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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Tesia Tsai and mentors, Meg Long and Xiran Jay Zhao

Friday, 8 January 2021  |  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 . . .

Tesia Tsai – Mentee

Instagram | Twitter


Meg Long

Meg Long – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Xiran Jay Zhao – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Meg and Xiran, why did you choose Meg?

We really fell for Tesia’s gorgeous, atmospheric writing as well as the fact that her hook on necromancy and ghosts is a totally fresh take for YA influenced by Chinese mythology and history. Corpse driving is such a unique concept and it was so compelling on page as the protagonist, Daiyu, gets swept up in mysterious corpses, court intrigue, and warring states.

“Corpse driving” definitely grabs the attention! OK, Meg, why did you choose to submit to Meg and Xiran?

I first knew about Xiran through Twitter, where I enjoyed stalking her tweets on Chinese historical facts and cultural inaccuracies in Disney’s live-action Mulan. When I saw that she and Meg were mentoring Pitch Wars this year, I immediately looked into the mentor wishlists. After pulling up their wishlist page, I was quickly sold by their humor, their book synopses, and their interests. First off, #TeamFireNation? Yes. Anime-inspired story? Um, yes. High expectations for their mentees? YES (said the studious Asian in me). They were my dream team, and I knew I had to throw my hat in the ring.

Bonding over ATLA, love it. Now, Meg and Xiran, summarize Tesia’s book in 3 words.

Complications with corpses

Tesia, summarize your book in 3 words.

Necromancy gone wrong

Wrong, or wonderfully right for a great sounding story? OK, Meg and Xiran, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Meg: I’ve been doing Muay Thai for over thirteen years and co-own a fight club with my boyfriend which basically equates to me shouting at giant dudes to kick things harder. (I’m 5’2 so I find this very amusing.)

Xiran: And I have a red-blue belt in Taekwondo! Not that I remember ANY moves and can actually take anyone down in a spontaneous fight (I am also 5’2.)

I see character inspiration here! And, Tesia, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

Clichéd as it is, I’m here to learn! I’ve always wanted to know how to write a strong story that readers could enjoy over and over. Along with that, I’ve loved making new connections through PW. My mentors have been amazing, and my fellow mentees are all so friendly and talented!

Welcome to the Pitch Wars family, Tesia! Now, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?

I once took a personality quiz that basically told me I was the most boring person ever. So . . . there’s that. Maybe I’m proving it right by saying I teach rhetoric and composition to first-year college students. When not doing that (or writing, obvs), I enjoy bingeing k-dramas, memorizing the lyrics to Hamilton, and avoiding the growing stack of TBR books by my bed.

My manuscript is like none of those things. It’s a YA fantasy inspired by the folklore of Chinese jiangshi, aka hopping vampires. The story follows an antisocial priestess who can reanimate the dead to guide them home. She’s rather comfortable with her life until her father’s health suddenly declines and she takes on an unusual but high-paying job to save him, meeting angry ghosts and spoiled princes along the way. This story is dear to my heart for the relatable heroine (I am very much an INFJ) and the themes of family and loss. I’m so excited to make it shine with Meg and Xiran’s help!

Wow! Can’t wait to see it. Thank you all for spending some time with us and sharing about yourselves and your work. Check out the upcoming releases from Meg and Xiran.


Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is a YA sci-fi Mad Max version of the Iditarod sled race mixed with Call of the Wild and set on an ice planet like Hoth. The first novel in a duology follows a girl trying to survive a harsh life alone after her mothers were killed in the infamous sled race that dominates her world. It’s a ruthless sled race with genetically engineered wolves across a thousand miles of frozen tundra teeming with wild predators and cutthroat racers. Sena swore she’d never race, but when a gangster leaves her with no choice, she’s forced to race with his stolen feral fighting wolf alongside a team of scientists. Together, Sena and the wolf, Iska, will have to discover whether they are strong enough to get everyone out of the wilderness alive. Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves will be published in winter of 2022 by Wednesday Books.


IRON WIDOW by Xiran Jay Zhao

Iron Widow is a YA Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale retelling of the rise of Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history. The duology will follow an 18-year-old re-imagining of her as she avenges her sister’s murder by an intensely patriarchal military system that pairs boys and girls up to pilot giant magical mecha based on creatures from East Asian myth (Nine-Tailed Fox, Moon Rabbit, etc.), but in which boy pilots are treated like celebrities, while girl pilots must serve as their concubines. It will be out from Penguin Teen / Penguin Random House Canada Fall 2021, with book 2 to follow in Fall 2022.


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

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