NecronomiCon 2015 Post-Con Summary

If you care to zoom back-weird through time and read my preview of NecronomiCon Providence 2015, zoom HERE.

So, now it’s over, in fact it’s been over for a month already!

I used to write a lengthy and extremely detailed report after every convention. While I love reading posts like that, and they’re actually fun to write, they’re just too time consuming.

So instead, how ’bout a photo or two, and a brief rundown of highlights?

NecronomiCon 2015 in Providence seemed to be the big 2015 convention most people were anticipating with excitement. The 2013 event was a lot of fun for everybody I spoke with. It was the last opportunity I had to meet some of my favorite writers like Laird Barron and Richard Gavin, who don’t attend a lot of events. I heard from several people who said they may not make it to any other conventions in 2015, but they were definitely not going to miss NecronomiCon.

Our room in the Omni Hotel
Our room in the Omni Hotel

At the 2013 NecronomiCon, almost everyone stayed at the Biltmore Hotel, where most of the panels and readings were held. This time, though, many of us stayed at the Omni Hotel, on the other side of the road destruction between the two main hotels. We were pleasantly surprised at our room — big and modern and clean!

The bathroom (not pictured) was almost as big as the rest of our room, and included not only a huge stone tile walk-in shower, but also a giant tub. If I ever need to stay in Providence for weeks on end, this is the room I want. As it turned out, we were so busy on this short trip, we didn’t spend much time here.

An interesting thing about the Omni is that the rooms are primarily split into two towers (secretly code-named Barad-dur and Orthanc), and each tower’s elevators require a room key card. But the key cards from one tower are compatible only with the one elevator, not the other. This created a situation where we wanted to meet up with friends who were staying in the very same hotel, but we couldn’t take the elevator up to get to each other’s rooms, and had to text each other and meet up down in the lobby. I can’t think of a great reason why your room key gets you access to half the Omni’s zillion rooms, but not the other half.

Shoggoth at the Omni
Shoggoth at the Omni

Speaking of the Omni’s lobby, it had the most interesting glass sculpture hanging overhead. Everyone who saw the photos compared it to a shoggoth, so the shoggoth sculpture it will forever be named.

Wild Pulver
Wild Pulver

A few people had gifts for Joe Pulver (photo above) since his birthday was the month before, and mailing gifts to Germany is all insane-crazy expensive.

Our first dinner was in a big group at the Viva Mexico Cantina. The food was pretty good, but down at the end of the bar, the music was loud and TV sports blared, creating a pretty awful cacophony which left even those of us with perfect hearing unable to follow conversations happening only a few feet away.

Every time I go to a convention, one of the main things I come away with is a determination that next time I will avoid large group meals in noisy venues!

Toasting to Caligari
Toasting to Caligari

Late at night, after at least one of us had a successful business meeting, my wife Lena and I had a drink with Joe Pulver and his wife Kat to toast Joe’s brand-new contract with publisher Fedogan and Bremer for an anthology in tribute to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

I love this movie, and know how long this project has been a dream of Joe’s, so it’s wonderful that it has the support of an excellent publisher. Many great writers have already agreed to participate. I’m sure we’ll hear more information from Joe and F&B soon about this very promising book.

My contributor's copies of The Doom That Came to Providence
My contributor’s copies of The Doom That Came to Providence

… and speaking of Joe, AKA Joseph S. Pulver Sr., one of my first priorities upon arriving in Providence was to get my hands on copies of The Doom That Came to Providence, the round robin project Joe edited as a special treat related to this event. All the stories relate to the “Water Fire” event from the 2013 con, with everybody taking a different angle on strange happenings that may or may not have gone down that night. The books turned out great – check out the beautiful cover art by Nick Gucker!

Reading from "I'm Looking For Nick Cowan or Cody Steele"
Reading from “I’m Looking For Nick Cowan or Cody Steele (photo by Matthew Carpenter)”

Here I am reading my story “I’m Looking for Nick Cowan or Cody Steele from The Doom That Came to Providence. I thought the reading went pretty well, and a very good crowd attended. I read along with Scott Thomas, David Neilsen and Peter Rawlik.

Above photo by Matthew Carpenter.

Cisco and Nikki
Cisco and Nikki

Speaking of the audience for my reading, I snapped a couple of pictures of those assembled. Above you see the kind of wild and crazy folks who show up to events like this. That’s the reclusive genius Michael Cisco on the left and darling Nikki Guerlain on the right. See, public readings of weird fiction inspire folks to all kinds of public displays of affection, and the crowd was generally draped all over one another!

Above photo is a treatment by Nikki Guerlain of my original photo.

The Future of Weird Fiction panel (photo by Scott Nicolay)
The Future of Weird Fiction Panel (photo by Scott Nicolay)

The other programming I participated in was the panel discuss, “The Future of Weird Fiction,” moderated by SJ Bagley and with fellow panelists Simon Strantzas, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Justin Steele and Joe Pulver.

The panel was well attended, and the discussion was a very good one, with lots of interesting talk about the state of weird fiction, how it’s changed since the old days. Most interesting was the section in which each of us suggested writers (or in a few cases, editors or publishing venues) we thought likely to be part of the vital future of our subgenre.

One disappointing aspect of the panel is that I had offered to help Scott Nicolay record the audio of the panel, which Scott hoped to feature on his interview podcast The Outer Dark. Unfortunately, we must have fumbled the handoff of my digital voice recorder, and we only captured the first few seconds of preliminary murmuring, and none of the good stuff. My apologies! This would have been an interesting recording to revisit later.

Above photo is by Scott Nicolay.

Lena Griffin, me and Scott Nicolay at Viva Mexico Cantina breakfast
Lena Griffin, me and Scott Nicolay at Viva Mexico Cantina breakfast

Speaking of Scott and The Outer Dark (note my t-shirt), here we are after breakfast at Viva Mexico Cantina.

Two Lagavulins are better than one
Two Lagavulins Are Better Than One

All these photographs of readings and panels and other such events might lead one to believe the convention experience to be something formal or at least organized. This is not true. The most important aspect of the convention experience is the informal meeting with friends and associates we meet in hotel lobbies, on the sidewalk, in various bars, or in that most honored off-schedule event, the room party.

I photographed these bottles of Lagavulin in John Langan’s room party. I brought the bottle of Lagavulin 16 in honor of the 2013 Langan/Barron room party, where both Michael Cisco and I brought a bottle of the same, without advance planning.

This is the kind of thing you might get when you come to these conventions. Remember, kids, when the writing pros say “conventions are important for networking,” what they really mean is good Scotch whisky.

Prosecco Sangria at McCormick's
Prosecco Sangria at McCormick’s

Room parties are great, but I also mentioned hanging around in bars. Here’s a photo of me in the McCormick’s bar. At this event, I met for the first time (in person) my wonderful friend, the excellent writer Damien Angelica Walters. She was drinking many, many of these light, fragrant and sort of flowery beverages, the Prosecco sangria. I told her these were eroding her talent and weakening her writerly fortitude, and that she’d be much better off to drink good, brown Scotch and bourbon.

She convinced me to try one of these. Look, I’m drinking it! I tried to make the most insipid face I could for this photo, but I don’t look appreciably more or less silly than usual. What conclusions should be taken from this, I remain uncertain.

The drink sure did smell pretty, though. All herbs and sugar and spice and flower petals and unbearable lightness.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Damien Angelica Walters
Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Damien Angelica Walters

Speaking of Damien, here she is alongside Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who was a Guest of Honor at the event, as well as my co-panelist on the Future of Weird Fiction panel (see above).

It’s a wonderful and unusual thing to see convention attendees wearing something other than black t-shirts with pictures of tentacle things!

Everyone was lining up to touch Simon's beard
Everyone was lining up to touch Simon’s beard

More loitering and tomfoolery in hotel lobbies. Here Paul Tremblay and John Langan gather to stroke the sultry facial hair of noted Canadian beardist, Simon Strantzas.

This takes place in the lobby of the Biltmore hotel, a classy joint, despite the presence of persons such as the ones shown here.

