The Horror Writers Association announced the winners of three service awards on March 31. Ordinarily these awards would have been presented at the annual Stokercon, but this year’s event in the UK has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
RICHARD LAYMON PRESIDENT’S AWARD. The Richard Laymon President’s Award is named in honor of Richard Laymon, who died in 2001 while serving as the HWA’s President. As the name implies, it is given by the 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.
The 2019 Richard Laymon President’s Award winner is Rena Mason.
Rena Mason is an American author of horror fiction and a three-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award . Her literary debut, The Evolutionist, won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel in 2013, while her novella East End Girls was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction. She has also been awarded HWA’s Silver Hammer Award.
SILVER HAMMER AWARD. The HWA presents the Silver Hammer Award in recognition of extraordinary volunteerism by a member who dedicates valuable time and effort to the organization. The award is determined by HWA’s Board of Trustees.
Leslie S. Klinger is the New York Times-best-selling editor of the Edgar®-winning New Annotated Sherlock Holmes and the critically-acclaimed New Annotated Dracula and New Annotated Frankenstein, as well as numerous other books and articles on Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, horror, vampires, and the Victorian age. He also edited or co-edited eight anthologies of mysteries, horror, and vampire fiction. His books include the Bram Stoker Award®-nominated four-volume The Annotated Sandman with Neil Gaiman (Vertigo) and The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, as well as the highly-regarded Watchmen: The Annotated Edition. Klinger currently serves as Treasurer of the Horror Writers Association.
MENTOR OF THE YEAR AWARD. Lee Murray is HWA’s Mentor of the Year Award recipient for 2019. HWA presents the award “in recognition of a member who distinguishes herself in helping mentees, while serving in the HWA’s Mentor Program.”
Lee Murray is a multi-award-winning writer and editor of science fiction, fantasy, and horror (Sir Julius Vogel, Australian Shadows) and a two-time Bram Stoker Award® nominee. Her works include the Taine McKenna military thrillers, and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra, co-written with Dan Rabarts, as well as several books for children. She is proud to have edited thirteen speculative works, including award-winning titles Baby Teeth: Bite Sized Tales of Terror and At the Edge (with Dan Rabarts), Te K?rero Ahi K? (with Grace Bridges and Aaron Compton) and Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror. She is the co-founder of Young New Zealand Writers, an organisation providing development and publishing opportunities for New Zealand school students, and co-founder of the Wright-Murray Residency for Speculative Fiction Writers. In February 2020, Lee was made an Honorary Literary Fellow in the New Zealand Society of Authors Waitangi Day Honours. Lee lives over the hill from Hobbiton in New Zealand’s sunny Bay of Plenty where she dreams up stories from her office overlooking a cow paddock. Read more at www.leemurray.info. She tweets @leemurraywriter
Upon being informed of the award, Lee commented:
“I’m so grateful for this unexpected honour from my friends at the Horror Writers Association. To be included on a list with previous Mentor of the Year winners such as Tim Waggoner, Linda Addison, and Greg Faherty, people I admire and adore, well, as the kids say, ‘I can’t even!’ Special thanks must go to my own writing mentors—Jenny Argante, Graeme Lay, Jonathan Maberry, my dad—folk whose quiet belief in me has been both uplifting and humbling. But the truth is, I’ve never escaped a mentorship without learning something, so I’m thankful for the wonderful lessons my HWA colleagues have offered me, for giving me a sneak-peek into their writing processes and the deliciously dark stories they’re conjuring in the twisted shadows of their minds. Mostly, I’m grateful for their fellowship and the lifelong friendships forged through our mentoring partnerships. Because, ultimately, we all get by with a little help from our friends.”
The Horror Writers Association has formal guidelines that describe the right and wrong ways for members to promote work for the organization’s top award. In what were formerly called the “Etiquette Rules,” now the “Guidelines for Promoting Works for Bram Stoker Award Consideration” HWA gives positive examples of ways to publicize fiction to Stoker Award jurors and other members, some hosted on the organization’s own social media, and warns against unacceptable conduct that can disqualify a work from consideration.
