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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Aishah Dawood with mentor Kip Wilson and Akure Phenix with mentors Erica Chapman & Stephanie Scott

Saturday, 28 October 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake


Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . .

Akure Phenix – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Stephanie Scott – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Erica Chapman – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Akure, why did you choose to submit to Stephanie and Erica?

I didn’t originally submit to my mentors, but it was fate to linked with them, because they are seasoned and awesome and we get along great!

Stephanie, why did you and Erica choose Akure?

Her writing was fantastic! Raw talent that was evident from page one.

Akure, summarize your book in 3 words.

Diverse Great Gatsby

Stephanie, summarize Akure’s book in 3 words.

Teenage Great Gatsby

Akure, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

Hi! I am a POC writer who is a Class of 2018 future graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Who is excited to finally live life! Whew!

My MS is distinctly designed with diversity in mind, not just of race, color, ethnicity, but interwoven sexuality, sexual-exploration, sexual awakenings, disability, and fully realized coming-to-age stories. Representation has always been vital, but not always included, especially in the history of YA such as HUNGER GAMES and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS types.

GREEN LIGHTS is a dark take on a modern Great Gatsby mixed in with elements from GONE GIRL, 13 REASONS WHY, and GOSSIP GIRL. It’s a tribute to how far we will go for our green lights (our goals, desires, dreams) and who we may meet, fall in love with, or obliterate, along the way.

Stephanie, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Confession: I’d never read The Great Gatsby prior to this year’s Pitch Wars but read it quickly during the submission round once I saw Akure’s manuscript!

And next, we have  . . .

Aishah Dawood – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Kip Wilson – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Aishah, why did you choose to submit to Kip?

Well, there were many mentors looking for diverse characters and although I had that, there were also many mentors who did not want abuse, rape, etc The Doll Market is about human trafficking –it was a tough book to write and I respected/understood that they would prefer a MS without those themes. Thus, my list was quite narrow. And then I came across Kip’s wishlist! And I crossed my fingers! She wanted novels set in another country with diverse characters, she liked multiple points of view, one of her favourite books mentioned was a mystery set in Turkey, she hadn’t said no to abuse–I had to try! Not to mention, she is a plotter and a grammar nerd! And if I could get help in both those areas then perfect! I honestly couldn’t believe it when she asked me for a full…!!! Even though I have started editing, sometimes I’ll look back at the edit later in disbelief! <3

Kip, why did you choose Aishah?

Aishah’s story swept me away from page one, transporting me to Istanbul, Syria, and to the Mediterranean. I love the dual POVs and how the girls’ stories come together as in a nail-biter in which each girl absolutely needs the other. Plus, as gripping as it is (I read the entire novel in a single day if that’s any indication), I could so clearly see ways she could take it to the next level, and I really want to see her succeed!

Aishah, summarize your book in 3 words.

Diverse. Human Trafficking. Courage

Kip, summarize Aishah’s book in 3 words.

strong Muslim girls

Aishah, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

Hmm…Once upon a time I used to write just because I loved constructing fictional stories. Now, I want to write fictional stories that send a message, that make my readers reflect and see beyond their world, that put them in someone else’s shoes. I want to spread empathy through my writing. Growing up, anything I read always had a huge impact/influence on me–still does! I want my readers to feel the same about topics I feel strongly about. And so, as a Muslim, I want my readers to know that despite some of our religious beliefs and practices, different styles of clothing and manners of eating, we are just like everybody else -we eat, drink, pray, love, fight, cry, laugh. I have two MC and both are Muslim –one from Turkey and the other from Syria. Nayla was born when I visited Turkey about a year ago. It was such a beautiful, vibrant country, I had to use it as a setting. The story began to form when I read an article about human trafficking–research led to horror and disbelief at the number of victims. I wanted to spread awareness. I could not remain quiet and turned to my writing.
That same year, the war in Syria grew worse and the media was filled with mention of immigrants, Husna (MC 2) was born. When people showed animosity towards the idea of immigrants my heart broke. I could not understand how we could close our doors to innocent people, like you and I, who have been forced to flee–especially when these immigrants are at greater risk of being trafficked. The plot deepened…

Kip, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I’m from Boston, but I’m living in Madrid at the moment, and I’m overwhelmed with everything I’m learning here. Living somewhere else–even another city or state if not country–gives such perspective and opportunity, and I’m truly grateful for every day here.


Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is November 1st-7th, and our next #PitMad is December 7, 2017!


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