Horror Writers Association

Writers’ Associations offer a lot of support to writers at all stages of their careers. Marie O’Regan of the Horror Writers Associations (HWA) has kindly answered my questions:-

Tell us a little about the history of the CWA

HWA was formed in the late 1980’s with the help of many of the field’s greats, including Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and Joe Lansdale. Originally, it was a US organisation. Today—with over 1250 members in countries such as Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Germany, Honduras, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad, United Kingdom and the United States—it is a worldwide association, the oldest and most respected professional organisation for the much-loved writers who have brought you the most enjoyable sleepless nights of your life.

How does membership of the CWA work? (benefits, costs, events etc)

HWA’s Active (voting) members are all published professional writers of horror. But you needn’t be an established professional writer to join HWA. Your demonstrated intention to become a professional writer is all that’s required to join HWA at the Affiliate level, because we know the first professional-level sale is often the hardest. To demonstrate your intention, all you need is one minimally paid publication in any of several categories. (This might be something as unassuming as a 500-word story for which you’ve received $25 or more.) Non-writing professionals with an interest in the field (such as illustrators, librarians, booksellers, producers, agents, editors, and teachers) can join at the Associate level without any publications.

HWA also offers a Supporting Membership for non-professionals who would like to share and explore their interest in horror. Supporting members receive HWA’s monthly newsletter and our internet mailers, have the opportunity recommend works for the Bram Stoker Awards®, and the opportunity to be involved with HWA’s chapters, Mentor Program, and access to some of their favourite horror writers via a private message board.

Individual memberships are $75, but you can also purchase family memberships, corporate memberships or supporting memberships, ranging from $55 to $130. Full details of how to qualify for the various levels and their cost can be found on the HWA website, www.horror.org. Members get a discounted rate at StokerCon ™, the HWA's annual convention (coming to the UK for the first time in April 2020, see https://stokercon-uk.com for more details), monthly market listings, the ability to submit work to members' only anthologies - these are with some of the bigger publishers, and pay a professional rate for your work - other benefits are mentioned in the previous paragraph.

The HWA also provides a grievance committee should you have a disagreement with a publisher, for example; scholarships, a hardship fund, a host of local and international events and meet-ups (the UK Chapter, for example, frequently holds meetings that are open to members and non-members alike, a chance to meet and socialise with other writers/editors at all levels, and keep up-to-date with HWA matters. Our next one is on 14th September, from 2:30p.m. in the downstairs bar of the Craft Beer Co., Covent Garden, following a Forbidden Planet signing for the Wonderland anthology, edited by myself and Paul Kane.

Can you tell us who a few of your members are?

I'm afraid I can't, because of data protection – but we number many of the top names in horror, a lot of whom mention their membership on their sites/blogs. If you're a member, a directory of members can be found in the Members' Only area of the website.

Does the HWA run events for authors?

Each year, the Horror Writer’s Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards® for Superior Achievement, named in honour of Bram Stoker, author of the seminal horror work, Dracula. The Bram Stoker Awards were instituted immediately after the organisation’s incorporation in 1987.

Tell us about the HWA book awards (who can enter, when they run, what the prizes are)

To ameliorate the competitive nature of any award system, the Bram Stoker Awards® are given “for superior achievement,” not for “best of the year,” and the rules are deliberately designed to make ties possible. The first awards were presented in 1988 (for works published in 1987) and they have been presented every year since. The award itself is an eight-inch replica of a fanciful haunted house, designed specifically for HWA by sculptor Steven Kirk. The door of the house opens to reveal a brass plaque engraved with the name of the winning work and its author.

Any work of Horror first published in the English language may be considered for an award during the year of its publication. The categories for which a Bram Stoker Award may be presented have varied over the years, reflecting the state of the publishing industry and the horror genre.

The twelve Bram Stoker Award categories are: Novel, First Novel, Short Fiction, Long Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction Collection, Poetry Collection, Anthology, Screenplay, Graphic Novel, Nonfiction, and Short Nonfiction.

There are two paths to a work becoming a Nominee for the Bram Stoker Award. In one, the HWA membership at large recommends worthy works for consideration. A preliminary ballot for each category is compiled using a formula based on these recommendations. In the second, a Jury for each category also compiles a preliminary ballot. Two rounds of voting by our Active members then determine first the Final Ballot (all those appearing on the Final Ballot are “Bram Stoker Nominees”), and then the Bram Stoker Award® Winners. The Winners are announced and the Bram Stoker Awards presented at a gala banquet, normally during the period between March and June.

In addition, Lifetime Achievement Awards are occasionally presented to individuals whose entire body of work has substantially influenced Horror. The recipient of last year's Lifetime Achievement Award, for example, was Graham Masterton.

What should authors do if they’d like to find out more?

If you're interested in joining the HWA, please go to horror.org and read the information available there. There are also Facebook Pages, Twitter and Instagram Feeds, both for the Horror Writers Association and for StokerCon™.