After graduating from the College of William & Mary with degrees in History and English, I moved to New York City to work in children’s book publishing. When I’m not writing YA Historical Fantasy, I’m cooking, practicing a new language, or planning my next trip.
I queried my first novel in the middle of my freshman year of college. Eventually, I shelved it, and wrote a new manuscript with which I entered Pitch Wars and joined the class of ‘14. (I used a different name, Jak Szabo, because I was young and foolish and wary of the internet. Do. Not. Do. This.) It took me a long time to let go of that project; eventually, I did, and I drafted another novel in Spring ‘17. A few months later, I signed with my fabulous agent. I’m currently working on revisions.
I have B.A. degrees in English and History from the College of William & Mary, where I worked as a writing consultant. While in college, I was a mentee in Pitch Wars ‘14. I’ve been a bookseller, held internships at a literary agency and a literary scouting firm, and I currently work in subsidiary rights at Penguin Young Readers. I have CPs at all stages of the publishing journey.
It took me a little while to find a writing community, but when I did, it changed everything for me. Writing is hard and publishing is complicated; it’s important to have a support system. I want to give back to a community that did so much for me. Hopefully, I can make the publishing journey a little less intimidating for someone.
I am so excited to join Author Mentor Match as a mentor! I am primarily looking for Historical Fantasy that’s ambitious and exciting, but I’m also open to unique second world fantasy and contemporary with a speculative twist. If it’s dark and weird, I want to see it. I love characters with questionable morals, plots that surprise and inspire me, and prose I can sink my teeth into.
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
I live for Historical Fantasy in which the time period doesn’t just serve as a backdrop, but interacts with the plot. Give me politics, please. I love slow-burn romance, villains I can sympathize with, multi-PoV and ensemble casts, and magic that feels like science. Teach me something new. Love triangles? Sure, I’ll take them, but only if they reflect the MC’s personal growth. I’ll consider steampunk, but I’m not the mentor for hard sci-fi. And while I do prefer Historical Fantasy, I am open to second world fantasy, as well, provided it’s fresh and layered.
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Skype or phone call
- Freestyle in chat
I am very open to having conversations throughout. I’ll provide an edit letter that focuses on big picture things, and then I’ll chat/Skype with my mentee as we work through revisions. Depending on my schedule, I’m usually happy to hop on the phone and brainstorm. When it comes to line edits, I’ll wait until I think the manuscript is close to being ready to query. I am good at worldbuilding, narrative structure, and characters.
My ideal mentee is a hard worker who is open to doing some heavy revisions. My feedback tends to go pretty deep, so I’m looking for someone who’s willing to make structural changes in addition to more cosmetic ones. They are in this business for the long haul.
More than anything, I am looking for layered Historical Fantasy in the vein of GRAVE MERCY or WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER. It’s important to me that the time period serves as more than a backdrop; it needs to shape the plot and characters in such a way that the story could not occur at any other time, in any other place. To get very specific, I’d love to see an #ownvoices novel set in early modern Latin America. I also have a soft spot for the Napoleonic Wars and pre- 20th century Jewish history. That being said, I’m open to most time periods/places (see my anti-MSWL for what I don’t want).
Contemporary with a speculative twist, especially if it’s laced with dark humor. If you can comp it to GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE or SPONTANEOUS or MEDDLING KIDS, I want it. The weirder, the better.
I’d love a globetrotting thriller like THE CONSPIRACY OF US.
As for second world fantasy, I don’t really know what I want until I see it, but it needs to have original, layered worldbuilding, morally gray characters, and a premise that’s wholly unique.
Retellings, but only if they’re not the usual fare. I don’t want Cinderella or Snow White; give me Bluebeard (PLEASE, give me Bluebeard), offbeat Shakespeare, some creepy tale I’ve never heard of.
DO NOT SEND ME:
I am not the mentor for World War II or Holocaust fiction.
Issue books. They’re important, but I’m not the right mentor for them.
Light, fluffy contemporary
Books: THE CROWN’S GAME, CHRONICLE OF A DEATH FORETOLD, THE DOVEKEEPERS, SIX OF CROWS, TREASURE ISLAND, THE FALSE PRINCE, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, FELIX YZ, AIRBORN, THE THIEF LORD, ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME, GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, SPONTANEOUS, THIS DARK ENDEAVOR, UPROOTED, GRAVE MERCY, REBEL OF THE SANDS.
TV & Movies: AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER, STRANGER THINGS, GAME OF THRONES, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, STARDUST, TREASURE PLANET
Other Favorite Things (in no particular order): cats, wine, Colonial Williamsburg, theme parties, funky clothing, and Mediterranean food.