Please note that my cackling is perfectly innocent and in no way expressive of evil glee.
I write about ghosts, monsters, and other weird things that go bump in the night. My debut YA ghost story, The Dark Beneath the Ice, is coming out next year from Sourcebooks Fire. (You can add it on Goodreads!) By day I'm a mild-mannered editor in the Canadian public service.
What's in this for you
So real talk, you guys: I'm your colleague, not a gatekeeper. I'm a writer and reader who has a book deal. That doesn't make me infallible. I can't guarantee you'll find an agent through this contest. I can't guarantee you'll find an agent with this manuscript.
BUT, having said that, I've been editing corporate copy for 10 years and workshopping fiction since I was a kid, so if we're working together, what I CAN promise is that I will deliver thorough, honest, constructive critique. When I flag problems, I'm diplomatic but straightforward, and I try to propose questions and possibilities to get you thinking towards a solution. I will bounce ideas around whenever you need it, and I will put all my considerable and relentless pompom-shaking behind you – both during and after your revision.
I would like to give everyone a bit of feedback, since I found the bits of feedback I got from the contest circuit so hugely helpful. I will do my very best to point out something I liked and something to improve on all submissions. Please note, though, that this is a statement of ambition to be taken with a grain of salt. This is my first crack at this event, so we'll see how much I can accomplish around two kids, a full-time job, and my own edits!
What I'd love to see
Well, first off, make it YA, obviously. MG or Adult is outside my wheelhouse.
If you've seen my Twitter timeline – or, you know, glanced at the theme of this website – my taste is probably pretty clear:
Across genres, I want your scary stuff.
Make it creepy, spooky, spine-tingling, nightmarish, atmospheric. Make it uncanny. Make it slow-burning and subtle yet impossible to put down...or make it a terrifying roller-coaster ride that has me gripping the pages white-knuckled.
Even better, make it sort of literary, too, by which I mean two things:
- lyrical – sentences to savor, images that stick
- layered – more to the story beyond the surface
Basically, I want stories that scare me and make me think, and I’m open to pretty much anything that does both in combination. Contemporary with a spooky twist? Science fiction that drives home the terrifying hostility of space? Fantasy infused with lingering dread? Bring it.
I enjoy weirdness, ambiguity, and open-endedness. This isn’t an absolute, but I’m generally a bigger fan of ghosts and monsters than I am of real-world bad guys, especially if you’re playing with what those ghosts and monsters really mean, putting a fresh twist on something, or making authentic use of a mythology that’s new to me. Relatedly, would LOVE to see #ownvoices takes on any and all of this.
Books and media I have adored
MONKEY BEACH and SON OF A TRICKSTER by Eden Robinson
BONE GAP by Laura Ruby
IMAGINARY GIRLS and THE WALLS AROUND US by Nova Ren Suma
CUCKOO SONG by Frances Hardinge
THE NIGHT GARDENER by Jonathan Auxier
CORALINE by Neil Gaiman
SABRIEL / LIRAEL / ABHORSEN by Garth Nix
The Walking Dead (until I tapped out, anyway)
Battlestar Galactica (the new one)
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Not so much my jam
I probably wouldn't be the right fit for “comedy” horror or high fantasy.
Things that just plain turn me off:
Hurting kids (see above re The Walking Dead – couldn’t cope!)
A lot of gore
Cavalier use of sexual assault or mental illness
Check out the other marvelous mentors for YA below!