Featuring work by:
Naching T. Kassa
Adele Marie Park
Timothy G. Huguenin
With introduction by Emerian Rich.
HorrorAddicts.net is proud to present our top 14 contestants in the Next Great Horror Writer Contest. The included stories, scripts, and poems are the result of the hard work and dedication these fine writers put forth to win a book contract. Some learned they loved writing and want to pursue it as a career for the rest of their lives. Some discovered they should change careers either to a different genre of writing or to a new career entirely. Whatever lessons came along the way, they each learned something about themselves and grew as writers. We hope you enjoy the writing as much as we did.
A sneak peek inside…
by Emerian Rich
The Next Great Horror Writer Contest was such an awesome experience, I don’t think we could have imagined what excitement it would bring to our listeners and what success it would inspire in the contestants. Being the first ever Next Great Horror Writer Contest in HorrorAddicts.net history, it certainly made Season 12 an adventure.
HorrorAddicts.net has had writer competitions for quite some time. Starting in 2009, we hosted the Wicked Women Writers Competition where women horror writers wrote and produced a short audio story with a theme chosen by us. In 2011, the men wanted a stab at it and we launched the male equivalent contest, Masters of Macabre.
Both of these competitions required the writer to record and produce stories on their own. At times, we allowed alternate voices for entertainment effect, but the main point was to have the author podcast their own work. We were podcast authors after all and expected the same sort of dedication from the contestants.
Over time—and following the great pod-fade of 2012, caused mostly by Mevio suddenly dropping all of their free accounts without notice—the contest entries waned. There were still contestants, but not as many podcast authors and those that were still trucking, were dealing with the new era of audiobooks Audible had ushered in and how to transfer to ACX. However, there were still writers wishing to complete, they just weren’t educated on the podcasting bit. At this same time, there were suggestions of combining the men and women’s contest and including our alums in the race, but none of it excited me.
In an attempt to evolve the contest, I dreamed big. This next contest had to be something that authors would clamor to enter. It would have to offer a prize that went beyond badges and horror gift packs—although those gift packs are pretty cool!
I asked myself, what do all authors want? Well, book deals of course, acceptance letters, and royalty payments. I knew we could offer small short story publications, but what if I could get them a chance to pitch their novel to a real publishing house in hopes of getting a deal?
I approached the well-known Crystal Lake Publishing first. They were well-respected by the horror community and we’d been acquainted with them through the show reviewing their books and featuring their authors. I offered Joe a choice. We could offer the winner a contract, or if he wasn’t prepared for that, just an interview for possible publication. When he said they could offer a contract, I about fell out of my chair. Now, it was real. Now, I really had to step it up.
If we were going to allow Crystal Lake Publishing to put their faith in our winner, that writer had to be tested beyond breaking point. They had to prove they had what it took to actually enter a real writing career. We settled on thirteen writing challenges, pushing the authors out of their comfort zones and asking them to meet insurmountable deadlines. But we weren’t completely heartless. We’d have mini-prizes along the way.
One of my fears upon launch was that given the tough challenges, no one would enter. But we were inundated with authors all clamoring for that grand prize. 137 writers grappled for the top spaces. Authors from 13 countries, 34 US states, ages 18-75, and from all different ethnicities and backgrounds answered our call.
It was a tough decision picking the top ones. We graded every part of the application process from why they thought they were a horror addict, what genres they most liked to write, their goals as a writer, why they enrolled, their online presence, and most importantly, their 100-word story submitted for entry. The story took half the grade while their application answers took the other half.
Only a chosen few would go on to compete. Dan Shaurette, Heather Roulo, and I spent hours pouring over the top twenty, comparing stories, their answers to questions, and how we thought each of them would compete. Not only did we strive to get a diverse list with men, women, and people from different countries, but we also wanted those who gave creative answers to questions. Did their answers to these seemingly ambiguous questions make us want to read more? Was their viewpoint original? Would they be someone both our US and our listeners abroad would be interested in following for a whole season?
Finally, we rested on the top contestants and the contest began. The following stories, scripts, and poems are the result of the hard work and dedication these fine writers put forth to win a book contract. Some learned they loved writing and want to pursue it as a career for the rest of their lives. Some discovered they should change careers either to a different genre of writing or to a new career entirely. Whatever lessons came along the way, they each learned something about themselves and grew as writers.