Gina Penn, unabridged.

World Horror Convention part 2

This post is not going to be as long as the previous post about the convention but this one will have something the other one didn’t have: pictures.

I Tweeted a few of the pics from the con but wanted to include them in the post in case anyone missed them and wants to see.

Okay, on the last post I left off at the Joe Hill interview. Now I’m picking up at Friday at 7 p.m. on Why Horror Movies are Terrible.

The basic consensus of the panel was-yeah, some are terrible but there are a lot of terrible movies that aren’t horror. Just look at the movie “How Do You Know” with Reese Witherspoon. I saw that movie on the flight to Austin and my god, that movie was effing terrible. Technically it wasn’t a horror movie but it scared me that a movie could be so bad and still get made. Sorry Reese.

People tend to single out horror movies because of bad actor choices (again, not something singular to horror  movies) and bad character motivation. Plus, horror is such a small market compared to say, drama or rom-com, that people that aren’t fans of the genre are making judgments when they really don’t know enough about the genre to make a judgment.

There are a lot of good horror movies out there that I feel deserve some recognition: The Ring, Silence of the Lambs, Aliens (this is sci fi horror), and recently the psychological thriller (but some people call it horror) Black Swan, which garnered Natalie Portman a golden trophy. I wouldn’t call Black Swan horror per se, however, I go back to my previous assessment that horror isn’t really a genre but a feeling and there were some undeniable feelings of horror here, on the same level as Silence of the Lambs. Oh, and did anyone know that Black Swan was an independent film? Yeah, go indie!

The next day I attended a reading of Scott Edelman’s at 11 a.m. His was the only reading I attended so I hope Scott is flattered. Again, I will encourage everyone reading this to buy something of his. He literally oozes talent.

The next panel I went to was called Horror Without Stephen King. I can sum this one up for you: We wouldn’t have such fantastic works as Carrie, Misery, The Shining, The Stand, Shawshank Redemption, (I could go on and on) but someone else would sit at the throne of horror. Probably Jack Ketchum.

Moving on, I attended another panel called The Future of the Book. I didn’t Pulse Pen this panel and I should have because it was very interesting to learn what the panelists (Jeff Burk, Kim Glichrist, Sarah Langan, Robert Fleck, Joe Hill and Fred Venturini thought. (For some reason I think that this list of who was on the panel might be incorrect but that’s what’s in the program so that’s what I’m using. Sorry if there is a discrepancy but because of the lack of good internet connections throughout the hotel, I couldn’t Pulse Pen everything.)

This panel, again, was interesting because there is so much debate on what’s going to happen to the book. Check that-what is happening to the book. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed that some very big and exciting things are happening in the book world and I think a lot of purists would be surprised to know that many of the traditionally published authors are in favor of the e-book. One huge point that was made was connected to this very conference: lugging all those books home is a problem. The brilliant thing about e-books is that you can have thousands of books on an e-reader and not have to sweat over what books to take home and what books to leave. Unfortunately, there was no post office or UPS store anywhere near the hotel and a taxi ride is out of the question because it’s so expensive so, speaking for myself here, I had to leave 3 books behind at the hotel. The rest had to be smashed into my carry-on bag and into my already heavy laptop bag and my back was singing Ave Maria because of the extra weight. Print books, according to the panel, will never go away but they will become more of a collectible item instead of the norm. E-books and e-authors aren’t going away. The last word on the ease and efficiency of publishing an e-book went a little like this: the cream will rise to the top. Those that don’t use editors or proofreaders or write well will sink to the bottom and those whose work is good will rise to the top. Just because a book is in print doesn’t mean you can count on quality. The gatekeepers at the big publishing houses are in it for the money not the art and so indie writers will be in the same class as indie filmmakers and indie musicians. The cream will rise to the top. I kind of liked that. Takes some of the fear, question and shame out of choosing the indie path.

The last panel for Saturday was How To Break Into Comics. I’m going to level with you here: I went to this panel because Joe Hill and Joe Lansdale were there. I love comics but I don’t write comics so it was pure fun, plain and simple.

Around this time on Saturday, April 1st I went into the dealer’s room to check out some of the stuff for sale. I was tired and my back was hurting and I wanted some time to unwind a little before disappearing away from the mass signing. When you have a bad back, mass signings equal one thing: long lines.

