Andrea Cascardi

YA contemporary and SFF


Leanne creates escape rooms by day, and writes by night (and vice versa!). Her escape rooms have been voted by enthusiasts as one of the world’s top rooms, and she’s passionate about merging narrative with interactive experiences. An Asian-Australian, she’s passionate about bringing more diaspora stories into the world in all genres. As an R5 AMM mentee, she’s also eager to pay it forward to another aspiring writer!

When she’s not writing or designing puzzles, she plays far too many indie video games, reads books, webtoons, and manga, and is a huge foodie to boot!

I started seriously writing over ten years ago, and my road to being agented is paved with 7 trunked manuscripts ranging from Adult to YA to contemporary to fantasy. One of those manuscripts happens to be a huge overhaul of my first ever NaNo novel, but with 7 more years of experience, which got me into AMM as a mentee. Although that MS didn’t get me an agent, I found mine through DVPit with a college-age rom com. I’m now represented by Andrea Cascardi of the Transatlantic Agency, and revising after a round of subs.

I was an AMM mentee from R5, and had an excellent mentor I’m still great friends with to this day – hopefully I’ll be able to do the same for you, since I understand what it’s like to be on the other side! I’ve also worked with quite a few critique partners, and a few of them are traditionally published. I’ve also been a copywriter and copyeditor for a boutique stationery company, and part of my day job is to write/create narratives for my escape room.


I gained so much from my experience as an AMM mentee that I want to pass it forward to someone else! In addition, my writing journey has been long and rocky so far, and I want to encourage someone else who may be on a similar path to keep going even when everyone else seems to be zipping ahead, because you never know when things might change.

I’m not a writing genius, and never have been, but I strongly believe that slow and steady improvement is very much a thing – if you feel like you’ve been trying so hard for so long and you’ll never be good enough, I’ve been there. I’m still there, a lot of the time. And I hope that I’ll be able to help my mentee keep pushing on!

I’m looking for YA contemporary and SFF with BIPOC protagonists, but if your book happens to be a bit older and in the college kind of space with a YA feel, I’m also happy to mentor those. Diaspora stories in those genres are most welcome! I’m also a sucker for stories that hit me right in the feels, with focus on the character arc and endings that range from bittersweet but hopeful to outright happy.

  • Contemporary
  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • #ownvoices

I’m OwnVoices for the diaspora East Asian experience (Australian-Singaporean/Malaysian) so I can help most with that, but absolutely do not feel limited to that!

In contemporary, I’m not the best mentor for thrillers or mysteries (I love them, but I don’t have much experience writing them). Give me your issue books and joyful books and everything else in between, though!

With fantasy, I’m not big on high fantasy in general. For SFF in general, I’m not interested in stories that focus more on large-scale military or politics. Give me your quieter, cozy, character-focused stories!


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Skype or phone call
  • Freestyle in chat

I’m the kind of mentor who will work with you to understand the story YOU want to tell, then provide feedback on how to accomplish those goals. I’m more of a bigger-picture person, and my strengths are building emotion and character arcs over the story, and integrating them with plot, to reach a satisfying conclusion. I’m also available via call and chat to brainstorm ideas, talk over any particular issues you want to work through, and explore other ways to ensure you can tell the story that’s in your head!


  • Already has a solid grasp on writing clean prose and is ready to roll their sleeves up and get to work on plot, structure and character arcs
  • Understands that writing is a long game, and isn’t expecting insta-success (though it would be a nice bonus!)
  • Doesn’t mind studying other books to see how they’ve accomplished certain elements


  • BIPOC stories that focus on our joy instead of pain (I’m East Asian so I’d probably be able to help more with those stories, but I’ll take any!)
  • I would KILL for a great gaming or esports story (please please please please pick me I play lots of indie games and I know my DOTA from my LoL)
  • Nerd stories are also great, gimme a book whatever cool thing you’re obsessed with, cons, anime, all of that
  • SFF from a diaspora lens, I’m desperate for this
  • High-stakes action is great, but I also love my cozy, slower-paced and quiet stories
  • Heartwarming stories are my jam, but darker is fine if your story pulls out those moments of joy and uses the darkness to make them stronger
  • Bittersweet endings with hope!
  • A focus on character growth and evolution
  • Voice voice voice voice!


Don’t give me racist, mysogynistic or homophobic content. I’m not the person for anti-religious tirades either. It’s very unlikely I’ll be interested in stories with love triangles or cheating, and borderline-abusive relationships portrayed as romance are right out.

Give me a miss on ‘strong’ female characters who look down on other females who like their make-up and fashion and boys.

I’m also not the mentor for really dark stories with torture, gore, and depressing endings with no closure.

Books: The Vorkosigan Saga (and anything by Lois McMaster Bujold more generally), The King of Attolia, A Closed and Common Orbit, The Goblin Emperor, With The Fire on High, The King’s Avatar (translated webnovel), Bone Witch trilogy, Swords and Fire trilogy, The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

Webtoons: Gourmet Hound, The Doctors Are Out, No Scope, Lost In Translation, unOrdinary, Aerial Magic, Spirit Fingers, Cursed Princess Club, Castle Swimmer

Manga/Anime: The Promised Neverland, Full Metal Alchemist, Ouran High School Host Club, Skip Beat, Natsume Yuujinchou, Kono Oto Tomare, Haikyuu, Assassination Classroom

Games: Phoenix Wright games, Zero Escape trilogy, Final Fantasy 7-10, Steins; Gate, Dishonored, Don’t Forget our Esports Dream, SuperHot, The Sexy Brutale