In 2017, I was honored to win Pitch Wars, the highly competitive online writing competition. Entanglement editor Judi Lauren selected me as her mentee for my YA fantasy novel, Of Serpents and Stars.
Here’s an aesthetic, the pitch, and first page.
Seventeen-year-old Azea is Une Dame Masquée. Forced to dance for the French Troll King’s masquerade balls every night, Azea fights her fate with pirouettes and seductive smiles—anything to distract the heart-eating Court from her friends and fellow courtesans. She fears she’ll remain trapped in the château her whole life until Luc, a charismatic stranger from a legendary Troll Court, arrives with a secret: there’s a way to escape.
Azea flees and hides among humans in a Parisian apartment, where she conspires with Luc to overthrow the Troll King. As Luc’s kindness helps her learn how to laugh and love, she tumbles into his world of passion and politics—but King Mathieu never lets his little darlings fly free. As long as King Mathieu reigns, no woman is safe from his tyranny, and no Court can escape his thirst for blood.
Azea could spend the rest of her days running, or return to the French Court and face the man who haunts her dreams. Only by opening her heart to Luc and accepting her past will Azea become who she was born to be. Then she may stand a chance at freeing those who dance in chains, and defeating King Mathieu. But doing so will force her to cleave her heart in two, which could mean losing Luc, her freedom, and herself, forever.
Deep in the night, in nothing but gossamer silk and a mask of diamonds, I was simply a body. Hands twirling, hips swaying, chiffon careening around my calves.
Sweat, slick, heady, drunk, dancing, dancing, dancing.
Chandeliers dripping with crystallized moonlight glittered in the Court’s ballroom. It was so grand, so opulent, it could swallow me whole. I barely saw the far walls as I pirouetted across the gilded marble floor, my toes screaming with each impact.
Hundreds of girls moved alongside me, their faces concealed by the intricate masks we wore every night.
But I knew them. Each and every one of them: Marine’s midnight black skin embedded with silver half-moon tattoos; Cécile’s thin blond hair and delicate bones. I looked for her every evening, ensuring she was still alive.
Their thoughts, their breaths, were real. We were real, a secret we kept to ourselves, because we were Les Dames Masquées of Trolleaux, the Troll Court just south of Paris. Forced to dance for the King’s grand masquerade balls every night, we moved until our feet blistered, our toes broke, and all that was left was a pile of limbs.
I had seen them. Shattered limbs. Bodies. Stacked. Dancers piled high once we fractured and could no longer move. Some trolls had skin as bronze as mine, almost human save for its unearthly glow. Others had skin like clay, or waxy arms, while some were seemingly made of sunlight, or moonlight, silver and black, brown and gold, from the far reaches of the seven Troll Courts.
It didn’t matter. We all spilled the same black blood in the end.