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Pitch Wars Interview with Zoje Stage and her mentor, Margarita Montimore

Thursday, 20 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 . . . 


Zoje Stage – Mentee

Twitter | Website


Margarita Montimore – Mentor

Twitter | Website


Zoje: Why did you choose Margarita:

Margarita had by far the best variety of apropos words in her bio and wish list, things like: upmarket, weirdos, black sheep, crazy geniuses, and dark and disturbed. It was a no-brainer. And on top of having compatible interests in books, TV, and film, she made a point of saying she didn’t use beat sheets—for which my pantser-self was grateful. I couldn’t be happier with her as mentor—she brings so much experience and wisdom and our dark and disturbed souls clicked immediately.

Margarita: Why did you choose Zoje’s manuscript?

I was immediately intrigued by the query, which promised a psychologically dark tale of a mother and young daughter. And the pages didn’t disappoint. I was blown away by Zoje’s evocative prose, by the way she captured the troubled mind of this seven-year-old as well as the desperation and vulnerability of her mother. While I read the entire novel before deciding. I knew from the opening pages this was The One.

Zoje: Summarize your book in three words.

Mommy’s little psychopath

Margarita: Summarize Zoje’s book in three words.

Evil childish things

Zoje: Tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique:

I have a deep background in film and theatre—as a writer, and in many other capacities. I think that has really enhanced my storytelling sensibilities, because I know how to approach a character from an acting perspective, and how to stage a scene, and the importance of visuals and mood. I’ve also written poetry for most of my life and I love the challenge of using a few carefully chosen words to create an evocative image or idea.

While my manuscript fits into the “bad seed” trope it goes deeper into the psychology because the seven-year-old is a key POV character. She is also mute, which made for finding interesting non-verbal ways for her to express herself. Her overwhelmed mother is the other POV character, and I made dual antagonists of my dual protagonists: they are each the hero of their own story, and the “villain” of their counterpart’s story. This is also the first thing I’ve ever written that taps into my own experience with Crohn’s Disease, and the mother’s history of living with a chronic, invisible disease is an important part of her story.

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

I’m a freelance editor with Author Accelerator and I truly love helping writers develop their stories and find their voice. Apart from writing, it is some of the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done. Before I was writing/editing full time, I worked in social media. I was actually Marvel’s first community manager (back when that involved updating MySpace!), then worked at Google, which was a whole other type of adventure I’ll need to write a book about someday. I dabbled in some other careers before that, but writing will always be my true north, my greatest passion. As for non-writing interests, my latest fascination has been with true crime (particularly documentaries and podcasts) and I have a perennial love for sushi, conspiracy theories, karaoke, arguing with my husband about time travel (“it’s a loop!” he’ll shout and draw diagrams involving stick figures and arrows), binge-watching TV shows/movies, and (Agent Dale) Cooper, my White Shepherd.


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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