George R. R. Martin, New York Times bestselling author, created the Miskatonic Scholarship to support a promising new writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror attending the Odyssey Writing Workshop each year. Martin discovered the work of H. P. Lovecraft when he was a boy and found that no other writer could give him “chills to equal those provided by the cosmic horrors that Lovecraft evoked.” With the scholarship, Martin hopes to encourage and inspire a new generation of writers to explore the genre of cosmic horror. To one outstanding writer, Martin is offering the opportunity to study at the Odyssey Writing Workshop, one of the top programs in the world for writers of the fantastic.
This year, due to the special circumstances and difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin decided to award the Miskatonic Scholarship to two writers, Erina Lee and Mars Hawthorne.
Erina Lee is a rising junior at Davidson College and the recipient of the Patricia Cornwell Creative Writing Scholarship. She is excited for the opportunity to meet and grow alongside talented writers at the Odyssey Workshop. Her favorite character archetype is the mysterious informant.
Lee’s winning story, “Heliolatry,” tells the story of a group of astronomers trying to discover the cause when everyone on Earth starts to hear the sun screaming. Of her inspiration for the story, Lee said, “I wanted to write a story in which the moon was an egg about to hatch. After a single Google search, though, I found that Doctor Who had been there, done that. So I settled for the Sun.”
Jeanne Cavelos, director of the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust and one of the scholarship judges, said, “The other judges and I were deeply engaged in the struggle of this isolated group of scientists to understand something completely nonscientific and inexplicable. The contrast between the characters and what they face is striking and dramatic. The final image creates a powerful feeling of cosmic horror.”
Mars Hawthorne is a writer of dark fiction, psychotherapist, and film buff based in Portland, Oregon. Her passion for storytelling began in kindergarten when she informed her teacher that, during nap-time, she’d witnessed a monster eat the little girl next to her and then spit out her bones.
She is a member of the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers and a Supporting Member of the Horror Writer’s Association. In her free time, Mars likes to cheer on her favorite soccer teams, take long meandering walks, and push the limits of her caffeine intake.
Mars’s story “Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them?” is her attempt to reconcile her love of cinema with the industry’s long history of enabling and romanticizing the abusive actions of so-called “auteurs.”
Jeanne Cavelos said, “The story shows how easily these negative behaviors can develop and reveals the true horror of the situation. The other judges and I found it extremely disturbing.”
THE WALTER & KATTIE METCALF SINGING SPIDER SCHOLARSHIP
The Walter & Kattie Metcalf Singing Spider Scholarship is funded by Pam Metcalf Harrington, Odyssey class of 2001, in honor of Pam’s parents, who encouraged a lifelong passion for reading and writing fantasy. The scholarship is also named for the infamous singing spiders, fictional characters who appeared in a novel excerpt submitted at Odyssey 2001. The scholarship is awarded to a fantasy novelist who shows great skill and promise, and it covers full tuition.
This year’s winner, Catherine Yu, writes dark speculative fiction. She was born in Nanjing, China and is now based in New York. Her debut novel, Direwood, is slated for Fall 2022 (Page Street Publishing.) She is represented by Erin Clyburn of the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.
Her Odyssey application piece, “Shimmer, Shimmer” was inspired by The Craft (1996). She was interested in exploring the trials of friendship through a witchy lens.
Jeanne Cavelos said, “A collection of fresh, vivid details pulled me into the unique world of this piece. It tells a moving story about a young woman’s search for a place where she belongs, a place where she is not always being measured and being told she comes up short.”
THE FRESH VOICES SCHOLARSHIP
The Fresh Voices Scholarship, funded anonymously by an Odyssey graduate, provides support to an outstanding writer of color each year. It seeks to offer opportunities for underrepresented racial and ethnic minority writers to learn at Odyssey and enrich the fantasy, science fiction, and horror genres as a result. The scholarship awards $2,000 toward tuition.
