Ever since Murano read Stephen King’s novel “It” when he was 11 years old—“I was probably too young,” he admits—the USD alumnus was enthralled by horror fiction.

“I have dreamed about what it would be like to win a Bram Stoker Award for 20 years,” Murano said in an interview after his 4,000-mile round-trip drive from the Rushmore State to Rhode Island and back. “I was born and raised in South Dakota and always felt somewhat distant from the world where people do things like this. Now, here I am.”

A native of Huron, South Dakota, Murano graduated from USD in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and English and earned a master’s degree in English literature and creative writing in 2008. Murano worked in public relations and communications for employers in higher education, healthcare and energy after graduation. Currently, his success as a writer and editor allows him to pursue his passion full-time as a freelancer from his home in Rapid City, which he shares with his wife and four children.

Even while working full-time, Murano had written and published short horror stories in the years after earning his master’s degree. With four children under six years old, however, compiling and editing anthologies of other writers’ fiction better suited the young father’s busy schedule. “It takes a totally different kind of concentration to edit a book in 15-minute spurts compared with generating original content,” he said. The “Behold!” anthology is Murano’s second anthology nominated for a Bram Stoker Award and features stories from 18 authors, including well-known writers such as Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker.

Murano credits his English professors at USD for encouraging him to pursue fiction writing and editing as a career. “Dr. Brian Bedard was my writing mentor and he was very patient with me. Horror wasn’t really in his wheelhouse and I think he often wished I would knock it off and consider doing something more in the mainstream,” he said. “He taught me a lot about structure and form and I still harken back to the feedback he gave me when I am critiquing the stories that come through my inbox.”

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