Meet the VA Chapter of the HWA!


This week we are deeply honored to learn more about HWA member, Susan Schwartz. She is not only an active member in the Virginia Chapter of the Horror Writer’s Association, but she has a fascinating full-time job as an operating room nurse.

I first met Susan during an event where the HWA-VA Chapter worked a booth. I have had the honor of coming down and speaking at one her events in Richmond, which she hosted for another writing organization.

Bryan: Let’s get right into it, shall we? Susan, I have the luxury of already knowing a little of your background. However, there are tons of people out there who might be reading this and have no idea who you are. So, let’s start with a little bit about you.

Susan: I began writing in 2006 with freelance articles. I wrote on all sorts of topics and researched these pieces thoroughly. I made a little money, but I was more interested in fiction writing.

Bryan: I mentioned that I came down to Richmond and presented at an event you held. It wasn’t for the HWA though. I think it was for another group you first became a member of before joining us in the HWA. Tell us a little about that.

Susan: That event was in support of the Virginia Writers Club. In the VWC, I found good mentors and people who wanted to help me succeed and improve my writing. I took over leadership of the club for two years giving back to the writing community and helping to mentor a few new writers.

Susan and Me

Susan and I taking a selfie!

Bryan: I know we talked about this before, but my mother has been a nurse for over forty years. A noble profession, I don’t think the nurses get anywhere near the amount of credit they deserve. Tell us a little about your nursing career.

Susan: I have been an Operating Room Nurse for 17 years. As you can imagine, I see many interesting and gory things while working. I channel many of those sights and sounds into my stories. I love blood and guts, and I tend to write stories where people are getting killed or maimed in some fashion. I try to write them with a twist making you wonder what hit you at the end. I have enjoyed this genre immensely because of its ability to lead the reader into something completely unexpected.

Bryan: I love the idea of the sights and sounds of the operating room informing your writing. I was on the fire department for a few years and I know my experiences certainly inform my own writing. What have you written? Where can we see the work of Susan Schwartz and all of those lovely sights and sounds you bring to life with your words?

Susan: I have three short stories published at present in the Nightmares & Echoes series. They are “The Sparkling Floor,” “I Thought You Did,” and “Blurred Line.” My non-fiction piece in the Virginia Writers Club Centennial Anthology is titled “Using my Karate Chops in Nursing.” I also have a non-fiction book coming in the Fall of 2018 titled Haunted Charlottesville and Surrounding Counties. I am quite excited about my stories and especially, my Haunted book.

Bryan: Many things drive us to become members of the HWA. I know, for me, it was a way to improve my craft and find a better way to access to horror readers. What drove you to join the organization?

Susan: I joined because I saw much potential in networking and getting to know some frightening authors in my own genre. I met you through this great organization, and we have traded some useful advice. I have been a member for 2 years, and I have enjoyed the camaraderie and education I have gotten from everyone. Shout out to Dee South, she is simply awesome.

Bryan: I think some people just see our work and forget that behind every key stroke is the need to associate with like-minded professionals to trade notes from time to time. I know I am better off for our friendship. I see benefits daily from being associated with HWA. How about yourself? What do you feel is the greatest benefit?

Susan: The greatest benefit for me is the networking. I love to meet authors from a genre that many do not fathom writing because it can be too far out there. It is nice to have friends and colleagues who can brainstorm on a plot twist or storyline and not look at you funny for asking the question. Who else could you ask the best way to kill or poison someone and get a straight faced answer?

Bryan: I am reasonably certain that if anyone were to look at my Google searches, they would be pretty sure that I am a serial killer myself. It’s true though, we can sit around and discuss the finer details of killing, murder, and mayhem and have a truly serious discussion about those topics.

I know you love working with new authors, so I am curious what do you think is your best advice to anyone starting out in the genera?

Susan: The best advice given to me by many authors in different genres is to read that which you are trying to write. The greats in this genre, such as Stephen King, Bentley Little, and Richard Laymon, have shown me how to write and what people are looking for when they read this genre. Stephen King also wrote a book, On Writing, which has helped me a great deal as well.

