Mentor Jill Tew


Jen Azantian, Azantian Literary Agency

Science Fiction


From a young age, Jill was destined for speculative fiction nerddom. She grew up watching Farscape, Hercules, and Xena with her dad every week, and always had the latest copy of Animorphs tucked in her backpack. Now she gets to write the stories she loved as a kid, with characters she wanted to see more of— Black heroines asking big questions, saving the world, and occasionally falling in love along the way. As a recovering business school graduate, she believes “you can take the girl out of the spreadsheet, but you can’t take the spreadsheet out of the girl.”

Jill is also a co-host of the Afronauts Podcast, which provides writing advice and community for Black aspiring speculative fiction authors. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, two children, and a needy Dalmatian named Gus.

I started writing the book that got me my agent 7.5 years ago. Back then, I had no idea how to write a book, or what it took to get published. I just had an idea in my head that wouldn’t leave me alone.

In early 2020, after three full rewrites and at least six attempts to quit, I finally finished my draft. That was around the time that I discovered writing Twitter, and realized that I had a lot to learn. I bought some craft books, met some fantastic CPs, and spent the summer revising. I began querying in August, and the initial response was really positive. But time after time, those full requests didn’t result in an offer. Something in my story wasn’t delivering on the “promise of the premise”, and I wasn’t sure what it was. In the meantime, I had a completed manuscript for the first time EVER, so you better believe I was slinging that puppy into every contest I could find.

In October I found out that I was the First Place winner of Hugo-nominated editor Diana M. Pho’s #Edits4BlackSFF contest. Diana read my entire manuscript and provided an edit letter and in-line notes that completely transformed my book. I did a massive revision for the next several months. In August of 2021 (a whole year later!!), I was ready to query again, and so proud of what my story had become. This time, things moved quickly. I had an offer from an agent 10 days after sending out my query, and a competing offer two weeks after that. In the end, I signed with Jen Azantian of Azantian Literary Agency, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m in the final stages of revision now, with a plan to go on sub in January(!!).

Having my manuscript edited by a professional through Diana M. Pho’s #Edits4BlackSFF contest was a total game changer. I learned things going through that process that I’ll remember for my entire career, and I want to share that wealth of knowledge with someone else!

Writing can be isolating, and from personal experience I know it’s possible to spin your wheels on a manuscript for years without making any real progress. I want to help someone unlock the potential in their story (hopefully sooner than I did). Also, we know there are too many stories that unfortunately often go untold. I’m especially interested in helping writers from marginalized backgrounds, so that they can add their voice to the “archive of human experience” as KM Weiland likes to say.

I’m a sucker for science fiction that has lessons and messages for the world we live in today. Change one technology, alter one timeline, and show me the human side of how things play out. Alternate dimensions, space operas, dystopian, science fantasy with cool tech, time travel stories… that’s the good stuff.


  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi

Please inject the following directly into my veins:
-Found family (!!!)
-Enemies to lovers
-Friends to lovers
-Unlikely heroes
-Laugh-out-loud banter
-Love triangles (You know what? I’m just going to own it)



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

As far as the manuscript, I’d like to read it over and provide both an edit letter and detailed line edits, then offer a phone call for brainstorming or to answer questions. After that I’m available by chat or email as you revise. Then if you’d like, I can take one more spin through the document and pinpoint areas where you crushed the feedback, and any places where I’d recommend another round of focus (up to you!).

Oh and I want to be besties. No pressure.

My ideal mentee is ready to try new writing/planning styles and hungry to learn more about craft. Every manuscript needs something different, and a good author is willing to put their own writing processes aside in the name of what’s best for the story. Similarly, I’d love a mentee who has a good sense of awareness about their manuscript, can “feel” that their story is missing something (character arc payoff, structure, pacing, etc.), and as a result can “feel” when their revisions get things into alignment. That moment when everything clicks and you’re suddenly telling the story you wanted to tell, the way you wanted to tell it… chef’s kiss.


  • Underdog heroes saving the world(s)
  • Humor and banter
  • Afrofuturism
  • Complex/realistic political dynamics… in space
  • Reinterpreted myths from all cultures
  • Exploration of the intersection between faith and technology
  • Pew Pew Pew!
  • Alternate reality or time travel stories with tough personal stakes
  • Science fantasy with mind-blowing tech

Stories with very sick or dying children, sexual assault, graphic violence/gore, or bigotry that goes unquestioned.



All Time:
– Jane Eyre
– Anne of Green Gables series

More Recent Faves:
– Circe (Miller)
– Piranesi (Clarke)
– The Fifth Season (Jemisin)
– The Actual Star (Byrne)
– Queen of the Conquered (Callender)
– Homegoing (Gyasi)
– Legendborn (Deonn)
– The Underground Railroad (Whitehead)

– The Expanse
– New Girl
– Black Mirror
– The Nevers
– The Fifth Element
– Farscape
– Battlestar Galactica
– Ever After
– Mad Max: Fury Road

– Ragtime
– The Last Five Years
– Les Miserables