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Pitch Wars Interview with Kristen Valentine and her mentor Kellye Garrett

Friday, 18 September 2015  |  Posted by Nikki Roberti

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Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews

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

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Kristen Valentine and Kellye Garrett

Team: TopShelf

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 11.22.11 PMKellye Garrett (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself.           

I can’t even tell you the last time I’ve even glanced at a book that wasn’t a mystery. I’ve been reading them since I was little, jumping straight from Nancy Drew to Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series (B is for Burglar is textbook mystery writing). I love all types of mysteries, but for some reason I must start with first book in the series and must, must, must read the books in order. The more sarcastic the MC, the better. My own writing tends to be very conversational, which works well for writing a book, but not so much for, say, writing an email to your boss. (I’ve started a work email with “Hey!” more times than I care to admit. I also need to be permanently banned from adding smiley faces.)

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 11.23.27 PMKristen Valentine (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.    

From the moment I read a book called Sam the Cat Detective when I was eight years old, I knew mystery stories were going to be my passion–as a reader and a writer. I enjoy mysteries with tough female characters, clever PIs, or gritty settings, like Theresa Schwegel, Linda Barnes, Sue Grafton, Richard Price, and Robert B. Parker. If I’m not in a mystery mood, I also love the clipped but moving prose of fiction writers like Tom Drury, Joy Williams, and Joan Didion. I’m a graphic designer by day and also the founding editor of Betty Fedora (http://bettyfedora.com/), a mag dedicated to short crime fiction featuring kick-ass women.

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

I was Sarah Henning’s mentee last year, It was such an enjoyable experience, especially meeting people like Sarah and the other 2014 mentees, that getting my agent through it almost felt like an added bonus. So mentoring this year was a no-brainer, even though I still feel like a mentee sometimes–the kid who snuck a seat at the grown-up table. Luckily, Sarah still lets me bug her with questions. I jokingly call her my Mentor Mentor..

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

After stalking #mswl, #pitmad, and other Twitter-related writing programs, I discovered Pitch Wars last year–but it was too late to enter. I decided to go for it this year because the timing was right, and also because the more I read about it, the more it seemed like a fantastic opportunity to get feedback, meet other writers, and generally be a part of a community of people who just love words. I’m still blown away by the amount of time everyone generously puts into running this show.

Kellye, what are you most excited for?

Spending more time with Kristen and her main character, Roxane. Last Call instantly reminded me of everything I love most about my favorite private detective novels: interesting case; kick-ass narrator; intriguing villain. After finishing the first chapter, I immediately thought, “This reminds me of Kinsey Millhone if she liked alcohol as much as she liked Big Macs.” Since I was the only adult mystery mentee in 2014, I’m also really happy we have so many mysteries this year! It’s a really talented group covering so many cool sub-genres.

Kristen, what are you most excited for?

I’m super excited to see how all of Kellye’s awesome suggestions turn out. But I also can’t wait to read some of the novels the other mentees have written!

Kristen, describe your novel in 3 words.

Whiskey, secrets, blood. 

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

W is for Whiskey. (W is technically a letter, right?)


Check Us Out…

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Kristen Valentine, Team Mentee

Twitter | Website

I’m a graphic designer by day and a mystery novelist by night. My writing has been selected by Akashic Books’ Thursdaze, Grift Magazine, The Bitch Collective, and The Atticus Review, and I’m the editor of Betty Fedora, a mag devoted to crime fiction featuring kickass women. I like whiskey, hotels, vintage cameras, and Oxford commas. 


Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 11.22.11 PM

Kellye Garrett, Team Mentor        

Twitter | Facebook | Website | Blog

Kellye Garrett’s 15 years of professional writing experience runs the gamut from working on the CBS drama Cold Caseto writing reports for a P.I. firm. A former editor for Vibe magazine, she holds a B.S. in magazine writing from Florida A&M University and an M.F.A. in screenwriting from the University of Southern California’s famed School of Cinematic Arts. She currently lives in her native New Jersey, where she commutes to Manhattan every day for her job as a communications writer at a leading media company. Pay Day is her first novel.

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