SPRINGFIELD – Joshua Doetsch, who graduated from the University of Illinois at Springfield in May 2006 with a master's degree in English, is the author of two soon-to-be-published pieces – the novel Strangeness in the Proportion and the short story "Snow, Blood, and Sparrows."
Strangeness will be published by horror/science fiction/fantasy house White Wolf Publishing. "Sparrows" will appear in the anthology Book of Dead Things, coming soon from Chicago-based Twilight Tales Press.
Strangeness in the Proportion, which Doetsch describes as "a modern horror/noir story set in Chicago and featuring a very strange and macabre protagonist," was chosen from an original pool of more than 1,000 submissions to win a contest sponsored by White Wolf and based on the premise of creating a novel using one of the company's signature characters somewhere in the story.
The contest unfolded over two years in three phases. In the first, more than 1,000 hopefuls each submitted a 250-word synopsis; 100 of those authors were then asked to write a first chapter. From that pool, five people (including Doetsch) were awarded $1,000 each and the chance to complete their novels. As the final winner, Doetsch received a contract to publish his book and another $10,000 against future royalties.
In announcing the contest results, White Wolf officials noted, "In the end, so much of the decision came down not just to quality but to our personal reactions to the stories. (Strangeness in the Proportion) grabbed (us) with its raw, frank voice. This is a good old-fashioned nasty tale of the Weird."
Doetsch claims to have fallen back on writing after his high school guidance counselor informed him that "Spiderman" was not a job option. Some of his other current projects include polishing and expanding the manuscript for another novel, Souls Unsure – a "dark, modern epic in prose and poetry about a Voodoo priestess, a fallen angel, and a mischievous muse who may not be telling the story truthfully" – that initially served as Doetsch's creative writing closure exercise at UIS and received the Outstanding Master's Thesis award for the 2005-06 academic year. One vignette from the larger story – "Teddy Bear Rex" – was published separately as a short story and was nominated for a Pushcart Award.www.myspace.com/nevermore_66.