Lena with Charles (left) and Sean (right) of Miskatonic Musings podcast
Lena with Charles (left) and Sean (right) of Miskatonic Musings podcast

Speaking of disreputable types, here we have Charles (left) and Sean (right) of Miskatonic Musings podcast, with my wife Lena in the dealer room. I should have spent more time in the dealer room this year! It was a wonderful thing.

Matthew Warren Richey carrying the Word Horde banner in the dealer room
Matthew Warren Richey carrying the Word Horde Banner in the Dealer Room

Also in the dealer room, here we have Matthew Warren Richey in his excellent shoggoth costume, carrying the Word Horde Banner. This costume is the boss of all costumes. Good job, Matthew!

From what I was able to tell, at the Word Horde vendor table Ross Lockhart sold out everything, and his table-mate Scott R Jones did as well. I also know Sam Cowan was happy with how sales went at the Dim Shores table. I love to hear of vendors doing well, because it means publishers and sellers of books are moving lots of the things, and that readers are eager to grab them up.

Cross-town trek seeking dinner, with Lena, Erin, Nathan, Ross, Scott, Heidi, Justin and Tom
Cross-town trek seeking dinner, with Lena, Erin, Nathan, Ross, Scott, Heidi, Justin and Tom

Here a large group of us dared to leave the immediate circle of the Omni and Biltmore, and ventured across Providence in search of food. I love a good walk, and it was nice to see a different part of town.

Everyone wanted to stop by this creepy old horror house (sorry if you live there and are offended by this characterization, but it can’t be helped — a bunch of visiting weirdos wanted to be photographed in front of your place for a reason) just down the street from the restaurant.

Pictured here (L-R) we have Lena Griffin, Erin Jane Laroue, Nathan Carson, Ross E Lockhart, Scott Dwyer, Heidi Ash, Justin Steele and Tom Lynch. I was also present, behind the camera, and will forever regret not appearing in this photograph.

Conversation with the nightmare demon John Langan
Conversation with the nightmare demon John Langan

At every horror-centric convention, it’s best to expect to rub shoulders on at least one occasion with true horror.

Here I am in conversation with the nightmare demon who had taken the form of John Langan just moments before.

Nick Gucker carrying great reading material for the trip home
Nick Gucker carrying great reading material for the trip home

All good things come to an end… don’t they?

Deliriously happy yet exhausted, we made our way to the airport for our return home. But the convention was not yet over! Right behind us in line, who should appear but artist extraordinaire and all-round top fellow Nick Gucker, cover artists of The Doom That Came to Providence (see above).

Nick was carrying some excellent reading material for the flight, one of my very favorite short story collections of the past half-decade or so, AT FEAR’S ALTAR by Richard Gavin.

You see, even when you think the time of your life is done, it’s not really over. See you next time!

NecronomiCon Providence 2015

Wow, it’s almost time! Wednesday night, Lena and I will fly to Providence, Rhode Island for the 2015 NecronomiCon event.

I’m looking forward to seeing friends and taking in all the amusements on offer. Also, I’m a guest of the convention, and will be participating in a group reading and a panel discussion. You can see the entire schedule HERE.

My events:

Friday 2:30 – 3:45 PM
AUTHOR READINGS – L’Apogee, Biltmore 17th Floor
Michael Griffin, David Neilsen, Peter Rawlik, Scott Thomas

Sunday – 10:30-11:45am
FUTURE OF WEIRD FICTION – Grand Ballroom, Biltmore 17th Floor
What is the future of weird fiction? Is it chained too strongly to the ghost of Lovecraft or can it still explore new vistas of horror? This panel discusses the current state of weird fiction today and where it might go in the future. Or, is there NO future?
Panelists: Laird Barron, Mike Griffin, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Joe Pulver, Simon Strantzas
Moderator: s.j. bagley

If you see me around, feel free to come up and say hello. If you’ve got a copy of a book in which my work appears, I’ll be glad to sign it.

Everybody had such a great time at the last NecronomiCon in 2013, and this one promises to be even bigger and better. Hope to see you there!

