The Horror Writers Association (HWA) was formed in 1985 by Joe Lansdale, Karen Lansdale, and Robert McCammon, to promote awareness of horror literature. Within a year the organisation had added its first president, Dean Koontz, and in 1987 it inaugurated the Bram Stoker Awards®, the highest recognition for writing in the horror genre. Although the organisation was begun under the acronym HOWL (for Horror/Occult Writers League), it quickly changed its name to the Horror Writers of America. In 1993, however, the name was legally changed to Horror Writers Association, to indicate HWA’s desire to expand internationally.

Over the next few decades, HWA continued to grow and change. By 2015, the organisation boasted over 1300 members, including authors, editors, agents, publishers, academics, librarians, booksellers, teachers, and fans. The Bram Stoker Awards, now presented in eleven categories, have continued to gain prestige. HWA has published over a dozen members-only anthologies, including the hit Pocket Books series Blood LIte (edited by Kevin J. Anderson) and the non-fiction guidebook On Writing Horror (edited by Mort Castle), now in a second edition.

HWA’s Presidents – who have included Brian Lumley, Dennis Etchison, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Richard Laymon, Charles L. Grant, Gary Braunbeck, and Rocky Wood – have continued to broaden HWA’s programs and benefits. In addition to receiving its acclaimed monthly newsletter, HWA members can also submit to the exclusive anthologies (which most recently included the forthcoming young adult-themed Scary Out There, edited by Jonathan Maberry and published by Simon and Schuster), access to a Grievance Committee that can assist in resolving disputes with publishers, a Hardship Fund that offers low-interest loans during times of financial crisis, the ability to take part in such major events as BookExpo, discount tickets for its own yearly StokerCon, access to model contracts and lists of agents and reviewers, free access to the American Library Association’s United for Libraries program (which pairs writers with local libraries as speakers and readers), and access to HWA’s Mentorship program, which offers newer writers the opportunity to work in a one-on-one relationship with an established professional. HWA’s Active members – professional writers who’ve met established levels of success – may also vote on the Bram Stoker Awards and in officer and bylaw elections. All members may recommend works for the Bram Stoker Awards, and those recommendations appear on a public reading list. HWA also presents annual Lifetime Achievement Awards to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the horror genre; recent recipients have included Tanith Lee, Stephen Jones, Jack Ketchum, R. L. Stine, and Clive Barker. Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are chosen by a jury selected by HWA’s President, and are invited to attend the yearly Bram Stoker Awards presentation.

One of HWA’s main goals is to see its regional chapters continue to form and grow. Chapters not only offer members the chance to interact directly on a local level, but also represent the organisation at events including book festivals, genre conventions, and trade shows. HWA’s chapters arrange appearances at dozens of events every year, providing members with many ways of promoting both the genre and their own works. Recent events chapters have participated in have included the LA Times Festival of Books, the New York ComicCon, Toronto’s Word on the Street, and the annual AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) Conference. HWA also sponsors workshops, guest speakers, and even parties for its chapters.
For more information on joining HWA, please visit http://horror.org/joining-the-hwa/.