The following platform is supported by the following candidates, Richard Laymon (running for president), Alan Beatts (running for vice-president), Simon Clark (running for trustee) and Jason Williams (running for trustee)
1. We will actively seek to develop a program that will provide HWA members with affordable group health insurance.
2. We will seek to promote the existence and significance of the HWA and, more importantly, the Stokers to the press, booksellers associations, individual bookstores and chains, and publishers.
3. We would like to organize a public signing for HWA members at a major bookstore during the World Horror Conventions in Seattle in 2001 and Chicago in 2002.
4. We would like to continue, and expand upon, the possibilities of having regular HWA members-only anthologies. To make the anthologies more appealing to publishers, we will propose mixing "name" authors with newcomers.
5. We would like to save HWA money and energy by sending the newsletter by email, and mailing hard copies only to those members who either request it or have no internet access.
6. We will seek to gain HWA members numerous benefits such as discounted and/or preferred service from travel agents, car rental companies, telephone and internet service providers, shipping companies (such as UPS and Federal Express), graphics and web design professionals, and automotive/residential insurance companies.
7. For any HWA member desiring to set up his or her own book-signing tour, we will continue to add to the existing list of bookstores that is available on the web site and we will also gather information about what type of events are possible (i.e. reading, signings, etc.) and who to contact to set up an event.
8. We will seek to identify literary agents who will give special consideration to representing HWA members and we will continue to act as a clearing house for information about agents.
9. We would like to use the HWA Internet Mailer to provide a forum whereby the administration can submit proposals and decisions to the membership in a timely fashion and be guided by the wishes of the membership in decision making.
10. We would like to continue to develop the nascent mentorship program and expand it to include a forum where any HWA member can contact one of a group of advisors for information on a number of industry related subjects ranging from technical expertise on subjects like forensics to advice on planning signing tours or writing screen treatments.
11. We would like to have the HWA banquet in New York City in 2001 (as already planned by the current administration). We are open to suggestions regarding the location of the 2002 banquet, including the idea of co-locating with the World Horror Convention.
12. Early during the Stoker weekend, we would like to have a function designed particularly to welcome newcomers and affiliates to HWA. At some point during the Stoker weekend we would also like to have a public signing at a major bookstore for all the authors attending the awards. Transportation to the venue would be provided by the HWA for authors attending the awards and an event of this type would be an excellent way to promote the awards.
13. We would like to open the Stoker Awards ceremony to those who do not choose (for financial or other reasons) to participate in the Stoker banquet.
14. To avoid any appearance or possibility of deception and thereby to increase the perceived value of the Stoker and also to improve secrecy of the results prior to the awards ceremony, HWA will hire an independent accounting firm to count the Stoker ballots.
15. We would like to recommend changes in the HWA bylaws to keep membership categories as they are, but to allow all members in good standing (active, affiliate, or associate) to vote on all matters including HWA officers and Stokers. At the same time we will actively seek ways that the stature and experience of our Active members can be properly recognized without interfering with the growth and vitality of the HWA
16. We would like to recommend changes in the HWA bylaws to allow an author to remove a work from consideration if they are, at the time of the reccomendation or the final vote, an office holder in HWA.
17. We would like to recommend changes in the HWA bylaws to award a Stoker in the category, Periodicals, so that magazines and newsletters (whether print or electronic) will have their own category and will no longer be included in the non-fiction category, which shall be reserved for books.
18. We would like to recommend changes in the HWA bylaws to allow a work to be eligible for recommendation for the Stoker award in every year it is published in English in any country, even if it was recommended in a previous year. However no work will be placed on the final ballot more than once in the lifetime of the work.
**Important Note Regarding Voting Rights**
Item 15 on this platform, extending the vote to all members regardless of their status, is bound to cause a great deal of discussion. We want to stress two points. One) Any change of this type cannot be made by the President or any other elected body of the HWA. It is a change to the Bylaws and can only be passed by a majority vote of the active members of the HWA. The final decision will be up to the membership. We will not and cannot force this change on you. Two) There are a number of ways that voting rights can be extended. Here are just two of the several possibilities; 1) all members could be allowed to vote on all issues, or 2) all members could be allowed to vote for the Stoker but only active members would be allowed to vote for officers. We as candidates intend to make all the possibilities known to you and, when the time comes, encourage you to vote for the choice that you believe will best serve the HWA and our profession as a whole.
Though it is not traditional for candidates for HWA offices to run as a group or party, four candidates running for office in this election share a number of goals and support the preceding platform. They are Richard Laymon (running for president), Alan Beatts (running for vice-president), Simon Clark (running for trustee) and Jason Williams (running for trustee). Their candidate's statements appear below in their entirety.
RICHARD LAYMON - Candidate's Statement of his intention to run for the position of president of HWA.
