NECON has come and gone. I feel at once energized and exhausted. But like always, I’m glad that I went.
For those of you who don’t know, NECON is one of the best kept secrets of the horror genre. It stands for North East Horror Writer’s Convention and was started by Bob Booth thirty years ago. Most of the time it’s held at Roger Williams University and is more of a summer camp than a convention. By that I mean instead of focusing on the panels, the convention focuses on events that bring people together. Whether it be mini-golf, croquet, midnight darts, softball or just hanging out in the quad until sunrise, most of the NECONites, as we are known, stress the Camp-esque qualities of NECON over the Con-esque qualities.
When I think of NECON I think of sitting drinking scotch with Peter Straub. I think of shooting the shit with Jack Ketchum, who sometimes calls me Warren, even though I’ve known him for more than ten years. I think of the Cabal, Brian Keene and FUKU, who are usually in attendance. I think of the New York Contingent with my spiritual mentor Douglass Clegg, my horror enabler Matt Swartz, Red Ranger Alexa DeMonterice, Ginjer Buchanan, Gina and Jane Osnovich, Nick Cato, Nick Kaufman, Tracy Carbone, Lisa Manetti, Dave Simms, Monica O’Rourke and Linda Addison. I think of Holly Newstein and Rick Hautala, who I know would be even better friends if I could make them move away from the frigid north. West Coasters Hal Bodner and John Skipp were a treat. Shout out to Rich Dansky, Jack Haringa and Nate Kenyon.
So what’s new from NECON this year? The rumors about me wearing a dress may or may not be true, but if they are true, it was only as part of a costume to roast Elizabeth Massie and Courtney Skinner. Joe Hill popped in and we had some nice conversations about motorcycles. Heather Graham came in and almost stole the show. Rio Youers slipped past border patrol and managed to grace his way into everyone’s hearts with his guitar and “aw shucks” demeanor. The McIlveen girls are almost all of legal age now which is about as dangerous as the US vs Russia circa 1980. Any attempt to touch them would certainly cause Mutually Assured Destruction, emanating from Papa John and any number of Big Brother NECONites.
It was awesome seeing James A. Moore and Chris Golden. These guys are at the top of their game and shine brightly. Speaking of the top of the game, F. Paul Wilson and Tom Monteleone were also there. Steve Spruill was supposed to come, but he had a last minute engagement and was sorely missed.
Some new folks I haven’t mentioned yet that it was a pleasure to meet (and those I rarely see) include Sheldon Higdon, William Carl, John Dixon, Mike Arruda, Danny Evarts, Scott McCoy, Jason Harris, Mike Meyers, Norm Prentiss, Shelby Rhodes, L.L. Soares, Doug Winter and Craig Wolf.
Images that will stick in my mind are: Mickey Sardina doing a belly dance in a Godzilla Costume (Hubba Wow); Anya Martin lip-sinking to “Tea for Two”; Dan Keohane, my favorite Hawaiian author, screeching Yeeehaaa over and over ( I thought he was going to pop out an eye); Kelly Laymon expending the energy drinks she drank four years ago by doing the 1980s Man Dance; James Roy Daley (killer new writer beating the bongos ); Matt Bechtel with his hand up his own ass (you had to be there); and of course Mattie Brahan faux tap dancing with a murderous Cthulhu doll.
I can’t forget to thank Sara Calia for picking me up and Dan Foley for dropping me off. Thanks to the Booths, one and all. And most of all thanks to my editor-in-chief from Abaddon Books, Jon Oliver, for sending 50 copies of Empire of Salt to the campers. They loved it and we left them wanting more.
I also can’t forget my amazing wife. While I might have been dressed as Elizabeth Massie, she also might have been dressed like Courtney Skinner. Is it me, or does she still look hot with a bald head and old man suspenders.
Thanks to everyone. If I left you out it was for no other reason than I ran out of steam. Each and every NECONite made my trip an excellent one. Now if only I can figure out how to get there without having to take ten different flights, with a dozen screaming babies on each one.
Where’s Dan Simmons and his Farcaster when you need it?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
NECON 30 REDUX
Weston Ochse is the author of more than twenty books, most recently the SEAL Team 666 series which has been optioned by MGM Films. He's also the author of the Grunt Life series, a military science fiction series concentrating on the lives of PTSD survivors. His first novel, Scarecrow Gods, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel and his short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in comic books, and magazines such as Cemetery Dance and Soldier of Fortune. He lives in the Arizona desert within rock throwing distance of Mexico. He is a military veteran with more than 30 years of military service and currently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.