The Bram Stoker Award is a recognition for “superior achievement” in horror writing. Presented annually by the Horror Writers Association (HWA) since 1988 (for works published in 1987, when the organization was first founded), the awards are named in honor of the Irish novelist Abraham “Bram” Stoker, best known for his 1897 gothic novel “Dracula”, one of the most influential horror stories of all time.
The awards are not necessarily given for the best work of the previous year, but for superior achievement and outstanding creative performance in the field of horror and dark fantasy. To be eligible for the competition, the literary works must first have been published in English. Nominated works are selected with two different processes: they can be recommended as worthy of consideration by any member of the HWA or they can be presented in a separate list by a jury for each category. All active members of the association can vote on the preliminary ballots and on the final one, to choose first the nominees and then the winners.
From 2011, the Bram Stoker Awards are divided into eleven categories: Novel, First Novel, Graphic Novel, Young Adult Novel, Long Fiction, Short Fiction, Fiction Collection, Screenplay, Poetry Collection, Anthology, Non-Fiction. In addition, Lifetime Achievement Awards are occasionally given to writers for their entire body of works.
The award, designed by Harlan Ellison and sculpted by Steven Kirk, is a small reproduction of a haunted house with the name of the author and the title of the winning work engraved inside.