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Pitch Wars Team Interviews with Hugh Blackthorne and his mentor, Gwynne Jackson

Friday, 15 November 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 . . .

Hugh Blackthorne – Mentee

Website | Twitter

 

Gwynne Jackson – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Gwynne, why did you choose Hugh?

Hugh’s lyrical, lovely narrative voice was the first thing to attract me to his story, followed by its complex and haunting nature. I loved his poetic and often monumental exploration of the paths grief takes in a person’s life, all wrapped up in detailed archaeological descriptions and surprising optimism. I love tales where it’s not easy to tell where dreams end and reality begins, and How to Bury the Living has that flavor. It’s about found family, at its core, which is my favorite trope. The way it’s woven into this story is subtle and well-executed. Also, as I got to know Hugh in bits and pieces throughout the decision-making period, his level of maturity and positivity shone brightly. I knew he’d be up to the revision challenge, and our ideas meshed.

Hugh, why did you choose to submit to Gwynne?

I loved reading about Gwynne and her interests on her webpage on the PitchWars blog hop. At the top of the page, I was thrilled to see her note about love is love because my novel is a LGBTQ story with a gay protagonist, and I happen to be trans, so that really resonated with me. Gwynne’s background is really impressive too, between her previous editorial work to her fiction, including the recognition she’s received for her writing as a Golden Heart finalist. I loved her experience and enthusiasm for writing romance, since I have a strong romantic subplot. I was excited to see she was also interested in found family, which is a big theme of my novel, and that she would consider literary novels. One thing that really stood out was how open and encouraging she is, from the PitchWars forums to Twitter. Her kindness really stood out and that meant a lot to me. And her great humour and love of rock stories! She definitely seemed like someone I’d be very lucky to work with and that her described working style was right on for me.

Gwynne, summarize Hugh’s book in 3 words.

What defines family?

Hugh, summarize your book in 3 words.

Archaeology. Grief. Kissing.

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

I was twice mistaken for Patti Smith, and once for Meryl Streep.

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

I want to improve my editing skills (to a schedule!) to make my novel really tight, but still with that emotional hook. I always find editing tough and I’m keen for ways to approach edits in an orderly way, and that I’m making the right sort of changes. I’m excited to receive mentoring from an experienced fiction writer who understands the publishing world and audiences. I’m also looking for a writing community to cheer each other on who are at similar stages in our writing journey. Finally, I want to have a polished manuscript for the agent showcase that hopefully resonates with people to get the story out there one day.

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

I’m a queer trans writer who has come out late in life, after serious health issues a few years ago left me re-evaluating everything. I’d written in secret for over twenty years. After an illness, I decided to work toward writing stories for others to read and started getting feedback on my work. I currently live in Victoria, Canada, but I’ve lived and worked throughout western Canada, and also in the UK, which inspires a lot of my writing. I’m a professional archaeologist for over twenty years and my experiences in archaeology and museums spill over into my fiction. I’ve worked as a technical writer in archaeology for a number of years too. These days, I run loose in a museum.

I love writing broadly, including contemporary LGBTQ literary, romance, and poetry. Writing poetry has definitely influenced my prose and taught me a lot about the power of words and their placement. I love writing compelling characters and places that feel real and that readers can relate to. I want to see more diverse books out there in adult fiction. This novel came together while working through my own grief after an archaeologist friend died unexpectedly during fieldwork. As the close-knit community of archaeologists grieved, we made a place on the landscape for her in memory. I had always wanted to write a story about an archaeologist and places I’m familiar with. I was intrigued by the idea of an archaeology student using the ancient world to make sense of his grief and find a way to live again. I’m lucky to have my novel How to Bury the Living longlisted for the Bath Novel Award in the UK, a competition for unpublished novelists and for PitchWars too.

Check out the site, ALL THE KISSING, for more on writing from Gwynne and other romance writers.

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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