Tori Bovalino is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and currently lives in London. She holds a BA in English and Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh and is a student in Royal Holloway, University of London’s Creative Writing MA program. She loves garish sweaters and is passably average at many, many crafts.
I’m one of those unfortunate people who always wanted to be a writer – unfortunate because my grandma very firmly holds onto things I wrote when I was, like, eight and WILL take them out for company. I started querying when I was sixteen and very quickly realized that I was not ready. I wrote and revised for about three more years on and off, working on a variety of contemporary and contemporary fantasy projects. When I was nineteen, I started querying a my first real project. I happened to have a professor who was a literary agent and I asked a bunch of questions about the process and industry until he requested my manuscript. He rejected both that manuscript and the next one I sent him. Eventually I realized that this dude might have some good notes and actually implemented the revisions he recommended, which shot my request rate up dramatically. I went back to him with the revision and he offered representation two weeks later. Since I figured, “Hey, apparently this guy already knows how to make my work better,” and he was generally a cool person, I signed with Uwe and Amelia. We revised for a few months and are currently on submission.
I’ve interned and worked as an editorial assistant at various independent presses and journals over the last four years. Degrees are totes unnecessary and random pieces of paper, but I do have a BA in English Fiction Writing and I’m doing my MA in Creative Writing (I want to be a writing professor). I’ve had a consistent critique partner for over a year and I beta and CP for a variety of traditionally published and agented writers.
When I started my own writing journey, I was pretty much on my own. I forged relationships with other writers through social media, conferences, and later, networking with other writers represented by my agency. Writing is lonely, but publishing doesn’t have to be! I want to help my mentee get through the frustrating processes and help them with revision, then be there as a friend and support system through the next steps. It’s always nice to have another person who knows your story inside and out, who you can throw ideas to before you actually write them. Also, I have to say, I’m a pretty good one-woman hype team.
Voice is so important to me. I could love a story but not like the person telling it, and generally, that’s a dealbreaker. I personally lean towards sarcastic girls who would probably bite you. I’m a sucker for romance, either as the main focus or subplot. I also love anything with strong sibling relationships. Bonus points go to books that make me cry.
For contemporary, I’m looking for snappy narratives about girls coming into their own. I know that’s so broad, so some recent loves are EMERGENCY CONTACT by Mary H.K. Choi and WHO’S THAT GIRL by Blair Thornburgh. Sad books are great too, like A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jared Reck. I’m a huge fan of anything musically inclined, so if your plot involves a musical or band or something of that variety, send it my way.
I’m interested in both contemporary fantasy and fantasy. I’m still a nerd for chosen one narratives and I love villain love interests with all of my heart. Anyone morally gray – whether it be the main character or love interest – catches my eye immediately. Retellings interest me, but I want the story to be something I haven’t seen much, so rarely-used folklore or mythology. Some favorites include FIRE by Kristin Cashore (an oldie but literally I would die for this book), EMPIRE OF SAND by Tasha Suri, UPROOTED by Naomi Novik, and anything by Leigh Bardugo, Maggie Stiefvater, and Holly Black.
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
Tropes I love:
- Enemies to lovers (faves are Alina and the Darkling, Cardan and Jude, Fire and Brigan)
- Road trips (bonus points if they’re cursed or magical)
- Siblings willing to sacrifice themselves or their dreams for one another
- Cinnamon roll characters who think they’re monsters
- Fake dating or political marriage (basically any situation where A and B have to pretend to like each other and then actually end up liking each other)
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Skype or phone call
- Freestyle in chat
I’m a pretty hands-on person. After the first read of the ms, I’ll give you an edit letter along with comments within the document. If possible, I’d like to do a Skype or phone call at this stage – I do this with my CP sometimes and it makes explaining my thoughts so much easier! That way, we could be on the same page about moving forward and discuss any of your questions and concerns.
After the first revision, I’ll read the ms as many times as necessary to get it to a place where we both feel confident in it. I’m here to help the entire way through! That includes writing the synopsis and query letter, sorting through agents, and providing moral support whenever you need it.
At the risk of getting sappy, I want to be your friend as well as your mentor. Basically, we’re gong to be colleagues in the same industry. I’d love to work with you long-term on more than just this one book and be there for the entirety of your publishing journey, so my ideal mentee would be someone I click with both as a writer and a person.
The weirder the better. This especially goes for horror and fantasy. I also love paranormal/non-human characters. So fae, vampires, ghosts, whatever.
My absolute MUST is deep emotional connection with the main character. This is one of those hard-to-define ones, but i want to feel like I’m taking an emotional journey with them and watching them grow.
Here’s my rule of thumb: THINGS SURPRISE ME! If you have anything that you maybe think I might be interested in, send it!
DO NOT SEND ME:
I’m not a fan of cheating, sexual assault, or abuse stories. In terms of editorial comfort, I don’t think I’d be the best choice for quiet contemporary or non-romantic stories.
I talked about some of my fave books earlier, but honorable mentions include MIDDLEMARCH by George Eliot, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen, LISEY’S STORY by Stephen King, and DEATHLESS by Catherynne Valente. I love Stephen King’s short stories, too.
I am a sucker for poetry. BLOOD, WATER, PAINT by Joy McCullough absolutely wrecked me as a person. I also love OUT OF THE BLUE by Simon Armitage and A RAFT OF GRIEF by Chelsea Rathburn.
My movie tastes are relatively boring. I’m a Star Wars nerd. Romantic movies that punch me in the heart are high on my list, like Like Crazy.
Other random things that encapsulate my personality: wearing oversized sweaters, usually from Goodwill; owning a nice camera but not being entirely certain how to use it; drinking too much Dunkin’ iced coffee in the US and Earl Grey in London; running ten minutes late; listening to Time by Hans Zimmer on repeat until I die.