Claire Friedman & Jessica Mileo

YA romantic fantasy, YA Gothic

DOWN COMES THE NIGHT (Winter 2021), Wednesday Books

Allison Saft was born in a Philadelphia blizzard and has been chasing the sun ever since. After receiving her MA in English Literature from Tulane University, she moved from the Gulf Coast to the West Coast, where she spends her time hiking the redwoods and practicing aerial silks. DOWN COMES THE NIGHT is her first novel.

Like many who grew up online in the aughts, I cut my teeth on fanfiction and roleplay forums (fair warning: mostly Naruto). In 2015, I turned my attention to writing novels. I wrote and shelved two books, mostly because I knew neither of them was “the one” after finishing the first draft. Plus, I’d gotten some brutal feedback on a writing forum that killed my creativity for a while–so much so, I thought I’d give up writing and become a powerlifter instead. But in November 2017, I was possessed by an idea. A month and a half later, I had a draft of DOWN COMES THE NIGHT, which I submitted to Round 4 of AMM. By what I am convinced must be a miracle considering the early state of that book, Christine Lynn Herman picked me as her mentee. With her guidance, I rewrote the book entirely and started querying in October 2018. I received multiple offers and signed with my rockstar agents, Claire Friedman and Jessica Mileo, in January 2019. They took me through two more rounds of revision before submission. Then, after a whirlwind few weeks, we sold DOWN COMES THE NIGHT at auction to Wednesday Books. It comes out in early 2021, with another standalone to follow.

I hold a Master’s in English Literature from Tulane University. I’ve served a very brief stint as an assistant fiction editor for the Tulane Review, taken a writing workshop with Jesmyn Ward, worked as a copyeditor for a mutual fund company, and am currently a writing tutor (and occasional life coach) for teens. I was also an AMM Round 4 mentee, so I can empathize with the stress that is browsing these profiles, agonizing over the best fit, and working up the courage to apply. My critique partners and I have gone through many brain-breaking revisions with our mentors, agents, and editors, so I can help you through the most wretched of revision meltdowns. I’ve developed a hearty repertoire of publishing pep talks over the years. It is an ever-expanding one, believe me.

It’s no exaggeration when I say AMM changed my life–and made it so much brighter. My fellow mentees have been incredible sources of inspiration and support to me; almost two years later, many of them are still dear friends and critique partners. My mentor also showed me I had what it took to be an author by teaching me what it really means to revise: how to tear apart a book, find its heart, and cut away everything that doesn’t serve the story. AMM has opened so many doors for me, and I’m now in a place where I want to open doors for others. The publishing industry can be a rough, lonely, and confusing place; I’d love to be your Virgil (yes, publishing is hell in this metaphor).

AMM was one of the best things that ever happened to me and my career, and I am beyond thrilled to mentor an up-and-coming author. If we work together, I’m with you for the long haul, through querying and submission and beyond. On a craft level, my strengths lie in romance, line-level prose, and accessible worldbuilding. We’ll work together on whittling big ideas into rich details that inform the book’s theme, character arcs, and narration style.

I’m looking for smart, literary-leaning YA fantasy or horror that has something to say. Send me your books with vibrant, flawed characters; ambitious worldbuilding; and a setting that feels lived-in and alive. I am a romantic at heart and enjoy stories with a strong romantic subplot, but it’s by no means crucial. If you love the big-heartedness of anime, strive to defamiliarize your imagery, and often get sidelined by research, I want to work with you.

Young Adult

  • Fantasy
  • #ownvoices*
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Gothic

I adore fantasy of all sorts. Whether it’s high or low, secondary-world or contemporary, whimsical or dark (or darkly whimsical), I want it. If you combine any of the above with horror and romance, I’m yours. I’m also hungry for pure Gothic if you have a YA Fingersmith or Crimson Peak on your hands.