My career as a horror writer started with THE CELLAR in 1980 and has gone on through THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW in 2000. So far, I've written over thirty novels, seventy short stories, and my nonfiction book, A WRITER'S TALE. I've been nominated four times for Stokers.
My involvement with HWA started in the very beginning. Along with Dean Koontz and Bentley Little, I counted ballots for the very first Stoker awards. I can't say, however, that I've been with the HWA ever since. For a few years, I stayed away because I didn't care for HWA's activities and saw no reason for belonging. Later, I rejoined.
I was tempted to drop my membership this year. At about the same time I was considering that course of action, however, I was asked to consider running for HWA president.
I've decided to stay in and run for the position of president. Together with Alan Beatts (Borderlands Books) who is running for vice president, Jason Williams (Night Shade Books) running for trustee, Simon Clark (NAILED BY THE HEART, etc.) also running for trustee, and several officers and trustees already in office, I hope to take steps that will improve HWA.
In spite of all the good things that HWA has done over the years, its reputation . . . well, our award is widely known as "the Stroker."
In recent years, vast numbers of HWA members have quit or refused to renew their memberships for one reason or another. Approximately 170 members dropped out last year alone. I know of many current members who are on the verge of leaving HWA even now.
We hope to change that.
With our administration, we hope to bring in established writers (many of whom used to be members), to welcome new writers and aspiring writers, and to treat every serious professional in the horror community with the respect that he or she deserves.
Respect, including the right to vote.
Published writers, aspiring writers, artists, film makers, agents, book dealers, editors, publishers . . . you name it . . . if they are involved in horror and they pay their HWA dues, they should be welcomed into HWA and be allowed to vote on the officers and Stokers.
It seems that HWA leadership has often been terrified that, if they didn't keep a tight rein on the membership, we would all be over-run by "fans" and the Stoker would become a "fan award."
From what I've seen of HWA "fan" membership, the worries are totally unjustified. Most of them are aspiring writers.
They aren't the enemy. They are us -- or the way we used to be.
Do we really want HWA to continue being an exclusive club in which much of the membership is not allowed to have a voice (and properly resents it), in which awards are decided by a handful of votes, in which many members don't quite trust the results of the vote counting, and various works are "disqualified" because of arbitrary rules? Not me.
It seems to me (and to many of us) that various by-laws should be changed in order to remove practices that are unfair, that in many cases seem designed to exclude some of the very people for whom HWA ought to be a partner, not an adversary.
If you have similar feelings, I hope you'll vote for me for president, Alan Beatts for vice president, and Simon Clark and Jason Williams for trustees.
We'll see that the membership gets a chance to vote for changes. Also, we have plenty of ideas for new ways to improve HWA, ways that will insure that you get your money's worth out of membership, ways that I hope will improve the stature of HWA, increase the prestige of the Stoker award, and make you proud to be a member.
Soon after this announcement, we will provide a platform that will make it clear where we stand on various issues and what we hope to accomplish if we're elected.
-- Richard Laymon
ALAN BEATTS - Candidate's Statement of his intention to run for the position of vice-president of HWA
Though I am a relative newcomer to the business of professional writing (my recently sold first collection will appear next year), I have been involved in the business of horror for a number of years. My bookstore, Borderlands Books, is one of a handful of stores in the country that specializes in fantastic fiction. I have been a member of the HWA for two years and I also have the honor of serving as the Verifier of Eligibility for the Stoker Award. My experience as a bookseller gives me a unique perspective on our industry, one that I think will serve the HWA very well, should I be elected.
I see the duties of vice-president as primarily administrative and thankfully I have access to experience and facilities that should give our organization a strong administrative base. I have over ten years experience in managing small businesses and organizations and my current business provides me with office facilities and staff that will greatly simplify all the administrative chores that go with the office.
As a business owner I am constantly faced with decisions. Some of the most complex questions that I have to answer involve where to expend my energy and my capital. I have learned from hard experience that I must hold to a pragmatic standard. The two questions that my decisions always get down to are: Does it work? and Is it worth the time/money?
When I apply those standards to the HWA I get a mixed answer. Does it work? In a manner of speaking. It has members, though the level of attrition seems to be so high that at the current rate the organization will not be viable in two years. It offers some services, primarily in the form of information on the web site. It grants an award that is recognized within the industry but unknown to most booksellers and ignored by most publishers.
Is it worth the time/money? The answer here is even more mixed. My membership certainly doesn't give me anything tangible that equals the cost of being a member. But, I am supporting the industry to which I belong and I think that is important. The same could be said for the time that I spend on the HWA.
When I think about my membership in the HWA I would like to answer both of those questions with an enthusiastic, "Yes". And this is the year that we can make that happen. Not just for me but for all of the members. For all of you.
With Richard Laymon, who is running for president, Jason Williams, running for trustee, and Simon Clark, also running for trustee, and a number of officers, trustees, and committee members who have been working hard over the past years, I want to do everything that I can to make HWA membership an indispensable tool for any professional.
