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 . . .
Heather L. Levy – Mentee
Layne Fargo – Mentor
Halley Sutton – Mentor
Layne and Halley, why did you choose Heather?
Layne: Heather’s writing is gorgeous – right in that poetic but not pretentious sweet spot! – and I love her audacious, unapologetic portrayal of all the different facets of abuse. I have a really clear vision of the brilliant book it will be after going through the Pitch Wars revision fires, and I cannot wait to read the finished product!
Halley: Heather’s work immediately grabbed Layne and me as something strikingly new, different, and beautiful. It wrestles with thorny questions of agency, abuse, sexual desire and more–I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it! It has the potential to be a really beautiful, fascinating, dark book–and Layne and I both have such a strong vision for getting it there. I’m so excited to work with Heather!
Heather, why did you choose to submit to Layne and Halley?
You appeared open to stories dealing with difficult topics, and I knew you both had gone through the process of Pitch Wars with success at the other end. I had a feeling you wouldn’t sugarcoat anything, which is what I wanted. It doesn’t hurt that you’re both excellent writers!
Layne and Halley, summarize Heather’s book in 3 words.
Layne: Disturbing, empowering drama
Halley: Dark lush drama
Heather, summarize your book in 3 words.
Dark, audacious, and powerful
Layne and Halley, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.
Layne: I’m OBSESSED with Star Wars and occasionally write Star Wars fanfiction in my spare time (and yes, it is just as full of psychosexual drama as my published work).
Halley: I used to write letters to my favorite book characters (particularly Sally Lockhart of the Ruby in the Smoke series by Phillip Pullman). I am almost positive I never mailed any of those letters.
Heather, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?
I’d be lying if I didn’t say my ultimate goal with Pitch Wars is to land an agent who believes in my manuscript so it can find a good home. To get there, I know the mentoring process will force me to look at WALKING THROUGH NEEDLES under a microscope and make the changes I need. I want this story to hit readers hard and stay with them long after the last page, and my gut tells me Pitch Wars will help me make that happen.
Heather, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your manuscript unique?
I’ve been writing since I knew how to form words into sentences, and I have vivid memories of writing and (poorly) illustrating my first book at age five for Mother’s Day. I initially studied fine arts for my undergraduate in a failed attempt to be like my artist father. The English department head, a woman I’ll forever be indebted to, steered me into creative writing classes, and I ended up with a BA in English Creative Studies and Public Relations. This came in handy when I was a divorced single mom scraping by with freelance writing jobs until I landed steady work writing for a big wedding site. Oh, the irony!
Several years and another wedding and kid later, my second husband gave me the nudge I needed to apply to a local low-residency MFA program. I lucked out with having two of the best mentors, authors Lou Berney and Allison Amend, for those two years. Both believed in WALKING THROUGH NEEDLES, and Lou Berney saw it through a major revision. In the two years since I’ve graduated, I’ve continued working on new projects and had several personal essays and short pieces find publication. This fall, my feminist horror story, “You Should Smile More: The Blood Coven of Arkana,” came out in a Hammer film tribute anthology through Muzzleland Press.
While I’m proud of that story, my heart is with my novel, WALKING THROUGH NEEDLES, and getting it out into the world. As a survivor of childhood physical abuse who considers myself to be a masochist, it’s important to me to show readers how abuse victims sometimes develop sexuality outside of societal norms as a way to gain back control. Sam, my heroine, is strong, unapologetic, and deeply damaged, and I needed to see her journey through to the end. I know this novel may be outside the comfort zone for many, but I also believe it’s a story that deserves to be told.
Check out Layne’s upcoming release, THEY NEVER LEARN, and Halley’s upcoming debut, THE LADY UPSTAIRS.
Layne: My second novel THEY NEVER LEARN comes out in October 2020. It’s not available for preorder yet, but you can add it on Goodreads.
Halley: My debut novel, THE LADY UPSTAIRS (a PitchWars novel!), is out July 14, 2020. You can preorder wherever books are sold! Click here for info.
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.