HOW THE STOKER WINNERS ARE PICKED. The Stoker Award winners are chosen by a “partial jury system.” A dozen award categories each have their own small jury panel (and “You may not spam the Jury” is one of the rules.) There is a preliminary and a final ballot. The preliminary ballot lists 10 nominees in each category, five works that have received at least 5 recommendations during the year from members, if there are that many, and the rest of the slots filled by the jury. Members vote on the preliminary ballot for five works in each category to go on to the Final Ballot. The final round of voting determines the award winners.
THE GUIDELINES. The 2,200-word Guidelines begin with a list of
five acceptable ways to promote a work, for example —
A. PUBLICIZE: The very best way to promote a book for a Bram Stoker Award® is to publicize the book as widely as possible. Most HWA members who participate in the Bram Stoker Award process are voracious readers and enthusiastic film buffs, and subscribe to a variety of magazines, newsletters, and web sites that offer reviews and ads for horror-related material.
HWA also tells how to promote work through its own publications
and social media, within limits that promote a level playing field.
The rules end with 10 prohibitions, including —
You may not send unsolicited emails or other forms of contact (such as Twitter) promoting your work for a Bram Stoker Award®….
While individual SFWA officers over the years have written advice about appropriate ways to pursue the Nebula Award, the organization doesn’t have its own formal guidelines. Only SFWA members can answer if one would help.
As to how well HWA’s rules work for them — I decided to ask.
The co-chairs of the Bram Stoker Awards Committee, James Chambers, C.W. LaSart, and Rena Mason, kindly agreed to answer File 770’s questions about the Guidelines/Etiquette Rules.
1. What are some examples of the problems that caused HWA to formulate the Etiquette Rules?
The Etiquette Rules were created to provide a positive process for members to share their work for Stoker consideration and preserve the integrity of the Awards. They ended a number of unpopular tactics some people used to promote their work. This included e-mailing members who were not interested in receiving works for consideration (or even sending them print books before the e-book boom), spamming members with multiple e-mails, attempts at trading recommendations, and campaigning in general for recs and votes. As more and more business moved online it became much easier to reach people and cross the line of acceptable professional contact, and the Awards needed to adapt for that. It’s one thing to make works available for those who would like to read and consider them. It’s another to badger and promote. The Etiquette rules closed the door to promoting works for Award consideration but left open the door to making work available to other HWA members in a respectful way.
2. Did these problems primarily affect who became finalists, or (apart from getting on the ballot) did they influence who won the Bram Stoker Awards?
Generally, no. They might have affected what works appeared on the Recommended Works list and could’ve contributed to a work reaching the Preliminary Ballot, but they didn’t have much influence over actual voting which is limited to Active members, who are members with a professional publication history.
3. The preliminary ballot is the product of a “partial jury system,” containing some works recommended by members, and additional works recommended by the jurors. What are examples of problems that cannot be overcome even with the inclusion of a jury?
The two-tiered preliminary ballot system does a good job of eliminating or minimizing the problems that arise in any awards process. The one thing it doesn’t do as well as we would like is inform the perceptions of those who want something to criticize, but who are not involved with the process and so operate off of often-erroneous assumptions about how works land on the ballot.
4. Who helped draft the original Etiquette Rules, and what year did they come into existence?
The etiquette rules have been around since the inception of the awards, added to every year by HWA Member suggestions, the Awards Committee, HWA Officers, and the Board of Trustees. They’ve been fine-tuned and updated by many HWA members over the years.
5. Are these rules enforced? What is the process for detecting and addressing conduct that violates the rules?
The Rules are enforced. It’s understood that breaching them can lead to a work being disqualified or can work against it by creating negative feelings within HWA membership. We often field questions from authors who want to make sure they don’t breach the etiquette. They take it seriously as do the vast majority of our members and non-members presenting their work. Any HWA member can report a violation. Members of the Awards Committee also monitor conduct. Violations are addressed directly with whoever breached the etiquette in accordance with our bylaws. Cases are discussed and resolved by the Committee.
6. The rules emphasize “the difference between promoting and soliciting,” and define the difference between those behaviors. HWA has a lot of infrastructure in its official publications and social media to help members gain exposure for their work without violating the spirit of the rules. Were such provisions as taking ads in publications, and one-time Facebook announcements, added to support the rules, or did HWA do things like that all along?
