LOGAN — Logan County native Erica Kitchen has made her publishing debut with a collection of short stories, “Sampler Box: Near Death & Other Works.”
In “The Trans-Allegheny Heretic,” a Civil War era wife seeks to escape her failed marriage with the aid of a coven of witches. In “There Are Ghouls Just Past Your Eyes,” a young girl struggles to understand why she, and only she, can see ghouls, and in many descriptive forms.
Kitchen also uses different genres of storytelling. For instance, “Old Boffin’s Menagerie of Rubber: A Memoir” is about a man’s life told in verse. “The World’s Best Cranberry-Blueberry Muffin” is written in the form of a long recipe blog post, but with a food blogger’s back story of his sister’s disappearance and how a recipe came about.
“I’m from Logan County, and I’ve always been here, basically,” Kitchen said. The 24-year-old began writing short stories, often with a twist, at the age of 11. She went to West Virginia State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English in 2018.
She began writing the short stories that would later form “Sampler Box” when two of her artist friends — Donn Kinney and Seth Kitzmiller — asked her to contribute some of her work to an art show.
“I’d never done anything quite like that,” Kitchen said, “so I started gathering what short stories I had already written up and then four of those, I think, are brand-new that I wrote specifically for ‘Sampler Box.’ So that’s how that came to be.”
Not only are the stories different in genre, but they also represent Kitchen’s “Weltanschauung,” or worldview.
“The way I approach stories is I want to create something that I personally would want to read,” she said. “I don’t think any writer is out here not wanting to write something like that. A lot of my stories I feel I’m writing to fill in a gap that there is in the market. I like using queer themes in a lot of my stories, only in different genres that you just don’t quite see. Usually when you read LGBT stories, they’re always about a coming out or the struggle of this, and it’s always very depressing. I just would love to see more stories with queer characters that are just in normal situations where it’s not all doom and gloom.”
About the title of the book, Kitchen said, “I would tell a potential reader that you will find something that you like in it. When I was in the process of selecting what stories to go in there, I ended up coming up with the name ‘Sampler Box’ because there’s no one thread that goes through it. There’s no underlying theme that’s present in every single story. So to the reader who wants to check it out, you will find something that you like in there. I promise you that.”
Pre-signed copies of “Sampler Box” can be found at Hot Cup for $10 a copy. There is also a listing on Amazon for $15.