I first came across the mad musing of Bree Ogden in the pages of Crow Toes Quarterly – a print and electronic publication designed and dedicated to children’s literature of a darker lean.
Her web presence at that point was almost completely unknown to me, but I eventually found myself becoming more aquainted with her on various social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the like. She seemed, to me, to be a very vocal proponent of the cause to keep kid lit scary, re-kindling the fire inside my heart for the myriad things that spooked me as a kid.
In my insane hyper-attentive way, I dug a little deeper and discovered that Bree was not only a writer and editor, but that she was also an agent of the macabre. And by that, I don’t mean she’s a vessel by which nefarious things creep about our plain. Well… I do mean that, but I also meant that she’s a literary agent as well.
From Ogden’s “Meet Bree” page at her website:
Bree graduated with her BA in Philosophy from Southern Virginia University where she served as editor-in-chief of the University’s newsmagazine. She was awarded Most Valuable Player and Editor of the Year, as well as SVU’s Pioneer Award, an honor the University awards to two students each year. She then received her MA in Journalism with an emphasis in editing and expository writing at Northeastern University where she worked on both the New England Press Association Bulletin, and also served as the features editor of the premier campus music magazine, Tastemakers Magazine.
Soon after finding out about the publication, Shelagh and I found out that Crow Toes was closing its doors, leaving both Shelagh and myself in the position of trying to find another publication that would cater to both the needs of spooky kids everywhere, and the creepy little demons inside ourselves.
Enter: Underneath The Juniper Tree.
It was only by our involvement in the genre that we found out about this interesting venture. The publication, basically hosted by the young Marjorie Merle and Tex, her charismatic sidekick with an insatiable hunger for toes (whether his preference is for young, old, human, or animal, I’d unknown at this time.)
From UTJT’s “About” page:
My name is Marjorie Merle and on the right is my ever faithful companion Tex. I am Keeper Of The Stories and I will tell you where I found them. My story begins one night when I started up the stairs to the attic to retrieve some candles during the storm; my knees were knocking together, my fingers quivered. Dusty beams of light from the cloud-swept moon leaked into the attic, landing on sheets of paper with spidery writing – but it wasn’t just writing; drawings and photographs littered the floor as well. There were stories of old days, of the future, of the times in between and each had with it a drawing relaying every dreadful and delicious detail into my mind. I drank in the stories greedily with an unquenchable thirst. Now I am sharing them with you, dear reader. Enjoy and remember, don’t get lost. You don’t want to end up underneath the Juniper Tree.
Quickly coming to the conclusion that this was the perfect avenue to direct our young friends and readers toward, Shelagh and I reveled in both the perfect choices of stories and the supremely creepy, yet accessible artistry contained within. This was something we could get behind AND try help promote. Aften all, this life is about the kids, isn’t it?
You couldn’t possibly imagine our excitement when we found out that Bree was one of the people behind it all.
As it turns out, Bree Ogden and Rebekah Joy Plett had joined forces and – from the ashes of what we believe was the best horror-centric children’s publication out there – developed, produced, edited, designed, and utterly ruled over the future of kids horror lit through this new offering to the genre.
Without missing a beat after the demise of CTQ, Ogden surrounded herself with incredible artists and authors and compiled the first incredible issue of Underneath The Juniper Tree. The Table of Contents didn’t read like a “classics” offering either. This was all modern, and all geared towards the youth of today. 77 pages of creeptastic fiction for the monster lovers in all of us. Now 8 lovingly crafted issues in, and it doesn’t look like they’re about to stop any time soon.
While UTJT is a joint venture borne of the mad amalgamation of minds between Ogden and Plett, it’s the former’s position as editor, agent, guru, and creeper that have earned her a profile today.
Working in her daylight hours as a literary agent for D4EO Literary Agency, Ogden combs through YA and middle grade manuscripts in a variety of sub-genres, and has a specific style that she enjoys (like all agents do.) Her lean towards horror literature sits nicely in our little house of horrors, and gives us faith in the fact that there’s someone out there who has the pull to bring the “fear” back to fear street.
A great example of what Ogden is looking for can be found at the D$EO website:
Seeking: Middle grade, Young Adult, New Adult fiction (readership: ages 18-30), Graphic Novels, YA Nonfiction, and Art books
• Email submissions only
• Paste the first five pages of your novel below your query
• No attachments
Bree’s wish list: (don’t limit your queries to these!)
• Dark (not angst-ridden)
• Psychological horror (with no paranormal elements)
• Hard sci fi. Meaning no fantasy, or magical realism at all
• A Dexter-ish type YA black comedy
• A Roaring Twenties historical for YA
• A manuscript written in the era of Mad Men with panache and style
• A unique and theme-driven art book
Manuscripts I will not look at:
• Paranormal or fantasy (that includes urban fantasy)
• Romance (unless there is a superb dark, psychotic element)
• Magical realism
• World building
Claiming an influence that ranges from Alvin Schwartz and R.L. Stein, and swinging a bag of tricks dripping with grisly gore, we’re sure you can agree with us when we say that, with Ogden at the helm, the kids definitely aren’t gonna be alright… in a good way.
Keep watching the site for a prfile of UTJT, and to listen to a conversation with Ogden and Plett (my computer died and took the audio of that conversation with it.)
I’m proud to call this modern marvel a friend, and regard her as a true Wonder Woman of the genre. It’s not every day that someone with the spunk and ability comes along in the genre championing great quality fiction for the little ghouls and boils.
So, Bree Ogden, Dreadful Tales salute you. You’re a beacon of much needed darkness on an otherwise sparkly scene, and we appreciate the mess of grue you leave in your wake.
You can check out more of Bree Ogden’s work at Underneath The Juniper Tree, D4EO Literary Agency, her blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.
Bree rules, and UTJT is incredible. That is all.
Agreed. Bree does indeed rule. I honestly can’t wait to play in her madhouse more.
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