From April 26th to May 2 I was in Austin, TX for the World Horror Convention. I’ve been wanting to attend World Horror since I was in high school and after many years, I was finally able to. When I was just a student obsessed with sex and gore, I never imaged that I would be attending not only as an author but also representing Deadite Press.
Before the event even started, the Austin Post did an awesome write-up on me.
The Eraserhead Press team, Rose O’Keefe, Carlton Mellick III, Cameron Pierce, and myself, flew down two days before the con started. As soon as we stepped off the airplane, we rented a car and drove straight to the nearest brewery – cause that’s how Eraserhead rolls. We had a few drinks and talked to some friendly locals and got the lowdown on the city.
We drove to what we thought was our hotel but we were informed that we were at the wrong Double Tree. Then we drove to the next one, which was also not right. On the third try and at 3 a.m., we finally found the place we were staying. The hotel felt so bad for us that they upgraded our room to a suite for the entire stay and we got one free night and free internet. Sweet!
The next day was spent gathering what any decent party room needs – booze, and lots of it. We ordered a few kegs and bought a ton of hard liquor. We had our books shipped down in advance, so now Eraserhead had everything it needed to rock.
That day we were joined by bizarro authors Kevin L. Donihe and Andersen Prunty. In the evening, many of the guests began to show up including Brian Keene and Jack Ketchum. Many drinks were had – the con hadn’t started but the party did.
Bev Vincent, Lee Thomas, and the Eraserhead crew enjoy some drinks before the chaos starts
Thursday was the office first day of the convention. We set up our table in the dealer’s room and got down to business:
Rose O’Keefe behind the Eraserhead/Deadite Press table
After selling books and blowing minds for a few hours it was time for that night’s events. Carlton was on a panel about what happened in the 2000’s in genre fiction and Rose was on a panel about how much money writers and publishers really make. I hear the panels went well but I missed them. I was chilling out at the con suite party with S. G. Brown, Chad Savage, the awesome people from Creeping Hemlock Press, and many others.
Nate Southard, Chad Savage, and Rose O’Keefe ham it up
The most exciting part of the night for me was getting to sit down and talk with Nate Southard. Recently I read his amazing hardcore horror novella “Just Like Hell.” After tearing through it in one sitting I knew I had to have him be apart of the Deadite Press family. While the party raged, we found a quiet room and hammered out the details of him joining. I’m pleased to announce that Nate is now officially a Deadite Press author and his first book, the above mentioned “Just Like Hell,” will be his first release. Watch for more info soon.
After being up way too late, I took a nap and was then up for Friday’s festivities. The day started off with an Editor/Writer meet and greet that I was taking part in. While all the other editors tried to look professional and respectable, I chugged coffee and cursed at everyone while explaining the Eraserhead/Deadite philosophy of publishing – namely, putting out the coolest shit that no one else would dare touch. Then I gave advice one-on-one to some of the aspiring writers there. It was pretty awesome meeting so many dedicated and intelligent people who want to get involved in the genre. The future of horror is looking bright indeed.
That night was the official Deadite Press party, we had a party every night but this was the big one. Immediately before the event Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni did a reading. I made sure to catch that.
Mary SanGiovanni and Brian Keene with their respective vices – Sweet Tarts and Beer
Rose kicked off the party with a brief introduction and then I jumped on top of a bed and went into full carnival barker mode. I had the pleasure of announcing three new releases for Deadite Press that we accepted at the convention:
-“Suburan Gothic,” the first Brian Keene exclusive to Deadite Press. Yep, it’s a sequel to “Urban Gothic.”
-“Son of a Bitch,” a brand new novella by Wrath James White and Andre Duza
-Nate Southard joining Deadite Press and his first release “Just Like Hell.”
Then Keene replaced me on the bed and did a short speech about the future of the horror genre and the passing of torches in the scene.
I ended the speeches with a simple proclimation – “Let’s get fucked-up!” And everyone did. It was a glorious night.
Me sitting on Wrath James White’s bicep
I woke up Saturday hung over and sleep deprived, but that’s what being a pro is all about. I chugged a lot of coffee and then was ready to rock. My first major activity of the day was a panel about the future of the book. I was joined by Kim Glichrist, Sarah Langan, Robert Fleck, Joe Hill, and Fred Venturini.
