Horror Writers Association

Archive for October, 2020 [ 38 ]

Halloween Haunts: When Captain Howdy Visits on Halloween: The History of the Ouija Board

By Lisa Morton

Whenever I tell people that I’ve written a book about séances, the subject of the Ouija board usually comes up very soon. Ouija boards have fascinated us for almost 130 years now; for the price of a board game, they offer us the promise of communicating with spirits in the comfort of our own living rooms. Unlike a more traditional séance, which must be guided by a medium with some experience or skill, anyone with fingers can use a Ouija board.

Ouija boards connect with Halloween in the idea of easing contact with ethereal spirits. Halloween is …

Summer Scares Reading Program

The Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and BookList, has launched a reading program that provides libraries and schools with an annual list of recommended horror titles for adult, young adult (teen), and middle grade readers. The goal is to introduce new authors and help librarians start conversations with readers that will extend beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come.

Each year, a special guest author and a committee of four librarians will select 3 recommended fiction titles in each of 3 reading levels (Middle Grade, Teen, and …

Halloween Haunts: From Birthdays to Doorbells to Arson: Mischief Night

By Kevin Wetmore

My mother’s birthday is October 30.  She told us that when she was growing up her parents would throw a Halloween-themed birthday party. My grandmother would call my mother’s friend Bunny’s father, who ran a bakery, to make a Jack-o-lantern cake decorated with plastic witches on broomsticks holding the candles and all sorts of Halloween themed plastic paraphernalia.  (To me that sounds like Heaven).  As a result, however, my mother does not much care for Halloween, as it required her to share her birthday with a national holiday aimed (at the time) at children and she felt …

Halloween Haunts: The Haunter of the Cul de Sac

By Nancy Holder

Oh, Halloweens of my childhood, those halcyon days when our parents hardly ever supervised us and had no idea of the traumas we underwent in the name of fun—most of the time. How it is that I have teeth and am still alive is a mystery to me given all the perilous adventures I took myself on. Yet here I am, remembering not a terrifying Halloween tale of menace most shambling, but the Halloween season when my father shared in the soaring triumph and ultimate defeat of the robot costume he made for me when I was …

Halloween Haunts: The Hungry Ghost Festival

By Lee Murray & Geneve Flynn

Lee Murray: As a girl, I remember my Kiwi-Chinese mum lighting joss sticks for the spirits of the dead, always three or five slender sticks since those numbers are auspicious. She would hold the sticks in both hands, the tips glowing red, and bow respectfully, before placing the still-burning bamboo on a stand on the windowsill where the aromatic smoke would curl upwards and permeate the kitchen. I loved that smoky scent. And the solemnity of the moment, quiet amid the general busyness of my childhood. It’s a practice that seems out of place …

Halloween Haunts: “You don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps”

by Frazer Lee

In another life, and another time (1998 to be specific) I was hired to work crew for several weeks on a film shoot. The movie production in question was Siamese Cop, which had the awesome logline: ‘Two cops. One jacket’. A low-budget affair (no kidding) the bulk of the shoot was confined to one main location, which would also serve as the production base, equipment store, and – as it turned out – a place to haunt your every waking step.

Friern Barnet Mental Hospital, as it was then known, opened its doors as Colney Hatch …

Halloween Haunts: The Voice and Poe

by Naching T. Kassa


When I think of Halloween, sweet memories come to mind. The scent of caramel apples, the brisk chill of October’s dying breath, horror films flickering on a small screen, and the smooth taste of chocolate on my tongue. These memories are beautiful, but my most favorite is the sound of my dad’s voice reading Edgar Allan Poe.

My father loved Poe. Growing up, he’d read every story, from “The Masque of the Red Death” to “The Gold-Bug.” He also loved the movies, and my first introduction to Poe was through the Roger Corman films starring …

Halloween Haunts: Rising from the Dead

by Chris DiLeo

Every Halloween, my father rose from the dead.

He would wait until his victims were so close there was nowhere they could run, and as those quivering trick-or-treaters’ hands stretched across the open coffin reaching for the individually wrapped Twizzlers splayed across his chest, my father’s eyes would open and he would attack.

My father died when I was eleven. Happened right before my eyes. His hand reached out, fingers trembling, and a crackling moan rattled in his throat. His eyes were wide, frightened, and he stumbled and fell.

He never got up again.

At the funeral …

Halloween Haunts: Can Halloween Be Pandemic Proof?

By Pamela K. Kinney


I always loved Halloween. When people asked me as a child what my favorite holiday was, I knew they expected to hear it was Christmas. I mean, Christmas is Santa Claus, gifts, and other things that excite a kid on this holiday–right?

But no, I always answered, “Halloween.”

Their mouth would drop open, same as did some of my childhood friends. But there was something about Halloween growing up in the Sixties, when in October they brought out the wax Halloween harmonicas, wax vampire lips, and cardboard skeletons and cats to hand on your windows.…

Halloween Haunts: Dive Bombed in a Nightmare

by Damian Serbu

Halloween often brings to mind memories of past frights and haunts. As a horror writer, I find myself drawn to moments that scared the crap out of me, so I can relive the intense thrill and ponder anew its meaning. I am not talking about actual-horrific events that I experienced in life, but false alarms or watching a horror movie or going to a haunted house. Something frightening without a real threat of violence to myself.

This summer’s publication of The Bachmann Family Secret and the arrival of October has me thinking about one particular recurring nightmare …

Halloween Haunts: Thank You, Horror

by Tom Leveen


The thing is, the non-readers of horror don’t get it. They don’t get our attraction to the darkness, to the monstrous. They don’t get that we, more than they, are attuned to the human condition. To mortality and disease and the unfairness of monsters in our midst.

They don’t get that that’s why we write it, why we read it. It’s our inoculation. It’s our telescope and microscope, making the distant loom large and the subtle come to life so that we can study it and, perhaps, sublimate it.

We are healthier and stronger for it. …

Halloween Haunts: Everybody is a Book of Blood

By B.R. Yeager


Each October, we immersive ourselves in narrative. Yes, yes—those classic and cult films, those new and beloved books. I don’t need to tell you. Search “best Halloween movies” and Google spits out 186 listicles before asking you to be more specific. Search “best Halloween books” and you get roughly the same result. But an important aspect of this month gets neglected: narratives come unglued from consumerist machinery to spill out into the rest of life.

We tell each other stories.

One particular house in my neighborhood sticks out: it’s an average bungalow, apart from a large …

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