HWA announces 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award winners Owl Goingback and Thomas Ligotti

LOS ANGELES, CA—February 5, 2020 

The HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION is delighted to announce the recipients of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Awards, presented in alphabetical order: Owl Goingback and Thomas Ligotti. The award will be given during this year’s Bram Stoker Awards ceremony, taking place at Stokercon in Scarborough U.K. from April 16 through April 19, 2020. 

HWA, the premier organization of writers and publishers of horror and dark fantasy and home of the iconic Bram Stoker Awards®, presents the Lifetime Achievement Award annually to individuals whose work has substantially influenced the horror and dark fantasy genres. While the award is often presented to a writer, it may also be given to an individual for influential accomplishments in other creative fields. HWA employs a hard-working committee for the selection process and recipients are chosen through stringent criteria. When more than one award winner is determined, the rules require a unanimous vote from all committee members. Thus, the winners were recognized as highly deserving individuals for their work in the horror and dark fantasy field.


“I grew up an only child in the rural Midwest. I would probably have gone stark raving mad of boredom, especially during the harsh winter months, if I hadn’t been kept entertained by horror fiction and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. I owe a lot to Poe, Lovecraft, Bradbury, Forry Ackerman, and many modern scribes of dark fiction for helping me keep my sanity during those years, and I wanted to give something back to the genre by writing horror fiction of my own. I am deeply honored that the Horror Writers Association has named me a Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and eternally thankful that my works of fiction are being read and enjoyed by at least a few people.”


“Being chosen to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association is a good in itself. In a strange way it is also frightening. If you’re anything like me—and if you are, then you have my condolences—there’s an element of the uncanny to it, as if it were one of those things that happens only to other people. In summary, I accept this honor as a token that my labors were appreciated by others with whom I share a peculiar likeness.

I’ve been a member of the HWA off and on since the beginning, and the last time I joined was around the time that Rocky was president and in the sad process of selling off his Stephen King collection to deal with the progression of the ALS that affected his ability to physically function and then cruelly murdered him. I have a reputation for the pessimism that’s so conspicuous in my fiction and was the  basis of my nonfiction title The Conspiracy against the Human Race. The origins of that pessimism are somewhat various, but perhaps the major reason is the suffering that life visits on people like Rocky Wood. I’m not bothered by criticism of my grim view of life, which is usually doled out by reviewers who seemingly haven’t experienced real suffering—or perhaps lack the imagination and compassion to appreciate the suffering of others—and believe that I’m an advocate for suicide. What I am is someone who’s pro-choice when it comes to both suicide and abortion, though I don’t think I can be accused of promoting the former, if only because it is invariably problematic in its methods. If anything, I’m an advocate of doctor-assisted euthanasia as for those who desire it, because for so many this option alleviates the fear of being abandoned to depend on their own devices, completely alone in the most profound sense of the word, and perhaps even unable to successfully escape the pain that has driven them to seek a way out of a world that’s going to evict us all at some point anyway. Undoubtedly, what I’ve found most gratifying in my writing life has been hearing from readers who express sincere gratitude to me for expressing a worldview they believed themselves to be alone in discerning and even embracing. Any number of writers might have provided them with the same consolation, but because their reading was focused on horror fiction I was the one who served as someone who assured them they were not isolated in how they thought and felt. This is how it was for me when I discovered Lovecraft, if only because his works most overtly and intensely confirmed, to reference H. P. Lovecraft’s Call of Cthulhu, that I wasn’t the only one to conceive and experience “terrifying vistas of reality,” which began in earnest during my teens. Since the advent of email, I’ve been amazed at how many readers and writers of supernatural horror fiction with whom I’ve communicated have lived with some type of emotional affliction. I’d like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the section on the HWA website that compiles some documentation on this observation in the form of essays and interviews on this subject.”



Having served as a jet engine mechanic in the Air Force, and the former owner of a restaurant and lounge, Owl Goingback became a full time writer in 1987. He has written numerous novels, children’s books, short stories, and magazine articles. His novel Crota won the 1996 Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel, and was one of four finalists in the Best Novel category. The Bram Stoker Awards are given annually by voting members of the Horror Writers Association and are considered the highest honor a writer can receive in the horror genre. Owl’s novel Shaman Moon was published by White Wolf Publishing as part of the omnibus edition The Essential World of Darkness. The book draws on his Native American heritage to tell a story of supernatural suspense, as do his other novels Darker than Night and Evil Whispers. He has also ghostwritten novels for celebrities.

His children’s books Eagle Feathers and The Gift have received critical acclaim from both parents and teachers. Eagle Feathers is a Storytelling World Awards Honor Recipient. The award was presented at the 1998 Annual National Convention of the International Reading Association. Goingback’s shorter works of fiction have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Tales from the Great Turtle, Confederacy of the Dead, Phantoms of the Night, Excalibur, The Book of Kings, When Will You Rage?, Once Upon a Midnight, Quest to Riverworld, Grails: Visitations of the Night, and South from Midnight. His story “Grass Dancer” was a Nebula Award Nominee for best short story of the year. In addition to his writing, he has lectured throughout the country on the customs and folklore of the American Indians. He has also modeled and done a bit of acting. The author resides in Florida with his wife and two sons.


Thomas Ligotti was born in Detroit in 1953. Among the most acclaimed horror writers of the past thirty years, he has received three Bram Stoker Awards, a British Fantasy Award, and an International Horror Guild Award. He lives in South Florida. Thomas Ligotti’s debut collection, Songs of a Dead Dreamer, and his second, Grimscribe, permanently inscribed a new name in the pantheon of horror fiction.  Influenced by the strange terrors of Lovecraft and Poe and by the brutal absurdity of Kafka, Ligotti eschews cheap, gory thrills for his own brand of horror, which shocks at the deepest, existential, levels.

Ligotti’s stories take on decaying cities and lurid dreamscapes in a style ranging from rich, ornamental prose to cold, clinical detachment. His raw and experimental work lays bare the unimportance of our world and the sickening madness of the human condition. Like the greatest writers of cosmic horror, Ligotti bends reality until it cracks, opening fissures through which he invites us to gaze on the unsettling darkness of the abyss below.

For more information about the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Bram Stoker Awards, please visit: