Saturday, January 18, 2014


Erika David, THE BARRENS

When I put out my wish list for Pitchwars, on the very top was Contemporary YA Sci Fi. I like my science fiction grounded in reality--based on this planet…this realm of existence. Why? Because as a contemporary writer at heart, I like knowing… fearing…wondering if this scenario could  “really happen.” Combine that realistic nature with beautiful, literary prose and raw emotion and you have the perfect manuscript.  You have THE BARRENS.

THE BARRENSWhen a scientist and his sons join her subterranean biomine, Niko thinks her life is finally beginning. But the thrill of a first boyfriend is overshadowed by mysterious accidents and deaths, and if Niko can’t figure out how and why, her life will be over before it’s barely begun.

Little Bit about Erika:
Erika David came early to reading, but late to writing. It wasn't until after a career as a publicist for a museum and a news magazine that she finally heeded her Grade 11 English teacher's advice to pursue fiction writing. Now, when not dreaming up new science-fueled MG/YA whodunnits and whydunnits, Erika is busy keeping up with three teens and a tennis-ball-obsessed munsterlander named Martha. She enjoys tending to her garden and pond, discovering new indie bands, and watching Supernatural with her son and Lilyhammer with her husband. She’s also addicted to chocolate, which she considers a food group and a staple to the writing life. 

Why did I enter Pitchwars? 
While I felt good about my story, I'm a firm believer that there's always room for improvement. The idea of working with an accomplished writer (that's you, Trisha, accomplished, talented, supportive, creative...) was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I also knew that any contest organized by Brenda Drake and her team was going to be great, and I was not wrong.

What did you find most valuable about the process?
Working with a mentor like Trisha. To have someone of her caliber shine a new light on my manuscript has been invaluable. I've learned so much, especially how to cut to the heart of a scene by eliminating redundant passages and filler words. The experience not only strengthened my story, it made me a better writer. 
*In all honesty, I learned as much from Erika as she did from me, maybe even more.

What is the most unexpected him (good or bad) that came from Pitchwars? 
Realizing I went into Pitch Wars with a serious addiction to--wait for it--em dashes!  Poor, Trisha. I think every third editing note was another deleted em dash or a reminder to use them sparingly. I understand that recognizing you have a problem is the first step to recovery, so I'm now trying to seriously curb my usage--really, I swear I am. Now... if only I could do something about all those ellipses...

*That is one of the many things I have come to realize Erika and I have in common— a shared love/hate relationship with dreaded em dash

Any advice for writers thinking of entering Pitchwars in the future? 
If you have a completed story that you feel good about, do it!  There are so many positives to participating in Pitch Wars; working with a kick ass writer to improve your manuscript and your own writing skills, meeting tons of wonderful new people, and having a bright Pitch Wars spotlight shone on your story. It's a win-win-win.

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