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Pitch Wars Interview with Nicole Panteleakos and her mentor, Ellie Terry

Friday, 30 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 #TeamWeirdSisters . . .


Nicole Panteleakos – Mentee



Ellie Terry – Mentor

Twitter | Website


Nicole: Why did you choose Ellie?

While I would have been content to work with any of the mentors I submitted to (all are awesome!) I was beyond thrilled when I saw Ellie’s name beside mine on the #PitchWars list because I knew she would share my vision for the manuscript, would help me whip it into shape, and perhaps most importantly, that she would share my love and understanding of my main character, who is nonverbal/autistic and OBSESSED with space and space travel. I initially submitted to her in great part because she is neuro-diverse, as is her MG novel’s main character (as am I and mine), and neuro-diversity is absolutely intrinsic to both my manuscript and my life, so I knew we’d be a great match.

Ellie: Why did you choose Nicole and PLANET EARTH IS BLUE

Besides being extremely interested in neuro-diversity and the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, I absolutely fell in love with Nicole’s main character, Nova. Her story is so raw. It’s simultaneously sorrowful and sweet–just how I like stories to be. It touched my heart deeply. And it will touch the heart of anyone who reads it.

Nicole: Summarize your book in three words.

Heart. Hurt. Hope.

Ellie: Summarize your mentee’s book in three words.

Heal. Love. Family.

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

I had trouble with this Q so I asked a few of my friends to describe me and the answers they supplied were “quirky,” “quick-witted,” “a bleeding heart liberal,” and “kind of weird,” which all seem accurate enough.

The setting of PLANET EARTH IS BLUE is relatively unique, taking place in an unnamed New Hampshire town during the ten days leading up to the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986, and the structure is somewhat different too, alternating between third person POV and first person letters from my protag to her missing sister, but ultimately what sets it (and me) apart from other MG manuscripts is my main character, Nova.

Nova is autistic, nonverbal, and intellectually disabled, plus she has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and sensory issues. I modeled many of her ASD/OCD traits after myself as a child, including her problems with socks and her overactive imagination. Many (most) books, shows, and movies that feature autistic characters show those who are highly intelligent, lack empathy, and are unimaginative, but the fact is most Spectrumites are just regular people with various communication and/or intellectual and/or social difficulties/differences that neurotypical people don’t have. Some of the most creative people I’ve ever met are autistic, and most importantly I wanted to be sure Nova was her own unique person, experiencing an American tragedy in her own unique way.

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

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut, florist, dance teacher, and writer. I’m only one of those things.


Check out Ellie Terry’s upcoming release . . .

Add on Goodreads!

Forget Me Not–Coming 3.14.17 from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan

It would be nice

to stay in one place

long enough to make a best friend . . .

Astronomy-loving Calliope June has Tourette syndrome, so she sometimes makes faces or noises that she doesn’t mean to make. When she and her mother move yet again, she tries to hide her TS. But it isn’t long before the kids at her new school realize she’s different. Only Calli’s neighbor, who is also the popular student body president, sees her as she truly is—an interesting person and a good friend. But is he brave enough to take their friendship public? As Calli navigates school, she must also face her mother’s new relationship and the fact that they might be moving—again—just as she starts to make friends and finally accept her differences. Told in both lyrical verse (Calli) and prose (Jinsong), this story of being true to yourself will speak to a wide audience.

Pre-Order . . .    

Amazon | Powell’s Books | Books-a-Million | Barnes & Noble | Your Local Indie Bookst

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.


We're thrilled at the different ways those in our Pitch Wars community are giving back—and we encourage them to do so. However, please keep in mind that Pitch Wars is not affiliated with any of these various contests, promotions, etc., including those of our mentors and mentees. Promoting any such opportunities via our social media channels doesn't imply endorsement or affiliation. We encourage you to do your research before participating.

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