Monday, May 2, 2011

The World Horror Convention April 30, 2011--In Review and Retrospection

The 2011 installment of the World Horror Convention wrapped up yesterday afternoon around 1:00 pm, but the day preceding the closing ceremonies was filled with the metaphorical sound of joyous screaming. Well, perhaps I was the only one doing the screaming (and perhaps a little squealing?). After all, one can hardly expect much better of me after having bought a signed copy of Elric At the End of Time. In addition to fascinating panel discussions and stimulating conversation about the genre as a whole, authors allowed their willing readers and avid patrons to line up in front of their tables. All around the convention goers, and myself, was the overall feeling of welcome and contentment. Understandably tired after this event, the Nerd is a little late in her report, but better late than never, no? So, in light of memories past, lets go back there, shall we?...

The Dealer's Room and Artists Room

Get signed in with patience and try not to dart glances around the door jamb. Concentrate on listening to the panel discussions, if you can. Don't let the sound of laughter and conversation spill out of the room into your eager ears. Never mind the fact that there is a room full of discounted books, most of  them one-in-a-lifetime finds, some of them even already signed, not a yard away from you in any direction. You have networking to do, important people to meet and hand out business cards to. ...Ah what the hell! The Dealer's Room at the WHC is an integral part of the convention experience. Small and large publishers alike gather in this room to exhibit their new authors, show off old favorites and make the most of the chance to liquidate old stock. For patrons or aspiring artists, meeting and mingling with potential publishers can open up opportunities that they did not have before. The folks at Edge Press are very interested in receiving new material for their anthologies, and have published such notables as Nancy Kilpatrick. The Dealer's Room also hosts new authors and their publishers hoping to showcase their work. Returning authors also have a chance to promote themselves. Weston Ochse of Bad Moon Books featured his new piece, Lord of the Lash and Our Lady of the Boogaloo, and was only too happy to personalize a copy for the Nerd. The WHC has proven that the dealer's room is full of hidden treasures, as well. One never knows what they will find at a table. Also, never underestimate the power a publisher bearing cookies. Also in the dealer's room this year were Centepede Press (Stephen King, James Herbert) and Dark Continents Publishing.
Can't wait to read this one by Weston Ochse

The artist's room this year featured numerous new artists as well as returning favorite, Albrecht Durer. Special guest Vincent Chong also had several large pieces on auction, as well as small prints for sale, signed of course. The art room offers inexpensive prints, usually signed or copies of signed prints, aspiring artists can use to spruce up their archives or inspirations. I was fortunate enough to happen upon a copy of Vlad the Impaler by Albrecht Durer, the font of which matches my back tattoo. One can also find large pieces on auction. Most of the sales go to the WHC. 

Panel Discussions

"Hello my name is John, and I'm
an alcoholic." "Hi, John!"
The Nerd squealed indeed upon discovering she had missed the Vampire Mega-Panel Saturday morning. The panelists met to discuss our favorite villain, the vampire in all of its forms and speculated as to why the vampire continues to dominate the stage of horror fiction. Also on the list for Saturday was "Horror Without Stephen King", another speculative panel that discussed Stephen King's influence on horror writing and what the industry would have been like without his immense contributions. Peter Straub was present at "The End of Good Advice", where panelists discussed the many pieces of advice writers--old and new--received and still receive, covering everything from writing workshops and groups to self-publication and promotion. "Genre Mash-Ups", featuring Cathy Clamp of Tor Books, discussed the fear of genre mashing from the perspective of consumers, buyers and publishers. Genre mashing has been going on for at least as long as the industry has persisted, from weird noir to space westerns. Questions were raised regarding the validity of Seth Grahame-Smith's mashing of old classics and monsters (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, etc.). One of the last panels of the day consisted of discussions about past horror tropes that can be forgotten. Despite the interesting topics, the panel was sadly short of people, adding John Skipp (writer/publisher) as a last minute speaker. Discussion did not lack, though, as the panel raised questions about publishing safely on the Internet, self publication, and the death of the Gross-Out competition at WHC, whose resurrection is set for 2012. Other panel discussions and various readings by emergent, guest and established artists took place throughout the day.

Mass Signing

The guys at Dark Continents
The author's mass signing began at 7:00 and lasted two hours. We, the convention goers and my husband, stared eagerly from the side of the room as the author's took their seats, set up their wares and prepared their pens. I held my copy of Peter Straub's non-fiction work, Sides, tightly in my hand. We could not, however, move on to Straub without first stopping by the table of Dark Continents Publishing writer Sylvia Shultz, where the Nerd acquired Taming of the Werewolf, a genre mash-up feature bits of William Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. Cathy Clamp signed me up for the Zombie give-away. Straub enthusiastically signed my book and I thanked him for such an interesting panel. Then it was over to Adrian Chamberlin (and his Cadbury Chocolate), David Youngquist and John Prescott, some tables over and also with Dark Continents Publishing, undoubtedly one of the most interesting sets of people at the convention. Courteous and encouraging, they were eager to make friends, and so were we.

We left the mass signing with our treasures in tow. Those authors, Peter Straub and the guys at Dark Continents, did not sign books that day, though. They signed little bits of our memories. As Brian Lumley did in Brighton last year, those authors put pen to page that day to indelibly print their name, or the date or possibly a little encouragement on a part of our hearts that they in some ways already owned. We could not have been more honored or pleased.


The WHC has come and gone. As we look forward to 2012 in Salt Lake City, we look back on the group of authors and publishers who made 2011 so special, particularly Weston Ochse (who insists that I never call him 'sir'), Peter Straub and Dark Continents Publishing, as well as the wonderful folks at Edge. In all my years as a writer, I have never felt so comfortable in a sea of strangers. The writers--famous and not so much--and publishers at WHC were cheerful and supportive. We entered the convention with some apprehension, and left with a profound sense of encouragement. We had a fabulous time and can't wait for next year.

Weston Ochse blogs here:
Come see why I've been squealing about these guys here:

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