My BizarroCon 2017 Schedule

BizarroCon is a local convention I’ve really enjoyed the last few years. It takes place every autumn at McMenamins Edgefield, a site worth visiting on its own merits, even if there’s no BizarroCon happening.

It’s on the smaller side, as conventions go, and certainly one of the friendlier and more intimate events I’ve attended. The readings and several of the events occur in this separate building called the Ad House, but panels and the vending room and the Saturday evening banquet and awards take over a good chunk of the main hotel.

Above, I am reading in the Ad House last year (photo by Ross E. Lockhart).

I will be in attendance for a few hours Thursday night, and all day Friday and Saturday, and until mid-afternoon Sunday. My participation in the programming will include:

Saturday 12:30-1:30pm
THE WORD HORDE READING HOUR—Ross Lockhart, Michael Griffin, Nathan Carson, and Tiffany Scandal. (Location: The Ad House)

Saturday 2:30-3:15pm
WORLD BUILDING AND ATMOSPHERE (Mod—Ross Lockhart, Mike Griffin, Kevin L. Donihe, Laura Lee Bahr, Autumn Christian, Eric Hendrixson)—Bizarro fiction is known for its surreal landscapes and unconventional settings. How do you create a strange world while still keeping your story grounded and accessible to readers? This panel of writers will share their approaches to world building. (Location: The Barley Room)

Link to the complete schedule:

Schedule 2017

I’ll post pictures on my Instagram and Facebook feeds, for those who are curious but can’t attend. Those of you who will be present, I look forward to seeing you!

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NecronomiCon Providence Report, Part 2 – Saturday-Sunday

Previous post HERE covers Thursday and Friday at the convention.

Saturday Lena and I got another late start, skipped breakfast and instead had wonderful early-lunch burritos at Viva Mexico. I should’ve taken pictures! Here’s a picture of me & Lena in the dealer room, photo courtesy of Todd Chicoine.

After yet another run-through of the vending areas, we attended the Thomas Ligotti panel. This featured Alex Houston (moderator), Michael Calia, Jon Padgett, Matthew Bartlett and Michael Cisco.

Jon Padgett offered quite a few special insights and anecdotes from his long friendship with Ligotti. We sat toward the back and couldn’t hear a couple of the panelists very well, so big thanks to Scott Desmarais for recording video, available below!

Immediately after this at 6 PM, just across the hall, was the Looming Low reading. Because we came straight from the other panel, I had to forego my usual fortification of a drink or two just before doing a reading. The event was very well attended, and the room was full, with an especially rowdy contingent of Canadians in back (not visible here).

The picture above is co-editor Justin Steele introducing the program. The audience extended further back, behind what’s shown in this photo.

I read the beginning from “The Sound of Black Dissects the Sun.” Here’s a photo by Jake Marley:

I kind of like this one better, though, as it fits the tone of the story. Photo by Michael Wehunt, with my special, secret “Sound of Black” filter applied.

And here a video of my reading, about 12 minutes worth:

Other readers included Livia Llewellyn, Anya Martin, Brooke Warra, and Michael Wehunt. It was Brooke’s first reading and she did a great job, as did all the others. All my photos had a lot of background glare, so I’ll just post one of Brooke, since a writer’s first reading is a big milestone:

In addition to those of us who read, there were a total of 12 contributors to the book in attendance! The crowd was not only large, but very enthusiastic. I signed more books than I’ve signed all in one place, anywhere, ever. I was also delighted to see how many people owned the hardcover.

Hardcover with art by Marcela Bolivar:

Nothing at all against the paperback — in fact, the art by Yves Tourigny is beautiful and every bit the equal of the hardcover art by Marcela Bolivar — but I love to see people picking up the special limited version despite the higher price. Both versions have the same content, of course, so you can’t go wrong either way. A surprising number of people seemed to have bought one of each.

Trade paperback with art by Yves Tourigny:

The book appears to be one of the Horror/Weird Fiction events of the year, and I very much look forward to investigating all 26 stories. If you weren’t able to pick up a copy at the con but would like to have one, you can order direct from Dim Shores.

