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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Nadi Reed Perez and mentor, Roma Panganiban

Monday, 8 February 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 . . .

Nadi Reed Perez – Mentee



Roma Panganiban – Mentor

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Roma, why did you choose Nadi?

I fell for Nadi’s protagonist, Mal, right away: a newly-dead 20-something whose sharp tongue and bad attitude hide a soft, wounded heart. I was so impressed with how carefully the book unpacks emotional trauma, mental illness, and the sheer terror of being old enough to know better but too young to imagine what “better” might look like, while maintaining an irreverent sense of humor that had me torn between a snort and a cackle every few pages. I tore through the sample pages and was disappointed I didn’t have the full manuscript immediately on hand; yet even after I’d finished the book, I couldn’t get those ghosts out of my head.

Are we ever truly old enough to know better? And, Nadi, why did you choose to submit to Roma?

I spent hours reading mentor wishlists and deliberating, but I kept coming back to Roma’s. Her dry wit and meme literacy made me laugh and put me at ease. Not only is humor important to my communication style, but it also assured me that she’d click with my voice-y manuscript. Since she was looking for complicated characters, coming of age stories, and found family, it was a perfect fit!

Humor is always a bonus! So, Roma, summarize Nadi’s book in 3 words.

Surprising second chances

Nadi, summarize your book in 3 words.

Sad, hot ghosts

Afterlife shenanigans? OK, Roma, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I’m the same height as Hilary Duff and Helena Bonham Carter, and I like to think my personality exists at the improbable intersection of theirs, too.

This makes total sense. Now, Nadi, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

Well, aside from representation, learning to revise based on professional feedback has been so illuminating. For a writer that used to have difficulty accepting critique—which is such an essential skill for building a career—I’m proud of how much I’ve improved. It’s been more exciting than scary to get notes back on each pass! And since I’ve also been working on this manuscript for longer than I care to admit, this process has given me some much needed fresh perspective to breathe new life into this story.

You’re so right – learning to process critique is a vital skill. And, Nadi, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?

Instead of shelving and moving on, I stubbornly kept coming back to this manuscript over the years, trying to make it work. You can say it haunted me. I’m glad I stuck with it!

THE AFTERLIFE OF MAL CALDERA is a story from a ghost’s point of view. Some fellow spirits she encounters are traditional horrific poltergeists, but most are just lost people, lingering in the world though no longer belonging to it. Yet they still have each other. So even after making a mess of her life, my protagonist gets a second chance to make amends for her past and forge new connections in death. It’s about meeting the right people at the wrong time, making the best of a bad situation, and forgiving yourself enough to have fun. Also, dancing—the dead throw some wild parties in their strangely welcoming haunted mansion.

I’m always down for dancing! Welcome to the family! And thank you both for taking the time to complete this interview.

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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