Mentor Taylor Grothe

www.taylorgrothe.com
@TaylorLGrothe

AGENT
Elle Thompson, Triada US

WRITES
Gothic Horror, Body Horror, Psychological Horror

ON SUBMISSION

BIO
Taylor Grothe graduated Duke University Cum Laude with a degree in Fairy Tales and Folklore: Medieval to Present, with an emphasis on Nordic Saga and Folklore, as well as Arthuriana from the Early Modern period to the Victorian Era. She has two beautiful Valkyries for daughters, and lives with them, her partner, and her two witch’s familiars, Katla and Hekla, in Southwestern Connecticut.

PUBLISHING BACKGROUND
In March 2020, I attended the first of what was supposed to be six weekly writing classes at my local high school, merely to seek creative outlet. Covid and the universe had other plans! The class cancelled, I began writing in my spare time, and quickly wrote two manuscripts. The first, a 130k-word historical fiction tome, did *not* do well on the querying stage, though I managed to edit it down to 85k in desperation. However, the latter manuscript, NORNAKONA, a psychological horror set in contemporary Iceland, earned me my incredible agent, and helped to develop my deep and abiding love for the horror genre. Eight months after beginning querying, I signed with Elle, and have four other manuscripts either nearing the end of final revisions, or in draft form. NORNAKONA is on submission, with a second manuscript, THE HOUSE ON INGLEWOOD, joining shortly!

EXPERIENCE
I honed my editing style with the help of an amazing network of incisive critique partners; most of those relationships are long-standing; some have received agent offers. I also take writing classes biannually, where we engage in round-table MFA style reading and critiquing. On the side, I have a query editing business with several happy customers receiving requests. I’m also a fervent line editor (weird flex, I know).

OVERVIEW
The writing community is such a supportive place–through it, I have met some of my closest friends and become comfortable in my own admittedly weird and creative skin. I have a deep longing to give back to this community that gave me so much, and selfishly want to read a lot of incredible material I know is just waiting in the wings to be discovered! It’s my sincerest hope to help out in an industry that is known to be challenging to break into.

As a mentor and critique partner, I am very editorial, and will happily chat for hours at a time about plot holes, character arcs, purple prose… you name it, I love it. I will likely sit with my mentee and ask hard questions about writing style, plot approach, comp titles, and overall structure of their manuscript. It will be incisive and bracing, I hope, which is oftentimes what a manuscript needs to develop further. More importantly, illuminating key aspects of plot makes a better writer on the other side–clarity is everything in storytelling.

Horror is a lens through which other genres and themes are developed. Thus, I am open to basically any horror type, with a preference for the atmospheric, women-centered, and psychological. Above all, I am looking for a strong voice, vivid storytelling, and relatable characters, from a writer who is willing to take critique and grow with it in courage.

MENTORING GENRES
Adult, Accepts Graphic Novels

  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • Thriller
  • Horror
  • Any genre that collides with horror (i.e. thrillers that slide into horror, historical horror, (grim)dark fantasy horror, Sci-Fi horror…)

Horror is myriad and beautiful, and more than anything, I am seeking a story that, even without its horror element, would be lovely and complete. Send me stories driven by their characters’ desires and hatreds, with coherent plot and elements that blow the trope-dependent genre wide open. Give me experimental horror, stories that are set in space, plots that are set in the far future or past. Horror that surprises and delights, that is ravishingly lovely in all its creepiness.

Horror also has its faults: it can be deeply racist, everything/anything-phobic, and misogynistic. Tropes relying on these traits are an automatic no thank you.

 

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
I am a kind and talkative person who is also indefatigable and direct when it comes to editing–expect that we’d begin with a long phone/zoom conversation to get to know one another and to discuss a previously sent edit letter spanning several pages. On that call, we will also discuss your goals for the manuscript (and I don’t mean getting an agent necessarily, more like: what is the intent of your plot? How do you imagine your characters coming across to readers? And hey, who are your readers, anyway?)

From there, we’ll set a revision plan: when you expect to return your manuscript to me for a more intensive in-line editing, which will include grammatical and rigorous word choice discussions, as well as short term deadlines and final return. My goal is to help my mentee to see their manuscript with clear eyes so they can make decisions, sometimes difficult, about plot and character and arc.

I prefer to read full manuscripts, but I’m happy to always read snippets/bounce ideas as thoughts and questions arise. And, if my mentee should take the manuscript out into the querying world, I will be happy to answer questions, help formulate a query letter and synopsis, and generally be there as a shoulder to lean on.

IDEAL MENTEE
My ideal mentee understands that revision is a vital part to the writing process, if not the most important one. AMM is about growing in your abilities as a writer, and most importantly, as an editor of your own work; to that end, I’m seeking a mentee who is open to critique, willing to go to the mat with their manuscript, and engages at every point of the process. Quite aside, I’m looking for someone with whom I can have a warm relationship where we rip apart manuscripts together 🙂

SEND ME:
A strong, clear voice in horror is the most important thing to me. I want to see a writer who has developed their ideas of what horror means: it is a deeply personal, empathetic genre, and I am interested to see how the writer pushes it to a place of individuality.

Here are some thoughts on what I’d like to see:

  • If your manuscript comps to MEXICAN GOTHIC, send it to me;
  • If you have witches in your book performing dark magic and reveling in their powers, I want to see it;
  • Horror set in space;
  • Traditional haunting stories with a thriller-y sub-plot (think HOUSE OF ECHOES meets THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE);
  • Manuscripts you might identify as ‘old school horror’ à la REBECCA or WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE;
  • Horror with complex relationships, genuine tension, untethered families, are all huge yeses;
  • Magical horror with psychological elements;
  • Historical horror like THE SILENT COMPANIONS;
  • Body horror similar to the shorts in HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES, but in long form.

Please don’t be limited by this list! If you feel we’d click over something in your manuscript, please do send it along 🙂

DO NOT SEND ME:
I am not cool with hurting/killing young children on page (allusions are okay), or hurting/killing animals without specific need. If it’s gratuitous in its violence without cause, it’s likely not for me. As always, anything racist, sexist, misogynist, or otherwise derogatory is a no thanks.

FAVES

I’m a giant chicken when it comes to watching horror, but here’s a brief list of my favorite movie/shows that I managed to sit through: Marianne, Midsommar, Squid Game, Midnight Mass, You, The Chalet, Dark, Black Spot, The Sinner, The Haunting of Hill House. The Unborn. Not going to lie, I repressed most of this and had to pull up my Netflix recently-watched list!

Weird things I collect: strange, witchy ceramics; figurines of owls; bottle openers shaped like animals (my favorite is a wrought-iron horse head); interesting rocks off the beach, complicated/impossible houseplants who hate tap water

Favorite artists: Kristin Sjaarda, Albrecht Durer, Linda Colletta, Jasper Goodall, Salvador Dali, Jennifer Packer