Hilary Harwell, KT Literary

Humor, horror, fantasy


Kat lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two cats, and a thousand mosquitoes. She writes middle grade humor and horror novels, all with a fun fantastical twist. If she’s not buried in a book or pan of double fudge brownies, you can find her exploring outdoors, always on the lookout for her next idea.

My journey has been quite a long one. I made the switch from writing scripts to writing books 12+ years ago and for my very first novel, wrote a very sloppy MG mystery. Luckily, one of my writing buddies at the time recommended SCBWI to me. Without having any clue of what it was, I signed up and began attending local events.

With the help of many conferences, events, webinars, and critique partners, I slowly began to improve my craft and storytelling skills. With each novel, I felt myself getting closer, but while querying was a mixed bag, it never resulted in an agent.

So I kept writing. It wasn’t until my 7th novel (yup, 7!) that everything clicked. I got selected as a Round 7 AMM mentee, then shortly got an agent after that.

Yes, it took me 10 years and 7 manuscripts to get an agent. Writing can be an uphill battle, a trudge through a deep murky lake, an escape room with clues that all contradict each other. But I’m proof that hard work and determination can pay off. Now, I’m on submission for the very first time and am enjoying the process!

I’ve been in successful critique relations for many years and have helped my CP’s with everything from outlines, full manuscript edits, query/synopsis help, and more. Some of my critique partners have gone on to win awards and publish books.

In my day job, I’m narrative lead for a mobile video game studio and am responsible for coming up with storylines for multiple games and for providing in-depth weekly feedback to my team of writers. I love wearing my editorial hat for this and am looking forward to using some of those same editorial skills for AMM.



“Writing is the easiest thing in the world.” -said no one ever

Writing is hard. Sometimes ideas flow out of you, and sometimes they get stuck like that last bit of toothpaste that will not come out of the tube, no matter how many different ways you squeeze it.

But! You don’t have to go through it alone. I want to be there to support and encourage you. I want to be your cheerleader, your grumble buddy, your brainstorm fiend. I’ve acquired years of knowledge that I’d love to pass on to you!

I was incredibly fortunate enough to be selected as an AMM mentee for Round 7. Through AMM, I met wonderful writers, a few critique partners, and the coolest, most talented, amazing, inspiring people ever. Now, I’m looking to pay it forward. AMM is a family, and I want to welcome you into that family!

My favorites stories are those that evoke strong feelings, whether that be laughter, fear, gut-wrenching sadness, warm squishiness, awe-struck wonder, etc. I’m looking for a manuscript that has a solid MG voice and characters that I can fall in love with.

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Humor

My preferences vary widely, so I’m open to most genres. I do enjoy contemporary stories, but I’d have to be blown away by the voice to consider it. #ownvoices and LGBTQIA stories are most welcome! As are graphic novels in any of the above genres. I will consider paranormal stories, but they’d have to be really unique.


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

My mentoring style is very honest. If something isn’t working, I’m not afraid to say so. However, if something is amazing and working really well, I will be the first to let you know. Usually with a lot of !!! and 🙂

We’ll start with an edit letter, which will contain big picture feedback on all different aspects: character arcs, voice, plot, world building, dialogue. After you have a chance to look over the edit letter and come up with questions/thoughts/arguments, we’ll set up a video chat to talk through everything. I like to ask a lot of “but why” questions and will try to poke as many holes into the manuscript as we can before you go off and start revisions. It’s better to find the holes sooner rather than later, imo!

At the end of that chat, we’ll have a plan in place on how to best tackle revisions and any next steps after that. I will be available for questions during your revision and would be happy to assist you with your query packet and agent research.

My ideal mentee would be open to breaking apart their novel and excited to dive headfirst into revisions. I love getting into debates about feedback or hashing out revision plans, so my mentee would be up for chatting through any problem areas and brainstorming ideas together. AMM is a wonderful, supportive, and kind family, so my mentee would embrace their fellow mentees and use this as an opportunity to learn, grow, and strengthen their craft. Overall, I’d love for this to be a lasting working relationship and would want to champion you throughout your entire writing career.


Here are some things I’d like to see in my inbox:

  • Books that make not only me laugh out loud, but would make a middle schooler laugh out loud too.
  • Scary stuff. I will take anything from light horror to nightmare-inducing horror. I love monsters, so please send me all the monster books! Also, if you have a MG version of a Black Mirror-type story, I definitely need to read it!
  • Graphic novels in any genre, from gritty to heartwarming.
  • If you can comp THE WESTING GAME or have a MG version of a Tana French novel or Agathie Christie novel, I want to see it!
  • Stories with strong female characters.
  • Stories with wonderfully diverse casts.
  • Spooky, unusual, and/or rich settings. If the setting can be considered a character, even better!
  • Dragons. They are the one fantasy creature I just can’t get enough of. I do want to see unique takes on them, however, since there are already a lot of dragon stories out there.
  • Stories told in a not-typical format. Non-linear, journal entries, multiple POVs, mini-stories within the big story. I like them all!
  • Fun and fresh fairytale retellings.

These are just a few items that I’d like to see, but I’m open to any stories that hook me from page one and don’t let me go until the end. If you have a great voice and strong characters, I want to read it!


  • Stories with fae/fairies. Just not a fan.
  • Historical fiction. Unless it has a fantasy, horror, or otherwise unique take on it.
  • Chosen one stories. Love this trope, but I have a book in the works with a chosen one theme, so I want to avoid anything that might be similar.
  • Portal fantasies. Same deal as above. While I love portal fantasies, a WIP of mine is this genre, so looking to avoid this.
  • Stories where the main theme is bullying.
  • Stories where the adults solve the problems, rather than the kids.

Books – Howl’s Moving Castle, A Monster Calls, The Westing Game, Good Omens, Ocean at the End of the Lane, Harry Potter, Small Spaces, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Night Circus, Through the Woods, We Were Liars

TV – Avatar: The Last Airbender, What We Do In The Shadows, Broadchurch, Black Mirror, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Steven Universe, Game of Thrones, Bob’s Burgers, The Good Place, Community, Parks and Rec, Fleabag

Movies – Lord of the Rings (all 3), Jurassic Park, Spirited Away, Pans Labyrinth, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, Spaceballs, Galaxy Quest, Kubo and the Two Strings, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Clue, Hot Fuzz, Mean Girls, Pitch Perfect

Musicals – Into the Woods, In the Heights, Next to Normal, Once, Spring Awakening, Hamilton, Book of Mormon, Phantom of the Opera, Avenue Q, Wicked, Something Rotten