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About Horror University

Horror University is one of the most successful and popular aspects of StokerCon™. We are proud to present another great series of live workshops for StokerCon™ 2023. Horror University furthers the Horror Writers Association’s focus on education with a curriculum run by some of the best and brightest in the horror field.

Available Classes
Live at StokerCon 2024

Writing Your Horror Novel in Six Weeks

Instructor: Jason Henderson

Thursday, June 15, 4 p.m.


Instructor, Jason Henderson, host of the Castle of Horror Podcast,

publisher at Castle Bridge Media, and best-selling writer of Night of

the Book Man and the Alex Van Helsing and Young Captain Nemo,

series will teach you how to go from idea to launchable manuscript

in six weeks. The course will cover: choosing your sub-genre;

making familiar monsters different; outlining your novel; forcing

yourself to draft; editing; and the basics of publishing whether

traditional or non-traditional. The course will provide a roadmap

for planning and completing your book. Live exercises will include

how to craft a story quickly, exploring tricks to get started writing,

and how to make sure you keep writing. By the end of this

workshop, attendees will be able to get started with outlining a

novel and start writing right away, with the goal of having a clean draft by the end of six weeks.


Jason Henderson is a Locus Best-selling author and Texas Lone Star List recipient. He is the host of the Castle of Horror and Castle Talk Podcasts, the editor of the Castle of Horror Anthology series, and the author of the Young Captain Nemo series from Macmillan Children's Books as well as the Alex Van Helsing series for Harpercollins Books. His new 50s beach-party horror novel Night of the Book Man under the pseudonym Peyton Douglas, the first in the Surf Mystic series, debuted in 2020. Jason's game credits include writing on Destiny 2 (Bungie), Prototype Zero (Activision), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Activision) and many more. He's also written comics for Marvel, Image, and IDW. Jason is the co-publisher at Castle Bridge Media, a press whose first nonfiction book, Bruce Wright’s Nightwalkers: Gothic Horror Movies (2020) was called “essential” by the New York Times.



Hollywood Hacks for Horror Writers

Instructor: Brian McAuley

Friday, June 16, 9 a.m.


With Hollywood hungry for screen-worthy stories, versatility is a

horror writer’s deadliest weapon. In this interactive workshop,

you’ll take a stab at various screenwriting techniques—from

overall plot arcs to dramatic scene structures—that can sharpen

your screenwriting and fiction writing. Special attention will be

paid to using these methods to create more tension in your

twisted tales. At the end of our session, we’ll pull back the

curtain on pitching and selling both original and adapted horror

stories in a bloodthirsty industry. Students should come to this

session prepared to workshop a novel or screenplay story in

progress OR have a new story idea they want to develop from

scratch. The course will include an interactive presentation on the

8-Sequence Structure for outlining a feature film that’s less vague than 3-Act Structure and more flexible than the Save the Cat formula. Students will apply this structure to their work in progress to compose a new outline. Additional material will include analysis of structural components, a comparison of script to screen from the instructors produced work, and Q&A focused on the current Hollywood landscape for book-to-film adaptations.


Brian McAuley is a WGA screenwriter with six produced film credits, including the award-winning horror/thriller Dismissed. He wrote an episode of the Netflix sitcom Fuller House and sold his horror series pitch Affliction to Syfy Network in a pilot development deal. Brian's debut horror novel Curse of the Reaper was named one of the Best Horror Books of 2022 by Esquire. His short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Dark Matter Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, and Shortwave Magazine.




How to Create, Edit, and Publish an Anthology

Instructor: Lisa Morton

Friday, June 16, 11 a.m.


In this workshop, participants will learn all about producing

anthologies, ranging from creating a pitch to entice a publisher to

self-publishing an e-book. The workshop will cover anthologies of

all-original stories and reprint anthologies. Attendees will learn:


  • What does it take to be an editor?

  • How to create a killer proposal and get it to the right people.
    Should you consider crowdfunding?

  • The ins and outs of contracts for yourself and with your authors.

  • When and how you should pay your contributors and how to

  • handle royalties.

  • Choosing a submission plan, such as invitation only or open

  • call for unsolicited submissions. How much of the layout and cover will you be responsible for or have input on?

  • Choosing and buying reprints for a “best of” anthology.

  • Editing a reprint anthology of classic stories and navigating copyright and public domain.

Participants will be invited to submit anthology proposals in advance for critiquing during the workshop.

Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, and prose writer whose work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening.” She is a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, the author of four novels and over 150 short stories, and a world-class Halloween and paranormal expert. Her recent releases include the Calling the Spirits: A History of Seances; forthcoming in 2023 from Applause Books is The Art of the Zombie Movie. Lisa lives in Los Angeles and online at .


Into Darkness I Go: The Horror Hero's Journey

Instructor: Tim Waggoner

Friday, June 16, 1 p.m.


Learn how to use the “hero's journey” template to write epic

horror fiction! Storytellers have been using the “hero’s journey”

pattern in tales for thousands of years, from the Epic of

Gilgamesh to Star Wars. It’s a tried-and- true technique, one

horror writers can use too, but with its own deliciously dark spin.

Topics covered will include:

· The “hero’s journey.”
· How the horror “hero’s Journey” is different.
· The twelve stages of the horror “hero’s Journey.”
· The nine story outcomes of the horror “hero’s Journey.”
· Techniques for combining different story outcomes.
· How you can apply the horror “hero’s Journey” to your own stories.
· You’ll write several exercises exploring different aspects of the horror “hero’s Journey.”


Tim Waggoner has published over fifty novels and seven collections of dark fiction. He’s a three-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award and has been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award, the Scribe Award, and the Splatterpunk Award. He’s the author of the acclaimed horror-writing guide Writing in the Dark, and he’s a full-time tenured professor who teaches creative writing and composition at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio.



The Elements of Creating Scary Short Stories

Instructor: Sèphera Girón

Friday, June 16, 3 p.m.


Want to write a scary story but not sure how or where to begin?

Sèphera Girón will help you navigate the key elements of a

short story and hook readers from the start. Attendees of this

workshop will outline elements of their own, new, original short

story and craft a compelling hook to take away from the session.

Key points will include developing story ideas, choosing a point

of view, deciding where your story begins, the most important

elements of a scary story, outlining key story points, and more.

It will also cover practical considerations such as finding writer’s

prompts, combatting writer’s block, managing your copyright,

and how to use real people and places in your work. Attendees

will share opening sentences and hooks for feedback.


Sèphera Girón is the author of over twenty published novels and over fifty published short stories and poems. Sèphera was a finalist in the Stowe Story Labs Screenwriting Contest last year and attended the Stowe Story Writing Lab in Birmingham, Alabama in August to work on her horror TV series, The Calling. Sèphera wrote "Let Us Burn" for the Tales app and is working on "Four Witches and Dude," which is being released chapter-by-chapter on the app. Sèphera has written several screenplays over the pandemic and is hoping to catch the eye of a producer or manager to see them come to life! In the fall of 2022, she and Andrew Robertson released Dearly Departed, an anthology of their own short stories through The Great Lakes Horror Company. Sèphera has just started writing for Substack, so you can follow her there as she writes about a variety of topics. Sèphera's website:



Changing our Nightmares and Making

Them Your Own

Instructor: Jewelle Gomez

Saturday, June 17, 9 a.m.


How can writers make traditional monsters non-traditional?

How can we find the productive, heroic side of our creations

while still making them scary and unpredictable? Although

most countries and cultures have various forms of “horror”

mythology and folklore, members of those communities have

often feared associating their cultures with what they see as

mass-market, pulp-fiction monsters. For instructor Jewelle

Gomez, however, two quotes are at the core of writing horror: 


“We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.”

                  —Stephen King

“Black History is black horror.”

                  —Tananarive Due


When creating new and original monsters, it is necessary to step away from the tropes we’ve lived with for generations and look to individual, lived experience to reshape mythology. This workshop will focus on approaches and techniques for bringing new perspectives to favorite monsters and nightmares.


Jewelle Gomez is a fiction writer, poet and playwright. Her essays and stories have appeared in numerous anthologies including Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler and Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora. She just completed a trilogy of plays commissioned and produced by New Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and TOSOS Theatre in New York City. Her Black, lesbian, vampire novel, The Gilda Stories, has been in print continuously for more than 30 years and is currently being developed for a TV mini-series. Her stage adaptation of sections of the novel, Bones & Ash, toured 13 U.S. cities. Her sequel to the novel, Gilda: Blood Relations, is soon to come. She received the 2021 HWA Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement Award.


Using Oral Storytelling Techniques in Horror Fiction

Instructor: Marc Abbott

Saturday, June 17, 11 a.m.


