Horror Writers Association

Halloween [ 411 ]

SALE! Special Ad Rate Extended for the HWA Newsletter

SALE! Special Ad Rate Extended for the HWA Newsletter

The HWA Newsletter is offering a special rate on full-page ads for the rest of 2021! All issues are jam-packed with lots of goodies (columns, special articles, puzzles, photos, artwork, poems), so you don’t want to miss out on advertising in it!

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Halloween Haunts: Real Life Halloween Candymen by Sumiko Saulson

If you have read Clive Barker’s “Forbidden” or seen either of the Candyman movies, you know that one of gut-wrenching images in the story is that of razorblades buried in candy. Director Nia DaCosta uses that imagery to particularly disturbing effect in Candyman (2021), the body horror special effects masterpiece that earned her a place in history as the first Black woman director of a #1 Box Office smash.

The movie has impressive horror writing chops. DaCosta co-wrote it with Win Rosenfeld and two-time Bram Stoker Award winner Jordan Peele, who picked up the award for Best Screenplay …

Halloween Haunts: Full Circle Halloween by Yvonne Navarro

When I was a kid…

You know what the first thought that popped into my head was when I typed that?

“Get off my lawn!”

Which is not at all where I want this to go.

In Chicago, in the 1960s and 1970s—there, I’ve dated myself and so what—kids used to go trick-or-treating pretty much fearless. Late into the night, too—I remember knocking on doors at close to ten p.m. (and yeah, the adults who opened were pretty grumpy). The year to year weather was varied: if Halloween fell on a Saturday or Sunday, you could be laughing and running …

Halloween Haunts: The October Blues by Amaris J. Gagnon

October was here and Halloween was right around the corner. Fall time was my favorite season because I loved all things spooky and horror. I was fourteen and right at the edge of when kids stop going trick or treating. As an eighth-grader, I noticed my friends wanting to wear more revealing costumes. I guess it wasn’t cool to dress up as vampires or ghosts anymore. The more cleavage the better and the higher you could roll up your skirt the more Myspace comments you got.

Things were tough at home. My mother had lost her job and my father’s …

Halloween Haunts: Halloween Goal by Sèphera Girón

Halloween is always a fun time for horror lovers whether you’re a creator or a consumer or both.

This Halloween may be a bit different where you are because many parts of the world are still in a pandemic or lockdown or just coming out of one and so on. And of course, many parts of the world don’t celebrate Halloween.

This Halloween, try doing some self-care in-between all the festivities, if you are able to get to any.

Halloween night instead of being sad you still can’t go clubbing or dancing or attend a giant Halloween party or even …

Halloween Haunts: Beneath the Tortured Willow by Lee Murray, Geneve Flynn, Angela Yuriko Smith, and Christina Sng

On the edge of the village, beneath the gravid leaves of a tortured willow, I gather with my sisters, Geneve Flynn, Angela Yuriko Smith, and Christina Sng, on the eve of Halloween. When the village is quiet, its inhabitants slumbering in their beds, I stoke our campfire with a stick, stirring up sparks in the darkness.

“Shall we begin?” I whisper.

My sisters nod, shuffling closer to the fire.

“I have a ghost story to tell you,” Angela says. “I was about 12 years old, and my family was moving from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Bethesda, Maryland. As all this moving …

Halloween Haunts: Writing Horror When You’ve Lived in a Haunted a House by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

The first house I ever owned was haunted. I don’t say this to be dramatic; it’s simple truth. It was a brick “trinity-style” town home in Center City Philadelphia that was built in 1832. It still had its original floorboards and windows, there was a fireplace in every room, and the spot where the old outhouse used to be caved in while we lived there.

Many people died in that house. And the ghosts who remained had an affinity for classical music.

It was 2004 when we moved in. We were planning our wedding, and I had purchased a CD …

Halloween Haunts: A TIC-TACKING RITE OF PASSAGE by A.G. Mock

It was 1978—Friday, October 13th to be precise—when I was finally old enough to stay home alone while my parents went out to dinner and a movie. Or more likely, while they went disco dancing with my aunt and uncle who lived next door. You see, the four had been practicing their grooviest dance moves in the basement every Wednesday for months, the beat of “Night Fever” or “Jive Talkin’” barely stifled by the closed door. This would also be accompanied by the sound of poorly executed dance steps scuffing awkwardly across the unfinished cement floor.

(I once made the …

Halloween Haunts: Magic Pumpkins by Chris DiLeo

My father brought in the victims, two at a time, extra large and heavy.

Pumpkins. Soon-to-be jack-o’-lanterns.

He was an encyclopedia editor, a quiet man who worked tediously at his desk, books stacked around him in fortress walls, a green banker’s lamp pooling light. He was equally methodical and tedious when carving pumpkins. He worked slowly, laboriously, hands careful, eyes focused behind his bifocals.

He penciled faces on the pumpkins, used a ruler to make the isosceles triangle eyes and nose and the teeth, too, of course.

When he took up the large carving knife, the same one used to …


I lead children into houses of horror. I advise them against touching monkeys’ paws. But I urge them to listen to heartbeats thump-thump-thumping beneath the floor.

I’ve taught middle school students for sixteen years now, and I love diving into tales of the macabre with them. From what I can tell, they also enjoy our treks into darkness. Eighth-graders seem eager to consume the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, in particular. Kids nowhere near old enough to imbibe Amontillado drink in the dread that’s developing inside Poe’s musty Italian catacombs. Heck, a malformed vulture’s eye is probably sometimes more palatable …

Halloween Haunts: Halloween’s Own Candyman by E.V. Knight

When I was a kid, my mom always went with us trick or treating and only to our friends’ and family’s home. Why? Because who knows what evils could be lurking within the chocolate of a fun size snickers bar and because the lines at the ER where the police set up free candy X-rays were massive time suckers at the end of a rather exhausting evening.

I always imagined some nefarious witch or creepy old man sneaking razorblades and pins into candy bars. Sitting at their workshop bench, wearing a watchmaker’s loupe so after embedding the torture device and …


Long before my Lily Wong thrillers hit the bookstores, I was possessed by a dark tale of Brazilian magic. An immortal trickster, a California artist plagued by voices, a mixed-race beauty cast out from her family, and Serafina Olegario, a desperate mother who rises from the slums of Brazil to become a fearsome Quimbanda priestess. Their forty-year saga, across three continents and a past incident in 1560 France, channeled through my mind and fingers into a screenplay and many evolutions of a novel before it finally found a home. Serafina lured me into the darkness, bound me with supernatural, psychological, …

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