A writer’s world: Senior Krista Horbett can spin a seriously good yarn


Horbett revises her writing at Noble Coffee & Tea. The senior often starts her day with writing at the coffee shop.

Savanna Hill and Maggie Hoppel

Krista Horbett’s writing means mornings spent tinkering with first drafts at Noble Coffee and Tea. It means free verse poems in spiral shapes and Google Docs drafts of short stories old and new. It means a fantasy world where magic is real, happy endings are possible, and most importantly, she sets the rules. And, this spring, it means recognition in the prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

The Scholastic Awards is a writing contest organized into categories such as short stories and poetry. At the state level, writers receive awards such as the Honorable Mention, Silver Key, and Gold Key. Then, Gold Key winners advance to the national judging to compete with those outside their individual state. 

Horbett’s results for this year’s regional awards arrived this January. 

“This year I got an Honorable Mention on one of my pieces, an Honorable Mention on a portfolio, which was a collection of 6 works that I’d done, and then a Gold on a flash fiction piece that I did,” Horbett said.

A Gold Key. It puts her in the running for a national award for the first time ever. Horbett believes that her story’s pull-no-punches take on mental health led her to achieve greater recognition for her work. 

“Scholastic is looking specifically for teenage voices and what teenagers are struggling with, and a big part of that is mental health or anxiety,” Horbett said.

While proud of her awards at the state level, part of Horbett is still anticipating the national awards announcement this March. Her flash fiction piece “Counting Down” is a strong contender for national recognition. 

“It would be a huge honor and also more of a confirmation that I’m actually good at writing,” Horbett said. “I don’t always think highly of myself.” 

Every story begins with one person and one mind. The knowledge and inspiration Horbett gained from things like films, prompts, and books is the starting point for her own writing.

“Books and movies can help expand your vocabulary and definitely influence how you see the world and how you form original pieces,” Horbett said, “Most of the time it starts out with a movie or a writing prompt I’ll see. Once it gains traction or I stick with it long enough, then I will add some extra things to make it more substantial.” 

This method has led Horbett to write fanfiction in addition to her original pieces. She is drawn to Star Wars and Marvel stories. Horbett says fanfiction was an essential piece of her creative development back in middle school. 

“Having the setting established and the character dynamics and personalities all set out made it easier to focus on how I wanted the story to play out and work on developing my writing style,” Horbett said. 

These fanfiction pieces weren’t always written alone. Horbett sometimes collaborated with current Fishers High School senior Teeny King, exchanging ideas and helping each other improve.

“Krista and I really started writing together around seventh or eighth grade on a little story in the Star Wars universe. We’re both massive geeks, and what better way to be creative than through something you both enjoy?” King said. 

King says she admires how far Horbett has come since then. She’s matured in both her writing skill and as a person. 

“I am just so in awe of her courage and confidence to publish her works or submit them to Scholastic. I often just write for myself as a little, personal outlet, but Krista truly breathes life into her works,” King said. 

Bill Kenley is Horbett’s teacher for creative writing and first introduced her to this contest. He also helped edit her work in preparation for the submission deadline. 

“Krista has always had a great imagination. I remember an early story of hers about a kid with an invisible friend that was very vivid and detailed,” Kenley said. “She’s a psychologically deep writer of fiction.” 

Horbett’s creativity has led her to many publication opportunities. In her writing, she finds her voice, sharing her perspective on obstacles others might face as well.

“I started writing in fifth grade because I had a lot of anxiety, and the best way to get it out was to channel it to something productive—and writing was that productive thing. It got the crazy ideas out of my head and gave me something to do,” Horbett said. 

Self confidence often comes and goes, but Horbett believes in celebrating her unique qualities as an individual and a writer. In this way, she gives herself grace and finds joy in her work. 

“It’s normal to doubt your skills but remember that your story and your voice are unique,” Horbett said.


Check out excerpts from Horbett’s award winning short stories and poems. More of her work will be showcased in the NHS literary magazine, “Friday the 13th and Other Superstitions,” when it’s released this spring.

“This time, instead of shoving down the hopeless romantic clawing for a chance at life, it’s my anxiety taking its turn sitting in the darkest corner of my heart. Because this time I should let myself feel.” 

          —“Just Friends” 


“They share their stories and she shares hers

And before long, they rise and walk away

A smile on their face

And a fire over their head” 

—“Fire Over Their Head” 


“When I step outside, a breeze flits through my hair, the sun kissing my face as I glance up and smile. I absorb this feeling. Freedom. Little by little, I reach it: the point of no return.” —“Imaginary”