The winner of the Fresh Voices Scholarship is Kiran Kaur Saini, a Punjabi-American writer currently on the U.S. east coast. Her stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, Pleiades, and elsewhere, and she is the recipient of a Speculative Literature Foundation award, a Pushcart nomination, and the Henfield Prize for Fiction. She studied music and Russian literature at Smith College and received her MFA in fiction writing from Sarah Lawrence College. A Los Angeles film industry professional for the last 15 years, Kiran is presently taking care of her aging mother, two cats, and a regularly flooding basement.
Of her winning story, “Coiffeur Seven,” Kiran said, “Hair autonomy is a huge deal to me. As a Sikh, it’s been a major defining force in my life, with the decades of institutionalized harassment through my school years for having uncut hair ranging from the insidious, falsely-benevolent hygiene advice to outright bodily violence. As a society, we have a long way to go in acknowledging and respecting the tremendous depth and significance of hair traditions of any culture. In this story, I wanted to create a character who, unlike me, would respond to these constant incursions not just with the force of will and determination to define their own parameters, but also with grace, love, and generosity, which often fails me, and which for me is a fundamental Sikh cultural value. Also, at the moment, I’m a full-time caregiver to my 87-year-old mom, so I think a lot about how to respect the autonomy of someone who can no longer forge that autonomy for themselves.”
Farah Naz Rishi, author of I Hope You Get This Message and the upcoming It All Comes Back to You, graduate of Odyssey 2016, and one of the judges, said, “This story was an emotional gut-punch, and I absolutely adored the premise—hair and code? Brilliant. The author’s way with voice is so strong.”
THE ENCHANTED BOND SCHOLARSHIP
Funded anonymously by an Odyssey supporter, the Enchanted Bond Scholarship provides support to an outstanding fantasy writer each year. The scholarship awards $1,000 toward tuition.
The winner of the Enchanted Bond Scholarship is Lane Waldman. Lane grew up in Rochester, NY and currently lives in Philadelphia, PA. They previously worked as a First Reader for Strange Horizons. Their stories have appeared in places such as Uncanny (Disabled People Destroy Fantasy), Daily Science Fiction, and Capricious.
Of their winning story, “A Ghost at the Wedding,” Lane said, “This story was partly inspired by a Jewish folktale about a bride who died on her wedding day, who had to experience the wedding she’d never had in order to find peace. My story does contain a ghost who regrets the life she missed having, but what I really wanted to explore was the loneliness and frustration of being isolated from the rest of the world, and what that does to a person (or, in this case, ghost).
The judging panel praised the compelling character of Ada, the ghost, and the innovative stylistic elements that helped to convey the nature of the ghost’s existence.
THE QUANTUM ENTANGLEMENT SCHOLARSHIP
The Quantum Entanglement Scholarship, funded anonymously by an Odyssey graduate, provides support to an outstanding writer of science fiction each year. The scholarship awards $1,000 toward tuition.
The 2021 winner of the Quantum Entanglement Scholarship is Malcolm Carvalho, a poet and fiction writer from Bangalore, India. He also writes code, performs as an improviser, and loves cycling.
His writing has been featured in several literary journals and magazines including Kitaab, Bengaluru Review, Muse India and 365 Tomorrows. Most recently, his poetry has been featured in the anthology A Letter, A Poem, A Home. He has also been a part of the Bangalore Writers Workshop. He was first drawn to science fiction with the robot detective novels of Isaac Asimov. He likes to read stories depicting human behavior in the backdrop of scientific progress and loves to do the same in his writing.
Malcom described his story “Sleep” as projecting “a dystopian future of the rise of authoritarian governance. I drew inspiration for the story from the Citizenship Amendment Act enacted by the Government of India in December 2019, and the subsequent nationwide protests against the Act.”
The scholarship judges found the world chilling and thought provoking, and were deeply drawn into this story of a man caught between friendship and self-interest.