Necon 35 Report

Somehow, another Necon has come and gone. Are the years moving faster, or is it just me? Anyway, this was a great Necon — but then, they pretty much all are. When we say it feels like a family reunion, we’re not kidding.

It was a joy having my good friend Paul Tremblay there as one of the Guests of Honor. Jack Haringa and I have been wanting to get him there for years now. I also really enjoyed finally meeting Chuck Wendig in person. He’s very funny, very smart, and just generally really cool. The third writer Guest of Honor, Seanan McGuire, also seemed cool but I didn’t get to spend much time with her outside of having her on my Friday afternoon panel about urban fantasies and paranormal mysteries. Speaking of which, I thought the panel went very well! Seanan was a big hit talking about how the original My Little Pony TV series set her on the path to writing horror and urban fantasy. Fellow panelist Dana Cameron became a fast friend of mine, and she, Alexa, and I wound up spending much of the convention together. She also turned 50 over the weekend, so congrats to Dana!

I’m on the Necon programming committee, and it was a particular pleasure this year to put my buddy Dan Braum on his first-ever convention panel, this one about writers who were (and continue to be) inspired by comic books. I put him on the dais with a bunch of powerhouses — Christopher Golden, Charles Rutledge, Brian Keene, Errick Nunnally, Kimberley Long-Ewing, and Duncan Eagleson — and he did a great job! Here’s to many more Dan panels in the future!

We didn’t have a game show or a talent show this year on Saturday night. Instead, we showed a couple of short films with the directors — Lynne Hansen and Izzy Lee — on hand to talk about their experiences. (Izzy’s film “Post Partum” starred my nemesis, Kasey Lansdale, but I managed to contain my apple-fueled rage for the entire six-minute running time.) It was very well attended and we may do it again next year.

Then came the infamous Necon roast! Christopher Golden has retired from hosting duties, and so my new co-host was Jeff Strand. Jeff and I worked well together  — not that I had any doubts — and we received a lot of compliments afterward. (From the people who were still talking to us, anyway.) I think this will be the start of a beautiful co-hostingdom. Our roastee, Sephera Giron, was a good sport despite hearing more boob jokes than anyone should ever have to endure. It was especially fun because she’s been waiting a good 25 years to get roasted and had come to believe it was never going to happen. She was smiling ear to ear the whole time, which is exactly the result we want when we roast someone.

Just as a side note, I hear Laura Anne Gilman is going to be one of the writer Guests of Honor next year, and she’s never been roasted. Hmmm… The other writer Guests of Honor will be Joe Hill and Mark Morris, so make those reservations now!

And now I’m going to tell you something that, for me, was the absolute highlight of this year’s Necon, or maybe any Necon ever — and it actually had nothing to do with Necon itself. Most people didn’t even know we did it. On Friday morning, Paul Tremblay, Jim Moore, Charles Rutledge, Mary SanGiovanni, Dave Thomas, and Alexa and I had an appointment at the gorgeous John Hay Library at Brown University in Providence to view a small part of their collection of rare H.P. Lovecraft manuscripts, letters, and notebooks. It was a breathtaking experience, and more than once I had to sit down and collect myself. No joke. Here’s one example of an item that knocked me for a loop, the handwritten manuscript (I know that’s redundant, Jack!) of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward:

 

More Charles Dexter Ward manuscript

And here’s another amazing find, the cover of the typescript of The Dunwich Horror with a handwritten note about a typo:

Dunwich Horror manuscript with a note about a typo

The whole experience was amazing. Astonishingly, among the artifacts we saw was a mosquito Lovecraft had crushed against a piece of paper, along with a few drops of Lovecraft’s blood. As you might imagine, we immediately started talking about cloning him, which of course would lead to the inevitable Jurassic Park spinoff, Lovecraft Park!

You can see many more photos of the Lovecraft papers, as well as photos from Necon itself, here. Special thanks to Christopher Geissler, the Librarian for American and British Literary and Popular Culture Collections at the John Hay Library, for putting up with a bunch of goofy Lovecraft fans, and to Brian Keene for organizing the outing. (It’s open to the public, you just have to make an appointment! Do it, it’s so worth it!)

I’m already looking forward to next year’s Necon, but man, I don’t think anything can ever top that field trip into the past!

A Head Full of Ghosts

A Head Full of GhostsA Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a word, masterful. Tremblay creates a cast of normal characters in the Barrett family — normal, yet still compelling thanks to the author’s deft hand with characterization — and puts them in a frightening, abnormal situation. Were this a true a story, it would be all too easy to see how things could spin out of control the way they do in the novel, and that awful authenticity is the true source of its horror. A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS is garnering a lot of praise, and it earns every glowing word. The year’s only half over, but this is already one of my favorite books of the year. Don’t miss it.

View all my reviews

Everything Old Is New Again

YES-TOTO-Tour-dates-poster1

So, this is where I’ll be on August 11th. Barclays Center. Brooklyn. I’ll be the roundabout and I’ll bless the rains down in Africa. It doesn’t get any more prog than this.

My Necon 35 Programming Schedule

Last weekend was Readercon, and this weekend is Necon! The final program for Necon 35 has been announced on the website. Here’s where you’ll find me:

Friday

1 p.m. — Weird Boiled: Detectives, Horror, and Urban Fantasy
Nicholas Kaufmann (M), Seanan McGuire, Chuck Wendig, Dana Cameron, James Chambers, Jan Kozlowski
Paranormal mysteries, urban fantasies, weird-boiled detectives, call them what you will but genre-blending in the contemporary and urban landscape shows no signs of abating. What is the appeal of these crossovers, and how do writers keep them fresh and interesting? Our practiced panelists discuss the strengths and pitfalls of the most popular subgenre in horror.

There are some real heavy-hitters on this panel, so I think it’s going to be both very informative and a lot of fun.

8 p.m. — Meet the Authors Party

I’ll be on hand with an unfortunately small amount copies of Die and Stay Dead to sell (I gave so many of my copies away at BEA!), although I’ll be happy to sign anything of mine you bring along. What’s more, I’m pretty sure the dealers room will have copies of all my books if you want to snag one.

Saturday

9 p.m. — The Infamous Necon Roast

Jeff Strand and I will be co-hosting the 35th annual Necon Roast. Who will be our esteemed roastee? You’ll have to be there to find out! (Please do not bring pie.)

Sunday

11 a.m. — Necon Town Meeting
Includes awarding of Necon Olympic Medals and winners of the Hawaiian Shirt Contest.

Also, come tell me and the other committee members your ideas for next year’s panels, as well as any suggestions you may have for future guests of honor.

I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

 

 

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