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Pitch Wars Interview with Lorien Hallama and her mentor, Julie Dao

Tuesday, 27 October 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 project.

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


Meet Julie Dao and Lorien Hallama


Julie Dao, AuthorJulie Dao (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself.

I write both MG and YA, and I absolutely love reading books in those categories. I don’t think I will ever stop being young at heart when it comes to books! (And who wants to be around people who aren’t young at heart, anyway?!)

I love the atmospheric and haunting, the epic and heartfelt. I am drawn to books that make me laugh and cry and feel deeply. Those things transcend genre, I think. But if I had to pick a favorite genre, it would probably be a toss-up between creepy and fantasy. Ok, ok, “creepy” isn’t a genre, but I like spooky stories that aren’t quite horror. So what is that? Gothic? Like my mentee Lorien’s book, BITS AND PIECES! /shameless plug

Lorien Hallama

Lorien Hallama (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.

The first story I remember writing was about a money tree. It had paparazzi, a swarm of reporters, and treasure trolls – it was epic! I think I was in first grade at the time. My teacher made me share it with the class, and from that point on, I was hooked on writing. I continued to write stories, and in second or third grade I wrote my first “novel” called Thriller Nights, about a creepy babysitter who stole babies. I still love to write creepy stories with magical elements, especially those set in my hometown, which in itself feels kind of haunting and creepy sometimes. We even have a town witch! Legend has it that Goodie Bassett was hanged here for witchcraft in the mid-1600’s. Her head is allegedly buried in back of the library, which happens to be the same library that inspired Steven King to write It. Kind of awesome. It’s local stories like this that helped to inspire Bits and Pieces, the MG novel I entered into Pitch Wars.

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

Way, way back in 2013 (I know. AGES ago), I was selected by N.K. Traver for her team and by Stephanie Garber for her team. That experience did not win me my agent, but I truly think it opened the door for me. Both ladies gave me great mentorship, my teammates gave me encouragement, and just over a year later the YA manuscript I entered (ELEGY, a ghost story inspired by the Phantom of the Opera) got me my agent.

I knew way back that I wanted to be a mentor one day if I ever could, to help push someone else along on their journey. What’s the point of getting help if you don’t pass it along to others? There’s that saying that a rising tide lifts all ships. I’m here to help make waves!

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

I decided to try my luck in PW this year because I felt that my novel was ready for more detailed feedback from active writers. I am THRILLED to say that the experience so far has been everything I had hoped for and more, and Julie is helping me to get my manuscript into the best possible shape.

Julie, what are you most excited for?

I am most excited to see Lorien end up with a manuscript she’s happy with! She works so hard and deserves to feel proud and confident about her story. I hope this contest gives her the boost she needs to get out there and find the agent who LOVES her book.

Lorien, what are you most excited for?

I’m most excited to share my manuscript with others in its new form, and to continue working with Julie. She’s amazing!

Lorien, describe your novel in 3 words.

“Goonies” meets Goosebumps.

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

Creepy, mysterious, addictive.

Check Us Out …

Lorien Hallama

Lorien Hallama, Mentee

Twitter | Blog

Lorien is a mom, middle school teacher, and middle grade writer.


Julie Dao, Author

Julie Dao, Mentor

Twitter | Website | Wattpad | Instagram | Facebook

Julie is a middle grade and young adult writer represented by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency. She’s wanted to be published since she was a little girl. She writes for young readers because she remembers how important stories were to her childhood, and how they taught her to live life with hope and adventure!

For more of her favorite inspiring quotes for writers, check out her Pinterest board!

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