In fantasy, I gravitate toward grounded secondary worlds that reimagine real-world history, politics, and cultures. I especially love stories with small, deeply personal stakes, as well as ones with a setting so rich, they could not possibly take place anywhere else. In Gothic, I’m looking for dark, disturbing (and ultimately hopeful) tales that understand the genre well–and how to adapt it to terrify and delight 21st-century readers. I love scheming, affably evil, and eccentric antagonists across genres.


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

I am communicative and sensitive, which allows me to nurture people when they need it, but I also have a practical, problem-solving streak that allows me to give tough love and concrete suggestions. I see revision as a collaborative process–one where we enhance what is working and pare away everything that isn’t until we arrive at a book that matches your vision. I don’t use the compliment-sandwich approach when giving written feedback, but know if I choose you, I LOVE your book. I will shower you with praise, validation, memes, and probably a Pinterest board before sending you any critique.

To speak broadly of my process: As I read your manuscript, I’ll take notes, which I’ll then use to write a big-picture edit letter. We’ll chat about your goals for the book so that I can tailor any feedback accordingly. Once you’ve had a few days to process the edit letter, we can debrief and make a plan of attack (whether by phone, video call, text, or DMs). I may also send you a few exercises to complete in preparation for your revision. I will almost definitely make you outline. We’ll repeat that process until we’ve nailed down the structure, and then move onto line edits if you’re receptive to/need them!

I am not afraid of taking on a book that needs substantial rewriting, so I’m looking for a mentee who is passionate, ready to work, and has a clear vision for their story–someone who feels they’re almost there with their writing and needs that final push. I’d love to work with someone who is intentional with their writing, who strives to have every world and stylistic choice contribute to a larger thematic whole. Must love atmospheric prose.

What I’m most looking for is genre-bending, grounded fantasy. Fantasy cozy mystery, fantasy horror, fantasy Gothic, or fantasy rom-com… the possibilities are endless. You will always intrigue me with anything inspired by history ([time period/historical event] with magic!). If you can comp your book to The Scorpio Races or Fullmetal Alchemist, you have my full attention. I’d also especially love to see queer protagonists in my inbox; please do not self-reject if you feel your story isn’t queer enough. I promise it is!

Some elements I love:

  • Protagonists with very specific and interesting jobs (see: The Bone Houses, An Enchantment of Ravens)
  • Magic that feels like science
  • Weird experiments
  • Magic systems that are intricate, strange, and macabre
  • Contained, claustrophobic settings that feel like characters
  • Whimsy & humor in the vein of Margaret Rogerson or Diana Wynne Jones
  • Religious angst
  • Gratuitous nature descriptions
  • Academic settings
  • War

Themes I gravitate toward:

  • The healing power of love
  • Breaking cycles of violence, whether political or familial
  • Redemption / forgiveness
  • Moms are scary

Favorite relationship dynamics:

  • Enemies-to-lovers, hate-to-love, or rivals-to-lovers
  • Sunshine/grump
  • Mutual pining, especially when the romance is forbidden
  • A prominent figure and their devoted adjutant (see: Roy Mustang/Riza Hawkeye from FMA, Dimitri/Dedue and Edelgard/Hubert from FE3H)


  • Contemporary without magical or supernatural elements
  • I may not be the best fit for multi-POV ensemble casts (I’ve only written single and dual POV), but I will consider them if you think we’d click!
  • Magic user oppression (unless you carefully craft your world around the how & why, as in Dragon Age or Victoria Lee’s THE FEVER KING)
  • I think there are other mentors who will be a better fit for “monster boys” (although I’d LOVE to see monster girls). I am open to them, but I’d like your book to have a serious thematic consideration of what “monstrosity” means, beyond a tragic backstory and broodingly hostile demeanor. If you sub a m/f romance to me, know that my ideal male love interest is a U-Pick-2 combination of this holy triangle: respects women, cries, dumb as a bag of rocks.


  • A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
  • Uprooted & Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
  • Fullmetal Alchemist by Arakawa Hiromu
  • Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto
  • The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden
  • Anything by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Golden Apples by Eudora Welty

I think Rumours (1977) is the greatest album of all time.