S.G. Browne

World Horror Convention – Brighton

The 2010 World Horror Convention took place this year for the first time outside of North America at the Royal Albion Hotel in Brighton, England – a seaside city on the south coast an hour from London.

The Royal Albion was like a maze, with twisting hallways that made it easy to get lost until you figured out where you were going. And at night, when they closed all of the dual swinging hallway fire doors, I had to make my way through half a dozen of them on a circuitous route from the elevator to my room that made me feel like I was in the opening credits for Get Smart.

Before attending the World Horror Convention, I was booked both for a panel (about zombies, go figure) and for a reading. Bill Breedlove, co-founder of Dark Arts Books, was slated to read after me and contacted me to see if I was interested in doing a collaborative story to read just for the convention. I’d never collaborated before, and had only met Bill briefly last June, but it sounded like fun. So we came up with a fun piece about air raid sirens and vultures and werewolves that I’m hoping we’ll have video of at some point.

While the reading itself was definitely worth the price of admission, having the opportunity to work with Bill and to get to know him was priceless. Even if he doesn’t believe me.

The panel (attended by myself, Weston Ochse, Scott Edelman, and Michael Marshall Smith) was supposed to be a discussion about Zombies vs. Vampires, or Are Zombies the New Vampires, but it ended up being a panel about zombies, with nary a mention of vampires. Though we all agreed that neither vampires nor zombies should ever, EVER, sparkle.

While Weston, Scott, and I tended to be more in the camp of zombies branching out to discover their inner undead soul and tell a joke or two, Michael wanted his zombies slow and relentless, like a cancer that continues to spread and keeps eating away. Fast, funny, or sentient zombies weren’t what he wanted in the living dead. By the end of the panel, however, Michael had begun to have second thoughts and actually ended up walking away with a copy of Breathers. So hopefully that’s one more convert.

The rest of Thursday, which lasted until 2am, consisted mainly of conversation and beer, more of the former than the latter, with Bill Breedlove, Bev Vincent, Michael Knost (Stoker winner for Non-Fiction), and numerous wonderful Brits and Yanks in the hotel lounge.

The rest of the weekend went something like this:

A fantastic vegetarian lunch at Food for Friends with Martel Sardina; a panel and a reading here and there; a couple pints of Guinness (which is really more of a meal in a glass than a beer) and more conversation with Rocky Wood, Simon Clark, and others; a rocking party on the St. Pete Pier hosted by Heather Graham; dancing to 80s music spun by Bill Breedlove until 2am with Michael Knost, Karen Yoder, Suzanne Nash, Debbie Kuhn, Angel McCoy, and everyone else at the launch party for Dark Arts Books; hanging out with Paul Wilson, Weston Ochse, Stephen Woodworth and Kelly Dunn; and meeting Neil Gaiman after the Stoker Awards. That was definitely an unexpected highlight.

As for the Stokers, I was relaxed about my nomination the entire weekend and didn’t feel any anxiety until about an hour before the banquet, when the sense of calm I’d been feeling revealed itself for the facade it truly was. All during the banquet I could hardly eat and wished they would just get it over with. It didn’t help matters that the award for First Novel was the next to the last one given out. And I had to pee. But while I didn’t end up taking home the Stoker, I still had a fabulous weekend. The well-earned honor for Outstanding First Novel went to Hank Schwaeble for his debut Damnable.

That’s about it. Or at least all I can remember and fit into a reasonable blog entry. While I’m sure I left out something and someone relevant, I can say without a doubt that this was the most enjoyable convention I’ve attended. Thanks to everyone who made it so.

Filed under: Conventions,Travel — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 7:39 am