by Josephine Dlugosz
As 2023 EWLP alumnae Yasmine Guiga and Autumn McIntyre pursue various career and post-grad endeavors, the two have stayed connected through their joint book project: a young adult mystery-thriller novel called Blood Ties. The novel follows two rival sisters, Emerson and Juniper, who are forced to work together to cover up a murder. The writing duo, who will use the combined pen name Mina Marie, are currently living on two separate continents, but they are nevertheless working hard on revisions and are thinking about next steps for their novel.
Guiga and McIntyre met in the fall of 2021 at AUR in Professor Colletta’s fiction writing class. Guiga is originally from Tunisia, while McIntyre is from Alaska. “We bonded over our shared love of Leigh Bardugo,” they said, and in the spring of 2022, their love for fantasy, mystery, and thriller came full circle when the idea for Blood Ties came to life.
It began as a short story idea for Professor di Robilant’s Literary Editing and Publishing class. The class, which publishes a literary magazine once a year, focused on a theme of relationships that semester, and their story idea of estranged sisterhood seemed to fit the theme perfectly. But, they said, after pitching to the class, “everyone thought it would be a lot for a short story and that it would work better as a novel.” The rest is history: the course offered them an opportunity to write a book proposal and two chapters, but once it was over, they continued co-writing throughout the summer. That fall, they finished their first draft of Blood Ties.
The novel is written from a dual point-of-view; Guiga writes from Emerson's POV, while McIntyre writes from Juniper's. This allows them to write separately on a shared document but still work together on revising, brainstorming, and outlining. A key to good co-written work is ensuring that there’s a cohesive voice and style, and Guiga and McIntyre think that they got lucky in this way: “We think it flows really well, and hope our readers do, too!”
Since graduating last spring, the editing and revision process has become a bit trickier as the two aren’t in Rome anymore. Guiga is attending school in the Netherlands at the University of Groningen where she is pursuing a master’s degree in Writing, Editing, and Mediating, a program that will surely come in handy as the duo look towards publishing. “My program focuses on language and editing as a practice, but also has a theoretical component that includes book history, authorship, and other issues like copyright and dissemination that affect book production and reading practices in the digital age,” she said.
McIntyre is living in Southern New Hampshire and is working at Rivier University as an International Student Support Assistant. “I get to help people adjust to life in the States and make their experience as smooth and fun as possible,” she said. “It’s a great way to pay my experience forward as a former international student.” McIntyre frequently uses skills from her EWLP degree, and she explained that she is often tasked with rewriting and editing communications and documents. “Don’t let anyone tell you that English degrees aren’t useful!”
Despite the time difference and hectic school and work schedules, the writing duo continues to meet regularly via Zoom to work on revising. “We are currently in the revision trenches,” they said. “Right now, our goal is to find an agent for Blood Ties.” As they continue their search, we will continue to eagerly wait for the first Mina Marie book to hit the shelves.
Stay up-to-date on Mina Marie projects here, and check out some of their recommendations for perfect fall reads below!