Bryan: On Writing is one of my favorites. You certainly mentioned some high-powered names there. I am curious what is your favorite novel and why does it speak to you?

Susan: My favorite horror story will probably always be Pet Sematary by Stephen King. I even have a black cat that travels with me to every book signing named Church. As to why this is my favorite, it was the first Stephen King novel I read, and I was hooked on the genre. His writing just pulled me in and made me want to write my own. I loved his style and his suspense. I still read everything he publishes.

Bryan: We discussed some of the greats of the past, let’s discuss one of the up and coming stars of today. What is Susan Schwartz working on right now?

Susan: I am currently working on a graveyard story for another anthology as well as working on promoting my new book coming out in the Fall of 2018, Haunted Charlottesville and Surrounding Counties. I also have two novels I am writing, a paranormal romance and a medical thriller. I am also researching for another haunted book toward western Virginia.

Bryan: So, where can we go to find out more information about you?

Susan: My website went live in January of 2017 and has information on future happenings and new books coming out soon. Check it out at

Susan Schwartz PageBryan: Very cool! So, is there anything else you would like to say to the readers out there, as we wrap this up?

Susan: Thanks for your support to all of us who try to put printed word on paper. Without you, we would have no platform to share our deepest and strangest ideas.

Bryan: No truer words have been spoken. Without our readers, none of the characters or plots would ever see the light of day.

I want to thank you all for hanging out with us! From the Virginia Chapter of the Horror Writer’s Association, I want to remind everyone to stay spooky!

-Bryan the Writer; Blogger/Northern Ghoul!

Meet the VA Chapter of the HWA!


There are probably three people in the state of Virginia involved in the horror writing industry that haven’t heard the name Pamela Kinney, and I am pretty sure those people live in a cave somewhere along the border of West Virginia and lack access to the internet and running water. To say the least, Pamela Kinney is an institution. Not only is she a published author, she’s also a well-known paranormal investigator, and if that isn’t enough she’s also an actress. Pamela has an amazing career and we are thrilled to feature her in our first ever, Meet the HWA of Virginia.

I have to admit up front, I am a big fan. Pamela is one of those people that I met early on in my career. She doesn’t seem to know how to go any slower than her top speed and the best part about it is that she brings everybody else along with her for the ride.

Bryan: So Pamela, I know your story, but those reading this blog might not. So why don’t you tell us about yourself?

Pamela: I’ve been writing since I was 8. But I was first published (and paid) at age 17 in 1972, three poems in a poetry magazine, Hyacinths and Biscuits Poetry Magazine, based in Los Angeles. These were “Sands of Time,” “The Leopard,” and “The Horse.” A few months later, they accepted three more poems. Over the years, I had more poetry published, though in 1987, I wrote an article about a friend that True Story Magazine accepted.  Around that time, I sent off a horror flash fiction piece, “Werewolf for Hire,” to a horror magazine. I originally wrote it when I was 15. It got a rejection slip. A couple days later though, I received something in the mail from the same magazine. I thought, “But they already sent me the rejection.” This letter though, said they had loved my story, but were going through a transition of merging with another magazine. They wanted me to contact them later. Sadly, I lost that letter and envelope with the address on it. It wasn’t many years later when accepted the flash fiction that it saw publication. Years later, it became part of my collection, Spectre Nightmares and Visitations, published by Under the Moon. Not bad for a story of 395 words that I first wrote by long hand in 1970.

I’ve been married for forty years to a man who encourages my writing, and though our son is on his own and married, we do have a ‘fur’ child, a black cat named Shade. I write horror, fantasy, science fiction, and nonfiction ghost books as Pamela K. Kinney (the name I was born with), but also under the pseudonym, Sapphire Phelan, for paranormal romance. I do paranormal investigations and am even the co-producer of Paranormal World Seekers reality show, filmed by AVA Productions. I also have acted on stage and film.