One-time Facebook announcements and limits on e-mail contact are more recent developments to respond to changing technology and support the rules, but there have always been rules or accepted practices guiding the process. The infrastructure has evolved and become better documented over the years. It’s there to facilitate sharing news with our membership in a positive way. Most of our members follow genre news pretty closely so just promoting work in general often puts it on their radar.
7. In your opinion, is campaigning for a Bram Stoker Award effective? If the answer is yes, is it effective for anyone, or more effective for a subset of authors, and what would distinguish that subset — name recognition, publisher, something else?
It’s not really effective. While all HWA members can recommend works for Stoker consideration, only Active members may vote. A campaign effort that somehow slips past the general membership and the Committee might land a work on the Preliminary Ballot based on the number of recommendations it receives. There it will be one of ten, but very likely the members who recommended it in response to a campaign won’t be voting members (only Active Members with a proven publication history can vote) so those works are very likely to drop off the ballot. There’s no particular subset of authors or works that’s more likely to benefit over another in a campaigning sense. Big name authors, of course, have wider recognition and larger readerships that can help them but that’s different from campaigning. Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates are not campaigning for a
Stoker, but they’re frequently recommended and nominated because a lot of HWA members read them.
8. What was the most recent improvement to the Etiquette Rules? Are there any proposed changes under consideration, and what are they about?
The most recent changes were the rules about posting on Facebook and providing links to works online via an Internet mailer that the HWA compiles and sends to members. An etiquette-related change is that we no longer display the number of recommendations a work has received on an ongoing basis, which removes a temptation for authors to try drumming up more recommendations when other works in the same category get ahead of them. There are no concrete proposed changes on the table right now, but the Committee and HWA officers are always observing the process and discussing refinements. Our membership has grown about threefold in the past eight years, too, so we’re always taking into consideration how that affects the Awards dynamic and looking for ways to improve it.
File 770 thanks the Bram Stoker Awards co-chairs for sharing
The former business manager for Stan Lee has been charged with multiple counts of elder abuse related to the late Marvel icon.
Keya Morgan was charged with multiple counts related to elder abuse, including alleged false imprisonment, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Superior Court told The Hollywood Reporter.
…Last summer, legal representatives for Lee filed for a restraining order against Morgan, which was granted.
… Morgan, who has long been involved in the pop culture memorabilia scene, was one of the subjects of the investigation.
Last month, Morgan pleaded no contest to filing a false police report. He must stay away from Lee’s family and residence, along with completing 100 hours of community service, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office.
(3) NYT BOOK REVIEW ON MCEWAN. The New York Times Book Review’s Tina Gordon
reluctantly reports on the speculative fiction
community’s response to Ian McEwan’s novel and his dismissal of the genre in
The sci-fi community began calling out McEwan’s genre snobbery on Twitter and in opinion pieces. ‘It is as absurd for McEwan to claim he’s not writing sci-fi as it is for him to imply that sci-fi is incapable of approaching these themes interestingly,” said one ‘Alternative history and nonhuman consciousness are established sci-fi motifs.’ Another wrote, ‘Anyone is entitled to try out ideas. What you can’t do is write a detective story and think ‘the butler did it’ is a world-first clever twist.’
As [NYT Book Review’s] Dwight Garner noted in his review of Machines Like Me ‘people are touchy about genre.’ Kurt Vonnegut famously complained that he was ‘a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled ‘science fiction’ … and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal.’ And Harlan Ellison once said, ‘Call me a science fiction writer. I’ll come to your house and I’ll nail your pet’s head to a coffee table. I’ll hit you so hard your ancestors will die.’
…This immensely valuable and entertaining volume — purportedly the first of several — captures for posterity a chronologically delimited slice of the subculture of science-fiction fandom — currently dying or healthy; vanished or extant? — in such a manner that even those folks who have no prior inkling of the subculture — assuming they possess a modicum of curiosity and intelligence — should still be able to completely grok the subject matter and derive amusement and pleasure and wisdom from this richly annotated compilation….
… So just be aware that, for the most part, you will not get rehashed literary battles of the day as fought in the pages of these zines, but rather insights into the amateur press people and their publications themselves….
(5) TRAILER TIME. Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is in theaters
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is a fantasy adventure that picks up several years after “Maleficent,” in which audiences learned of the events that hardened the heart of Disney’s most notorious villain and drove her to curse a baby Princess Aurora. The film continues to explore the complex relationship between the horned fairy and the soon to be Queen as they form new alliances and face new adversaries in their struggle to protect the moors and the magical creatures that reside within.
