Horror fiction fans are used to being disgusted, but the hate-filled words of one of the genre’s leading writers have left many feeling truly sickened this week.
On Tuesday, the Horror Writers Association (HWA) announced that it had decided to expel Thomas F. Monteleone, 76, from its membership and ban him from future events run by the organization. Monteleone, who has written dozens of novels and edited the popular Borderlands horror anthology series since the 1980s, had previously been honored with multiple prestigious Bram Stoker Awards from the HWA, including with one of its 2016 Lifetime Achievement Awards.
But a statement from the group condemned Monteleone’s “recent words and actions” adding that the HWA’s trustees do not “condone hate speech in any way, shape, or form.” “We stand in support of our members’ right to feel safe, welcome, and above all else, respected,” the statement continued, adding that the ban on Monteleone had been made “in accordance with our anti-harassment policies.”
The statement did not provide details of precisely which of Monteleone’s words had offended. But the organization had come under pressure over complaints from other authors about his posts on social media. “It is particularly saddening to see someone who was considered a legend in the field reveal themselves to be as racist, transphobic, and bigoted as Monteleone has,” thriller author Alan Baxter wrote in an open letter to HWA on Tuesday calling for Monteleone’s expulsion.
According to an overview of the saga published in sci-fi fanzine File 770, much of the outrage began in the last week when Monteleone posted on Facebook about why he believed author Stuart David Schiff deserved his own Lifetime Achievement Award from the HWA. The zine quoted Monteleone as writing: “That said, and despite the last few LAA years looking very much like a very obvious DEI project, I am compelled to nominate a smart, old white guy: Stu Schiff…” The post reportedly attracted over 800 comments before it was taken down, with some agreeing with his sentiments as others called for him to apologize.
Monteleone then appeared to double down on his views. On a YouTube livestream on Monday titled “Facebook has AIDS w/ Tom Monteleone,” Monteleone said he would not apologize and still intended to attend HWA’s upcoming StokerCon. He went on to bemoan the “odd posturing” he’d seen at previous iterations of the event, where one award was given to “a fat Black chick,” calling his words an “honest, reportorial description… This is who she is.” The person described by Monteleone identifies as non-binary and does not have she/her pronouns.
“Diversity is great as long as it’s not diversity of opinion,” Monteleone continued. “I’m not allowed to believe that the last three years of these awards have been severely skewed towards people that have been in the past called quote ‘marginalized,’” he said. “‘Oh wow, you’ve been writing while Indian? We’re going to give you an award. You’ve been writing while Black? You get an award, no problem. You’re a female and you’re not a white male? You get one!’”
He went on to brag that he won’t call “anybody that’s a single entity ‘they,’” adding: “Whoever came up with this nonsense needs to be taken out into the back and beaten with a rubber hose because it’s bullshit, it’s total bullshit.”
And despite the backlash, Monteleone maintained that he was not worried about the uproar from “wokesters” who hate him. “I have a very healthy… eBook royalty coming in every month for the last 40 years of my stuff, so you know what the rest of them can do? They can suck it.”
“I have apologized to those I personally offended on that dumb podcast and everyone accepted my mea culpas,” Monteleone told The Daily Beast. “As far as my belief the [HWA] has tilted left and politicized itself, I can’t shy away from that opinion. In many ways, I am relieved to be apart from an [organization] I was no longer feeling a part of anyway. That’s it.”