I had a wonderful time reading poetry alongside Stephanie Wytovich (who read a battery of amazing “psycho ward” poetry) at DV8 Espresso Cafe & Gallery in Downtown Greensburg, PA, this past weekend. It was standing room only, there were a lot of laughs, and weirdness was definitely in high abundance. Among other things, I got to share my current Mutterverse experiment, which featured a slideshow of strange images…until the power went out on the projector, that is. But I just continued reading in the darkness, which was perfect.
Perhaps the highlight of the night was a “Poedown Throwdown” slam poetry challenge between Stephanie and I, where we tasked one another to write a new poem inspired by an Edgar Allan Poe story and then read it live at the event. She did “The Raven” and I took on “The Black Cat.” Here are the results. I cheated a little by reading three pieces. But ultimately, she may have won. You be the judge!
Poedown with Michael Arnzen and Stephanie Wytovich, Live at DV8 Greensburg (8 mins.):
includes: “Blackbird” by Stephanie Wytovich &
“The Stuffed Black Cat,” “Burning the Witch” and “Poe’s Growth” by Michael Arnzen
Download (12.2 mb)
And I just HAVE to also share the following clip from one of my favorite parts of the night: a reading of “The Seven-Headed Beast” (from my book, 100 Jolts)…that includes creepy audience accompaniment! [Those readers who know my CD, Audiovile, will likely find this "unplugged" version even more disturbing than the original! I know I do....]
“The Seven-Headed Beast” Live at DV8 Cafe, Greensburg PA 11/10/2012
by Michael A. Arnzen (2.32 mins)
DOWNLOAD .mp3 (3.8 mb)
The good folks at Raw Dog Screaming Press hosted a semi-private party-slash-convention to launch the celebration of their ten year anniversary, and from all reports, the festivities were nothing short of transformational. The press is renewed, launching a brand new science fiction imprint called Dog Star Books — with Heidi Ruby Miller (co-editor of Many Genres One Craft) at the editorial helm. There will be a new website, a new focus on community, and pack of new books to come in the years ahead. In fact, I think this is going to be the Year of the Dog and I’m proud to be a part of the year-long ten year anniversary party.
For full coverage of the event, drop by the Raw Dog Screaming Dog Con report on livejournal or facebook. The real gem of it all is editor/publisher/designer Jennifer Barnes’ “State of the Dog” Speech, which can be seen on YouTube.
I said “I didn’t go but I still went” to DogCon. This was because I performed a reading over the internet airwaves (via “FaceTime”) which was projected on a TV at DogCon, and which involved all sorts of funky interactive hijinx (even prizes!). Here’s a cool photo from the other side of the TV, from Mike “Tricky” Mehalek, taken during my reading:
And the hosts even posted a videotape of my reading over the television on youtube:
And if you want more video action, take a look at this video — they’ve also shared snippets of my dramatic reading of the original source material from which the publishers drew the name for their press, “Raw Dog Screaming.” If stick around till the end, you’ll see a funny snippet of the quiz show I ran over the air, with rare prizes involved. (“Winners have to have courage.”) I’m sure there will be more videos to come on the RDSP YouTube Channel.
I saved a high quality audio file of the reading, which you can listen to or even download below. It includes a few new and unpublished poems (as heard on the video), followed by a recitation of my flash fiction piece from the Hazard Yet Forward charity anthology, called “The Scraper” (not on the video).
Keep your eyes on Raw Dog Screaming Press as their website evolves in the year ahead. There are a ton of great books to come from RDSP, including — drum roll — the re-release of my novel, Play Dead, in 2013.
While a new edition of an old book might not seem like much to those of you who already read it, it’s a little shocking to realize that this novel is currently only available in a long out-of-print and sold out fine hardcover or sculpture-bound edition. SO a far more accessible paperback and ebook edition will be published by Raw Dog in the year to come. Woot! Perhaps it will even feature a new cover and other fun elements. In fact, I’m working with Raw Dog on a couple of other fun things, which I know will surprise some of you. I look forward to announcing these in the year to come, too. The horror never ends here on gorelets.com. Thanks for sticking with me, and for supporting the indie publishers I’ve worked with over the years like Raw Dog Screaming Press. Here’s to their next ten years!
As you’ll see in the long scroll of photos below, I was a lousy photographer this time around but generally had a good time at this year’s International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA 33), which transpired in Orlando, FL, last month (March 21-25, 2012). The photo brevity is a symptom of being overprogrammed and otherwise entirely focused on the events, rather than on shooting snaps. If you want photos, they’re already out there, anyway. If you’re looking for the best of the bunch, I recommend you drop by flickr and peruse the galleries of:
James Patrick Kelly , Ellen Datlow, or Kathryn Cramer.