Richard Laymon has already spoken eloquently on the subject of membership rights and the expansion of the vote for the Stokers and for officers. I fully support both his position and the platform that we will be presenting to you in the next few weeks.
One of the goals that we are planning to pursue is a significant increase in the number and quality of services that the HWA offers its members. One of the prime benefits that we can offer is health insurance. This has been investigated in the past and the conclusion was that, though insurance of this type is affordable and readily available, it would be too difficult for the administration of HWA to collect fees and deal with the paperwork that would be created by such a program. I am willing to work toward finding a suitable company for such insurance and aid in implement a program to provide it to our members at a reasonable rate. There are any number of other benefits that we can offer our members. The equation is a simple one. If we represent a potential group of hundreds of customers for a business - any business - we can negotiate a favorable rate for service from that business. When it really gets down to it, the sky is the limit in terms of the services that we can offer our members.
If you would like to see how much we can accomplish, I hope that you'll vote for me for vice-president, Richard Laymon for president, and Simon Clark and Jason Williams for trustees. We are confident that we can build on the efforts of those who have gone before and bring the HWA into its true potential as a tool for professionals in our field.
-- Alan Beatts
SIMON CLARK - Candidate's Statement of his intention to run for the position of Trustee of HWA
I might not be such a familiar name to American members; however, last year my first collection of short stories appeared in the States, SALT SNAKE & OTHER BLOODY CUTS, and this year my first novel, NAILED BY THE HEART, has been re-issued by Leisure. Previously I had a number of short stories published in Karl Wagners THE YEAR'S BEST HORROR series.
Before my American appearances I've had many short stories and novels published in the UK, beginning with appearances in the small press in the early 80's. I've wanted to be a horror writer for as long as I can remember and know only too well what it is like to be an unpublished, if enthusiastic, beginner experiencing the frustrations and the agonies of rejection. Those faltering first steps (along with many stumbles and metaphorical bloody noses) taught me the value of organisations like the Horror Writers of America. To new writers they are a life-line, as simple as that. To the more established writer they are sources of information, support and, hell, the long and short of it is, it's good to belong to a brother and sister-hood of people with the same love of the genre as you.
For many years I have been a member of the British Fantasy Society and the UK's Society of Authors. I have seen what works for a society and what doesn't. By now, I believe I know what members need from a society that will help them in their career: from a beginner needing to know about those sometimes tricky contract clauses to perhaps elderly or sick members who have reached a stage where they need to reach out for a helping hand.
If you do vote for me I'm hoping join Richard Laymon, Alan Beatts and Jason Williams in their efforts to take the HWA to greater and better things for the benefit of new and established members whether they are US residents or over-seas members who have come to value and be proud of belonging to the HWA.
-- Simon Clark
JASON WILLIAMS - Candidate's Statement of his intention to run for the position of Trustee of HWA
I have been a life-long fan of horror, and in 1997 took the next step. I saw a book I wanted that nobody was going to publish, took a look at my wallet, and Night Shade Books was born. Since then four books have been published, running the gamut from a non-fiction collection of essays about the Necronomicon to a career retrospective of the weird fiction of Manly Wade Wellman.
In running Night Shade, I've had to deal with all kinds of new experiences. I've had to learn how to produce books that I'm not going to be embarrassed by. To learn how to budget, to determine pricing, page counts, and dustjackets. I've learned to wrangle the legal beast known only as "Contract", and most importantly, I've learned what to do once the truck bearing 2000 copies of your latest book shows up on my front door. I've learned about distribution and sales. Currently I have six distributors buying from me on a regular basis, and I'm making inroads on UK and Australian distribution. Due to titles selling out before I was ready for them to, I've had to steadily increase print runs. My latest two titles were both done in a quantity of 2000, because I couldn't afford for them go to out of print as fast as they have. I believe my knowledge can be useful to the membership of the HWA, and even more so as a Trustee for the HWA.
But the HWA almost didn't get my knowledge. For a few years I had flirted with the idea of joining the HWA, but realized that publishers are in the same camp as booksellers. There simply aren't any benefits to membership for people like me. I can't even vote. Gauging from the steady attrition of late, many existing members are beginning to feel the same way. I feel that the HWA can be an invaluable resource to the horror field as a whole, but that it needs a gentle reminder of what it's here to do.
I believe that through the efforts of myself, Richard Laymon, Alan Beatts, Simon Clark and the current officers of the board, we can bring the HWA back into line with what we all believe it can be.
-- Jason Williams
BY RICHARD LAYMON
Hello, everyone. This is Sunday morning, a week after our return from 2000 World Horror Convention and Stokers. I've already written brief bits about it on the MOT CELLAR message board and on several MOT author boards. I think it would be beyond me to write a full report on the convention. For major write-ups, check out the reports by Mikey Huyuck, Mike Oliveri and Brian Keene on the MOT Newsdesk and Jobs in Hell.
