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Pitch Wars Team Interviews with Ann Fraistat and Her Mentors, Kylie Schachte & Aty S. Behsam

Friday, 10 January 2020  |  Posted by Annette Christie

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 starting on February 5, 2020, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2019 Pitch Wars Mentor and Mentee Teams.

Next up, we have . . .

Ann Fraistat – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Kylie Schachte – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Aty S. Behsam

Aty S. Behsam – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Kylie & Aty, why did you choose Ann?

Horror is a tricky genre for us–Kylie is mesmerized by it, but she also has an overactive imagination and freaks herself out very easily, and Aty has a movie-like imagination so you can imagine what horror does to her… But we just wanted to keep reading this book. We’d divided our inbox, so Kylie happened to read Ann’s manuscript first; she knew right away it was the one, so for a week she was frantically telling Aty, “Did you read it yet? What about now?” When we were done reading through our requested manuscripts, we were both certain QUICKSILVER HARVEST was the one. It’s just the right balance between beautiful, whimsy, and devastating horror, and Ann’s writing is lovely and sharp.

Ann, why did you choose to submit to Kylie & Aty?

Aty and Kylie are that truly magical blend of insightful expertise, loving support, and charming hijinks. They have years of teaching and mentorship experience. They’re both former Pitch Wars mentees from 2017. Their mentor wishlist absolutely oozed love for their craft and their future mentee. And what can I say? I’m a sucker for a wishlist full of anime GIFs, adorable pet pics, and rib-nudging asides. When I saw that QUICKSILVER HARVEST synced up with their interests—horror stories straddling the line between death and beauty, focus on heart and intimacy, books like SAWKILL GIRLS or WILDER GIRLS—I was just about ready to jump up from the keyboard and dance around the study. When I later found the feeling was mutual, I did go full dance party!

Kylie & Aty, summarize Ann’s book in 3 words.

Kylie: Blight, Sacrifice, Rainbow
Aty: Abandonment, Guilt, GOOOOOREEE

Ann, summarize your book in 3 words.

Devouring, brainwashing blight

Kylie & Aty, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Kylie: My debut novel YOU’RE NEXT–which was also my Pitch Wars 2017 book–is a noir-ish mystery, but I had never written mystery before! I didn’t even really read the genre! I had always been a fantasy person, but I started writing it on a whim because I couldn’t get the character out of my head, and once it took off I was kind of like “Well, crap. Guess I have to figure out how mysteries work now!” I’m not a plotter by nature, so of course I picked one of the most complicated genres for my first book *rolls eyes at self*

Aty: I’m a writer, artist, translator, and a full-time writing mentor and teacher, and I’ve introduced the first English Novel Writing classes in Iran. I’ve also worked as an editorial assistant, cover artist, comic writer and artist, and art director. I’ve been writing Young Adult and Adult novels for years. I was a Pitch Wars mentee with my novel COUP DE GRACE, which is an adult speculative fiction about a group of refugees, and I’m currently working on a YA fantasy novel. I’m also the director and producer of one of Iran’s most popular podcasts, Yuri On RADIO (Farsi: یوری بر رادیو), with my super awesome team!

Ann, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

I am a big believer in Pitch Wars. I was also a mentee last year, for my adult contemporary fantasy, OLIVE MCKNIGHT: PROFESSIONAL EXORCIST, mentored by the always amazing Ian Barnes and Laura Lashley, and I learned a monumental amount. It took me nine years to prep Olive for Pitch Wars, but taking everything I learned, I drafted most of QUICKSILVER HARVEST during this past July’s Camp NaNo. If you’d asked me last year if I could write a book anywhere near that quickly, I would’ve laughed in your face, laughed in my own, and then hugged my knees and rocked in a corner. Thanks to Ian and Laura, I feel I’ve turned the first real corner in my writing, and I can’t wait to further that growth with Kylie and Aty, the perfect dream team to show me the ropes with my very first YA.

Not to mention, my pre-2018 writing community extended about as far as my two feline desk-companions. Since then, I’ve met so many amazing people, and I’m absolutely loving getting to know my fellow 2019 mentees. *waves shamelessly through screen* As solitary as writing and querying can be, it’s been invaluable to find that community support and expertise.

Ann, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your manuscript unique?

My background is actually in theatre. I’ve been a comic playwright for many years, and believe humor is one of the most precious things in the world. And yet, QUICKSILVER HARVEST, a YA horror, is what I wrote when I stopped planning what to write. When I put away the outlines and I stared down the blank page. I never expected to find my niche in dark fantasy and horror, but as the master Jordan Peele has discussed at greater length with greater words: comedy and horror are more alike than they seem. They both exaggerate to flag the truth of our current reality—and they both suggest a better way the world could be. I always find myself drawn to stories about messy, underdog heroines fighting to find their own power.

Outside of battling fictional demons on my laptop, I’ve worked on stages in the Washington, DC-area as an actor, director, and playwright. I’ve also co-founded and operated a dog walking business for several years, written for alternate reality games funded by the National Science Foundation, baked cookies at a bakery open only at night…. These days, you’ll most often find me with my husband or our snuggly cats-critters in our new home in Fort Worth, Texas. Or drinking tea. Or reading. Or all of the above.

Check out Kylie’s upcoming release, YOU’RE NEXT.

YOU’RE NEXT is A Riverdale meets Fight Club YA Noir coming June, 2020!
Flora Calhoun has a reputation for sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. After stumbling across a classmate’s body years ago, the trauma of that discovery and the police’s failure to find the killer has haunted her ever since. When she gets a midnight text from Ava McQueen–the beautiful girl who ignited Flora’s heart long ago, then never spoke to her again–she knows she has to help her.

But when Flora arrives just in time to witness Ava’s death from a gunshot wound, she is set on a path of rage and vengeance for all the dead girls whose killers are never found. Her tunnel-visioned sleuthing begins to unveil a shocking conspiracy involving her entire school, but also earns her sinister threats. She has a choice: to give up the hunt for answers, or keep digging and risk her loved ones’ lives. Either way, Flora will regret the consequences. But who else will she lose on her path to redemption?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads


Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 5 – 10, 2020, and our next Twitter Pitch Party on #PitMad is March 5, 2020! Want to know more about #PitMad? Go here

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