Tuesday, April 3, 2012

So I went to the World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City

I just flew in from the World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City, and boy is my shoggoth tired. But seriously, folks… This was my first WHC, and my first con of any sort in at least 25 years. It was quite an experience: exhilarating, exhausting, excellent. I attended both as a fan and as a representative of Montag Press, a publishing collective based in Davis, CA. Our first book should be out in early summer (Tree Black by Connor de Bruler), more details on that when the stars are right.

I met so many nice and wonderful people at WHC.  Some I had known from online financial transactions; Hippocampus Press and Centipede Press have seen some  action from my bank account over the years, and it was great to finally meet Derrick Hussey and Jerad Walters. I had a nice talk with Derrick about Clark Ashton Smith and Wilum Pugmire. I didn’t get to talk with Jerad too much, as his absolutely beautiful books were attracting a lot of attention (and customers).

Another vendor acquaintance was Paul Anderson of Arkham AntiquesI bugged Paul repeatedly about all the amazing Lovecraftiana he had for sale, and he was very patient with me. I thank him for that.

Since I was there repping Montag, I took some author pitches – the first time I’ve ever done anything like that, for sure. I found out a couple of days before that I would be sitting on a pre-pitch panel session, not the kind of thing I usually do… Still, Friday morning at 10:00, I found myself sitting at a table with six established horror publishers and editors, facing a standing room crowd of around 50 authors. I acquitted myself OK, and later took pitches for three hours from a number of promising writers. Another guy tracked me down the next day and we had an impromptu session, so in all I talked seriously to seven different people. For an introvert like me, that was quite an experience. Thanks to fellow panelists Kim Richardson of Damnation Books, Nicholas Grabowsky of Black Bed Sheet Books (more on him later), Steven Booth and Norman Rubenstein of Genius Publishing, Don D’Auria of Samhain Publishing, and RJ Cavender of Cutting Block Press for the advice and camaraderie.

While I truly enjoyed taking the pitches, the highlight of the con for me was meeting all of the other small press folks who were there. I was pleasantly surprised – stunned, really – by just how friendly, open, and supportive they all were. My badge did say Montag Press, and I figured the other presses would be a little wary or guarded. Boy, did I misjudge this community. Every single press I talked with was happy to share information and discuss the field.

Dark Regions Press brought many of their books that are on my master To Read list, so I picked a few up from Joe Morey in person. What a haul: Nightingale Songs by Simon Strantzas, Charnel Wine by Richard Gavin, the brand new Gathered Dust and Others hardback by W.H. Pugmire, the dark poetry book Shroud of Night by G. O. Clark, and The Engines of Sacrifice by James Chambers. Mr. Clark and Mr. Chambers were both at the booth, and graciously chatted and signed my books. Joe threw in a copy of Pain by Harry Shannon for free and we made a nice deal. Thanks Joe!

Post Mortem Press had a nice selection of their wares. I hung around with publisher Eric Beebe and author Scott Lange for a while. Later, they let me sit with them at the Bram Stoker Awards banquet. Thanks guys! We also spent some time together in the Radisson bar. Genuinely nice fellas. I bought a copy of Scott’s The Beer Chronicles – with a name like that, how could I not?

Eric Beebe and Scott Lange

In the bar with S.C. Hayden and Scott Lange

ChiZine Publications from Toronto was there, and I got to meet publisher Brett Savory and his wife Sandra Katsuri. I picked up a copy of Katja From The Punk Band by Simon Logan and talked with them for a while. ChiZine had a room party Saturday night; I know I was there and I think I donated a few remnant  beers I picked up when the Stoker party shut down, but then it gets a little fuzzy. Ahem.

At the Stoker Awards banquet. See all the formal wear?
Now guess which doofus wore army pants and a t-shirt. Oops.

Over the course of the three days I was there, I also had some good conversations with a number of other fascinating people. Lori Michelle and Max Booth of Dark Moon Books, Ed Kurtz of RedRum Horror, Roy Robbins of Bad Moon Books, Hollie Snider at Evil Jester Press, and last but not least Blake Casselman of Rare Legend Films stand out the most. I even briefly met Ross Lockhart, managing editor of Night Shade Books, one of my favorite imprints. That was seriously cool.

Ed Kurtz

And then there was the Black Bed Sheet Books posse: publisher and author Nicholas Grabowsky, and authors S.C. Hayden and Alexander Beresford. I met them on the first day, and ended up spending a good deal of time talking and drinking with them in various locales. In one of those “it’s a small world” moments, it turns out Nick lives just a few miles from me, hah. I had read the first half of Sean Hayden’s American Idol in manuscript form, and loved it. When I found out another press was going to publish it, I stopped reading the manuscript and promised myself I'd buy the book when it came out. I’m happy to say I finally did that, really looking forward to reading the final version in its entirety. I have also added Alex’s new book Charla to that To Read list mentioned above, hearing good things about it. I sincerely hope I haven’t seen the last of these rogues, we had too much fun.

Nicholas Grabowsky, Alexander Beresford, and S.C. Hayden

I also want to mention Zombiance, who played a free show in the convention suite on Thursday night. I only caught the last few songs of their set, but really enjoyed it. They have a hard/punk rock style, with songs exclusively about horror topics. Not content with mere corpse paint, these guys and girl have costumes that include make-up, latex and prostheses, very well done.

Zombiance and small, well-behaved punker audience

I had to leave on Sunday and missed the last day of the con. Almost missed my check-out time too, as I apparently returned from those Stoker and ChiZine parties pretty damn late. When I got to the airport, my plane was delayed, everything was crowded, the food was bad, the whole thing. But it didn’t matter. Those three days that came before were worth any travel hassles, without a doubt. This was my first professional convention, and I get the feeling there will be many more. Hoping to make KillerCon in Vegas later this year, fingers crossed.

I took this picture of a deserted SLC at 3:30
Sunday morning. I'm sure I had a good reason.

1 comment:

  1. I have no idea why the font for this post is different from the rest. Can't seem to change it, either. Sometimes I do not internet very goodly.