Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Kathryn HeligmanGladiatrixClaire Winn and Nicole BrakeYAFantasy75000

I am seeking representation for GLADIATRIX, a 75k word YA fantasy manuscript centered around a gladiator striving to prove her worth as a hero outside the arena. GLADIATRIX is inspired by ancient Greco-Roman mythology with a modern twist, a la A Knight’s Tale, for fans of both Circe and Netflix’s GLOW. This manuscript was selected for the WriteMentor Summer 2020 program and received mentoring from industry professionals.

After gladiating moved from deadly violence to choreographed flash and showmanship, Atalanta became a star. She’s been idolized her whole life, and has all the baggage, damage and attitude to prove it. Atalanta’s character in the ring is The Huntress: the chosen child of the Goddess of the Hunt, Diana. Atalanta wishes the relationship was only part of her character, and that the goddess would stop lecturing her about her tendency to perform with a hangover and waste too much money.

Atalanta rules Rome’s social scene between brutal, yet staged, bouts in the arena. When a new competitor comes to town and goes off-script, she beats Atalanta mercilessly and destroys her image as an unbeatable fighter.  

Hoping to flee the wreckage of her career and regain her reputation, Atalanta joins other wannabe heroes on a quest to rid a nearby town of a monstrous boar. But it turns out rival glory hunters don’t stick to fight choreography either, and skirmishes with hydras and centaurs can lead to wounds more permanent than embarrassment.  Real heroism doesn’t come with cheering crowds or the perks of fame, and when defeating the boar means interfering with the gods’ divine punishment, flashy stage-fighting might not be enough to protect anybody, not even herself.

GLADIATRIX is intended as a standalone novel, but has series potential.  This is my second completed manuscript, and when not writing, I love riding horses, fostering dogs and working as a software engineer.  

Thank you for your time and consideration.  

Kathryn Heligman


Thousands of voices rose, screaming my name, cheering for me, yet it rang hollow. I waited for the rush their adoration always brought, but it never came. Just once, I wished they would look away.

All eyes were on me though, demanding a show, and it was my destiny to deliver. Beads of sweat mingled with drops of blood as they rolled down my body. I wished I was anywhere else, anywhere but in front of the bloodthirsty audience screaming for me. My head throbbed in time to the crowd’s noise as they whistled and stomped, the noise rising until it blocked all thought, constricting me in its crushing embrace.

I looked across the dusty arena and my eyes locked onto my opponent.  Blood dripped down her face from the shallow cut across her forehead as she gave me an almost imperceptible nod.  The healing priests would have their job cut out to make sure that didn’t scar.

Heads nodded to confirm, and Johanna let out her battle scream, lowering her spear as she charged. Her flat sandaled feet churned up clouds of dust from the arena floor as her powerful legs ate up the distance between us.

I raced forward to meet her, summoning up my showmanship for the final move. My own battle cry tore from my throat, only to be quickly swallowed by the thunderous noise of those staring down at us.

“For the Goddess!”

We clashed in the center of the arena in a fury of limbs.  Her foot landed on my knee and I placed a hand on her waist, guiding her momentum up and over as she pushed off of my braced leg, exactly like we had practiced.  

She flipped over my head and landed on her back, a puff of sand billowing up around her.  Her chest rose and fell as she panted, mouth open and eyes wide. The thrill of victory was muted, dozens of practice repetitions dulling what used to be razor-sharp.  Of course I’d won. Just as we’d planned.

I tossed my long white braid over my shoulder and placed one sandal on the armored woman lying on the ground. I waved, inviting them all to share in my victory.  Playing to that crowd I was so sick of, yet who invaded my every thought.  

They roared in response, exactly as I knew they would.

Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was controlling them, or if they were controlling me.

I raised a hand, and as one, the audience quieted, riveted by me.  “Diana has found you wanting,” I bellowed, my catchphrase sending them into another riot of cheers.

I wiped my gritty hands on my tunic and reached down to disarm the woman prone in front of me. 

“That was perfect. You okay?” I pulled the spear from her unresisting fingers.  She gave a small nod, the cut on her forehead leaking blood into her eyes.  I tossed her spear aside, but gently. I knew how much these cost.