Have questions about submitting to Pitch Wars or just want to know what it is? Start here!

Pitch Wars Showcase

Please note: These are the entries for the Pitch Wars season beginning in 2021 and continuing through 2022. Please note that our Agent Showcase ends at 9:00 p.m. ET on Monday, February 14, 2022. Agents will not be able to leave comments requesting material after that time.
Adult #39: A NATURAL HISTORY OF VIENNA (Historical Fiction)
Katie Tunning
Mentored by:
Alice Stephens
Book Title:
A Natural History of Vienna
2018 Adult Entries
Historical Fiction
Word Count:


The only thing ambitious, straitlaced Johann Matthias Plischke and privileged, profligate Georg Knauss have in common is the five years they spend together scouring Brazil for natural specimens for Austria’s imperial museum. They return to Vienna eager to part ways, but that isn’t so simple—their time in Brazil has changed each of them in ways only the other can understand, and as the years pass, their rivalry turns into an enduring friendship. But when revolution sweeps through Europe the two men find themselves on different sides of the barricades, and their bond is put to the ultimate test.



Johann Matthias Plischke no longer notices the gunfire rattling the hills outside the city. He hardly blinks when a pistol coughs a few streets away. But when it comes from right behind him—sharp crack, bullet whining like an insect past his ear—he still lurches for the shelter of the whitewashed wall.

A knot of soldiers passes, muskets on their shoulders, trailing acrid smoke and harsh laughter. Once they are gone Plischke steps back out into the street and straightens his jacket, resolutely ignoring the hammering of his heart. He would swear there have been more gunshots in the past week, in celebration of Brazil’s new independence, than in the two years of actual fighting beforehand. Here in Rio good cheer means whizzing bullets, shattered glass, and an unspeakable mix of fluids glittering in the seams of the paving stones. Plischke shakes off his boot with a grimace.

He has no feeling on the question of independence. His only feeling is exasperation: at blockades and detours and scarce supplies, at plans scuttled and routes redrawn, at skirmishes flaring up all across the map. Plischke’s business in Brazil is purely intellectual, purely scientific, purely for the good of the Austrian Empire.

3 responses to “Adult #39: A NATURAL HISTORY OF VIENNA (Historical Fiction)”

  1. Amy Elizabeth Bishop says:

    Hi Katie,

    I’d love to take a look at your first 100 pages for A NATURAL HISTORY OF VIENNA! Could you send it along as a Microsoft Word attachment, with your query and #PitchWars in the subject line to abishop@dystel.com?

    I’m looking so forward to reading!

    Thanks so much!



  2. Josh Getzler says:

    Interesting idea–please send first 50 (ish–wherever it cuts best) and query letter to jgetzler@hsgagency.com.

  3. Annie Hwang says:

    Please send query letter in the body of the email and attach the first fifty pages and a brief 1-2 page synopsis as word docs with the subject line: Pitch Wars: [Title]. You may send to me at: annie@foliolit.com. Thanks so much, I look forward to seeing more!