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 . . .
Brandon Arthur – Mentee
Brianna Bourne – Mentor
Brianna, why did you choose Brandon?
Brandon’s submission grabbed my attention right away, not only because of the sparkly, high-energy concept (he describes it as a YA cross between Red, White, and Royal Blue and NBC’s Smash!), but also because Brandon is a former stage manager like me! It’s not a career combo you find often, so I was crossing my fingers that I would love the sample pages. Luckily, Brandon BEYOND delivered!
I fell head over heels for his adorable protagonist, Kenny, as he navigated the glitter of New York City and the dazzling stage lights of Broadway. And when Kenny’s love interest, world-famous pop star and total dreamboat Hugo Fuente, walks onto the stage… let’s just say I was a total goner for this story!
Brandon writes with exhilarating energy and joyful warmth – I stayed up until 3am to finish a one-sitting read of the manuscript! There were many incredible submissions this year, but I couldn’t stop thinking about all the fizzy feels packed into FADE UP ON A STAR.
Brandon, why did you choose to submit to Brianna?
As soon as I read Bri’s PitchWars wishlist, my hopes got way too high way too fast. She’s a former stage manager with contemporary romance at the top of her wishlist – and, according to my submission spreadsheet, I believe she even specifically mentioned wanting ‘musical’ elements and ‘a peek behind the curtain.’ Since I was submitting a romcom about a Broadway hopeful and a pop star, I hoped that we would at least connect on subject matter. And, once I read her debut novel, You & Me at the End of the World (which is breathtaking, and a masterful example of balancing pacing/efficiency with maximum swoon!), I was beyond thrilled at the prospect of diving into this work with her.
Brianna, summarize Brandon’s book in 3 words.
Swoon-worthy, effervescent escapism!
Brandon, summarize your book in 3 words.
Spotlight. Heartbeat. Blackout.
Brianna, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.
In honor of FADE UP ON A STAR, I’m going to make this showbiz themed!
– Of all the shows I’ve worked on, my favorite was Northern Ballet’s production of Cleopatra
– When I listen to Les Miz in my car, I call fake lighting cues (standby…. GO!)
– My favorite musical is Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and my favorite Broadway performer of all time is the incomparable Julie Andrews
Brandon, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?
I came to PitchWars at a point where I could barely look at my manuscript any more. I knew it needed fresh eyes because mine were essentially glazing over as I re-(re-re-re-)read it. So, first and foremost, I was desperate for some formal revision guidance and a real accountability partner.
Also, since I’m an on-again-off-again social media ghost, I wasn’t fully aware of the sense of community that would come with PitchWars – Twitter friends, FB groups, Discord channels, oh my! It’s already felt so welcoming and wonderful, and I’m looking forward to watching these impressive folks continue to find success with their (exciting & original & rather intimidating) manuscripts.
Brandon, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?
I’ve been writing YA since college, but this book was the first one where I really, truly made it to ‘the end.’ Even if this manuscript never makes it beyond the Google Drive-sphere, it will always be the beloved book-of-my-heart – the book I would hand to my teenage self, who adored pop & theatre in equal parts (okay, yes, that’s essentially a line from my query letter).
In 2020, my heart was breaking for the friends I had who still worked in theatre in New York, and who were facing so much uncertainty. I was thousands of miles away at the time, had nothing but free time and my thoughts, and I needed to escape to a fictional world where Broadway was alive and thriving. So I wrote one! I texted my friend “what if a YA book took the high stakes romance of Red, White & Royal Blue, and put it against the backstage melodrama of NBC’s Smash,” and then sprinted through an outline, and then a draft.
The bottom line: this book should feel like you’re on a brisk walk through Times Square, meandering through the Theatre District, when someone suddenly leaps out from behind a stage door, pulls you inside, and shoves you into the bright lights of center stage before you can catch your breath – but you open your mouth and start singing anyway.
Check out Brianna’s latest release, YOU & ME AT THE END OF THE WORLD …
Hannah Ashton wakes up to silence.
The entire city around her is empty, except for one other person: Leo Sterling. Leo might be hottest boy ever (and not just because he’s the only one left), but he’s also too charming, too selfish, and too devastating for his own good, let alone Hannah’s.
Stuck with only each other, they explore a world with no parents, no friends, and no school and realize that they can be themselves instead of playing the parts everyone expects of them. Hannah doesn’t have to be just an overachieving, music-box-perfect ballerina, and Leo can be more than a slacker, 80s-glam-metal-obsessed guitarist. Leo is a burst of honesty and fun that draws Hannah out, and Hannah’s got Leo thinking about someone other than himself for the first time.
Together, they search for answers amid crushing isolation, but while their empty world may appear harmless . . . it’s not. Because nothing is quite as it seems, and if Hannah and Leo don’t figure out what’s going on, they might just be torn apart forever.
Praise for You & Me at the End of the World
“An altogether lovely book about human connection and taking second chances–even when they might come on the heels of an apocalypse. A stellar debut.” – Emily Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read and People You Meet On Vacation
“A nuanced exploration of loneliness and isolation, You & Me at the End of the World is about making connections with other humans and how extreme circumstances can connect us in extraordinary ways.” – Marisa Reichardt, author of A Shot at Normal
“Romance fans will thrill to the slow smolder of [Hannah and Leo’s] drawn-out attraction, which twists and turns its way through psychological drama.” – Kirkus Reviews
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.