Skip navigation

Welcome to the “Behind the Shadows” series of blog posts, where every week or so we will share a peek inside the minds of our authors and learn about the stories behind the stories. This week, Stephanie M. Wytovich breaks down the creative process that shaped her poem, “The 21st Century Shadow.


Writing “The 21st Century Shadow” was a challenge for me, but one I had a lot of fun with. While I read Lovecraft, I don’t necessarily write with a Lovecraftian edge, so I had to go back and familiarize myself with his stories again, and then readjust my style for this piece. When it comes to writing poetry, the first thing I do is write down a list of words associated with the piece that I want to write. In this particular case, I was researching and analyzing the mythos in relation to the ocean, so once I had a list, I started to spin my vision of a boy being sacrificed and accepted by the sea.

“The Shadow Over Innsmouth” has always been one of my favorite stories and I wanted to create something that played with the mythos of the Deep Ones while still balancing out themes of madness and paranoia. The little boy in my poem draws from the characterization of Lovecraft’s narrator, Robert Olmstead, while my old woman is a comparison to his Zadok Allen. Keeping with themes that are synonymous with Lovecraftian horror, I wanted to isolate the boy and place him a situation where he had no control, in a town that was already corrupt.

I surprised myself with how much fun I had writing the transformation scene because I traded in the blood and guts I usually work with and exchanged them instead for starfish and shells. To me, one of the scariest parts of the ocean is never knowing what’s beneath you, but also knowing that no matter how terrifying it is, that there is still a grotesque beauty to it. Pair that up with some mythical gods that have a taste for revenge and that, my friends, became the recipe for “The 21st Century Shadow.”

– Stephanie


Stephanie M. Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, a book reviewer for Nameless Magazine, and a well-known coffee addict. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker nominated poetry collection, HYSTERIA, can be found alongside her second release, Mourning Jewelry, at Follow Wytovich at and on twitter @JustAfterSunset.

Stephanie’s poem appears in Shadows Over Main Street from Hazardous Press, available now:

For regular updates on the book, please join us on Facebook at