Ever since the announcement was made that WHC 2008 would be held in Salt Lake City, I heard nothing but complaints on various message boards about the “bad” choice of venue. Prior to making the trip, I will admit I was a little concerned about how the con would turn out in light of all the negative commentary. I’m happy to report that my fears were unfounded.
When I stepped out of the airport, I was awed by the scenic view of the mountains that surround the city. The breathtaking scenery made up for the fact that it was as cold in SLC as it had been in Chicago. (I patted myself on the back for bringing my winter coat.)
I got settled at the hotel, noting that my roommate, Bailey Hunter of Dark Recesses Press, had not yet arrived. I figured that we would catch up sooner or later and headed off to registration to get checked in.
WHC 2008 Chair, Charlie Harmon, was at registration making sure everything was running smoothly. Charlie did a fantastic job of pulling things together and her team of volunteers were friendly and helpful, every step of the way. I had the pleasure of coordinating the readings again this year. And while I didn’t get to do as much hostessing as I would’ve liked, I received many compliments on the line-up. The readers and audience seemed to be very happy overall and I couldn’t ask for anything more.
When I wasn’t in the reading room, I could often be found in the dealers’ room tempting patrons with the fictional wares of Dark Arts Books. We were lucky to have several of our authors in attendance. John Everson, Bill Breedlove and Mort Castle from Candy in the Dumpster. Jeff Strand and Adam Pepper from Waiting for October. Loren Rhoads and Maria Alexander from Sins of the Sirens. And last but not least, Cullen Bunn from our latest collection, Like A Chinese Tattoo.
I was also a panelist on the Persephone: Male or Female? Gameshow. The point of this panel was to discuss gender bias in dark fiction. For some reason, there are people out there who don’t think women can write horror. Each of the panelists brought a couple of selections from their favorite authors. After reading the passages, our contestants, Gary Braunbeck and Mike Myers, had to guess if they thought the author of the passage was male or female. Gary made the assertion that female writers tend to focus on the internal thoughts of the character while male writers tend to focus externally. I was able to stump Gary with a selection from Jack Ketchum’s short story, “Closing Time.” I will admit that the first time I read the scene in question, I actually remember thinking “I can’t believe a man wrote this.” So I guess gender bias works the other way, too.
I attended a lunch meeting with agent, Kristen Nelson and learned a lot about current trends in the marketplace. I was also fortunate enough to have a pitch session with Kristen where I also got some great feedback on some of the projects that I am currently working on.
The Stoker Banquet was held on Saturday night and followed by the 1st (and hopefully not last) annual Dark Arts Books Pajama Party. I had the pleasure of chatting with many fine authors while serving as one of the bartenders.
The next thing I knew, Sunday arrived and it was time to head home. Every year, I tell myself that I am not flying back early on Sunday and every year the flight schedule just works out that way. I hope I can get a late flight back from Winnipeg next year…LOL!