Kristen Ciccarelli is an internationally bestselling author of fantasy fiction. Her first novel, The Last Namsara, debuted on the UK’s Children & YA chart, was named one of Indigo’s Best Books for Teens in 2017, and has been translated into 12 languages. Before writing books for a living, Kristen was an artisanal baker, an indie bookseller, and a ceramic artist. She resides in a blustery seaside cove on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula.
I started writing The Last Namsara (my debut novel) when I was 17, rewrote it twice from scratch over 10 years (and wrote other books in between). I’ve been agented twice (lost my first agent when she left the biz) and had to go back to square one. I almost sold a book before The Last Namsara, worked on that book closely with an editor at my dream house for over a year, only to have it turned down in the end. (After which my then-agent told me it had lost its heart.) I rallied while studying under Franny Billingsley’s mentorship (best writing experience of my life) and got into Pitch Wars in 2015 where I was mentored by Renee Ahdieh and Traci Chee (second best writing experience of my life). Despite believing that I’d already queried all the agents in the world and no one would want my book, I got five offers of representation through Pitch Wars, revised the book with my now-agent, and it sold the week after she took it out on sub. The last book in that series comes out this fall.
Because I was mentored and it was invaluable to me, I believe mentorship is the best way to learn a craft or trade (which is how I view writing!).
Give me all the fantasy: high fantasy, epic fantasy, second world fantasy, historical fantasy, fairytale/folk tale/myth/classic retellings. Contemporary fantasy if it’s done in an original, fresh way.
I like my fantasy to be high-stakes, fast-paced, smart, and romantic.
I love impressive worldbuilding, mythology, and magic systems. (Your world doesn’t have to have magic, though—some of my favourite series don’t. Ex. The Queen’s Thief series, The Winners Curse series.)
Also: I’m a big fan of romance (het, queer, anything with a lot of chemistry and a slow burn) and rarely read books that don’t include at least a small romantic subplot.
Most of all, though: characters who are complex and full of agency. Characters who move the plot. Characters whose actions are intrinsically tied to their backstories, wounds, and beliefs about themselves and the world around them. Characters who end up in the opposite place they were at the beginning because of their transformative, powerful arcs.
Tropes I love: I’m a sucker for the enemies-to-lovers and BFFs-to-lovers tropes. Bonus points if the romance is forbidden. Give me all the angst!
Other things I love: genderswappings(!), trope-inversions, irreversible decisions, unreliable narrators, cool creatures (think Ludo from the Labyrinth or the kodama from Princess Mononoke), magical gadgets/weapons (think Lyra’s alethiometer or the Abhorsen’s bell bandolier), bittersweet endings, camaraderie & teamwork, deeply resonant themes, and dark stories that are full of hope.
I’m not the best person for military or grimdark fantasy. (Sorry!)
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Skype or phone call
I give pretty in-depth edit letters. Once I read through your manuscript and compile all my thoughts, I’ll send them to you in letter-format. After you read through it and mull it all over, you can ask me any questions and we can brainstorm possible solutions–either by email or Skype. My inbox is always open. 🙂
Someone who is excited by and open to feedback. Someone who wants to learn from me, work hard, and get better. Someone who wants to hone their craft and make their manuscript the absolute best it can be.
- Really original/interesting magic systems.
- Myths and interesting religious systems.
- Gorgeous, lyrical prose (just no purple prose).
- Any kind of retelling. (Especially anything that remotely resembles Uprooted, Spinning Silver, or The Bear and the Nightingale.)
- Romantic fantasy. <3
- Strong, supportive female relationships.
- Creatures (I loves them). Dragons, monsters, spirits, etc.
- I’m still waiting for a gender swapped/romantic Prince of Egypt.
- Also: I’m a big fan of third person POV, and the less POVs the better.
Note: if you have something that isn’t on this list and you want to work with me, please still submit to me! This is just a small sampling of things I love.
Movies/TV Shows: Howl’s Moving Castle, Firefly, Poldark, Pacific Rim, Mad Max, The Force Awakens, Princess Mononoke, Crimson Peak, Looper, Rogue One, How to Train Your Dragon, Moulin Rouge!, Pan’s Labyrinth, Mulan, Hysteria, Little Miss Sunshine, The Prince of Egypt, Silver Linings Playbook, The Haunting of Hill House
Books: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, The Queen of Attolia, Keturah and Lord Death, The Abhorsen Series, Swordspoint, The Raging Quiet, Chime, Uprooted, Fire, The Sevenwaters Series, SAGA, City of Brass, The Bear and the Nightingale, Children of Blood and Bone, The Guns Above, Of Fire and Stars