Tori Bovalino is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and lives in London. She holds a BA in English and anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London. She is currently a student in Royal Holloway’s Creative writing and practice-based PhD program. Her debut novel, The Devil Makes Three, is forthcoming from Page Street Kids.
I’m one of those unfortunate people who always wanted to be a writer – unfortunate because my grandma very firmly holds onto things I wrote when I was, like, eight and would always take them out for company. I started querying when I was sixteen and very quickly realized that I was not ready. I wrote and revised for about three more years on and off, working on a variety of contemporary and contemporary fantasy projects. I signed with my agents in November 2017, when I was 21. Unfortunately, my first book was eventually shelved. I wrote THE DEVIL MAKES THREE while we were on submission with the first book and sold it in January 2020 after six months on sub. I like to think I’m a reminder that publishing is a marathon, not a sprint!
Currently, I’m splitting my time working on another YA horror novel and my PhD project.
I’ve interned and worked as an editorial assistant at various independent presses and journals over the last few years. Degrees are unnecessary and random pieces of paper, but I do have a BA in English fiction writing, an MA in creative writing, and I’m halfway through my PhD in creative and critical writing. I maintain a beta/CP relationship with a few close friends I’ve established professional relationships with over the years.
I was very lonely when I first started writing and absolutely had no idea what I was doing during the first part of my publishing journey. I needed someone to gently take my hand and say, “honey, that is not what a query letter looks like.”
Nowadays, publishing does not have to be that lonely! With social media, it’s become a lot easier to build a community. I want to help my mentee find their own wonderful community while we develop their book. It’s going to be a lot of hard work — I like to edit! a lot! — but I hope it’ll be fun.
I personally love working with my friends and CPs on their works in progress. There’s no better feeling than solving a particular plot hole or finding that particularly wonderful turn of phrase. I want to be there as an editorial guide and a cheerleader for my mentee as they embark on this journey.
When I started my own writing journey, I was pretty much on my own. I forged relationships with other writers through social media, conferences, and later, networking with other writers represented by my agency. Writing is lonely, but publishing doesn’t have to be! I want to help my mentee get through the frustrating processes and help them with revision, then be there as a friend and support system through the next steps. It’s always nice to have another person who knows your story inside and out, who you can throw ideas to before you actually write them. Also, I have to say, I’m a pretty good one-woman hype team.
Voice is so important to me. I could love a story but not like the person telling it, and generally, that’s a dealbreaker. I personally lean towards sarcastic girls who would probably bite you. I’m a sucker for romance, either as the main focus or subplot. I also love anything with strong sibling relationships. Bonus points go to books that make me cry.
My personal genesis as a horror author involved me very quietly whispering “Can we call this horror?” to people every step of the way until suddenly, my book was categorized as horror in the contract. I think every horror writer has that fear that it might not be scary enough, might not fit into The Box, but that’s the great thing about horror: it’s meant to break both the box and the reader. I’m looking for something that creeps me out, that gives me nightmares, that keeps me reading in the dark even though it’s a terrible idea.
For contemporary, I’m looking for snappy narratives about girls coming into their own. I know that’s so broad, so some recent loves are EMERGENCY CONTACT by Mary H.K. Choi and WHO’S THAT GIRL by Blair Thornburgh. Sad books are great too, like A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jared Reck. I’m a huge fan of anything musically inclined, so if your plot involves a musical or band or something of that variety, send it my way.
I’m interested in both contemporary fantasy and fantasy. I’m still a nerd for chosen one narratives and I love villain love interests with all of my heart. Anyone morally gray – whether it be the main character or love interest – catches my eye immediately. Retellings interest me, but I want the story to be something I haven’t seen much, so rarely-used folklore or mythology.
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
- there’s only one bed
- road trips
- there’s only one bed on the road trip
- resurrection plotlines
- strong sibling relationships
- cinnamon roll characters who think they’re monsters
- anything speculative (horror, contemporary, etc)
- dual-world/portal contemporary fantasy
- paranormal elements in any of the preferred genres
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’m a pretty hands-on person. After the first read of the ms, I’ll give you an edit letter along with comments within the document. If possible, I’d like to do a Skype or phone call at this stage – I do this with my CP sometimes and it makes explaining my thoughts so much easier! That way, we could be on the same page about moving forward and discuss any of your questions and concerns.
After the first revision, I’ll read the ms as many times as necessary to get it to a place where we both feel confident in it. I’m here to help the entire way through! That includes writing the synopsis and query letter, sorting through agents, and providing moral support whenever you need it.
At the risk of getting sappy, I want to be your friend as well as your mentor. Basically, we’re going to be colleagues in the same industry. I’d love to work with you long-term on more than just this one book and be there for the entirety of your publishing journey, so my ideal mentee would be someone I click with both as a writer and a person.
If you’re worried about the timing of AMM or deadlines, I want to reassure you that this is not about a 3-month mentorship but a collaborative relationship in making your book the best it can be. After we complete the first round of edits, I will not disappear on you! My ideal mentee is looking for someone to continue working with after the program is over, who is looking to build a lasting friendship with a healthy dose of moral support.
- I’m particularly drawn to duality (think characters who are two things at once and there’s a division tearing them apart)
- Give me all the LGBTQIA+ relationships! Bonus points for a strong, wonderful bi main character
- I love body horror and psychological horror. I’m fine with gore but there has to be some purpose to it. If you give me nightmares, you win.
- Comedy that balances out the horror!
- Enemies to lovers. Always!
- Dark academia
- The weirder the better, especially when it comes to horror and fantasy.
- I want a ghost story! Contemporary ghost? Horror-ish ghost? Fantasy ghost? I don’t care; if you have a ghost, please send it to me.
- If you write a plot twist that surprises me, I will be so happy.
- I’m more into character-driven stories rather than plot-driven. I want to feel connected to your characters and go on a journey with them.
- In fantasy, I’m looking for immersive worldbuilding. I want to feel like the setting is its own character!
- I love complex magic systems, and I’d really like to encounter a fresh and different one with moving parts, especially if it isn’t perfect or if you’re stuck on it.
- Make me cry! Please!
DO NOT SEND ME:
- I’m not the best person for cheating stories. I’m not a massive fan of drama for the sake of drama.
- I love some good romance, even if it’s not the primary focus of the story, so I’m not the best mentor for completely non-romantic stories.
- Quiet contemporary is something I’d love to read but I’d struggle to edit it.
Favorite books: Fire by Kristin Cashore, Deathless by Catherynne Valente, These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin, Wilder Girls by Rory Power, The Books of Ambha by Tasha Suri, A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck, Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft, The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould, ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, Real Life by Brandon Taylor, Blood, Water, Paint by Joy McCullough, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Favorite movies: Pride and Prejudice (2005), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Star Wars, As Above, So Below, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Half of It
Other random things that encapsulate my personality: wearing oversized sweaters, usually from Goodwill; owning a nice camera but not being entirely certain how to use it; drinking too much chai; running ten minutes late; listening to Time by Hans Zimmer on repeat until I die.