Claire Friedman and Jessica Mileo 

YA Contemporary Fantasy & Horror

THE DEAD AND THE DARK (Wednesday Books 2021)

Courtney Gould writes books about queer girls, ghosts, and things that go bump in the night. Her debut novel, THE DEAD AND THE DARK, comes out Summer 2021 from Wednesday Books.

She graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Publishing. Born and raised in Salem, OR, she now lives and works as a legal case manager in Tacoma, WA and continues to write scary love stories about the PNW and all its strange quirks.

I began writing before I can even remember, but only started writing toward publication in college. I finished my first book in 2016, but shelved it before querying. I finished my second book in 2017, and queried that one for a few months before shelving it as well. I then finished TDATD in October of 2018 and revised it through March of 2019. I participated in #DVpit in April 2019, and signed with my agents in May 2019. We went on submission in July of 2019 and sold the book to Wednesday/Macmillan in August 2019.

I spent four years in college writing workshops, and have a consistent group of CPs that I provide feedback to. I have done some reading for literary agencies and some freelance work as an editor in the past. I was mentored in the Writing in the Margins program a few years ago, and continue to talk to fellow mentors and mentees from the program.

I feel like I have gotten so much help in my journey, and I’ve always wanted the chance to pass that along. Publishing is such a hard journey, and it’s a thousand times harder when we feel we have to go it alone. I want to help an author take that next step toward being confident and proud of their work, so when they start querying, they know their book is the best it can be.

I am looking to work with someone who is truly passionate about creating amazing stories. I feel like I’ve met so many people in this community that have amazing stories to tell, and with a helping hand, can figure out how to tell them in a way that moves people.

More than anything, I’m looking for a story with love at the center. Even in horror, in murder mysteries, in thrillers, I believe that a story with love and compassion at the center speaks volumes. I’m looking for a story with a lot of atmosphere, a lot of plot, and a lot of voice. I believe that things like pacing, dialogue, blocking, etc. are all fixable, and they get easier the more you write. I’m looking for a story with heart right on the page.

As a mentor and critique partner, I want to help take your story to its bare bones – we’ll figure out what you’re trying to say and how you’re trying to say it. Sometimes it just takes an outside perspective to get the characters, themes, and plot to all sync up. I’m fairly editorial, but I also trust my mentee to know their story better than anyone else. I’m here as a guide, not a micro-manager!

  • Contemporary
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • #ownvoices
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Western

In contemporary, I air more on the dark side. I love to read fluffy romances, but don’t know if I’d be a good match for them as a mentor. For everything else, I’m extremely open, especially if the book has a diverse twist that sets it apart from other books in the same genre.

The only tropes I avoid are:
– it was all a dream
– the narrator was the murderer the whole time and just didn’t tell you!
– reveals that aim only to subvert expectations (without even trying to make sense)


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

I like to think of my editing style as both hands-on and like a parent watching their kid play from the porch while drinking a cocktail. I’ll start with an edit letter where we’ll focus on what the story wants to be and what’s already doing the work. These will be larger edits that will probably take longer to do – restructuring, changing arcs, redefining character motivations, etc.

After that, once the book is story-shaped, we’ll do in-line comments where I’ll ask questions to tighten things up. (I’ll also leave you memes and exclamation points because that’s what I do). After that, we can do a round of line edits to make sure the book is as pristine and polished as it can be before you hurl it into the void.

I prefer to read the book in whole rounds, but if you need feedback on specific scenes, I am always available. Additionally, I want to be accessible to my mentee by chat, DM, or text. Writing is hard, and revising is even harder, but I’m here for you!

Someone who understands that no two journeys to publication are the same, and that learning how to revise and love your work is the most essential step. I want to work with someone who is enthusiastic and excited to see their story improve, and who has ideas already on how to take it there. Not a requirement, but I would also LOVE to work with an LGBTQ+ writer who is working on something #ownvoices.


  • Stories I fall in love with have a strong sense of what they’re trying to say right from page one. I love a story with a big, complex cast of characters. I love stories where people want to help each other and end up hurting each other instead. Specific things I’d love to see:
  • enemies-to-lovers, rivals-to-lovers, anything with a little contention. ESPECIALLY if it’s f/f
  • Ghosts, demons, shadows, urban legends. Anything unprovable, but real all the same
  • Stories with layered history (frame stories, flashbacks, lore) a la HOLES, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, A WRINKLE IN TIME
  • Family secrets like Netflix’s HILL HOUSE or THE DEVOURING GRAY
  • Horror in any form: body horror like WILDER GIRLS, paranormal horror like RULES FOR VANISHING, murder mysteries like MISSING, PRESUMED DEAD
  • a new, fresh take on cowboys (IF YOU HAVE AN F/F WESTERN PLEASE SEND IT TO ME)
  • I would love to see something really plot-driven, like a YA version of KNIVES OUT. Something complicated and quick with lots of layers
  • Something that blends genres
  • I’m also a sucker for a contained plot. Something that takes place in one location or in a limited amount of time like SURVIVE THE NIGHT. Really, anything that plays with form.
  • I’m dying to read something that evokes the creepy, unsettling, isolated feeling of reading a creepypasta/nosleep story. Something just haunting enough that it might be true. Something that makes me afraid of the shadows in my room for months


  • Fae
  • Really high fantasy (I sometimes struggle with elves, dragons, etc. though if you have a fresh spin on it, I’m still open!)
  • Hard sci-fi (which really just means anything that leans 100% into the science)
  • toxic male love interests

TV: Westworld, Hill House, Deadwood, Schitt’s Creek, Supernatural, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Avatar the Last Airbender, Riverdale (if you can give me a Riverdale that makes sense, I’ll bow down), The Good Place

MOVIES: Midsommar, Get Out, Knives Out, Coco, It: Chapter 1, It Follows

VIDEO GAMES: Red Dead Redemption 2, Dragon Age, Mass Effect,

PODCASTS: Lore, Unwell, Welcome to Nightvale