• Ciannon


Welcome to my PitchWars wishlist! I'm a returning mentor, though I'm flying solo this year; If you’ve written a YA Fantasy brimming with villainy and grey characters, you’re in the right place.


If you’re already familiar with Brenda Drake’s brainchild, feel free to skip ahead. For those who are new to Pitch Wars, it's an incredible mentoring program ‘where published/agented authors, editors, or industry vets choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions about how to make the manuscript shine for an agent showcase.’

The best part, in my opinion, is the community Pitch Wars encourages. Whether you're selected for mentorship or not, you'll form solid friendships with like-minded writers - a necessity in this weird publishing biz.


Of Jamaican heritage, Ciannon Smart grew up in a small town in the south-east of England. As the only daughter in a house full of boisterous sons, she developed a voracious appetite for reading from an early age, preferring anarchy in stories rather than real life. In YA she loves her heroines exactly as she loves her villains: wilful, wily, and unpredictable. When not writing, Ciannon can be found reading, painting, or taking the long way home to listen to a good song more than once. Her debut YA fantasy novel WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD will release April 20th from Harper Teen US, and Hot Key Books UK.

My future mentee can expect:

  • dry humour and plenty of inside jokes

  • a safe space to vent

  • book recommendations

  • tv show recommendations

  • discussions about which Studio Ghibli anime is the best


Category: YA

Genre: Fantasy

This year I am in the market for VILLAINS, the complex, the grey, the gorgeous, and I'd like them matched with:

  • Lush, dark settings

  • Unique mythology and magic systems

  • Lesser known retellings

  • Unique magical creatures

  • Court intrigue

  • Quests and heists

  • Beautiful writing and strong voice

  • Characters with agency

  • ROMANCE - enemies-to-lovers / enemies-to-lovers-to-enemies / enemies-to-disaster ‘murdery’ children

  • Tormented boys (I will LOVE you forever if you send the next Darkling / Cardan)

  • Soft precious cinnamon roll boys

  • Blair Waldorf type girls, but make it fantasy

  • Strong character relationships (female friendships, platonic relationships, familial relationships, found families

  • Villain love stories (If your comp is The Cruel Prince, why isn’t your sub in my inbox yet?)

  • Plot twists

  • Humour

  • Killing Eve, but make it fantasy


  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

  • Angelfall by Susan Ee

  • Anything written by Laini Taylor

  • Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

  • Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

  • Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

  • The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

  • The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

  • The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

  • The Cruel Prince trilogy by Holly Black

  • The Grishaverse books by Leigh Bardugo

  • The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

  • Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

  • The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

  • The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

  • A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne Brown

  • The Wrath and The Dawn by Reneé Ahdieh

  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

  • There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

  • Vicious by V.E Schwab

  • The Gilded Ones Namina Forna

  • Raybearer Joran Ifueko

  • We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

  • Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

  • Wintersong by S. Jae Jones


  • Fantasy with sprawling timelines

  • Sci-fi

  • Contemporary

  • Anything outside the YA category (Middle Grade / Adult)

  • Rape and/or sexual assualt as a plot device

  • Premises that undermine marginalized groups

  • Magical-negro tropes

  • White savior tropes

  • Books that feature Obeah

  • Books with witches

  • Mermaids

  • Fae

  • Manuscripts that surpass 100,000 words

These are all hard passes for me, sorry! But other mentors may be open to them, so be sure to scour wishlists and pick your best fit


  • Someone who isn’t afraid of revisions

  • Someone willing to consider the merit of different perspectives regarding how to improve their work

  • Someone who’s ready and excited to take their book to the next level

  • Someone ready to work collaboratively on their manuscript

  • Someone who has gone as far as they can with their manuscript, is confident in what they want to achieve with the story, but needs fresh eyes to evaluate plot, structure etc


Round one: an initial letter, in which I'll focus on structure and big picture edits. I'll be looking at your plot, your characters, and your worldbuilding. The edit letter will be very thorough, but it’s nothing to be afraid of as I'll be on hand to answer questions/allay concerns/cheer you through. By the end of round one, you will have a shinier, tightly-plotted manuscript in your hands

Round two: the second round is usually a quick one, in which I'll focus on story continuity and flow. If there are any plot holes, we’ll plug them.

Round three: if time permits before the agent showcase, my final round will focus on line level edits.

My strengths lie in character development, their motivations and agency, plot, and structure. Ultimately though, line editing is the part of the process I enjoy the most—digging into the prose, and enriching language and descriptions laterally.

It takes a village to write a book. I've been blessed enough to have many talented people guide me through the trenches. I welcome the chance to do the same for you

Definitely check out the other YA mentors' wishlists below!

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© Ciannon Smart 2020