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Catching up with 2020 Editor-Writer Mentee Swetha S.

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

Our Editor-Writer Mentorship is an annual program that pairs upcoming writers from underrepresented groups with experienced book publishing editors!

Our Editor Mentors provide substantive feedback to help raise a strong manuscript to its best position for submission to potential agents and editors. This is an opportunity to learn from the knowledge of experienced acquiring editors. This program is free of cost due to the generosity of our volunteer editors.

We are excited to catch up with our 2020 Young Adult Fiction Mentee Swetha S., who worked with Editor Brian Geffen over the past year.

Swetha S. was born and raised in Coimbatore, India. She seeks to capture her immediate reality and explore worlds different from her own by writing speculative fiction set in and based on contemporary India. Her prose and poetry have appeared in Out of Print magazine, DUST Poetry magazine, and other magazines. She is also a fiction editor at Honey & Lime literary magazine. She is currently pursuing a B.A. in English with Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia campus. Find her on Twitter @SwethaWrites.

Brian Geffen is an editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. He has worked with wonderful authors such as Julie C. Dao, Gregory Zuckerman, John Flanagan, Heather Kassner, Remy Lai, Katy Rose Pool, Rocky Callen, Christian McKay Heidicker, and Andrew Maraniss, among others. Brian acquires a wide variety of young adult and middle-grade fiction, particularly fantasy, realistic contemporary, and action/adventure, as well as the occasional nonfiction title and graphic novel. Born and raised in Queens, NY, Brian is a fan of traveling, eating, rap, and learning foreign languages.

Here's our Q&A with Swetha!

1) Which fictional character/personality did your Editor-Mentor most channel?

I could not come up with a fictional character. But I would characterise my mentor as kind, but also honest. What I love about my mentorship experience is how Brian also considers my vision for my manuscript and helps accordingly. As a result, receiving feedback and edits has been a huge learning experience.

2) What surprised you about your writing or yourself during your mentorship?

I was surprised by the kind of changes I had to make. I am diving into a complete rewrite of my manuscript after my discussions during the mentorship. But I am also happy about the edits. I feel like I was able to understand my manuscript and what it needs much better through the mentorship.

3) On a long day of writing or querying, what sage advice from your Editor-Mentor will be floating around in your mind?

I tend to bog down the story with many details that may not exactly be relevant. My mentor's advice to focus on the main story and question if each detail is necessary has been incredibly helpful.

4) Will you share with us what you've been working on? Give us the one-line pitch of your manuscript.

The Shifting Maps of Kumari is about two girls trapped in opposing sides of a city. They need to break out of their bubble-like communities to meet each other in a city whose buildings move and reconfigure to keep their sides apart.

5) What's next for you and your writing career?

I am still working on my edits. But a few agents are already interested in reading my manuscript after the edits, so I am excited! Besides that, I have also been working on other projects and have some things brewing at the moment.

I just want to thank The Word for this incredible opportunity! I was able to see my manuscript in a different light and understand how to fix its issues through my mentor's guidance. I am also happy to have connected with the other mentees!

***Did you know you can Volunteer or Donate to The Word to help us continue to provide programming like the Editor-Writer Mentorship and help writers like Swetha?

The Word is a non-profit charitable organization. We rely on community support to run our programs. Together we can build a publishing community that fosters creativity and whimsy for all. Each and every donation supports this fight for underrepresented voices.

To learn more about the Editor-Writer Mentorship Program, CLICK HERE.


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