But here are the highlights of my experience at the 33rd annual International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts…highlights which may or may not reference any of the photos below. For the funk of it, I will employ a bulleted list of microevents with ambiguous summaries mixed into the programming descriptions.
+ Arrived. Casillero del Diablo in many bottles. Old friends under a dark umbrella in the dead of night. Laughter, followed by splashes in a nearby pool. Then: profound silence.
+ Thursday, 8:30am, fiction reading. Read my poem, “Creasing His Collar” as a good morning wake-up call to all who attended at this ungodly hour (surprisingly many). Then read Matheson’s “Born of Man and Woman” followed directly by my sequel, “She Screech Like Me,” from He Is Legend. Used weird voice. [Dave Sandner later told me I should talk in that voice all day. I was tempted.] Enjoyed stories by fellow writers in the panel, Greg Bechtel and Daryl Gregory. Greg’s reading gave some insights into his writerly process — with big projects afoot for the future. Daryl Gregory was particularly on fire; he read an amazing story from his new Fairwood Press collection UNPOSSIBLE — which I recommend — and then he told an unforgettably (unforgiveably?) bizarre “Aristocrats” joke…featuring Asimov’s robots. We signed together after the panel. I was surprised that folks showed up with books for me to sign — Bernie Goodman and Jacob Weisman (of Tachyon Publications) win the prize for having some of the rarest editions with my signature on them, including copies of Paradoxa and Last Drink Bird Head.
+ Registered. Academics don’t believe in goodie bags. But this place is fun. I got a conference program, banquet tickets and a limited edition China Mieville t-shirt that I happily pre-ordered. Was disappointed that it was China’s art on the tee, though, and not one of the soiled and sweaty old Hanes tank tops he wore while writing Kraken. [Actually, it was the same art that appears on the graphic of the program cover above... a neat ape/bride/tentacle face!] Regardless: the con opens with smiles, hugs and handshakes with old pals.
+ Thurs., Lunch. China Mieville gave a slide-show enhanced guest lecture on permutations of the uncanny. This was a provocative essay, even as it was parodic. I recorded the audio. Preter-uncannilly, I knew to record the speech in advance. It was one of the best lectures of the weekend. A profound auto-parodic work of criticism, that pleaded for us to not over-taxonomize everything we find strange. I think of Mieville as a Marxist, but this was deconstruction pure and simple. It was really, ultimately, yet another deconstruction of the failure of language to capture experience, even as we try to master experience through it. I thought his unwillingness to bring Kristevan abject into the picture — by denying she had any say in his topic even as he used ideas of trash and disjecta membra (in monstrous icons like ‘Garbage Man‘) was puzzling.
+ Thurs., 2pm. Responded to a theory roundtable discussion of one of my articles on teaching horror fiction, called “The Unlearning.” Great conversation, hosted by the effervescent Barbara Lucas. David Sandner (who not only teaches horror in a Gothic class at U Cal Fullerton, but also appears in The Gorelets Omnibus) wins for asking the hardest questions. Jacob Weisman, Brian Rapp and others got to share their experience or thoughts about teaching horror. I wished I would have recorded this. Something like it (a roundtable of horror teachers discussing the use of horror fiction and film in the classroom) appears in the new book, The Best of Dissections — a hard copy anthology that Gina Wisker was proudly sharing at the conference, and which hopefully will be available as an ebook someday soon.
+ Thurs., 4pm. Sat on a panel called “The Monster in the Room: Archetypes of the Monstrous in Children’s Literature” with Jessica Fontaine, Alaine Martaus and Bridgid Shannon. These folks were very impressive, and I believe many of them had studied at Hollins University, which has a fantastic Children’s Lit program. I was happy to be a part of this dialogue, but I probably didn’t belong on this panel, as I literally became the ‘monster in the room’ by talking about theories by Freud and Bettleheim that folks didn’t want to hear about. Maybe the only good thing I really contributed was my insistence that these books say as much about adults as they do about the kids they’re written for, which everyone already knew but perhaps likes to forget. I learned a lot about picture books and new titles I hadn’t heard of before. And one of the panelists used the phrase “Grover Studies” in answering a question about a book, which I will never forget whenever I hear an academic describe their field again. (It’s all Grover Studies, baby.)