This unique workshop will look at how horror writers can utilize

their oratory skills to help both write and tell horror stories. It

will explore three main topics. Effectively Reading Your Work:

When reading to an audience, how do you give life to the

words on the page? What techniques such as pacing, voice

pitch, and vocal characterization will keep listeners engaged

while you tell your story. What can you learn about good writing

from reading you work out loud? Conversations with Your

Characters: Characters are more than creations in a story or

names on a page. They speak to writers and tell us where the

story should take them. Writers will learn how to talk to their

characters one on one and step into the scenes with them.

Without Words: Storytelling doesn’t exist only on the page. Writers will learn how to abridge their work in order to tell it without the written work before them and how this can help their writing process. Learn how to “perform” using your voice on and off the page.


Marc L Abbott is a Brooklyn native whose work includes The Hooky Party & Etienne and the Stardust Express. He’s the co-author of Hell at Brooklyn Tea and Hell at the Way Station, the two-time African American Literary Award-winning horror anthology. His horror short stories are featured in Hells Heart, Hells Mall, Under Twin Suns: Alternate Histories of the Yellow Sign, Even in the Grave, and the Bram Stoker Nominated horror anthology A New York State of Fright. Along with earning an MFA in Creative Writing, he is a Moth Story Slam and Grand Slam Storyteller winner and an award-winning actor. Find out more about him at




Poetry Techniques for Writing Fiction & Non-Fiction

Instructor: Linda Addison

Saturday, June 17, 1 p.m.


For writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, this workshop will help

you use poetry techniques of compression, word choices, and

sentence structure to deepen your style/voice, increase energy,

and defeat writing blocks. We will explore each type of writing

by attendees doing guided “wild” writing and practice covered

methods to edit the writing. The workshop will include several

writing exercises focusing on different tools of poetry and applying

them to fiction and non-fiction. Attendees will receive writing

prompts and feedback on their exercises.

Linda D. Addison grew up in Philadelphia and began weaving

stories at an early age. She lives in Arizona and has published

over 400 poems, stories and articles. Ms. Addison is the

first African-American recipient of the world renowned HWA

Bram Stoker Award® and has received five awards for collections:

The Place of Broken Things written with Alessandro Manzetti; Four Elements written with Charlee Jacob, Marge Simon

and Rain Graves; How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend; Being Full of Light, Insubstantial; and  Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes. She has received the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award & HWA

Mentor of the Year. In 2020, she was designated SFPA Grand Master of Fantastic Poetry.



Using the Tarot to Guide Your Writing

Instructor: EV Knight

Saturday, June 17, 3 p.m.


This class will teach you how to use a deck of tarot cards to

create well rounded characters, plot your story and/or

breakthrough the dreaded writer's block. You will learn to

intuitively read a card and use that knowledge to apply it to

your work in progress or a brand new piece. You do not need

to know how to read tarot to take this class. Many people shy

away from the Tarot because it seems too overwhelming to

learn the meanings behind each of the seventy-eight cards,

but intuitive reading can be taught easily and quickly. By the

end of class, attendees will have a basic understanding of the

history and layout of the Tarot, know how to intuitively read

cards at a basic level, learn several easy card spreads for

writing characters, plot, and breaking writer’s block (as well as for divination), and use the cards and spreads as prompts to craft a story or aid in their current WIP. Class participants are invited to bring their own deck, but a deck will be provided to each attendee to use during class. Each attendee will also receive a laminated reference cards on a ring for quick keywords/meanings.


EV Knight is the author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning debut novel The Fourth Whore. She has also written the novel Children of Demeter as well as several novellas; Dead Eyes, Partum, and her most recent release, the autofictional Three Days in the Pink Tower. You can find her numerous short stories in horror anthologies as well. EV lives in one of America’s most haunted cities: Savannah, Ga. She is a huge fan of the Savannah Bananas and the beauty of Bonaventure Cemetery. When not out and about searching for the ghosts of the past, EV can be found at home with her husband Matt, her crazy dog Gozer, and their three naughty sphynx cats. You can find EV on her website where you can sign up for her newsletter and find links to all her social media.


More classes available!

In addition to live classes transpiring at StokerCon, Horror University offers a number of pre-recorded courses and captured live classes from past sessions and conferences, all hosted in our virtual classroom at


The 2023 Horror University is Sponsored by:

Seton Hill University's

MFA in Writing Popular Fiction

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