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Pitch Wars Team Interviews with Ashton Noone and her mentors, PJ Vernon and Kelly J. Ford

Tuesday, 4 February 2020  |  Posted by Rochelle Karina


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 . . .

Ashton Noone – Mentee

Website | Twitter


PJ Vernon – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Kelly Ford – Mentor

Website | Twitter

PJ & Kelly, why did you choose Ashton?

PJ: Querying authors tend to think they’re up against hundreds of other submissions sent everyday, but from my (limited) experience, they’re really only competing for attention with writers who’ve also followed instructions. By simply having a professionally written query letter, Ashton went right to the top of the pile. And when my eyes finally landed on it? Holy hell, was it good. With fingers and toes crossed, I prayed her manuscript held up. And did it ever!

Kelly: As soon as I read the lines “Lots of people get lost in the forest. This is how we remember them.” I DM’d PJ on Twitter and told him that I NEEDED the full manuscript immediately. Along with being propulsive, her story and prose have so much bite. And it’s queer! It’s 100% my wheelhouse.

Ashton, why did you choose to submit to PJ & Kelly?

I loved PJ and Kelly’s Pitch Wars Tinder Book profile and when I read through it I knew I needed to swipe right! Their strengths seemed like a good fit with what I was looking to improve in my manuscript and they both seemed like a lot of fun to work with. I’ve learned so much from them throughout Pitch Wars. I’m glad they swiped right on me too!

PJ & Kelly, summarize Ashton’s book in 3 words.

PJ: Haunting. Queer. Toothy.

Kelly: Dark. Stabby. Queer.

Ashton, summarize your book in 3 words.

Dark. Queer. Atmospheric.

PJ & Kelly, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

PJ: I was on submission with my next (queer) thriller during most of Pitch Wars. Working on Ashton’s unflinchingly honest manuscript was both empowering and helped take the edge off my own publishing anxieties. My mentee’s confidence and abilities gave me so much strength to carry on!

Kelly: I’ve had a lot of odd jobs over the years: taco maker, factory worker, PA and on-set photographer for a short film about Blackbeard, video store clerk, office cleaner, Scrum Master… The most odd is probably the summer I spent pulling microwave screens off the line after they’d been painted black. Our QA process consisted of poking any paint-filled holes with a paperclip. It was all a great education for a fiction writer.

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

I’ve learned an incredible amount by working with PJ and Kelly. Most of my writing experience is in short fiction, and this is the first full-length book I’ve ever finished or attempted to edit.

Through their insight, I’ve learned so much about plot pacing, character development and how to polish a scene to make it really shine. I’m so happy with how this story turned out and I’m hoping to apply what I’ve learned through this Pitch Wars experience to the next book I write.

I’m terrible at multitasking and so I’ve stayed away from social media for most of Pitch Wars to focus on my writing. But I’ve seen how welcoming and supportive this community is, and I’m hoping to get to know more mentees and mentors during the showcase and afterward!

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

I love martial arts and have studied traditional martial arts since I was ten or eleven years old. I made the transition to training in MMA a few years ago and really enjoy it. Despite this, there are almost no fight scenes in my book!

I wrote this book because it was the queer suspense novel that I’ve always wanted to read. I didn’t grow up with a lot of access to queer stories and so I started writing my own. It makes me very happy to see more queer stories published and out in the world now. Hopefully my book will join them one day!

As you can probably guess from the title, the majority of this story is set in the suburbs, which is also where I grew up. This story is considerably more exciting than my own life, however it does deal with some of the same feelings of not belonging in a place where everything seems the same. It also has an infamous murder, monstrous characters and a forest that “eats children.”

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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