Tuesday, November 29, 2011

ANTHOCON was awesome!

Yeah. I drove three and a half hours, obeying several speed limits, to get there before Brian Keene's Keynote Speech. Which he posted on his website, and is an excellent read, by the way, so go do it now.

The company was good. The attendees were an enjoyable mix of pro and fan, with the vast majority of the authors from the Epitaphs anthology in attendance. So I did what I love to do when I'm in the company of writers; we spoke. We exchanged ideas, laughed at stuff, and talked. Authors love to talk.

We also spoke of the death of Les Daniels, and I have to say, I learned a great deal about the man. I knew him as the author of some terrific vampire novels, creator of Don Sebastian de Villanueva. Billed as "The vampire horrified by humanity" Don Sebastian consistently went to the most horrible places and times in history, such as Spanish Inquisition, the French Terror, and the lower classes of Victorian England. They're excellent novels. But Dan was much more than that. He was the first person to publish a book on the history of horror, Living in Fear: A History of Horror in the Mass Media, as well as the first serious look at comics: Comix: A History of the Comic Book in America. Les was, therefore one of the people responsible for raising two art forms that I enjoy out of their "it's pulp and no one should study it" gutters. He did a lot more, and his friends shared a great deal of the other work he'd done. Les was remarkable, no doubt about it. He will be missed.

Anthocon also featured at least a couple of people who were a little bit out of their element. Local author K. D. Mason writes murder mysteries set along New Hampshire's coast. We talked a bit. He was a nice guy. Among the vendors were a pair of college programs with graduate degrees in creative writing, and they looked bored. I got some literature from them.

But the real draws was the authors. Writing can be very lonely, because it's very seldom that collaboration happens in company. But talking with other people who write always makes the hard parts seem less difficult, because we all face the same problems. Editors! Reviews from people who didn't read the book! Finding time to write! But the conversation always circles back into "Have you read this book/story/series and what did you think of it." Because the New England Horror Community is a group of voracious readers, and they've all got informed opinions about what they're reading. Is the protagonist of Hunger Games nothing but a victim through the whole series? There's a couple of opinions, and they're all got a reason for the opinion.

The major lesson learned? Brian Keene can tell when someone is telling a Harlan Ellison story from twenty feet away. If that's not a superpower, I don't know what is.

Excellent con.

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