Suzie Townsend

YA Contemporary

YOU DON’T KNOW ME BUT I KNOW YOU (August 29, 2017)

THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE (November 6, 2018)

Rebecca Barrow writes stories about girls and all the wonders they can be. A lipstick obsessive with the ability to quote the entirety of Mean Girls, she lives in England, where it rains a considerable amount more than in the fictional worlds of her characters. She collects tattoos, cats, and more books than she could ever possibly read.

I started writing seriously in 2008. I’ve written and rewritten about a dozen manuscripts since then. I’ve queried four times (including once after being published!) and know what it’s like to be in submission limbo. My first published book was the third book I seriously queried and my fifth or ninth manuscript, depending on how you look at it (many, MANY rewrites and revisions!). My first agent left the business, so I know about agent struggles! My second book will come out this year.

This is my fourth time as a mentor with AMM. My Round 2 mentee is now agented! We went through a couple of rounds of revision before she moved on to querying and fingers crossed we’ll see it out int he world soon. I love to help others with their writing as much as others have helped me. I give great query advice and can pick out plot weaknesses and help you figure out how to make them stronger. I’ve been in the YA community for 8 years now and have done my fair share of beta and sensitivity reading, sent edit letters, helped figure out query lists, pretty much everything.

The publishing world can be overwhelming and slightly terrifying. I want to help others learn how to better their writing, share the knowledge I’ve gained over the years, and ultimately help get more amazing books out into the world. I also want to welcome people to my writing world–I know it can be hard to meet and connect with other writers, or get the answers to tricky questions, and I have a whole heap of people behind me who are always ready to welcome another great writer. I love to connect with writers who I not only feel like I can help, but feel like I can become friends with. In this industry, you need people who you can share both good and bad news with, to celebrate and commiserate with.

I’m looking for smart, fresh contemporary YA stories. I like all my books with a feminist bent. And I like ambitious, driven, determined girls. I like psychological thrillers and things with twists/a little bit of mystery. I’d really like to find something in a fun format–epistolary, incorporating social media, told backwards…something interesting. Stories featuring queer girls, mental health, friendship. Work from marginalised authors, both serious and fun–and everything in between, too, actually.

  • Contemporary
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • #ownvoices*

Not a huge fan of stereotypical love triangles. I’m especially interested in f/f stories and bi characters. I love stories that take place in summer. Rather than typical coming-out-to-everyone stories I’d like to see coming-out-to-myself stories. I don’t mind the absent parent trope! But I also like way-too-present parents!


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

If we work together, I’m going to tell you what I loved about your book, and everything I think needs work–not in a soul crushing way, though. My editing style will depend on what your book needs, but it will probably look like this: I’ll send you a big picture edit letter with my overarching thoughts first. The length and depth will depend on where your book’s at (we might need to go through a full rewrite, in which case the letter will be long and full of ideas, or we might only need to tweak the ending, in which case the letter will be not so long…but still full of ideas!). I might also send you a doc of your MS with my comments, depending on how we’re proceeding. Depending on what you prefer, we can email back and forth about the edits, or chat on google hangouts/DMs. (If you really want we can video chat but I find email better for edit talk–it allows us both to take time to process notes, come up with ideas, and feedback to each other.) I’ll help you figure out a revision plan if you need it, or you can work by yourself, whichever is better for you. I’m always on the other end of an email for questions or ideas! Once you’re done revising, we’ll repeat the process as needed until you’re ready to query or take whatever next step you feel is best. I’ll help you with querying too, looking at your agent list and query. (That’s the fun part for me!) I consider myself more of a guide when it comes to edits–I’m not going to tell you exactly what to do and that you MUST do things my way. I like to discuss problem areas and weak spots, discuss what it is you’re hoping to do with the story, and figure out the best way to go about getting from A to B with you. AND THEN there is the fun side of things where I will send you gifs and talk about our fave tv shows etc. etc. We will work and we will have fun!

Someone willing to work hard, not looking for any quick fixes, not looking for any shortcuts. Sadly this is publishing and the amount of shortcuts available are, like, pretty close to zero. If you’re ready to work, I am too. I like to bounce ideas around, and have fun, and cheer you on, and talk about non-writing things, too! Preferably somebody who knows their genre and has an awareness of the current publishing climate.

I love mean girls (think actual Mean Girls, HOW TO BREAK A BOY, every Courtney Summers protagonist) and anyone who doesn’t fit in the box of Niceness.
I would love to see a good story that includes mental health (doesn’t have to be a central theme, but seeing characters who deal with mental illness is vital in YA). I loved WHEN WE COLLIDED.

I just saw Baby Driver and I’m now obsessed with it so anything that feels like that. Especially if you can put a girl in the lead role.

I love dance stories, cheerleading, gymnastics. Musicians and artists (give me something fresh! I loved GIRLS IN THE MOON). I really want to see a friendship-based road trip story, or one with a queer romance. And stories with a mystery or thriller bent, a la WE WERE LIARS, DANGEROUS GIRLS, or any of Kara Thomas’ books.

I’m open to stories that explore rape culture (like ALL THE RAGE or AFTER THE FALL).

I want stories that don’t necessarily centre around the challenges of being marginalised, but allow marginalised characters to thrive and experience the same kind of stories that so many white characters are given. Stories about friendship, love, family struggles, hopes and dreams, stories where they get to just be and experience everything.

I am a sucker for rich girls. Anything that includes the words prep/private/boarding school, Upper East Side, Hamptons, anything that could be comped to Gossip Girl (the books!) or the Au Pairs series.

I love anything along the lines of “perfect family/life/small town but nothing is as it seems”.

#BlackGirlMagic all day!

I hate “I’m not like other girls”–your characters can be unlikeable without invoking superiority over femininity or the perceived weakness of other girls.

I’m not a good fit for capital-R romance–I prefer stories that include romance arcs among other things rather than romance as the driving force.

I’m not here for any white saviour stories (i.e. white person learns about racism/issues, then uses their newfound knowledge to enlighten and help marginalised characters, which ultimately centres the white character’s narrative).

Not interested in trans stories from cis writers. (Especially not told from the perspective of a trans character’s sibling or best friend etc.)

No SFF, please (if it has spaceships or medieval castles or is the kind of story that would necessitate a map in the front, it’s probably not for me).

Not interested in Native stories by non-Native writers. (There are many other lanes for you to choose!)

Stories that feature the bleaker realities of life as a marginalised person can be hit and miss. I don’t love reading about hate crimes. That’s not to say those stories aren’t real and needed, but personally, not for me right now. (If your black or gay or disabled etc. character meets with violence as a result of them being black/gay/disabled, I probably don’t want to read it right now.)

No rape as a plot device or backstory to make your female character “strong”, please.

Books: Cracked Up to Be, OCD Love Story, Pointe, Complicit, Finding Cassie Crazy, Gingerbread, When We Collided, Open Road Summer, The Walls Around Us, We Are Okay, Everything Leads to You, All the Rage, Dreamland, Cut, How to Make a Wish, Like Water

TV: Pretty Little Liars, Friday Night Lights, The Killing, Six Feet Under, The OA, Community, Brooklyn 99, Happy Endings, Twin Peaks, Orphan Black, The OC, My Mad Fat Diary, New Girl, Grey’s Anatomy

Movies: Mean Girls, Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde, Speed, Arrival, Inception, Center Stage, Bring It On, Heathers, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Other things: I love A Chorus Line. Ava Gardner is my obsession and I like Old Hollywood. I’m OBSESSED with podcasts (comedy/true crime/interesting stories). I’m into fashion and beauty (would die without eyeliner).