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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Michelle Iannantuono and her mentor, Michelle Hazen

Thursday, 1 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 . . .

Michelle Iannantuono pic

Michelle Iannantuono – Mentee

Twitter | Website


Michelle Hazen – Mentor

Twitter | Website

Mentee Michelle: Why did you choose Mentor Michelle?

Michelle and I both come from fandom, so I think we value similar things in a story. We want characters to idolize, romances to root for, gut punches to the feels, and interesting world building that can unite an audience. Additionally, the editorial notes in her bio were on point with what I needed help with. While I want there to be epic feels, it’s a hurdle for me to get there in the narrative. She also touted being excellent at editing fight scenes, and there are a LOT of them in my book.

I think relationship arcs are often more interesting than individual character arcs, and coming from years of writing fanfiction, relationships are always the emotional core of anything I write. It was a bit of a wild card to pick a romance writer like Michelle when my book doesn’t have much romance, but I felt she could appreciate the relationships of all stripes – marital, sibling, friendship, father/son, etc – that are really important to Paradisa, and she would strengthen them across the board. Essentially, Michelle’s interests were a direct crossover of action + relationships and that was the perfect match.

Mentor Michelle: Why did you choose Mentee Michelle’s manuscript?

It’s a book about a gay Navy SEAL. Next question.
No, really, though, I was looking for something with a grabby start. Paradisa had all the main characters in the hospital by the end of the first chapter, and it just got better from there. Every time I tried to stop reading long enough to feed myself, somebody would get clobbered with a fire sword.
Plus, there are Gods from every faith in this book. They’re so real that when they sneeze, you get wet. My mentee writes them with such heartbreaking flaws that it forces you to remember in most traditions, the Gods were an intensified metaphor for what it means to be human: both the exquisite and the ugly.

Mentee Michelle: Summarize your book in three words.

Soulbound to Gods.

Mentor Michelle: Summarize your mentee’s book in three words.

Bromance and Axes.

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

I’m a 90’s kid, and a filmmaker. You see a lot of narratives like Stranger Things, Super 8, Ready Player One that capture the feel of the 80’s. Well, I’m all about the feel of the 90’s. I was influenced by Power Rangers, Independence Day, Xena-Warrior Princess, Jurassic Park, Demolition Man, The Fifth Element – all the awesome action and speculative fiction we had back then. The 90s were the decade of ensemble-based movies too, and I love that. I rarely write about one person on a mission – I like group dynamics. It goes back to that appreciation of relationships!

Non-esoterically, I live in Charleston and I’m a dye chemist by profession. I also started a videography business and hope to transition to that full time. I’ve been writing pretty much my entire life.

I think Paradisa is unique because if it were already done, I wouldn’t have bothered writing it 😉 You’ve got American Gods, Supernatural, Iron Druid and a few other universes that mix mythologies out there, but none of them scratched the itch for me. I didn’t want my protagonist to actually be a god – I’m too much of a Joseph Campbell geek and I love The Everyman Journey. I also didn’t want the gods to be a parody of themselves, or to be really astral and in the background. The most unique thing about Paradisa is that gods and men are on the same level, and it’s the bond between them which makes both sides stronger.

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

I’m a nomad, an author, an editor and a wildlife biologist. Cubicles are not my habitat. On my thirtieth birthday, I rode horseback stunts for a western movie.


Check out Michelle Hazen’s latest trilogy …

In Time We Trust Trilogy


Life is different for a vampire. Their uncounted days troop along until every novelty loses its flavor and the many cruelties of the world weigh ugly and deep on their memories. But sometimes, just when they think life has nothing more to teach them, they realize they have only seen the beginning of the design of their fate. And given time, beauty emerges from even the ugliest of circumstances. In Time We Trust is a re-imagining of Season 5 without the tragic events of the finale: a fairy tale romance with the gritty edge of reality, spiced with sharp notes of humor amidst an adventure of screaming suspense.

ITWT Cover-1 KW logoITWT Cover-3 KW logoITWT Cover-2 KW logo

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! And remember, there’s a #PitMad Twitter pitch party on September 8th.

One Comment
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