Even the prospect of writing a summary of the highlights is daunting. I think I'll concentrate on several aspects of the convention and go into detail.
For starters, for several reasons, I want to say what a delight it was to meet Eoghain O'Keefe. A regular on the MOT message boards and an aspiring writer, he and his father travelled to Denver all the way from Cork, Ireland.
On Wednesday evening, Ann, Kelly and I had just finished dinner at a restaurant in some sort of shopping mall area. Since the convention wouldn't be starting for another day, we'd seen nobody we recognized. Shortly after we left the restaurant, a young man came toward us, looking rather nervous. He said, "Excuse me?" And I thought, Oh, dear, what's happening here? Then he asked if I'm Richard Laymon. And he, of course, turned out to be Eoghain. We had a nice chat then and there. The first of many. Though I'd long been aware that Eoghain was an ardent fan and very perceptive in his comments about my work, it turns out that he is a terrific guy, too. Very intelligent and witty and fun to be with. I think he made a lot of new friends in Denver (including Kelly, who also spent quite a lot of time with him). He's hoping to make it to Seattle for World Horror in 2001, and I know we're looking forward to seeing him there. Eoghain stayed on in Colorado for a week after the convention. I imagine he must've gotten snowed on. Eoghain, did you get yourself a cowboy hat?
On the subject of Eoghain, I want to "give a shout out" to James Futch. (James and Eoghain apparently hit it off.) Unfortunately, I didn't end up having much time to talk to James. He seemed to be the official cameraman of the convention (or the MOT cameraman?). He took a lot of great pictures with his digital camera. Hope you had a wonderful time, James.
Now . . .
The Gross-Out Contest!
Judges of the contest were John Pelan, Simon Clark, Vince Harper and me. (Jack Ketchum and Edward Lee didn't make it to Denver, which was a real shame -- but they were there in spirits!) Vince Harper sat in for Ed Bryant, who was scheduled to be a judge but didn't show up when the time came. Vince, taken unaware, had no pen. Somehow, as things turned out, Vince remained penless throughout the entire contest. Since we needed them for scoring the contest, he used John's pen. John was sitting to my right, Vince to my left. After each and every performance, the pen was passed back and forth. It was like a three-man pen relay. Went on for an hour and a half!
The room, by the way, was freezing. (By and large, the hotel sucked.) Jeremy Lassen, down in the audience, kept trying to wrap a table cloth around himself without first removing it from the table.
With the very first Gross-Out contestant came the most memorable event of the convention (for some of us). You've probably already read about it on MOT -- Kelly eating the earthworm. It was all Brian Keene's fault! (I'm laughing right now.) He concocted a plan some time ago, apparently, to chow down earthworms while he read his gross-out story. The story seemed to be about a dead gal with worms falling out of her body . . . but I lost track of the narrative flow when Brian, standing at the podium, dropped the first worm into his mouth and swallowed it. The audience and judges went wild. During his story, he reached into the plastic, dirt-filled container four times (I believe), plucked out living, writhing worms and dropped them into his mouth. (He'd obtained them from a bait shop in Estes Park -- famous for the Overlook Hotel -- while galavanting around with Tom Piccirilli).
When Brian's story was done, he turned around and offered a worm to me. I shook me head, said, "No, thanks." Then he turned to the audience and asked for volunteers. Up popped my daughter, Kelly. She came bopping up to the stage, all smiles, a paper napkin in her hand. At the podium, she reached into the dirt and pulled out a nice, big worm. Then she carefully wiped it off with her napkin -- God forbid she should munch one that's dirty -- and ate it! After swallowing, she took a drink of Brian's Coke, smiled, etc., and bounded off the stage.
By the way, Kelly is almost twenty-one. She's been going to these conventions for years. Though she has usually stuck close to Ann and I, this time she spent most of the convention away from us, hanging out with various writers and booksellers and publishers. It was while running around with the likes of Brian Keene, Julie Morales, Geoff Cooper, Feo Amante, Vince Harper, Mike Oliveri, Mikey Huyuck (a really wonderful bunch of people), that she volunteered to eat a worm as part of Brian's Gross-Out spectacular.
After Brian ate his worms and Kelly ate one, Feo Amante came onto the stage and "snarfed" a worm. What he did, he sucked it up his nose, then blew it back out his nostril and ate it. Good grief. After Feo, Geoff Cooper hopped onto the stage and ate two worms. Geoff CHEWED them! I'm starting to feel ill.
The Gross Out contest actually led off with the Worm Spectacular. Too bad, in a way. Would've been nice not to start at with something so stupendous. However, it was no doubt a relief to some of those involved. All night, prior to the performance, Brian had been roaming around looking very worried, shaking his head, muttering, "I've gotta get drunk."
