Southern Horror Yahoo Group

About Us

Horror writers take their craft seriously and professionally - people get a thrill out of being scared, not necessarily being grossed out, but frightened by things they know cannot harm them in reality. Horror can but doesn't have to be violent or bloody or disgusting; what it needs to do is to create fear in the reader.

The Australian Horror Writers Association (AHWA) is a non-profit organisation that formed unofficially in 2003 as a way of providing a unified voice and a sense of community for Australian writers of dark fiction, while helping the development and evolution of this genre within Australia.

AHWA held its official launch during Continuum 3 in Melbourne on July 17th, 2005, where a full house greeted the proclamation by Richard Harland, author of the 2004 Aurealis Awards best horror novel and Golden Aurealis winning "The Black Crusade" that the AHWA was "well and truly up and running!"

On August 5th 2005, AHWA became an incorporated body in the State of Victoria.

AHWA Founding Members:

  • James Cain, Angela Challis, Kirstyn McDermott, Mick Piemontese, Carl Schaller, Kim Wilkins, Marty Young

2013/14 Commitee

  • President: Mark Smith-Briggs
  • Vice President: Cameron Trost
  • Secretary: James Doig
  • Treasurer: Cameron Oliver
  • Membership Officer: Cameron Oliver
  • Ordinary Members: Robert Datson, Greg Chapman.

Project Managers:

  • Australian Shadows Director: Vacant
  • Competitions Officer: Cameron Trost
  • Critique Groups Managers: Vacant
  • State Community Leaders: Cameron Trost (Qld); Bernie Rutkay (WA)
  • Media Manager - News Editor: Greg Chapman
  • Media Manager - Social Media: Greg Chapman; Mark Smith
  • Midnight Echo Executive Editor: Cassie Britland
  • Midnight Echo Art Director: Vacant
  • Midnight Echo Media Releases & Publicity: Greg Chapman
  • Newsletter Team: Mark Smith-Briggs, Cameron Oliver 
  • Sinister Reads Manager: Porle Joen
Contact Details:




AHWA aims to become the first point of reference for writers and fans of the dark side of literature in Australia. AHWA aims to spread the acceptance and improve the understanding of what horror is in literature to a wider audience, and in doing so gain a greater readership for established and new writers alike.

AHWA aims to offer new writers:

  • Mentor Programs
  • Critique services
  • Competitions
  • Informative tips by authors, agents and editors on how to get published

There will also be:

  • Genre news on the Australian scene
  • Links to horror-related and writing resources
  • Regular articles on writing and the horror genre
  • An active presence at Australian speculative fiction conventions
  • A continued online community for discussions of the horror genre

To reach these goals we welcome all suggestions, comments and ideas. For further information, please contact AHWA 

A short history on the AHWA

The idea for an organization catering solely to the needs of Australian writers of horror was proposed in late 2002 by Marty Young, a young writer and new resident to Australia.

Interest was sought - and quickly found - through the help of the well-established online science fiction forums and The Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet. New and established writers started offering their support and encouragement, as did agents and editors of speculative fiction.

The Southern Horror yahoo group was set up in October 2002 to provide a means of communication between writers (published and unpublished), editors, agents and fans of horror (or ‘dark literature') in Australia. While the science fiction forums had been invaluable in helping the idea take form, horror needed to find respect as a genre on its own. Southern Horror also offered a place where the needs and wants of an organisation designated specifically to horror could be openly discussed, and a direction for achieving those goals worked out.

Some of the main points raised as being necessary for the development and evolution of the horror genre in Australia were:

  • 1. a sense of community and with it support;
  • 2. wider exposure for writers, and
  • 3. guidance, especially for those new to the writing industry - where could they sell their stories? What resources were available to them? What was involved in getting published?

However, it was not until late 2003 that things really started to happen. With more and more interest being generated, a committee was formed to address the issues and ideas being raised. A committee of eight helped the organisation take its first steps forward, with the formalization of an official name - The Australian Horror Writers Association, and the development of a website.

On the 7th June, 2006, the AHWA opened for official membership, and not only did Australian (and NZ) speculative fiction writers and editors instantly show their support by joining up, but so too did people and places such as Dark AnimusBrimstone PressSpecFicMe!ShocklinesCemetery Dance magazine, Ellen Datlow (editor of award-winning Year's Best Fantasy and Horror series), IDT Home Entertainment and Icon Film Distribution by offering free and discounted subscriptions, signed books, DVD boxed sets of the Masters of Horror series 1 and free movie tickets.

The AHWA was awarded a Start Up grant for a new, professionally designed website on the 7th of July, 2006, and Andrew McKiernan of Kephra Design took on the onerous task of creating what was needed. In conjunction with launching the new website on October 31st that year (in time for World Horror Day), HorrorScope, the Australian dark fiction blog run by Brimstone Press, came onboard as the AHWA's official news provider.

Since these slow and arduous steps, AHWA has continued to develop to meet the needs and offer more opportunities for Australian writers of horror. The inaugural 2005 Flash and Short Story competition for unpublished stories received far more entries than we envisioned, and with the initial support of Dark Animus and Shadowed Realms, the winning entries saw publication (winning entries are now published in Midnight Echo). The Australian Shadows award for best Australian horror began in 2005 thanks to the kind sponsorship of Altair-Australia, and in 2009 this award underwent a huge change from one into three categories (Short Fiction, Long Fiction, and Edited Publications). From 2010, the winning entry in each category will also receive a AU$250 cash prize. On Halloween 2005, the Californian-based The Writing Show hosted The 14 Days of Halloween special, with members of the AHWA reading some of their stories with added sound effects, like the radio shows of old. This show ceased its run in 2008 after 4 successful years. Check out the Halloween Ghast Fest 08 here.

Midnight Echo, the magazine of the AHWA, came to life in 2008, with Issue One edited by Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond, with David Schembri as Art Director. The magazine received rave reviews. Each issue is published by a different editing team, which ensures a fresh vision every time. The magazine has gone from strength to strength, including deals with the British Fantasy Society and the US-based HWA  that sees members of each of these organisations receive a free PDF copy of every issue of Midnight Echo (as part of the deal with the BFS, AHWA members likewise receive a free copy of every issue of their magazine, Dark Horizons). 

In 2008, Stephen Studach initiated the Paul Haines Challenge, after news came out that one of our favourite sons, Paul Haines, an immensely gifted writer, was diagnosed with cancer. Stephen organised for a large group of prominent writers (including Kaaron Warren, Margo Lanagan, Sean Williams, Jack Dann, Richard Harland, Brett McBean, Kim Wilkins, Robert Hood, and many more) to each contribute a section to an ongoing short story. Submissions from the public were then accepted for the ending. Ramsey Campbell judged the entries and decided upon a winner, and the complete story was posted on the AHWA website. All proceeds from this went to aid Paul's fight against cancer, which he sadly lost.

In 2009, Shane Jiraiya Cummings (as AHWA Vice President) led the genre author campaign (incorporating AHWA, Romance Writers of Australia, and Sisters in Crime Australia) against the Productivity Commission's recommendation to abolish Parallel Importation Restrictions (which require Australian editions of books to be produced and safeguard Australian territorial copyright). In conjunction with efforts by the Australian Society of Authors, Australian Publishers Association, and many local authors, agents, and publishers, PIRs were retained and the campaign was a success.

The AHWA has since established itself as the professional peak body for dark fiction in Australia. More projects are on their way, all with the aim of helping writers of this genre get their stories read by a wider audience, and for the genre itself to gain the recognition it deserves.