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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Isi Hendrix and mentor, Sylvia Liu

Thursday, 24 December 2020  |  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 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 . . .

Isi Hendrix – Mentee



Sylvia Liu – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Sylvia, why did you choose Isi?

I was immediately captivated by Isi’s West African-inspired middle grade fantasy about a girl who escapes her narrow-minded village, apprentices at a school for shamans, and discovers a nefarious empire-ending threat. It has everything I was looking for: a smart and brave main character; voice, humor, and adventure; imaginative world-building; and a gripping plot (plus snarky gods and hilarious secondary characters). What’s more, her story expertly and lightly weaves in themes of oppression, colonialization, girl power, and religion, giving it depth and power.

When I exchanged emails with Isi during the reading period, she impressed me with her enthusiasm, willingness to work hard, and openness to making big changes while standing by her core themes. So far, she’s proven to have all these qualities in our mentorship.

Snarky gods for the win! OK, Isi, why did you choose to submit to Sylvia?

I wanted Sylvia as my mentor even before the wishlists went up. I already followed Kidlit411 and was well acquainted with their resource page, so I knew whoever got Sylvia as a mentor was getting a human encyclopedia of kid lit knowledge. I also had an intuitive feeling that we might have similar personalities and hoped she would understand what I’m trying to say with my manuscript. Not only did she understand it (better than I did, I think), she knew exactly what I needed to make it shine.

“A human encyclopedia of kit lit knowledge…” And, Sylvia, summarize Isi’s book in 3 words.

Magic. Subversion. Power.

Isi, summarize your book in 3 words.

Power. Transformation. Belonging.

What an awesome read this is going to be! Now, Sylvia, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

When I was about ten, growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, I experienced a case of mass hysteria. Rumors ran rampant and people honestly believed aliens had invaded and a tidal wave would inundate the city (which sits 1,000 m above sea level) on a given day in August. Supposedly, one could tell the aliens by looking at the whites of their eyes—if they were yellow, watch out. On the appointed day, the city was a ghost town; no one went to work, everyone stayed off the streets. Even the American ex-pat community seemed caught up in the rumors. Several families we knew scheduled their vacations back to the States for that week. It was completely wild, and we couldn’t believe anyone could believe it, yet my dad stayed home from work that day too. My teenaged cousin visiting us from the States was entirely bewildered by the situation.

Wow, that had to be surreal. So, Isi, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

I’ve already received tools I’ll be using for the rest of my career as a writer. I applied to Pitch Wars hoping to walk away with a polished manuscript. Instead, I’m receiving an extraordinary education in craft, structure, plotting, and character development that I can use in every future writing project. People might look at Pitch Wars from the outside and think the showcase is the grand prize, but the prize is without question the mentorship!

Spot on! And, Isi, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?

I’ve spent many years living with shamanic tribes in the Amazon and Gabonese rainforest. My manuscript will read like fantasy but a lot of it is based on my experience as a member of shamanic tribes—through intense initiations and through blood lineage from both of my parents.

How exciting! Thank you both for letting us get to know you a bit.

Check out Sylvia’s upcoming release, MANATEE’S BEST FRIEND.

Perfect for fans of Catherine Hapka — a heartwarming story about a girl who must find her voice, with lots of manatee and dolphin fun along the way!

Becca Wong Walker may be so shy that most people at school think she doesn’t speak at all, but why should she care? She has more important things to worry about. Missy, the manatee who visits the dock in Becca’s backyard, and Becca’s only friend, hasn’t been seen for a long time. When Missy finally does return, she has a new baby with her! Becca wants to be excited, but more than ever inconsiderate boaters are speeding through the river, putting the lives of Missy and her baby in terrible danger.

One day, Becca spots a dolphin in the river too! By bonding over the dolphin and manatees, Becca finally starts to make friends at school. But when Becca takes a video that goes viral, it seems like it will be harder than ever to save the manatees… and trying might just tear Becca’s new friendships apart.

Coming out Aug. 3, 2021 from Scholastic

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. 


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