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Alumna Wins 5th Bram Stoker Award For Her Writing

May 31, 2016

If career success can be measured by awards, then Angelo State alumna Lucy A. Snyder’s career as an author is right up there with some of the most well-known names in the dark fantasy and horror genre.

Lucy Snyder Lucy Snyder A 1992 ASU graduate, Snyder recently won a Bram Stoker Award for her short-story collection “While the Black Stars Burn” at the annual international meeting of the Horror Writers Association (StokerCon 2016) in Las Vegas. Named for the author of the original “Dracula,” the Bram Stoker Awards are the highest honor awarded by the HWA—and Snyder has now won five of them. 

“It’s thrilling to win the award and be recognized by my writing peers,” Snyder said. “This is my fifth Stoker, and winning this time for ‘While the Black Stars Burn’ was just as thrilling as it was to win the first time.” 

“In some ways, it was more exciting,” she added, “simply because I was able to attend the awards ceremony. The Stoker weekend when I won the first award for my poetry collection, ‘Chimeric Machines,’ was in Brighton, England, and I just couldn’t make it to the convention.” 

StokerCon 2016 By way of comparison, Snyder has now won almost half as many Bram Stoker Awards as Stephen King (12), who began publishing in 1974 when Snyder was still a toddler. She has also won more Stoker Awards than George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones) and J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter). Though, to be fair, Martin has won multiple Hugo Awards from the Science Fiction Writers Association and a Primetime Emmy Award—and Rowling is now known as “Dame J.K. Rowling” after receiving a Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the arts. 

“My biology studies at ASU have influenced many of my stories and novels. The courses I took gave me a great foundation for world-building and monster-making.”

What makes Snyder’s achievements even more impressive is the fact that she is technically a freelance writer. She has a full-time job helping build online courses at the International Institute for Innovative Instruction at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, and is an adjunct faculty member in the Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Penn. She also writes a regular column for Horror World magazine and will graduate in June with an M.F.A. in creative writing from Goddard College. 

“Add all that to my writing and I’ve been incredibly busy the past few years!” Snyder said. “I still hope to be able to write full time someday, but since I’m the primary earner for my household, I’m not sure when that will be feasible.” 

“In the meantime,” she added, “I set a goal for myself to sell at least one book a year, and so far I’ve been able to meet that goal. Since 2007, I’ve had three novels and seven collections released by different publishers. If all goes according to plan, my fourth novel, ‘Devils’ Field,’ will be out in December 2016.” 

“Devils’ Field” will be the fourth in a series of novels that follow the adventures of young sorceress Jessie Shimmer and her friends in a modern America penetrated by magic. The first book in the series, “Spellbent,” was selected for the 2009 Locus Recommended Reading List and was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. It has also been translated for sale in French and Russian. 

Snyder has also published more than 90 short stories, over 60 poems and over 160 non-fiction articles on everything from faeries to medical botany to Ethernet switches. She earned her ASU bachelor’s degree in biology, holds a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University and is a graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. 

Snyder lives in Worthington, Ohio, with her husband and occasional co-author, Gary A. Braunbeck, who has also won multiple Bram Stoker Awards (7). Her books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and many other book sellers - and several of her books are available for check-out from ASU’s Porter Henderson Library.

Lucy A. Snyder—I Chose Angelo State 

Why did you choose to attend ASU?

I chose to attend ASU because of the very generous Carr Academic Scholarship I received. I also knew other students who had attended ASU, and I knew that the school offered high-quality classes and instructors.

What academic and/or career opportunities did ASU provide for you?

The biggest career opportunity I had at ASU was the chance to help rebuild the Oasis Magazine. It had been dormant for probably close to a decade, and Mike Boren and I and several other students restarted it. After Mike graduated, I served as the main editor. Learning about all the production aspects of the magazine was a great experience—I learned how to use PageMaker, for instance—and it paved the way for me to get editing and layout jobs in graduate school, which in turn led to me getting a job in the graphics computer lab, where I learned HTML and a whole lot about computers. Practically every day job I’ve had since then has been related to that in some way. In terms of my fiction writing, my biology studies at ASU have influenced many of my stories and novels. The courses I took gave me a great foundation for world-building and monster-making.

Name a professor who made a difference in your education.

Dr. Bonnie Amos Dr. Bonnie Amos Bonnie Amos was a great biology instructor. I loved her classes, and she supervised my undergraduate biology research—which went well, but also helped me realize that I didn’t want to work in a laboratory!

Where was your favorite place on campus and why?

The Porter Henderson Library was one of my favorite places. I’m a huge book nerd and I need a lot of quiet, so I’d often hide in the stacks to write or study.

What student groups or activities were you involved with as a student?

Aside from Oasis, I was in the Ram Band my first year, and I was also active in the Tri-Beta biology honor society, Alpha Chi honor society, Sigma Tau Delta (English) and the University Center’s film club. I remember how packed the theater was the night we showed “Silence of the Lambs”!

What was one of your most memorable experiences as a student?

In my junior year, I took an ecology class with Dr. Robert Dowler. He decided to take us on a Saturday field trip to help his graduate students explore the scientific mysteries of the wily armadillo. We all piled into cars to caravan to the field site several miles outside town. My friend Debbie and I amused ourselves by playing Roadkill Bingo as we drove. Soon, we saw the relatively intact carcass of an armadillo. “Whoo, Dr. Dowler won’t be able to resist that one!” Debbie joked. And sure enough, his truck swerved off the road and screeched to a halt in front of the hapless armadillo. He grabbed the carcass, put it in the bed of his truck, and drove on. 

Dr. Robert Dowler Dr. Robert Dowler When we all got to the field site, Dr. Dowler gathered us in a circle. He retrieved the dead ‘dillo and used it to demonstrate the finer points of armadillo wrasslin’—full-nelson, half-nelson, tail grab, the works. Then, he led us to an area where some students were tagging captured armadillos. One student was holding down a 30-pound armadillo while the other painted numbers on its carapace with bright pink latex house paint. Suddenly, the painted armadillo broke free, scrabbling away across a rocky flat. Dr. Dowler sprinted after the beastie, took a flying leap and tackled it on the rocks. The armadillo squealed, and the dust rose in a huge cloud as they tussled. When the dust cleared, Dr. Dowler stood in a triumphant Superman pose, holding the terrified armadillo at arm’s length. He was covered in dirt, pink paint, dozens of bleeding scratches and armadillo poop. I wondered if he’d had a tetanus shot.