It seems that at least a portion of Brian's worries involved how I might react to seeing my daughter chow down a worm -- because of him! He figured I might want to kick his ass. Actually, Ann and I both thought it was terrific. Kelly is more than slightly reclusive. To call her a "picky eater" would be a major understatement. Also, she usually spends five minutes inspecting plates, forks, etc. for schmutz before daring to use them. So to see her eat a worm . . . Wow! It was a rare treat, in more ways than one! I don't want to spend a lot of time analyzing it, but I will say that, among other things, it said a lot about how much she likes and respects Brian, Julie, Geoff, Feo and the rest of the bunch who were involved in the project.
After the worm banquet, one would've thought the Gross-Out contest would be all downhill. Oddly enough, it wasn't! There were more wonderful moments to come. I don't want to replay the whole thing, but Rain Graves read a beautfully written and very unpleasant piece about cancer, Alan Clark read from his weird and funny story that's in IMAGINATION FULLY DILATED, TWO, and Mike McCarty had me laughing with his piece about cannibalism -- and a stray finger that was stuck in his butt. All runners-up won packages of meal worms (appropriately enough).
And the winners were . . .
Gavin (not sure of last name), who came to Denver all the way from Newcastle (England), took fourth place. Brian Keene took third (I'd given him a perfect score even before Kelly joined his show). Ryan (Still-Waters-Run-Deep-and-Dark) Harding took second place with an hilarious piece about the making of a snuff film. Mark McLaughlin took first place after (as always) bringing down the house with his performance. I understand that Mark rehearsed his one-man show FIFTY times. Having now taken first place twice, Mark has won the right to be a Gross-Out judge. I hope this doesn't mean the end of his performances!
For various reasons, I'd better break this report into segments. I'll get back to it later with some other highlights. So long for now.
Among the many highlights of the World Horror Convention, there was the Borderlands Books party. It was hosted by Alan Beatts and his crew (Jeremy Lassen, Liza Erpelo and Claude) on Friday night. A special feature of the Borderlands party is the awarding of "THE CHARLES." The Charles is an award given to the writer who had the worst (most obnoxious, disgusting, creepy) fan show up at Borderlands during the previous year. The award is named after an apparently odious fellow named Charles who was a customer at a motorcycle shop at which Alan used to work. Last year at World Horror, the first ever Charles award was presented to Jack Ketchum. This year, Alan gave his usual elaborate and hilarious description of his encounter with the horrid fan. This one was apparently looking forward quite too much to the new STAR WARS film -- on account of he apparently had the hots for Natalie Portman. And this fan apparently went on and on, in vivid and loathesome detail, about how MUCH he likes Natalie Portman and what he would like to do with her. Well . . . if it isn't obvious by now . . . he'd come into Borderlands looking for a book by me. And I won this year's Charles award!
The award took me by surprise, and I was overjoyed to receive it. It really is an honor. Accepting it, I said something like, "I'd rather have this than a Stoker anytime." (Not that I have anything -- much -- against Stokers, but THIS IS THE CHARLES.)
Not only is the idea of the Charles cool -- so cool that it is fast becoming the envy of horror writers -- but it is a magnificent object. It's a beautiful granite tombstone (deep green), engraved on the back, and with a clock and an engraved brass plaque on the front. And it must weigh about fifteen pounds. Kelly and I took turns lugging it around for the rest of the night. Taking it home on the flight, it stayed in my carry- on. I got it home safely, and it now sits on our fireplace mantel.
Another highlight of the weekend . . . on Friday morning, I was on a panel with David Morrell. Though we had once met very briefly, long ago, David introduced himself to me and said that he enjoys my work. This was really exciting. I've been a fan of David Morrell's books and stories for nearly thirty years, and I learned a lot about writing (especially action) from books of his such as FIRST BLOOD and TESTAMENT. So meeting him and having a chance to talk with him was a great thrill for me.
Another highlight for me . . .
On Saturday morning, I had breakfast with Don D'Auria. You've probably all heard by now what a great guy Don is. He is also a real horror fan, and has (along with the rest of the Leisure crew) almost single-handedly resurrected mass market horror here in the States. (Because of Leisure's success, other publishers are now jumping on the bandwagon.) It was great to have some uninterrupted time to talk with Don over the breakfast. Leisure is planning to give AMONG THE MISSING a nice push (you should see its cover!), they will continue to reprint my older stuff, and will publish a new book of mine as a hardcover in the spring of 2002.
While we sat there and chatted, Tim De Young came by and said hi. Tim is also with Leisure, not in editorial work but in marketing. He's not only a really nice guy, but one of the main people responsible for Leisure's new success and growth.
Sometime later, Doug Clegg came along. Don took off in a hurry for a panel we'd both forgotten about. So then I went over to Doug's table, where he was having coffee with Michael Rowe.
