|Rain Graves, myself and Yvonne Navarro|
|First Sighting of Multiplex Fandango|
There have been some great conventions. Until now I thought WHC Denver 2000 was the best convention. I met my wife there. I met most of my friends, to include the Cabal there. We almost burned down the Tor Party, when Geoff Cooper lit the pentacle on the floor. Dick Laymon and I giggled all over it. Feo Amante leapt atop the great bronze horse and almost made it gallop away. I established very close relationships in a small amount of time that have lasted to this very day.
At this point I’m not sure if WHC Austin 2011 was better than Denver, but I know for a fact it was its equal, at least in my eyes.
|Peter Straub and Me|
The Drake Hotel in Denver was an awesome place. It had convention spaces, great rooms, nice party rooms, a good bar, and was near lots of restaurants. Like the Drake, The Doubletree North in Austin had all of these elements. The bar was smaller, but the centrality of the convention spaces promoted the idea of unity.
Perhaps I don’t need to figure out which one was better. Perhaps I can just say that WHC Austin was equal to the best convention I’ve ever attended. By default, that makes it the best, right? Damn Right.
So many things happened on the way to the Dead Dog Party.
|The Dark Region Writers Union|
- The First Meeting of Friends at the Convention, where although we hadn’t seen each other in many months, sometimes years, we fell into an easy chatter.
- Lincoln Crisler introducing me at my reading like it was a boxing match at Ceasar’s Palace. (Thanks Linc)
- Meeting Joe Morey from Dark Regions for the first time, seeing Multiplex Fandango ARCs and sitting down for a few hours signing them to fans. Joe brought 40 and left with none.
- Having Dinner with Rocky Wood at the Bikini Bar- perfect convergence of the NFL Draft, bikinis, burgers, bikinis, beer, bikinis, fried pickles, bikinis, and friends.
- Dinner with Yvonne Navarro at Pappadeaux (with Chris Marrs and Richard Payne)and Taj Mahal (with ourselves).
- The artist reception and chatting with my agent (Bob Fleck) and my publisher (Jon Oliver), as well as a host of other writers and friends and fans.
- Having Joe Lansdale tell me "That Book is F#ucking Good," meaning MULTIPLEX FANDANGO, and wishing I could use it as a blurb for the cover of the book.
- The Weather in Horror Panel, which I’d made fun of up until we actually began, then realized that all my favorite stories were predicated on changes in the weather.
- The Martial Arts Panel, where Joe Lansdale and Wrath White held court while Brian Keene and I fired quick 9mm shots in between expert thesis statements on the art of pain delivery mechanisms.
- The Mass Autographing where I was allowed to unveil my Steaks and Bitches T-Shirt, sign books, chat words, and sit down for a few stolen minutes with Joe Hill.
- Late night pizza, great beer, Deadites and Erasureheads, Peter Straub martinis, talking books not politics, and Brian Keene and Mary Sangiovani becoming perfect bookends to Yvonne and Me.
- All my new friends and fans, including…
- Talking projects with Russ Dickerson and Gard Goldsmith.
- Eating awesome Mexican in downtown Austin, entertained by the vodka-stuffed thirty-something wedged into a twenty-something slip of a dress, who could barely walk, and not seeing the bats with Scott Edelman, Eunice Magill, Scott Brown, Kelly and Ann Laymon, Chris Marrs, Angel Leigh McCoy, Rain Graves, John Tomaszewski, and others.
- Meeting Victoria Blake from Underland Press, who I’d talked to so many times on the phone.
- Chatting with Steve Niles and watching the evil grin take over his face.
- Sitting in the wonderful foyer on the gigantic couches, chatting with John Jacob Horner, about his new books (Southern Gods—which is amazing) and life in general. John’s a new great friend.
- And last but not least, the Dead Dog Party, where Bob Ford, Kelli Owen, Jack Ketchum, Christopher Teague, Gard Goldsmith, Simon Clark and several others toasted the end of the con, only to discover that there was one other reason to toast when President Obama came on the television and announced the death of UBL.
- And the dénouement came on the bus ride to the airport with Chad Savage and Simon Clark, tales of dubstepping, Family Guy and improbably friends meeting in a solitary van, headed to the airport that would see us all to our homes.
Yeah. WHC Austin was pretty incredible. I made some deals. I have a lot of work to do before the next convention. I have some serious deliverables that could make or break me. We’ll have to see how they turn out. What helped were the three things that hit me right before the convention.
|Some guy at the Mass Autographing|
- My original story “Driving the Milky Way” was accepted to the mass market anthology House of Fear from Solaris Books. Thanks Jon Oliver!
- My original story “20th Level Chaotic Evil Rogue Seeks Whole Wide World to Conquer” was a last minute add to the mass market anthology Demons from Black Dog & Levinthal Press. Thanks John Skipp!
- Bad Moon Books asked me to write the introduction to Clive Barker’s next book with them, Candle in the Clouds. Thanks Roy Robbins!
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Dead Dog Party.
I discovered that my mind was in a different place than all of the other conventions. Both emotionally and intellectually, I approached this convention differently. In Denver, I didn’t know what to expect, so I was very open to everything. But then after Denver, I came to expect certain things. Whether it was that things be like they’d been in Denver, or whether the people I’d met should act the same way, or that my increasing levels of success dictated that I should be treated a certain way, or what, I don’t know. But I realized at WHC Austin that I’d previously had a certain amount of expectation when I attended conventions. And to the glory of everything right in the world, this convention I somehow misplaced that expectation. I approached it openly, as an opportunity to meet new friends and new fans. As a chance to introduce myself to people who either knew me or didn’t know me. I felt new. I felt original. And I think people could tell. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to figure this out. What, ten years? Probably because I was thinking too much about me than about everyone else.
So perhaps it’s a mindset too.
I’ll have to remember that for my next convention.
And the one after that.
And so on.
It was an awesome time, whose energy will live on within me for months to come, fueling my creativity, and focusing my drive.
Might as well be the start of a whole new year.
|Yvonne Navarro and Rocky Wood|
|Jalani Sims from the University of Oklahoma MFA Program|
|Ashley Balantine (aka Tattoo Girl)|
|Guru Mike Castro|
|Nicole Castle-Kelly (Warren, MI)|
|Rhodi Hawk and Mary Sangiovani|
|The British Invasion singing "Hunka Hunka Burning Love"|
|Rain Graves and John Tomaszewski|
|Eunice McGill Trying to Act Sneaky with the Camera|
|Pre-Bat Fiasco Meal|
|Yvonne can find a dog anywhere|
You can find the rest (many many more) of the pictures HERE