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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Emma Nelson and her mentor, Jennie Nash

Thursday, 15 September 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 . . .


Emma Nelson – Mentee

Twitter | Website


Jennie Nash – Mentor

Twitter | Website

Emma: Why did you choose Jennie?

As I studied the mentor bios, I kept coming back to Jennie Nash because she seemed like an amazingly accomplished drill sergeant. She obviously knew how to write. She knew how to break down the structure of books. And she seemed to know how to push an author to make their MS the best it could be. The only problem was, she mostly wanted memoirs and historical fiction. Logically, picking Jennie was a bad idea for me. She specifically said she wasn’t drawn to genre fiction, and my MS was a strange amalgamation of witches, ghosts, and time loops. But I loved the idea of her, and I hoped the historical elements of my novel would catch her attention. So after going back and forth half-a-dozen times, I hurried and put her in as my choice and clicked submit before I could change my mind.

Jennie: Why did you choose Emma’s manuscript?

I did NOT want genre fiction. I did not want ghosts. I did not want witches. I did not want fantasy. But I kept going back to Emma’s story again and again — drawn to it because of the powerful, assured voice; the ambitious structure (real history, fantasy history, time travel, witches, ghosts); and because it was saying something important about women and memory and the power of owning your own narrative but at the same time was so darn FUN. And there was something else — hard to put my finger on — but it was SO present. Some aliveness. Some deep story promise. I felt like I was in the hands of a true storyteller. In the end, it screamed to me and I couldn’t turn away. I guess that just goes to show that sometimes a reader has no idea what she really wants, other than to be delighted!

Emma: Summarize your book in three words.

Witchy. Suspenseful. Empowering.

Jennie: Summarize Emma’s book in three words.

History repeats itself

Emma: Tell us about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique?

As I worked toward an MA in literature, I was increasingly drawn to the narratives of the different voices I studied–women, slaves, Native Americans, storytellers–and found myself, at the end, with a degree in culture and folklore. I am drawn to legends and stories of real people, and I guess that’s what makes my MS unique. I wanted to write about Salem. It’s not a unique topic–witch books in Salem have been done a million times–but I think my love of history and digging into the root of cultural and individual stories allowed me to create a world where the magic isn’t just escapist. It’s a lens through which my characters have something interesting to communicate. The legends of Salem become a backdrop for contemporary issues that still matter. And let’s be honest, witches and ghosts are just plain fun to read about.

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

I have so far held out on not purchasing an e-reader of any kind. I lugged a hardback copy of The Goldfinch (which weighs about 5 pounds) all the way to Korea on one recent trip. My carry-on bag is always overloaded with actual books, which I mostly don’t end up reading. I just can’t give up dog-earring pages. I love the way words look on the page — how they never change positions — and how you can tell how far along you are in a book based on how many pages you have turned. But most of all, I love putting the books I have loved on a bookshelf, where I can watch them and, it seems, they can watch me.


Check out Jennie Nash’s latest release . . .

The Writer's Guide to Agony and Defeat: The 43 Worst Moments in the Writing Life and How to Get Over Them by [Nash, Jennie]

The Writer’s Guide to Agony and Defeat: The 43 Worst Moments in the Writing Life and How to Get Over Them

The possibilities for agony and defeat lurk everywhere for a writer — at the start of the process when a book idea is forming in your mind and doubt is pounding on the door; in the middle of the process when you begin to show your words to the world and fear gnaws at you like a disease; and at the end of the process when you hope your work will find an adoring audience and must come face to face with how much greed and envy have taken up residence in your heart. It can be a brutal business. In The Writer’s Guide to Agony and Defeat, book coach and author Jennie Nash takes you inside 43 of the worst moments in the writing life. The enlightenment gurus say that you should “feel what you feel” and this book is designed to help you feel the gut-wrenching misery of the writing life – and then get over it.


You can also find Jennie at Authoraccelerator.com



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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