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This summer, Saundra Mitchell, HarperCollins and Figment hosted a writing contest to find a new writer to be published alongside some of the most popular and bestselling writers of fiction for teens today, in DEFY THE DARK! The winner of said contest was Kate Espey and she was kind enough to introduce herself to our community! Read her guest post below and start reading her winning entry here.

 

I force my theatre teacher to read almost everything I write, and somewhere I have a draft of “The Sunflower Murders” with a note on it that says, “This is a story I wrote and submitted to be in an anthology. I haven’t heard back from the editor and I probably never will.”

So when I won the Defy the Dark New Author Contest, it was like Saundra Mitchell punched me in the face and screamed, “SURPRISE!” And let me tell you, getting punched in the face by Saundra Mitchell is awesome.

Honestly, when I got the email notifying me that I’d won, I thought it was a very professional prank. I figured Ashton Kutcher would pop out from under my bed and point out all the hidden cameras and then give me a free T-shirt for my troubles. Part of me still thinks this is all a very elaborate joke.

It’s really, really crazy when I think about it. I try to keep it all on an oh-yes-this-is-very-exciting level, but then suddenly it hits me and I am OVERWHELMED WITH EXCITEMENT AND I START SCREAMING AND I ABUSE THE CAPS LOCK BUTTON LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW.

Anyway.

My friends and family have all been incredibly supportive and excited, albeit a tad flabbergasted. (“I knew you wrote, but I didn’t think you were good!”—“What do you mean, it’s about murder?”—“It’s called Defile the Dark?”) And Saundra Mitchell is amazing in so many ways. Not to mention she puts up with my blatant lack of professionalism. I’ve joked about dedicating a shrine to her, but it’s likely I’ll be building one in the near future.

I am certain that there are no words in the English language that can show how grateful I am to Saundra and everyone who has helped me reach this point. There’s probably one in German, but Germans have words for everything. Regardless, I will never stop saying thank you. Before all this I was just a girl who couldn’t get a 100 on an English essay. Now I’m a girl who can’t get a 100 on an English essay with a story in an anthology filled with her favorite authors. I feel like that’s a pretty good improvement.

 

 Learn more about Defy the Dark here.