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Pitch Wars Team Interviews with JL Lycette and Her Mentor, Stephen Morgan

Friday, 17 January 2020  |  Posted by Annette Christie


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 . . .

JL Lycette – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Stephen Morgan – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Stephen, why did you choose JL?

The writing is exquisite. It’s a thrilling story that made me laugh, made me cry, made my heart race, and when it was over, I wanted to read it again.

Most of all, I want books that make me return to my own life with a new perspective. Teach me something. Walk me through difficult experiences. Difficult feelings. Difficult thoughts. And then make it all worth it. This book does all of those things.

I also was blown away discussing storytelling with Jennifer. Her understanding of character and story left me confident this book is not an accident. She’s a fantastic writer with a promising career ahead of her.

And as a bonus, I love authors like Michael Crichton that make me feel like an expert about things I don’t know anything about. Jennifer has a real-life medical background serving rural communities, and her expertise shows through with every word. She makes difficult concepts easy to understand, but more than that, she makes it compelling. I never felt like I could make it as a doctor, but when I read her book, Jennifer makes me feel like I could have been one.

JL, why did you choose to submit to Stephen?

When I saw Stephen’s wish list, several things resonated with me right away. First, he listed wanting speculative thrillers with a “splash” of sci-fi, and stories that expose a hidden world beneath our own. He wanted stories that take something familiar and show a side he never suspected—or at least a side that he always suspected but never knew for sure— “stories that reveal the dark, seedy underbelly of something we thought we could believe in.” He also emphasized wanting a strong thematic concept and character arcs.

These were all things that I’d aspired to accomplish in my manuscript but needed help in getting them to shine through. My story seemed to fit so many criteria on his list that I knew I had to submit to him—and would be lucky to work with an editor of his caliber and experience. Oh, and he listed both Battlestar Galactica and Brené Brown as “favorites” on his website, so I knew we would absolutely get along!

Stephen, summarize JL’s book in 3 words.

Thrilling. Addictive. Exquisite.

JL, summarize your book in 3 words.

Deception. Hope. Forgiveness.

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

I’m blessed to have made a career for so many years finding and developing great storytellers. Just making art and helping others make art is already so much to be grateful for.

Chopin is my favorite composer. I could listen to his piano nocturnes on repeat for the rest of my life.

I studied music in college and thought I would go into piano and composition. I mostly played piano but also studied guitar and took singing lessons. I did great in music theory and could play average, but I really struggled with the ear training and had zero chance of passing the labs. Who on earth can transcribe music purely by ear?! Not me.

I have kept up with my music training, however, in a roundabout way by becoming an expert whistler. I can whistle throughout octaves and can do complex arpeggio phrases like I’m playing a flute.

I’ve briefly thought about starting a YouTube channel called “The Whistleblower” where I start off “playing” a flute for pop and classical music, then at some point in each video, I drop the flute and show I’m whistling.

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

I hope to stretch myself as a writer—to learn the things about writing that I don’t even know I don’t know yet. I’m excited to work with Stephen to hopefully take the manuscript to a new level. I hope to learn editing skills that can carry forward into future projects. I look forward to making connections within the writing community, in which I’m a relative newbie. My dream outcome would be for my book to find a home in the world.

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

I’ve been an avid reader since childhood, but writing for me came later in life. In my twenties and thirties, I was consumed by medical school and training, and building my medical career, along with starting and raising a family. I often “wrote” stories in my mind, but I didn’t find the courage to write them until a few years ago.

Now (in my forties), writing has become my outlet for these intense experiences that weren’t being talked about—as a physician, as a mom, and as a human. (I hope this encourages any other writers out there starting later in life like me!). What drives my writing more than anything is the desire to share experiences of hope—from my work as an oncologist, and my life outside of medicine. This manuscript story idea came to me three years ago and hasn’t let me alone since.

I’m excited and grateful to Pitch Wars for the opportunity to work with Stephen to refine it. It’s set in the contemporary medical world with some speculative technology elements. But what makes it different from other medical thrillers is the female-centric story.

The underlying story premise is based on the rapid emergence of AI technology in medicine. When something goes wrong, who is at fault—the technology, or the people behind it? What are the insidious mechanisms that silence the inner ethical compass of otherwise good people? As healthcare becomes more and more corporatized, does hope still have a role? How do we reconcile hope with grief? (Funnily enough, each of my characters insisted on expressing their own stubborn beliefs as to the “right” answers to these questions—and my antagonist never thought she was doing anything wrong…)

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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