PitchWars Mentor Bio

(TL;DR – Adult Mentor – Mystery, Fantasy, Humor)

Woo-hoo! It’s PitchWars time!

I’m Max Wirestone, librarian / writer / PitchWars Mentor. My first book– a geek-themed mystery called THE UNFORTUNATE DECISIONS OF DAHLIA MOSS comes out October 20th. (Hardcover and audio, mo’ fos.) You could take a look at it here, which, aside from being brazen self-promotion, is actually a pretty good indicator of my sensibility. Charlaine Harris called it “a hoot” and “a barrel of fun,” which makes me pretty damned happy. That’s on the mystery side.  Also I’m currently working a fantasy book that is sort of a cross between Brazil and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, which is exactly as goofy as it sounds.

First and foremost, I want you to send me things that are funny.  Primarily my interests are mystery and SFF, primarily for adults — but honestly the key for me is funny. If you’ve written a funny Western, even, I’ll read it. Funny horror? If it’s funny enough, I’ll read it.  I could possibly even go in for funny erotica, although that one is maybe a stretch.

Some writers I think are funny are:

  • Douglas Adams,
  • Terry Pratchett,
  • Donna Andrews,
  • PG Wodehouse,
  • Lemony Snickett.
Some writers I do not find funny:
  • Arthur Schopenhauer,
  • Sylvia Plath,
  • James Fenimore Cooper,
  • H.P. Lovecraft (mostly– his evil penguins do make me titter a little)
  • Malcolm X.

I love the mystery writer Ngaio Marsh, because she has such tremendous affection for her characters, and I love books that feel warm.  Marsh has actually written a mystery in which there are no murders, just an attempted murder, entirely because she enjoys her characters too much to kill them off. While that’s probably taking things a bit TOO far, I always enjoy books that wrap me up like that, where you can feel that the author wants to live inside of them.

But enough generalities.

What I want from you are fun, breezy fantasies and mysteries.  Each can have some darker elements, certainly, but ideally the overall shape of it is amusing and enjoyable. I would especially like to find a genuinely funny mystery cozy, because I like the genre, and I don’t feel like you see them much in contests like these. Cozy folks, I’m your guy!

What I am NOT looking for is fantasy of the Grimdark variety, or edgy mysteries of the Nordic Noir school (“but how can we stop all these violent murder-rapes? / “I don’t know, Emil. Finish your vodka.”)  Also, I’m a dad, so please lay off children in terrible danger, and also dead children– at this point in my life, I just can’t with books about dead kids.  I do enjoy non-funny mysteries, and would like to see them as well, Particularly classic PI stuff– I’ve read every Hammett, every Chandler, and all of Sue Grafton.  Mystery is my home genre, and there’s not much in it I don’t care for. (I even read the Nordic Noir stuff, I just don’t think I’d want to edit it.)

I like to see diversity in writing, although it needs to be done well. I am a gay dude, and I while enjoy the odd gay fella popping up in stories, exclusively gay fiction isn’t usually my scene. Unless it’s really funny, at which point, please refer to paragraph three. I don’t want to see any homophobia, unless perhaps you are Dame Ngaio Marsh, at which point I forgive it, because you were writing in the 1940s, and honestly no one’s perfect.

If you are time traveling from the 1940s please let me know in your query.

In terms of qualification, I have been told that I give excellent notes, which surely has to count for something. I’ve also been a mentor for Nightmare on Query Street and #NewAgent, as well as a #QueryKombat judge and participant.  Plus, I’ve been a beta reader for other PitchWars mentors. And I have a big five book coming out in hardcover.  And audio. Did I mention that already? It’s read by the amazing Lauren Fortgang.  I’m kind of excited about that.

Clarification: For this contest, I am only accepting Adult entries. YA, we shall dance another time.

New Material:

Mentoring Style:  I tend to be a big picture editor– I’ll give you a list, in order from most to least pressing, of what I see are the problems in your novel, with suggestions about how to fix them.  Depending upon the manuscript, this can be a very long list.  Items can range from the shattering– “your main character is boring” and “the third act is soft” to the problematic but easy to fix “I can’t help but notice that the only black character in your book is a criminal” to the truly fiddly “why do so many characters have names that begin with ‘S’?” It all depends.

I avoid line edits, generally, because if I’m picking you I trust your voice. This project is not about replacing your voice with mine.  That said, I will suggest punch ups on jokes and scene buttons, of which I am a big fan, depending upon your book’s tone.  I am very available, I should point out, and I’m happy to help brainstorm, talk things out, etc. etc.  I’m not just going to give you a list of problems and then head for the hills.

Although I hear the hills are very nice this time of year.

To continue the blog hop and check out other (less awesome) mentors, click here.



Leave a Comment

  1. If I actually go through with #pitchwars this year you will be at the top of my list for submitting. But even if I don’t, I hope we can just hang out (virtually at least); you seem like good people. Your blog made me laugh out loud repeatedly.


      1. *Throws hat in ring*
        *Hat rests awkwardly, looking battered and shabby*
        *Small rodent crawls through hole in hat*
        “Well, it’s in there. That much can be said for it.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is my favorite PitchWars mentor bio, and the only one that made me actually LOL with my real lungs and face. But my manuscript is YA. So perhaps we shall dance another day.


  3. You are at the top of my list to submit to! I’ve been polishing my first chapter and query with fingers crossed! If you don’t select me, would you be willing to give a few words of advice to a hopeful?


  4. You had me at mystery and funny. But Ngaio Marsh too? And your book with Bridget Jones elements–whoa! Mine too, though my MC is an older and wiser version, but still into self-improvement along with solving mysteries. I think we’d get along famously. Will be sending you my entry with “pick me, choose me, love me” vibes attached.


  5. Sadly, I have a hilarious MS called “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure” that I’m not sending to pitchwars but you might want to check out. It’s a effing scream – so say about 12 beta readers so far.

    I sent something else to PW cos Poggi is a bit too racy/bawdy and didn’t look like it would have a home there.


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