THE HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION (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. 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. 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 the oldest and most respected professional organization for the much-loved writers who have brought you the most enjoyable sleepless nights of your life.
One of HWA’s missions is to encourage public interest in and foster an appreciation of good Horror and Dark Fantasy literature. To that end, they offer a website, sponsor or take part in occasional public readings and lectures, publish a blog and produce other materials for booksellers and librarians, facilitate readings and signings by horror writers, and maintain an official presence at the major fan-based horror and fantasy conventions, as well as host the annual StokerCon.
HWA is also dedicated to recognizing and promoting diversity in the horror genre and practices a strict anti-harassment policy at all of its events. As part of their core mission, they sponsor the annual Bram Stoker Awards® for superior achievement in horror literature. Named in honor of the author of the seminal horror novel Dracula, the Bram Stoker Awards® are presented for superior writing in eleven categories including traditional fiction of various lengths, poetry, screenwriting, graphic novels, young adult, and non-fiction. In addition, HWA presents an annual Lifetime Achievement Award to a living person who has made significant contributions to the writing of Horror and Dark Fantasy over the course of a lifetime.
Brad C. Hodson is the Administrator for the Horror Writers Association. He handles the day to day operations and serves as the primary point of contact for current and aspiring members. An award-winning novelist and screenwriter, he’s excited to have a film adaptation of his first novel “Darling” currently in production. NBC-Universal also recently optioned his upcoming mystery novel “The Mud Angel” for television.
Brad recently discussed his projects, his involvement with the Horror Writers Association and more via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM) of Entertainment Vine: How did you initially get interested in horror and how did do first hear about the Horror Writers Association?
Brad C. Hodson (BCH): I’ve been interested in horror since I was a kid. My grandmother used to tell us the Appalachian ghost stories she grew up with and, between that and the old movies played constantly on my babysitter Cable TV, it got its hooks in. There were some tragedies, too, that probably had me thinking about death more than other kids that young, but that’s the type of insight you can only gleam when looking back.
As for the Horror Writers Association, I don’t remember exactly where I did first hear about the organization. I do remember my first exposure to it. We had just moved to Los Angeles and happened to live around the corner from current HWA President (and then Treasurer) Lisa Morton. She was in the midst of putting together that year’s Bram Stoker Awards ceremony and I volunteered to help where I could. I never left. That was nine years ago now, I think.
MM: You are a published author, so what are your stories about and what inspires you?
BCH: I write all over the map. My background is actually comedy, and I sway a bit into mysteries and what the tweed-jacket types would call “literary.” But when it comes to novels and short stories, horror is my first love. I tend to go more for what folks now call “quiet horror.” Anything atmospheric and character driven. Ghost stories are something I return to more often than not, even if the reader might not recognize them as that. I do get grizzly from time to time, and at least attempt innovation, but I can’t deny my love affair with the Gothic. If there’s mist, cold drizzling rain, and a dark abandoned building, then I feel like I’ve come home.
Speaking of home, those Appalachian tales are definitely in the DNA of much of my work. My first novel “Darling” is a horror novel set in East Tennessee that, in many ways, is as much about the act of storytelling itself as it is a ghost story. A heavily revised version of that book is now available on Audible as well, for you audiophiles.
I love to travel and that often makes its way into my work. My upcoming novel, “The Mud Angel,” takes place in Florence during the 1966 flooding of the Arno River. It’s a mystery at its core, but there’s a healthy dose of the Gothic and a very Jamesian supernatural presence throughout.
I just mailed a new manuscript off to my agent this morning. It’s a little more comedic and less Gothic than my other books. It’s an expansion of a novella published last year, a Jazz Age murder mystery about a professional debunker of the Spiritualist movement. I’m really looking forward to that one being released into the wild.
MM: Your books are being turned into screenplays so how did that come about?
BCH: In a nutshell, I’ve been in Los Angeles long enough to have built up a network of people looking for material. I’ve written some original screenplays, as well as done some uncredited rewrite work for films, and I’m always pitching something. What’s nice in the film industry right now is that everyone is looking for intellectual property (or simply IP if you’re into the whole brevity thing). A book or a short story will get read much easier than an original screenplay. So, I just get as much of my material out there as I can. One book was recently optioned for television and that happened in a sort of “six degrees of separation” kind of way, where the right person picked it up from someone else’s shelf while waiting for a meeting and couldn’t put it down. The person I had actually originally pitched it to had never so much as read a page of it.
MM: Do you think your involvement in Horror Writers Association influenced your successes at all?
BCH: Absolutely. Not only have I made talented friends through the organization, I’ve met some fantastic mentors as well. I’ve received job opportunities I never would have – including the one for Administrator of the HWA – and submitted work to agents, editors, and even landed a video game gig all through the org. I even met my agent at an HWA function. That’s not even getting into the resources that have helped both my craft and the understanding of the business end of this whole writing thing. Writing is a hard career to navigate. If I’d never joined the HWA, I would not have even the modest successes I’ve had now.