It was real nice to meet Michael and great to see Doug again. We used to hang out a lot when he was living in Southern California, but hadn't seen him in several years. The three of us sat there for a long, long time. Then Michael had to leave for a panel (or something), but Doug and I stayed on. Soon after that my wife Ann came along, wondering what had become of me. She joined us at the table. We chatted on and on. By and by, we ordered lunch. Then Michael returned, and he also ordered lunch.
While we were eating, Dave Hinchberger showed up at a nearby table with Lucy Taylor. After saying hi and checking with Lucy, I ran upstairs to my room and hurried down with a box full of BAD NEWS signature pages.
Long story short (sure), I spent about four hours in the hotel coffee shop that morning/afternoon and it was a major highlight of the weekend.
That night, Don and Tim would each be sitting at one of the two Leisure tables at the Stokers award banquet. They had invited not only me, but Ann and Kelly to sit at a Leisure table . . . which was extremely thoughtful of them. We sat at the table with Don, Simon Clark, Doug Clegg, Tom Piccirilli, Michelle Scalise and Tim Lebbon. Had a wonderful time. Because of the table's size, we couldn't really communicate with people on the other side (Tom Pic, Michelle, Tim Lebbon and Don himself), but I was sitting between Ann and Doug, and Simon was within earshot.
We had a terrific time. Tom Pic and Doug Clegg were both up for a Stoker in the same category (story collection) -- and so was my friend Edo van Belkom, who was sitting at a different table. Doug was awarded the Stoker (he also received the International Horror Guild Award for the same book, THE NIGHTMARE CHRONICLES -- published by Leisure!) So I was delighted Doug had won but also felt sorry that the others hadn't. Doug gave a really nice acceptance speech.
Another highlight of the banquet was Charlie Grant's speech after being awarded a Life Achievement award. It was extremely moving. I don't think I was the only one in the room who got pretty choked up.
There was plenty of funny stuff, too. Neil Gaiman accidentally got handed the wrong Stoker award and read off the name on its plaque -- letting everyone know in advance that the winner in the nonfiction category was Paul Guran for DARKECHO.
Because of the error on stage, Harlan Ellison started to take a more active role in the proceedings. Ed Bryant was doing his usual terrific job as M.C. of the awards ceremony (he has a great sense of humor), but there was some sort of mix-up in the arrangement of the Stokers and the certificates. So every two or three minutes, Harlan would leap up from his table, attack the stage like Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Jaun Hill, and scamper back and forth, looking for this or that certificate or Stoker. For another take (and a very funny one) on this bit, you must read Brian Keene's convention report on MOT.
Before leaving the Stokers, I want to mention John Passarella's moving acceptance speech when he received a Stoker for his First Novel, WITHER. He's a really nice guy and his speech was terrific. I've started reading WITHER today, and it looks like a real good one.
Now, let me tell you about the BAD NEWS signature pages. This was a major triumph!
Two sets of signature pages have been making the rounds. Each box contains about 600 (or more) sheets, each sheet to be autographed by contributors to the collection. Well, Geoff Cooper received one box just before the convention. He drove from Seattle to Denver in a van with Kathy and John Pelan. Knowing Rain Graves would be attending the convention and that she was next on the list to be sent the pages, he BROUGHT THEM TO DENVER! Hooray for Geoff!!!
When I heard that he'd brought them . . . when I saw them .. . I started going wild with joy. First, I got the box from Kathy Pelan on Thursday afternoon. My name was on the sheets, so I ran upstairs with the box and spent the next two hours in my room, feverishly signing them.
Then we got them to Simon Clark. Simon, of course, lives in England. He is the only BAD NEWS author in England . . . but he was in Denver for the convention! And he cheerfully agreed to sign the pages. When I got done with them, Kelly delivered them to Simon. He signed them overnight.
Friday morning, we ran into Edo Van Belkom. His name also happened to be on his set of pages! A Canadian! And he cheerfully agreed to sit down, right then and there, and sign them. So we found a table outside the main convention rooms. Ann and I sat with Edo and had a nice chance to chat with him while he signed pages.
I got up from time to time to stretch my legs, sign some autographs, etc.
Highlight within a highlight -- the artist GAK and I had a running (friendly) battle. He kept calling me Mr. Laymon. I told him to call me Dick, but he kept on calling me Mr. Laymon. With that twinkle in his eye. So I started going after his name. (I happen to know his real name, but I won't reveal it here.) Eventually, after a lot of laughs, we called a truce. GAK, by the way, has artwork in BAD NEWS and illustrated "The Boy Who Loved the Twilight Zone," which apparently will be coming out from Borderlands later on as a chapbook.
