25 Years of Fear: World Horror 2015

WHC2015LOGOThis past weekend I attended the 25th Annual World Horror Convention and HWA Bram Stoker Awards Banquet in Atlanta (May 7 – 10, 2015). I’ve been a member of HWA for three years now and this was my third World Horror Convention. I shared a room with two people who are very special to me: two-time Stoker-nominated poet, Stephanie Wytovich and fellow Seton Hill University alum, Ryan DeMoss. We had a blast, but it just wasn’t the same without Joe Borelli. Hope to see you soon, Joe. There were quite a few of us in attendance representing Seton Hill’s MFA in Writing Popular Fiction Program, including my amazing mentor, Lucy A. Snyder who won two Stoker Awards this weekend for her fiction collection, Soft Apocalypses and her non-fiction book on writing, Shooting Yourself in the Head For Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide, as well as Michael Arnzen, Tim Waggoner, Jennifer Loring and John Dixon, who also won a Stoker for his novel Phoenix Island.

Jennifer Barnes and John Edward Lawson of Raw Dog Screaming Press hosted a fun gathering Friday evening in their hotel room where many of us got to experience some of the common fears horror writers try to capture in their fiction: claustrophobia, social anxiety, ophthalmophobia (fear of being stared at), ochlophobia (fear of crowds or crowded places) and bibliophobia (fear of books). Michael Arnzen broke out his Fridge of the Damned magnets for us to play with, and added performance anxiety to the list of fears.

As always, I attended some amazing panels and presentations, with the following being some of my favorites:

  • From Voodoo to Rattlesnake Revival: Southern Folklore in Horror Literature
  • Selling Your Scares to Screen: Ins and Outs of Options in Today’s Film Market
  • Different Visions: African- American Spec-Lit From Afro-Futurism to Beloved (moderated by Chronicles of Harriet creator, Balogun Ojetade)
  • Midmorning Madness: Making Insane Characters Believable
  • Bram Stoker/Dracula Travel Guide New Discoveries 118 Years Later (presented by Dacre Stoker)
  • Pushing the Diaspora Darkly: Horror from Multicultural Perspectives

I never get to attend all of the panels and readings I want to, because there are simply too many to choose from each year.

However, there is so much more to WHC than attending panels. Catching up with talented friends like Michael Knost, Craig DiLouie, and Rio Youers were some of the high points of the weekend. What’s even better than telling stories, drinking, and laughing at inappropriate humor with old friends? Making new friends! This year I met some really talented, insightful, and darkly humorous people including the amazing science fiction poet Linda Addison, the thought-provoking speculative fiction writer Crystal Connor, the adorably weird horror writer and filmmaker Frazer Lee, the nicest bizarro fiction writer you’ll ever meet, William Pauley III, and a filmmaker and writer who also aspires to become a Time Lord, Aaron Dries. It was also my great pleasure to meet DragonCon’s ConSuite Master, Joseph Campbell, who showed WHC2015 attendees southern hospitality while wearing a Utilikilt and spinning Bryan Ferry. Be still my heart!

And, if all that wasn’t cool enough, William F. Nolan and Charlaine Harris signed books for me.

All in all, a wonderful weekend in which I was reminded not to fear success, conversed with intelligent, insightful, and caring people, learned some new things about madness, laughed at inappropriate humor, and exhausted myself to the point of insanity. Can’t wait to see you all again soon.