+ Later that day: local writer friends who weren’t attending the conference pulled up in a minivan, tossed a bag over my head, and then drove away. They pulled the bag off my head and I found myself at a local seafood restaurant — one that would become my only foray into local cuisine the whole time. Jeff Strand, Lynne Hansen, Sally Bosco, Gina Wisker, David Sandner, and Andy Miller were a blast. We talked about the ebook revolution, cover art, bad zombie movies, Jeff’s latest novels, and the Bram Stoker Awards. Then a bag went back over my head and I woke up in my room, bruised and bloody.
+ Friday, 8:30am. This conference likes to balance the pleasure of good company with the pain of early morning panels. Ah well…I can drink coffee and shoot the breeze anytime, anywhere. But only if there’s coffee. This morning I moderated a panel on horror film directors, called “The Thing Is…Barker, Craven, Carpenter and Watts.” The title sounds like the typical “potpourri” of things that they lumped together because the organizers couldn’t figure out a more coherent theme. Yet this one worked and was groovy. Dominick Grace read a fantastic essay on Peter Watts’ so-called “fan fiction” tribute to John Carpenter’s famously tentacled film, The Thing — called “The Things” (and every Carpenter fan reading this NEEDS to read this story — it’s over on Clarkesworld Magazine right now for free reading). Joseph Lewis presented a piece on the Elm Street films which smartly cited Joseph Andriano’s excellent work on monsters. Tony Vinci also gave an awesome paper on Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and Nightbreed, rife with penetrating analysis. This is what I would call “a great panel!”
+ Friday, Lunch. Sat with Stephen Erickson, and talked about his days back in the Iowa Writers Workshop. Learned some things about T.C. Boyle. Then listened to guest scholar, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, who presented a slideshow-infused after-lunch lecture called, simply, “Undead.” While the coverage was wide, the depth was still there all along the zombified cultural landscape. I knew a lot of this already, but he helped me to understand zombies as a popular trend in today’s culture a little differently. I loved his comment, “I wish we could have our zombies without demanding so ardently an apocalypse to go with them.” Here, here. And in my view, almost all of the ‘fun’ zombie titles (just think Shaun of the Dead) seem to domesticate them. But of course, the second you domesticate a creature, you rob it of its power. However, why must that power always be apocalyptic? That’s as stupid as having every James Bond villain a person who is set out to destroy the world. The scope is always too wide, too generic. Maybe that’s tied in with what zombies themselves are commenting on. My opinion anwyay.
+ Friday, later. Sat in on a fantastic poetry reading with David Kopaska-Merkel, Carolyn Clink and Bryan D. Dietrich. Poets who work in science fiction, fantasy and horror are really some of the smartest writers around, and I really wish they were read more often. This is why I remain a member of The Science Fiction Poetry Association and bought a lifetime subscription to Dreams and Nightmares magazine.
+ Saturday, 8am. Sleep, glorious sleep. Nightmares, glorious nightmares, filled with ropy mucous monsters and dopy doofus lobsters. Followed by glorious coffee.
+ Sat, 10:30am. Listened to the panel on Hal Duncan’s book, The Last Werewolf. Douglas Ford is one of my favorite horror genre critics working today and he presented a masterful analysis of the text that’s still got me thinking about the issues it raises, Sarah Benton smartly looked at Kristevan abjection in the book, and Chelsey Lucas explored the ‘humanity’ in the title. I’ve never been a huge werewolf fan, but I really must read this book. This panel was an example of how critics can love a book and celebrate it through literary criticism at the same time.
+ Sat, Noonish. Lunched with friends from Tachyon Publications. A butler statue with a strange and disgusting hole in its hands greeted us at a storefront. We swapped stories of neighborhood murders and other crimes we experienced, growing up. I remember Amityville and the Son of Sam. Good conversation. Orlando residents in earshot gave us funny looks. Story of my life.
+ Sat, mid-midday. Alerted that there was something waiting for me in the silent book auction. All books are silent, so this alert scared me.
+ Sat, 5pm. Attended the annual editorial board meeting for Dissections: The Journal of Contemporary Horror. Gina Wisker likes to have folks share poetry before we get down to the business of talking shop about the literary journal. I read my Zombie Haiku from twitter last Halloween (appears in The Gorelets Omnibus) while a young boy splashed in the nearby kiddie pool. I directed my reading at him, trying to gross him out or scare him away. Instead, he offered a giggly critique after each poem. It was hilarious, till Mom came outside to fetch him. I think she looked at me like I was going to drown the poor kid. I just made him swim in a pool of horror poetry.
