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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Alex Hall with mentor Leigh Mar & Alexandria Rogers with mentor Judi Lauren

Tuesday, 19 September 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 . . .


Alex Hall – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Leigh Mar – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Alex, why did you choose to submit to Leigh?

Leigh’s fantastic use of gifs in her mentor bio! No, actually – our tastes in books and other media seem to line up closely, which is a huge plus for me. She has PitchWars experience, another big plus, as this is my first time through. Also, her editorial strengths are exactly the type I’m looking for. Honestly, that’s what I’m most exited about: I think Leigh’s help is exactly what I need to make Earnest Ink shine.

Leigh, why did you choose to mentor Alex?

EARNEST INK sucked me in and wouldn’t let me go. I fell in love with Hemingway’s incredible voice and the wanna-be detective in me devoured the noir-esque mystery that unfolded in this brilliant new near-future world. It’s the perfect mix of mystery, politics, and speculative elements and filled with incredible characters that I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into. I’m not sure if Alex will agree with this, but it gives me VERONICA MARS meets X-MEN vibes and I knew I had to be a part of how it evolved.

Alex, summarize your book in 3 words.

Magic. Murder. Metamorphosis.

Leigh. summarize Alex’s book in 3 words.

Mystery. Murder. Magic Tattoos.

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

YA/NA fiction is my first love. Fantasy is my trade. I’m a nonbinary person who wants to see SO MUCH MORE LGBTQ+ representation on the bookshelves, especially representation for young people. LGBTQ+ young people need validation. I was young once, too, and I remember seeking that validation at the local library and coming up short.

I write epic fantasy professionally for HarperVoyager, but ongoing I’d really like to focus more on LGBTQ+ YA and NA fiction, beginning with Hemingway’s story in EARNEST INK. Hemingway is trans, and although being trans effects both his life and his viewpoint, EARNEST INK isn’t about gender identity. It’s about wild magic. It’s about being a teenager in a world gone chaotic. It’s about dealing with the downside of celebrity, and it’s about turning unexpected friends into family.

And because I’m a true crime aficionado, I added an elusive serial killer to the mix.

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

I recently moved from Northern Virginia (just across the river from DC) to Richmond, VA and am excited to explore a new city!


And next we have . . . 


Alexandria Rogers – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Judi Lauren – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Alexandria, why did you choose to submit to Judi?

I immediately knew Judi and I would click after reading her bio. Apart from our mutual love of Paris and Chandler from Friends, she was looking for a mentee she could have a relationship with after Pitch Wars, which I loved, as I’ve found my online writing friends necessary in this business.

I also instinctively felt like she would understand my book. On her website, she says, “Despite dark themes present in my books, and at one point in my life, I still believe in magic.” This is exactly how I feel about life and writing!

Previous Pitch Wars mentees have left glowing reviews about her essentially being the best person/friend/editor in the world, so how could I refuse?

Judi, why did you choose to work with Alexandria?

Dark fantasies were very high on my wish list. I wanted a unique world with a story line I hadn’t seen before, and Alex certainly brought all of that. From the moment I started Alex’s book, I was so drawn into her world. Her characters are so layered and easy to relate to, and I found myself rooting for them quickly. Plus her voice is just amazing!

Alexandria, summarize your book in 3 words.

Seductive, macabre, hopeful

Judi, summarize Alexandria’s book in 3 words.

Hope. Freedom. Lyrical.

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

My book takes place in Paris, a city where I lived, loved, and have studied in depth for my master’s degree. It has a macabre, sensual atmosphere and history, which I have used as the foundation for my book. My experience of the city informs the characters’ experiences of the city, and I draw upon my background to intertwine the imagined history of Paris with the real history of Paris, bloody revolutions and all!

The women in the book also stem from my familiarity with the darker side of Paris, a city that, although stunning and wonderful, is rife with sexual harassment. I thought about extending that sexual harassment to the entire underground of Paris – the catacombs and dark history that lives in its stone – and began to wonder what monsters could dwell there. The answer? Trolls. Beautiful trolls, ghastly trolls, trolls made of nothing but bone.

The entire troll society of Paris doesn’t live beneath the city, preferring gilded châteaux and Haussmann apartments, but, to people, trolls are creatures of the underground. The male Elite trolls hunt humans, while the female trolls, like my main character, are forced to dance in the King’s grand masquerade balls, where he chooses a courtesan each night.

Paris helped me grow up. It turned me into a feminist, like my main character. She looks to foreign courts with women at the helm, and wants to see equality in her home, relying on both women and men to help her enact change, and upend the French Court’s patriarchy.

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

I love work on do-it-yourself home remodeling projects. I love it more when I don’t mash my thumbs in the process.


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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