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Pitch Wars Team Interview with M.K. Hardy and mentor, Keena Roberts

Monday, 23 November 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 . . .

M.K Hardy – Mentee

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Keena Roberts – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Keena, why did you choose M.K.?

So, funny story: I hadn’t yet gotten to Mo and Erin’s submission when another mentor messaged me to say, “Hey, this submission is 100% your thing.” I skipped ahead to take a look and confirmed that yes, this submission was 100% my thing. Besides my immediate attraction to the MC and setting, what really surprised me about their book was how deep and emotionally resonant it was even under the layers of fun and snarkiness. I knew it would be an incredible project to work on with them.

Snarky with depth? Yes, please! M.K., why did you choose to submit to Keena?

Several reasons:

Her faves are our faves – Locked Tomb series, This is How You Lose the Time War, Schitt’s Creek, Lost Girl, Xena!

Our book has f/f romance as well as a space opera and we hear she’s into that. Her strengths are our weaknesses – description, world building, plotting and pacing.

Her outlining skills are enviable – and something we need to develop ourselves.

She’s kind, professional and knowledgeable.

Basically, Keena seemed like the perfect match for us – she would love our charming mess of a book (we hoped) for the space shenanigans and the girls kissing, but she would also be ruthless in helping us make it not a mess!

Keena and space shenanigans… definitely a good match! And Keena, summarize M.K.’s book in 3 words.

Dirtbag space lesbians.

Kissing and space and snarky lesbians… I wanna read! M.K., summarize your book in 3 words.

LESBIAN SPACE TRASH

Love it when mentee and mentor have such parallel vision! And Keena, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

When my daughter was little she really got into those penny press machines you find around tourist attractions and now I keep pennies in all my coat pockets so I’ll be ready if I find another one I can add to our collection.

Pennies in your pockets is incredibly cute! So, M.K., what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

Erin: We’re most excited about working with Keena to learn how to turn our shambles of a manuscript into an actual story. If we can learn better writing and editing practices so that the next thing we write is better, and the next thing after that is better still, then it will have been an incredibly valuable boot camp to go through.

Mo: We’re both in our late thirties and have been writing – and editing – in various contexts basically our whole lives, but we never stop wanting to learn and grow as writers, so this whole process is very much about that ongoing development for us. We’re ‘pantsers’ to a ridiculous degree when we write, basically powering through the story from beginning to end without really stopping, so the process of going back through what we’ve wrought and turning it into (hopefully!) a decent novel is pretty exciting.

Erin: We’re also really keen to meet other authors and become more involved in the writing community. We’ve already learned a TON over the last year of being on Twitter and Discord with fellow writers, and we’ve heard that Pitch Wars cohorts continue to support and help one another long after the project is done.

Welcome to the family! The Pitch Wars community is definitely strong and supportive. Now, M.K., tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?

Mo: Well! As far as we go, Erin’s American, I’m Scottish, and we’re based in Dundee in the North East of Scotland. We met online – through writing actually – and fell in love without ever having met (*romantic strings*). Erin moved from California to sunny Scotland, and the rest is history!

Erin: Our manuscript is probably a little bit different than most in that it was co-written – and done for the most part without Mo and I really discussing our ideas at all. We do what we call ‘literary chicken’ where we try to keep our respective secrets and twists from each other until they come out in the text, so it’s pretty miraculous the story makes any sense at all.

Mo: I suppose if I was looking for a ‘USP’, I’d say that our story, while very much a space opera, hitting all those beats with a theocratic empire squatting in their crumbling space stations and massive gothic dreadnoughts with their mysterious old tech and a mercurial villain and plucky underdog rebels and all the rest of it… is at its heart a love story about two women who meet in the strangest of circumstances, and against pretty long odds manage to open up and let one another in. I know sci fi with queer women in is de rigueur right now so we’re not exactly bucking any trends on that front, but I think – I think – that our balance of character against setting, of personal and interpersonal journey against plot… is maybe something a little different?

What an amazing love story y’all have! Thank you for letting us get to know you a bit.

Check out Keena’s latest release, WILD LIFE.

Years before anyone had heard of the movie Mean Girls, it was real life for Keena Roberts. Raised by primatologist parents, she and her sister spent most of their time in a rustic island camp in a national wildlife preserve in Botswana, tracking baboons through the bush even as even as they themselves were tracked by lions, treed by buffalo, or chased by elephants. Whether she was shooting visiting snakes in the family’s laundry sink or solo-piloting a motorboat at age ten through a river full of angry hippos, Keena grew up with a sharp awareness of the intricate ways that danger and beauty coexist in the natural world and a deep love for the wild African landscape she called home.

But once a year, she and her family had to make a return trip to America, where for several months she had to hone her survival skills in a much more treacherous environment—the social hierarchy of a ritzy Philadelphia private school. She and her peers were flummoxed by one another: not only did she not understand the appeal of the latest 1990s pop songs or TV shows, she had shaggy hair, too many pocket knives, and hated wearing shoes. Dreamer, reader, and adventurer, this young woman from the bush was far more comfortable dodging real-life predators than navigating the cliques of spoiled high school lacrosse players.

In Keena’s funny, tender memoir, Wild Life, Africa bleeds into America and vice versa, each culture amplifying the other. By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, Wild Life is ultimately the story of a daring but sensitive young girl desperately trying to figure out if there’s any place where she truly fits in.

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Apple Books | Google Play | Kobo | Audible 

 

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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