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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Alexis Larkin and mentor, Rebecca Petruck

Monday, 18 January 2021  |  Posted by Brenda Drake


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 . . .

Alexis Larkin – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Rebecca Petruck – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Rebecca, why did you choose Alexis?

Alexis’s manuscript made me snort laugh AND get riled up about period equality. That’s quite a feat on its own, but add in the main characters Helen and Gracie, who are exuberant, kind, prickly, and so smart—I fell hard. Alexis clearly had a sharp wit and passion tempered with humor, and I wanted to know her as much as her MCs. MARZIPAN & MAXIPADS encourages girls to be ALL of who they are, regardless of social norms that like to put them in boxes. I think that’s exactly the kind of book girls AND boys need these days, and I’m excited and grateful to have any part in helping it come into the world.

That does sound fun! It certainly is a much needed book. One I could have used back when I was a girl trying to figure that all out. And Alexis, why did you choose to submit to Rebecca?

I submitted to Rebecca because she writes funny books with tons of heart—the types of books I love to read and write! She is incredibly generous in sharing her craft wisdom on social media, in blog posts, and through writing organizations. I knew she had lots of experience working with mentees to rewrite and refine their manuscripts, and I hoped she could help me do the same for my characters.

Rebecca is so generous and talented. I’m happy you matched up. So Rebecca, can you summarize Alexis’s book in 3 words?

Fun. Friendship. Feminism.

Alexis, summarize your book in 3 words.

Periods. Resistance. Friendship.

Definitely some strong words that hook my interest! Now Rebecca, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I’d rather share about Girls, Inc. From their web site: “In partnership with schools and at Girls Inc. centers, we focus on the development of the whole girl. She learns to value herself, take risks, and discover and develop her inherent strengths. The combination of long-lasting mentoring relationships, a pro-girl environment, and evidence-based programming equips girls to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers, and grow up healthy, educated, and independent. Informed by girls and their families, we also advocate for legislation and policies to increase opportunities and rights for all girls.” To make a donation, visit: https://girlsinc.org/

That is a great program. Thank you for sharing it! Now back to Alexis. What do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

I’m most excited to work with Rebecca on storytelling craft. Helen and Gracie, the 8th grade best friends at the center of MARZIPAN & MAXIPADS, are so real to me that I would not be surprised to meet them on the street one day. But as I worked through revisions on the book, I sometimes felt like they were characters in search of a story. Rebecca pushed me to ask hard questions about the world the girls live in and the challenges they face, which led me in exciting new directions for story and plot development. I feel like the Pitch Wars work I’ve done with Rebecca over the last month would have taken a year on my own. I am so excited to finish my revisions and make this book shine for readers.

Pitch Wars definitely is tough at times, and I’m happy you’re getting a lot out of it. And Alexis, can you tell us about yourself? What makes you and your manuscript unique?

I’m a Jersey girl by marriage and momming, and I write with an amazing critique group called the KidLit TaleSpinners who I met through our state SCBWI chapter. I love to laugh and gasp and yell when I read. That was my goal in writing MARZIPAN & MAXIPADS. To help kids escape into a world of wild fun for an afternoon or two with fierce girls leading the way. The book centers on Helen and Gracie, best friends who dabble in light anarchy to survive the boredom of middle school. Their lives are upended after a stinky prank goes horribly wrong, and they’re sentenced to care about something. Helen and Gracie join a project to get tampons and maxipads in all school bathrooms and quickly learn that change can’t always be achieved either by playing by the rules or completely ignoring them. It has been thrilling to journey with these characters as they break down their self-centered blinders to see how they can make a real difference in achieving period equity. I hope readers will have a lot of fun, crochet a uterus, and bake some maxipad cupcakes while reading this book. And if they end up going to a school board meeting to use their unique voice to fight for something they care about, that will be a great bonus!

Crochet a uterus? Bake maxipad cupcakes? Sounds like fun. I’m sold! Thank you Rebecca and Alexis for the interview!

Check out Rebecca’s latest release, BOY BITES BUG …

Boy Bites Bug book cover
Will didn’t plan to eat a stink bug. But when his friend Darryl called new kid Eloy Herrera a racial slur, Will did it as a diversion. Now Will is Bug Boy, and everyone is cracking up inventing insect meals for him like French flies, bee-ritos, and maggot-aroni and fleas.

Turns out eating bugs for food is a real thing, called entomophagy. Deciding that means he can use a class project to feed everyone grasshoppers, Will bargains for Eloy’s help in exchange for helping him with wrestling, but their growing friendship only ticks off Darryl more.

Will may have bitten off more than he can chew as crickets, earthworm jerky—even a scorpion—end up on his plate, but insects are the least of his problems. When things with Darryl and Eloy heat up, Will wrestles with questions of loyalty, honor—and that maybe not all friendships are worth fighting for.

Praise for BOY BITES BUG:

STARRED Review from Booklist! “…a tale that is funny, perceptive, and timely in more ways than one.”

Kirkus Reviews says, “…successfully weaves together such important themes as bias, solidarity, and coming to recognize one’s own privilege and prejudice, delivering them in a plot that is so very middle school (bugs! sports!)… An admirable feat that entertains even as it instructs.”

School Library Journal says, “…the straightforward and uncluttered style will please lovers of the ‘Wimpy Kid’ series. VERDICT A sure bet for reluctant readers.”

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.


Filed: Interviews

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