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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Melanie Schubert and mentor, Aty S. Behsam

Tuesday, 29 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 . . .

Melanie Schubert – Mentee

Instagram | Twitter | Website


Aty S. Behsam – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Aty, why did you choose Melanie?

Every year I’m just impressed by how good the stories sent to me are, but this year was the most difficult to choose from, for me, because of how mind-blowingly amazing the subs were. Nevertheless, Melanie’s shone bright among them, and I fell in love with her dragon/human story. The main character Mie, is well-written and refreshingly passionate, and I had a clear vision of how I could help Melanie improve SOCIETY OF THE UNSEEN even further. I mean, wait until you guys read about the awesome worldbuilding and the villain who will definitely have her own fans. Besides, I always felt Melanie and I could work great together and I WAS RIGHT! She’s awesome! (Not screaming. Not screaming at all.)

A dragon/human story with a great villain? Oh yes! And, Melanie, why did you choose to submit to Aty?

I had been following Aty on Instagram since Pitch Wars last year and was convinced that she would love my weird, messed up dragon book baby because of our shared anime obsession. Aty is a creative wondrous explosion of a person. And when I saw her speaking on one of the mentor YouTube lives I was struck by how much heart and depth she had. I’d also begun to query, and with rejections slowly trickling in I began to feel strongly the book still needed work, but that I’d need help to elevate it to the next level. I actually submitted a much, much shabbier version of the same book to Aty and her co-mentor Kylie last year. Then spent all year editing the thing and decided to resubmit this year because the new draft was so vastly different to the old. Which just goes to show you, if you have an idea that won’t be quiet, rejection is likely a sign it needs work. Not that it need be abandoned.

Always listen to your heart! OK, Aty, summarize Melanie’s book in 3 words.

Dragon Girl Rises (that is NOT a Dark Knight Rises ref, except it is)

Now, Melanie, summarize your book in 3 words.

Secret dragon society….or, “Boom! Dragon Girl!” (>_<)

Secret dragon society? Cool! And, Aty, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

People always ask me how do you work on drafting a new novel (DIME A DOZEN, YA fantasy), revising another, and translating another one, while also drawing a manga, DARYAN (YA fantasy), three short stories and a screenplay, directing Yuri On RADO Podcast, AND mentoring more than fifty writers and also reading PW mentee’s book three to four times and help revise it.

I always give them the same answer: I scream. And cry. A lot.

On a serious note, I’m a multitasker. I cannot work on one thing. It’s my thing. It does not make me better than anyone, and not being a multitasker does not mean others work less. Each one of us has their own way of writing, and this is mine and probably a lot of others’. Taking inspiration is good, being disheartened that we can’t do things the same way someone else does is not. The best thing is getting to know ourselves, and find what’s best for us, period.

Oh that is such amazing advice. OK, Melanie, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

Writing might seem like a solitary sort of career, but every good book on the shelf is put together by a team. I feel like I’ve taken my work as far as I can myself, I’m ready to find my team and get it into the hands of readers!

Teamwork for the win! And Melanie, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?

Well to start with, I’m Australian! Don’t think there’s many of us here in Pitch Wars! Second generation Croatian Australian actually!

I love Japan to bits. I think I must have been Japanese in a past life. My husband and I lived in a van over there for six months. That kind of travel and the slower, simpler passing of van life time changes you in all the best ways.

I don’t know what possessed me to try tackle a concept where the main character turns into an actual dragon, but I can say that I wrote the character of Mie while learning to manage my panic/anxiety disorder after a fairly colossal nervous breakdown. Although her character does not have a specific mental health condition, Mie’s struggle with dragon madness in the book is reflective of struggles I faced myself. I hope that because of that, it will appeal not only to fantasy fans, but also on that deeper level to people who have shared similar experiences.

Sounds like an amazing story. Thank you both for letting us get to know you a bit.

Check out Aty’s work in progress.

Currently I’m working on a YA fantasy manga with the amazing Maedeh B. Saaina, taking place in ancient Persia. More about the story here on its page.

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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