Hello friends! I’m back from sunny Salt Lake City, and though still exhausted from the experience, I’m filled to the brim with excitement and the need to share all the wonderful things that happened at the World Horror Convention. In fact, there was so much going on, that I’ve decided to break things up over several weeks, to ensure that I cover it all. I won’t be going in chronological order, but you should get the gist of how the weekend went.
Where to start? I had decided that I would play it cool should I meet anyone I admire, and I wouldn’t allow myself to be star-struck by anyone. You have to act like a rock star if you want to be a rock star. You know what I mean? That lasted about five minutes, just long enough for me to spy Joe McKinney. To say I’m a fan is an understatement, and though we had meager interaction on facebook, the generic friendship and an occasional comment or “like”, I was stunned to actually see him in person. I froze, I began to sweat, I felt dizzy (I was suffering from altitude sickness, but I digress). There, within poking distance, stood someone I had on my bookshelves, someone I greatly admired, someone I had a writerly crush on! Non-writers may not understand this. It’s not the same as a regular crush, not a sexual thing, rather a feeling that someone is so cool, so amazing, that you would give anything to know them, maybe even to be them.
So picture it if you will, me standing around doing the convention thing for the first two days, enjoying myself immensely, but constantly seeing people who I’ve wanted to meet for a long time. I would tell myself to just go up and say Hi, but then I would get nervous. My eyes got sparkly and my mouth dry. Just do it. I would think. He’s just a person! No. No he’s not! He’s Joe Fuckin McKinney. You’ve read his books. He’s up for a Stoker. Say something! No, don’t say anything. You might look like a douchey dickface! Run. RUN AWAY! And so I hovered on the edge, wandering away at the last moment. I think I may have said Hi at some point, but again scurried away like a nervous little stalker.
I wish I could clearly remember actually meeting Joe, I think it had something to do with Lou asking for an autograph and me just striking up conversation. I know that it was at the Dark Moon Party and Stan was there. Little did I know, in just moments I would be sharing a drink in my room with a group of people that included Joe McKinney. He only had one drink, but he stayed awhile and we all talked writing. I was a bit too inebriated to really grasp what was going on, and I’m sure I’ve never acted less like a rock star in my life, but it was very cool. Joe is incredibly nice and approachable, very real and easy-going. He has kids around the same age as my own. I was already a fan, but this made me like him that much more. It also gave me the courage to approach others that had made me too nervous the day before. Over the next couple of days, I saw Joe many times and spoke to him often. He told me stories that made me laugh. My nervousness abated some and I was really honored to be present when he was awarded his first Stoker Award for his novel, Flesh Eaters. I haven’t read that one yet, but having enjoyed his previous work, I already recommend it! You should buy it, not just because Joe is an incredible writer (he is), but also because he’s an amazingly nice person. You can get it on Amazon by clicking the picture on the left.
During this convention, I met so many amazing people. Rocky Wood, Robert McCammon (briefly), Jeff Strand and many small press editors. I hung out with Stoker winners and fellow newbies alike. I was able to meet people that I have conversed with through social media, some of them nearly everyday for the last year. It was awesome. Stacey Turner from Angelic Knight Press and Robert Shane Wilson and Mark Scioneaux from Knightscape Press were so fun to party with. My Dark Moon Crew, Stan, Mina and all the others. But especially my good friends Jen Word, Julie Jansen and Craig Garrett. I know that I’m missing tons of people, but we could be here all day if I listed them all. The point is, I met many great people and had a wonderful time. I left the WHC feeling more confident in myself, yet humbled by the level of talents that had touched my hand.
I really look forward to the next convention. I hope to see Joe and all of the other great writers that I had the honor of hanging out with. Maybe next time I won’t be so nervous. Maybe I’ll even act cool like I had originally planned. I doubt it, but……it could happen.