Speaking of books and Dim Shores, Sam set aside a few copies of certain out of print Dim Shores chapbooks, intending to sell them at the con, but one of the boxes didn’t arrive until Sunday, after almost everyone had gone. Because of this, a few copies of recent books (previously sold out) are available now via the Dim Shores online store. This includes my own AN IDEAL RETREAT. This hasn’t been for sale in quite a while, and won’t be again, so if you’re ever going to want one of these, grab it up while the store listing is still active.

Here are direct links to the various books available as of now:

Dim Shores storefront http://dimshores.storenvy.com
Michael Griffin – An Ideal Retreat http://dimshores.storenvy.com/products/18112772-an-ideal-retreat
Michael Cisco – The Knife Dance (paperback) http://dimshores.storenvy.com/products/16315701-the-knife-dance-tp
Michael Wehunt – The Tired Sounds, a Wake http://dimshores.storenvy.com/products/18444427-the-tired-sounds-a-wake

Note, not all books published by Dim Shores are by people named Michael! Following is proof:

J.-H. Rosny aîné, translated by Scott Nicolah – The Xipéhuz http://dimshores.storenvy.com/products/18961909-the-xipehuz
Christopher Slatsky – Palladium at Night http://dimshores.storenvy.com/products/19885481-palladium-at-night
Cody Goodfellow – The Polite Ones http://dimshores.storenvy.com/products/20326736-the-polite-ones
Resist and Refuse #1 – a benefit zine http://dimshores.storenvy.com/products/20142866-resist-and-refuse-1
Looming Low volume 1 (trade paperback) http://dimshores.storenvy.com/products/20562302-looming-low-volume-i-tpb
Looming Low volume 1 (deluxe limited hardcover) http://dimshores.storenvy.com/products/20580953-looming-low-volume-i-dhc
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. and Edward Morris – The Resplendent Troswoman Below http://dimshores.storenvy.com/products/21324986-the-resplendent-troswoman-below

Please note, this last item is a special fundraiser, profits of which go to benefit Joe Pulver, and help offset his ongoing medical costs.

SO, after such events as described above, what more could a convention-goer want? Maybe it was time to call it an evening, shut things down early and retire to restful sleep?

No!

One of the events that has characterized every hotel-based convention I’ve ever attended is the big Saturday night room party. At NecronomiCon in 2013, it was Laird Barron and John Langan’s room. In 2015, with Laird not in attendance, the party happened in John Langan and Paul Tremblay’s room. You might be thinking, “OK, so who did Langan share a room with this year?”

The answer is, John was unable to attend (and was much missed, and also gossiped-about, in his absence), so the torch has been passed to a new generation. The NecronomiCon 2017 room party of record was held in the room 638, shared by Justin Steel and Sam Cowan, co-editors of Looming Low.

There’s a new boss at NecronomiCon!

Justin Steele guarding the first deposits to the Iron Bank of Whiskey.

Here we have Lee Thomas, Katie Lang-Calia, Livia Llewellyn, Michael Calia, Simon Strantzas and Nicholas Kaufmann. The photo is slightly blurry because the room was so hot and humid, my lens fogged up.

Here I am standing by the cool ventilation of the open window with Theresa DeLucci and her husband, mostly talking about how the new Twin Peaks is the best thing ever, and anybody who doesn’t get it is just sad and wrong.

And here’s another angle of the cool, open window, with Paul Tremblay, Michael Calia, Me, Teresa, her husband Pritpaul, and Jake Wyckoff.

Somehow Lena and I managed to stick around until after 2:30 and there were lots of people still up and around when we left. The next day, Sam reported that he finally expelled the last stragglers at 4 AM. Room party successful!

I’ve never been good at falling right asleep when I get home (or at least to my hotel room), so I was up another hour or so, and had to set an alarm to wake me up after a short rest.

