This year’s Bram Stoker Award ceremony was held last weekend in Toronto, concurrent with World Horror Convention. Winners included Stephen King, John Skipp, Lisa Morton, Gary Braunbeck, Jonathan Maberry and Kim Paffenroth. I was on hand to present the poetry award along with Don Hutchison to Bruce Boston for his winning poetry collection, Shades Fantastic.
[Ironically, The Horror Channel has just posted a bleary-eyed video interview with me, shortly after I stepped off the stage at the 2006 Bram Stoker Awards in Newark last June, when I won the award for Freakcidents. Good memories!]
World Horror Convention itself was a blast this year. It was one of the few times my wife Renate attends these things with me, and we had a great time together checking out Toronto. I met many old friends and made new ones, and though I wouldn’t dare try to list all of them here, it was nice to hang out with a few fellow faculty and alumnae from our Writing Popular Program at Seton Hill University, including Lawrence C. Connolly and Jean-Loup Benet (pictured below).
Among the personal highlights at the con….
Getting to taste Brian Keene’s bottle of Knob Hill during the opening night panel, “What is Horror, Exactly?” with Keene, Gary Braunbeck, Deborah LeBlanc, and the wonderful Mark Morris. Our audience was so large we had to move the panel out into the reception area, and this made it only larger, as snockered and curious passers-by joined in on the fun, and we sported with their comments. We never pinned horror down “exactly” and that was a very good thing, because I think we revealed the amorphous and wide range of the genre.
At the “mass autograph” session, in which all the major writers in attendance gather in a room to sign books, I had the odd opportunity to sign a jacket…which is now for sale on eBay to benefit a horror fan in need. (Go bid on it here — it’s a good cause.)
My screening of Exquisite Corpse drew a great conversation afterward, as we talked about how poetry and other experimental forms make different demands on the filmmaker and audience. At my fiction reading, I previewed some excerpts from my upcoming audiobook, Audiovile (and found it very difficult not to hear the accompanying music in my head as I read aloud).
And at the end of the convention, I sat on a panel called “Young Blood: New Writers to Look Out For” (starring Sarah Langan, Alexandra Sokoloff, Sarah Pinborough, and Violette Malan — all pictured above, though I wish we could see their faces rather than this offbeat ‘last supper’ look we’ve got going on). I assumed this panel would be a polling of who we thought people ought to be reading these days, but instead discovered that the panelist themselves were the ones who were being showcased (…which was fine by me, even though I’ve been publishing for about 18 years now). After we talked a bit about our work and the new challenges of the industry today, the panel quickly became a discussion about strategies for getting published, since there were a number of new writers in attendance with questions. Of course, one thing a new writer can and should do is attend the conventions in the trade, like next year’s WHC, which I can guarantee will be not only informative and career-rewarding, but also just a whole lotta fun.