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 . . .
Crystal Seitz – Mentee
Skyla Arndt – Mentor
Alex Brown – Mentor
Skyla and Alex, why did you choose Crystal?
We chose Crystal because we adored the spooky, atmospheric world she crafted in CHURCH OF SCARS. COS transports readers into the snowy setting of rural Sweden. In a forest where magic is not only real but something to fear, Astrid Skarsgård will have to navigate through sinister secrets, brooding vampires, and Viking-era monsters. We are so excited to take this story to the next level with Crystal!
Crystal, why did you choose to submit to Skyla and Alex?
I’m so excited to be part of Screamo Teamo! When I read Skyla and Alex’s wishlist, SO many things they were looking for matched my book from a monster love interest, lush and eerie settings, generational curses, and more. It felt like they were describing CHURCH OF SCARS! One of my writer friends (hi, Mallory!) was mentored by Alex in the past, and she had such an amazing experience working with Alex, I knew I would be in great hands. I’d also been following Skyla since she was in Pitch Wars and have been dying to read her book, Together We Rot. When I heard her interview on the podcast Write Away with Nat and PJ, I knew we would be a great match. Both Skyla and Alex specialize in creepy, spooky stories and I knew they could help me really bring that out more fully in my book.
Skyla and Alex, summarize Crystal’s book in 3 words.
Vampires, folklore, tradition
Crystal, summarize your book in 3 words.
Norse Folk Horror
Skyla and Alex, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.
Skyla: Hi! My name is Skyla Arndt. I’m a 2020 PW alum and the author of TOGETHER WE ROT (Viking/Penguin, 2023). A fun fact you might not know about me is that I’m super into butterfly collecting!
Alex: Hi there! I’m Alex Brown, and I’ll have a short story in Tori Bovalino’s upcoming YA folk horror anthology, THE GATHERING DARK (Page Street, 2022). Something you may not know about me is that I’m the co-creator of THE BRIDGE, a narrative fiction podcast with over 1,000,000 downloads to date!
Crystal, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?
I’m always looking to learn and strengthen my skills as a writer. I’ve already learned SO much from Alex and Skyla about really honing in on the story I want to tell, and to have everything in the plot serve the character arc and theme first and foremost. These are the most extensive revisions I’ve ever done and while it’s been challenging, I’m learning so much.
It’s been really rewarding already, regardless of what happens afterwards. Of course, I would love to be able to share this story with the world one day as it’s really close to my heart. I really want to see more disabled protagonists in YA written authentically by writers who also share that disability, because I believe our stories are worth telling.
Crystal, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?
CHURCH OF SCARS is inspired by my experiences living with Crohn’s disease. Specifically, the sense of loneliness and isolation I was facing while working from home and not being able to go out as often or do a lot of things I used to because of flare-ups. I wanted to write about a fierce, angry girl who also happens to have a suppressed immune system and wears a mask because of it. That was before the pandemic happened, and I feel like it’s something that everyone can relate to even more now, not just people living with chronic illness.
While chronic illness plays a part in my main character’s journey, it doesn’t define her or her story. My manuscript also draws from Norse mythology and Viking history, two things I’m extremely passionate about and have amassed a hoard of nonfiction books on over the years, but explores it through a contemporary fantasy lens. At its heart, this story examines complicated family relationships and belief systems, and how the past doesn’t have to define us.
Check out Skyla and Alex’s upcoming releases…
TOGETHER WE ROT by Skyla Arndt
“Hereditary” meets WINTERWOOD about two former best friends — tough-as-nails Wil and shy, sheltered Elwood — who must confront an ancient evil living in the forest before it’s too late.
Coming Fall 2023
Alex will have a short story published in Tori Bovalino’s THE GATHERING DARK: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FOLK HORROR, which is coming out in Fall 2022!
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.