Sunday morning, the final morning of the convention, I had my earliest panel. Here’s somebody’s hand-drawn sign outside the room:

So it was, the Dreaded Surreal: Landscapes in Weird Fiction panel, with Eric Schaller (moderator), Craig L. Gidney, me, Jeffrey Thomas and Christopher Burke. Here, during introductions, Jeffrey Thomas shows off the novel I just mentioned.

That’s a buddy, helping with the promotional boost!

The panel went well, with plenty of interesting discussion and questions and recommended reading to check out. Before we know it, though, the thing was over! Not just the panel, but the whole convention.

Lena and I had to leave immediately after the panel, so I had my suitcase with me at the table and headed outside without delay. Before we knew it, Lena and I were at the airport, then through security, and NecronomiCon 2017 was already in the rear-view mirror. The whole convention was a wonderful experience. Highlights included the Looming Low reading, the Dim Shores room party, accepting the Robert Bloch award for Joe Pulver, attending the Ligotti panel, and having a chance to meet a great many online friends in person for the first time.

The NecronomiCon was a great experience all around. I only wish it happened every year. My sincere thanks to Niels Hobbs and his crew of tireless volunteers for making this happen!

NecronomiCon Providence Report, Part 1 – Thursday-Friday

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.

Providence Bound

Lena and I will be arriving in Providence Thursday morning for NecronomiCon, and participating in the scheduled events already mentioned in the previous post.

I should be posting lots of pictures, which won’t show up here until later, if at all. If you want to follow along, check my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, and give me a like/friend/follow or that sort of thing.

https://www.facebook.com/mike.griffin.568632

https://www.instagram.com/griffinwords/

I’m really looking forward to this convention, especially seeing the two newly-released books in which I’m a participant.

Also, copies of my own books should be available in the dealer room — Word Horde has items for sale at the Martial Migraine Press table, and Journalstone’s table should have books from their Trepidatio imprint as well. I’ll stop by those tables and sign the stock, if possible, and I’ll be glad to sign anybody’s unsigned copies as well.

Activites at NecronomiCon Providence 2017

Here are my scheduled activites at NecronomiCon Providence 2017, which happens August 17-20.

Friday – 3:00-4:15pm
ELDRITCH ARTHOUSE: WEIRD FICTION INFLUENCES IN ART CINEMA – Newport-Washington, Omni 3rd Floor
Jodorowsky, Lynch, Gilliam, Maddin, Tarkovsky… Arthouse cinema directors have long been praised for their use of strange and abstract elements. How much of these narrative and visuals elements are rooted in literary works, particularly in Weird fiction? What parallels may be drawn between notable works of film and particular works of the Weird?
Panelists: Joseph Dwyer, Gemma Files, Philip Gelatt (Moderator), Mike Griffin, Izzy Lee, Richard Stanley

Saturday – 6:00-7:15pm
AUTHOR READINGS – L’Apogee, Biltmore 17th Floor
Looming Low Launch Party – Michael Griffin, Livia Llewellyn, Anya Martin, Michael Wehunt

Sunday 10:30-11:45AM
The Dreaded Surreal: Landscapes in Weird Fiction – Newport-Washington, Omni 3rd Floor
External landscapes have been something of a dark playground for weird fiction writers and artists throughout the history of the genre. Many bizarre and unsettling places have served as the settings for countless memorable works. Which of these fictional places have been most memorable in the minds of artists and writers working in horror, weird fiction, and science fiction today? What strange, terrifying places may yet be created? And how might they steer the genre in terms of narrative structure and content?
Panelists: Christopher Burke, Craig Gidney, Mike Griffin, Eric Schaller (Moderator), Jeffrey Thomas

The full schedule is available here: http://necronomicon-providence.com/programming/

Of course, much of the fun of this convention, and any other, comes from the many unscheduled and random interactions, browsing the dealer room, enjoying drinks and meals, meeting new friends and seeing old friends yet again. I very much look forward to NecronomiCon Providence next week!

The News According to Dim Shores

Just back from ReaderCon 2017, and I may have more to say about that soon. For now, just a couple of notes about news from today’s Dim Shores email update.

