Laura Crockett, Triada US
Sharon Choe is a PhD student and author based in York, UK. Born in the beautiful Lake District, she grew up in Birmingham, though most of her family live halfway across the world in South Korea. As a child of diaspora and wandering, both her doctoral research and creative work grapples with what it means to belong. Sharon writes both adult and YA fantasy, and spends far too much time sketching characters to procrastinate. You can find her in independent coffee shops either writing, daydreaming, or knitting. Sometimes all three at the same time.
What does mentorship mean to you, and why do you want to be a mentor?
Mentorship isn't only a way of giving back to the community, but it's also a way of nurturing the next generation of creative minds. The publishing industry is so tough to into, and sometimes networking purely on social media through hashtags and pitch contests can be overwhelming. A mentor is a base or an anchor that can provide mentees a safe place to discuss, share, and grow while trying to find their feet in the query trenches or any stage before then. They are also a cheerleader who can provide new and different perspectives on a situation. However, a mentor isn't just a thoroughfare; they should also be a person the mentee can continue to talk to and build their relationship with as the mentee continues their author journey.
As a mentor, I want to offer that one-on-one guidance and support. My own journey in the query trenches was a bit lonely, as I started querying before discoving any sort of writing community. I had to figure everything out myself which was horrible! I'm eager to make sure no one feels alone or overwhelmed by the process, and to share the numerous resources I gathered along the way. I'm also endlessly chatty about writing craft! I teach at my university and as a private tutor, but I want to offer my capacity as a teacher/tutor outside of academia and in the creative industry. I've not been able to apply for other mentorship schemes before due to my PhD... but now that's done, I'm ready to be your cheerleader!
What is your mentorship style? What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses?
I'm very much led and guided by the mentee (whether they realise it or not!), so the partnership is equal and motivated by the mentee's needs. I like creating dialogues through questions that will stimulate ideas and other forms of discussion.
In terms of strengths, I'm flexible and quick to adapt – if I offer a solution or give feedback that the mentee deems unhelpful, I can generally offer an alternative on the spot. My background in academia and teaching has given me a good eye for detail as well as broader structural arcs, a high level of grammar proficiency, and a keen editorial eye. As an author, my strengths lie in structure, character development, and world building. I'm endlessly enthusiastic, so truly if you need that pep talk, I'm there for you! (If you watch Parks and Recreation, I've been told my countless people I'm 80% Leslie Knope + 20% Chris Traeger as a person).
In terms of weaknesses, I can be quite forthright. While my feedback is thoughtful, kind, and constructive, if I find something that needs work I will point it out in a straightforward manner for clarity. Some might find this a bit daunting, but please know it comes from a good place and a desire improve the manuscript! Also, in the off-chance I run out of suggestions to improve a project, then I will truly have nothing to offer.
What makes a great mentee? Describe your ideal mentee/mentor relationship.
A great mentee is one who is communicative, enthusiastic, and ready to learn. Not only that, but they should be receptive to critique and also be able to engage in productive discussions/feedback sessions where we can develop ideas or address the details together.
In general – due to my teaching/mentorship style – I like the mentee to know what they want. With their initial guidance and an idea of what the mentee wants to focus on, I can then adapt to their needs efficiently. Every project and every writer needs support in different areas and in different ways. My job is to troubleshoot a project and give personal guidance that will actually help, rather than offer general feedback.
How would you describe your normal working speed?
What kind of communication can your mentee(s) expect from you?
I’m accessible via email or Twitter/Instagram DMs. I will also offer follow up Zoom/Skype/Video calls to go over any feedback given! I have no preference how we communicate, but I would prefer keeping our conversations in one location otherwise I lose track of messages and will forget to reply completely (chaos will ensue). I’m most active on Instagram, then Twitter, but will always confirm receipt of emails within 24hrs.
NB: The quickest way to contact me is via Instagram
You can expect the following communication from me as your mentor:
• I will provide an estimated turnaround for my feedback.
• If there are any changes to my personal schedule which will impact the estimated turnaround, I will let you know well in advance of the deadline.
• All deadlines will be mutually set to ensure both our personal schedules and boundaries are respected.
• If I’m unable to reply promptly or I need longer to respond to a message/email, I will let you know.
• I will check in as often as you need to see how you're getting on!
Things I expect of you (and encourage!) as my mentee:
• You are more than welcome to check in with me at any point if you would like an update on the MS.
• If you need more or less frequent communication, or a quicker/slower turnaround of feedback, let me know.
• I encourage you to ask questions! I will adapt around your needs, so please follow up on any feedback.
• I expect deadlines to be met (by both of us), but I'm aware that life sometimes can get in the way—there are always things out of our control! If there is a change in plans, then please let me know in advance.*
• If you do not hear from me at all within 48hrs of a message or email, then please nudge me.
