The Bram Stoker Awards were instituted by the Horror Writer’s Association immediately after the organization’s incorporation in 1987.
Author Robert R. McCammon expressed for the firts time the idea of a professional organization of horror writers in 1984 and soon enlisted the support of two collegues: author Joe R. Lansdale and his wife, Karen. They started to invite dozens of writers, asking their support to found a Horror/Occult Writers League (HOWL), “a non-profit organization of professional writers of fiction and non-fiction pertaining to or inspired by the traditions, legends, development, and history of horror and occult”. The aim was to obtain “a more widespread publicity, promotion, distribution, readership and appreciation of the literature of horror and occult”.
The first formal HOWL meeting took place on November 3, 1985, at the World Fantasy Convention held in Tucson, Arizona, and there it was decided to change the name of the organization in “Horror Writers of America” (HWA).
In 1986, Dean Koontz was chosen as the organization’s first president. The HWA was legally incorporated in 1987 and Koontz proposed the institution of an annual award for “Superior Achievement” in horror writing, named after a famous influential colleague. The members voted on the “Bram Stoker Award” to be issued in the form of a haunted house designed by Stephen Kirk. The first awards were presented in 1988 (for works published in 1987) and every year ever since. In 1988, the first Annual Bram Stoker Awards Banquet and Business Meeting took place in New York City.
In 1993, the name of the organization was changed from the “Horror Writers of America” to the “Horror Writers Association”.