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Pitch Wars Team Interviews with Hanna Bechiche and her mentor, Ayana Gray

Monday, 11 November 2019  |  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 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.

First up, we have . . .

Hanna Bechiche – Mentee



Ayana Gray – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Ayana, why did you choose Hanna?

I received so many incredible manuscripts during the 2019 Pitch Wars application window, but what made me choose Hanna’s manuscript, THE SOUND OF SILENCE, was the rich authenticity of its setting and the ferocity of its main characters. As a reader, I invested in their stakes quickly, and knew I wanted to follow them until the end! Further, I’d interacted with Hanna a bit on social media before I knew she was going to apply for Pitch Wars, and her personality seemed very compatible with mine! We both love Peaky Blinders!

Hanna, why did you choose to submit to Ayana?

I already followed Ayana pre-mentor blog hop, and knew she was an awesome person! She was super kind, never hesitated to help anyone, and loved Tommy Shelby: the kind of person anyone would LOVE to work with. When I read through her wishlist and saw that she loved epic fantasies with extensive non-western world building, geopolitical intrigue, and opposites to allies, I hissed a hushed “yessssss!!!” She stayed at the top of my list as I continued to research and cut down names.

Ayana, summarize Hanna’s book in 3 words.

Vicious. Beautiful. Sand-swept.

Hanna, summarize your book in 3 words.

Sands. Barbarians. Tribes.

Image result for sand gifs


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

Although I’m in my late 20s, YA remains my favorite age category to read and write, I think because the ‘coming of age’ themes we so often see in YA books can resonate with readers of all ages. We’re all “coming in age” in some way and trying to figure the world out.

As for something you may not already know… hm. Well, I have a special love for books involving monsters, mythical beasts, and animals because I love animals in real life! I credit nature conservationist Steve Irwin for instilling that love, appreciation, and respect at an early age.

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

I am hoping to learn more about storytelling, story structure, and the book industry. I want to ingest every single piece of advise that comes my way. Mostly, the opportunity to work and bounce off ideas with a talented writer is very exciting to me. Lastly, I’ve always seen Pitch Wars as a chance to connect with other writers and be part of a supportive community.

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

I’m French-Algerian, and my family immigrated to France during the Algerian war of independence. No one speaks English in my family, but when I was eleven I was determined to learn the language because I didn’t want to wait a whole year for the translated version of Harry Potter. Thirteen years and many many books later, English has become my favorite language, even though no one wants to speak it with me (it’s fine Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir do!!)

My manuscript is inspired by the French invasion of North Africa, especially Algeria, because I was angry at the heavy silence that still drapes this era. What I love about THE SOUND OF SILENCE is that it slightly slits the drape open, by telling the tales of the silenced ones, and by exploring the other side of imperialism. (Whilst being drenched in epic fantasy galore).


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


One Comment
We're thrilled at the different ways those in our Pitch Wars community are giving back—and we encourage them to do so. However, please keep in mind that Pitch Wars is not affiliated with any of these various contests, promotions, etc., including those of our mentors and mentees. Promoting any such opportunities via our social media channels doesn't imply endorsement or affiliation. We encourage you to do your research before participating.

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