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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Jessie Latham with her mentor Isabel Ibañez Davis and Joe McCourt with his mentor Jenn Brisendine

Thursday, 5 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 . . .

Jessie Latham – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Isabel Ibañez Davis – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Jessie,why did you choose to submit to Isabel?

So many reasons! First of all, we clearly had the same taste in books– she mentioned some of my favorites. In her wish list, she expressed an interest in lush, unique settings and slow-burn romantic subplots, both elements my book offered. She gave a detailed account of her revision style, and it sounded perfect for me. I’m so glad I subbed to her, and her brilliant editorial notes have already pushed my manuscript beyond what I could have imagined.

Isabel, why did you choose Jessie?

I fell in love with her dark Uprooted-esque story about a nameless princess fighting her fate against a living book. The premise excited me and the writing, pretty and almost lyrical, pulled me into the pages. I couldn’t stop reading!

Jessie, summarize your book in 3 words.

Secrets. Sisters. Shadows.

Isabel, summarize ’s book(s) in 3 words.

Dark, pretty, riveting.

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

I grew up reading fairy tales and myths with lyrical words but dark and brutal undertones. Since then, I’ve always been fascinated by the way our world is shaped by the stories we tell—or don’t tell. I wanted to explore this concept in a fantasy setting where I could make it tangible. In DARK AND BOUNDLESS, the beating heart of the culture is an ancient, living book that feeds on human blood and determines the fate of queens. It’s the story of an exiled princess who inherits the throne and uncovers mysteries that take her to a haunted desert of ash, led by an outlawed bard who tells forbidden tales.

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

I’m a giant Georgette Heyer Fan. 🙂

And next, we have . . .

Joe McCourt – Mentee


Jenn Brisendine – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Joe, why did you choose to submit to Jenn?

In addition to being a very gifted and creative writer, Jenn is also a literature teacher. I knew right away that would be a huge help to me. It’s like taking your car to a mechanic and saying, “It’s making kind of a ROWR-ROWR-ROWR sound.” Something wasn’t working in my manuscript and I couldn’t figure out what it was. Jenn took one look under the hood (metaphorically, of course) and pinpointed the problem. The changes she has suggested are absolutely, 100% correct and I’m thrilled with the way the book is shaping up. It also didn’t hurt that we love the same books and authors, and her Wish List included the word, “Zing.” Zing is what I strive for.

Jenn, why did you choose Joe?

Joe uses two fascinating, unrelated events from mythology and history as elements in a bigger, beautifully original storyline. This middle grade has great forward-motion, with a dramatic build of cinematic scenes. Joe’s characterization and dialogue are natural and organic, so you feel all the emotion as the main character begins to realize just how mysterious and eerie his world actually is.

Just as big a draw for me was the writing itself. Joe’s writing doesn’t just allow the reader to imagine and envision; it stirs up and inspires the moving pictures in the reader’s head–so important in middle grade!–with highly original imagery, flavored with clever humor and valuable themes on family, lineage, and friendships.

Joe, summarize your book in 3 words.

Enchantment backfires epically.

Jenn, summarize ’s book(s) in 3 words.


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

I wanted to write about magic but knew I could never do anything as good as J.K. Rowling. I wanted to write about mythology but knew I could never do anything as good as Rick Riordan. So basically, The Hunter’s Heir is about magic and mythology, yet contains neither. It was built on a foundation of Zero Confidence. I’m grateful to be a PitchWars Mentee and doubly grateful to have been selected by Jenn.

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

This year I’m teaching history and literature at a classical curriculum school. My students are 12- or 13-year-old 7th graders. The reading includes big, bold stories like Beowulf, King Arthur, and Macbeth, so of course we’re talking about epic plotlines, noble characters, and the hero’s journey all the time, which is really cool! But I’m also looking forward to showing these kids how modern stories from around the world often share those same iconic qualities—along with glimpses into histories and cultures not as frequently taught.


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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