Have questions about submitting to Pitch Wars or just want to know what it is? Start here!


Pitch Wars Team Interview with Lauren E. Turner and mentor, Ciannon Smart

Wednesday, 23 December 2020  |  Posted by Brenda Drake


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 . . .

Lauren E. Turner – Mentee



Ciannon Smart

Ciannon Smart – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Ciannon, why did you choose Lauren?

I was gripped by Lauren’s opening – the intensity of her first line, the tension in her first chapter, how beautifully written the rest of her sample was, and I knew I needed to read the entire story, which I did SO quickly. What unfolded was a luscious, dark romance layered with sisterly bonds, treachery, monsters, and a unique perspective of the dead. Lauren’s story felt like a fresh yet recognisable take on the gothic, through a queer lens; and her female villain is a worthy contender to well-loved villains such as Cardan and The Darkling. What’s not to love?

Sisterly bonds and monsters? Sounds great to me! Lauren why did you choose to submit to Ciannon?

When combing through mentor wishlists, I just about screamed when I saw Ciannon’s. Our interests overlapped again and again, from favorite tropes to books—when she listed Wintersong by S. Jae Jones it almost felt too good to be true. It was a match made in enemies-to-lovers heaven. I also felt connected to her aesthetic, and knew we would vibe right away. She also mentioned not being afraid of revisions, and I really wanted to dig in deep when it came to revising this book. I’m still so thrilled to work with her!

Ha! Enemies-to-lovers heaven! I’m so glad you matched up. Ciannon, summarize Lauren’s book in 3 words.

Decadent. Romantic. Eldritch.

Lauren, summarize your book in 3 words.

Deadly. Lush. Romantic.

All five words here has me intrigued about this story. So Ciannon, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I grew up very into the arts; I played the viola, piano, and guitar, as well as undergoing classical vocal training, for over a decade. My high school was a specialist arts college, which sounds fancy but ultimately meant all students had to take an art subject. I loved, and still love sketching and painting. Developing my author Instagram has given me an appreciation of photography. Despite the delicacy and precision needed to implement the aforementioned skills, however, I am quite clumsy. I’ve broken the same wrist twice, the first during a football match and the second during a rounders game. I’ve dislocated fingers, bruised bones, and shut fingers – and my hair – in doors more times than I can count. I’m one of four, and the only girl, yet I’ve been hospitalised more times than all my brothers combined.

Oh goodness, I hope you’re more careful nowadays. Your clumsiness is probably due to all the stories in your mind distracting you. And Lauren what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

I am looking to work on my craft and become a better writer, always. My goal is to learn as much as possible from my wonderful mentor, and gain skills I can apply to each manuscript I write moving forward, specifically how to apply craft skills more critically to my own work. Having a mentor to brainstorm ideas and answer all of my questions with such enthusiasm has been so amazing. I’ve already learned so much since beginning the revision process, and can confidently say that this has been invaluable, and I know it will continue to be an absolutely amazing learning experience.

Lauren, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?

I live in Northern Michigan, and having one of the harshest winters in the US really inspired this book in ways I didn’t even recognize until after I’d written it. (It turns out being stuck in a wintry place makes it easy to write about one!) The sometimes-barren landscapes and frigid temperatures in the story are an homage to my home state, but with a fresh Greek myth twist and monsters galore. Featuring a monstrous lady love interest, a book about a ruthless, disaster bisexual princess is exactly the thing I wanted as a teen, and the harsh backdrop of the book seemed like the perfect fit for her in this dark enemies-to-lovers fantasy.

Also, being one of five siblings, writing about the intricacies of relationships—specifically between sisters, and how they’re complicated and differ from one sister to the next—is very close to my heart. While I wrote this book, it seemed at every turn there was a death either in my family or close to it, and so grief and the aftermath of loss play a large role in it as well. It’s also about the hope of being able to set things right with the people left behind, and just how much someone is willing to sacrifice for the people they love most, whatever kind of love that may be.

I hope you’re keeping warm and revising by a fire with a hot cup of something. Good luck with the revisions! And thank you Ciannon and Lauren for the interview.


Check out Ciannon’s upcoming book releasing April 20,2021, WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD.

Witches Steeped in Gold Ciannon SmartUS PREORDER


Trust no witch . . . 

Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom—and vengeance.

Jazmyne is the queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.

Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain—except the lengths they will go to win this game.

Deadly, fierce, magnetically addictive: this Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut is a thrilling journey where dangerous magic reigns supreme and betrayal lurks beneath every word.

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.


Filed: Interviews

Comments are closed.
We're thrilled at the different ways those in our Pitch Wars community are giving back—and we encourage them to do so. However, please keep in mind that Pitch Wars is not affiliated with any of these various contests, promotions, etc., including those of our mentors and mentees. Promoting any such opportunities via our social media channels doesn't imply endorsement or affiliation. We encourage you to do your research before participating.

Pitch Wars takes a stand. ANTI-BULLYING. Click here to review our policy

Pitch Wars 2021

Blog Archives

Blog Categories

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.