The two that I found, couldn't be more different in tone and writing style, but what they share is a common language of finding personal truths, love, hope, and a slathering of bittersweet despair.
Kristin Reynold's manuscript, LE CIRQUE DU LITERATI, blew me away with its poetic turns of phrase, mind-blowing visual imagery, and a heart aching love story between its two main characters. I found myself gasping at things, then seeing them fully realized in my head. It's the story of Josephine and Nikolai, both running from pieces of their lives, when they make the fateful decision to hop a train. The train though is not an ordinary train nor does it have an ordinary destination. The train delivers them to Meir, a magical world known only to Josephine through the pages of her grandmother's favorite book. And above Meir, in the clouds, is a Utopian circus filled with artists, poets, writers, dancers, creatives of all types, who seek a place to be safe from those who would dull the world down. Jo and Nik's journey in Meir is about facing their fears, their truths, and ultimately finding their way to each other. It's stunning and beautiful and I want to know which devastatingly smart agent is going to choose it.
1. Give us the Twitter pitch for your Pitchwars manuscript (140 characters or less)!
Josephine and beau Nikolai flee homes of fear & ruin. Magicians of a Utopian circus offer them sanctuary if they relive their darkest fears.
2. Stephanie Perkins does this cool thing for her books called a Love List, explained here: , what is the love list for your novel?
Oooh, this is fun and so important! Okay, here is my Le Cirque Du Literati Love List:
Cute Russian artist boy
Brave Girl hurt by the world
Reunited lost loves
Color splashed across the page
Love that hurts, but holds
New life born from death
A circus of imagination!
A giant with moving tattoos
Believing in yourself and your dreams
Battling personal demons
Cherry red moon
A city above the clouds
A black tower called Magna Dune
A dog who is a friend
And miracles for those who believe
3. Name a handful of writers whose work inspires you, along with a short explanation of why!
Wow, only five, eh? That is so hard!
In absolutely no order:
1) Stephen King: I reread The Dark Tower series every year or two and it never gets old for me. I have read a good many books, and with many have found true and deep love, but I cannot imagine any other character I adore more than Roland Deschain—and don’t get me started on Eddie and Oy! King writes so flawlessly, and with so much between the lines wisdom, beauty and truth, when it’s a timeless story like The Dark Tower or The Stand, there is nobody I’d rather read and learn from. Well, except for . . .
2) Haruki Murakami: Like King, Murakami twines philosophy and existential wisdom into his stories, using metaphor and just the right amount of weirdness to make every crazy event absolutely believable. Kafka on the Shore is one of my most beloved books and 1Q84 had me engrossed from page one. Such a brilliant, wise, and ethereal man, Murakami. I’ve learned a lot of style from him.
3) J. K. Rowling: Need I say more? She birthed a world that our world would not be the same without; her mind resurrected magic, and breathed such life into her characters, I for one would be lost without Harry Potter, Hogwarts, and Dumbledore, more necessary characters (Hogwarts is a character to me) whom I love and would hate to live without.
4) Antoine de Saint-Exupery: This man writes skies, deserts, the human heart, and treachery of man more fluidly and poetically than anyone—ever. Exupery, best known for writing The Little Prince, in my top 3 books of all time, is little known in regard to his other, adult novels. Such a shame! Put it this way. If I were to be trapped on a desert island with only one author’s books, it would be Antoine de Saint-Exupery: Flight to Arras, Wind, Sand and Stars, Wisdom of the sands, more, all of them are so literally divine I could live eternally inside his words.
5) And, last but not least, my new favorite author, Laini Taylor. Few writers today meet with her grace of combining visual art with literature. I see words and verses in color, so by the time I’m finished reading a book, the amalgamated hue generally leans one way or another: white, gray, blue, red, you get the idea. But hers are like a prism, a rainbow of color jumping off the page. Laini’s characters make me feel, love, yearn, have me right there with them, heart in my chest. I so adore her poetic language and style, I am always thrilled to immerse myself inside her unique and colorful worlds. J
4. Why PitchWars?
Why? Because it’s the greatest pitch contest ever! Where else can you learn such invaluable lessons—on craft, publishing, editing, grammar, stupid confusing commas, how to structure a novel that works, and how to keep writing no matter what, because, damn it, you can do this—where, but the illustrious Brenda Drake’s PitchWars can a writer find so much writerly love? There seriously could not be a finer, more giving community than the writing community, which is the heart and soul of this contest. (Thank you all!)
5. When you self-identify as a writer, what does that mean to you?
That I have accepted the dream that came wrapped in ink ribbons inside of me at my birth. That I will no longer let society, the illusion of normalcy, the fear of failing, or ridicule for following this inherent drive to write, rule me. I am a human filter for processing human experience, emotions, and any number of miracles, for writing down life as I see it through a simple poet’s eyes. That is what the term writer means to me.
How does it make you feel?
Like until I accepted myself as a writer, a small sun inside of me was draped in a blanket of pitch . . . but the moment I wrote my first query letter, that sun rose and blanket burned and I will never be cold again.
6. Next 3 books on your TBR pile, what liquid's in your cup, and what's playing on repeat!
Next three books on my leaning tower TBR pile:
1) Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
2) The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
3) No Place to Fall by (the incomparable) Jaye Robin Brown (aww, thank you!)
What Liquid’s in my cup: WATER, as always.
What’s playing on repeat: Why Georgia Why by my sweet, sweet love, John Mayer J
Jaye, this was a blast, thank you! <3