+ Sat evening. Awards banquet. I always attend this formal end-cap to this conference, which is rife with good food, congratulatory speeches, and applause. Feels very genuinely like a gathering of friends. Only this year, I somehow managed to sit at a table where they delivered food last. And they ran out of food early…so they brought us bottle after bottle of free wine to pour into our empty stomachs until the food was prepared. People at the table were hungry and upset…but I couldn’t think of a better way to end the night!
+ Sun morning. No one is awake. I get on the shuttle bus like a zombie. Fly. Do not crash. Come home to catch up on work. Then write this. Still like a zombie. End.
At the recent Bram Stoker Awards ceremony in New York, the banquet’s emcee, author Jeff Strand, plotted the following little skit which we delivered to everyone’s surprise, shortly before he introduced the presenters of the award for Outstanding Achievement in Long Fiction. I was honored to be a part of the joke in this parody of the goreletter’s Instigation column, which features “twisted prompts for sicko writers.” Here’s the script from our skit. Although I wrote the prompts below, the idea was all Jeff’s and he did a fantastic job all night long. Be sure to drop by his website and pick up a copy of his latest book, Fangboy (which I’m currently reading and loving). To read more about the 2011 Stoker Weekend see my con report.
Jeff Strand: Why is the word “novella” longer than the word “novel?” And why is the word “novelette” longer than the word “novella?” [Uncomfortable pause.] I’m sorry, that was awful. Is there a writing instructor in the room?
Mike Arnzen: Right here! [Mike runs up to stage.] You look like a man who needs help writing an introduction to the Long Fiction category.
Mike: Well, I’m a tenured Professor of English at Seton Hill University, where I teach in an innovative Master’s degree program in Writing Popular Fiction. What you need is a prompt to spark your creativity. I’ll give you the prompt, and your imagination will do the rest. Ready?
Mike: “Close your eyes. Imagine the longest sword in the universe. Now — taking the point of view of the sword — describe the worst sword swallowing accident imaginable! Anything?”
[Jeff stares at Mike.]
Jeff: Give me another one.
Mike: “Pretend you had a set of characters named ‘Mr. Novel’ and ‘Mrs. Novella’ who had a monstrous offspring named ‘Little Novellette.’ What method would the sweet little girl choose to murder the entire family?”
[Jeff stares at Mike again.]
Jeff: What else?
Mike: “If you were to murder a man with the world’s longest book…what do you think your victim’s brains would taste like?”
Jeff: You know what, I think I’ve got it.
Mike: “Godspeed.” [Mike leaves.]
Jeff: Why is the word “novella” longer than the word “novel?”
I had a great time in New York last weekend, participating in the 2011 Stoker Weekend put on by the Horror Writers Association. The “Stoker Weekend” is an annual professional writer’s conference that centers around the Bram Stoker Award ceremony, featuring business/professional meetings, public book signings, panel discussions for the national writer’s organization, the Horror Writers Association. I took lots of photos this time around, to try to capture the spirit of the event. Here are some of the highlights from my trip to Long Island:
+ Was greeted by many old friends and new readers at the massive autograph session that began the second I arrived at the hotel. I had tons of copies of my new book, Many Genres, but for some reason most folks seemed intrigued by my tiny bilingual chapbook, Skull Fragments (which sold out). Photos here.
+ Ran a great writing workshop called ‘Horror Unbound: Pushing Your Reader Off the Ledge’. I used an old comic strip I’ve always adored by Peter Kuper as a central motif in the class, where we discussed the “cautionary tale” and how to structure your story to generate surprises in readers…and I challenged everyone to “flaunt the license” that the genre gives a person.
+ On the “Pushing the Boundaries” panel, I got to shock the audience by reading a poem from Freakcidents (“Mutant Marcus”). We also had a pretty amazing conversation about various experiments with form that poetry offers genre writers. It was great sitting on this panel with Linda Addison, Kurt Newton, Chad Helder and Marge Simon.
+ Had lunch with Dacre Stoker, manager of the Bram Stoker Estate, and talked about his next book and the extreme efforts he’s taking to try to get a Stoker statue erected in Ireland.
+ Got to share “Don’t Stop Bleeding” and the traditional folk poem I made up from “The Ghost Bike on Childer’s Road” (from the book Legends of the Mountain State IV) on another poetry panel (called “Pellets of Poison”), and had fun sitting alongside Christopher Conlon, Bruce Boston, Marge Simon, Jill Bauman and Kurt Newton who also read some viciously potent and moving work.
+ Hung out a bit here and there with the wonderful Michael Knost, editor of Writers Workshop of Horror. Also had really good extensive conversations with all sorts of folks, like S.G. Browne (who taught me a lot about new media and has just released a cool book, Fated), RJ Cavender (who is doing great things for authors over at the editorialdepartment.com), and Jonathan Maberry (who is working on an exciting new book!).
+ Got to sample a fantastic Blue Point Toasted Lager from a gigantic baseball-bat-sized dispenser (sitting a top a giant baseball) with RJ Cavender and Boyd Harris from Horror Library/Cutting Block Press.
+ Ran a great book discussion and signing for my latest release (co-edited with Heidi Ruby Miller), Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction. Photos and report here.
+ Saw Lawrence Connolly masterfully run a panel on trends in new media for writers in the genre. Learned a lot here from the witty and hyper-intelligent folks on the panel — Matt Schwartz, SG Browne and Jonathan Maberry. What I learned made me feel good about my decision to start up the Michael Arnzen Social Network and encouraged me to expand some things beyond focusing so much on The Goreletter newsletter…though I really need to get the next issue out! Subscribe to get yours in the near future.
+ Attended the official book launch for Christopher Conlon‘s latest (and amazing) poetry anthology, A Sea Of Alone: Poems For Alfred Hitchcock (Dark Scribe Press, 2011). Everyone at the session read from the book — I may post a recording from this in the near future, if I’m able. All the poetry was mind-blowingly good. In addition to my reading of “Marnie Checks In,” I heard poems from Michael Calvillo, Kurt Newton, Christopher Conlon, Norman Prentiss, Lisa Morton, Martel Sardina, and Marge Simon. Photos here. And here’s an audio recording of Kurt Newton reading his poem “The 39 Steps” live.
+ During a free moment before the Stoker Award ceremony, I visited the famous Amityville house with all the Seton Hill alumnae (Sally Bosco, Kristin Dearborn, Paul Popiel) and faculty (me and Lawrence Connolly) from the Writing Popular Fiction MFA program who were in attendance. We stopped at Amity Harbor Spots Shop and found some cool team t-shirts. We now call ourselves “The Amityville Club” Photos here.
+ Attending the Stoker Awards banquet is always a blast. The food was phenomenal. I got to sit with my compadres from Seton Hill’s writing program, along with writer Tracy Sharp and her partner Jeff Van Worden. During the ceremony, I presented the poetry award along with the always-amazing Linda Addison, which was unforgettable. We read snippets from all the nominee’s work, before announcing the winner (Bruce Boston for his great book, Dark Matters). I was also later “surprisingly” called to the stage by emcee Jeff Strand for a funny skit with him that involved giving him a mock “instigation” series of prompts when he suffered from “presenter’s block”…I’ve posted a transcript of this goofery to the Instigation department here on gorelets.com.
Below is the winner’s list of all this year’s Stoker Awards. Be sure to visit my event gallery to see all the photos I took over the weekend.
HWA Announces 2010 Bram Stoker Award Winners
Superior Achievement in a NOVEL:
A DARK MATTER by Peter Straub
Superior Achievement in a First Novel (tie):
BLACK AND ORANGE by Benjamin Kane Ethridge
CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES by Lisa Morton
Superior Achievement in Long Fiction:
INVISIBLE FENCES by Norman Prentiss
Superior Achievement in Short Fiction:
THE FOLDING MAN by Joe R. Lansdale
Superior Achievement in an Anthology:
HAUNTED LEGENDS edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas
Superior Achievement in a Collection:
FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King (Simon and Schuster)
Superior Achievement in Nonfiction:
TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS by Gary A. Braunbeck
Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection:
DARK MATTERS by Bruce Boston
HWA 2010 SPECIALTY PRESS AWARD GOES TO DARK REGIONS PRESS
ANGEL LEIGH McCOY AWARDED 2010 SILVER HAMMER AWARD
MICHAEL COLANGELO AWARDED 2010 RICHARD LAYMON AWARD
The 2009 Bram Stoker Award winners were announced by the Horror Writer’s Association at World Horror Convention in Brighton, England, last weekend. I read almost all of these titles and I can vouch that they are superlative reads. (In fact, I lauded Lucy Snyder’s poetry-winning book here in The Goreletter). See the HWA’s announcement for a complete list…congratulations to all the winners!
