Last weekend, Lena and I attended NecronomiCon in Providence for the third time. We left Wednesday evening, flew overnight through Newark and arrived in Providence early Thursday morning. We tried to take a bus downtown, as we did in 2013 and 2015, but found busses were only running every 2 hours! Instead, took a Lyft and found that a much better alternative. Check-in time at the Omni was 4PM and we arrived almost 8 hours before that, but asked at the desk just in case, and they had our room ready!
Lena and I were both tired from serious lack of sleep, and even more-than-usually delirious, so went to lunch then came back to crash for an hour or two. Not too many people were in town Thursday, but we hung around a bit with Sam Cowan of Dim Shores until others started to arrive toward evening, notably Sam’s co-editor on Looming Low, Justin Steele.
For lunch we went to Viva Mexico, one of our favorite spots in the neighborhood, with Sam and Justin. We ended up seated at a table beside Michael Kelly and his wife Carolyn with Jake Wyckoff, Simon Strantzas and one other person I’m forgetting.
The most notable aspect of this encounter was seeing the Kelly duo polishing off a giant pitcher of margarita between them. OK, it was actually pretty much just Michael all by himself.
It was most interesting to capture a glimpse into how Michael maintains peak mental sharpness, as well as an athlete’s physical stamina, he needs to continue his great work running Undertow Press and putting out the Year’s Best Weird Fiction series.
Lena, Justin, Sam and I went to McCormick’s bar with a few others, including Craig L Gidney, Eric Schaller, Matthew Bartlett, John Glover and Barry Lee Dejasu. I might be forgetting somebody, too. The whole weekend was just such a whirlwind!
Anyway, here’s where it really started to feel like a convention, and here too is where most of us saw the Looming Low hardcover for the first time.
After a bit of random goofing around after dinner, Lena and I decided to turn in early. Though it was tempting to continue hanging around with friends, we were both pretty woozy, since we’d had only an hour or two of sleep the night before.
Friday, we slept in a bit, missed several breakfast invite text messages, and ended up grabbing a late breakfast in McCormick’s. We also decided we like the idea of getting some sleep, and eating a meal that covers both breakfast and lunch, so we don’t have to eat three meals at restaurants every day.
After, we spent a little time in the dealer room, talking with Sam as he set up the Dim Shores table.
Others were offering to sell all kinds of merchandise.. every kind of temptation imaginable!
I bought almost nothing, not because there wasn’t an abundant bounty of stuff I coveted, but because I travelled with a tiny suitcase. Still, I couldn’t pass up an early release of the new collection by one of my favorite writers, S.P. Miskowski. Strange is the Night comes out soon from Trepidation, the same division of Journalstone that published my own novel Hieroglyphs of Blood and Bone, as well as S.P.’s recent novel I Wish I Was Like You, which has been my favorite read of the summer.
We spent more time in the upstairs dealer room, hanging around the Dim Shores table, and spending a bit of time signing some books, and checking out Journalstone, Hippocampus and other dealers.
The downstairs dealer room, seen here, was larger and busier. I think many people shopping down there didn’t even realize there was another dealer room up above until later in the convention, when the traffic seemed to equalize a bit.
My first panel, Friday at 3PM, was ELDRITCH ARTHOUSE. I discussed strange films with Richard Stanley, Gemma Files, Philip Gelatt (moderator), Joseph E Dwyer, me, Izzy Lee and Heather Buckley. It was a lot of fun, interesting and entertaining, and I think the audience went away with several films or directors in mind to check out. There was a fair amount of talk about Tarkovsky’s Stalker and Zulawski’s Possession, both amazing and artful films of special interest to the “weird” community.
I was able to talk a bit about David Lynch and a bit more about Lars von Trier and Antichrist (which remains a powerful film despite the presence of the talking fox), and was happy to listen to lots of other good stories, anecdotes and information. After, Heather Buckley had the very good idea that the world needs a Ken Russell panel in the future. Yes!
That evening was the Guest Reception, restricted to Guests and Gold Key ticket holders, and held up on the 17th floor of the Biltmore. Following conversation and drinks and small plates of food, NecronomiCon coordinator Niels Hobbs presented the Robert Bloch Awards. I had been informed in advance that I needed to be present to accept an award on behalf of a friend who could not be present.
One of two such award was given to my friend Joe Pulver, who at the last minute was prevented from attending due to a health scare. It was a shame Joe had to miss receiving this award in person, but it was wonderful to hear the appreciation Niels Hobbs expressed for Joe and his influence upon the community.
After Niels spoke, it was my pleasure to say a little about what Providence and NecronomiCon mean to him, and his wife Katrin. I was honored to be a small part of the occasion.
Here is a camera phone video of Niels making a speech honoring Joe, and presenting the award, then my own remarks accepting the award for Joe, and expressing how I believe Joe feels about this event and the people surrounding it. The video also shows the presentation of the second award.
The whole event was very nice, though of course everyone was a bit sad because we all knew how happy it would have made Joe if he’d been able to receive the award in person. The photos and video were passed along to his wife Katrin Pulver, who shared the story with Joe in the hospital.
After the reception, we went back to Sam Cowan and Justin Steele’s room for a small get-together. We enjoyed a little taste of the very special whiskey Justin had obtained for room party to be held by Dim Shores to celebrate the release of Looming Low.
This small group, anticipating the more challenging adventure of the big Saturday night party to come, took it somewhat easy, tasted the good stuff, and conversed in hushed, reverent tones. It was almost civilized!
This gets us through Friday night, roughly the first half of the NecronomiCon 2017 adventure. If I’ve forgotten anything from Thursday or Friday, let me know! I’ll post a follow-up, covering Saturday and Sunday, very soon.