NewsSpring 2014

Writing a new chapter

Scott-VannatterAfter trauma, teacher develops “hidden talent”

It’s not every day that someone asks you to write a haiku about an encounter with a robotic Minotaur in a corn maze. But horror writer Scott Vannatter ’76 ’81 was happy to oblige. The request came from someone on, a website where people offer creative services online for $5. In July 2012 Scott posted that he could write a horror-based haiku on any subject. The resulting haiku (at bottom) was picked up by Google and has more than 2,000 hits to date.

Scott wasn’t always a writer of horror stories. But a severe hemorrhagic brain stroke on May 7, 2010, changed his life forever. Before the stroke, Scott worked for 23 years with computers and then became a special education teacher in 2001. After the stroke, Scott spent a year in rehabilitation and then returned to teaching. But after seven months, he realized that it was too difficult and made a decision to try a different career path. Scott liked to dabble in writing when he was younger, but he never really put much effort into it. He realized that even though the stroke had affected his memory, balance, and vision, it didn’t take away his ability to write. In fact, he lost many of the “filters,” as he calls them, that made him feel shy and not direct with people.

“A stroke shuts your brain off and turns it back on,” he says. “I actually have more confidence now in my writing and I speak my mind to people. I’m no longer afraid just to write something and see what happens.” Scott found that he couldn’t focus his attention long enough to write a book, but he could concentrate and write a short story. He happened upon writer Kevin Bufton in England who also edits horror anthologies. Kevin was looking for horror tales about the open sea for his book The Dead Seas, so Scott sent him “Sirens of the Undead,” about mermaids and zombies. The result? On March 7, 2013, Scott’s dream to become a published author came true. It didn’t take long before Scott was able to see another of his stories in print. In May Kevin edited another collection of medical horror stories called Under the Knife and included Scott’s story “A Word of Advice.”  When Another 100 Horrors was published in June, Scott was able to see his third story in print, “Dead Man’s Chest.” Scott also makes time to keep up on his blog, where he writes 100-word stories.

“It’s a great way to tone your writing and it’s harder than you think,” he says. Kevin is taking a break from editing the anthologies, so Scott is thinking ahead to one day publishing his own collection of short stories and poems. “Being published and being paid for writing has always been a dream of mine,” he says. “It’s one of those bucket list goals that I can cross off. I’ve actually had a lot of positives come from the stroke, and being a published author is one of them.”

Follow Scott at

Challenge issued:
“Seeing as Indiana has such marvelous corn mazes could you write a sci-fi poem about a hedge-maze encounter with a robotic Minotaur?”

Challenge met:
I creep corn mazing
Bull-man, Minotaur I spy,
Through the walls I run.

the authorMarty