A Continuing View of World Horror Convention 2015
Travel times were good for a change, partially due to Atlanta being a hub for the airline I was using. That is, virtually all flights passed through Atlanta anyway, thus I arrived in early afternoon Thursday, and left the hotel for public transportation via MARTA to the airport, and home, at about the same time Sunday. I was armed with a list, the five things I must be available for, one Thursday evening — plenty of time for the ride from the airport, lunch, registration, settling in — two Friday, one each Saturday and Sunday mornings. So duties, below, were evenly spaced, with much time left for other activities to be taken up in tomorrow’s post.
Thursday, 8 to 9:30 p.m., brought Linda Addison’s READING: HORROR POETRY OPEN MIKE, with a fairly good crowd with almost everyone with poems to read. Quality varied as would be expected, as did themes and styles as people read one poem each in turn, one actually a humorous song, with time enough to allow about half of us to do an encore. Linda read an opening poem herself, followed by G. O. Clark, followed by . . . me with what I introduced as a sports poem, “Godzilla vs. King Kong” (“It came to this, finally,/ the fight of all fights/ Godzilla against the King. . .”). And who was the winner? Well, fortunately there’ll be a chance to find out as the poem has been accepted by British ezine GRIEVOUS ANGEL (cf. March 30 – GRIEVOUS ANGEL was also publisher, last year, of my Rhysling-nominated “Beware of the Dog,” see September 11 2014). More information on that available as it becomes known.
While not reading themselves, Bruce Boston and Marge Simon were also present, with whom Gary Clark and I made a quartet during the brief times when none of had other obligations. Gary was also present for my last scheduled item, my otherwise under-attended 9-9:30 Sunday morning reading (that is, at a time when most conventioneers who were up and sober were most likely attending church) at which I presented two stories, “Casket Girls” from DAILY SCIENCE FICTION (cf. April 28, et many al.) as a curtain raiser and, having by then picked up the other half of my audience, “River Red” from THE TEARS OF ISIS as the main event.
I had two panels, the first being SCAREBIZ: JUST THE FACTS, MONSTER: HOW TO DIG DEEPER THAN THE INTERNET FOR ACCURATE STORYTELLING, on Friday 5-6 p.m. For those present, this was the one where I cited a book several times as DEATH AND DYING (the actual, not misremembered title is DEATH TO DUST, by Kenneth V. Iserson, M.D.) as, among other things, the inspiration of the story that opens THE TEARS OF ISIS, “In the Octopus’s Garden.” Indeed, as a short story writer I gave a fair bit of emphasis to serendipity in research as a source for ideas. But, idea in hand, research is also needed to get details right, whether from living, e.g., in an area or thoroughly reading tourist guides, using internet, print, recordings and films, in addition to personal experience to add more verisimilitude. My sum-up was from a TV producer who had been advised by a local expert, filming a miniseries in the then USSR, that it’s the small things that must be gotten right, because these earn reader/viewer confidence that allows you to slip in the Big Lie — that is, the story itself when one is writing fiction — with practically no one noticing.
Saturday, 9-10 a.m., brought my second panel, TERRIFYING TROPES: URBAN FANTASY: IT’S SELLING LIKE HELLCAKES, BUT IS IT HORROR?, which was well attended despite the hour. Much involved panelists’ definitions of what urban fantasy is in the first place (my quip: “Imagine Woody Allen directing NOSFERATU”); whether there was urban fantasy prior to BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER; distinguishing the difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance by whether it’s a sexily attired woman or man on the cover; and whether it must actually involve a city, or if suburban or even smaller town settings still qualify. I cited my VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) as being perhaps 75-percent urban fantasy poetry, involving vampires in ordinary societal problems (e.g., what gift to bring to a newly married vampire’s reception?), and there seemed to be general agreement that, as opposed to high fantasy, urban fantasy involves the supernatural within a societal background that readers can identify with. And to answer the question of the panel’s title, yes, it should involve horror, often perhaps tending toward the mild side, but that’s up to the writer (or perhaps more to the point, the writer’s editor and/or publisher) — there’s no definitional reason why it can’t be more intense.
And then, finally, there was the MASS AUTHOR SIGNING Friday, 6:30-8 p.m., to which, in part because I generally travel light, I had brought only three copies of THE TEARS OF ISIS (one with the old cover, and with a turned up corner) along with maybe half dozen of the smaller poetry book VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE). Business was pretty brisk as these things go, though, with people bringing their own materials to be signed along with actually buying books there. And the bottom line was: I sold one copy of VAMPS and, offering a dollar discount on the damaged copy, sold out of the others.