Sunday, October 20, 2013

Horror Signing In Wilkes, Hibachi Chicken, And Good Friends: What It's All About

Four years ago I attended my first Horrorfind Convention ever. I was even less of a blip on the horror radar than I am now, I'd only attended a handful of conventions (mostly as a lurker), and I still pretty much ran and hid whenever anyone "important" came around.

That year I met Brian Keene for the first time. This, of course, terrified me. What terrified me even more? When he invited me  to hang out somewhere quieter with his friends. I spent the next several hours in silence, just listening to Brian and a bunch of other folks talk long into the night. I'm sure if anyone saw me, they would've seen the stars glittering in my eyes. Next to the night I spent with Paul Wilson, Tom Monteleone and Stuart Schiff, it's still one of my best writing-related memories, ever.

Last night things came full circle when I saw the stars glittering in John Koloski's eyes. As we walked out to our cars afterward, John said a little breathlessly, "That was awesome! You guys were tossing around all these big names I've got to check"

I smiled and said, "Yep. Been there..."

And it was a nice feeling, this sensation of coming around full circle from where I'd started four years before. I wouldn't call myself a mentor to anyone, I'm still fighting my way up the ladder  and figuring things out just like everyone else, I wouldn't dare call myself an "equal" to someone like Brian Keene and Mary Sangiovanni...but what a wonderful thing to know we're friends, now.  That we're family.

Also, it's awesome developing closer friendships with writers like Lorne Dixon, Ron Breznay, Karen Koehler and Michael Brendan (who drove over four hours to be there), meeting writers like Scott Gorisack for the first time, and seeing my friend and new writer John Koloski wade into the waters of the horror genre right alongside us.  

That's what it's all about, really. Don't get me wrong - the signing proved a success for everyone. I sold some product, as did others, lots of people stopped by the tables and talked, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Kudos to the Wilkes Barnes & Noble for hosting such an event, for bucking corporate policy, allowing us small press horror folks to peddle our wares and hang out. 

However, even though we did peddle our always, the fellowship we enjoyed throughout the afternoon and evening was more important, by far. Because the horror genre is like a family. And it's very satisfying to feel as if I've grown within that family (though I've got so far to go, yet), and even more satisfying to see someone like John taking his first tentative steps into that family, like I did four or five years ago.

And I don't think I understood this as fully during my first few conventions. I thought mostly in terms of selling copies of Hiram Grange, hoping to bump into someone important who would "hook me up" and introduce me to someone else important who could "hook me up." I had a typical rookie's view of conventions.

What I didn't realize is that events like these (even though networking does happen, and in a way, we ARE working) are more like family reunions, opportunities to catch up with colleagues and see what they've been doing, picking the brains of the wise ones, trading stories with our contemporaries, and just rapping about writing and horror in general. Going to a Hibachi steakhouse after the signing and having the chef squirt Saki into everyone's mouths, talking religion and mythology and horror movies...

That's what it's all about. 

And that's what made yesterday's event such a success. We all sold books, but that's not the stuff you remember and cherish. It's the conversations, the laughter, and the Saki getting squirted into everyone's faces at the Hibachi grill. That's the stuff that matters.

That's what it's all about.

From left around the table: Myself, Mary Sangiovanni, Mike Brendan, Lorne Dixon, Brian Keene, John Koloski