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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Abigail Barenblitt and mentor, Jake Nicholls

Wednesday, 5 January 2022  |  Posted by Rochelle Karina

Our mentors are mentoring, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase starting on February 9, 2021, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2021 Pitch Wars Mentor and Mentee Teams.

Next up, we have . . .

Abigail Barenblitt – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Jake Nicholls – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Jake, why did you choose Abigail?

Abigail’s manuscript really captured my attention because of how character-centred it is. The main character’s emotional journey forms such a strong core of the story, and her relationships with the rest of the small cast (including some awesome magical creatures) are dynamic and engaging. I adore the setting, too: it takes place in a lush and atmospheric forest that got all my senses tingling. It’s been lovely to be immersed in that over the winter months!

Abigail, why did you choose to submit to Jake?

When I was researching mentors, I really loved Jake’s website and the way they described their approach to editing. I could tell that working with them would feel like a team effort. We also had a lot of shared interests in fantasy authors, like Tamora Pierce, who have influenced a lot of my writing. I felt like having a common ground in terms of reading interests would go a long way towards starting on the same page with revisions. I was also really excited to see the way they talked about LGBTQ+ representation on their site. I include LGBTQ+ representation in all of my writing and it’s vital to see more of it in media. With all of those factors combined I was incredibly excited about the prospect of working with them.

Jake, summarize Abigail’s book in 3 words.

Connection, nature, healing

Abigail, summarize your book in 3 words.

Witches burning everything

Jake, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I’m generally not a huge fan of Christmas movies, so I have a personal policy that any film starring Alan Rickman counts as a festive film.

Abigail, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

A lot of what Jake has helped me with in my manuscript already is building and maintaining tension. I tend to start with manuscripts that are “no plot, just vibes”, and then the plot comes second. The ability to work on a manuscript and understand what elements help keep a reader on the edge of their seat beyond decent writing is something I’m excited to apply not only to my Pitch Wars manuscript, but others I have in the works. I’m also excited to work on my pitch with Jake because I feel much more comfortable with longform descriptions of my manuscript. Learning how to condense a 400 page novel into something pitchable is something I’m looking forward to getting better at.

Abigail, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?

For better or for worse, I’m someone who has no chill. Outside of writing, I work at NASA studying deforestation and I am in the first year of a PhD program in Geographic Information Systems. I’m also a massive nerd, working at the Renaissance Festival in autumn, and playing Dungeons and Dragons on a weekly basis.

This manuscript has been heavily influenced by hours and hours of field work spent wandering around the forests of northern Pennsylvania. When I found myself away from the woods, I couldn’t get them out of my head. I’ve always loved the idea that magic is hiding in the woods, just out of reach, even as urbanization continues to transform our world. I wanted to follow a community of witches, isolated from “society” and one witch in particular whose dark past has so distorted her magic, she doesn’t know how to move on. I love exploring the ways in which emotional journeys affect power, connection, and magic. I also wanted to explore themes of isolation and diaspora, how we crave community, and to demonstrate a character trying to connect to their people again without really knowing where to begin.

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 9-14, 2022. Make sure to stop by then and check out all our mentees’ entries when it opens. 


Filed: Interviews

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