I contributed work to two of the books (though the editors, not me, rightfully get the awards!). These are pretty amazing books to be a part of, so I want to celebrate them here (and share some breaking news along the way as well):
The winner in this year’s “Fiction Anthology” category was He Is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson. It includes stories by myself, Gary Braunbeck, Nancy A. Collins, William F. Nolan (who also received a Lifetime Acheivement Award at this year’s Stokers), Joe R. Lansdale, and, okay, too many great writers to list. This hardcover book is notable among horror collectors because it features the first published collaboration between Stephen King and his son Joe Hill, who have since released it as a part of an audiobook package of novellas with Matheson called ‘Road Rage’. He Is Legend is a great anthology, and — here’s the news I promised: I’m pleased to share that the book has recently been picked up for a trade hardcover by Tor Books releasing this September, and will also soon appear in Italian and Japanese editions! [You can see the illustration Harry O. Morris did for my tale, "She Screech Like Me," in the gorelets.com gallery, by the way.] Congratulations to editor Christopher Conlon and publisher Gauntlet Press!
The winner in the “Non-Fiction” category was a fantastic instructional book called Writer’s Workshop of Horror, which includes essays on the craft by a long roster of today’s best horror writers. A coterie of us who teach in the MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University — myself, Gary Braunbeck, Tim Waggoner, and Lucy A. Snyder — all contribute work. (This book also won a “Black Quill” award earlier this year for Best Dark Non-Fiction). If you write, you need to get a copy! CONGRATULATIONS to editor Michael Knost and publisher Woodland Press!
Had a fabulous time last weekend at Backlist Books in Massillon, Ohio — a great new indie bookstore that does a knock-out job supporting not only speculative genre fiction (horror, science fiction and fantasy literature), but also the independent press. It’s good to see a place like this in the Midwest region of the country. They carry any number of books that I have only heretofore seen available online (especially when it comes to ‘bizarro’ fiction), lots of genre magazines, classic titles of science fiction and fantasy… They had LOTS of collectibles and rarities. I even spotted a quirky line of “adult sci-fi” paperbacks on one shelf that made me laugh aloud (I can’t remember the titles to the letter, but they were something along the lines of Captain Loins vs. the Tentacular Space Pirates from Planet Vulvon), and all sorts of cool art on the wall. Every book buyer even got a fortune telling fish!
The “Bizarro Day” reading event was a smashing success, and it was fun to hear D. Harlan Wilson, Anderson Prunty, John Edward Lawson, Gary A. Braunbeck and Lucy Snyder all read their latest weirdness. I read song parodies (everyone seemed to laugh at my Journey remake, “Don’t Stop Bleeding”) and other pop culture horror poems. Bookseller Fred Van Patton reported that it was probably the most successful event in the store’s history — and that we even outsold Deepak Chopra! It’s true that I sold a goodly number of books, but subsequently spent whatever I made on sales to buy the other writer’s latest books. I hope you will do the same.
Event Coverage updates posted here as they come in:
Last weekend, I attended HorrorFind Weekend 2008 held in the Mariott at the University of Maryland in Adelphi, along with my wife Renate and my friend from graduate school, Bill Hamilton. Though the new space thinned out the herd a bit too much for my taste, it was a decent convention with a great dealer’s room and I had a generally good time hanging out with some old friends while making many new ones. My wife and I also took a break and drove into Baltimore to visit Poe’s grave and one of the locations for the Homicide TV show at Fell’s Point (which I later learned is rumored to be haunted). And it was rewarding to screen Exquisite Corpse in the huge auditorium at the convention, with such a great sound system.
The highlight for me at Horrorfind this year was celebrating Raw Dog Screaming Press’ fifth anniversary, during their reading sessions and successful room party. It was fun to hang out with all the RDSP authors and meet some new fans and writers who wanted to talk in depth about Audiovile and 100 Jolts.
It was great laughing it up with Ron & Darin Malfi, learning about acting and horror from Michael Boatman, talking about medicine with F. Paul Wilson, finally meeting Stephen Segal, shaking hands and joking about sunglasses with Roddy Piper and meeting one of my favorite actors, William Forsythe, talking shop with the wonderful D. Harlan Wilson, buying art from Steven Archer, talking about Black Sabbath and Bowie with Donna Lynch, swapping chuckles with Lisa Mannetti and Elizabeth Blue, chatting with Brian Yount and his wife about Doorways magazine, contemplating the impact of flash fiction with Nate Rosen of microhorror.com, reflecting on the sad state of the publishing world with Gord Rollo, hearing Jen Barnes’ speech about the company, hearing the “meet the parents moment” of Matt Warner & Deena Warner, reminiscing with my old friend Ed Lee, joking with Nanci Kalanta, loving the spirit of JL Comeau, seeing John Lawson do the meat puppet cabaret live, and…oh, it’s impossible to list it all, and I’m leaving out too much. Rather than get any deeper into the nitty-gritty, I’ll just collect related links to con reports and photos online here:
RDSP 5 Year Anniversary Party & Reading Photos at Raw Dog Screaming Press: Raw Dog’s report includes not only photos but also great video clips from the reading series, including my funny tribute to the publisher and fiction reading.