Back to the signature pages -- during one of my brief wanderings, I ran into Rain Graves. Her name was ALSO on the signature pages in our possession. She agreed to come over to the table. As Edo finished pages, we stacked them up for Rain to sign. She showed us her famous "stupid human trick" in which she grabs the front of her throat with one hand and wobbles her trachea from side to side . . . while talking! (She really should go on Letterman.) Eventually, Edo had to leave for a radio interview. Ann and I stayed with Rain at the table. She discovered that Jack Ketchum and Geoff Cooper had signed a few of the sheets in the wrong place (zany guys . . . it wasn't entirely by accident). . . so Rain had to sign in the wrong place, too. If you buy BAD NEWS and you're lucky enough to get one of the few with the names signed in the wrong places, you'll have a real collector's item.
We were at that table for well over two hours. Rain really came through, signing all the sheets, and finished just in time for Ann and I to run up to our room to catch Edo's radio interview. It was a kick. He sounded like a professional spokesman. If his writing ever fizzles, he can have a career as a d.j. (Not as if that'll happen; he's too good a writer.)
After his interview, he finished signing the BAD NEWS pages.
Now, every contributor present at the convention had signed them except for Lucy Taylor and (as mentioned above) I had the good fortune of running into her during my breakfast/coffee/lunch marathon in the hotel coffee shop on Saturday morning when she came in with Dave Hinchberger.
Lucy (whatever you do, don't miss her books THE SAFETY OF UNKNOWN CITIES and PAINTED IN BLOOD) lives in Colorado, and drove to the convention. She cheerfully agreed to take the pages home with her, sign them and send them on to Bentley Little.
If you get BAD NEWS, you may enjoy knowing the story of how some of those signatures got written in Denver. I'm very grateful to Simon, Edo, Rain and Lucy for going to such trouble for the book.
One more highlight . . . Dave Hinchberger took Ann and I to dinner at Duffy's restaurant on Thursday night. Dave's a really nice guy, very funny. Through his Overlook Connection, Dave has been a supporter of my works before most people ever heard of me. Ann and I had a wonderful time visiting with him during dinner.
It is often said that writers should go to such conventions in order to "network." I don't attend them for that. I attend them for the great fun of seeing my old friends (writers, publishers, book dealers, artists and fans) and making new ones. On that level, it's an astonishing and mind-blowing experience. It's like being in a different world -- a better one.
But attendance often does result in deals being made.
At the convention, I tentatively agreed to have Dave Hinchberger and Jason Williams publish a couple of my older works. I signed a contract (schlepped by the amazing Garrett Peck) for WyrdSiSterS to do an audio CD version of two of my short stories, "Eats" and "The Tub." I also saw John Pelan who is editing a couple of anthologies that will include stories by me. And Matt Johnson (I didn't get nearly enough time with Matt in Denver) who has a nonfiction article by me, along with three short stories and a (soon to be written) novella.
Of the many wonderful people I met (or saw again) in Denver, one was Mark Graham. He teaches advanced placement English at a local high school, and freelances as a book reviewer for the DENVER ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS. I met him at the signing on Friday night, and he told me about his review of THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW that would be appearing in the Sunday paper. On Sunday morning, I got to read it. Wow! I've sent it to Steve, so you'll all get a chance to read it on RLK! [see below.]
Ed Bryant also had some really neat things to say about THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW. He did a review of it that should appear in the next issue of LOCUS. Not to reveal anything -- he "got it" about Slim.
I also met Mehitobel Wilson (at the Gothic.net party), a very nice and zany young lady who wrote a terrific review of TRAV. VAMP. SHOW. It'll be appearing in Gothic.net (I think.) I thanked her for the review and we had a nice chat.
I also really enjoyed meeting Jason Bovberg and his crew from Dark Highways Press . . . who did a great job with the anthology, SKULL FULL OF SPURS. It's an excellent collection with weird western stories by a bunch of terrific writers. An unusual feature of this book is that it includes a COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAGHY of each writer's works. The bibliography itself is probably worth the price of the book . . . but it also has stories by many of the best writers in the field.
It was very nice to meet the artist, T.M. Arensberg. He had some really striking paintings in the art room, and he was kind enough to give me prints of several of his works.
Among the new writers I met, there's Weston Ochse, author (with David Whitman) of SCARY REDNECKS . . . He's not only really nice, but he has a fascinating job. He's career military, in Army Intelligence, and teaches interrogation techniques and other strange things. While others were sitting in a circle and burning Pentagrams into the carpet (who? what? I'll never tell!), Weston and I talked for about an hour about all sorts of stuff. The next day, I bought a copy of SCARY REDNECKS. Then, on Sunday, we ran into Weston at the airport and got to spend another hour together while waiting for our flights.
Originally, I was looking forward to the book because of Edward Lee's glowing review of it in HELLNOTES. After meeting Weston, I was even more eager to read the book -- and hoping for the best because he's such a great guy. I doubted it would live up to the hype. But it's BETTER than the hype. I don't want to go overboard (odd choice of words, considering the SCARY REDNECK stories), but stories in the book will remind many readers of the good stuff by Edward Lee and Joe Lansdale and probably Bill Faulkner. There were times, reading some of them, when I was put in mind of Flannery O'Connor. This ain't bad stuff. Well, it IS bad, but it's so GOOD.
