Liselle Sambury is a Trinidadian-Canadian author who grew up in Toronto. Her brand of writing can be described as “messy Black girls in fantasy situations.” She is a social media professional and spends her free time embroiled in reality TV because when you write messy characters you tend to enjoy that sort of drama. She also shares helpful tips for upcoming writers and details of her publishing journey through a YouTube channel dedicated to helping demystify the sometimes complicated business of being an author.
I started writing when I was 13 and kept on with it semi-seriously until I was 18 when I took a break during university. After school, I became more fully serious about pursuing writing and getting a novel traditionally published. I had written one novel when I was 18 (it was about werewolves because of course it was), and my second novel I wrote in my 20s that ended up being a problematic witches book that I’m very glad didn’t get picked up, both of which I queried. My third book was a firmly in-my-lane book about witches that I wrote during NaNoWriMo in 2017 about a family of Black witches living in Toronto. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this was the book that would end up being my debut BLOOD LIKE MAGIC. I spent about seven months editing the book before sending out my first queries, and after about a month and a half at it, I signed with my agent Kristy Hunter at The Knight Agency. It was definitely a different experience for me as with my first book I had only sent out four queries with no response, and with my second I sent out 60 queries before I shelved it. Kristy and I worked on BLOOD LIKE MAGIC for six months doing edits before it went on submission for another four months before we got an offer. I signed with Sarah McCabe and what was then Simon Pulse, and now am with Margaret K. McElderry with her working on BLOOD LIKE MAGIC and an unnamed sequel.
I have a bachelors in Linguistics and experience in speech therapy, and have worked professionally in the social media and marketing industry for the last three years. I was mentored in RevPit when I was querying, and I’ve participated in the Avengers of Colour mentorship as a mentor for the last two years.
I want to be a mentor for the same reasons that I share my advice and experiences on my YouTube channel, I would like to give back to writers coming up the same way that more experienced writers did for me when I was getting into this industry. I think the amazing thing about this community is the potential for being able to access information that can truly help you hone your craft and get a foot into publishing. It’s important to me to help other people who want to get published because I know how big of a difference it can make. I’m really hoping to be there for my mentee at any and all stages of your career and truly help where I can whenever you need it.
I’m really excited about the chance to help my future mentee, not only with this project, but in your future as a writer however I can. I do hope that we’ll be able to form a lasting connection, and I can be a source of help for you whenever you need it.
I’m definitely looking for stories on the darker side that have a lot of heart and voice. To me, voices that seem to leap off the page are my favourite, and I’m comfortable with diving into more sensitive topics as long as they’re being handled respectfully. I especially love when a writer has a deep connection to the work. I often write stories that have at least some element that comes from my life and experiences, and really appreciate working with people doing the same.
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
I’m open to sci-fi, but am a better mentor for manuscripts more based in the real world or in speculative style than epic sci-fi. Also, I encourage BIPOC writers to submit if you think you’re a good fit, regardless of whether or not you’re writing an #ownvoices narrative.
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Skype or phone call
- Freestyle in chat
I find that I am best for providing Big Picture feedback and would love to chat with my mentee after they’ve had a chance to look over feedback to further discuss everything. I do think of mentorship as a collaborative process and like to be able to offer the opportunity to have that back and forth if needed. I’ll be available for video chat, voice chat, or written back-and-forth chat, whichever is most applicable.
My ideal mentee is someone who has passion for their work and the future of their career as a writer. They have a vision for their manuscript and are ready and willing to work together to achieve that, but are also able to express if something does not work for them. Everything I suggest is just that, a suggestion, and I think it’s important for my mentee to feel comfortable speaking up if a suggestion doesn’t work for them, so we can find something that does work together. My ideal mentee is also communicative such that we’re able to effectively work together.
I’m excited to see any of the work that fits into the genres that I’ve laid out. I think there’s such a wealth of work within that, so if you don’t see your novel exactly reflected in the list of specifics but think we would be a good fit, and it does fit within the genres, then I would encourage you to submit.
- Horror! I’m super excited to see all sorts of horror. Especially if you’re taking a common setting or trope and putting a new spin on it or casting it with more diversity than the genre is known for. I love haunted houses, haunted camp sites, abandoned cabins, creepy is-it-or-isnt-it supernatural vibes, all the horror tropes.
- Dark Fantasy! I am a big fan of fantasy that edges on the dark side and I am definitely not squeamish. I am here for your blood rites and rituals, your anti-hero protagonists, and more. Especially if you have a fantasy that edges into horror.
- Speculative Horror! If you have a horror sci-fi mash up ala Channel Zero or Black Mirror, yes, please.
- I do have experience with and am able to read stories containing sexual assault or similar topics, and do like to see how these can be meaningfully explored in fantasy, horror, and sci-fi
- Canadiana! My kingdom for more books set in Canada. Please, please, give me all your fantasy, sci-fi, and horror set in Canada. Bonus points for Toronto stories, though I would love it anywhere in Canada.
DO NOT SEND ME:
- I did mention this elsewhere, but I am a much better fit for sci-fi set in the real world in the future or that are more speculative, or more grounded like THE LONELIEST GIRL IN THE UNIVERSE, so probably best not to submit with epic sci-fi that goes beyond it
- Please do not send me horror that is torture porn. If it has a vibe like the movie Hostel or The Human Centipede, then it’s not for me, but if it’s like Saw or the book THE MERCIFUL, that’s cool.
- Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
- Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
- Slasher Girls and Monster Boys anthology
- The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
- Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
- The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
- Anything by Tiffany D. Jackson
- Scythe by Neal Shusterman
- The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
- Red Rising by Pierce Brown
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- American Horror Story
- The Haunting of Hill House
- Lovecraft Country
- Black Mirror
- Channel Zero
- The Promised Neverland
- FMA: Brotherhood
- Attack on Titan
- Haunted settings – houses, camp sites, hotels, you name it
- Black protagonists as heroes of the story
- Messy/trainwreck type main characters
- Unreliable narrators and anti-heroes