First off, let me assure everyone that this message comes with no trauma or drama attached. It’s all positive, even celebratory!
As some of you know, I was hesitant about taking on a third term as HWA’s President; it didn’t seem like the best idea for either the organization or me. I believe organizations benefit from fresh blood at the helm, and I’ve put my writing career on hold too often for too long.
However, in the end, the decision was made for me because no other candidates for the office came forward last year. At that point, I could either take on the office again, or refuse and let the organization founder. I chose the former.
A few months ago, I was chatting with Vice-President John Palisano when he mentioned that he thought he’d enjoy being HWA’s President someday. My response was something like, “How soon do you want someday to come?”
We began discussing John taking over the office, and both realized we were ready.
I’m therefore announcing that, effective May 11, I will be stepping down as HWA’s President, to be replaced immediately by John Palisano. We chose that date since it comes during StokerCon™ 2019, and is the evening when the 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® will be presented. At the conclusion of that presentation, I hope you’ll all join me in welcoming HWA’s new President, John Palisano.
I think John’s leadership will be tremendously beneficial to the organization. Not only is John a talented, smart, compassionate, and just plain decent person, he has also been a crucial part of many of our best projects over the last few years. I have been working with him behind the scenes to make sure he’s acquainted with all of our various dealings and projects, and I have the utmost faith in his abilities.
I also want to assure everyone that I will still be working in the background on HWA projects. I enjoy overseeing our peripheral Web sites like http://www.horrorscholarships.com and http://www.thebramstokerawards.com, and I will continue to work with John and HWA’s agent Alec Shane to create new anthologies for the members. I will also, of course, be there to advise John if he needs it … but I doubt that he will.
I am greatly honored by the support all of you have provided since I first took over as President in 2014, and I’m extraordinarily proud of everything we’ve accomplished together since then, including the following: increased educational opportunities; commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in both the HWA and the genre; the establishment and growth of new chapters, especially those in Italy and the U.K.; more support for our academics, who bring such insight to the genre; acclaimed anthologies that have provided members with fine new publishing credits; a fine new online writing workshop; a competition for short horror films that’s now highly regarded; the creation of the first Web site devoted entirely to our awards; and, of course, the new tradition of StokerCon, the premier annual gathering for fans and authors of dark fiction. I will always be grateful to all of the other officers, Trustees, and volunteers who have made all of these fantastic initiatives possible…but it’s time for me to turn more of my attention to my own writing work.
I’m excited to see where John takes the organization! Long live horror.
And From John Palisano
Many years ago, becoming a member of the HWA Trustee Board meant the world to me. It was my first act of official service to an organization that had given me so much as both a writer and as a person.
Lisa Morton and I worked hard to relaunch the Los Angeles Chapter, and, within that period of growth, I learned a good deal. As we grew from four or five of us on a couch at the Iliad Bookstore in North Hollywood, it became clear to me we’d need to learn how to work with our ever-growing crowd. We moved to the Cahuenga General Store. Again, this created a need inside of me to figure out who and what I was to this group of creatives.
Steven Booth took me to a long lunch at Jerry’s Deli in Studio City. He gave me a mini-lesson in what I was doing wrong, and what I was doing right. I’ll always be grateful.
That evening as I meditated on our discussion, I decided that one of my big focuses would be to never forget that the people coming to our meetings had laid out good, hard-earned money to be there. They’d traveled far, in some cases. We had to respect their time. But how? We had to make it worth it to them. We had to make sure they were getting their time and money’s worth.
And that’s been my bottom line ever since. I’ve carried it over to the Mothership HWA and any of my duties there as I moved into the Vice-Presidency. I’m here to help others, first and foremost. This organization should be there first for its members.
So, when I make a choice on any number of things, the choice for me always centers around respecting our members paying their dues and spending time with us.
I’ve worked alongside former presidents Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton, so you can expect me to have similar ideals, and also I will accord the same respect to our members. Like Rocky and Lisa, I will keep my door open. Come talk to me. We listen. I listen.
We have so many new initiatives designed to make the HWA a place for many voices. We have an amazing place at the table for our ever-growing friends in worldwide libraries. We have a committee exploring diversity on many levels with the Seers Table. Our screenwriters are being given more and more opportunities, none more so visible than the Final Frame Film Festival. The Poetry Showcase has been a steady platform for many of our poets. Academics are here with us, too, with the Ann Radcliffe conference and upcoming books.
There are so many positive initiatives, I’d be here forever listing them all.
And there are many more to come, and many initiated by our members, I’ll have you know.
Because the HWA has grown and changed, and will continue to grow and change, as does the publishing world, and the world at large.
It’s my highest honor to lead the charge through this next chapter of HWA history.