Mentor MK Havas

mkhavas.com
@melisszakhavas

AGENT
Lee O’Brien, Irene Goodman Literary Agency

WRITES
Fantasy

ON SUBMISSION

BIO
MK Havas is a fantasy writer who grew up in the southern US and teaches high school language arts and dressage (not at the same time). An alum of both AMM and Pitch Wars, she still credits a good chunk of her writing skills to ao3. In her free time she can be found exploring the mountains on horseback or putting her degree in art history to use at museums and antique shops. This is her first time mentoring in AMM.

PUBLISHING BACKGROUND
I was not a writer as a child. I was always a reader and a storyteller, staging games of make believe, but it wasn’t until I started middle school that I started churning out fanfiction like it was my job. It wasn’t until college that I realized I could write something original, when I got introduced to a campus group doing NaNoWriMo. I sat down, wrote my very first novel (a terrible mashup of anime tropes and Kushiel’s Dart), and decided I was going to be an author.

*spongebob meme* 75 years later

That book did not get an agent. Nor did the one after that. Or the one after that. But in 2017, I was selected for Author Mentor Match, and realized that while I’d written five books by that point, I’d never properly learned to revise. I’d had a few beta readers, but none who understood critique from a publishing professional’s view. That book also died in the trenches, but I used the skills I’d learned on my next book, which later got into Pitch Wars. But I still wasn’t a unicorn. I queried the PW book for 10 months, declaring it dead shortly before I got my offer. That book, as well as a novella, are currently on submission.

EXPERIENCE
I’ve written eleven books in total, all with their own unique and terrible problems- I have made every mistake you could learn from and then some. I’ve been a mentee in both AMM and Pitch Wars, done numerous query and manuscript critiques, and have benefited greatly from having an agent with an incredible editorial eye. In addition, I also served as an editor at a music magazine for four years, which honed my tightening and pitching skills, and have participated in numerous writing classes, conferences, and contests.

OVERVIEW
I had a long journey to publishing, and it was made longer by the lack of guidance and information I had. Especially as an ND author, I found the publishing landscape confusing, the networking baffling, the contradictory information at every stage a nightmare. If I can make the way even a little bit easier for my mentee, it will be well worth it!

Publishing is hard, and I don’t think there’s any stage that’s harder than that of the writer who has finished a book, wants to query or has been querying, and is sitting in front of a black hole of an inbox or scrolling announcements on Twitter wondering if it will ever be their turn. The writing community is wonderful, but at the end of the day, so much comes down to you, your computer screen, and your self-doubt. As a mentor, I hope to help with that last bit at least. And even if I can’t, my long stint in the query trenches means I have both a lot of empathy for writers who are struggling, and many techniques for pushing through hard times.

I’m very editorial, and if you’re not already familiar with the concept of reverse outlining, prepare to learn to love it as we strengthen arcs, fill in plot holes, and enrich your world. What I’m looking for is adult fantasy and sci-fi with a fresh voice and beautiful writing, especially from neurodiverse authors and marginalized perspectives. The biggest draw for me is character: give me flawed protagonists fighting for or against their world, complicated villains who have a point, actually, and every shade of gray. I’d especially love to mentor a persistent writer who has already been through the query trenches a time or three and can’t figure out how to get from “good” to “good enough,” and who is ready for the tough edits that will take a book to the next level.

MENTORING GENRES
Adult

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi

I’m open to all fantasy and sci-fi, though I have a slight preference for historical or second world fantasy over contemporary, and prefer character-focused, not tech-focused, sci-fi. I’d love to see genre mashups (especially anything with mystery/thriller elements), queer casts, found families, and achingly slow burns. I’m not a fan of fairy tale retellings (though would love to see folklore traditional publishing has ignored), and I prefer the romance to be on the backburner to whatever else the characters have going on.

 

I WILL PROVIDE:

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

WORKING STYLE
Analytical. I’m not a mentor who is going to spend a lot of time squealing (though you will get compliments to soothe the critique!) We will break down your book into major components, then build it back up better, faster, stronger. I also love brainstorming and making wild suggestions (which you are always free not to take). I’m absolutely not afraid to take on a book that needs a lot of work as long as my mentee is willing to put in the time!

I prefer to read full manuscript instead of going chapter by chapter, but I’ll always be open to chatting and talking through points between full reads.

I am also very open to being flexible about my mentee’s working style/preferred mode of feedback delivery. I understand not everyone can work on a tight deadline due to health or other concerns, or that some forms of feedback won’t be accessible to everyone. I want this to be a good experience for my mentee and accommodate in whatever way works for them.

IDEAL MENTEE
I’d love a mentee who is introspective and understands the Neil Gaiman quote “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” Not all of my suggestions will resonate, and that’s fine! But I want a mentee willing to dig down to the root of the problem, who will work to come up with a solution that best serves the story, no matter how hard it is.

SEND ME:

  • lyrical, literary writing. I am a sucker for a good metaphor.
  • complicated characters, with layers. like onions. or ogres.
  • got an economic, legal, or otherwise bureaucratic fantasy or sci-fi? I want it.
  • time travel
  • setting as character
  • queer casts (especially protagonists along the aroace spectrum)
  • neurodiversity
  • allegories, epistolary novels, or other storytelling devices
  • the slowest slow burns you can offer
  • mystery/thriller elements
  • bittersweet endings 
  • interesting magic systems, particularly science-based magic
  • the adult fantasy equivalent of a horse girl book
  • southern gothic

DO NOT SEND ME:

  • heavily romantic books. Any romance should be a b plot or less, or have some kind of subversive element to take it beyond just two people falling in love.
  • books that place plot or hook over prose and character
  • grimdark. I love dark! I love grotesque! But there has to be some kind of hope for me to get truly invested.
  • new adult. Younger protagonists are fine, and I’m even happy to look at YA books intended to be revised to adult, but we will be pushing the character work, world building, and word counts firmly into the adult space.

FAVES

  • Gideon the Ninth
  • You Let Me In
  • The Winternight Trilogy
  • This is How You Lose the Time War
  • The Scorpio Races
  • Catherine House
  • The Light Brigade
  • Star Trek
  • Dr. Who
  • Constantine
  • What We Do in the Shadows
  • Summer Sons
  • Breath of the Wild
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses