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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Heba Helmy and mentor, Amanda Panitch

Friday, 4 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 . . .

Heba Helmy – Mentee

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Amanda Panitch – Mentor

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Amanda, why did you choose Heba?

Historical fantasy, especially if it’s set in a place and time I’m not all that familiar with, is one of my favorite genres. So when I saw that Heba’s book was set in Moorish Spain I was immediately interested, and when I read further and was sucked in both by the suspenseful story and gorgeous writing, I was sold. I loved corresponding with Heba during the decision process and reading her thoughtful answers to my questions and the ideas for revision I floated by her, which showed me she’d be a great fit for Pitch Wars.

Oh, it’s set in Moorish Spain? That sounds great! And Heba, why did you choose to submit to Amanda?

Amanda has really stretched my thinking and widened the scope of what I thought I could do with my manuscript. She has brilliant ideas to make my story really sing in terms of the plot and character arcs. She’s generous with her compliments, honouring the heart of the story; but she’s also been truly honest about what isn’t working, urging me to home in on areas that need developing and/or revising. I know I’ll be working really hard for the next few months! She’s savvy about the publishing market and shares her experiences in a way that inspires me and makes me excited about what the future might bring. I still can’t believe she picked me and feel blessed to have Amanda mentoring me!

Believe it! And I can’t wait to see how you do. Amanda, summarize Heba’s book in 3 words.

Magic: literal & figurative.

Literal and figurative? I’m intrigued! Heba, summarize your book in 3 words.

Legacies. Lies. Love.

Oh, the three “L”s that make up a great story! Amanda, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I would kill to judge a challenge on Top Chef. Or even get to eat the food on Top Chef. I’m a little obsessed with Top Chef (and am beyond thrilled to have a job where I get paid to write what is basically Top Chef fanfiction, aka my adult debut in 2022!).

Oh my gosh! That’s my dream too! It’s Top Chef and Sugar Rush for me. So Heba, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

For three years, I’ve been trying to get into Pitchwars and for longer than that, I’ve been revising and editing on my own (or trying to!). I thought I knew a bit, but putting knowledge into targeted practice under the guidance of a mentor and a system that definitely knows more is what I hoped to get — and what I am already getting in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Everybody talks about the community and for good reason. Getting to be part of a class with people who I know will go on to have their words in print and have shining careers in the industry is an unrivaled opportunity and I’m so excited to take this journey with them!

Perseverance is definitely key in realizing your dreams! And Heba, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?

In grad school, I did coursework on 19th century British literature and researched ways the empire shaped the narratives being told at the time, ones that have filtered into collective understandings (and stereotypes) today. Since then, themes of colonialism and the question of what “home” is/means has seeped into all of my manuscripts. Jewel of the Cedar is no different. It is historical fantasy set in Moorish Spain, in the years before the Reconquista, which some scholars hold as the “fall” of Islam in the West. It also features Vikings, who (people might not know), were active in the area. Yet, even though the breadth of the world and its politics is vast, the story itself is close and familiar: at its heart, it’s about young people falling in love.

I didn’t know that about Vikings. The setting and the story sounds amazing!

Check out Amanda’s upcoming release coming out on January 5, 2021, THE TROUBLE WITH GOOD IDEAS.

Pre-order today!

From author Amanda Panitch comes The Trouble with Good Ideas, a hilarious middle-grade novel with a magical twist about a girl, a golem, and her ailing grandfather, perfect for fans of The Fourteenth Goldfish.

Twelve-year old Leah Nevins is NOT a fan of change.

So when her parents start whispering about sending her beloved great-grandpa Zaide to an assisted living facility (hospital jail!), she is very resistant. Zaide’s house, where her family gathers on Saturday afternoons, is the only place where Leah feels like she truly belongs. Sending Zaide away would change everything.

Luckily, Leah remembers a story Zaide once told her about building a golem—a creature from Jewish mythology made out of clay—to protect their family from the Nazis in Poland. So, of course, Leah decides to make a golem of her own to look after Zaide. The directions he gave her were pretty easy to follow, but there is one thing he never told her: what to do when a golem turns against its creator.

Thank you for the great interview, Amanda and Heba!

And thank all 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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