Personal Essay: Karen Bovenmyer
Pseudopod was instrumental at the beginning of my writing career. I was invited to submit to a horror anthology by an editor I admired—I thought I knew very little about horror, but when he asked if I wrote it, what I said was YES (sorry, Paul). I had no idea where that courage came from. I was just starting my MFA studies and had only ever sold one story before, to an alumna from my university. I was terrified. How was I going to produce a well-written horror story for this professional who had no reason to like me or my work? Did I even know what horror was, apart from the terrible B movies I’d seen in the 80s?
That was when my journey into understanding the horror genre began. Pseudopod to the rescue! I bought every episode on PodDisc. I listened obsessively, relentlessly, and realized, though I’d never read a book by Steven King, I loved horror and had been writing dark stories since elementary school. I had a childhood obsession with dark poetry like James Whitcomb Riley’s “Little Orphant Annie,” Edgar Allan Poe in high school, Mary Shelley and dark science fiction in college. I’ve always been drawn to and explored dark speculative fiction. Armed with this understanding, I wrote “The Scarlet Cloak,” a dark fairytale that reworks little red riding hood and the big bad wolf. The editor loved it so much, he placed it at the end of his horror anthology (The Crimson Pact 3) so readers would leave haunted by my story.
Since then, I’ve sold over two dozen dark stories and poems and am proud to be an Affiliate member of the Horror Writer’s Association and was honored to accept the HWA’s 2016 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship for new female horror writers. The editor, Paul Genesse, has become a good friend. Pseudopod launched my career, redefined horror, and made it accessible to me. I could not be more excited that one of my stories will appear on Pseudopod early next year. Thank you for everything you’ve taught me, Pseudopod!
Karen Bovenmyer earned an MFA in Creative Writing: Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She teaches and mentors students at Iowa State University and serves as the Nonfiction Assistant Editor of Escape Artists’ Mothership Zeta Magazine. She is the 2016 recipient of the Horror Writer’s Association Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship. Her short stories and poems appear in more than 30 publications and her first novel will be available Spring 2017. Follow her and wish her a happy birthday over on Facebook and Twitter.