Well, I've gone on much too long with all of this. In some ways, however, I only scratched the surface. If you want to read more, material about the convention by me and by others can be found on the MOT message boards, especially on the Richard Laymon and the Cellar boards. Also, I highly recommend Brian Keene's account of the weekend, which can be found on MOT. It had me laughing out loud several times, but it is also fascinating. Brian had some big adventures. Plus, he does a wonderful job of capturing the comaraderie and hope and awe and antics that make the World Horror Convention such a wonderful, memorable experience for nearly everyone who attends.
To wrap it up (at last), I've tried in these two reports to mention as many highlights and people as possible (without going on forever), but I'm sure I've omitted all sorts of stuff. I hope if I neglected to mention you, you'll forgive me. I want to thank everyone involved in World Horror and the Stokers for being there and making it so terrific. And thanks to Ann and Kelly for proof-reading my reports, helping out with names and events, and doing all they can (here and in general) to save me from making a fool of myself.
May 24, 2000
|Like the vampire he celebrates so often (Stake, etc.), this talented writer's career, once dead in the States though not overseas, has risen anew - thanks largely to Cemetery Dance, which has issued his work even as no mainstream American hardcover publisher would touch it. The author's fall after his successful run in the 1980s was due to several factors, including his writerly predilection toward excess sex and violence. Here, Laymon takes those elements in hand, not so much abjuring them as putting them to artful use as he tells a wickedly involving story of three 16-year-olds and their life-changing encounter with the road show of the title......[Possible spoilers removed]......Unusual for Laymon, the emphasis is on atmosphere rather than action, and he sustains a note of anticipatory dread throughout, made particularly resonant through his expert handling of the social, particularly sexual, tensions among the three teens. The novel's climax is the show itself, and here Laymon lets out the stops in typically ferocious fashion. In its understanding of the sufferings and ecstasies of youth, the novel carries some of the wisdom of King's The Body and Robert R. McCammon's Boy's Life, but the book, Laymon's best in years, belongs wholly to this too-neglected author, who with his trademark squeaky-clean yet sensual prose, high narrative drive and pitch-black sense of humor has crafted a horror tale that's not only emotionally true but also scary and, above all, fun|
Have you ever had a favorite book and always wished there were another enough
like it to evoke the same emotions? I remember picking up Robert McCammon's SWAN
SONG and feeling like I was reading Stephen King's THE STAND all over again. Now
I have found another of these gems.
If, like me, you consider Ray Bradbury's SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES an American classic, you are in for a real treat. Picture SOMETHING WICKED a decade later; make the protagonists just a few years older; and add a girl, a bit more graphic violence and a little sex, and you have Richard Laymon's THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW.
It is a hot August morning in the summer of 1963. Sixteen-year-old Dwight is cutting the lawn, shirtless and sweating over the handle of his push mower, when his best friends, Rusty and Slim (who doesn't like her real name, Frances) arrive with a flier announcing the one-night-only, midnight performance of the Traveling Vampire Show. The handbill proclaims in bold letters: "Nobody under age 18 allowed," and they are sure their parents would forbid them to go anyway, but the three teen-agers know that this is one show they absolutely can't miss. In the course of the narrative, Dwight, Rusty and Slim learn that three is a difficult number when hormones are raging and the world is not as it has always seemed.
I don't want to tell you much more and spoil your fun. Leave it at this: While Bradbury fans may find the last hundred pages of THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW a little too nasty for their tastes, this book will put you in the same vicarious world that no author has entered since the master.
Mark's Comments: Here's a couple of others too.
The original sketches for Darkness, Tell Us and
Out Are The Lights.
Our thanks to Mark Taylor for sharing these with us, and we hope to be able to show you even more soon!
The doorbell rang and rang and rang. It kept on ringing as Laura hurried toward the front door, scowling. "Jeez, kid," she muttered. "Take it easy."
The bell rang again and again as she grabbed the basket of candy off the table and swung open the door, expecting a small tribe of kids in Halloween costumes to chant, "Trick or treat!"
But there was only one kid on the porch. A teenaged boy, out of breath and sobbing, arm jerking as he tried to yank open the screen door.
"Hey! Stop that."
"Let me in!" the kid blurted. "You gotta let me in!" He glanced over his shoulder. "Please! They're gonna get me!"
"Stop tugging on the door!"
"Please, lady! Let me in! They're after me!"
Laura stepped closer to the screen door and looked past the boy. Beyond the lighted porch, she saw only darkness. "Who's after you?"
The boy glanced over his shoulder. "Oh, God!"
"I don't . . ."
With a flick of her thumb, Laura unlocked the screen door. The boy threw it open. She leaped out of his way as he rushed into the house.