Education, Entertainment, Family

Parkville Middle School student among winners in BCPL’s short horror story contest

TOWSON, MD—Baltimore County Public Library and Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library challenged writers of all ages to write original horror stories with a “Petrifying Poe” theme in their Tales of the Dead Short Horror Story Contest.  Entrants were encouraged to be creative with the theme and they delivered.

The contest ran from August 1 through September 22, and criteria for judging included originality, fear factor, quality of writing and incorporation of the theme. Seven winners were chosen by a panel of judges, four in the 21 and Over category (with a tie for third place), and three in the Under 21 category. All three Under 21 winners were from local schools.

In the 21 and Over category:

  • Lynn McKenzie of Reisterstown took first place for “House of Wax,” a chilling story set in an alternate universe where Poe left a possibly cursed unpublished manuscript behind after his death.
  • Second place went to Owings Mills resident David Tillman for “Beneath the Window,” a poem in the style of “The Raven” about man’s late-night encounter with an otherworldly being.
  • In a tie for third place are Adan Rodriguez of Towson for “Now Is the Time to Worry,” about a mysterious handyman who refuses to leave, and Carrie Donovan of Germany for “Poe Nevermore,” featuring Edgar Allan Poe himself addressing his own death through a medium.

In the Under 21 category:

  • Ella Emhoff, a 15-year-old at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, won first place for “There Is No Happiness Here,” about a young woman investigating the gory murder of her best friend…with a little help from her dead friend.
  • Second place went to “Estranged” by Ella Dengler, an eighth grader at Hereford Middle School, the story of a young woman on her way to visit her estranged family when an unexpected storm forces her to pull over at an abandoned—and possibly haunted?—rest stop.
  • Maaz Ijaz, a 13-year-old at Parkville Middle School, took third place for “Whispers of the Netherrealm: The Haunting of Ravenshade Mansion,” which tells of a young man’s exploration of a possessed mansion.

The Tales of the Dead Short Horror Story Contest started in 2016, inspired by the 1816 ghost story challenge that led to the creation of Frankenstein’s monster and the first modern vampire story. The contest is held in conjunction with A Toast Among Ghosts.

Winners ages 21 and older receive VIP tickets to A Toast Among Ghosts, Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library’s annual Poe-themed outdoor festival. They are invited to read their winning stories next to the fire pit at the October 14 festival, which will take place at the Reisterstown Branch. Under 21 winners will read at a private reception on October 6 at the Reisterstown Branch. The winning stories will be published on the Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library’s website later this month, just in time for Halloween.

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