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 . . .
Kat Gonso – Mentee
Jennifer Yu – Mentor
Jennifer, why did you choose Kat?
One of the first things that I wrote in my manuscript wishlist was that I’m drawn to a story’s characters above all else, and from the very first page, MY TOUR OF GREAT AMERICAN TRAGEDIES delivered a cast that I knew I wouldn’t be able to forget. The story’s protagonist, Elle, is witty well beyond her years — but she’s also anxious and vulnerable in a deeply relatable way. The supporting cast members are clever, earnest, irreverent, quirky, and wise in turn; even the minor characters have one-liners that had me literally laughing out loud. I was so excited to join Elle on her half-road-trip-half-summer-camp journey across DC, and I’m even more excited to get her story out into the world so you all can join her too!
Kat, why did you choose to submit to Jennifer?
I’ve read Jennifer’s books and appreciate how she handles the complexity of mental illness, particularly in Four Weeks, Five People. MY TOUR OF GREAT AMERICAN TRAGEDIES grapples with the same issues of healing, self-acceptance, and negotiating group dynamics, especially when you don’t feel good about yourself.
While I knew I was interested in working with Jennifer from the beginning, I grew more excited about the prospect when I read her Pitch Wars Mentee wishlist. My story checked off a shocking number of the boxes, such as:
+serious, issue-driven stories — but one with moments of levity, humor, sweetness
+smart, quippy characters and complicated family relationships.
+serious conversations at daybreak
Jennifer, summarize Kat’s book in 3 words.
Perfect laughter:tears ratio. (Counting “laughter:tears” as one word here. That’s how math works, right?)
Kat, summarize your book in 3 words.
Hilarious and healing.
Jennifer, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.
Thing 1: Recently I organized an Asian-American book club and it really helped me get out of a months-long reading slump. Reading and writing can both be such solitary, lonely activities, and I’m so grateful when I’m able to find connection and community as part of the process!
Thing 2: I spent one of the best summers of my life working on a cattle ranch, moving irrigation pipes. My forearms were never stronger.
Kat, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?
As an extreme extrovert, my writing is the strongest when I’m bouncing ideas off others. Though I regularly met with two writing groups, I hit a point in my revisions where I needed a fresh perspective. I wanted a reader who didn’t know anything about me or my attachments to certain characters, subplots, and scenes. I needed someone that hadn’t slogged their way through the those early hot mess drafts, or the one that somehow turned the entire book into a murder mystery, or the following meandering draft that got me back on track. Jennifer has helped me to see my novel from the point-of-view of a first-time reader, and the fact that she enjoys and champions my work has given me the confidence I need to (finally) finish it.
Kat, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?
Having struggled with anxiety since a young age, I wrote MY TOUR OF GREAT AMERICAN TRAGEDIES to address the lack of stories that are specifically about young people living with generalized anxiety disorder as well as to create a well-rounded bisexual character who isn’t solely identified by her sexuality. In short, it’s the book I wish I had read as a teenager.
Check out Jennifer’s latest release, IMAGINE US HAPPY …
Some love stories aren’t meant to last
Stella lives with depression, and her goals for junior year are pretty much limited to surviving her classes, staying out of her parents’ constant fights and staving off unwanted feelings enough to hang out with her friends Lin and Katie.
Until Kevin. A quiet, wry senior who understands Stella and the lows she’s going through like no one else. With him, she feels less lonely, listened to—and hopeful for the first time since ever…
But to keep that feeling, Stella lets her grades go and her friendships slide. And soon she sees just how deep Kevin’s own scars go. Now little arguments are shattering. Major fights are catastrophic. And trying to hold it all together is exhausting Stella past the breaking point. With her life spinning out of control, she’s got to figure out what she truly needs, what’s worth saving—and what to let go.
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.