World Horror Convention 2014.
Last week, I took a plane to Oregon to meet up with some of my favorite people in the world. We studied together, learned together, had some of the best conversations over great food and drink, and danced and laughed until the sun came up. I met new friends, caught up with old ones, and explored the city of Portland while I wrote poetry, sipped great coffee (and ale!) and took photographs of the uncanny, the weird, and the lovely.
Some of the highlights include:
· Attending the panel on Extreme Horror where Jack Ketchum, Wraith James White, Jeff Burk and Aaron Sterns chatted about where the line is drawn, and if there is even a line to cross in the genre. Great insight with a lot of commentary that made me think and take another look at my work. Plus there was a 6 or 7 year old kid sitting next to me, so that was interesting…and scary.
· Lecturing on my first panel, Violence in Verse. I got to sit and talk poetry with poets that I’ve been reading and admiring for years: Rain Graves, Michael A. Arnzen, James Dorr and Dan Clore.
· Having dinner and talking about the Apocalypse with my wonderful friend, CraigDiLouie. Greatly looking forward to his book, Suffer the Children, and the poetry that I’m forcing him at gunpoint to write.
· Pitching my novel, The Eighth.
· Chatting with my favorite power couple, Jason and Sunni Brock. Love these two. Always great conversation and lots of laughs. Plus, when you throw William F. Nolan and Gardner Goldsmith into the mix, you know things are only going to get better!
· Meeting Rocky Wood and having one of the most enlightening and delightful conversations that I’ve ever had.
· Sharing my Bram Stoker nomination moment with the man that inspired me to write poetry: Michael A.Arnzen. It was a wonderful experience and the added bonus of getting to have dinner and share it with him was the tops. Cheers, my friend.
· Dancing at the Lovecraft with Tim Waggoner and my insanely wonderful roommates: Ryan DeMoss, Michelle Lane, and Joe Borelli. Not only have we had the great experience of studying and crafting together, but now we get to travel the world with one another, too, and keep making memories. Cin Ferguson, you too my dear. Our walk and dinner at the Blossoming Lotus was a great treat and I really enjoyed catching some one-on-one time with you.
· Exploring Powell’s Bookstore and snagging some great classic beat poetry.
· Stumbling upon the Saturday Market with Michelle where I bought a great hat right after the gentleman was done crocheting it.
· Meeting a ton of my lovely Facebook and Twitter friends for the first time. Immediate friendships were had and it was as if we didn’t even skip a beat.
· Having drinks, lots of laughs, and great conversation with the one and only JackKetchum, who is the man that inspired me to start writing horror. I raise my glass (sorry it’s only tea) to you, sir. Can’t wait for our paths to cross again.
The entire convention was a blessing and I feel strongly that I’ve left with some of the best memories and experiences to date. There is nothing more refreshing and special than friendship and on the taxi cab ride back to the airport, Gardner said something that will stay with me forever: “It’s not the stories we write, it’s the friendships we make.” Beautifully put and absolutely true.
Sending all my love and good energy to my friends. Safe travels and I’ll see you all next year in Atlanta, and some of you even sooner at Seton Hill, Necon, and Confluence.
--Stephanie M. Wytovich