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 . . .
Olivia Liu – Mentee
Rona Wang – Mentor
Rona, why did you choose Olivia?
Olivia’s manuscript was actually the very first one I requested to see more of! I just knew immediately that it would be something special. So much of it felt custom-fit to my tastes–a witty voice, hilarious shenanigans, rivals-to-lovers, and a heartfelt immigration narrative. Then I got a chance to chat with Olivia one-on-one and we clicked wonderfully! I knew it was Olivia and her fantastic story would be a joy to mentor, and I’m so lucky to have worked on BEST OUT OF THREE.
Well, that’s going on the TBR list! OK, Olivia, why did you choose to submit to Rona?
When the mentor wish lists first came out, I made this gigantic master spreadsheet to help me organize all the mentors and figure out which ones I wanted to submit to. I had a simple code of green, yellow, and red and Rona was the very first name to turn green. As soon as I read her wishlist, I knew instantly that I had to submit to her. She checked off everything on my list. I loved that she was Chinese-American too and that she had this STEM background (just like I used to, and just like my main character). She also wanted stories with enemies-to-lovers, academic competitions, and immigration issues—which were all these things that were my book. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect match!
Yay for spreadsheets! So, Rona, summarize Olivia’s book in 3 words.
Warm, funny, romantic
Olivia, summarize your book in 3 words.
Swoony, heartfelt, banter-filled
Banter is always a winner in my book. And, Rona, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.
I took a gap year in New Zealand! When I was eighteen, I got a job there, packed up, and moved.
Wow! That’s a leap of faith. And, Olivia, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?
The three Cs—craft, community, confidence. My manuscript is a YA contemporary, but I was first and foremost a fantasy writer, so I came into Pitch Wars super plot-oriented. I learned so much about character during my revisions; Rona was always pushing me to dig deeper. I also came into Pitch Wars really wanting a writing community and I definitely got that! And when I talk about gaining confidence, I don’t mean confidence in my writing—I’ve always had that—but more about confidence in the process. I have such a strong grasp on how to revise a book now. In the future, even if I write a really horrible, messy first draft, I feel like I’ll know exactly how to tackle that.
The three Cs – love it! Now, Olivia, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?
I think my manuscript is unique because I myself am a very funny person. Zadie Smith told me I should be a stand-up comic, and if standing wasn’t such a big part of that career, I probably would have followed her advice. Instead, I channel my humor into my writing voice. I hope I am the Ali Wong of YA fiction.
My Pitch Wars manuscript was also written in April 2020, the height of the pandemic. I wrote it from a place of wanting something really joyful to focus on, which I guess is ironic because I still made Auden suffer in the book. But it still felt like such a joyful project to me—during a time when I was also experiencing a lot of anti-Asian racism, I really loved working on a story that celebrated my identity.
What an awesome story! Welcome to the Pitch Wars family! And thank you both for taking the time for 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.