First, Sam Cowan of Dim Shores confirms that Looming Low (the first installment) will in fact be released at NecronomiCon Providence in both Deluxe Hardcover and Trade Paperback. You can order copies to pick up at the con, or to be mailed out afterward. Looming Low was talked about quite a bit at ReaderCon, and clearly a lot of people are very excited about it.

Also, Sam will have 10 copies each of several sold-out chapbooks to sell at NecronomiCon, including:

THE XIPÉHUZ (J.-H. Rosny aîné, Scott Nicolay, Michael Bukowski)
THE TIRED SOUNDS, A WAKE (Michael Wehunt, Justine Jones)
AN IDEAL RETREAT (Michael Griffin, Mikio Murakami)

So, if you missed out on any of these, make sure you race directly to the Dim Shores table in the dealer room as soon as you can!

Lastly, back to Looming Low news, seven contributors to the book will be reading in a pair of reading blocks yet to be scheduled. Those include:

Nadia Bulkin
Michael Cisco
Michael Griffin
Livia Llewellyn
Anya Martin
Scott Nicolay
Michael Wehunt

I’m most definitely looking forward to seeing the book and hearing all these readers together!

Looming Low Hardcover Alternate Cover

I recently previewed the beautiful cover art by Yves Tourigny for the trade edition of Looming Low, to be published this summer by Dim Shores.

This week, Sam from Dim Shores offered a peek at the alternate cover artwork that will be featured on the limited hardcover version. This wonderful art is by Marcela Bolivar.

I love the idea of very different artwork variations for different formats of the book, similar to what Word Horde did with The Children of Old Leech, with a hardcover art by Matthew Revert and paperback art by Dalton Rose.

Here’s a bit of a closer focus on just the front cover:

The book is meant to be out this summer, with an official launch at NecronomiCon in Providence in August, and it appears the plan is that both trade paperback and limited hardcover will be available at that time, as well as through the Dim Shores online store. The paperback version will be available through other outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and so on.

More information about the project, including a listing of all the writers and their stories, can be found at Sam Cowan’s blog HERE.

Des Lewis Real-Time Review of An Ideal Retreat

It’s great to see Des Lewis doing one of his real-time reviews for my novella AN IDEAL RETREAT, published by Dim Shores and now sold out of its limited edition of 200 copies.

For those not familiar with Des’s real-time reviews, essentially he reviews each section, chapter or story in a separate comment on his own blog as he proceeds through the book, rather than reading the whole thing then summarizing in a single review. Not long ago, Des reviewed HIEROGLYPHS OF BLOOD AND BONE here.

This time, I didn’t realize Des had a review underway until he was more than halfway through the book.

Here’s a preview of the first installment:

The full real-time review (so far) is here:

https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/an-ideal-retreat-michael-griffin/

Thanks to Des Lewis for giving his attention to my novella!

Looming Low Roster

Earlier I mentioned my novelette “The Sound of Black Dissects the Sun” being accepted for the upcoming Dim Shores anthology Looming Low. They’ve just posted the full roster of names (though no story titles yet) so here you go:

loominglow-promo

The project is already receiving a ton of enthusiastic buzz today. Can’t wait for the next batch of information, and the cover reveal! I’m really excited to be part of the first Dim Shores anthology, especially alongside such a great roster of writers.

Nightscript 2 Real-Time Review by Des Lewis

Any observer of Weird/Horror Fiction over the past several years has probably see the Real-Time Reviews of Des Lewis, in which Des posts commentary along the way while reading a book. His insights are always interesting, and worth a look.


(image by Des Lewis)

Des has just begun his real-time review of Nightscript II, starting off with the lead story, my own “The Carnival Arrives in Darkness.” The page for the Nightscript II review is HERE. You’ll need to scroll down to see what Des thinks of each story in the comments below.

I plan to check back, day by day, and see what he thinks of the rest of the book! For now, I thank Des for his remarks on my contribution.