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Pitch Wars Interview with ReLynn Vaughn and her mentor, Carrie Callaghan

Wednesday, 5 October 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 #TeamSummerCamp . . . 



Photo by Kate Sachs

ReLynn Vaughn – Mentee

Twitter | Website



Erica B. Tappis Photography

Carrie Callaghan – Mentor

Twitter | Website


ReLynn: Why did you choose Carrie?

I actually ended up aging up my protagonists at the last minute in a final revision before submitting to Pitch Wars, because when I started the project, I thought I’d be writing it for YA…and that’s not how the story came out. So I actually only started looking at adult mentors maybe a week or two before submission opened. Eep! Carrie stuck with me for a few reasons. She writes historical, which is a love of mine (and even though my novel is fantasy, a lot of my own background as a historian went into it). Her writing, even on her blog, has this great lyrical quality. And her blog is a treasure trove of amazing advice on writing and editing. Then we ended up having this great interaction on twitter about war as a theme/setting, and I was hooked!

Carrie: Why did you choose ReLynn and The Last Witch of Caelhearth?

In the (current) first chapter of THE LAST WITCH OF CAELHEARTH, the powerful witch Willa reluctantly ends her self-imposed retirement to respond to a mysterious threat against the king. The scene bubbles with tension and dark atmosphere, and it immediately caught my attention. The unique concept kept me reading, and I wanted to learn more about Willa’s history of tragic forced training in spellcasting and her efforts to save the king who brought peace to the kingdom. The final climax combined sacrifice, politics, and an exciting plot twist. So I loved the story, but I also saw clearly how I could help ReLynn improve it. This unique combination of personal connection and particular vision for a story helped me make the difficult choice of which manuscripts to take on.

ReLynn: Summarize your book in three words.

Loss. Growth. Sacrifice.

Carrie: Summarize ReLynn’s book in three words.

Forbidden magic redeemed.

ReLynn: What makes you and The Last Witch of Caelhearth unique?

I’m a little big of a higher education addict, with degrees in history, law, and education. I currently work at a university doing targeted student recruitment, so I often joke that I loved college so much, I just made it my life. When I’m not writing or working the day job, I do medieval reenactment. My MS, THE LAST WITCH OF CAELHEARTH, is unique because I wanted to take the idea of the protagonist discovering their powers or the extent of them, and flip that from the Harry Potter model of it being wonderful and accepted to something outlawed and feared. Imagine if Harry had discovered he was a wizard in a land with no Hogwarts and populated almost entirely by those who thought like Vernon Dursely. That’s what the protagonist Willa faces at the start of my manuscript.

Carrie: Tell us something about yourself we might not already know.

I’m mostly a historical fiction writer, but I have a deep love of fantasy. In addition to my reading, this passion is largely enabled by the eight-plus year-long Dungeons and Dragons campaign I’ve been playing with friends. It’s a pretty epic adventure, and I love to see that level of stakes and drama borne out in fiction as well.


Check out some of Carrie Callaghan’s short stories . . .

“Waves Breaking on Asturias: a Triptych,” Silk Road Review

“Opened House,” Mulberry Fork Review

“The Debts of Miguel Ascencio,” The MacGuffin

Departures,” Weave Magazine

… and elsewhere.


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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