(I know I still haven’t posted about my experiences at the World Horror Convention and the Bram Stoker Awards ® in New Orleans, but I’ll get to it. Soon.)
Wow. What an amazing three days at the SCAREanormal – Fresno Horror, Paranormal, and Pop Culture Fan Expo! At times a bit of a rocky ride, it ended on a positive note with Central Valley fans begging everyone to hold it again next year.
The Horror Writers Association vendor booth was the only bookseller at this film-based convention, and we had a fairly steady stream of visitors for much of the con. Most were readers excited to discover new authors–I enjoyed watching them as they left our booth bearing bright smiles along with their freshly purchased paper treasures.
But we also had a number of aspiring writers spend time talking with us. We shared our individual experiences as HWA members, handed out all of the HWA brochures, and in general spoke about how supportive the organization is. I hope to see their names listed in the membership directory sometime in the near future.
Saturday’s discussion panels–“The Best in Horror Literature: From the Classics to the Modern” and “The Evolution of the Monster from Folklore to Film”–were well-received by attendees, and I think the panelists enjoyed them too. Many thanks go to Brad C. Hodson, Eric J. Guignard, PS Gifford, Fred Wiehe, and Dana Fredsti for doing such a great job exploring their topics and answering audience questions.
Each panel was followed by readings from HWA members. Brad read from a work-in-progress about a pair of unique serial killers that left us all begging for more. Dana introduced listeners to kick-ass Ashley Parker in excerpts from Plague Town and its sequel, Plague Nation. Paul totally creeped us out with a semi-autobiographical story about an encounter with a red-haired girl. I tried not to bore the audience with an excerpt from my novella, The Last Trace.
The audience seemed to enjoy our panel discussions and listening to our stories, and many of them visited the HWA booth afterwards.
Due to a series of unforeseen circumstances, Lisa Morton and Richard Grove were unable to participate in Sunday’s programming. I know they were looking forward to the convention and I imagine they were quite disappointed to miss it. Hopefully we’ll get to work together on another event in the near future.
Our Sunday panel, “Psychological vs. Physical Horror – What Scares Us the Most?” was quite interesting. Since Lisa and Richard had to bow out, we were short two panel members, and this, combined with several other uncertainties regarding the con, led me to consider cancelling the panel altogether.
But when an attendee stopped by our booth–not once, but several times–to check on the panel status, I realized she might not be the only disappointed fan if we cancelled. In talking with her and a few others who came by, it became apparent that a number of Sunday’s attendees were there for just the one day, and that they had missed most of the convention highlights.
Paul and I were the other members scheduled for this panel, and we didn’t think we’d be able to explore the topic well with just the two of us. Fortunately, we’d spent the previous evening (or should I say the early-early morning) drinking, I mean, socializing with film guests Sid Haig (HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS) and Ken Foree (DAWN OF THE DEAD, HALLOWEEN, THE LORDS OF SALEM). Both were intelligent and personable and seemed to enjoy spending time with our group.
With that in mind, I bravely approached Sid about an hour before our panel and asked him if he’d be willing to sit in on it with us. He graciously accepted my invitation.
All I can say is that our panel was absolutely amazing. Just think about what it would be like to discuss psychological and physical horror with a legendary master of both. Not only do Sid’s experiences covering decades of film and stage give him a special insight, but he’s a licensed hypnotherapist and has a deep understanding of what makes people tick.
Due to the unique opportunity offered by Sid’s participation in our panel, I elected to forego the reading and use the entire hour for our discussion. The audience seemed fascinated, and quite willing to add their own inputs. It made for a highly successful panel, and I’m so grateful for the fan whose repeated inquiries spurred me to do what I could to fulfill our programming commitment.
A number of audience members stopped by our booth afterwards,mentioning how much they enjoyed the panel as they examined our books. I remember seeing their smiling faces in the audience as they nodded in response to our discussion, and I’m glad we were able to contribute to their enjoyment of the convention.
Many thanks to Sid for helping us make it happen.
And a huge thank you to all the HWA members who gave up their weekend and spent hard-earned dollars on hotel expenses and gas to Fresno: Brad C. Hodson, Eric J. Guignard, Dana Fredsti, Fred Wiehe, Christopher C. Payne from JournalStone, and of course, PS Gifford, who was the first to arrive on Friday morning and stayed until the bittersweet end Sunday evening (couldn’t have done it without you, Paul). We made a great team and I look forward to working with everyone again.
Last, but not least, thank you to Lisa Morton and the HWA for supporting this event and making it possible for members to promote their works along with promoting the organization. This wouldn’t have happened without your support.