My photos in the Gorelets Gallery: some of the photos that actually survived my trip.
The Crab Hat Clue Game at Adrienne Jones’ Briney Blog: Here’s the deal — I won a free novelty “crab hat” for pre-ordering a great book called Brine by the hilariously weird writer, Adrienne Jones. I decided to take it to the con and asked the more daring attendees to pose for a shot wearing it. (I would have done this too, but I lost it (or was it stolen?) at the con!)
On my bleary-eyed way out the door at the end of the con, I was interviewed on video by the wonderful Judy Comeau for the Gore de Vol show. (link forthcoming)
This year’s Bram Stoker Award ceremony was held last weekend in Toronto, concurrent with World Horror Convention. Winners included Stephen King, John Skipp, Lisa Morton, Gary Braunbeck, Jonathan Maberry and Kim Paffenroth. I was on hand to present the poetry award along with Don Hutchison to Bruce Boston for his winning poetry collection, Shades Fantastic.
[Ironically, The Horror Channel has just posted a bleary-eyed video interview with me, shortly after I stepped off the stage at the 2006 Bram Stoker Awards in Newark last June, when I won the award for Freakcidents. Good memories!]
World Horror Convention itself was a blast this year. It was one of the few times my wife Renate attends these things with me, and we had a great time together checking out Toronto. I met many old friends and made new ones, and though I wouldn’t dare try to list all of them here, it was nice to hang out with a few fellow faculty and alumnae from our Writing Popular Program at Seton Hill University, including Lawrence C. Connolly and Jean-Loup Benet (pictured below).
Among the personal highlights at the con….
Getting to taste Brian Keene’s bottle of Knob Hill during the opening night panel, “What is Horror, Exactly?” with Keene, Gary Braunbeck, Deborah LeBlanc, and the wonderful Mark Morris. Our audience was so large we had to move the panel out into the reception area, and this made it only larger, as snockered and curious passers-by joined in on the fun, and we sported with their comments. We never pinned horror down “exactly” and that was a very good thing, because I think we revealed the amorphous and wide range of the genre.
At the “mass autograph” session, in which all the major writers in attendance gather in a room to sign books, I had the odd opportunity to sign a jacket…which is now for sale on eBay to benefit a horror fan in need. (Go bid on it here — it’s a good cause.)
My screening of Exquisite Corpse drew a great conversation afterward, as we talked about how poetry and other experimental forms make different demands on the filmmaker and audience. At my fiction reading, I previewed some excerpts from my upcoming audiobook, Audiovile (and found it very difficult not to hear the accompanying music in my head as I read aloud).
And at the end of the convention, I sat on a panel called “Young Blood: New Writers to Look Out For” (starring Sarah Langan, Alexandra Sokoloff, Sarah Pinborough, and Violette Malan — all pictured above, though I wish we could see their faces rather than this offbeat ‘last supper’ look we’ve got going on). I assumed this panel would be a polling of who we thought people ought to be reading these days, but instead discovered that the panelist themselves were the ones who were being showcased (…which was fine by me, even though I’ve been publishing for about 18 years now). After we talked a bit about our work and the new challenges of the industry today, the panel quickly became a discussion about strategies for getting published, since there were a number of new writers in attendance with questions. Of course, one thing a new writer can and should do is attend the conventions in the trade, like next year’s WHC, which I can guarantee will be not only informative and career-rewarding, but also just a whole lotta fun.
Last weekend, I attended World Horror Convention 2005 in NYC, where I sat on a panel, performed readings, did a few interviews, and generally had a lot of fun. I can’t possibly write a “con report” because it would go on forever, but I met a lot of friends old and new, talked to numerous readers and editors, and enjoyed every waking moment.
One highlight for me, though, was getting the chance to see the “model” for the sculpture-bound, special edition (a.k.a. “Grim Grimoire“) edition of my novel, Play Dead, pictured above. The resemblance is uncanny…hah! The book, if you can’t see it well, is shaped like an evil Ace of Spades, with ruby red eyes that follow you everywhere, and a realistic maw with real teeth in its little snapping mouth. 54 copies of this book will be manufactured for the collector’s market by my publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press this Fall.
