Tara Gonzalez of Erin Murphy Literary Agency
Elle Tesch lives just east of Vancouver, British Columbia. Forever surrounded by forests and mountains, it was inevitable that she would daydream about what might lurk in those trees. She twists places she loves and writes what she knows best: hungry monsters, casually cruel villains, and ace-spec girls one step down from ruthless. Her words can be found in the Indie-published anthology AWAKENINGS.
What does mentorship mean to you, and why do you want to be a mentor?
The mentorship I received while in AMM brought me into an incredible community that gave me valuable connections and insight. I learned so much after receiving that first yes from someone who believed in my potential, and I feel it's only right to offer that same opportunity to someone else. I know how it feels to flounder in the dark while writing or querying, and I don't wish it on anyone.
What is your mentorship style? What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses?
I am equal parts enthusiasm and honesty. Ultimately, it's your story to tell, but I'm not afraid to point out if something isn't working. That said, I will always try to have a suggestion for how to fix it. I'm open-minded and will want to talk problems through with you. Sometimes the biggest problems have the simplest solutions, and we can figure that out together. I won't set a deadline unless it's wanted, and I'm around until you fire me.
1. World-building: From big picture to the nitty gritty, consistency checks and atmosphere vibes, I love digging into worlds to make them shine.
2. Story structure techniques : Re-outlining, rearranging chapters or ripping them out entirely—I want to help the story not only start where it needs to, but pace well too.
3. Dialogue: I have a knack for making sure conversations sound natural and best showcase the voice of a character.
1. Over-arching character arcs: It sometimes takes me a few passes before I figure out how a character's growth should look.
2. Providing resources: I don't really jive with craft books and can't point a mentee to any particular resource for assistance on understanding particular elements.
What makes a great mentee? Describe your ideal mentee/mentor relationship.
I am looking for a mentee who is open-minded to feedback and willing to put in the work to make their manuscript shine, no matter how daunting it may seem. My ideal mentee/mentor relationship is one that evolves into a friendship and partnership where we regularly chat, swap other projects in the future, and can grow together in navigating this crazy industry.
How would you describe your normal working speed?
What kind of communication can your mentee(s) expect from you?
I am open to correspondence via text, WhatsApp, Twitter DMs, or email. I prefer text messaging communication as I'm more likely to respond quick, especially when my mentee wants to talk something through. If my mentee is amenable, I'm willing to do a video chat to better discuss the edit letter they will receive. My timeline for response is literally as soon as I can, so anywhere from 1 minute to 3 days.
What kinds of communication are you able to accommodate?
Email, Zoom/Skype/Video, Text/Whatsapp, Social Media DMs
Are you able to make accommodations for mentees that request them?
Indefinite/As long as the mentee needs to complete our work together
Check all that apply: What do you plan to offer as a mentor?
Submission package critique (Query, Synopsis, 50 page sample), Full manuscript critique, Multiple manuscript passes and query support
How polished should your submissions be?
Magic Mirror, Funhouse Mirror, Antique Mirror
Mentee should demonstrate a certain level of writing skill as I won't be able to provide line edits on the full manuscript.
- I want all the ace spec kids. With romance or without. Their stories are all valid and I want to celebrate them.
- Morally grey characters. Not everyone has the best intentions, and I want to meet those people. I would especially love a descent into villainy arc. Give me what Daenerys Targaryen deserved.
- Villains. I want them cruel, twisted, suave, and unredeemable. Terrible people I love as much as the main characters.
- Happy ever afters are not required.
- Unique retellings—if it’s a non-marginalized twist on Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast, I’m probably not going to be excited about it.
- Settings that are as much a part of the story as the characters. Give me big and bold and different.
- Make me laugh. Even if everything is doom and gloom, I want to see characters with incredible voices that draw the fun out of every situation.
- Anything that comps to Stephanie Garber, Erin A. Craig, Claire Legrand, Allison Saft, Amanda Foody, Hannah Whitten, Rory Powers, or Suzanne Collins.
- Or, if it comps to The Haunting of Hill House, Locke and Key, The Witcher, The Village, or Annihilation, I want to see it.
- It should go without saying, but I am open to all stories from BIPOC and queer creators.
- Fantasy is my one true love. I’m open to every sub-genre, but my bread and butter is dark fantasy.
- I prefer second world to contemporary fantasy. Think Westeros, not New York City.
- Witches. Need I say more?
- Competitions—if a game is at the centre of the plot, bloody or not, I’m already a fan.
- While hate/dislike-to-lovers is amazing, a true enemies-to-lovers is even better. But done thoughtfully please. No falling for genocidal maniacs.
- And since we’re on the topic of tropes, fake dating or marriage of convenience are favourites of mine.
- Fantasy Bioshock. Is that a possible thing? I don’t know, but I want it.
- Unsettle me like Caitlin Starling’s The Luminous Dead. Apparently caves and tight spaces are terrifying to me, but I’m hooked and can't look away.
- Haunted houses, and I mean properly haunted. I don’t want a rational explanation for why the walls are crying. It’s the lady who drowned in the lake fifty years ago, not faulty pipes.
- All the ghosts and all the monsters.
- One of my favourite horror elements is people/things/places that are just left of normal and will probably kill you because of it.
Please do not send me:
- Stories with royalty as the main character, unless there’s an “Eat the rich” angle.
- Forest books. I’ve worked on my own long enough that I need a break from trees.
- Sexual assault or gratuitous sexual harassment. I rarely find it necessary and it shouldn’t be a plot point.
- Road trip books, unless the pace is tight and a lot happens along the way.
- Nothing over 100k.
- No theatre/dancing-based books (conflict of interest with my first fabulous mentee)
What are some of your favorite books?
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood; The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia; Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft; All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman; Small Favors by Erin A. Craig; The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater; Furyborn by Claire Legrand; A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
What are some books, movies, shows, games, etc. that you've recently enjoyed?
Books: The Luminous Dead, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Bright Ruined Things, The Viscount Who Loved Me, This Vicious Grace
Movies: Spiderman: No Way Home, Marry Me, The Great Gatsby, Titanic, Chicago, The Adam Project
Shows: Bridgerton, Hell’s Kitchen, The Witcher, A Discovery of Witches, Archive 81
Games: Rise of the Tomb Raider
Is there anything else you want potential mentees to know?