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Alma Katsu reimagined the fateful Donner Party.

The Maryland Writers’ Association created the Writers’ Round Table Program to encourage writers, poets, playwrights and authors through monthly articles and activities.

The Notable Maryland Author articles and associated Fun With Words writers’ prompts are the centerpiece of the program. Each month, Southern Maryland Newspapers will feature a Maryland Writer’s Assciation article about an author. Marylanders are encouraged to read the articles and try their hand at the writing prompts each month.

Author: Alma Katsu

“The world is often a horrible place and women know this.” – Alma Katsu

Genre: Reimagined Horror

Alma Katsu was born in Alaska, but spent the majority of her youth living near Concord, Mass., to which she attributes her interest in the early American history featured in her novels. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University and a masters in fiction at Johns Hopkins University.

Katsu has worked for three decades for the U.S. federal government, flourishing in several positions dealing with intelligence, foreign policy and technology.

When asked why she writes horror she said, “Well, life is horrible. The vast majority of my time in intelligence was spent working with humanitarian disasters, and that includes genocides and mass atrocities. It exposes you to the fact that people can do really horrible, horrible things. And as a result, maybe I have this dark outlook on life by which conventional horror writing and filmmaking kind of pales, actually.”

In her writing, Katsu melds the historical with the supernatural, delivering vivid stories which feel so deeply rooted in possibility that the terrors sink deep in the reader’s psyche.

Her most well-known works include those in the “Taker Trilogy,” which follows a woman whose gift of immortality starts to feel like a Faustian punishment after the sins of her past start to catch up with her.

“The Hunger,” which was published in 2018, was described by the Master of Horror Stephen King as being “deeply, deeply disturbing.”

The novel follows the historically notorious Donner Party, which threatens the travelers on the ill-fated journey with an evil that may go beyond the madness of human desperation.

Her newest novel, “The Deep,” centers around a haunting story amidst the historical disasters of the Titanic and its sister ship the Britannic.

“The Hunger” made National Public Radio’s list of the 100 Best Horror Stories, was named one of the best novels of 2018 by the Barnes, and was nominated for a Stoker and Locus Award for best horror novel.

It also won the Western Heritage Award for Best Novel.

“The Taker” was named a Top Ten Debut Novel of 2011 by Booklist, was nominated for a Goodreads Readers Choice award, and has been published in over 10 languages. It is the first in an award-winning trilogy that includes “The Reckoning” and “The Descent.”

Katsu lives near Washington, DC., with her husband, musician Bruce Katsu. In addition to her novels, she has been a signature reviewer for Publishers Weekly, and a contributor to the Huffington Post.

Sample Reading List: “The Deep,” “The Hunger,” “The Taker Trilogy” and “The Spy Collector.”

For more information, go to www.almakatsubooks.com/about.

Fun With Words

The Maryland Writers’ Association invites writers to try writing horror like Alma Katsu. Re-imagine a real event and make it into a horror story in 100 words or less. Send your submission to https://marylandwriters.org/Notable_Maryland_Authors by the 25th of the month and receive an MWA Fun With Words submission certificate. Selected responses will be published with next month’s article.

In September, readers were asked to write a mystery/suspense piece centered around journalism.

Here are some original selections:

Good evening everyone.

Welcome to Action News at six-o-clock.

I’m your anchor: Grimm Carnage.

THIS JUST IN!

The answers to the world’s greatest mysteries have been revealed!

Details are sketchy at this point, but we have this exclusive information on good authority from an anonymous source. In fact, our data has been confirmed by several other independent unidentified sources. Even though their intel has proved faulty in the past; this BOMBSHELL is so earth-shattering we are confident it HAS to be true this time ... but first some commercials, followed by traffic and weather together.

For all other important answers, you’ll have to wait for film at eleven.

Steve Baker, Hughesville

The picture raised a thousand questions.

Sitting uneasily in a cottage fenced in crucifixes, Seamus Hardy examined the photo.

Boot prints pointed at monstrous tracks, bipedal, webbed, and clawed, deep in Machicomuc Creek mud.

Seamus eyed its photographer, Mrs. Elinora Donalbain, octogenarian neighbor to the reclusive Leeds Valider. Yesterday, she had phoned Lust For Loot magazine, claiming proof of how Valider recovered sunken doubloons without a salvage crew.

She said, “Valider abducts girls for the fish-things and they hand him coins.”

Seamus smiled a lop-sided smile.

Gathering autumn shadows enfeebled Mrs. Donalbain’s tense face. “Them crosses protect me from evil things.”

Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf