Adjunct Instructor Lucy Snyder joined the ranks of Seton Hill University (SHU) professors to receive the Bram Stroker Award this year. Annually, the Horror Writer’s Association presents this award for “Superior Achievement” in horror writing.
By Jessie Krehlik
SHU News Editor
Adjunct Instructor Lucy Snyder joined the ranks of Seton Hill University (SHU) professors to receive the Bram Stoker Award this year. Annually, the Horror Writer’s Association presents this award for “Superior Achievement” in horror writing. “I’m thrilled to have won a Bram Stoker Award,” said Snyder. “It means a lot to me to be honored by other writers in this way, particularly since this is my first poetry collection.”
“The Stoker Award is like the Oscars for horror writing—the highest literary award in the genre—,” said Michael Arnzen, chair of the Humanities Division, who has four Stoker Awards. “And because fellow professional writers vote for it, it means a lot to me to be recognized in this way, alongside my colleagues.”
According to the Horror Writer’s Association, the awards are non-juried. During the first year of publication, any piece published first in the English language can be judged for an award. This year, 11 awards were given out for: novel, first novel, long fiction, short fiction, anthology, fiction collection, nonfiction, poetry collection, lifetime achievement award, the silver hammer award and Richard laymon president’s award.
Along with Snyder’s win, Arnzen and two other instructors from SHU’s Writing Popular Fiction program, Tim Wagonner and Gary Braunbeck, had writings in two books that won Bram Stoker Awards: “Writer’s Workshop of Horror” and “He is Legend.” “The fact that we all have essays in ‘Writer’s Workshop of Horror’ is high testimony to the quality of creative writing teaching at [SHU],” said Arnzen.
Snyder drew inspiration from all around to create her now award-winning poetry collection, “Chimeric Machines!” According to Snyder, science and technology were a big influence for the poetry in Part 1, while Part II is home to poetry written after Snyder’s mother passed away. “Part 4, ‘Crete, Kentucky,’ is my retelling of a certain Greek myth in modern times with small-town drug dealers instead of kings and gods,” she said.
Snyder draws inspiration from everyday life: “I get inspiration from news articles, dreams, snippets of overheard conversation, etc.”
“I’m thrilled for Lucy, who totally deserved this award based on literary merit and wild imagination,” Arnzen said. “Not a lot of horror novelists write poetry, and fewer do it well, so it says a lot about her talent that she was able to win an award for her book, ‘Chimeric Machines,’ while working on her mass market urban fantasy novel, called ‘Spellbringer.’”
For Snyder, winning this award provides the validation that all writers long for, according to Arnzen. “We writers can be a neurotic bunch, and after a lifetime of collecting rejection letters on our way toward success, we need a pat on the back like this once in a while to affirm that we’re not as bad as some silly editor thought we were.”
“Lucy is also a hard worker and knows that ego boosts only last so long,” Arnzen, who won his first Stoker Award for First Novel in 1994, continued. “Like me, she’s probably already at work on the next thing.”
Snyder and Arnzen are unsure of the effect these awards will have on SHU’s Writing Popular Fiction graduate program. “It’s certainly a good thing whenever any of the WPF faculty earn this kind of professional recognition,” said Snyder. “And I’m sure there will be a larger enrollment, because enrollment in the program has been steadily increasing the past several terms despite the bad economy.”
“The thing about writing programs is that they are communities of people with a shared interest—and since our program is unique in its focus on genre fiction, we do attract like-minded spirits,” said Arnzen, who believes awards such as the Stoker Award attract new writers. “Beyond that, I think these awards bring a sense of literary integrity and scholarly legitimacy to what we do as horror writers. It says: ‘these authors aren’t just overdressed Goths who like to pull the wings off bats for kicks, or sick puppies that watch Saw movies over their cereal bowls. They’re serious writers. And we are.”
Snyder encourages future writers to read as much as possible, whether the material relates to the writers’ genre of choice or not. “Don’t worry too much about what people are saying is popular, because by the time you finish your book, the market may have changed drastically,” she said. “Write what means something to you, write the stories you and only you could write. It’s your own voice that will attract your best readers, not your imitation of someone else.”
“The award is a great token to have on your shelf, and it can even lead to higher book sales and publishing clout, but it’s the story you’re working on right now that always fuels the creative furnace,” Arnzen said.
“Getting published is hard, “said Snyder. “Everytime you level up, you discover a whole new set of writing challenges that aren’t any easier.”
According to Snyder, passion and dedication are essential for success: “Keep learning, keep reading, keep writing, keep going. One word in front of the other.”