(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott
Edelman says, “Dare to eat donuts with a dozen horrific creators during the ’StokerCon
Donut Spooktacular’” on his Eating
the Fantastic podcast.
Regular listeners to Eating the Fantastic know that once a year, instead of serving up the usual well-researched one-on-one conversations which make up most of this podcast’s ear candy, I opt for total anarchy, plopping myself down in a heavily trafficked area of a con with a dozen donuts and chatting with anybody who’s game to trade talk for sugar and grease. It’s totally spontaneous, as I never know to whom I’ll speak until they pass by and their eyes light up at the sight of a free donut.
Late Saturday night, I sat down with an assorted dozen from The Donut Conspiracy in Grand Rapids accompanied by the usual sign explaining the setup, and found no shortage of willing guests.
Join us as Michael Bailey describes his novel inspired by a fire which turned his home to ashes in seven minutes, Geoffrey A. Landis shares about the Sherlock Holmes/Jack the Ripper horror story he published in the science fiction magazine Analog, Brian Keene explains why he chose last weekend to finally reappear at an HWA event, Wile E. Young tells why he thinks of the Road Runner whenever a story gets rejected, Anton Cancre reveals which guest that weekend earned most of his squee, and Wesley Southard offers his schtick for selling books when stuck behind a dealers table at a con.
Plus Erik T. Johnson gives an unexpected (but perfectly logical) answer when asked about one of the perks of StokerCon, Patrick Freivald looks back on how his horror career began via a collaboration with his twin brother, Josh Malerman recounts how he replaced readings with full blown Bird Box interactive performances and how an audience of 85-year-olds reacted, Asher Ellis shares how the Stonecoast MFA program made him a better writer, Kennikki Jones-Jones discusses her Final Frame award-winning short film Knock Knock, Eugene Johnson celebrates his Bram Stoker Award win that night for It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life, and much, much more!
(7) DAY OBIT. Her
recordings showed up in episodes of Quantum
Leap and The Simpsons. Steve
Vertlieb writes about “Remembering Doris Day, the ‘Girl Next Door’” who died
Remembering the wondrously youthful, eternally vivacious Doris Day whose infinite flirtation with joy, music, and film ended this morning with her passing at age 97. She will forever remain timeless in our hearts and memories. She was truly everyone’s favorite “girl next door.” While famously private in her personal life, I was fortunate enough to receive a beautiful response from her several years ago when I wrote her of my life long affection for her. It is reproduced here with love, reverence, and respect. Doris Day will forever remain an integral component of my precarious youth, and coming of age. Rest Well, Doris. I shall always love you.
While well-known to the Baby Boomer generation for his comedic work on McHale’s Navy and The Carol Burnett Show, Conway also endeared himself to Millennials and Generation Z, even if they don’t know him by sight. That’s because he voiced the character of Barnacle Boy on SpongeBob, the sailor’s uniform-wearing super-sidekick to Mermaid Man, who was played by Conway’s McHale’s Navy co-star, Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012).
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 14, 1933 — Siân Phillips, 86. Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam in Dune, Cassiopeia in Clash of The Titans, and Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Born May 14, 1944 — George Lucas, 75. He created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchise. (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine. Several Star Wars films are.) and let’s not forget THX 1138.
Born May 14, 1945 — Francesca Annis, 74. Lady Jessica in Dune, Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth.
Born May 14, 1945 — Rob Tapert, 74. I’d say he’s best known for co-creating Xena: Warrior Princess. He also produced and/or wrote several other television series including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, M.A.N.T.I.S. and American Gothic. Tapert also co-created the prequel series Young Hercules which I loved. He’s married to actress Lucy Lawless.
Born May 14, 1952 — Robert Zemeckis, 67. So he’s responsible for some of my favorite films including the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Death Becomes Her. What’s your favorite films that’s he had a hand In?
Born May 14, 1952 — Kathleen Ann Goonan, 67. Her Nanotech Quartet is most particularly the first novel, Queen City Jazz. She’s written an interesting essay on the relationship between sf and music, “Science Fiction and All That Jazz”.