Jack Ketchum accepting his award.

I got a chance to meet Jack Ketchum at this point. He was manning his own booth topped high with his books. We conversed a little, the subject matter I will not divulge, sorry, but I took away one thing here. Jack Ketchum is a fantastically nice guy. You can tell he enjoys talking to fans and and hanging out. He was gracious and polite. Not that I wouldn’t have expected these things but in all honesty, not all famous authors are as approachable as Jack Ketchum. He signed a book to me, personally and this made me really happy but I have a feeling he does this for all his fans and that makes me glad. I love knowing that I’m supporting a writer who is truly grateful for his success and knows who gave it to him.

It was at this point that Joe Hill also walked into the dealer’s room and his stand was right next to Jack Ketchum’s. Joe sat and immediately buried his face into his iPad or e-reader (he’s admitted to having more than one). I took this as a sign that it was time to approach him.

Now, out of respect for Joe, there were a few opportunities that I wanted to get his autograph and say hello but I am very shy and nervous and I always feel as though I’m imposing. I’m not one of those fans that’s going to interrupt someone’s lunch or conversation simply because I want to exclaim what a fangirl I am. I will miss an opportunity before doing that-I know that’s dumb but it’s the way I’m built. So, me taking the plunge and walking over to Joe Hill when he appeared not to be busy was a huge step for me. A milestone.

I asked for a moment of his time and he looked up and smiled. I asked if he could sign my book (Gunpowder, a little-known Joe Hill book that I bought at the con) because there was no way I was going to make it to the mass signing because of my back. He said “Sure” and took the book and did his signature doodle. During this time, I told him I was a huge fan and that I even had one of his bookplates (during a recent promotion for Horns in paperback, Joe Hill signed bookplates to those that pre-ordered. That is the third time I’ve purchased Horns.). This was where the good times ended. At the mention of the bookplate, and I’m sure I’ll never know why, Joe Hill looked up at me with such a bewildered look of incredulity that it made me take a step back. It was only a moment but in that moment I was suddenly reduced to the size of an ant and wished I’d never approached him at all. He handed the book back to me, I think I muttered “thanks”, tucked my tail between my legs and hobbled away.

I’m scarred for life now. I don’t think I’ll ever have the guts to approach another published writer. Ever.

Now please understand that I’ve been a Joe Hill fan for a very long time. I didn’t enjoy 20th Century Ghosts nor did I enjoy Heart Shaped Box (the MC in the latter I just couldn’t stand) but Horns is one of my favorite books ever written. I really, really love that book. It’s well-written, Ig is a totally likable character, and the story is resonating. It’s just damned good and it’s one of my comfort books that I can pick up anytime and just read. Very few books make it to that shelf; it lives there with Christine, which is the first King book I ever read. I really wish I knew why or at least understood why Joe Hill gave me such a dirty look. It would ease my pain. But I never will and I just have to tell myself that maybe he was having a bad day or something. So, if by some miracle Joe Hill reads this, I’m truly sorry if I said something wrong and I apologize.

Edit: Joe responded and said he didn’t give me a dirty look. So, my life can now continue unscarred. Thanks, Joe. You have made me feel so much better.

Future of the Book Panel

After such a meeting, I spent Saturday night in the hotel room. I went to the book launch parties but I’m not a big party girl. I was tired, my back hurt and my feelings had just gotten a good sucker punch so I went to bed.

On Sunday, the last day of the con, I attended the Zombies Mega Panel with panelists Joe McKinney, RJ Sevin, Julia Sevin, Sarah Langan, Joe Lansdale and John Skipp. Later Brian Keene also jumped in. It included a rather awesome video intro and was basically a discussion about the zombie genre, how zombies aren’t going anywhere and how they’ve evolved over the years. A fantastic panel and a great way to end the con.

Okay, so this post is probably just as long as the last and I apologize but I hope you’ve read until the end. My overall take-away from this experience is that it was a fantastic con, I’m definitely going again (hopefully with some success under my belt), and if I do, I’ve got to think of a better way to tote my books home.

One response

  1. Penny

    All I can say is I wanna go :0). Maybe next year you can take ur personal photographer :0)
    We are so going on the zombie walk June 4th

    May 8, 2011 at 6:44 pm

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