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October 2020 Notable Author: Alma Katsu

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

Alma Katsu was born in Alaska, but spent the majority of her youth living near Concord, Massachusetts, 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 US 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, following 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, published in 2018, is described by the Master of Horror Stephen King as being, “deeply, deeply disturbing.” The novel follows the historically notorious Donner Party, threatening 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 NPR’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.

​Ms. Katsu lives outside of 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. Learn more at:

Genre: Reimagined Horror

Horror is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle its readers or viewers by inducing feelings of horror and terror. It creates an eerie and frightening atmosphere. Horror is frequently supernatural, though it can be non-supernatural. This genre reimagines actual events and introduces a horror element to them.

Sample Reading List: The Deep, The Hunger, The Taker Trilogy, The Spy Collector

Writer's Prompt - Fun With Words

MWA invites you to have fun writing horror like Alma Katsu. Use up to 100 words and re-imagine a real event making it into a horror story.

Submit your 100 words by the 25th of the month and receive an MWA Fun With Words Submission Certificate.  

Submit Your FUN WITH WORDS Prompt

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