Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Day 10-14 - Salt Lake City, UT

World Horror 2008

This was my first real writer's conference. One day at Love is Murder doesn't really compare.

Writer's conferences are events where new and up-and-coming writers go to meet well-known authors, agents, editors and publishers, as well as other writers like them. And where fans and everyone else can rub elbows with the big names during whatever precious time is left. The whole thing runs on ethyl alcohol and everyone enjoys a wonderful ride, me included.

Based on excellent advice given to me by Marcus Sakey, I parked myself in the hotel bar on Thursday night and bought people drinks. I met Horror Library editor and writer R.J. Cavender, Cutting Block Press's Boyd Harris, the dangerously funny Cody Goodfellow, R.B. Payne celebrating a recent acceptance, Hal Bodner, author of Bite Club; re-met Tracy Carbone, and had a terrifically long talk with John Paul Allen, author of Gifted Trust and Monkey Love. I saw Martel Sardina and Eric Cherry from Chicago's Twilight Tales. And none of them promised me money in exchange for a link on my blog, though I couldn't blame you for thinking they did. I didn't get home until almost three in the morning, and for an introverted misanthrope who's usually in bed by ten, I think I did okay.

The next day I went to a few late panels, attended the first half of my workshop with Mort Castle, then went back to my room and spent the rest of the night there, nursing myself with take-out from the Crown Burgers across the street from my hotel and liberal amounts of HBO.

But by Saturday I was back in fine form, and the highlight of the day was the second half of my workshop with Mort Castle. Mort is a dark fiction legend who lives in the Chicago area, a terrific talent and resource to have nearby. Mort has written just about everything, and seen just about everyone try to write it, too.

And yet, rather than being jaded or harsh, Mort is one of the most serene and supportive teachers I've ever had. We wrote some short pieces after the first half and read them to the group the next day. Some were better than others, but Mort found something positive to say about each one of them and, better still, made it sound completely genuine and believable.

At one point Mort held his thumb and forefiger just a little bit apart and peered at us all from between the space. "You need this much talent," he said, then opened his arms wide and finished. "And this much ambition."

How many times have I said that ambition always trumps talent? (Only because it's obvious ambition rules the world, not because I possess these qualities in those proportions.) Mort, I love ya. Thanks for a great workshop.

It was during Mort's workshop that I also met John Hornor Jacobs, a hella talented guy who also knows one or two things about advertising. That's him on the right, and that's us on Sunday, craving bacon and eggs the way zombies crave brains. Mort's workshop is also where I met Tyler Monfredi and Petra Miller, two more promising writers who made the conference a lot of fun.

Throughout the con I also spent a lot of time with editor and writer Elizabeth Blue. I don't know if she'd appreciate me posting this picture of her or not, but I think she looks glam, despite Salt Lake City's dry, cold, unpredictable but generally shitty weather. I can't wait to read some of her stuff.

And those, unfortunately, are the only two pictures I have from World Horror 2008. Why I didn't take at least a hundred more is beyond me now, but it might have had something to do with not wanting to look like a total fanboy.

Which I think I did with Kurt Dinan. I saw him coming out of a panel and just shouted his name after recognizing it from reading Longtime Gone last month in We talked for a bit, but Kurt was maybe a bit leery of my enthusiasm. Nice guy, though. I'll try to behave myself better next time.

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