* I'm a PhD student/Early Career Researcher so I make my own hours. This means I can be flexible BUT please note that my weeks are dictated by relentlessly intense deadlines and erratic work commitments! So if there are any changes on your end regarding times/deadlines/meetings, I will need at least 24hrs notice so I can reconfigure my day/week to give you the mentorship experience you deserve. I will also do the same for you!
What kinds of communication are you able to accommodate?
Email, Zoom/Skype/Video, 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, Line notes/edits
How polished should your submissions be?
Magic Mirror, Funhouse Mirror
YA, NA, A
Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
• ALL FANTASY GENRES—ADULT & YOUNG ADULT! Pretty much anything fantasy set in any world, YA or Adult—crossover is also fine. I’m particularly interested in stories that are drawn from and speak to BIPOC experiences (see below for more). As a Classical Greek nerd and an Old Norse scholar, though, I’m partial to a good myth retelling or stories inspired by these worlds.
I love all kinds of fantasies, but I prefer high fantasy with unique world building and an interesting magic system. I’m not a huge reader of urban fantasy, but I’m open to being blown away by a good manuscript in this area!
• BIPOC-CENTRED STORIES! I welcome all BIPOC narratives, though as a British-born South Korean, I would love to see anything inspired by Asian diaspora—East Asian, South East Asian, South Asian, Central Asian… all of it! If your characters and/or plot thinks about and/or questions identity and diaspora, I want to see it.
• CHARACTER-DRIVEN. Do you have a story that isn’t action-heavy but really questions what it means to *be* as a person? Do you enjoy putting your characters through the wringer? Like truly, do they suffer to the final inches of their life? Then send it my way! I love a great plot, but first and foremost I need to fall in love with character. A personal favourite is the morally grey protagonist who makes *very* questionable life choices… we love to see it.
• SLOW-BURN ROMANCE. I’m not a romance-heavy reader or writer and prefer the intricacies of sizzling tension. Fleeting glances, the brushing of fingers, some yearning from a distance, the "will they, won't they"—YES. I would love to read this.
• GRIEF REPRESENTATION. I would love to read a manuscript that explores the nuances of grief in a sensitive and appropriate manner for either YA or Adult. This doesn't just mean bereavement/grieving death. This includes the loss of friendship, innocence, youth, identity—any type of grief representation.
• SOME FAVOURITE TROPES & THINGS: “ugh, them?”, begrudging allies-to-lovers, found families, lovers-to-enemies, “ma’am, I don’t care about them, I just think about them 24/7 okay”, unapologetic female figures, self-aware characters who call themselves out on their own life choices, ultimate besties who roast each other constantly.
Please do not send me:
• SCI-FI HEAVY MANUSCRIPTS. While I do enjoy reading some SF, it’s a specific strain of the speculative and so I’m not a good fit for any SF manuscript.
• HEAVY BODY HORROR. Some gore and light body horror is acceptable, but I’m uncomfortable with gratuitous violence and unnecessary detailed descriptions of bloodshed.
• ASIAN STEREOTYPES. Please do not send me manuscripts that utilise any Asian stereotypes. This includes the exoticisation and fetishization of ANY Asian culture.
What are some of your favorite books?
• The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant
• Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
• The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stu Turton (it has a different title in the US)
• If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
• Circe by Madeline Miller
• The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
• The Silence of Bones by June Hur
• Anything by Laini Taylor
• Anything by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
• Skip Beat! Manga series by Yoshiki Nakamura
What are some books, movies, shows, games, etc. that you've recently enjoyed?
I've recently enjoyed Absynthe by Brendan P. Bellecourt, Anthem by Noah Hawley, and The Maid by Nita Prose (I'm currently reading The City of Brass series by S.A. Chakraborty). I'm a huge sitcom person and my personal favourites are New Girl, Parks and Recreation, Scrubs, and Community. You'll often find me watching these on a loop!
In terms of games, I love the aesthetics of the BioShock franchise, Gris, Life is Strange, and Skyrim. I’m very into art and visual mediums in general; I'm forever scrolling through artist profiles and gallery websites. One of my favourite installations of all time is "20:50" (or the Oil Room) by Richard Wilson at the Saatchi Gallery (London, UK).
I also read a lot of manga and can talk anyone's ear off about the visual-text storytelling medium! Some favourites are Skip Beat!, Ao Haru Ride, Kyou Koi wo Hajimemasu, The Wallflower, Chihayafuru, and pretty much anything from the classic 2000-2015 era.
Is there anything else you want potential mentees to know?
I'm a typical INFJ-A, enneagram 1w2! My zodiac animal is the Rooster and I have gallons of fake extrovert energy. In reality, I like knitting/writing/painting in solitude with my playlists.
Some of my favourite things outside of writing/creative work are: the sea, ice hockey, naming every inanimate object in view, hot chocolate, chai lattes, anything shiny (I am a magpie), curating Spotify playlists, and scrolling Pinterest/Tumblr/Instagram.
I look forward to working with you. Thank you for trusting me with your words!