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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Alex Samuely and mentor, Jennieke Cohen

Friday, 18 December 2020  |  Posted by Angel Zhang


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 10, 2021, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2020 Pitch Wars Mentor and Mentee Teams.

Next up, we have . . .

Alex Samuely

Alex Samuely – Mentee


Jennieke Cohen

Jennieke Cohen – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Jennieke, why did you choose Alex?

I was so excited when I read the premise of Alex’s manuscript, THESE HOLLOW FATES. A Sleepy Hollow retelling set in modern-day Sleepy Hollow was enough to get my hopes up, but her query also had such a strong voice, and her first chapter ended with a great cliffhanger. Then, when I started reading the manuscript, I fell in love with her characters (especially her main character’s love interest, Percy!) and found I couldn’t put the story down! I stayed up way too late into the night reading because I simply had to get to the end. Frankly, Alex’s wild and spooky ride through Sleepy Hollow had so many elements I love to see in YA—fun literature retellings, mysterious circumstances, action, romance, and so much heart!

A Sleepy Hollow retelling? Fantastic! OK, Alex, why did you choose to submit to Jennieke?

Jennieke’s writing credentials are very impressive, and her mentoring style (providing honest and constructive feedback while championing the best parts of the manuscript) appealed to me. She noted she wanted a mentee who takes writing seriously, and I’m serious about improving my craft and doing this story justice! I also thought Jennieke’s experience as a YA historical fiction author would be a great fit. My novel is a modern-day reimagining of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and she’s already helped me weave more historical threads throughout my manuscript. Finally, her wishlist mentioned literature-related retellings, settings that feel like characters, and sensitive, well-spoken guys, and I was sold!

It’s wonderful that you’re such a good match for each other. So, Jennieke, summarize Alex’s book in 3 words.

Mysterious, spooktacular fun!

What fun! And, Alex, summarize your book in 3 words.

Autumnal spooky retelling.

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

Fall isn’t my favorite season—I’m always disappointed when summer wanes—but Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. (Probably because it gives me an excuse to indulge my love of marshmallows and mulled cider. ;)) For me, THESE HOLLOW FATES really evoked those Halloween and hot apple cider vibes and made me want to curl under a blanket next to a roaring fire, put my nostalgia for the long days of summer to one side, and get lost in a great story.

I love a book that evokes the feeling of a season. OK, Alex, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

I want to make this story shine as much as possible! I’m eager to learn from Jennieke’s expertise, particularly as it relates to pacing and characterization. Additionally, I’m grateful for the opportunity to broaden my network of fellow writers. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the other mentees, who have been so supportive and lovely.

Those sound like great goals! And, Alex, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?

I’m obsessed with all things fall and Halloween. When I was seven, I dressed up as a pencil, which feels oddly prophetic. I’m also someone who finds inspiration in settings, so when I first visited Sleepy Hollow, NY, a few autumns ago, I instantly knew I wanted to write a modern-day reimagining that would pay homage to the town and the original legend. I’m local to the area, so I’ve been able to visit most of the locations mentioned in my manuscript (except the haunted house, because I wouldn’t last five minutes in it).

I did once get lost in the Sleepy Hollow cemetery at dusk, however. I wouldn’t recommend repeating that experience, but it did inspire one of my favorite scenes!

Love it! Welcome to the PW family! Thank you both for taking the time to answer our questions and let us all get to know you!

Check out Jennieke upcoming release, MY FINE FELLOW, forthcoming from HarperTeen in 2022. You can add it on Goodreads here.

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 10-15, 2021. Make sure to stop by then and check out all our mentees’ entries when it opens. 


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