It was the best of times . . . and then it got really good.
Was here for StokerCon 2017 this weekend:
But I never really saw it from that exact angle, or all lit up like that. Really, here’s the angle I saw it from:
That’s me reading “Dear Final Girls” at the Shades & Shadows event. And here’s a game of Werewolf the Apocalypse I got to public-play with the creator of the whole phenomenon, Bill Bridges, along with, after Bill on the far left, George RR Martin, Maria Alexander, some loserdude, Chuck Wending, Nancy Holder (not pictured, the Courtney Cox lifted from the crowd to play a few turns and help us battle a giant glowing sloth at the LaBrea Tar Pits: Danielle DeLisle [nametagged way below]):
And, yes, werewolf ears, thanks to Alexandra Nuemeister:
Here’s my character sheet:
However, I should probably cop to thinking that “blissful ignorance” was my state, not something I could throw. But? It fit my playing style, and my life, pretty well. [ also: vid clip just showed up ]
Then it was (three-fifths of) the novella panel, for which I snabbed this shot:
That’s, from left to me, moderator extraordinaire Hank Schwaeble and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro. I learned a lot on this panel. I know I’m supposed to be saying a lot and laying down truths and all that. But I like to listen to smart people and good writers, mostly. [hey, a snap of all of us just showed up]
And, between and amongst all this, there were all the people, all the talking, all the books, all the snapshots in the halls and bars of the big boat:
My t-shirts in descending order there look to be: Michael Myers, skeleton, same skeleton, Mongrels, Mongrels. And that’s Richard Thomas behind Danielle, there. And, from the top: Becky, Danielle, Jesse, Misty, Ashley.
And, I finally got to hang out with Chuck Wendig, with Grady Hendrix, with Becky Spratford (the first of the snapshots, above), with John Joseph Adams, with Liz Hand, with Rob Crowther of Mysterious Galaxy books, with Robb and Livius of Booked Podcast, with Bill Bridges and George RR Martin again. Got to see Craig Clevenger for all of fifteen minutes, in which we both had our knives out, because that’s what you do when you haven’t seen someone for too long, and when you might not see them again for a while. Got to talk a lot with Ellen Datlow, which is always a treat, and, for the first time ever, I tried a crepe. Which my wife is now correcting my pronunciation of. It was apple. There was gross red strings of sweet taste all dripped across it, but I found a lonely clean one. It was good in the middle, like a mini apple pie, but kind of gross on the thin-pancakey outside. Maybe I’m not a crepe-r, I guess. But I am immensely brave for having tried a new food, with my own actual mouth.
Also? I got to stay on A SHIP. I can’t capitalize that enough, for someone from West Texas. Before this, I’d been on the ocean exactly three times: a ferry to Oakland, a ferry out of Seattle (felt like I was in The Ring), and two whale-watching tours out of Boston. Which I guess is four times out on the water, really, but the whale watching times kind of smear together.
Too, about the coolest thing on the whole ship was the photos of the old fitness rooms, where, instead of riding a bike or an elliptical, you kind of rode the classy version of that quarter-machine horsey outside the grocery store from back when you were five:
I’m guessing you could work out and smoke a cigar and drink a highball at the same time. Man.
Anyway, since somebody evidently mistook me for an important human—maybe it’s that I like fancy jackets?—I was somehow a guest of honor for this ride, meaning I got to do that mini-red carpet thing (pics pasted in here at some point, maybe?), and then sit right up front for the banquet:
It was chicken. Once I delicately removed all the mushrooms and mushroom-adjacent mysterious stuff, and separated the chicken from something carrot-shaped but not carrot-colored, it was pretty good. And me and George may have been the only two in the whole hall to have scammed the server into smuggling us ice tea. I don’t even know how to eat a meal without ice tea, I don’t guess.
Anyway, I got to present the short fiction award alongside Norman Prentiss.
The winner was . . . Joyce Carol Oates. The first of two haunted houses she won that night. Pic courtesy Robin Reed.
And, congratulations to John Langan, for The Fisherman‘s Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel. Completely deserved. I read that in the wayback—probably in 2015, if it was done by then?—and I suspected then that it was the juggernaut that would be rolling across the horror landscape, leaving us all flattened. But, if we try, if we’re fast, we can grab on, get pulled ahead a little. And congratulations to all the other finalists, as well: Paul, Bracken, Liz. For me, winning was just being on the same ballot with those fine writers, those excellent books.
And good luck to Scott Edelmen, next go-round. And thanks to Jeff Strand, for somehow always coming up with new and hilarious material for each banquet. As Connie Willis is to the Locus Awards, so is Jeff Strand to the Bram Stoker Awards: indispensable; perfect; wonderful.
And, thanks to Lisa Morton and Kate Jonez and Brad Hodson and John Palisano and everyone else who made this weekend so cool. And big thanks to Elise Forier Edie and Brent Kelly for shepherding me around and keeping me on time. Yes, I’m the one who continually, persistently kept going to the wrong deck. Okay: decks, plural. I’m also the one who couldn’t keep straight what started when. But I didn’t need to: Elise and Brent were there. Thank you, Elise and Brent.
And, next year it’s Providence-town. Maybe I show up. But, I know that this was surely my one chance to guest-of-honor StokerCon, and I’ll always treasure it:
As for the next con I’m at, that’s Denver Comic Con. Next GoH’ing: Necronomicon, in August. After that . . . I think MileHiCon might be next, or/also, I usually find my way to Texas Book Festival as well.
[ too, these are all/mostly just pics I yanked from social media or around, and then neglected to scribble down any attribution. so, if you took the pic (or are in it), and either want it pulled down or attributed to you, zero problem. and, apologies. when I save on my computer, I can make the file-name be you, so I can keep track. but when I’m grabbing stuff with my phone, it’s just “save image,” never “save as,” so I lose all the names. and I was on my phone all weekend ]