The Australian Horror Writers Association (AHWA) is a non-profit organization 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 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.
We had a chance to learn more about AHWA and Midnight Echo from Dr. Marty Young, Midnight Echo Executive Editor.
Hellnotes: Let’s start off here: how long has Midnight Echo been publishing?
Dr. Marty Young: Our first issue was released in October 2008, so 4 years now. We put out two issues a year, with Issue 8 due out on Nov 30.
Hellnotes: Since it’s under the umbrella of the Australian Horror Writers Association, do submissions have to come from Australian writers or members of the AHWA?
Young: Not at all. The AHWA owns the magazine and is responsible for its day-to-day operations, but we are open to and actively pursue submissions from writers all across the world. For example, we have new fiction by Joe R Lansdale, Jack Ketchum & Lucky McKee in Issue 8, along with artwork by Glenn Chadbourne. We make sure to have some Australian content in each issue though, as Midnight Echo was created to showcase Australian horror fiction.
Hellnotes: As the Executive Editor, what’s your primary goal for the magazine?
Young: My primary goal is to see the magazine become a professional market, paying 5c/word. We’re up to 3c/word at the moment, and do push this to 5c/word for solicited authors. But there are no pro magazines in Australia publishing horror fiction, and I think that’s wrong. It would be great to see Midnight Echo fill this void.
My other aim is to see the magazine release full digital editions of each issue. We don’t intent to stop publishing our print editions, but it would be an oversight not to take advantage of the digital era. We currently have EPUB, MOBI, and PDF versions of each issue, and we’re working on a fully realized digital edition for tablets.
Okay, so I have one other aim, too, and that’s to see Midnight Echo release three or even four issues a year, instead of just the two. I think I just heard my team fall over…
Hellnotes: The Australian Horror Writers Association has grown dramatically in just a few short years. Is that a reflection of the health of Australian horror market?
Young: Yes, but I think it’s also due to the health of the international horror market, too. There are a lot of Aussie horror writers living down under, a lot of talented folks. During my time as President of the AHWA, I found that the majority of them were always willing to put up their hand and help out, especially when it meant good things down the line for the genre. The more we’ve banded together, the more opportunities have come along. The AHWA seems to be going through a new lease of life just lately, under the guidance of Geoff Brown, who is serving his second term as President. There are some big events lined up for 2013, so it’s definitely exciting.
Hellnotes: I believe Midnight Echo and Dark Discoveries have recently entered into a distribution deal. Could you tell us a little about that?
Young: The idea was suggested by AHWA committee member Robert Datson, who wanted to buy a copy of Dark Discoveries but was shocked by the international postage costs (the costs can be twice as much as the book/magazine you’re buying). Basically, JournalStone Publishing would become the exclusive distributor of Midnight Echo magazine in the States, and the AHWA would become the exclusive distributor of Dark Discoveries magazine here in Australia. It means both magazines are now available via each other’s websites, cancelling out those high international postage costs and meaning more readers will be able to afford to purchase copies/subscriptions.
Christopher Payne (JournalStone Publishing) has been great, very open-minded and enthusiastic about the idea, and has really gone out of his way to ensure it happens. The idea just makes sense, and hopefully, it’s the start of a very successful relationship.
Hellnotes: Do you have any personal dislikes within the horror genre? A predilection toward any sub-genres such as zombies, vampires, werewolves, etc.?
Young: I do, but the good thing about having different editors for each issue of Midnight Echo is that they each bring something different to the magazine. Issue 6, for example, was a sci-fi horror special, and Issue 7 had taboos as its theme. I co-edited Issue 8, and we had an open theme, asking for all and anything. Issue 9, being edited by AHWA President Geoff Brown, is looking for mythical horror stories.
Hellnotes: Where does the new Midnight Echo Newsletter fit into the scheme of things?
Young: The newsletter is run by Carly Ogborne, and will go out once a month, with extra updates on important announcements as necessary. It exists to keep everyone up-to-date with all the happenings at the magazine, plus will offer sneak peeks at forthcoming issues. There will be prizes and specials, too, only available to subscribers to the newsletter.
Hellnotes: Why should readers check out the newest issue and sign up for a subscription?
Young: The new issue rocks! Okay, so I’m a little biased as I co-edited it along with Amanda J Spedding and Mark Farrugia, but seriously, we have new killer fiction by the likes of Joe R Lansdale, Jack Ketchum & Lucky McKee, plus Aussie big guns Jason Fischer, Felicity Dowker, Jason Nahrung … There’s an interview with Glenn Chadbourne (who also provides us with some new artwork), and so much more — 130 pages of terrible delights for only ten bucks! We even have new columns starting in this issue, covering comics, poetry, and mysterious Australia. The stories are disturbing and hard hitting, but nicely balanced with some freaky literary tales.
And if you take out a subscription, you’ll go into the prize to win a whole swag of cool stuff, including a signed copy of Edge of Dark Water by Joe R Lansdale, a signed copy of The Woman by Jack Ketchum & Lucky McKee, signed artwork by cover artist Chris Mars, a free 1 year print subscription to Midnight Echo and Dark Discoveries, as well as a 1 year print subscription to Cemetery Dance magazine. The prize list goes on! Full details can be found here: Subscribe To Midnight Echo