And I fully believe that fictional characters can change a reader’s life. That’s why I write.
Courtney Leigh (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.
As far as reading tastes go, YA (any genre) and memoir are my two faves, but I try to throw in a factual but interesting nonfiction and an adult novel every once in a while. Also, MG is fun! My favorite YA authors are people like Nova Ren Suma, John Corey Whaley, Cat Winters, Megan Abbott (IMO, her last few books count as YA), Garth Nix, and many others. If I could write a book that captures the wit of 10 Things I Hate About You, the Texas grit of Friday Night Lights, and the epic yet tragic love of Moulin Rouge, I would die happy because that there would be a perfect book, y’all.
Summer, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
I had such an AMAZING experience when I participated in Pitch Wars, and I knew that if I was ever in a position to be able to help a fellow writer that way, I would be all in! The community I gained has been my life-support in an industry where it’s so easy for the passion and focus on creating worlds out of words can get crushed and die. I learned SO MUCH from my mentor, the fabulous Evelyn Skye, and was so inspired to rise to what she thought I could be as a writer. If we all help each other rise, it can create a more positive world, and I’m all about that!
Courtney, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
One of my CPs, Susan Crispell, participated last year and was chosen as a mentee. Her writing life blossomed, and her debut novel is coming out in 2016. Basically, PW completely transformed her life. She tweeted me about a month before PW started and said, “I think you should do this because I believe in you and your book.” It’s really motivational to hear that sort of thing from a friend, and I have so much gratitude and love in my heart for her pushing me.
Summer, what are you most excited for?
ALL THE WORDS! My mentee’s book is so devastatingly beautiful. I bawled several times on my first read-through! She has a wonderful knack for flawlessly physicalizing emotion and creating honest relationships. The sisters-relationship in the book made me physically hurt because I miss my sisters so much! I can’t WAIT to see how much her story grows, and to help her send it out into the world!
Courtney, what are you most excited for?
At this point, I’ve gotten through a hefty amount of revisions already. And that’s because Summer has challenged me to think harder about the plot structure and character development. She’s given me tools I didn’t know I needed and is encouraging me to make this thing shine brighter than I ever imagined. I can’t wait to see what this story can become!
Courtney, describe your novel in 3 words.
sisters and ghosts
Summer, describe your mentee’s novel in 3 words.
Sink or swim.
Check Us Out …
Team Mentee: Courtney Leigh
Courtney Leigh plays guitar and sings in a band called The Villettes. She is the community coordinator/website manager for Model Behaviors. She loves her family, her friends, and the land she grew up on. She eats way too much chips and salsa.
Team Mentor: Summer Spence
Summer is a YA author living in scenic Utah (and always pining for California, her true home), with degrees in English Literature and Theatre. She began her storytelling career on stage as an actor, where she fell in love with words and the beautiful challenge of creating human beings out of them. Now, as a writer, she uses Shakespeare’s words as a guide when seeking inspiration: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” She’s represented by Heather Flaherty at The Bent Agency.