The first time I went to Anthocon in 2012, it was my first writing conference ever. I was nervous–the place was packed with writers and publishers and editors and readers, many of whom seemed to know each other and to have worked with each other for years. Which didn’t help the nerves. But my worries were in vain. At Anthocon, I found one of the most top-notch, welcoming, professional, yet still iconoclastically weird and wild group of people on the Eastern seaboard. Since then, Anthocon has gotten bigger and better every year, and has become one of my favorite writing conventions. Some highlights from this year:
In 2012, I set out to find the elusive, mysterious Kimball Castle–and failed. The former estate of railroad magnate Benjamin A. Kimball, this magnificent castle is located on the northern shoulder of Lockes Hill, on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. For many years, attempts have been made to restore the castle, transform it into a modern resort–in short, anything to preserve it in some way from the slow ravages of time.
Alas, as it always does, time is winning the war against Kimball Castle. After trudging through the woods and no doubt bending a few trespassing laws or two, Alex Scully (Firbolg Publishing) and I finally found what’s left of Kimball Castle, which, as you can see from these “then and now” pictures, is probably too far gone at this point to preserve much more than the crumbling remains of this once mighty knight standing watch over the water. The castle is difficult to get to, and it’s now fenced off so that no one can enter the castle or even get up close to it. But the knight still stands, at least for now.
Of the many panels and readings going on, one of my favorites was the workshop presented by special guest Gene O’Neill, one of dark and speculative fiction’s leading raconteurs, and as fine a person as he is a writer. The workshop introduced the concept of what O’Neill calls the “hitchhiking effect,” the emotional connection the good writer establishes with the good reader. O’Neill provided examples from his own life and writing, as did authors Gord Rollo, Chris Marrs, and Michael Bailey. You can read more about the subject in O’Neill’s book The Hitchhiking Effect, published by Dark Renaissance Books, which debuted at the convention and is set to be sold to the public soon. The collection spans O’Neill’s thirty-year-plus writing career, including short stories, novellas, the first book of the Cal Wild Chronicles, and a brand-new novelette, Firebug, written just for this collection.
I also helped Alex Scully man the vending table for Firbolg Publishing, where we sold lots of copies of Firbolg’s latest anthology, Enter at Your Own Risk: Dreamscapes into Darkness, as well as the other anthologies in the Enter At Your Own Risk series. I was also pleased to debut my young adult novel The Tower of Together, recently released from Eldritch Press, and happily didn’t need to ship any copies home!
Firbolg held a reading for Dreamscapes Into Darkness with authors Holly Newstein; Patrick Lacey; Gregory Norris; Roxanne Dent; Rob Smales; and me–here’s a pic of me reading from my short story “The Son Who Shattered His Father’s Dreams.”
Click here to see more pics from the reading at Firbolg’s web site.
I also had the opportunity to read from my short story “Metamorphosis, Not Metaphors” at a giant mash-up that featured author readings from a variety of the anthologies published by Great Old Ones Publishing.
Two more readings that I greatly enjoyed were Kevin Lucia reading from Through A Mirror, Darkly, his new “supernatural thriller collection masked as a novel”; a panel that included readings by James Moore, Holly Newstein, Stacey Longo, and Anthony Tremblay (T.T. Zuma); and a reading featuring authors from the spectacular anthology series Written Backwards, with Michael Bailey.
I picked up a lot of great books, print and e-book–here’s a sampling:
A signed and illustrated chapbook of “Baby’s Breath,” the Bram Stoker Award nominated short story by Sydney Leigh that first appeared in the Great Old Ones Publishing anthology Bugs: Tales That Slither, Creep, and Crawl
Everything Leads Back to Alice, by Chris Marrs
The Hitchhiking Effect, by Gene O’Neill, which I wrote about above
I always enjoy catching up with my friends Bob Tighe and M.R. Tighe, and I also got the chance to score M.R. Tighe’s latest sci-fi adventure Galaxy Rand
Also pictured there is a CD, Smoke Up Johnny, by Angry Morning Light, the band of Jonny Morse, one of the mighty Anthocon Horsemen!
I met so many new people and touched base with so many old friends that I can’t possibly post pics of them all, but here’s a few: