Horror Writers Association 2021 Specialty Awards Winners

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) announced the recipients of its 2021 Specialty Awards.

SPECIALTY PRESS

The HWA Specialty Press Award goes to Valancourt Books.

The HWA Specialty Press Award is presented periodically to a specialty publisher whose work has substantially contributed to the horror genre, whose publications display general excellence, and whose dealings with writers have been fair and exemplary.

The award was instituted in 1997, largely due to the efforts of long-time HWA member and specialty press aficionado Peter Crowther.

Valancourt Books was founded by James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle in 2005 to make neglected and out-of-print books available to new generations of readers at affordable prices. Over the past 17 years Valancourt has published over 500 titles, with an emphasis on 18th & 19th-century Gothic fiction and 20th-century supernatural and horror fiction. Recently Valancourt debuted three new series: Paperbacks from Hell, focusing on lost paperback horror of the 1970s and ’80s, Monster, She Wrote, focusing on classic horror by women writers, and Valancourt International, which translates horror from around the world.

The origins of Valancourt Books date back to 2004, when the press’s founders James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle had to drive 28 hours to access some rare Gothic horror texts that were only available at one library in the country. With modern publishing technology, they figured there had to be a better way of doing things, and so they started Valancourt Books with the aim of making rare and out-of-print books available to new audiences at reasonable prices.

For its first seven years, Valancourt focused on scholarly editions of 18 th and 19 th -century texts, from the seven legendary “horrid novels” mentioned in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey to rare Victorian “penny dreadfuls” and late 19 th -century popular fiction by authors like Bram Stoker, Marie Corelli, and Richard Marsh. These scholarly editions feature introductions, notes, and contextual materials edited by top scholars from around the world.

More recently Valancourt has moved into more modern horror fiction, rediscovering forgotten mid-century authors like John Blackburn, Gerald Kersh, and Charles Beaumont, as well as some of the lost horror greats of the 1970s and ’80s, like Michael McDowell, Elizabeth Engstrom, Bernard Taylor, and Michael Talbot.

In 2016 Valancourt launched two popular series: The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories and The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, and more recently three exciting new series have debuted: Paperbacks from Hell, which reprints lost 1970s and ’80s horror novels with their original iconic covers, Monster, She Wrote, which spotlights women horror writers, and Valancourt International, which publishes horror fiction in translation, including The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories, which was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and World Fantasy Award.

Many of Valancourt’s books have been adopted for university courses around the world, several have been filmed or are in production, and many of them have been translated and published throughout the world.

For more information on Valancourt Books and the titles it publishes, please visit www.valancourtbooks.com.

THE RICHARD LAYMON PRESIDENT’S AWARD

The winner of the Richard Laymon President’s Award for Service is Sumiko Saulson.

The Richard Laymon President’s Award for Service was instituted in 2001 and is named in honor of Richard Laymon, who died in 2001 while serving as HWA’s President. As its name implies, it is given by HWA’s sitting President.

The award is presented to a volunteer who has served HWA in an especially exemplary manner and has shown extraordinary dedication to the organization.

Sumiko Saulson (they/them), Social Media Manager for the Horror Writers Association, is an award-winning author of Afrosurrealist and multicultural sci-fi and horror whose latest novel Happiness and Other Diseases (book one of the Metamorphoses of Flynn Keahi) is available on Mocha Memoirs Press.  Other works include the non-fiction title 100+ Black Women in Horror Fiction, novels Solitude, Warmthand Moon Cried Blood. Their short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies including Tales For The CampfireClockwork WonderlandTales From the Lake Vol 3Beasts and BabesScierogenous 2,  Colors In Darkness: Forever Vacancy, and Slay: Tales of the Vampire Noire. Their poetry has appeared in Infectious HopeSiren’s Call Magazine, and HWA Poetry Showcase VII and VIII.  They are the editor of the anthologies Black Magic Women (2018), Scry of Lust (2019), Wickedly Abled (2020) and Scry of Lust 2 (2021), and the collection Black Celebration. They are a comic zine maker and author/illustrator of the graphic novels/comic books Agrippa (2013), Dreamworlds (2016), and The Complete Mauskaveli (2020).  They are the illustrator of Living a Lie (2015).

Winner of the Afrosurrealist Writers Award (2018), Grand Prize 2017 BCC Voice “Reframing the Other” contest, 2nd Place Carry The Light Sci-fi/Fantasy Award (2016), 2017 Mixy Award, 6th Place in the Next Great Horror Writers Contest (2017). They are the recipient of the 2002 STAND Grant for First Time Directors, 2016 HWA StokerCon “Scholarship from Hell”, 2018 Ara Joe Grant for Zinemakers, 2020 HWA Diversity Grant recipient, and 2021 Ladies in Horror Fiction grant.

Sumiko has an AA in English from Berkeley City College, writes a column called “Writing While Black” for a national Black Newspaper, the San Francisco BayView, writes for Search Magazine, is the host of the SOMA Leather and LGBT Cultural District’s “Erotic Storytelling Hour,” and teaches courses at the Speculative Fiction Academy.

THE SILVER HAMMER AWARD

The winner of HWA’s Silver Hammer Award is Kevin J. Wetmore.

The HWA gives the Silver Hammer Award to an HWA volunteer who has done a truly massive amount of work for the organization, often unsung and behind the scenes. It was instituted in 1996, and is decided by a vote of HWA’s Board of Trustees.

The award is so named because it represents the careful, steady, continuous work of building HWA’s “house” — the many institutional systems that keep the organization functioning on a day-to-day basis. The award itself is a chrome-plated hammer with an engraved plaque on the handle. The chrome hammer is also a satisfying allusion to The Beatles’ song, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, a miniature horror story in itself.

Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr. is the author, editor or co-editor of twenty-seven books, including Bram Stoker Award nominees Uncovering Stranger Things, The Streaming of Hill House, Devil’s Advocates: The Conjuring, and Eaters of the Dead: Myths and Realities of Cannibal Monsters. He is also the author of over a hundred articles and three dozen short stories found in magazines and anthologies such as Cemetery Dance, Mothership Zeta, Nonbinary Review, Midian Unmade and The Cackle of Cthulhu. He is the co-chair of HWA’s Los Angeles Chapter, has twice co- chaired StokerCon and served as StokerCon’s volunteer coordinator, in addition to serving as curator for the HWA blog Halloween Haunts and chair of the Lifetime Achievement Award committee. In his other life he is a professor of Theatre Arts at Loyola Marymount University where he teaches horror theatre, horror cinema, Japanese theatre, African theatre, Shakespeare and stage combat.

MENTOR OF THE YEAR

The HWA Mentor of the Year is Michael Knost.

The HWA’s Mentor Program is available to all members of the organization. This popular program pairs a newer writer with an established professional for an intensive four-month long partnership. For new writers, the Program offers mentees a personal, one-on-one experience with a professional writer, tailor-made to help them grow in their writing and teach them how to better market their work. For experienced writers, the Program allows mentors a chance to pay forward the experience and encouragement other writers gave them when they were starting out. In addition, there is the added benefit of growing as a writer oneself through the act of teaching others. In short, the Program benefits all who participate, regardless of their roles.

Inaugurated in 2014, the Mentor of the Year Award recognizes one mentor in the Mentor Program who has done an outstanding job of helping newer writers. The award is chosen by the current chair of the Mentor Program.

Michael Knost “epitomizes what a mentor should be. He is always willing to help writers improve their craft, as both an HWA mentor and outside of the program, as both a teacher and an editor. Writers who have worked with him, or trained under him, universally praise Michael for his honesty, knowledge, and encouragement. This is probably recognition that is long overdue, but Michael’s contributions to the HWA, and the horror genre’s up-and-coming writers, has always been recognized and appreciated.” – JG Faherty, HWA Mentorship Program Manager.

Michael Knost is a Bram Stoker Award®-winning editor and author of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and supernatural thrillers. He has written in various genres and helmed multiple anthologies. He received the Horror Writers Association’s Silver Hammer Award in 2015 for his work as the organization’s mentorship chair. He also received the prestigious J.U.G. (Just Uncommonly Good) Award from West Virginia Writer’s Inc. His Return of the Mothman is currently being filmed as a movie adaption. He has taught writing classes and workshops at several colleges, conventions, online, and currently resides in Chapmanville, West Virginia with his wife, daughter, and a zombie goldfish.

[Based on a press release.]

Horror Writers Association 2019 Specialty Press Award

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) has selected SST Publications (SST) as the recipient of their 2019 Specialty Press Award.

“I’d really like to thank the HWA for awarding SST with this honor. I honestly can’t believe that SST has won the HWA Specialty Press Award,” said publisher Paul Fry. “It really means the world to me.”

Each year the HWA recognizes the accomplishments of a noteworthy small press. The Specialty Press Award brings recognition to an outstanding publisher of horror, dark fantasy, and weird fiction. This year’s Specialty Press Award will be presented during StokerCon™ 2020 held from April 16-19 at the Royal and Grand Hotels, Scarborough, United Kingdom.

“To be able to do something you love for a living and then to be given this incredible award by people you respect and admire truly is an honor,” Paul Fry explained. Short, Scary Tales Publications (SST) is a small UK independent publisher with huge dreams when founded in 1999 by Paul Fry. In 2000, SST published its first title, Cold Storage, a horror collection including an introduction by the legendary Graham Masterton.

SST has published some of the best authors in the business, including Stephen King, Joe R. Lansdale, Clive Barker, Ray Garton, Ed Gorman, Simon Clark, Jack Ketchum, Bentley Little, Steve Rasnic Tem, Peter Straub, Tom Piccirilli, Paul Kane, Richard Chizmar, and many more. “Our aim is to produce the highest-quality titles in several formats and genres,” Paul Fry said. “But our top priority is to treat our customers like we’d like to be treated. We think that’s extremely important in any business.”

[Based on a press release.]

2018 HWA Specialty Press Award

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) has named Raw Dog Screaming Press as the recipient of the 2018 Specialty Press Award. Each year the HWA recognizes the accomplishments of a noteworthy small press. The Specialty Press Award brings recognition to an outstanding publisher of horror, dark fantasy, and weird fiction. This year’s Specialty Press Award will be presented during StokerCon™ 2019 held from May 9-12th at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

After editing The Dream People literary journal, Jennifer Barnes and John Edward Lawson founded Raw Dog Screaming Press to specialize in “fiction that foams at the mouth” and to offer authors a path around the publishing gatekeepers of the early 2000s. Their five imprints span dark, weird, blue-collar, and literary fiction and nonfiction for adults, children, and young adults.

Raw Dog Screaming Press emphasizes community and cultivates authors’ careers. Most of their authors have published multiple titles with them. The press collaborates with authors and team-builds at DogCon events, forging camaraderie among their authors. They take an interest in new writers, publishing debut books. The press developed a relationship with Seton Hill University, one of the few colleges offering a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction.

They champion niche categories of books, most notably horror poetry. Working with editor Stephanie M. Wytovich, and publishing stellar poets such as Christina Sng and Michael A. Arnzen, they’ve made a significant impact on the popularity and visibility of genre poetry. Raw Dog Screaming Press has distinguished itself by working with authors from unexpected quarters, such as internationally renowned musicians Till Lindemann (Rammstein) and Donna Lynch and Steven Archer (Ego Likeness), as well as feature film director S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99, Dragged Across Concrete). They have also been fortunate to work with many critically acclaimed authors, including Jeff VanderMeer, Lucy A. Snyder, Jeffrey Thomas, James Chambers, and Lance Olsen. The result has been 200 superb books. Many titles have been optioned for film and translations into French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Russian, and Spanish. Raw Dog Screaming Press titles have received Bram Stoker Awards, the PEN/Hemmingway Award, the Sir Julius Vogel Award, and the Wonderland Award.

When not leading workshops at conventions around the country, or at universities like Seton Hill and Rutgers, the Raw Dog Screaming Press team regularly hosts workshops at their Broadkill Writers Resort on Delaware Bay and at their yearly DogCon event. For more about Raw Dog Screaming Press, please visit www.rawdogscreaming.com

The HWA is a nonprofit organization of writers and publishing professionals around the world, dedicated to promoting dark literature and the interests of those who write it.

[Based on the press release.]

Horror Writers Association’s 2017 Specialty Press Award

The Horror Writers Association has named Eraserhead Press and Independent Legions Press as dual recipients of its 2017 Specialty Press Award.

HWA’s Specialty Press Award brings recognition to an outstanding publisher of horror, dark fantasy, and weird fiction.

  • Founded in 1999, Eraserhead Press is an independent publisher of bizarro fiction and cutting-edge horror. Under the leadership of Rose O’Keefe, the press has developed an international cult following for its line of trade paperbacks and e-books. The press releases new books every month and has published over four hundred titles by 150 different authors, including Piers Anthony, Brian Keene, Michael Cisco, Molly Tanzer, Carlton Mellick III, Jeremy Robert Johnson, John Skipp, Edward Lee, J.F. Gonzalez, Laura Lee Bahr, and Wrath James White. The company also publishes under four imprints: Deadite Press, Fungasm Press, Lazy Fascist Press, and The New Bizarro Author Series.
  • Independent Legions Press, a publishing company specializing in horror fiction, located in Italy, was founded in 2015 by Bram Stoker Award® winning author Alessandro Manzetti. Since that time, the press has published, in English and Italian, more than 50 titles by the most revered and successful writers in the horror genre: Clive Barker, Richard Laymon, Ramsey Campbell, Poppy Z. Brite, David J. Schow, Robert McCammon, Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Peter Straub, Charlee Jacob, Dennis Etchison, Carlton Mellick III, Greg F. Gifune, Gene O’Neill, Lucy Taylor, Nicole Cushing, Shane McKenzie, Alyssa Wong, Usman Malik, and many others. So far, the press has published about 115 authors, among them more than 40 Bram Stoker Award® winning authors, and two volumes of its anthology series The Beauty of Death – The Gargantuan Book of Horror Tales. Each volume has contained about 40 stories by both contemporary masters of horror and newcomers, and both volumes were nominated for the Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

The awards will be presented during StokerCon 2018 in Providence, RI, March 1-4.

Horror Writers Association’s 2016 Specialty Press Award

The Horror Writers Association has named Omnium Gatherum as the winner of its 2016 Specialty Press Award. The award brings recognition to an outstanding publisher of horror, dark fantasy, and weird fiction.

Omnium Gatherum means “this” and “that” in Latin. The publisher released its first four titles in 2011. Since that time, it has grown from a one-person operation to a robust small press, employing many talented and creative people. This press is dedicated to bringing unique voices to publication, and working hard to produce excellent stories that explore the dark recesses of genre fiction. Kate Jonez, the editor-in-chief of Omnium Gatherum hopes the publisher’s success inspires others, especially woman and underrepresented individuals, to take the leap and make things happen, even when facing insurmountable odds. Great things can happen from honest efforts.

Kate Jonez is quoted as saying, “I am thrilled and honored for Omnium Gatherum to be recognized by the HWA. The organization has been essential to the growth of the company. We couldn’t have done it without the advice and support we’ve received from so many wonderful members.”

The award will be presented during StokerCon2017 aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, from April 27-30.

Horror Writers Association Announces Two Awards

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) has announced the recipients of this year’s Specialty Press Award and Richard Laymon President’s Award.

The Specialty Press Award winner is Borderlands Press.

Since its founding in 1990 by Elizabeth and Tom Monteleone, Borderlands Press has published more than 100 titles by the most revered and successful writers in the genres of horror, dark fantasy, and suspense, including Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker, Wes Craven, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Dan Simmons, and Peter Straub.

In addition to its publishing activities, the press has sponsored and conducted the Borderlands Press Writers Boot Camp for twelve consecutive years. Held at Towson University’s Conference Center, the Boot Camp has provided instruction and guidance to more than 200 attendees—of whom more than 70% have gone on to see their subsequent work published professionally.

The annual Specialty Press Award recognizes a publisher outside the mainstream New York City publishing community that specializes in dark-themed fiction. The winner is determined by a majority vote of the HWA Board.

The Richard Laymon President’s Award winners are Patrick Freivald and Andrew Wolter, moderators of HWA’s Facebook group.

“Our Facebook group is one of the most trafficked parts of HWA’s online presence,” said HWA’s President Lisa Morton. “Keeping it focused and tidy is a difficult, time-consuming job. Patrick and Andrew put many hours every week into it, reviewing every post to make sure our rules are followed. They do so with good humor and thoughtful discussion, and HWA is lucky to have them.”

Patrick Freivald is an author, high school teacher, and beekeeper. He lives in Western New York with his beautiful wife, two birds, three dogs, too many cats, and several million stinging insects. He is the author of Twice Shy, Bram Stoker Award®-nominated Special Dead, Blood List (with his twin brother Phil), Bram Stoker Award®-nominated Jade Sky, and the sequel Black Tide, as well as the novella Love Bites, a growing legion of short stories, and the Jade Sky graphic novella (with Joe McKinney) for Dark Discoveries magazine.

Seattle resident, Andrew Wolter is the author of the books Seasons in His Abyss, Much of Madness, More of Sin, and Nightfall. He has published over three dozen short stories that have appeared both online and in print anthologies including Raw: Brutality as Art, Enter at Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms, and Anthology: Year Three, Distant Dying Ember. An advocate for LGBT rights, Andrew also freelances as a contributing columnist for a nationwide LGBT publication. Under the pseudonym Tristan Wilde, Andrew publishes homoerotic mystery novels.

The award is named in honor of Richard Laymon, who died in 2000 while serving as the HWA’s president. It is given by the HWA’s sitting president to a volunteer who has served in an especially exemplary manner and has shown extraordinary dedication to the organization.

Both awards will be presented at HWA’s inaugural StokerCon in Las Vegas, NV, during the Bram Stoker Awards® ceremony on May 14.

HWA Bestows Silver Hammer, Specialty Press, and Service Awards

Horror-writers-association02The Horror Writers Association announced a series of honors this week.

Rena Mason has been named the recipient of HWA’s 2014 Silver Hammer Award, given to an HWA volunteer who has worked diligently for the organization, often unsung and behind the scenes. Mason currently serves as Co-Chair of the Bram Stoker Awards®. She has also worked as a compiler for the awards process, and arranged and supervised HWA events, such as a recent panel at the Vegas Valley Book Festival.

ChiZine Publications is the winner of the HWA 2014 Specialty Press Award, which recognizes a publisher outside the mainstream New York City publishing community that specializes in dark-themed fiction.

ChiZine Publications (CZP), founded and run by Brett Alexander Savory and Sandra Kasturi,  sprang out of the successful chizine.com, which began presenting fiction and reviews in 1997. Since its inception in 2008, CZP has published more than 90 books by authors including Christopher Golden, Stephen Graham Jones, Geoff Ryman, Robert Shearman, Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem.

Finally, HWA will give its 2014 Richard Laymon President’s Award for Service to the organization’s publicity team of Doug Murano, Tom Calen, and Brock Cooper. The Award is presented to a volunteer who has served HWA in an especially exemplary manner and has shown extraordinary dedication to the organization. The recipients were selected by HWA President Lisa Morton.

“These three gentlemen have completely re-created HWA’s promotion and publicity, taking it from almost zero to sixty in record time,” Morton said. “Thanks to this amazing trio, we’ve received hundreds of thousands of hits on campaigns like our ‘Horror Selfies’, our press releases have been receiving international attention, and more readers than ever know about the Bram Stoker Awards®. Our former President Rocky Wood held Doug, Tom, and Brock’s work in the highest standing, and I share that admiration and appreciation.”

All three of the awards will be presented to recipients on May 9 at the Bram Stoker Awards® Banquet in Atlanta, held as part of World Horror Convention 2015.

[From the press releases.]