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Saturday, October 7, 2017

31 Days of Horror: Day 7-- Guest Post by JG Faherty, Author and HWA Library Rep

I am an active member and volunteer for the Horror Writers Association, and although I am a professional member [as a writer of nonfiction about horror], I am very proud of the fact that the HWA actively courts library workers to join as members. They truly crave and appreciate our participation.

Each year I invite JG Faherty, Library & Literacy Program Director for HWA to tell you why you should know about everything the HWA provides for you, the library worker, for free but also, to encourage you to join.

Also, stay tuned because later this month I will have a special announcement about my involvement in some HWA-Library events.

But first, here’s JG Faherty...

Libraries & Horror Writers – The Perfect Match Any Season

By JG Faherty, Library & Literacy Program Director, Horror Writers Association

Writers and libraries go hand-in-hand, that’s no secret. So many writers talk about how their first exposure to books was through the local public or school library. And we all know that kids, teens, and even a fair share of adults love horror. There’s something about the spooky, the dark, the suspenseful, the spine-tingling, and yes, sometimes even the gory that attracts people. Maybe it’s escape from the horrors of the world, or a way to make themselves feel better about their own lives. Or perhaps they just enjoy being kept on the edge of their seats for a few hours. Whatever the reason, horror is popular, and it’s an excellent tool for libraries to use to get kids and adults to read more.

Since 2011, I’ve overseen the Library & Literacy program for the Horror Writers Association (HWA), an international organization comprised of more than 1,000 dark fiction writers who all have two things in common: we love to write stories, and we want more people to read. Which is great for libraries, because you all love to read and recommend good stories, and get more people to read!

Over the past six years, I and my volunteers have worked to create a variety of programs in conjunction with local libraries and library organizations, including the ALA and United for Libraries, focused on not only increasing readership among children, teens, and adults, but also developing new writers.

The most recent of these is our Young Adults Write Now program, which provides five stipends of $500 each year for libraries to develop and run genre writing programs for teens. This is a national program open to any public library. (Hint, hint – we urge you to sign up!)

But that’s not the only benefit for libraries of being involved with the HWA. Libraries can visit our website, which has a library-oriented page (www.horror.org/libraries/) where there are links to all sorts of useful information, such as our annual reading list, the Young Adults Write Now entry form and rules, past winners of our annual Bram Stoker Awards for superior achievement in horror, and much more.

And it doesn’t stop there! Librarians can join the HWA (there are a range of other benefits), in our Associate class. Please check out this page for more information: http://horror.org/joining-the-hwa/. We will make you welcome! 

What can libraries get from joining? Well, let’s take a look at some of our present and past programming geared specifically toward libraries and their patrons:

1. Listings of new releases from not only the big publishing houses but also the small press. There is a world of horror, including dark fiction, urban fantasy, YA, dark science fiction, dark fantasy, paranormal romance, dystopian, and more, that most libraries never are made aware of. Want to triple what you can offer your readers who love a good scare or thrive on suspense? Check out our lists!

2. Author events. In-library readings, presentations on creative writing, book signings, Skype interviews and presentations, holiday guest appearances – whatever you’re looking for, there’s bound to be an author or three near you who’s willing to offer their services. We have a database of authors by region that libraries can use to find local writers, and as partners with United for Libraries, our members are available through their database as well. 

3. Annual conventions with panels and educational programming. Members and non-members are all encouraged to attend our annual StokerCon event, which includes an entire day of programming for libraries as well as panels and classes throughout the weekend for writers. Topics include writer-library partnerships, current trends in fiction, horror non-fiction, and more. There are also book signings, giveaways, and special guest author meet-n-greets. Imagine all the new books and writers you’ll discover!

4. Dark Whispers. This is our popular horror-themed blog, which members can access. Our website (horror.org) also has pages devoted to young adult works and trends, plus special items such as our annual Halloween Haunts blog, with writerly musings and excerpts of upcoming works from our members.

I could go on, but you get the idea. The HWA is always looking to expand our outreach within the library community, and our members are always ready to do physical or virtual presentations/visits, not just at Halloween (although that’s a natural for horror writers!) but year-round. Imagine having a Jonathan Maberry or Nancy Holder or one of your local writers speaking to your book clubs or writing groups. Or having a guest author come in to judge a writing contest.

For me, it’s all about giving something back and letting people, especially teens, know that libraries can do more than just provide books to read. They are place to learn and grow. I do several speaking engagements per year at local libraries, some focused just on Halloween or genre fiction, others on writing fiction. Imagine my shock when, about seven years ago, I walked into a library and found out they had no idea of local authors, the HWA, or any modern horror novels outside of what their book sales representative told them to buy. Sound familiar? It’s a problem at too many libraries. Talk about a great opportunity for a writer. I began to offer myself to libraries to read short stories, tell tales of local haunted places, establish and judge writing programs. As an example, for the past two years I’ve helped our local library organization develop a program that has gotten teens from multiple schools to submit short stories and poetry, and each year a group of writers edits the book and it’s published throughout the county library system. The kids love it, it gets attention drawn to the libraries, and it’s fun for everyone involved. And, I have to tell you, I’ve read some amazing stuff! It makes me hopeful for the next generation of writers.

Libraries and writers—the perfect partnership. So, what are you waiting for? Visit www.horror.org/libraries and join today! You won’t regret it, and your patrons will thank you.

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