Horror Writers Association Blog

HWA's Haunted Nights

Our latest anthology is getting rave reviews! Features 16 brand new stories about Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, All Souls' Day, and other celebrations of the darkest season.

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Bram Stoker Award® Winners Announced

Bram Stoker Award® Winners Announced

Scary Out There with Screamin Calhoun

Scary Out There with Screamin Calhoun

Horror in the Headlines: Using the News for Novel Ideas

Horror in the Headlines: Using the News for Novel Ideas


Recent Posts

“Cheap Plastic Costumes and My Imagination” By Damian Serbu

As a professionally trained historian come horror writer, I recently reflected on my childhood and what created the writer inside of me. I concluded that some of the imagination that inspired that writer stemmed from my Halloween experiences as a child. So many horror fans loved Halloween growing up, and I was no exception. I thrilled at finding my costume, putting it on that night, and transforming myself into another being, thrusting myself into another reality, with the trick-or-treating as almost an afterthought.

Except, instead of having the time and means to create a fantastical costume and generate a look …

“The Late, Great Halloween Costume Massacre” By Maria Alexander

September 1976

Los Angeles, CA


“Sit down, girls. We’ve got something serious to talk about.”

My younger sister and I sit cross-legged on the scratchy brown carpet of our tiny apartment as Mom and Dad sit on the couch. Barely four years old, my sister Danielle yanks on the hair of her doll as she alternately slams it against the floor to what is surely the dismay of our new downstairs neighbors. I sit upright and listen. My mom’s normally moon-like face darkens as she speaks. My father slumps backward, reading his newspaper. I’m just grateful he isn’t screaming, …

“New Orleans Halloween Traditions” By Alexandrea Weis

The blending of cultures in New Orleans has left a myriad of different traditions ingrained in the eccentric psyche of the city. Perhaps the most profound occur around Halloween where the Catholic, Voodoo, Irish, and French influences converge. Celebrations for the dead begin days before the fall of Halloween. We have events such as the Day of the Dead Parade, numerous cemetery festivals, haunted houses, costume balls, and ghost tours to mark the creepiest day of the year. However, it’s the quieter and older traditions that are not as well known to outsiders.

The most sacred day in the city …

“The Spirit of Samhain” By David Sharp

Passing through the cemetery gates, I felt a strange calm juxtaposing to the hyperactivity of the city streets. The graveyard surpassed my expectations. It was huge — a vast expanse dating back hundreds of years. Autumn made itself known through a change in the air, a crispness, a different light from the overcast sky. This is the season of the witch, leading up to All Hallow’s Eve — once known as Samhain from the forgotten rites. All of my life I have been drawn to this time of year. The path underfoot was wide and lined with tombs. Leaves were …

“Falling In Love: The Second Most Terrifying Thing to Happen On Halloween” By Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall

Twenty years ago on Oct. 31, we decided to get married and start writing horror together — it was a monstrous decision.

We officially became engaged on a blustery Halloween night 20 years ago. Clark was dressed as the devil on vacation. Maps in hand, horns out, leisure shirt on. Kathleen was a zombie fairy. Glitter, tutu, bloodied face.

It seemed fitting for two people raised on a steady diet of H.P. Lovecraft and Gothic romances set on windswept moors, two people with minds quick to turn to dark and morbid thoughts, to pledge undying love on a night when …

“Truth, Fiction, or Both? Confessions of a Horror Writer” By Howard Odentz

Writers write what we know. Even if we’re writing about ghosts, or monsters, or the disturbing woman with a peeping Tom fetish who lives two blocks away and only walks in the middle of the night wearing elbow lights, our best stories always carry a grain of truth.

I’m no different.

I often use my past experiences in my stories. Sometimes I even use yours if what you’ve told me in passing is interesting, bizarre, or even humorous enough to weave into one of my tales.

My newest novel, WHAT WE KILL, premiering on the very appropriate Friday the 13…

“All Messed Up” By David Ghilardi

A hippy was standing out by the back gate. He seemed drunk, looking thru trash. I ignored him.

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”

“Stop teasing, Johnny.”

I glanced at our black and white television. The nerds were still in the cemetery.

Even though stern adult voices warned that ‘images were intense’ and admonished ‘younger viewers should leave the room’, not much was happening. The music was creepy, sure. But I’d seen worse from Vietnam War newscasts. That Walter Cronkite guy’s voice gave me the willies. Swiveling in my jammies towards the yard, the vagrant there had not moved. Looked …

“How to Overcome the Horror of Writing” By John Allen

When I received the HWA mailer asking members to contribute for Halloween I knew immediately what I wanted to write about. I wanted to share something that would help other new horror authors trying to get their stories polished and published.

Horror I feel scares some readers away and often gets confused with other genres. When I told a colleague I had written a horror novel, she wrinkled her nose up and said ‘I hate horror! I hate being scared.’ Obviously not my target audience. I’ve then read books that market themselves as ‘dark fantasy’ or ‘dystopian fantasy’ when they …

“The Angry Woman” By Marlena Frank

Back before Katrina dumped the Gulf on top of New Orleans, my sister and I decided to celebrate Halloween on Bourbon Street. We met up with four of our online friends who we had never met or spoken to outside of chat windows. This was at a time of pagers and pay phones, so it was a little nerve-wracking. Fortunately they were all awesome people, and we talked just as easily in person as we did online. We picked up our bags at the Louis Armstrong International Airport and drove down to see the hotel owner.

You see, we were …

“Who Says They Can Ban Halloween? By David B. Riley

They say you never really believe in ghosts until you’ve encountered one. Two Halloweens ago I was working in Vail, Colorado at a hotel. I worked graveyard shift. October tended to be a dead month.  There was very little going on and all thoughts were on the approaching ski season. They kept the place open, but most of the daytime staff were doing cleaning and maintenance type duties to get everything ready for winter. So, I worked on night reports and posted what few special charges there were and set about generally being bored.

I was particularly in a sour …

“The Time Halloween Almost Didn’t Come” By Charie D. La Marr

As news of Hurricane Sandy grew in the days leading up to Halloween, 2012, those of us who love Halloween were torn. More and more, it seemed like New York was going to take a major hit. It couldn’t have been coming at a worse time of the month—it would be a full moon and major surges in the tides would only make things worse

As we began our preparations, down came the Halloween decorations. One by one, houses took down the tombstones on their lawns, the ghosts and witches flying in the trees and the bright orange and purple …

“Horror for Tweens” By Kristina Stancil

Traditional or normal are words that I would not use in descriptions of my family.  Examples of when we are not normal include a certain family member who will watch Christmas movies eleven months out of the year but refuses to watch between Thanksgiving and New Years and the fact that the only thing that was ever censored from my viewing growing up was sexually explicit content.  So yes, 90% of Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and all of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Children of the Corn was all watched by little me before I was in second grade.…

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