Meet Annette Christie, author, past Pitch Wars mentee, and current Pitch Wars mentor.
You were a 2016 Pitch Wars mentee with Sonia Hartl as your mentor. Tell us a little bit about your book FLORENCE LEARY’S THEORY OF FLIGHT that you got into Pitch Wars with.
FLORENCE LEARY’S THEORY OF FLIGHT was inspired by a Rolling Stone article I read about Ben Schlappig. It’s the story of an ambitious and cunning seventeen-year-old girl who spends every weekend (and the occasional school day) flying from airport to airport collecting travel points. Her ultimate goal is to be a full-time frequent flyer and travel blogger, but her guidance counselor is making her join a club for young entrepreneurs as penance for skipping school, her dad’s trying to convince her to take over the family business, and she’s falling for the cute-in-a-weird-way guy who works at the airport. Florence’s perfect first class life is the salve for every one of her anxieties and problems. If only the people in her life will stop trying to pull her feet back down to the ground.
In a nutshell, it’s UP IN THE AIR meets ANNA & THE FRENCH KISS.
Florence was your third manuscript. You sent out 100 queries for it within two months and landed your agent Jess Dallow with it. What made you so enthusiastic and confident in querying that time around?
Haha! My CPs mocked me because I was very enthusiastic when it came to querying. I sent big bunches out at a time. I sent revenge queries when I got rejections and celebration queries when I got requests. FLORENCE was the third manuscript I queried, but I knew it was different. Through preparing for Pitch Wars, in addition to Pitch Wars itself, I was really able to shake off a lot of my rookie mistakes and add more depth to the story. I’d also been studying story structure non-stop and felt a lot more confident that this was an agent-worthy manuscript.
The first manuscript you queried was fantasy and the last two contemporary. What made you decide to switch genres? Do you plan to continue writing contemporary or do you think you might give fantasy another try?
When I’m brainstorming new story ideas I outline the hell out of them and see what sticks, so who knows! You’ve got to follow the inspiration and see where it takes you.
You also act. Does your acting ever influence your writing and vice versa? Do the two have anything in common that others might not realize?
YES!!! Sorry, I obviously feel strongly about this topic. Acting and writing really scratch the same itch for me. Being an actor helps me write realistic dialogue because my rule is: if I can’t convincingly say this line, it’s getting cut from the book. As an actor I was trained to dig around for symbolism, to see the importance of what isn’t being said in addition to what is, and to understand the motivation for a character’s every move and every word. All of these techniques are valuable when it comes to writing and really inform the way I tell stories.
On your blog you’ve talked some about imposter syndrome. How do you usually handle it?
There are days when I nearly sink into that imposter syndrome and I have to remind myself that my voice is unique and I’m willing to put in the work. Isn’t that really what it boils down to? You’ve got to charge ahead and try not to self-reject.
If your book was turned into a play or movie, would you be willing to play one of the characters?
Please, can I?! That sounds like a dream! I’ve dabbled in voice-over work in the distant past and would even settle for being the voice for my own audio book.
Not only do you write novels, but you also write articles. My personal favorite is IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Was Hired by Mattel to Be a Real-Life Barbie. Is it scary to write articles about yourself instead of writing about fictional characters?
Putting your writing out there is always scary. I want to say it’s scarier to write autobiographical stuff like some of my articles, but my fictional characters are just as precious to me. Being criticized for any of it is brutal. I aspire to be strong enough not to read the comments or the reviews 😉
This year you will be mentoring in Pitch Wars. What made you decide to mentor this year?
I feel so grateful and deeply indebted to Brenda, Sonia, and the rest of the Pitch Wars team for getting me to this place in my career. My involvement in Pitch Wars has been such a joy in my life and a support when I’ve needed it. I obviously know firsthand how tough those querying trenches can be. Watching a talented, hard working writer find their agent match is thrilling, so mentoring was a no brainer for me. I’ll stay in this Pitch Wars family until someone kicks me out.
Are you nervous at all to be making the switch from mentee to mentor?
I’m not nervous at all, but I have the advantage of co-mentoring with Sonia, who’s been around the Pitch Wars block more than once. She is DIVINE and I am so excited to work with her on this side of things. I can’t wait for us to find our mentee!
When you were a mentee, how did you go about tackling your Pitch Wars revisions?
Taking some time to let the notes sink in was really valuable. I work with multi-coloured index cards and Sharpies so I can physically map out the scenes, what needs to be changed, what needs to be added and cut, etc. Any time I felt like I was hitting a wall, I’d check in with Sonia. She was so great about talking me through the obstacles.
Now that you will have been a Pitch Wars mentor and mentee, what other career or writing goals do you have?
I did several more rounds of revisions with my kickass agent and I think FLORENCE is just about ready to go on submission. In the meantime, I’m writing something new and very fun. As for the future, I want at least one bestseller. I want a lifetime of writing stories that give people ‘book hangovers’ and make them daydream about my characters. I may get back into playwriting one day. More than anything, I want a prolific career. It’s all about putting in the work, taking the critiques, and hoping that element of serendipity is on my side.
Want to know more about Anette? Visit her author website.