World Horror Con
This last weekend was World Horror Con and that first time I've gone to a professional convention vs. a fan convention. Much smaller, less programming, and a lot more drinking/socializing. Had a great time, listened to lots of other authors, made a few contacts, drank [the bar is the natural habit of writers], bought a books, and focused some ideas for future projects. That's the high level view.
Programming didn't start until late Thursday evening, so most of the day was spent setting up the exhibit booth, eating at Big Ass Sandwich [totally a meal in and of itself], and making introductions. My friend, Christine, took me along and began the long series of meeting folks. These are people I've heard of, read, and otherwise gotten to know via the internet. Now in person and quite amusing. Did I mention the hotel bar? They had one guy running the bar. I dunno if the Doubletree had ever hosted a convention of writers, but they needed another bartender.
Panels started late, the first one at 8, with two more following. Unlike the fan convention, the panels were pretty highly focused and not plentiful. Radcon by contrast is a fan convention and has upwards of dozen things going on at once. You have to choose panels and often miss one or two that interest you. The "What Editors Want" panel turned out to be the most interesting, as editors gave advice on what they look for. Some advice was pretty basic [don't send fantasy to a horror call] or got really specific [Deadite Press goes for high concept writing, not normal or mainstream in any way]. It did congeal an idea, which needs to be written up, and then pitched at the next BizarroCon in November. The "Writing Characters" panel didn't add much and I'd been better off at the bar, stalking other writers for advice.
Last panel was "Horror from the Page to the Silver Screen" and included F. Paul Wilson. He wrote a story called "The Keep" which was made into a film in the mid-80's. A terrible, terrible film. Recently, he had another story, "Pelts", turned into a film and had nothing by glowing praise for the director on that one. Found out that movies are strictly the domains of directors and that writers are treated like crap. Bad movie? You're seeing the directors "take" or "vision" on the script. Script could be a work of art, but in the hands of a director? Good luck. On the other hand, writers rule TV programming. The director is their bitch and needs to follow what they've put down. I must look into this TV business more, but only if I don't have to move to California.
And now we get busy. Many panels, author signings, and socializing [aka parties]. Did I mention drinking? I keep coming back to this, because a] writers start early and b] many of those drinks were being taken out of the bar and into the panels. Would have thought the hotel might raise up objections, but didn't even blink an eye. Sadly the bar's tap list was pretty pedestrian, but we're in Portland and there's no end of good beer just a stone's throw away.
"The Short Form" panel covered horror and how well a short story can convey it more effectively. Get that punch in and convey the emotional impact. The panelists pointed out that you got a better payoff in a shorter amount of time. Next panel talked about HP Lovecraft and his influence on Modern Horror. Lots of good historical information and how there's something of a renaissance of his writing. In the next year, there's 3 or 4 complete sets of his works by different publishers coming out, including one that will have original drafts and corrections. From personal experience, I've seen calls for many, many Lovecraftian themed anthologies lately and they've been doing exceptionally well.
'F'd Up and In Love" had 4 writer couples talking about their relationships and how they approach their craft. A fun panel and shows that things can work out, just takes a lot of communication and understanding. "Coming Together" covered the topic of writing for yourself and your audience. Do you write just to please yourself, the audience, or both? The panels had diverse opinions on the subject, comparing it to masturbation [naturally] or performance art. I liked the idea that you're writing for yourself and knowing that somewhere [hopefully] there's an audience for it. If you aren't writing for yourself, you won't be happy and then it just becomes a chore.
"Hardcore F'ing Horror" covered just what you think it would. The violent, extreme end of the genre. What is and isn't taboo. Turns out that many subjects are okay if done correctly. The exception seems to be the Holocaust and 9-11. A few of the authors pointed out that they've had hard times writing some of their stories as they push their limits. One of the things that I took away from this is that authors are normal people, we just happen to write our nightmares from time to time. Also, someone brought their kid to the panel and left about 20 minutes in. The moderator was like WTF? Who brings an 8-9 year old kid to a panel about shock horror? Really?
Next came the Grandmaster award ceremony to Brain Keene. He made a great little speech and then posed for pictures. After meeting up with a buddy and dinner, went back and attended the Deadite Press party, chatted with folks, met more editors, and drank beer. Finally turned in around midnight cause I'm old.