Live From Salt Lake City...It's the 2007 Stoker Awards!

By, John R. Little

The winners of the 2007 Bram Stoker Awards were announced at a banquet on Saturday, March 29, as part of the World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City. Each year, The Horror Writers Association (HWA) holds a banquet to honor the nominees and winners for superior achievement in horror and dark fantasy. There are eight categories, and the winners this year were:

  • Novel: The Missing, by Sarah Langan (Harper)
  • First Novel: Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill (William Morrow)
  • Long Fiction: Afterward, There Will be a Hallway, by Gary A. Braunbeck (from the anthology, Five Strokes to Midnight, Haunted Pelican Press)
  • Short Fiction: The Gentle Brush of Wings, by David Niall Wilson (from his collection, Defining Moments, Sarob Press)
  • Anthology: Five Strokes to Midnight, edited by Gary A. Braunbeck and Hank Schwaeble (Haunted Pelican Press)
  • Collection (tie): Proverbs for Monsters, by Michael A. Arnzen (Dark Regions Press) and 5 Stories, by Peter Straub (Borderlands Press)
  • Nonfiction: The Cryptopedia, by Jonathan Maberry and David F. Kramer (Citadel Press / Kensington)
  • Poetry (tie): Being Full of Light, Insubstantial, by Linda Addison (Space and Time) and Vectors: A Week in the Death of a Planet (Dark Regions Press), by Charlee Jacob and Marge Simon










The Stoker Class of '07...(Top row, from left) Mark Worthen, Linda Addison, Marge Simon, Weston Oche, Rocky Wood, John R. Little, Mort Castle, and Del Howison.  (Bottom row, from left) Gary A. Braunbeck, Robert Fleck, Hank Schwaeble, and Sarah Langan.


There were several other important presentations at the ceremony as well:

  • 2008 World Horror Convention Grandmaster Award : Robert McCammon
  • HWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award (tie): John Carpenter and Robert Weinberg
  • HWA’s Richard Laymon Award: the HWA Web Team (Mark Worthen, Steve Dorato, and Christopher Fulbright)

The actual awards ceremony was the highlight of the evening, which started with a well-orchestrated dinner for the 170 attendees. The tables were decorated with handmade tombstones with horror-related images, as well as postcard-sized versions of the covers of all the nominated books.

After dessert and coffee, the awards ceremony started with a welcome statement by Charlene (Charlie) Harmon, chair of WHC 2008. Harmon was a gracious and very popular chair throughout the weekend.

Next, HWA President Deborah LeBlanc took the stage to welcome everyone as well. Her talk covered many of the recent achievements of the organization and hinted at even better things to come.

Jeff Strand kicked the ceremony into high gear with a hilarious monologue covering various topics from how it feels to lose a Stoker to his idea of the perfect pitch (to a captive Don D’Auria of Leisure Books, who sat in the middle of the audience). The biggest laughs were for his suggestion to break the Stoker categories into sub-divisions. As examples he suggested: Best Zombie Novel, Trapped in One Location and Best Zombie Novel, Cross-Country Trek.

The presentation of the awards took just over an hour, with most of the winners present, eager to accept their Stokers. StokerAward2008.jpg

Each of the categories was memorable in their own way. Marge Simon accepted a Poetry award for her collaboration with Charlee Jacob. Simon praised Jacob and commented that she was in a great deal of physical pain and would be pleased when she found out their book had won.

Gary A. Braunbeck’s moving acceptance speech for his novella was the emotional high point of the evening. He described how the story was inspired by his daughter who died as a young child more than two decades ago and who still inspires his writing. The audience was entranced. You can see the speech here.

For the highly anticipated category of Superior Achievement in a Novel, the presenters were F. Paul Wilson and Simon Clark, who gave a terrific introduction, with Wilson calling this year’s convention Sarah Langan-con, since everywhere he went, there she was. Although this was mixed in with equally funny intros for the other nominees, the audience was unaware that Wilson made a bigger fuss for Langan, since he had peeked inside the winner’s envelope ahead of time and knew she’d won. For her part, Langan was characteristically humble and completely speechless, totally caught by surprise by her win. Her acceptance speech capped a perfect evening.


My own journey to the one hour award ceremony started almost a year ago. The HWA asked for a volunteer to work as the Stoker Coordinator, and I jumped in with both feet. The horror field has been good to me, and this was the opportunity to give something back.