MM: How did you start working for Horror Writers Association and what services do they offer that you find especially useful and/or rewarding?
BCH: I had volunteered enough with the HWA that, when the previous Administrator stepped down, I was offered the job to replace him. The organization was much smaller then and the job was only part time. As we grew from 300 members to 1500, the backend administration required much more work and I became full-time. It’s been great for me as, since 90% of my work is from my home computer, I’ve gotten to spend more time with my kids and travel back east to help my family.
As for the services the HWA offers… There are so many! It’s hard to narrow it down. The Mentor Program is a fantastic one for new writers. It pairs a writer wanting to improve with a seasoned professional. Those relationships tend to outlast the length of the mentorship, too, which I think is wonderful. The HWA also has multiple scholarships available, which awards a not-insignificant amount of money to a handful of writers every year. This is separate from our Hardship Fund, which allows members in need to take out a loan for unexpected emergencies.
The HWA also creates its own anthologies, as well as being a hub for Editors, Producers, and Video Game companies to post calls for work. I’ve paid more than a few bills from writing work I’ve landed by being an HWA member.
MM: About how many members do you have at present and what does the membership process entail?
BCH: We currently have about 1300 members from around the globe. The membership process is pretty easy. A prospective member just needs to fill out the application at http://horror.org/applying-for-membership/ and pay their dues (pro-rated throughout the year). The Membership Committee then reviews their qualifications to decide what membership level they would best fit into. We’ve expanded our membership levels over the years and now our membership includes professional writers in all mediums, Academics, agents and editors, and aspiring writers who have yet to publish a story.
MM: What do you wish more people knew about Horror Writers Association?
BCH: That we’re an organization dedicated to horror of all stripes in any country. The HWA was once called something like Horror Writers of America (this was before my time) and people still perceive it that way. Today, we have members from 27 different countries. Our chapters in the UK and Italy are both large and constantly holding and attending events. Our UK Chapter will even be hosting StokerCon (our annual convention) in 2020. We would love more members from underrepresented areas so that we can continue bringing horror writers and fans together around the globe.
We also used to be focused almost solely on short fiction, novels, and poetry. That has expanded over the years to cover almost every medium. We have members now who come to us from comic books, film, television, video games, tabletop roleplaying games, and more. With those members, we also get to offer more resources for writers currently working in or wanting to expand to those mediums. We have some wonderful initiatives scheduled to better offer programs for writers in those mediums as well. I love this because, as someone who writes for both prose and screen, there is a great opportunity here for authors to bridge those gaps and get their work in front of other people, while also introducing people in those mediums to the fantastic work that’s being done outside their bubbles. I’m excited to see where that takes us in the next few years.
MM: In what ways do you think the Horror Writers Association would expand and/or evolve their services?
BCH: I’ve mentioned a few above, but there are also some other items in development. I hesitate to talk about them yet, and I’m not directly involved in many of them. But one thing I think I’m okay talking about is Horror University. Horror U is a series of workshops hosted by bestselling authors, screenwriters, poets, and what have you. These workshops are intensives that help improve the craft of writing or teach about certain business or financial aspects. They’re typically held at StokerCon and have been incredibly successful. So much so that we’re planning to offer online workshops to our members year-round. This is something that I’m definitely itching to take advantage of.
MM: What opportunities and experiences has being involved with Horror Writers Association provided you?
BCH: I mentioned before the various work opportunities I’ve had through the org. What I just kind of brushed over, though, are the friendships you make. I’ve met some truly wonderful people working in the HWA, people who have helped me with both writing and just life itself. These are the kinds of friendships that you know you’ll have for the rest of your life.
Writing can be lonely work. And the horror genre carries a stigma for some people (unfairly, I might add), so that loneliness gets compounded. Being able to talk shop with others is a huge benefit for me and keeps me sane.
MM: What are your biggest goals for the future and what is coming up soon that you’re excited about?
BCH: As I said, I’m very excited about the book I just finished. I also have a few film and TV projects that are in development based on my work. One film (“Darling,” based on my novel) starts shooting this fall, another is currently casting in the UK, and then the TV show based on my book I mentioned is in development at a major studio. That last one is probably what I’m most excited about, both because of the scale and because I just love that book. It’s one of those rare things you finish and yet still can’t get out of your mind. I can’t wait for it to be published, either. Now I just have to decide what to write next!
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
BCH: StokerCon 2019! If you’re a writer or even just interested in horror, you should attend the convention. Guests include the director Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars, The New Mutants) and award-winning authors like Robert McCammon, Kathe Koja, and Josh Malerman. Horror University is back, as well as the Final Frame Short Film Competition. For more info, check out http://stokercon2019.org/
Also, while I’ve got your attention, I’d like to point folks to the great work that the Cancer Research Institute does. I’ve been personally impacted by the Big C and lost more than a few loved ones to it in the last few years. The horror writing community has also lost some of its brightest talents to the disease. If you have an extra $5, think about donating to https://www.cancerresearch.org
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To learn more about the Horror Writers Association, visit their official website.