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Pitch Wars Interview with Gracie West and Marcus Alexander Hart and their mentor, Tamara Mataya

Monday, 21 September 2015  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

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Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews by Marnise Nicole

Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their projects.

Be sure to comment with support, comments, and questions.

Meet Tamara Mataya, Gracie West, and Marcus Alexander Hart

Team: With Gracie, #TeamFeakySnucker; (Co-mentoring with Jason Nelson) and Marcus, #TeamExpletive


Tamara MatayaTamara Mataya (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself.          

I’m currently a librarian. I lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people that I suspect they only hired me so it would be less creepy. Now I’m armed with a name tag and a thin veneer of credibility. Pretty much no genre is safe from my grabby raccoon hands when I’m on the hunt for my next read. I’m a book slut–I’ll read nearly anything. I’m an eclectic writer as well, but snark, humour, and sexiness seep into everything I do–I mean, WRITE!


Gracie WestGracie West (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.     

What!?! I have to talk about *me*? As a card holding member of team INFJ, I’d prefer to be cloaked in a sweater of bees. I’d much rather commiserate about beloved books and favourite words forever. Give me a story that makes me FEEL. Make it hurt. Make it sing. Use the words unencumbered, cadence and shiver. Smother me with swoon.


Marcus Alexandr HartMarcus Alexander Hart (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.    

Hi! I’m Marcus. I’m a dude from Los Angeles living in exile in the United Kingdom.

I don’t have a favorite genre, as such, but I tend to like anything that’s not normal contemporary about normal people dealing with normal problems in the normal world. Throw in a dinosaur or a yeti or a robot or kick it into an alternate dimension or mythical land and I’m probably on board.

I like reading David Wong, and Alexandra Sokoloff, and Derek Landy, and of course the whole Douglas Adams library. I’m currently reading Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, which is blowing my mind.

My writing style is “literary sitcom.” If your heart wants to watch Community reruns but your brain is telling you to read a book, my stuff is a good compromise.

Tamara, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?       

I’m all about giving back, and I love how in depth Pitch Wars is. This is providing an opportunity, but also helps the writers get to the next level, increasing their odds of success! It’s not about numbers, it’s about writers.

Gracie, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?          

In 2014, I didn’t have a manuscript shiny enough to enter Pitchwars, but I watched from the sidelines and realized two things. I HAVE FOUND MY PEOPLE and I HAVE FOUND MY SPORT. This is no junior high PE class, where team captains select one person after another until the last one sits there (me) winding her shoelaces tightly around her fingers pretending it doesn’t matter, until that magical moment the volley ball inevitably hits her on the side of her head. This is a community of writers hell-bent on everyone’s growth. Yes, there is the jubilation of being selected as a mentee and the gut-wrenching sadness at not seeing your name on the final list. But, no matter what side of the list you’re on, there’s still a community of people passionate about words and making them better. I followed a slew of people on Twitter as a result of lurking in the background, and over the course of a year, shone up one book and wrote one and a fifth more while getting to know some super amazing writers. This year, my most difficult dilemmas were deciding which ms to enter, and narrowing it down to five mentors out of a deep, rich list of people I already admire.

Marcus, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?  

Because I felt like my book was a mutant fish baby. As its father, I love my mutant fish baby. But every agent I showed her to said, “Aaagh! What is that hideous— I mean, your child is beautiful in her own way, but she’s not for me.” I joined PitchWars to find a mentor who could help me help my mutant fish baby spin her cocoon and emerge as a beautiful fish butterfly.

I was also hoping a mentor could teach me how to write proper analogies.

Tamara, what are you most excited for?

These two writers blew me away, not just with their very different manuscripts, but their positive attitudes about revisions and getting to work. They’re not in it to masturbate their egos; they’re serious about their careers as writers. I can’t wait to spend more time with them and their gorgeous stories, helping in any way I can to get them where they need to be.

Gracie, what are you most excited for?

When I saw my name next to Tamara Mataya’s, I blinked to make sure I hadn’t read it wrong. Then, my body and my brain collided with joy, which resulted in about ten minutes of shaking hands and wonky texts to people who matter to me FREAKING OUT ABOUT HOW AWESOME THIS IS GOING TO BE. Then, I sat in shocked stillness on my corner of the couch and cried happy tears. I’m most excited about getting my ass kicked by Ms. Feaky Snucker for the next two months.

Marcus, what are you most excited for?

In April 2016, Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park is opening a new roller coaster called the Lightning Rod. At a top speed of 73 MPH it’s the fastest wooden coaster in the world, with a 165-foot drop, a non-inverting half-loop, and twelve weightless airtime moments. I’ve never been to Tennessee before, but now I’m pretty excited about visiting next spring. Oh, was this supposed to be a PitchWars related excitement? In that case, I’m excited about the prospect that my PitchWarsised manuscript could have an agent by the time I’m throwing up after riding the Lightning Rod.

Gracie, describe your novel in 3 words.

Trepidation. Simmer. Burn.

Marcus, describe your novel in 3 words.

Recovering fish baby.

Tamara, describe your mentee’s novel in 3 words.    

GRACIE WEST’S: Dangerously sexy shiver.

MARCUS ALEXANDER HART’S: Voice-y madcap romp.


Check Us Out…

Gracie West

Gracie West, Team Mentee


I’m not who I thought I was. Send whiskey. Let’s share all the words.


 Marcus Alexandr Hart

Marcus Alexander Hart, Team Mentee

Twitter | Website | IMDb

Marcus is known for his work on Wizards of Waverly Place (2007), Lab Rats (2012) and Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007). He can’t even fit his full name into Twitter, let alone a full thought. He wrote a book about ghosts.

Tamara Mataya

Tamara Mataya, Team Mentor

Blog | Twitter | Facebook

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Tamara Mataya is currently a librarian; she lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that she suspects they only hired her so it would be less creepy. Now she’s armed with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. She’s also a musician with synaesthesia – which isn’t an issue until someone plays a wrong note, which makes her want to squirm inside out. It makes for a good live show.

Please note, I am co-mentoring MARCUS ALEXANDER HART with the inimitable JASON NELSON!

You find Tamara’s books here. Here’s her latest release …



Twenty-first birthday? Check.
Strange new powers? Check.
Getting through this heinous WTF-ery alive? I’ll get back to you.

Learning she’s Fae and has powers should have been the coolest day of Syxx’s life. Instead, she’s plunged into a decades-long battle of free will vs survival. Wrong place at the wrong time? Understatement of the century. The Fae Council has brought hundreds of reluctant Fae to the city to participate in The Sowing—a creepy traditional breeding ceremony.

No one has ever dared openly challenge the Council, but a secret resistance movement has been gaining momentum. Syxx is a Moondreamer—a rare type of Fae that can make wishes come true and will things into being. The Resistance believes Syxx has the power to overthrow the Council, but her untamed abilities are still developing.

With her new friends—a sexy half-incubus and a sweet leprechaun—pushing her forward, Syxx steps into the role of revolutionary. She’s got three options: Submit (no!), die (hell no!), or start a revolution.

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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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