Is Denver Horror Collective a Cult?

You may or may not have been wondering…Is DHC a cult?

While we don’t have weird initiation rites, wear robes, or even have a leader, it’s a fair question, and it deserves an honest answer.

So, the Merriam-Webster dictionary gives five definitions for “cult.”

Three are pretty much the same, either, “a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious,” “system of religious beliefs and ritual,” or “formal religious veneration.”

While horror writers do have godlike powers to create new worlds and beings, there is no formal worship in any of our three critique groups, book club, or at our public or virtual events.

The next definition for cult is “a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator.”

While we certainly believe in the power of horror fiction to heal the psyches of writers and readers alike—and DHC has dispensed “cures” in the form of three popular anthologies, with more member fiction on the horizon—other than trying to dodge Covid, we stay out of the disease department altogether.

Now, hopefully that dispels the rumors of DHC being a cult, and we can move on to more important things.

What’s that you say? The dictionary has five definitions, but we only mentioned four?

Oops. We must’ve missed that one.

Okay, then. The final definition is, “great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work.”

As a collective run by a nine-person steering committee, DHC has no “devotion” to any one person. And while we certainly admire many horror authors, we go out of our way to appreciate not just popular names, but to honor and uplift all dark scribes equally.

The same can be said for “objects”—no totems or icons that we bow down to—or even a particular “work,” though DHC each member certainly has their favorite book.

And since we have no unifying ideology required of members nor political goals, we can’t rightly be considered a “movement” either.

But what about devotion to an “idea”? Does DHC’s fervent belief in genuine inclusivity of any and all horror authors—no matter their status, identity, politics, or personality type—make us a cult?

How about our deep commitment to constructively critiquing one another’s writing—and the greater horror fiction world—to make it better, stronger, and fairer for everyone?

Or our faith in writers not simply focusing on themselves but joining a mutually supportive community where a rising tide lifts all boats?  

Does ardently holding those values make Denver Horror Collective a cult?

If so, guilty as charged! And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, if you’re like us, we hope you’ll join (or renew) as a member today.