Steven Caumo

Fiction | Youngstown State University | Class of 2022

In Steven Caumo’s That Hateful Shape, we watch in horror as a group of adolescent boys commit an unspeakable act against a young woman in the woods near their town, which has been devastated by industry. And afterward, we watch the young woman and the forest itself resurrect in a superbly fantastical way to seek revenge on those who have wronged them. —Chris Barzak


About Steven

Steven Caumo holds a BA in Creative Writing from Waynesburg University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the NEOMFA through Youngstown State University. He writes horror fiction, and lately he’s had an idea for a thriller or two. When he’s not watching David Lynch or Dario Argento movies, he’s playing tabletop RPGs with his friends or walking his dog.

Your advice to an incoming MFA student? Or the best piece of advice you received as a young writer?

“Kill your darlings” doesn’t just mean getting rid of a scene or character or sentence you’re committed to; sometimes a story just isn’t working and the best thing you can do for it and yourself, is set that project aside and start a new one. You’ll come back to the old one when you have the proper tools to tell it.

Do you have any eccentric habits/strategies to get you started writing? What are they?

I’ve started writing first drafts, or at least most of a first draft, by hand on a yellow legal pad. I find the paper less intimidating than the blank light of a Word document. It’s easier to just let whatever comes into your head pour out onto the page, and if I get a new idea, I can write it down in the margins and come back to it later. If I have a particular mood or atmosphere in mind, I’ll make try to make a playlist that’s around an hour and half long and listen to it while I write.

What’s on your nightstand right now?

Last night’s glass of water, an alarm clock that doesn’t work and another that does but I never use, and more dust than I care to admit.