Bryan: That’s awesome! Where can we find your your books or more information in general?

Pamela: To learn more about my books, check out my website for Pamela K. Kinney at and for Sapphire Phelan at

Bryan: I know you mainly as a writer, but where can we look if we want to find out more about you as an actress?

Pamela: You can see my actor’s resume at And though I don’t do it as much in the past few years as writing has become my life, I used to make my own costumes and props, and wear them at conventions.

Bryan: When I first met you, it was through the Horror Writers Association. I remember I had just published my first book No Name and was really just trying to figure out which way was up in the writing world. You gave me some of my best advice, and you continue to point me in the right direction. I am eternally grateful for your help. Tell me how long you’ve been with the Horror Writers Association, and what drove you to become part of the organization?


Pamela and Husband

Pamela: I joined in early 2016. I had already been a member of Romance Writers of America and discovered how much I learned the business of writing from them. With me writing horror and fantasy, I knew HWA would be a good organization to join too.

Bryan: Okay well I guess that’s a bit of a leading question I just asked, because you know I’m going to follow up with asking you what would you say is the greatest benefit to being involved in an organization like the Horror Writers Association?

Pamela: Being a member of both RWA and HWA, my shtick is there is so much out there a writer doesn’t know, that joining these organizations helps us navigate the deep waters of being an author. Not just the business, but networking with other authors, publishers, etc…, and most of all, knowing you’re not alone in loving what you write.

Bryan: You get extra style-points for using the word shtick in a sentence. For all the newbies out there, and I consider myself in that category as well. Give us Pamela Kinney’s best advice for someone starting out in the horror and paranormal thriller genre?

Pamela: Write every day, even if it isn’t your WIP. Join a critique group as the other writers in it will help you strengthen your writing. Enroll or take workshops on writing, plus writing horror in particular. You can find these at conferences and conventions, even at your local library or online (there are virtual conferences and conventions these days). One more thing, read in the genre that you are writing and get to know it, see it from the viewpoint of a reader, not just a writer.

Bryan: I don’t know about you, but I get this question a lot, so I’m gonna ask it. What is your favorite novel or story and why?

Pamela: Well, the one book that scared me in the daytime, in a room full of eighth graders at the time was The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. My teacher had allowed me to read my book as my science project had been finished. It was when I came to the part where the women had been left alone in a bedroom, the men chasing ‘something’ outside, and whatever it was, had begun to bang on the locked doors, including the one to the room they huddled in, I freaked out. I realized I was in my classroom and sun was shining through the windows. That is the only time any author has scared me like that. Stephen King only did it to me twice (and a few others), but it was at night and alone in my bedroom. The books were his It and Salem’s Lot. I still love to read her ghost story around October-it’s tradition for me. Jackson is one of the few I admit inspire me to write in the genre. One other book I love written by another author hero of mine, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Like her, I still reread his works, especially this novel.


Bryan: Something Wicked This Way Comes ranks up there is one of my favorites. Perhaps it is time for me to reread it? So, what kind of projects are you wor


Pamela representing HWA!

king on now? Is there anything you specifically would like our readers to know about?

Pamela: I am working on a supernatural thriller/horror novel, about a cursed land. It is set in Virginia. The chapters have been shared at a critique group I’m with and I only have a bit more to write to finish it. I like to either pitch it or send queries out to agents/publishers for it. I’ve already been told by the facilitator of the critique group, she thinks this will be the book that will do it for me. We shall see. I am also working on a horror short story for an anthology.

Bryan: well Pamela this is been an honor. I really appreciate you taking the time to hang out with me for a little bit, even if it is virtually. For those of you out there in Internet-land reading this for the first time, I can highly recommend Pamela Kinney as an author and as a friend.

Check out Pamela on Amazon!

Thanks horror fans for spending a little time with us and I look forward to doing more of these in the future so you get a chance to know more about the members of the Virginia Chapter of the Horror Writers Association.

-Bryan the Writer, Blogger/Northern Ghoul