Suzie Townsend

YA Fantasy/Sci Fi/Historical

On Submission

Emma Theriault was born and raised in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. Consequently, she had a penchant for gothic revival architecture and a constant craving for Beavertails. She has been everything from an enthusiastic bookseller (who once sold books to a tuxedo-clad Prime Minister Trudeau) to a purveyor of whitewater rafting adventures in the Interior of British Columbia. When not writing books about curses and prophecies, she can be found eating tacos, hiking with her boyfriend, or cuddling with her reluctant cat, Gatsby. She also shares a birthday with George R.R. Martin, which must mean something cosmically, she just isn’t sure what.

I began writing books way back when I began writing. They were always about girls finding magical portals to hidden kingdoms, which they would then rule over benevolently (there was a distinct lack of conflict in my early writing). When I got into a specialized arts high school for writing, I knew I must have been halfway decent at it. But for some reason, I always saw publishing as something I would pursue someday when I was older and wiser. It wasn’t until my job as a bookseller forced me to read YA books that I found a new passion, one I wanted to pursue instantly.

I wrote my first book in the height of the post-Hunger Games dystopian frenzy. I learned a great deal from writing said book, but it will never see the light of day. I wrote my next book (BY SEA OR SWORD) over the course of many years and jobs, carving away at it whenever I had the energy. It was about magic and immortality and witchcraft and the sea. Somewhere along the way, my future agent followed me on twitter and we became friendly.

When I finally finished my draft, I began what I assumed would be a long and arduous editing journey. My critique partners helped me comb over the first half of my book mercilessly. And then I got a very exciting DM from my future agent, asking rather innocuously when I’d have a book ready for her. All of my plans to meticulously edit the rest of my book vanished. I had a trusted CP read the book in its entirety to give me a general “yes, send it” or “no, it needs work.” She miraculously said it was ready, so I queried my agent over the Christmas holidays and held my breath until January, when I signed with her. And then we edited BSOS. A lot. Between my query draft and my final submission draft, I lost about 23k. And now we are on submission.

I got my start in critiquing in high school. My literary arts program was very critique-based. We would often have our work put up on the overhead projector for everyone in the class to group critique. It was a daunting experience, but it made me a better writer and editor. In university I majored in History and minored in Anthropology. I took a LOT of courses about kingship in Anglo-Saxon England, Vikings, mythology, Paleolithic cultures, etc. So I am, in effect, a history nerd. I am also an active critique partner, and have given notes on some NYT bestsellers. (This feels like bragging, but in reality it is an immense privilege!)

I have a bit of a thing for worldbuilding. I invented prayers, nursery rhymes, epic poems, folklore, warrants, work songs, fairy tales, hypotheses from fictional historians, book excerpts, letters from crown emissaries, and recipes for my book. If this sort of attention to detail appeals to you, I am the mentor for you. (Side note, if this sort of attention to detail frightens you, I might still be the mentor for you! Worldbuilding like the above is my jam, but subtle worldbuilding has its charms, too!)

If your book has sword fights, magic, witches, devious plots, fallen kingdoms, disguises, curses, deep worldbuilding, diverse cultures and points of view, supportive female friendships, an appreciation of history, etc, I am the mentor for you. I want to be taken on a journey I didn’t expect. I want your book to creep up on me, to make me cry silently next to my snoring boyfriend at 3 am. First and foremost though, your characters have to feel real. I want them to make impossible choices and grow into different people than they were before.

The publishing industry can seem like an unconquerable beast to those peering in (and to those in the thick of it!) Along the way, I’ve had several people ahead of me help to light the way, so to speak. Friends and critique partners are immeasurably important parts of anyone’s writing journey. I’d love to help light the way for anyone coming up behind me.

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Historical
  • #ownvoices
  • Romance
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy

LOVE: I am a sucker for hate-to-love romances. If your characters start off as mortal enemies, sign me up! Alternatively, friends-to-lovers can work as well. What I am getting at here is that I don’t love insta-love. I am also really into disguises (girls dressing as boys to get into places they don’t belong, or wholly invented backgrounds for nefarious purposes, etc). Complex worldbuilding gets major points as well.

HATE: Girl hate. I need strong female friendships, aka girls who support and cherish one another. I will not abide by slut shaming or “I’m not like other girls” narratives. I also hate characters who are evil for the sake of being evil. I want a villain who could easily be the protagonist of another version of your book. I’m also pretty tired of clumsy main characters. Not everyone is clumsy! (I say this as someone who is incredibly clumsy. I once had to have hand surgery because of my clumsiness). I think that “clumsiness” as a character trait is a crutch for creating sympathy or depth, and it never works in my opinion.


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Freestyle in chat

I’m not really a video chat person (the very idea of it gives me stress hives) but I’m very available otherwise! When I’m critiquing I love to pour all of my feelings into a large edit letter. After a few rounds of big-picture edits, I love focusing on sentence-level stuff in a line edit. But of course, I’m willing to work with my mentee to decide what is right for us!

My ideal mentee wants to form a lasting partnership, and isn’t afraid of constructive criticism, because the best writing is born out of feedback from others. I am looking for someone who is passionate about reading and writing, someone who isn’t afraid of hard work, and who understands that the publishing industry is a marathon, not a sprint.

SIX OF CROWS-esque heist novels in fantastical settings, fresh retellings (not Shakespearean, and I love a good twist!), historical fantasy from time periods/places we haven’t read about yet (vikings! the Song Dynasty! Teotihuacan! etc).

I’m hesitant to tell people not to sub to me based on things I don’t like, because I love to be surprised! That being said, I am not the mentor for contemporary YA. I mostly read/write fantasy, sci fi and historical.


Authors I love: The queen, JK Rowling, Tolkien, Gail Carson Levine, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Rosamund Hodge, Marie Rutkoski, Sabaa Tahir, Victoria Aveyard, Alwyn Hamilton, Guy Gavriel Kay, GRRM, Louise Rennison.

Movies: LOTR extended editions, Moon, Blade Runner, Ex Machina, There Will Be Blood, Ever After, Star Wars (original trilogy but I did love Rogue One), Indiana Jones, Interstellar (this movie was amazing, fight me), The Prestige, Belle, Gangs of New York, Four Weddings and a Funeral.

TV Shows: My Mad Fat Diary, Veep, Seasons 1-4 of Game of Thrones, Outlander, Silicon Valley, LOST, Freaks and Geeks, Sense8, Battlestar Galactica.

I’m forgetting so many things.