Michaela Whatnall, Dystel Goderich & Bourret
Sophie Wan writes YA and adult fiction. She cares deeply for her sourdough starter and eats too many brownies. Words and sunshine are her greatest joys.
As a Bay Area native, she has no choice but to enjoy outdoor activities, but prefers those where her feet remain firmly on the ground.
What does mentorship mean to you, and why do you want to be a mentor?
This was such a rewarding experience last time around, and it was so hard to only choose one mentee. I love the experience of working side by side with someone and celebrating their victories with them, whether it's cutting down a draft, writing a query, or their first full request. It really feels like a team, and given how lonely it was for me to get agented, I'm glad opportunities like this exist to not feel like you're alone in this journey.
What is your mentorship style? What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses?
I'm definitely very hands on, and I want to provide support from both an emotional and a tactical perspective. My strengths: I can provide big picture, developmental edits alongside line-level critiques. I read a lot, so I have a natural sense for the big beats in a story and can offer suggestions on how you can strengthen different stages of your book. I also focus a lot on characterization in my own work, so I can help you identify ways you can strengthen your characters and craft a compelling arc! I also read quickly, so I've got a quick turnaround when it comes to reviewing work.
My weaknesses: I'm not the greatest at brainstorming on the fly. If you want to discuss ideas, I'm happy to give my opinion, but if you want my thoughts on how you can approach a problem, I'll need a heads up before our meeting so I can come prepared!
What makes a great mentee? Describe your ideal mentee/mentor relationship.
A great mentee is communicative and enthusiastic, and most importantly, they're receptive to feedback. For a mentee to get the most out of the experience, I think it's important for us to chat often, and for my mentee to feel comfortable asking me any sort of question. There is nothing too embarrassing to ask!
How would you describe your normal working speed?
What kind of communication can your mentee(s) expect from you?
I'll be as available as you want me to be! I generally prefer chatting via text or messages, but we can schedule a video call to brainstorm or discuss your story. I'll check in on you every few weeks to see how writing is coming along, but if you ever have any question, you're always welcome to message me. If I don't respond to you within a day, you are fully at rights to message me going HELLOOO? We'll work together to establish a timeline and deadlines because I think it's good to have goals to work towards.
What kinds of communication are you able to accommodate?
Email, Zoom/Skype/Video, Text/Whatsapp, Social Media DMs, Phone calls
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), Partial manuscript critique (50 pages), Full manuscript critique, Multiple manuscript passes and query support, Line notes/edits
How polished should your submissions be?
Magic Mirror, Funhouse Mirror
I'd like to work with a mentee who has a good technical grasp of writing (grammar, sentence construction, etc.).
YA, NA, A
Contemporary, Women's Fiction, Romance
I am mentoring YA and Adult Contemporary! Things I'd love to see:
-Humor! Life is too hard so give me something so funny that it'll make me cry. That could be through banter, hijinks, a hilarious voice, and more.
-Stories with Asian MCs: More contemporary stories with Asian MCs, please!! Identity doesn't need to be the core of the plot. I just want to read about diverse characters living their messy imperfect lives.
-Characters that are very good at one thing (and maybe terrible at everything else)
-Power and vengeance: I love a good revenge story. Whether it's revenge against an ex, a horrible boss, that one person who cut you in line at the supermarket... I want to cheer for my MC to destroy their enemies.
-Slow burn and sweet romances: Eyes meeting, fingertips brushing, subtle words that mean a lot more. If you've read Mariana Zapata, you know what I'm talking about. I want characters who WORK to make it work!
-Bromances and other platonic friendships: Friends who support each other emotionally! When I see a group of guys having a deep conversation over frozen yogurt, my heart melts. That was very specific, I know.
-College stories: College is awesome. Way more awesome than high school. If you have a story about a weirdly niche club on campus, sneaky interludes in the library stacks, or the strange social phenomenon that is a frat party, I'm interested.
-Anything with KDrama vibes
-Atmospheric writing with a strong sense of place. Love stories to a particular city (like New York in One Last Stop or Bruges in In Bruges!)
Please do not send me:
Stories about sexual abuse / assault, pregnancies, or terminal illness
What are some of your favorite books?
Anything by VE Schwab, The Cruel Prince, One Last Stop, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, The Green Bone Saga, The Love Hypothesis
What are some books, movies, shows, games, etc. that you've recently enjoyed?
I've been obsessively watching Succession and Euphoria. Some recent books I've enjoyed include XOXO, Daisy Jones and the Six, and Project Hail Mary.
Is there anything else you want potential mentees to know?
Writing is so hard. It siphons from your creative well, and it also requires discipline and mental fortitude when you start to doubt yourself. If we work together, I promise to be your cheerleader and keep you writing. I can't guarantee any specific outcome, but I'll share and do everything I can to make you successful.