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Pitch Wars Team Interviews with Elizabeth Brookbank and her mentor, Natalka Burian

Monday, 2 December 2019  |  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 . . .

Elizabeth Brookbank – Mentee

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Natalka Burian – Mentor

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Natalka, why did you choose Elizabeth?

Elizabeth’s manuscript had it all–great characters I fell in love with, a lush and compelling setting, and the potential for so much tension! I instantly connected with the work, and, more importantly, had tons of ideas about how to make this book the best it could be.

Elizabeth, why did you choose to submit to Natalka?

Natalka’s wish list blog post immediately resonated with me. She listed books and writers that I love and aspire to emulate, including Sarah Waters, Laura Lippman, and Madeline Stevens. When I read her describe the type of historical novels she wanted to see as having “the mood and emotional complexity of The Favourite,” I knew (hoped! wished! dreamed!) that she would like my novel and get what I am trying to do with it. Most of all though, what stuck with me was that she said she was looking for a manuscript that had a clear vison, but needed real structural work, that she could help bring to its full potential. I thought that fit my novel exactly. I love my characters and I have a strong sense of my story, but my manuscript was about 50,000 words longer than it should be, so I knew I needed lots of help! I felt sure Natalka would understand my book and in that way could give me the help I needed to make it the best version of itself. I also liked that clear deadlines and communication are important to her because I am the same way (librarian here! I am very organized 🙂

Natalka, summarize Elizabeth’s book in 3 words.

Love can win.

Elizabeth, summarize your book in 3 words.

Risks worth taking.

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

I have a pretty serious ice cream obsession.

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

I want to learn how to do a better job of editing my own work so that I feel confident enough (in this novel and future ones) to submit to agents. I wrote it because I want people to read it! But I’ve struggled with getting my arms around the editing process. Knowing that Natalka is enthusiastic and excited about my book makes me excited for her to guide me through the substantial edits (and cuts) I need to make. Obviously, I would also love to get some agent interest in my book during the showcase, but for me the editing is the main thing. If I feel by the end of this process that I’ve made my book the best it can be and can submit it to agents on my own confidently, that would absolutely make it worthwhile for me.

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

I am an academic librarian by day, with several academic writing credits to my name and the resulting bad habit of over-using the passive voice in my first drafts. I am also a former food blogger (booklovercook.wordpress.com). I’ve been writing fiction off and on since I was in second grade and my class “published” our own “books” by laminating the pages and binding them with those plastic spiral bindings (a one-off project, but I proceeded to pester my teacher to let me publish at least five more books!) I got serious about my fiction writing four years ago, when I participated in NaNoWriMo (and made it to 50K! Woohoo!) The resulting first draft turned into the novel that I’m editing in Pitch Wars right now, The Friends. My book is about two women in Regency England (think Jane Austen) who fall in love with one another and then have to negotiate, and fight against, the expectations and pressures of their families, friends, and suitors—not to mention a society that views their love as unnatural and forbidden. There are lots of great books out there now telling stories about women loving one another during times in history when it was far less accepted to do so (as an aside, read The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite immediately if this interests you!), and I’m sure that more existed at the time than I knew about, but I started writing this novel for the simple reason that it was a story I wanted to read. And then, of course once I’d created the characters of Pansy and Livvy they took on lives of their own, and I think they are what makes my novel unique.

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 December 5, 2019! Want to know more about #PitMad? Go here

 

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