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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Sean Miller and mentor, Rochelle Hassan

Thursday, 3 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 . . .

Sean Miller – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Rochelle Hassan – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Rochelle, why did you choose Sean?

I had an instant connection with his manuscript. It’s a mystery set against a cli-fi backdrop, with a fabulous rivalry-turned-friendship as the central relationship. I loved the writing, the characters, the world, and how it emphasized the importance of not only friends and family, but also community. There were times the action was so intense I had to hold my breath, and times when I’d smile at a sweet or silly moment between the protagonist and her friends. I found myself taking notes while I read, and thinking about the story even when I wasn’t reading. When I spoke to Sean over email, I felt like we were on the same page about what mattered most in the story and what kind of revisions it needed. So it was that perfect combination of “project I loved” and “project I knew I could help.”

Sounds like a great start! So, Sean, why did you choose to submit to Rochelle?

Because she’s awesome! Haha. At first, I saw on her Pitch Wars Wishlist that Rochelle was interested in upper MG manuscripts, and that she writes YA in addition to MG. I thought she’d be the perfect mentor because my manuscript is upper MG and tries to fill the current gap between where MG ends and traditional YA begins. So, she’d be able to give me advice coming from both perspectives.

Also, the description of her upcoming novel sounded fantastic! A story about a girl whose pen-pal knows the future and a crow who is really a boy? I was hooked. Then going through all the sci-fi/fantasy that she loves on her MSWL, I knew we’d be on the same page. I just didn’t know how “on the same page” we’d be, especially when it comes to animated shows!

Bridging the gap between upper MG and YA? Yes, please! Now, Rochelle, summarize Sean’s book in 3 words.

Survival. Mystery. Hope.

Sean, summarize your book in 3 words.

Disasters. Secrets. Friendships.

What an exciting story this has to be! OK, Rochelle, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

As a high school senior, I volunteered to help out the drama club during tech week because I needed the hours. I loved it so much I ended up doing a theatre minor in college.

Theatre can do that to you! OK, Sean, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

First, a mentor. The hardest part about starting out in writing is not knowing anyone who has been through it before. No matter how much you read about the industry, it can sometimes feel like there is an invisible wall between unagented authors and everyone else. That is why Pitch Wars is so amazing! You get to work with someone who’s done it already, who can help make your manuscript shine in a way you never knew possible, and who can give you the encouragement to see it through.

Every aspiring author deserves an Athena to their Odysseus.

A Miss Honey to their Matilda.

An Uncle Iroh to their Zuko.

An Obi Wan to their… wait, maybe not that one.

There is so much I’ve learned and will continue to learn throughout this experience not only from my mentor but also from the brilliant community of mentees. A wonderful side effect of Pitch Wars is the camaraderie through the shared experience with my fellow mentees. This has created many thoughtful and meaningful discussions on writing craft that will stay with me long after the showcase.

From Greek mythology to Star Wars via Dahl and ATLA. Love it! Now, Sean, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?

Originally from the USA, I’ve lived in Kuwait, Cambodia, Thailand, and Japan. I’ve learned from traveling the world that for the vast majority of people, their first reactions are from a place of goodness and a genuine desire to help.

My manuscript is the kind of story I would’ve loved to read as a kid, filled with secrets, grit, and friendship. It’s a mystery that takes place in a future California affected by dramatic climate change, where a deadly flood threatens a floating village. I believe stories like this are fundamental in driving critical conversations with kids about the kind of world they will inherit, and for adults to reflect on what can be done before it’s too late.

Love it when youth literature touches on important topics! Thank you both for the interview and letting us all get to know another team!

Check out Rochelle’s upcoming release, THE PRINCE OF NOWHERE

A girl and a shapeshifter travel to a mysterious place called Nowhere and work together to save the future from a villain who only cares about the past. Coming in 2022 from Harper Children’s.

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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