A #DVpit Success Story:
Interview with Roselle Kaes and Jenny Bent

Roselle and Jenny, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview and congratulations on your partnership! To start, Roselle, I’d love to know more about your book and why you wrote it.

ROSELLE: My book ORPHAN BIRD is about love, relationships, magic, and food set in San Francisco's Chinatown. It explores the meaning of community and family.

I wanted to write about my Chinese heritage and my love of food and how food connects people and creates magic in everyday life. I wrote what I wanted to read about—a magical modern fairy tale with a Chinese MC involving food.

Jenny, what was it about this manuscript that sealed the deal for you?

JENNY: I think it was the beautiful, sumptuous writing about food. Add that to a charming cast of characters and a really original, lively storyline and this one was a no brainer for me!

Roselle, how did you prepare this manuscript for submission? Do you work with outlines, schedules, or deadlines? Do you have critique partners and beta readers?

ROSELLE: I had CPs that helped me in the drafting process and Betas for when it's more polished. I always set personal deadlines because they motivate me to finish. I was a pantser when I wrote this but I've seen the light and converted to plotting now. I've now realized how important it is because of my agent, Jenny.

And how was the #DVpit experience for you, overall? Expectations? Doubts? Disappointments?

ROSELLE: I started querying right before #DVpit started. I was glad a pitching event existed to highlight marginalized voices.

I wasn't going to enter at first because I sucked at pitches but my friend Natasha Neagle is excellent with them and she helped me craft a few in time for the event.

I was blown away by the agents, editors, and fellow writers who were interested and supportive of my pitch. The response was phenomenal. I couldn't believe it.

How was the experience for you, Jenny?

JENNY: #DVpit was a lot of fun and there was so much great material and so many fabulous pitches. I loved that authors of so many different genres—from picture book to adult—were participating. I’m very grateful to Beth for putting this all together!

Roselle, did you receive pitch help? Any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along to future participants?

ROSELLE: I did! Natasha Neagle helped me by looking over my pitches and addressing what was important to convey in such limited characters.

What I suggest for anyone participating: highlight the stakes, choose excellent comps, and make sure that MS is shiny, polished, and ready.

And Jenny, do you have any advice for querying authors and/or for anyone planning to participate in a future #DVpit?

JENNY: I’m going to echo Rosey and say that comp titles are so important. When you’re doing such a short pitch they are particularly useful as a kind of shorthand so the agent/editor really “gets” the plotline right away.

Tell us about The Call, Roselle!

ROSELLE: I got the call after I came home lugging take out from a Filipino restaurant. I bit into a lumpia when I received an email from Jenny asking for a time to talk. I couldn't believe it. I was in such shock that I ended up puking the half of the spring roll I ate.

During the call, I was super nervous. Jenny made me feel at ease. She offered rep right away so that helped a ton as well. She absolutely knew what needed to be fixed in the MS and I was and still am completely amazed by her editorial eye.

Give us the pitch that hooked your agent!

ROSELLE: “#Dvpit Big Fish meets Chocolat when Natalie inherits family secrets along w/ her grandmother’s restaurant in Chinatown #OWN POC #A #Lit #MR”

Jenny, what was it about this pitch that caught your attention?

JENNY: I loved the comp titles, first of all. And anything with family secrets will always catch my eye, plus I absolutely adored the idea of a setting in Chinatown. So basically EVERYTHING about the pitch caught my attention.

What else are you looking for these days? Is there anything specific on your wishlist that you’re hoping to find, maybe at the next #DVpit?

JENNY: I would still love an #ownvoices work of suspense, either for the adult market or YA. Also would love a classic-feeling fantasy MG like Narnia but with diverse characters.

Warm congratulations to Roselle and Jenny for finding each other! I’m looking forward to seeing where they go next. Follow them on Twitter so you can do the same!

Roselle Kaes (@roselle_kaes) is passionate about food and her Chinese-Filipino heritage. She writes adult literary fiction with magical realism. When she is not writing, she is embroidering, illustrating, and chasing after her husband, daughter, and fluff beast of a cat on the north shore of Lake Erie.

Jenny Bent (@jennybent) is the founder of The Bent Agency. She reps fiction for adults and children and is always looking for new, talented writers to add to her list.