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Pitch Wars Mentor Interview: Fiona Mclaren!

Hey guys! Here is the promised interview with the amazing Fiona Mclaren for Pitch wars. (If you don't know what it is find it here!)

What is your background in publishing (writer, intern, editor etc.)and why will you make a great mentor?
Well, to start with I'm an agented writer who is represented by the amazing Corvisiero Literary Agency for my YA novels. I also intern for Holloway Literary Agency, where I wade through the slush and read and report back on everything from queries and partials to fulls and mss on sub. I'm also a freelance writer with over 300 publications to my name. I ghost write novels for independent clients too. Why will I make a good mentor? I'm passionate and hard working. It took me 16 years to learn my craft and I'm still learning every day. I think mentoring is not just the process of giving a critique. It's the dialogue that comes with it. Sometimes it's about thrashing a story out in a conversation. Sometimes it's about being a cheerleader. A good mentor needs to know what tool to use and when. I think I can do that.
What genres and sub genres are you most interested in?
Primarily YA but I'll take NA as well. I love dark and gritty work of any genre. Personally, I write Contemporary YA and YA Gothic Horror, but I'll accept almost any genre. However brownie points go to those who have a darker side. I'm not really a fan of romance as the main plot line, but don't mind it as a subplot. I like unexpected things. Surprise me and any genre can hook me.
Do you have any slush pet peeves that authors should be aware of, anything in particular you'd LOVE to see?
Pet peeves? Not really. The only one I have perhaps is when writers are arrogant. It's good to have faith in your work, but there is a fine line between confidence and disrespect. Respect to fellow writers and writing professionals is super important to me. As for what I'd love to see - something that is daring. SO much of what is out there is quite same-y. I want something that really looks at the world a different way. Mess it up a bit and I'm yours!
What do you value highest: writing, concept or characters?
This is a tough one for me, as I know the rote answer should always be characters. However, I can love a character but if the writing doesn't sing, I won't bite. Concepts hook me at the start but won't pull me the whole way. Ultimately it is characters I value the most but it NEEDS to be paired with sizzling writing.
Name three of the best books you read (particularlly in the genre your looking for) this year and why did you love them?
Forbidden by Tabitha Sazuma - it looks at dark, sticky topics and doesn't shy away from them. It also has gorgeous writing and characters you really feel for.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - great plot, unique concept, and stunning writing. I love, love, LOVE this book.
My Sister, My Love by Joyce Carol Oates - this might not be strictly YA but it is a book I feel very strongly about. The writing is just to die for and the approach and technique used is just superb.
Are you willing to bribe your favorite authors? If so, what’s on the table?
I know there is a lot of bribing going on in the Twitter-verse (of which I have undoubtedly been a part), but on a serious note I bribe by offering everything I've got - 16 years of writing experience, agency insider knowledge, a go the extra mile attitude, and the extension of friendship. Writing is an incredibly social activity and I think it's important that writers connect and become friends. That way, good, honest critiques can be given and we can all help each other up the ladder. Failing that, I have free pony rides on my two horses, a cuddly GSD, a lot of chocolate and a booze cabinet waiting to be plundered!
Will there be hair-pulling if another mentor chooses an author you love, or will you bow out gracefully?
I won't pull out hair...the other mentors already know not to mess with my mentoree. It is want me, I want're mine. :-)
Any thing else you'd like authors to know?
I CP four or five mss a month for other writers so I am constantly keeping up to date with the emerging market. However, for December I am devoting ALL of my critiquing time to my mentoree. I'm in it to win it. Losing is not an option!


This interview is meant to help you decide which mentors are going to be best for you! I have another one ready to go with the fabulous Erica Chapman and there's one more mentor interested in doing another (any other mentors who would like to do them... let me know!)  so check back soon for those! (I'll probably post Erica's tonight or early tomorrow.)


  1. I really enjoyed doing this interview - I think it's a great idea for writers to find out more about their pitch wars mentors!