L to R – Fred Venturini, Robert Fleck, Me, Kim Glichrist, and Joe Hill being all knowledgeable and shit
The panel was a lot of fun. I’m commonly put on these “future of the industry” panels at conventions. While many express concern over the where things are headed, I argue that we are entering a new golden age of publishing and books. With the advent of the internet, social networking, and POD, independent publishers, such as Eraserhead and Deadite, can take risks and compete on the same level as the major New York publishers.
Then it was time for the people who signed up to pitch books to Deadite Press. So far with Deadite I’ve sought out all the authors that I want to work with. This was the first time others were seeking out me. I met four talent and motivated young authors. Will any of their books be added to the Deadite family? Who knows. I do know that I was the only publisher to bring bottles of beer for everyone pitching. Take that Random House!
That night was the mass autograph signing. This was another one of those OMG! moments. My first World Horror and I was sitting between Carlton Mellick III and Kevin L. Donihe signing copies of books. It was one of those crazy moments where I realized how far I’ve come since being a stupid kid dreaming in high school.
Me and Kevin L. Donihe pretending to be famous writers
The only thing that sucked about the signing was the crazy woman who decided to stare at me from five feet away without talking for a full hour. At one point she even came to my table, got down on her knees, and stared at me from a foot away. I tried talking with her and then getting rid of her but it was a no go. She only left when I went on a break. When I came back she was gone and I never saw her again. I later asked everyone else why they didn’t help me but no had noticed her. Actually, that’s not true. Donihe had seen her but, as he put it, “I was just happy she didn’t notice me.” Thanks.
John Skipp with the two best horror anthologies of all time
That night, we let Thunderstorm Books use our room to throw a party. Much beer was drunk and Kelly Owen tried to steal my jacket.
Sunday was the final day of the con, thank God. By this point I was so sleep and food deprived that I’m not sure how I stayed on my feet.
Our table on the last day. I can only blame unholy powers for me still standing
Most of the guests and attendees left throughout the day on Sunday. After we packed up our stuff, the Eraserhead crew decided to venture out into the city of Austin. Normally, at these kind of things, I only ever see the inside of the hotel, so I was really excited to actually be able to see some of the city I was staying in.
First up was Chicken Shit Bingo. Yep, you can tell we were in Texas. The premise is simple, a big board set up like a bingo board is put out on a pool table with a chicken coop on top. Everybody bets on a number and whichever number the chicken shits on, the person that bought that number wins all the money. We drank some beer while a country band, Two Hoots and a Holler, played. Outside the bar was an impromptu potluck with dogs and small children running around. It was one of the most awesomely redneck things I’ve ever taken part in.
The chicken deciding who’s going home with money
The owner feeding the chicken to help it along
Me endorsing the chicken
After that, we went exploring around Austin. I have heard many times before that Austin and Portland were similarly strange cities. Let me tell you, that’s one hundred percent true! Holy shit was Austin an amazingly strange and cool city. Check out some of this awesome stuff we saw:
Then we all enjoyed some tasty Texas BBQ.
After filling our bellies, we headed back to the hotel where we closed out the Dead Dog Party (a convention tradition of finishing up all the available alcohol.
The next morning, before checking out of the hotel and flying back to Portland, we were all hanging out on our room’s balcony. We looked over the edge and saw the single most perfect image of the entire convention. Something that perfectly summed up our wonderful week in Austin spreading the bizarro and Deadite gospel.
The horror, the horror . . .
Special shout-outs to everyone that made the week amazing including: Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum, Kelly Owen, Bob Ford, RJ Sevin, Tod Clark, Paul Goblirsch, Nate Southard, Wrath James White, John Skipp, Shane McKenzie, Kevin L. Donihe, Andersen Prunty, Jared Walters, Chad Savage, Weston Ochse, James Beach, Vince Churchill, Joe Lansdale, Joe Hill, S. G. Brown, Lee Thomas, Nick Mamatos, and all the old and new friends that I may be forgetting.
Super huge thank you to Ben Vincent, Boyd Harries, Chad Savage, Joe McKinney, Lee Thomas, Nate Southard, Nick Mamatos, and everyone else that worked so hard to make this one of the very best conventions I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending.
Special thanks to Rose O’Keefe, Kevin L. Donihe, Brian Keene, Chad Savage, Gina Renee, and anyone else I stole pictures from.