Born May 14, 1961 — Tim Roth, 58. Guildenstern In Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Gary ‘Hutch’ Hutchens in Twin Peaks, plus several one-offs in such genre series as Tales from the Crypt and Theatre Night.
Born May 14, 1965 — Eoin Colfer, 54. He is best known for being the author of the Artemis Fowl series. He wrote the sixth novel of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, entitled And Another Thing…
(10) TONOPAH BID. Kevin
Standlee says his proposed 2021 Westercon won’t have guests of honor and will
have light programming, so he really needs to answer the question “Why Tonopah?”, which he does in this post on the SFSFC
Relaxed: We are currently planning a relatively light schedule of programming, giving our members an expanded opportunity to socialize and to explore the community. Rather than running the members off their feet rushing from item to item and constantly protesting that they seem to need to be in three places at once, we want our members to enjoy themselves without running themselves ragged.
(11) RELATED REVIEWS. Steve
J. Wright has completed his Best Related Work Hugo Finalist reviews
On the night of Jan. 16, Liz O’Sullivan sent a letter she’d been working on for weeks. It was directed at her boss, Matt Zeiler, the founder and CEO of Clarifai, a tech company. “The moment before I hit send and then afterwards, my heart, I could just feel it racing,” she says.
The letter asked: Is our technology going to be used to build weapons?
With little government oversight of the tech industry in the U.S., it’s tech workers themselves who increasingly are raising these ethical questions.
O’Sullivan often describes technology as magic. She’s 34 — from the generation that saw the birth of high-speed Internet, Facebook, Venmo and Uber. “There are companies out there doing things that really look like magic,” she says. “They feel like magic.”
Her story began two years ago, when she started working at Clarifai. She says one of her jobs was to explain the company’s product to customers. It’s visual recognition technology, used by websites to identify nudity and inappropriate content. And doctors use it to spot diseases.
Clarifai was a startup, founded by Zeiler, a young superstar of the tech world. But shortly after O’Sullivan joined, Clarifai got a big break — a government contract, reportedly for millions of dollars.
It was all very secretive. At first, the people assigned to work on the project were in a windowless room, with the glass doors covered.
O’Sullivan would walk by and wonder: What are they doing in there?
An American explorer has found plastic waste on the seafloor while breaking the record for the deepest ever dive.
Victor Vescovo descended nearly 11km (seven miles) to the deepest place in the ocean – the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.
He spent four hours exploring the bottom of the trench in his submersible, built to withstand the immense pressure of the deep.
He found sea creatures, but also found a plastic bag and sweet wrappers.
It is the third time humans have reached the ocean’s extreme depths.
(15) GOOGLE U. During
an exchange about JDA’s lawsuit, Steve Davidson told Adam Rakunas “I went to
the same law school you did,” So Rakunas replied, “Remember
our school’s fight song?”
We’re gonna fill up those search boxes We’re gonna write out those search strings! We’re the Fightin’ Queries of Internet U And we look up all the things!
Oh, we don’t have accreditation And no one gets degrees But that doesn’t stop us from sounding off Go, go, go, Fightin’ Queries!
Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Carl Slaughter,
Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel
Tell us a little about your experience with the Horror Writers Association and how it has influenced your own writing.
SG: I joined the Horror Writers Association when it was Horror Writers of America back around 1992 or so. I was one of the ones, back when we used to hang out on an online platform called “Genie” through the SFF-NET community, that rallied for a name change and we got it. After all, HWA consists of people outside of the United States. After I was a member for a few years, I took over the Canadian Chapter from Edo Van Belkom. I also created the Canadian Content Corner column in the newsletter, which was a tongue-in-cheek nod to Canadian politics at the time. Julianne Snow is handling the column for me this year while I focus on other areas of our chapter.
I began to host monthly meetings and booked booths at Toronto events such as The Word on the Street. As the HWA has evolved, my ability to book more events for our chapter has grown and we do all kinds of events in the Ontario area including Fan Expo and Toronto Comicon.
Tell us a little about your Bram Stoker Award-winning work(s). Inspirations? Influences? Anecdotes about the writing or critical reaction?
