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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Ava Wing (writing as Valo Wing) and mentors, Keena Roberts and Molly Steen

Friday, 10 December 2021  |  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 . . .

Ava Wing – Mentee



Keena Roberts – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Molly Steen – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Keena & Molly, why did you choose Ava?

Keena: Ava’s talent as a writer was obvious, even from the first few pages. They were able to infuse each character with such conflict and emotional depth that I couldn’t help but keep reading and reading and…READING. The concept was creative and rich, the storyline well-plotted and twisty, and I was completely and utterly pulled in. I’m so honored to get to work with them on this book. It’s already an exceptional story and hooooooooo boy you are NOT ready to read it in its next version. This book will knock you over and you’ll be begging for more.

Molly: The strength of Ava’s writing was astonishing from the jump. The characters were interesting—alive, in the best way—and there were dynamics that grabbed us right from the start. An intriguing premise? Check. Queer and diverse characters? Check aaaaand check. Bad bitches who we’d probably be chill letting step on us? Oh, yes. The fact that we connected with this manuscript so strongly, and then had the joy of finding ourselves working with an author unafraid of hard work, homework, and spreadsheets? An absolute pleasure!

Ava, why did you choose to submit to Keena & Molly?

Keena and Molly immediately went to the top of my list as mentors when I saw that their hashtag was the entire vibe of my manuscript (#teamsapphicswordplay)!!! Upon looking deeper, I was excited to note their methods for attacking revisions and aspects of strengthening storytelling were exactly what I was looking for. They both seemed so friendly and encouraging, and I got the sense my work would be in safe, caring hands. The fact that their list of favorite books also happens to be mine sealed the deal—I couldn’t submit fast enough!

Keena & Molly, summarize Ava’s book in 3 words.

Keena: Step. On. Me.

Molly: Tuxedo-tails; ocular astonishment.

Ava, summarize your book in 3 words.

Sapphics, swords, music.

Keena & Molly, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Keena: I really enjoy cooking, and do a lot of it. My family and I moved to the mountains in New York state right before the pandemic and while we love where we live, we really miss the restaurants back in the city, especially Indian and Japanese restaurants. I’m not very good at cooking either type of cuisine, but I’m trying to learn!

Molly: My wife (Bridget) and I met through fanfiction! We met when I was in San Francisco and she was in Philly, which means we have rarely, if ever, done things the EASY way—starting your relationship almost 3000 miles apart and then traipsing all over the country with one another generally means that we aren’t averse to challenges, and we have fun together, always! Our current *heart eyes* fanfic ships are Deborah/Ava (Hacks) and Mirandy (Devil Wears Prada; a timeless classic). We’ve lived in North Carolina, North Dakota, and Oklahoma, and only time will tell where we head off to next.

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

Since I do not have formal training in writing, I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to get one-on-one mentorship from two exceptional authors and learn as much as possible from them about craft. I am also very excited about the writing community Pitch Wars offers that I never would have had access to otherwise and look forward to making friendships I hope will last a lifetime!

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

I am a professional opera singer and music teacher with a massive obsession for all things sword and fantasy. While I hold a deep love for the music I spent a lifetime studying, I very much wanted this story to touch upon (from an insider’s perspective) some of the more toxic aspects of the industry I feel rarely get discussed while also tackling the terrible myth that is consistently reinforced where one must sacrifice everything for their art if they wish to succeed. It was also incredibly important for me to write a story that I wish I had when I was younger, featuring all the feminist, queer representation the fantasy books I loved so much growing up never included. On top of that, I wanted to write a book where it’s still possible to find magical worlds even once you’re an adult. Music and fantasy and women with swords? It’s just something I can always use more of in my life!

Check out the latest news from Keena and Molly …

Keena: I have a short story coming out in the SFF anthology DON’T TOUCH THAT, which is all stories about parents and kids in SFF. Keep an eye out for that in 2022! I’m also about to finish a book that’s taken me about 2 years to draft, so I’m pretty excited about that 🙂
Molly: Check my site for my self-publishing adventures and sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date on upcoming announcements!

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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