Devin Ross, New Leaf Literary

YA thrillers & MG mysteries


Mary E. Roach writes YA thrillers & MG mysteries. Mary is also a teacher, martial arts instructor, and avid outdoorsperson. They have a passion for queer YA and stories about angry girls reclaiming their power.

I have been writing since I was very young, but in the summer of 2018 decided to revise my novel with the goal of publication. I entered Pitch Wars in August of 2018 on a whim and was selected. I revised and revised and revised, made connections in the industry, learned about querying, and then showcased in 2019.

I pitched my second book in Pitmad about a month after the showcase, and received a fair bit of interest. I ended up receiving multiple offers, and signed with my agent (the incredible Devin Ross) in the early summer.

I have worked in editorial teams in lit journals in the past, and feel very comfortable editing across genre (I also write in many genres and age categories). Most specifically, I offer professional fight scene critiques, as I am both a writer and a martial artist.

I also moderate a query support group for authors in the query trenches, and have helped critique many pitches and queries that went on to be very successful in pitch contests and beyond!

The writing community has opened so many doors for me already during my writing career, and I would like to do the same for another writer. I’m especially looking to create those opportunities for marginalized folks–authors of color, queer authors, neurodiverse or disabled authors, etc.

I’ve learned and grown so much because of the online writing community, and I’m so excited to help another writer polish their book. I love helping authors make their stories shine, and am passionate about creating opportunities for other marginalized writers.

Your story matters, and I can’t wait to help you make it shine!

I’m looking for YA across genres, with a preference for thrillers, mysteries, and horror. But really, I’m open to hook-y, high concept YA in any genre. I have more details under my MSWL, but surprise me! I read across YA and have CPs in all genres, so I feel very comfortable working with many different genres.

Young Adult

  • Contemporary
  • Romance
  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • #ownvoices*
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Speculative

I love only one bed trope above all others! I love found families, happy endings for queer people, complex villains


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Skype or phone call
  • Freestyle in chat
  • Texting/DMing or whatever works best for you!

I describe my mentoring style as thorough, thoughtful, and encouraging. I’m a hell of a cheerleader, but we’re going to be working hard.

I’ll always start by telling you what I love (and if I choose your MS, it’s because I really, really, really love it), and then I’ll ask you the tough questions. We’ll dive deep into your plot and character arcs, and do a round of developmental edits together.

I prefer to read full manuscripts (not chapter by chapter), but I am always available to brainstorm throughout the editing process!

The goal of this is to make your book the best it can be–and to get an agent. I’ll help with that as much as I can: feedback on your query and synopsis (and twitter pitch too), help creating a list of agents to query, and boosting you if you decide to pitch during a twitter pitch contest.

I am looking for someone who is ready to work hard! I’ll be doing multiple rounds of editing with you, and it’s going to be hard work. I want to get into the nitty gritty with you and make this book the very best it can be!

I want someone who is open to feedback, but I will absolutely respect that this is YOUR book. Know what you are willing to change and what you aren’t, and we will go from there. (:

I am hoping to find a high-concept YA featuring a commercial hook, diverse characters, and a lot of heart. If that sounds like you, I want to hear from you!

Give me your high stakes (high emotional stakes count!) and the characters that compel me to keep reading. While a high-concept plot is important, it’s the characters that will keep me reading. Give me a voice that won’t let me go.

I write thrillers and mysteries, so I am looking especially for those, but I am also open to fantasy, sci-fi, and contemporary.

Most of all, I like to be surprised. A hook that surprises me, characters that keep me guessing, a plot that is satisfying but that I can’t predict.

A list, in no particular order, of things I would love to see:

  • twisty, multi-POV thrillers
  • female thrillers
  • ensemble female casts (any genre)
  • f/f pairings! all the f/f pairings
  • queer thrillers
  • morally ambiguous MCs
  • multi POV fantasy
  • diverse romance/romcom
  • queer sci-fi/gays in space
  • strange, speculative, dark, twisty, femme – if you have the next WILDER GIRLS or THE GRACE YEAR, I want it!
  • love triangles that turn into a poly relationship. Give. It.
  • tbh if it’s queer, sub it to me
  • if you have nonbinary characters, PLEASE SEND. I’m enby and I already love you.
  • female villains
  • if you have a YA version of KNIVES OUT, I’ll love you forever. Bonus points if it’s queer.
  • a queer space opera
  • surprise me! I’m open to all genres except paranormalĀ 


  • graphic child or animal abuse
  • graphic rape/sexual assault (I am okay with mentions/themes as long as it is condemned in the narrative and not gratuitous or graphic)
  • anything with cheating in a relationship, even if there’s a good reason
  • no paranormal (vampires, werewolves, ghosts, etc.). I’m just not the right mentor for it.
  • no fae
TV shows: The Gifted, The Umbrella Academy, The Witcher, The Good Place

Movies: Knives Out, Bourne movies, To All the Boys I Loved Before, Now You See Me, Mary Poppins, Star Wars

Books: Wilder Girls, Ember in the Ashes, Sadie, Wings of Ebony, anything Leigh Bardugo, Only Mostly Devastated, Dead Queens Club, The Light Between Worlds, Blood Water Paint, American Panda, Girl Made of Stars, Moxie, We Hunt the Flame, Vicious, anything by Melina Marchetta,