Mary Averling is a graduate student at the University of Cambridge, where she studies children’s literature. She grew up across England and Canada, never far from the woods—which is probably why all her stories involve trees, often behaving in ways they shouldn’t. Whenever she has time away from her books, you might be able to find her having happy conversations with her neighbor’s dog, attempting to convince the ghosts in her attic to behave, or trekking through fields in search of the oldest, crumbliest castle she can find.
I began seriously writing in middle school, and somehow managed to churn out six novels over my time at high school. As a teenager, I always tended to write about teenagers, and so my seventh novel was also supposed to be YA—but once the draft was completed in 2016, something just didn’t feel right. The voice wasn’t working. After rediscovering a collection of middle grade favorites from my childhood, I decided to try rewriting as MG—and finally, finally, a missing piece clicked into place! This new project, about grieving sisters, a dark forest, and a city with a mind of its own, didn’t feel like the others. It felt special in a way I couldn’t quite explain, and I decided I wanted proper help to revise. I entered the manuscript into R4 of Author Mentor Match in 2018, and I was lucky enough to be selected by the incomparable Heather Kassner (THE BONE GARDEN, THE FOREST OF STARS). We revised much of the book, and in January 2019, I signed with my agent after receiving four offers of representation. Of course, the journey didn’t end there! What followed was a near total rewrite over many, many months, axing characters and increasing tension until I felt I could recite the book in my sleep. We are currently on submission, crossing our fingers that my dark little tangle of a story will find a home soon.
I’ve taken part in Author Mentor Match from both sides of the table, both as a mentee in R4 and as a mentor in R7. Working with my mentee was such an incredible privilege, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to find another story to fall in love with! I’ve honed my editorial skills through university workshops, revisions with my mentor and agent, beta swaps with critique partners at a variety of levels, and with freelance clients. I also study MG literature academically, working alongside a fantastic cohort of industry experts, and I’m looking forward to sharing this knowledge with my future mentee!
Watching a book sharpen and glimmer as it reaches its potential is, in my opinion, nothing short of magic! This industry can feel very lonely and disheartening at times, and the sheer frustration many of us feel when writing doesn’t make it easier—but we don’t have to embark alone. I want to offer support and give a fellow writer the best possible boost toward success, no matter how loopy or treacherous that path may seem. AMM really is the most wonderful community!
I’m eager to find a book I can lose myself in, whether it’s a clever mystery, universe-twisting sci-fi, breathtaking fantasy, or spine-tingling horror. Though I like my stories dark, that doesn’t necessarily mean doom and gloom – if you’ve mixed in a good dash of hopefulness and beauty, I want to read it! Give me your intricate world-building, unique voice, and unforgettable atmosphere, with the sort of capital-F Feelings that will make my heart ache. But above all, I’m looking for POTENTIAL. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves if you are!
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
I’m open to most tropes, when done well! I especially love redemption arcs, found family, antiheroes, sibling stories, and complicated relationships of all kinds. I’m similarly open with genre niches—I like to be surprised! If you’re convincing, no matter what strangeness you whip up, I’m willing to follow.
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Skype or phone call
- Freestyle in chat
I like to start my edits with a big-picture letter. There will probably be plenty of gushing, because I do think it’s helpful to know what IS working in a manuscript, then we’ll discuss what might need to be changed. I’m happy to be as hands-on as you want, whether that includes a phone call or brainstorming session, and I’ll remain a DM away as you work through. From there, we’ll do a couple of line edits or smaller revisions to tighten the manuscript and make it as rejection-proof as possible. If you would like a partner during your querying journey, I am more than willing to guide you through the trenches!
Much of my editing is done through questions, with whys and hows and what-ifs. I like going as deep as possible into plot, atmosphere, character, world, etc. We’ll make sure there are no loose threads at risk of unravelling, and the best parts of your manuscript are given their chance to shine.
You’re passionate, self-reflective, and willing to put in the work to strengthen your manuscript. You know your characters inside and out, and you’re ready to dive even deeper into what makes them tick. Perhaps you still have plenty of questions or uncertainties, but you are open to critical feedback and have a good comprehension of your audience. Ultimately, I want this to be a fun, magical experience! This means you understand the ups-and-downs of the industry, and you love your book enough to ride through to a long-term career.
I’d love to find something high-concept, fresh, and sparkling with magic. I gravitate towards darker stories with strong voices and clever humour, though I would especially like to read:
- A creepy, elegant fantasy in the vein of THE BONE GARDEN or THE NIGHT GARDENER.
- A story that explores mental health, or loneliness, or trauma through a magical lens, such as THE LAND OF YESTERDAY or QUINTESSENCE.
- Novels-in-verse, of all subgenres.
- A fast-paced adventure with a mystery at its core, preferably steeped in atmosphere. MALAMANDER, WINTERHOUSE, and THE STORM KEEPER’S ISLAND come to mind.
- Monsters, monsters, monsters! (Seriously, please send me monsters).
- Fairy/folktale or classic novel retellings, like THE HOUSE WITH CHICKEN LEGS or A WISH IN THE DARK. Bonus points for unusual, non-Western settings.
- Stories set in isolated, high-pressure environments, like boarding schools or conservatoires. Dark academia, but make it middle grade?
- Witty, world-bending adventures comparable to SAL & GABI BREAK THE UNIVERSE! This can be sci-fi or fantasy!
- Ghostly paranormal stories like CITY OF GHOSTS or THE PECULIAR INCIDENT ON SHADY STREET that contain just the right amount of horror.
- Lyrical, achingly beautiful prose that sings, same as TURNAWAY GIRLS or GOLDELINE.
- Wild world building! Give me your carnivorous trees, sentient puddles, or houses with attitude. If your pitch includes “whimsical,” I want to read it!
DO NOT SEND ME:
I am not the best mentor for books where the primary themes involve sports, illness, animal protagonists, video games, or excessive violence.
Adult: Vicious, The Bear & the Nightingale, Wayward Children, Night Circus, If We Were Villains, Circe, The City We Became, The Chosen Maiden, Sisters of the Winter Wood, Neverwhere, Ten Thousand Doors of January, The Secret History, The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet.
Young Adult: Strange the Dreamer, Legendborn, Jane Unlimited, The Waking Forest, House of Salt and Sorrows, The Light Between Worlds, And the Trees Crept In, A Sorcery of Thorns, The Devouring Gray, Wintersong, Wilder Girls, Pet.
Middle Grade (not mentioned in my MSWL): Monstrous, Sweep, The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding, Whichwood, Where the Woods End, Begone the Raggedy Witches, The Wolf of Cape Fen, The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane, A Box of Bones, Mary Underwater.