The Requisite World Horror Wrap-Up
Last week I attended the World Horror Convention in New Orleans. I’d previously attended WorldCon (last year in Chicago) and World Fantasy ( a few years ago in Columbus, Ohio). But I’d never before attended a WHC. I didn’t quite know what to expect
Highlights of the Con
1. Meeting Ramsey Campbell and his wife, Jenny. I was so pleased to have a seat at his kaffeeklatsch and also have a chance to chit chat a bit less formally here and there. I have a great deal of respect for Ramsey’s work (and as some of you know, I don’t impress easily). So, yes, this…for me…made the entire trip worthwhile.
2. Getting to see (and briefly speak to) Caitlin Kiernan once again. I’d first met Caitlin at ReaderCon a few years ago. So pleasant to connect with her again (especially since I was able to congratulate her on her Stoker win for The Drowning Girl).
3. Pitching a new project to an editor, and getting a sense that the project would likely be a go. I hesitate to say much more about this, because at this point it’s just a successful pitch. We’ll see how things develop. But I’d be quite excited and proud if it works out.
4. Re-connecting with old friends I hadn’t seen in about ten years. Norman Prentiss. Kelly Laymon and her mom, Ann. Mike Huyck. Linda Addison. So refreshing to see you all. Sorry I’ve been a stranger all these years. I shan’t make the same mistake again!
5. Dinner with S.T. Joshi, Jason V Brock, Sunni Brock, William F. Nolan, and assorted folks. Yes, I was exhausted from traveling and therefore uncharacteristically grumpy during the whole evening. But I’m glad I had a chance to hang out with ’em all.
5. Purchasing the uber-rare Ligotti book, The Agonizing Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein, in the dealer’s room. (As well as snagging a trade paperback of Death Poems).
6. The whole evening of the mass signing. This was a pleasure from both sides of the table. Ramsey signed my copy of Demons by Daylight, Caitlin signed my Alabaster: Wolves, and S.T. Joshi signed The Modern Weird Tale and Classics and Contemporaries. Then, at 8:00 p.m. I took my place to sign books. I sold both of the hardcovers of Children of No One that I had brought along with me. Ellen Datlow and Rose Fox stopped by my table to say hello.
7. Meeting friends I’d mostly only gotten to know online before. How delightful to spend a bit of time with fellow DarkFuse scribe Keith Deininger, fellow Codexian Nicole J. LeBoeuf, HWA folks like Lisa Morton and Rocky Wood, and others who I’m certainly forgetting.
8. Enjoying the New Orleans cuisine. Some nifty Redfish on Thursday night. Shrimp and grits, one other day. Good stuff!
9. The Epic Road Trip from the Midwest to New Orleans with Stoker winner Lucy Snyder. We took turns driving, but I reserve the right to forever dub myself the “Stoker Chauffeur”. Always good to chat with Lucy, and there was lots of time for that on this trip!
10. The “Are You Ready for an Agent?” panel. Great stuff.
Low-lights of the Con
1. Exhaustion. Maybe it was because I was on heavy doses of antibiotic after getting bitten by an army of infectious ticks. Maybe it was the road trip. Maybe it was the hour time difference. I dunno. But for several days I was just soooooo tired. I didn’t feel quite myself the whole time. Perhaps this is the last long road trip I embark on for awhile. In the future, if I can’t afford a flight out to a con, I may have to avoid it.
2. The dealer’s room. Okay, I found a couple of sweet buys there. I really can’t complain. But it was soooo tiny compared to what I’m used to seeing at WorldCon or WFC or even ReaderCon. Maybe that’s just a reflection of the marketplace — horror is a smaller genre. But is it that small? I dunno.
3. The “Extreme Horror “panel. I could be wrong, but it seemed like the bulk of this panel was devoted to discussion of film, not books. (Though to his credit, the moderator did try once — about halfway through — to steer it more in the book-focused direction). The discussion also seemed to be lacking in historical perspective. It would have been helpful to look at the roots of the extreme in horror fiction (Poe, Bloch, or hell — even John Shirley or Richard Laymon). I didn’t get a real sense of where extreme horror had been and where it’s going. I know that wasn’t the focus of the panel. (The panel’s focus was, if I recall correctly, “where’s the line?”) But I think this sort of focus on books and the history of books would have been a welcome addition to this panel. Too much discussion of the so-called “torture porn” phenomenon in film, not enough on the words on the page. But then again, that just about sums up one of the chief problems afflicting the genre, now, doesn’t it?
4. The French Quarter. Alas, after visiting Bourbon Street on Thursday night I’m afraid my take-away image of New Orleans is the sight of a depressed-looking late-teen/early-twenties prostitute sitting on the street, leaning against one of the buildings. Stay classy, NOLA! All that having been said, I suspect the con’s location in a party town definitely helped attract some of the more prominent folks. So I’m all for HWA booking cons in tacky tourist towns again, if it means we’ll see major players show up. (Better to have major players in a tacky town than minor players in a quiet town).
A worthwhile experience. Glad I did it. While I enjoy opportunities to socialize, WHC’s pitch sessions add a lot of value to the trip when all’s said and done. Increasingly, I’m having to look at cons on a cost-benefit basis. These are no longer recreational trips — not even in part, really. They’re one hundred percent business-driven. So, yeah, on that basis, I’d call this con a success.