The first major decision was already underway when I came on board. After successfully holding the 2007 Stoker event in conjunction with the Toronto World Horror Convention, the HWA was working out an agreement to hold the 2008 banquet at the Salt Lake City World Horror Convention. Charlie Harmon was very keen on having the Stokers at her con, and I began working out some broad strategies with her.

Through the course of the planning, I sent or received more than 3,000 e-mails. (Yes, I kept them all.) About half of them were detailed e-mails between myself and Charlie to plan the HWA presence at WHC.

In addition to the actual Stokers, the HWA involvement in the convention included author signings, panel discussions, koffeeklatches, the traditional After Stoker party, and many other smaller events.

Perhaps the biggest innovation of the night was that the entire ceremony was broadcast live on the Internet by a local Salt Lake City radio station,

I had approached several well-known people and organizations in the horror field early on, hoping to find somebody to broadcast the show. For one reason or another, none of those initial contacts worked out, and I almost lost hope, putting the Internet broadcast on the back burner in favor of more pressing issues. A couple of months before the banquet, though, author David Niall Wilson e-mailed, nudging me into taking one last look. Dave was nominated for three Stokers this year but was unable to attend. That was incentive enough for me to do whatever I could to find a way to broadcast the event.

After a few more false leads, Charlie Harmon led me to, who I contacted. They were willing to take a shot and spent quite a lot of time working out the details with me. Practice runs worked well, but disaster seemed to strike two days prior to the banquet. was broadcasting interviews from WHC. They sucked every kilobyte of bandwidth from the hotel, crashing their webcam equipment.

Uh-oh. It was not good news. Less than 48 hours before the Stokers, and the broadcast was looking very iffy. Somehow, Jeff and Christine Norris of pulled a few miracles out of their hats and the broadcast went forward. They did a tremendous job under difficult and stressful conditions. Afterward, they quickly archived the footage for later viewing (including the clips in this article).

Almost a hundred people watched the Stokers live that night, which wasn’t bad since the show didn’t start until after 11:00 p.m. Eastern time. Since then, countless numbers have viewed clips of the show, and the vast majority of the feedback has been extremely positive. It’s likely that a live broadcast will be considered for all future Stoker banquets.

It felt great to hear that not only David Niall Wilson, but at least two other winning authors watched the award show live and could celebrate with their peers and fans from their own homes.

Another great decision in the planning process was to invite Jeff Strand to be the Master of Ceremonies for the night. Jeff is best known for his humorous horror novels and his monologue was perfect. Jeff bridged the awards with witty commentary throughout the night.

In the eight Stoker categories, there were 45 nominees. For each who would not be present at the ceremony, I asked them to select somebody to accept on their behalf in the event they won. It worked out well, but if the stars had lined up differently, I would have accepted five different awards, since several authors asked me to accept, not knowing who else was attending. I did get to accept for Peter Straub, which was a great honor.

There was one last oddity to this year’s awards: when the final ballot was announced on February 15, I was delighted to find that I was nominated myself in the category of First Novel. Normally, the Stoker Coordinator knows the winners weeks prior to the banquet, in order to have the trophies engraved. I was in the awkward position of expecting an e-mail letting me know if I’d won, long before anyone else would know.

I knew it would be difficult to wander around WHC, pretending not to know the results of my category.

Fortunately, Lisa Morton volunteered to take care of the engraving, so I wouldn’t have to see the results until they were announced. That way, I could sit and fret and enjoy the suspense along with the other nominees. Lisa also worked with me behind the scenes all year, providing advice and guidance.

After the Stokers, there was opportunity for photos and the After Stoker party provided a way for everyone to congratulate the winners and commiserate with the other nominees.

The next day, it was finally time to go home. My wife and I left Salt Lake City on the Sunday night, only 24 hours after the Stokers, but with the stress of the show now past, it felt like the awards were a million years earlier.

Until we got to the airport.

We carried four Stoker trophies with us, to mail to winners who had been unable to attend. These were packed in the goodie bags from the con. The awards are big and heavy, molded into haunted houses. As they rolled through the x-ray machine at security, four guards huddled around staring at the image.

“What’s that?”

“Its says ‘Horror.’”

All of a sudden, the four guards all looked at me. I wondered if they were carrying weapons. After a few tense moments and harsh questions, they let us carry the Stokers on the plane, and they were promptly shipped to their rightful owners the following day. Just for a few moments, it felt like I was a character in a Jeff Strand story.

Posted on Monday, April 7, 2008 at 11:08AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine | CommentsPost a Comment