Mentor Sunya Mara

Tracey Adams

Fantasy, Sci-fi


Before making the jump to novels, Sunya wrote fairytales and illustrated books at Kobe Bryant’s Granity Studios. She studied film production, business, and screenwriting at the University of Southern California.

She lives in a tree-filled cottage in Los Angeles with her partner and the ghosts of many houseplants. When not writing, Sunya spends her days painting portraits, making films, and attempting to steep the most perfect cup of tea.

My journey to publication began in school, where I studied cinema production & business at the University of Southern California, and I analyzed all sorts of stories while interning at studios and production companies.

After college, I wrote fairytales and illustrated books at Kobe Bryant’s Granity Studios. I was there for a couple of wonderful years developing all sorts of projects, but I’ve made the switch to writing novels full time.

I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2019, and soon after the showcase, I signed with Tracey Adams of Adams Literary. We went out on submission in March 2020, mid-lockdown.

I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2019, and am mentoring through PW this year as well.


Being in a mentorship program was a great experience and a significant step in my publishing journey. Now with a bit more experience under my belt, I’d love to do what I can to help another writer the way I was helped.

I’m a good fit for character-based, fast-paced fantasy and sci-fi in particular. I love stories where people have to work to come together, whether in friendship or romance. I’m a huge fan of fantastical worlds that follow an internal logic, as well as unique magic systems.

I know upper YA best, but I’m open to all sorts of YA and stories that veer into New Adult.

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • #ownvoices
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy

I read pretty much all subgenres of fantasy and sci-fi. Though I’m not a great fit for a straight-up romance, I do love a good romantic subplot. Likewise, I’m a fan of a good mystery subplot.



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


Your story is yours, and you are the master of it. I’m here as a resource, to critically analyze everything from the story side—your characters, plot, and worldbuilding—to the craft side—pacing, the rise and fall of tension and emotion, planting reveals, hiding exposition. I promise to be honest with you and push you to do your best work, but I’m also here to be your cheerleader and to love your story with you.

My particular strengths are:

  • Structure. Have you read a story that had a killer opening, but something fizzled out by the end? Or the middle meandered back and forth—maybe there was a lot of action, a lot of chasing, but no real feeling of forward progression? This is an area I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.
  • Visual & kinetic storytelling. I come from film; I’ve worked as an illustrator. I’m drawn to powerful, symbolic visuals—I’ll push you to make sure the details you choose heighten the central tension and theme of your story. We want to make your world feel tangible.
  • Pacing. I write stories that move at a fairly brisk pace. I like action, a lot of tension, and I’ve been known to cut all scenes that don’t simultaneously move the plot and character arcs forward. This is a matter of style, and what I know best. If you’ve written the next Mrs. Dalloway, all the power to you, but that’s the kind of story I wouldn’t know how to touch.

Someone who knows the story they want to tell and has taken it as far as they can, but who might need a little guidance and perspective.


This is a taste of the kind of things I love, in no particular order:

  • Fantastical worlds that follow an internal logic, however strange. Spirited Away. Strange the Dreamer. Pan’s Labyrinth. The Darkest Part of the Forest.
  • Fantastical viewpoints. Amelie, Psyche in a Dress, Invisible Cities.
  • Ride-or-die friendships.
  • When romance is part of the equation for characters figuring out their values. Could be enemies to lovers/lovers to enemies, or other kinds of romance where characters have to work for it.
  • Unique magic systems, small or large scale. I love the magical doorknob in Howl’s Moving Castle just as much as grand, world-spanning magic systems.
  • Unique competitions/central structures. Command School in Ender’s Game, the war rigs in Mad Max: Fury Road.
  • Retellings from unusual perspectives/of lesser known fairytales. I’ve studied fairytales for years, and there are many lesser known fairytales that I’d love to see adapted. I’d also love to see retellings from perspectives we haven’t seen much of, or ones set in non-western worlds.
  • Cozy voices. The Two Princesses of Bamarre, Howl’s Moving Castle, Sorcery of Thorns.
  • Angry voices. Characters with a little fury in them.
  • Style. I love all sorts of writing and all sorts of voices. I love a good metaphor in a well-described world, but I also love simple, crystal-clear language.
  • Genre mash-ups. High fantasy meets The Godfather. A paranormal heist. A regency romance with robots. Vampires running for office.
  • Clever and/or super-competent characters. I’m all for smart folks working through difficult problems, and/or competency that’s been earned through hard work and sacrifice.


  • Graphic violence, especially on a large scale. Brutal one-on-one fights, a bit of blood, broken bones, etc. are fine, but genocide is not for me.
  • Physical Horror. Creepy, atmospheric, psychological horror are all A-OK, but chainsaws and entrails are not for me.


Howl’s Moving Castle, Ella Enchanted, Psyche in a Dress, Ender’s Game, Song of Achilles, Uprooted, Spinning Silver, Sorcery of Thorns, Darius the Great is Not Okay, Poet X, The Folk of the Air, Strange the Dreamer, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Warcross, Akata Witch, Six of Crows, Aurora Rising, Harry Potter, anything N.K. Jemisin, Agatha Christie, Italo Calvino, Meg Medina, Terry Pratchett.

Lawrence of Arabia, Roman Holiday, Contact, Gladiator. Anything Miyazaki, classic Disney animation. 8 ½, Children of Paradise, Casablanca. Mad Max: Fury Road, Alien, Avatar, Casino Royale, Terminator 2, Total Recall, The Matrix, The Prestige, Hot Fuzz, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim. Little Women (2019), Sense and Sensibility, Fiddler on the Roof, Harold and Maude. Creed, Lords of Dogtown, Ocean’s Eleven, Black Panther.