RM: I wrote The Evolutionist in Olympia, Washington after moving from Las Vegas where I’d lived for nearly a decade. Writing the story was a catharsis of the time I’d spent in Sin City. I kept thinking about how surreal my life there was, and that there had to be some other reason I’d strayed so far from being the person I knew to be me. In my story, I created external forces beyond my main character’s control for the reasons behind the changes, adding horrific elements and then compounding them, causing her to flee. The most humorous part to me about writing the work was that many of the real experiences written in the book had to be toned down to make them more believable for readers. But that’s Las Vegas life, sometimes what happens there is too outlandish to be true, yet is.
Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?
CD: It’s hard to answer that definitively. We know that women, even nowadays, are often fluffed off in social situations, but I think in the Horror field there is a huge difference. Women are accepted and treated with respect and I think there are just as many women authors that are outstanding as there are men.
Tell us a little about your Bram Stoker Award-winning work(s). Inspirations? Influences? Anecdotes about the writing or critical reaction?
LM:The Gentling Box is set in 19th century Hungary and Romania and is the story of Imre, a half-Rom and Hungarian horse trader who is beset by his mother-in-law, a villainous sorceress named Anyeta who relentlessly pursues him and his family (including her own daughter) by working the powers in a vile charm known as “the hand of the dead.” The crux of the novel is Imre’s own horror at employing a technique to tame wild horses known as “gentling,” which involves a crude form of lobotomy; he has never used it because having seen it as a child, he cannot bear observing the staggering horses in so much distress and pain. Thanks to Anyeta’s machinations, he’s forced to decide whether he’ll have to “gentle” his friends, other members of his troupe and his own wife in order to save their young daughter.
I was influenced by many of Coleridge’s so-called demonic poems, Rom lore, occult practices, and a host of 19th century writers, and am very glad to say the novel was well received by the critics.
The most interesting (for me) anecdote about the book is from the very first time I read aloud from it (which was the flashback to Imre’s first experience as a nine-year old boy observing his own father “gentling” horses), people wanted to know if gentling was a real technique used among Rom horse traders and how I learned of it. This question came up over and over. I think it’s safe to finally reveal at this point, it was completely a product of my own imagination and it was one of the most exciting concepts I ever came up with as far as spurring me to tell this story.
What advice would you give to new female authors looking to break into horror?
MS: Read good stuff. Read a lot of old, a lot of new. Keep the ideas flowing. Join the HWA and volunteer. The Horror University offers courses to help you in whatever is your specific area of interest. As for “breaking into horror”, I’m not sure what difference it makes. You are “breaking in to getting your work published and read”. It would be the same for any field of literature (or entertainment).
Talk about winning the award – how surprised were you? Did winning pay off in any interesting ways?
MA: I was very surprised. I’ll be honest: people at the World Horror Convention told me to my face I wouldn’t win. It was devastating and demoralizing. I knew I had tough competition. I had no illusions about that, but the insensitivity of some folk was jaw dropping. I’d promised my friend David Gerrold that I’d write an acceptance speech. He’d made me promise at dinner one night about a month previous. I’d planned to pen something in my hotel room the afternoon before the event. Instead, I just went to my room and curled up. I was recovering from major foot surgery. So, I wasn’t feeling well to start with, and then that happened.
When it came time for the awards dinner, I decided to drink and have fun. I wasn’t going to win, right? Unfortunately, I drank a wee bit too much. When my name was called, I was in total shock and unprepared to say anything. I wound up talking too long. But you know what? Everyone survived the experience, and apparently I made a favorable impression on certain editors I spoke with later. But I’d have rather not been devastated and just penned a little speech, you know?
Tell us a little about your experience with the Horror Writers Association and how it has influenced your own writing.
ALM: I could never express all the ways the HWA has influenced me as a writer. I’m sure there are even ways I’m unaware of. Here’s just a few that come to mind, in no particular order:
I have found mentors who have taught me both directly and by example how to be a better professional writer—not just how to write better, but also how to behave as a professional, how to market my work, and how to find markets.
I’ve found a group of comrades who understand what it’s like to be a writer and specifically a Horror writer, and that sense of community is invaluable. The feeling of belonging and the encouragement have bolstered me throughout my career.
I have met collaborators through the HWA, with whom I’ve worked on some of the most rewarding projects of my career.
I’ve discovered publishing outlets I wouldn’t have otherwise and have published stories as a result.