Mentor Paula Gleeson

Gwen Beal, United Talent Agency

YA/MG Mystery/Thriller, Horror, Contemporary


Paula Gleeson is a young adult/middle-grade writer, award-winning filmmaker, and sometimes journalist. She has written articles for both print and online publications. Her controversial article for magazine Inside Sport was nominated for a journalist award for best print coverage by an individual. She lives in Australia with her German Shepherd, Atreyu, and can often be found in her pyjamas, drinking tea (wine), watching horror movies, and dreaming of her next pizza.

I started seriously querying in 2018 and very quickly learnt my adult mystery was, in fact, a young adult one. Oops! I had never considered writing for YA so rather than ageing that book down, I decided to write a book solely with a YA market in mind. That manuscript got me into a mentor program called YA4YA where I learnt a ton about feedback, revisions, and the querying process. I landed an agent soon after querying and thought everything would be easy after that. Silly me. My first agent experience wasn’t a good one and only six months later, I was back out querying again with a new manuscript.

It would take me almost another two years and three brand-new manuscripts to finally find my current agent (who was well worth the wait!) I have plenty of experience in queryland and being with multiple agents has taught me A LOT. This business can be filled with many highs and a ton of lows, and I am excited to share everything I have learnt along the way. Buckle in as I laugh and scream with you on this rollercoaster ride called publishing.

My main career has been in the film/TV world but my real passion has always been in writing and, in the last few years, I have finally decided to take that seriously. I have had various articles commissioned for both online and print publications, earning myself a journalist award nomination, and had one of my manuscripts mentored in YA4YA. I have also been a mentor for the Write Team Mentor Program and a CP/beta for many writers, some of who are to be published soon. I’m excited to pass my experience to my future mentee!

The writing community has given me so much advice and wisdom over the years and I can’t wait to give some of that back! I would love to help a fellow author get their manuscript into great shape and guide them on the wild ride that is querying (I feel like a querying professional!) Support systems are key in this business and I am more than happy to be someone’s sounding board AND cheerleader. Pizza is optional. (I’m lying. Pizza is a given.)

I love mystery/thriller (think Karen McManus, Kara Thomas, Holly Jackson) and contemporary stories of any kind, grativating toward those that contain mental health themes (Tae Keller, Laurie Halse Anderson, Kathleen Glasgow). ALL kinds of horror floats my boat (yes, that is an “IT” reference).

Young Adult

  • Contemporary
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Horror

As a reader, I read across every genre but as a mentor I am only really looking for the following genres/sub-genres:

Mystery/Thriller: I can pretty much read anything in this genre, although I do prefer real-world settings. I’m not fussy on the time period (my mystery has a historical timeline). I will be looking for twists and reveals I don’t see coming, unique concepts, and characters that keep me guessing.

Horror: I will honestly look at anything in this genre if it creeps me out or scares me (go on, I dare you!) Bonus points if you can make me scared of spiders – as I’ve never met a spider I haven’t liked.

Contemporary: I read widely in this genre so if you have a voicey YA contemporary, please submit it! I don’t shy away from tough topics or issue books and mental health themes will also interest me because of my own personal experience. I love a good romance, humour or snark – even in the heavier books, and characters should be front and centre no matter how big the concept (as a former actor, character development will always be a focus for me).

I am happy to share one bed with ALL your tropes in these genres. Not fussy over here.



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

My mentoring style is very hands-on as I take a lot of time and care on how I think I can take your project to the next level. I will provide an editorial/big picture letter to start, which we can then chat through over a video chat or phone call (whatever is more comfortable for you). I will do another pass after revisions and provide any further edits. Finally ending with a line edit. Throughout this process, I will always respect your creative vision.

I am happy to look over your querying package, discuss querying plans and agent lists, and be here long after AMM finishes to be both a cheerleader and a friendly ear when things get rough. Mental health is super important to me (this industry can be tough) so tactics on how to prioritise yours will be something I am always open to discussing.

Most importantly for me is open communication at every stage of the process. This is a vital tool in this industry and I hope my mentee will feel comfortable coming to me with any issues or questions they have – no matter how big or small. I’m only scary when I haven’t had my cup of tea in the morning, promise.

My ideal mentee is someone who wants to learn and grow, be open to honest feedback and communication, willing to work hard, and is okay with me talking about pizza all the time. Bonus if you see a long-term career beyond the manuscript you are submitting.


  • Mysteries/thrillers. Send them all, please! I would also love to see some adult comps done as YA here. Think: GONE GIRL, JUDAS CHILD, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, IN THE WOODS, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.
  • Horror. Give me ALL the creep. If you can scare me, we will be friends. I will take any kind of monster, ghost, setting or era here – just make it scary. If you can comp to anything Stephen King then I want it!
  • Contemporary. I’m open to anything here and don’t shy away from issue books or those with mental health themes.
  • Sibling stories (especially sisters) or found families.
  • Small towns.
  • Family secrets.
  • Unique structures (my manuscript has a backwards timeline).
  • Villain, killer, unpredictable POVs will always appeal.
  • Prefer real-world (will consider magical realistic settings if it’s not nudging into fantasy).
  • Pizza will always make me happy.
  • Puzzles/riddles.
  • Spiders. I absolutely love spiders and even have a tattoo of one.
  • Horses. I never seemed to grow out of my horse phase.
  • Houses or settings that are like a character.
  • Student exchange stories (I did one when I was 16 to a small town in Nebraska, USA).
  • As an Australian and avid traveller/documentary maker, international stories will always appeal.
  • Olympic settings (I manage the media for taekwondo Olympians).
  • A YA Jaws but where the shark is the hero and not the villain.


  • No animal cruelty, please. Like seriously.
  • Novels in verse. I love reading them, but I am just not the right mentor.
  • Genres that I haven’t asked for – there are other mentors that will be a better fit.

This is way too hard as I love too many genres, but here goes …

Some books I love:
TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET by Karen M. McManus, JUDAS CHILD by Carol O’Connell, ONE OF US by ├ůsne Seierstad, A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER by Holly Jackson, LITTLE MONSTERS by Kara Thomas, PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK by Joan Lindsay, SADIE by Courtney Summers, YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN by Leah Johnson, PERSUASION by Jane Austen, GROWN by Tiffany D. Jackson, HOLES by Louis Sachar, THE SCIENCE OF UNBREAKABLE THINGS by Tae Keller, NORMAL PEOPLE by Sally Rooney, anything by Stephen King/Nora Ephron/Tana French/Gillian Flynn.

In Film/TV I pretty much love most things but some classics or recent titles I love are:
HALLOWEEN, SEVEN, CRUEL SUMMER, THE SWEET HEREAFTER, THE SINNER, JAWS, GILMORE GIRLS, SUCCESSION, MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER, CLUE, GET OUT, HEARTLAND, anything true crime, anything with Nicole Kidman or Kate Winslet in it, anything that makes me so scared I can’t sleep, anything … This is too hard. I’ll watch anything.