Catherine Bakewell is a YA and MG Fantasy author with a passion for opera and languages. She’s lived in Spain and in France, where she romped through gardens, ate pastries, and worked on her novels.
In about 2015, I queried a YA Historical Fiction novel for about two years, and got a little bit of traction, but ultimately, didn’t succeed. I kept writing. I wrote a book about a girl with anxiety and the flowers she grew, and my PitMad pitch for her story blew up. For my second time querying, I started a support group (The Llama Squad) so I’d have someone to turn to when I got rejections, when the waiting was too much, or when I needed another look at my query. About six months later, I signed with my agent, Devin Ross. Along the way, I also wrote a middle grade fantasy about a girl with a magic voice. Now, I’m preparing my Young Adult novel for submission and am so excited to share my characters with the world.
I graduated with a degree in Spanish and a French minor. I’ve worked as a freelance editor for a couple of years now. I especially like to check novels for character inconsistencies, logical errors, and structural issues. In 2018, I started the Llama Squad and the Quokka Crew, two query support groups where writers could swap pages, encourage one another, and find solidarity for the trials and tribulations of querying. About a third of the llamas are agented in just a year of being together! I have also applied to be a mentee in several contests before, so I have been in your shoes!
I love seeing an author flourish. I love reading books full of unbridled enthusiasm. I love being a cheerleader and finding a book and an author I adore. I also like breaking down books, figuring out what makes them work and what would make them stronger. Most of all, I want to help an author step into the query trenches confident in their story and feeling that they are not alone. I want to be that support and that advocate for an author, just like the mentors I’ve had have been for me.
I’m looking for YA Fantasy, especially historical fantasy (or fantasy that is history-inspired) or fairytale retellings.
My tastes fall into two very different camps:
A light, fluffy, fun book that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
A dark, moody, gothic, atmospheric book.
What I want from both:
Characters make the story for me. I want characters who are passionate about something (a family member, a hobby, a flower in their garden) and will do whatever it takes to protect that something. I love stories with magic, especially in unique, fearsome, or whimsical forms. I also want to read more diversely, especially if you write fairytales or were inspired by fairytales.
In both categories above, I want stories that deal with serious themes. I want to read and know that you, the author, are passionate about sharing your story, sharing your truth, with the world—and with young people specifically.
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
I’m seeking YA Fantasy, ideally with a touch of history or historical inspiration, or unique fairytale retellings.
Tropes I love:
- Only one bed
- Court intrigue
- Enemies to lovers
- Childhood friends to lovers
- Happy endings
- Unique magic systems
- Fairy godmother characters
- Worlds inspired by history
- Vampires, especially new takes on them
- Mutual pining
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Skype or phone call
- Freestyle in chat
My favorite part of revising is drawing out the beautiful, jaw-droppingly amazing theme in your story. Sometimes that means a light polish to help that amazingness stand out, and sometimes it means restructuring your book from the ground up so that it frames this amazing core as best as possible. I’ll write you an edit letter based on overall structural/character edits I want you to make. We’ll hop on the phone or chat online and discuss how you feel about my edit letter. Then, you’ll write a new outline and share it with me. When our game plan is set, you’re off revising! I’ll be there to help you along the way, read your polished version, and write in-line edit notes in your final version. When we are confident and excited about your draft, I’ll help you with preparing a pitch and a query letter and be there to hold your hand as you jump into the query trenches! Above all, I want to be your cheerleader, and I want you to feel supported as you go through this difficult, nerve-wracking experience.
My ideal mentee wants their book to be the best it can be – even if that means working from the ground up. I will choose my mentee based on the concept of their story and if I have a creative vision for making it even stronger. My mentee should be able to take criticism well, to be able to reflect on the changes I suggest, and to be comfortable enough to come to me with concerns. If you disagree with an edit of mine, I want you to tell me why, to be willing to compromise, and to be willing to hold tight to the core of your book, the theme or idea that makes it so important to you. Future mentee, you are passionate but patient, and most of all, willing to learn. You are ready to revise, easy to work with, and are willing to laugh when you (or I) make mistakes.
- Light, fluffy, optimistic worlds
- Stories with humor
- Explorations of difficult themes, especially about Anxiety and Depression
- Anything with Gothic vibes
- Anything with Baroque vibes
- Stories inspired by fairytales / fairytale retellings
- Sensitive, kind characters
- Strong characters learning to be gentle
- Beauty and the Beast stories / Death and the Maiden stories
DO NOT SEND ME:
- Dragons. FORGIVE ME.
- Epic fantasy. If you would compare your book to LORD OF THE RINGS, I’m not a good fit for you.
- More than 2 POVs – I am willing to make exceptions on this front, but if you have many POVs, I’ll likely ask you to justify why they’re there and what they bring to the story. I may even ask you to cut a POV or two!
- Child abuse
- Animal abuse
- Romanticized suicide or self-harm
Books: House of Salt and Sorrows, A Treason of Thorns, The Sisters of the Winter Wood, Circe, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, The Cruel Prince, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Till We Have Faces, Serpent and Dove
Movies and TV: Anything Disney (especially Frozen 2), Crimson Peak, Amadeus, Le Roi Danse, Howl’s Moving Castle, Lost in Austen, Pan’s Labyrinth, Les Choristes (The Chorus), Marie-Antoinette, The Wizard of Oz, Stardust, Steven Universe, Anne with an E, Alias Grace, anything John Mulaney
Settings: Versailles, France in general, the 17th century, the 18th century, Boston/New England, Spain (especially Seville), meadows, foggy fields at night, a creepy old mansion with a personality.
Misc: Pastries! Anything with Louis XIV or inspired by him. Art and art history. French history in general. Anything to do with languages. Dance. Spanish-speakers. French-speakers. Operas (Armide, La Cenerentola, Le Nozze di Figaro), theater in general, musicals (Wicked, Phantom, Hamilton, Le Roi Soleil, Elisabeth, Into the Woods, Evita), the podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me, the podcast The Adventure Zone.