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 . . .
Catherine Cook – Mentee
Rajani LaRocca – Mentor
Remy Lai – Mentor
Rajani and Remy, why did you choose Catherine?
Rajani: Catherine is such an incredible writer, with a strong voice and prose that kept me turning pages. I loved the nods to Lord of the Rings in this story, which has plenty of humor and heart. Remy and I thought we could help her make it even better, so we were so excited to choose Catherine as our mentee.
Remy: Catherine’s story is not only fun, it also has a lot of heart. And she writes with a great middle grade voice.
Lord of the Rings? Sounds great! And Catherine, why did you choose to submit to Rajani and Remy?
Come on, Rajani & Remy? It’s music to the ears! Not to mention they’re both fantastic writers and I loved their debut books, which also came out of Pitch Wars. They emphasized that they were looking for stories with humor and heart. Those are my favorite kind of middle grade books and mine has both. Rajani’s debut book also brought a classic literary work into a present-day story so I felt like it was good common ground. Finally, they were at the top of my list after reading their team page because they have this great energy and enthusiasm (which has continued through the entire process), and I got the sense they sincerely want to help and support other writers and were in it for the long-haul. I feel so lucky and grateful to have them in my corner.
Okay, I agree. They are music to the ears!! So Rajani and Remy, can you summarize Catherine’s book in 3 words?
Remy: Adventure, Family, Friendship
Rajani: Family, Adventure, Imagination
Catherine, summarize your book in 3 words.
Relationships. Imagination. Choice.
Rajani and Remy, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.
Rajani: Ice cream is my second favorite dessert.
Remy: I’m a spokesman for electric kettles. Not officially.
Um, ice cream is second? It’s first for me! Now Catherine, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?
A stronger manuscript, for sure, and also feedback and skilled guidance from other professionals. What I didn’t expect was how tremendously empowering it is to have someone—no strings attached—really believe in you and your work. That initial confidence and then continued support from a mentor really gives you the momentum to push forward into better versions of your manuscript and yourself as a writer. Momentum is my magic word for Pitch Wars.
I love that magic word for Pitch Wars! Catherine, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?
I didn’t know I wanted to write stories until I taught a children’s theater class one summer during college. I was supposed to direct a short play for the kids to perform and couldn’t find anything that worked, so I wrote my own instead. That’s when I found my creative sweet spot. I was hooked. Coincidentally (or maybe it was fate), that was around the same time I first experienced The Lord of the Rings in all its epic glory. For me, it was one long metaphor for life and courage and hope. Sometimes when I’m dealing with a tough situation or fighting my own personal dragons, I’ll turn on the movie soundtrack and swing my sword around. (It was a gift—I’m much too practical to buy one for myself.) My story isn’t about fantasy; it’s about reality and the very real role imagination plays in our lives. I tend to be a realist, but I also have a strong propensity toward the imagination. Learning to navigate the two is where my protagonist comes in. Her runaway imagination gets her into a heap of trouble, but, in the end, it’s also what saves her and her family. I think Einstein was right when he said imagination is more important than knowledge. In a way, it saves us all.
That’s a great inspiration story. Thank you Rajani, Remy, and Catherine for the interview!
Check out Rajani’s newest book releasing today, RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE …
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
★ Booklist, Starred Review
★ BookPage, Starred Review
Reha has two lives: one that is Indian, one that is not. It is 1983, and she is thirteen, and in one life, she loves hanging out with friends, dancing to pop music, and watching Cyndi Lauper on MTV. In the other, she listens to Hindi film songs, wears homemade clothes, and spends her weekends with her Indian community. When Reha asks to go to a middle school dance, her mother disapproves. If only the ones who share her blood could also understand the wishes of her heart. But then her mother becomes ill, and everything Reha was worried about gets turned upside down. RED, WHITE, and WHOLE is a middle grade novel in verse about being caught between here and there, before and after, and finding a way to be whole.
Check out Remy’s upcoming book releasing May 11, 2021 …
“It’s tail-wagging entertaining!” —Kelly Yang, New York Times bestselling author of Front Desk
Every Saturday, Pawcasso trots into town with a basket, a shopping list, and cash in paw to buy groceries for his family. One day, he passes eleven-year-old Jo, peering out the window of her house, bored and lonely. Astonished by the sight of an adorable basket-toting dog on his own, Jo follows Pawcasso, and when she’s seen alongside him by a group of kids from her school, they mistake her for Pawcasso’s owner.
Excited to make new friends, Jo reluctantly hides the truth and agrees to let “her” dog model for an art class the kids attend. What could go wrong? But what starts as a Chihuahua-sized lie quickly grows Great Dane-sized when animal control receives complaints about a dog roaming the streets off-leash. With Pawcasso’s freedom at stake, is Jo willing to spill the truth and risk her new friendships?
“A beautifully drawn and delightful story bursting with art, books, and fun!” —Maria Scrivan, New York Times bestselling author of Nat Enough and Forget Me Nat
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.