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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Aroa Gabaldon and mentor, Amelia Diane Coombs

Monday, 13 December 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 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 . . .

Aroa Gabaldon – Mentee



Amelia Diane Coombs – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Amelia, why did you choose Aroa?

This year, I had so many great manuscripts in my submission inbox! Choosing just one mentee was stressful, but I kept returning to Aroa’s submission package and requested the partial. I blasted through the sample (think I read it in one sitting!) and I quickly requested the full. All of this was happening right as I was leaving town to elope, though, and I actually brought the full with me on my elopement/honeymoon so I could keep reading! While I read the full, I fell even more in love with the characters Aroa created. Lana, the main character, is so relatable, sweet, and hilarious–you can’t help but root for her on her journey. And the chemistry between Lana and her rival, Nicholas, is *chef’s kiss*. It also has some amazing disability rep, and I can’t wait to see what Aroa does with her revisions!

Aroa, why did you choose to submit to Amelia?

If I say vibes, does that count? I’m kidding (for the most part). I spent days reading Wishlists and struggling to find The One (or The Four), but Amelia’s caught my eye immediately. I remember she mentioned Animal Crossing, which has nothing to do with my book but is a game I love, and then I kept reading and thinking she was asking for things I did have in my manuscript: banter, a rivals-to-lovers dynamic, inclusive and diverse characters… Amelia made it clear she was looking for disabled stories and authors as well, and that was very important for me as the writer of a book where the main character is recently disabled. She also name and gif-dropped Ted Lasso, so… You want a mentor that can help your book but also someone will enjoy and feel comfortable talking to. I had a feeling Amelia was that person for me. And she was! So, vibes helped. Sometimes your gut will tell you things your brain can’t see under all that stress and fear.

I feel really fortunate that Amelia loved my book enough to bear with me for the next three months.

Amelia, summarize Aroa’s book in 3 words.

Heartfelt, voice-y, important!

Aroa, summarize your book in 3 words.

Fun, sweet, honest!

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

Oof I feel like I share too much online because I’m drawing a blank here! But one fun (very random) thing about myself is that I have the same middle name as my two older sisters, and I grew up thinking that all siblings shared middle names! Thanks, parents.

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

There are geniuses I admire with all my heart out there who don’t need to learn anything to pursue their hobbies, but I’m not one of them, and I knew I needed guidance in my writing (which is not a bad thing to admit. Pitch Wars is here for a reason). I know for sure that once this mind-blowing period of my life ends, I’ll know a lot more about writing than when I started, and that makes it worth it. Besides, it can get lonely, and the community this opportunity provides is priceless. I love my fellow mentees already.

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

I really don’t like to talk about myself! But I’m a senior in college and I’m currently doing my degree’s final dissertation on Jane Eyre and Twilight, which is really fun. You’d be surprised to know how much a vampire and a dude from the 19th century have in common.

As for uniqueness… I almost died when I was 12 from a misdiagnosis. That’s a great icebreaker, huh? Misdiagnoses, chronic pain and severe vision loss is something a lot of people suffer from, but the disabled experience is extremely diverse, and not one case is similar. My experience is mine, yet a lot of people can relate to different aspects of it, which is amazing. While writing this YA Romcom I hoped for people to see themselves reflected on my words and for them to say, “Wait, this is important!”. When Amelia chose me, I finally felt like that could actually happen.

Check out Amelia’s upcoming book releasing June 7, 2022, EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE …

Turtles All the Way Down meets Love and Luck in this romantic road trip story about a teen girl’s last chance to have an epic summer with her best friend before everything changes.

Florie’s OCD and her mother’s worrying have kept her from a lot of things, like having an after-school job and getting her driver’s license. And now that she’s graduated high school, while her best friend Kacey is headed off to Portland in the fall, Florie’s taking a parent-sanctioned gap year off before starting college. When the decision was made, Florie was on board, but now she can’t ignore the growing itch to become the person she wants to be and venture outside the quaint, boring Washington town she grew up in.

Winning tickets to see her favorite true crime podcast’s live show in California gives her the opportunity to do just that, if only for a few days. So—unbeknownst to their parents—Kacey and Florie set off on a road trip to San Francisco. The only downside in Florie’s opinion? Sam, Kacey’s older brother and Florie’s forever crush, is their ride. The Samson Hodge, who Florie hasn’t seen since winter break, and who she’d prefer to never see again, if possible. But Florie is willing to put up with Sam if it means one last adventure with her best friend.

Making it to San Francisco and back to Washington without their parents catching on isn’t a given, but one thing is for sure: this trip will change everything.

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. 


One Comment
We're thrilled at the different ways those in our Pitch Wars community are giving back—and we encourage them to do so. However, please keep in mind that Pitch Wars is not affiliated with any of these various contests, promotions, etc., including those of our mentors and mentees. Promoting any such opportunities via our social media channels doesn't imply endorsement or affiliation. We encourage you to do your research before participating.

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