RDSP also sponsored the very fun “Play Dead Texas Hold ‘Em Charity Event” which pitted author against author in a showdown of cards, moderated by Matt Schwartz at shocklines.com, complete with professional dealers, tables, and chips. I played in the game for the literacy charity, in2books, and though I didn’t win, I held my own, and over $1575 was raised for various charitable organizations. F. Paul Olsen, Valerie Thorpe, Jeremy Robert Johnson and Tom Monteleone were top four players in the game. Afterwards, every author signed dozens of decks of playing cards to create a unique collectable artifact which will be given to sponsors and players.
Play Dead is now available for preorder in hardback; the “Grim Grimoire” has yet to be priced, but is expected to sell out upon announcement. An excerpt from Play Dead was recently posted at the Horror Fiction News Network. Review copies are circulating, and I’ll link to reviews here as they appear.
Last weekend, I attended Horrorfind Weekend in Baltimore, sponsored by the genre’s great search engine, horrorfind.com. I had a blast. It’s a huge gathering of people in the scary business, from George Romero and Jack Ketchum to people who make funny black t-shirts for goths and bondage gear for everyone else. Horrorfind is more “multimedia” oriented than the usual “literary” cons I attend, but that only means the bar is even more crowded. You know a convention is cool if it’s got an “Evil Dead Museum” and a dealer’s room where you can buy (fake?) flayed human faces under cellophane with those little bar-code stickers on them just like at the supermarket.
I love horrorfind.com and I’ve even contributed fiction to the site. But I’ve always found the sponsored name — “Horrorfind Weekend” — kind of clumsy for a convention title. It doesn’t have the grand ring of something like “World Fantasy Convention” and it doesn’t even go for a catchy pun, like “ConNiption” or “ExCon.” So to puzzle things out, I decided to play journalist and run around all the late night parties, asking: “When you’re not here, where do you find the horror?” Here’s what people said:
- “In all children.” – Tanya Twombly
- “The bathroom toilet.” – Jack Fisher
- “My VISA bill.” – G. Italiano
- “Pop culture.” – Jon Hodges
- “In the people I watch in the streets of the city.” – Gerard Houarner
- “Consciousness…within me.” – John Edward Lawson
- “Everywhere.” – Deena Warner
- “The German toilets…stuff just sits there.” – Darren Speegle
- “The Washington Subway — the press of bodies — the fat people with hairy moles — it’s the worst.” – Matt Warner
- “The fever depths of my imagination.” – Scott Allen Emerson
- “In my fiance’s bed.” – Kathleen J. Trimmer
- “When I wake up in the morning and see what’s beside me.” – Brian T. Rollo
- “Where DON’T I find the horror?” – Mark McLaughlin
- “In the newspaper office where I work.” – Jonathan Reitan
- “All around us, everywhere.” – Jennifer Barnes
- “In my hotel room.” – Sean Wallace
- “In my kitchen…with three kids, it’s the horror.” – Denise Herman
- “I work retail. Think about it.” – James A. Moore
- “In the basement in the pit where I keep the cast of CHIPs.” – Kevin Donihe
- “In the eyes of religious zealots.” – St. Michael Amorel
- “Everyday life.” – Oliver Baer
- “In the mirror, baby.” – Nicholas Kaufmann
- “The news.” – Dave Friscolanti
- “A lot of conventions…Frightvision, Chiller Con, Cinema Wasteland…” – Dr. Satan
- “Every. F**king. Where. I. Look.” – John Skipp
- “In The Graham Norton Effect.” – Rob Swartwod
- “The Nightmare Mansion.” – Ashe
- “I’m also a criminal lawyer, so, in the cases I haven’t written about yet.” – Michael Slade
- “Where I work.” – Jason Brannon
- “In the people who run our planet…the people who think they know what’s best for us, the people who think they know what we should think.” – Tim Lebbon
- “FOX News channel, fair and balanced.” – Christopher Golden
- “The toilet.” – Richard SanFilippo
- “You find it here [breast gesture pointing to logo for Horror Web.com].” – Kelli ["HorrorWench"]
- “In our schools today.” – Joe Branson
- “In my pants.” – M. Stephen Lukac
- “My naked body in the mirror…I’ve had two children.” – Meghan Fatras
- “Everywhere I look.” – Geoff Cooper
- “On the L.I.E.” – Adam Pepper
- “Have you met my family?” – Marcy Italiano
- “In the unknown…in the afterlife. I mean, what’s after this?” – Shawn Brannon
- “In my toilet after Indian food.” – Jenny Orosel
- “In the stock market.” – Paul Melniczek
- “Politics.” – Chesya Burke
- “Anywhere outside my front door.” – GAK
- “When I’m shaving and accidentally glance at my own eyes.” – James Futch
- “My family’s history…ya know, murder, that kinda stuff.” – Brandon Massey