Looking Ahead to NecronomiCon Providence

Now that we’re all recovering from last weekend’s CthulhuCon, it’s natural to begin thinking about upcoming conventions… the next time friends will be able to converge this way.

There’s a good chance I’ll attend ReaderCon in July, and I’m definitely going to NecronomiCon in Providence in August.

necronomicon2015

The current schedule for NecronomiCon is HERE, though it hasn’t yet been updated to reflect the fact that it appears I’ll be participating in at least one panel (a very interesting one, alongside some most excellent fellow panelists) and a reading. I’ll share details once things are a little more certain.

NecronomiCon Dinner With Lovecraftians

The first event that really let us know NecronomiCon Providence was getting into full swing was the dinner at McCormack and Schmick’s restaurant on the ground floor of the Biltmore Hotel, where most of us were staying. A few of us casually clowned-around in the hotel lobby, and Tom Lynch started murmuring about dinner.

In the first photo, Tom Lynch(L) and Mike Davis (R) get ready to rassle in the foreground, while behind them Peter Rawlik and Joe Pulver enter into a tender embrace.

ms-dinner-before

If you were within range of my camera at this moment, that meant you were cool enough to be invited to McCormack and Schmick’s by Tom Lynch of Miskatonic River Press, fine publisher of such tomes as The Grimscribe’s Puppets, A Season in Carcosa, and more. Tom’s treat!

Let the following image serve as proof of the deep silliness on display among this crowd. Lady Lovecraft appears in the background here.

ms-dinner-sillytom

We managed to persuade this nice restaurant to give a large table to a bunch of roughnecks and buffoons. They even treated us like normal patrons.

In the next picture, Sam Cowan (L) displays his copy of The Grimscribe’s Puppets, opposite me, uploading photos from my phone, while in the background Boss Tom Lynch and bEast Pulver tell Sam “what’s what” as far as that Grimscribe’s book. Sitting between Sam and Tom is David Rankus.

ms-dinner-ladylovecraft

At this stage, Sam is talking about possibly getting some writers to sign the book.

I mentioned I’d never signed a book before, which provoked a bit of discussion, mockery, amazement, etc. I ended up signing many books over the weekend (not sure how many — a few dozen at least) but Sam Cowan received the first. See inscription below.

I joked with him that if — when! — I’m hugely famous, the book will be worth $8 million, and he’ll be especially glad he attended this dinner!

ms-dinner-samcowan

Lady Lovecraft took this photo across the table — so you can’t see her, but that’s Blair Leggett and Sam Cowan.

ms-dinner-ladylovecraft2

Also present… Cthulhu himself!

This video, provided by Mike Davis of Lovecraft eZine, gives a good idea of the zany atmosphere. They’re trying to convince Cthulhu to eat one of his own distant relatives.

Mike also took this picture from his end of the table, primarily focusing on the back of Peter Rawlik’s head, and Mike’s own empty seat.

On the left, that’s Vince LaRosa and Blair Leggett. Behind Blair you can almost see Sam’s red shirt.

At the head of the table is the Boss, the Man, the Honcho… Tom Lynch.

On the right, Lady Lovecraft has her head turned, then Lena, then me, then Jeffrey Thomas.

ms-dinner-mikedavis

Dinner was very good, if a bit excessive. Tom told the waiter which appetizers interested us, and allowed said waiter to decide what quantity of appetizers was appropriate for a table of our size. I think we ended up with 15 or more appetizers… a bit much! The bacon-wrapped shrimp were damn good, though, and I’m always fond of crab cakes and calamari.

Very fine company, a tons of fun. Our sincere thanks to Tom Lynch and Miskatonic River Press for making this happen, bringing us all together, and footing the sizable bill!

Reading With Pulver, Nicolay and Barron

In an earlier post, I mentioned the surprise reading. If you don’t know what I’m going on about, check out Reading Between Greats and come back.

Joe had already warned me and Scott Nicolay we must be present, so we had an idea he had some plans in store. When this picture was taken, Joe was up at the table fiddling with paper. That’s me, Lena, Scott Nicolay and Lady Lovecraft in front. Behind LL is Justin Steele, behind him Cody Goodfellow, and waaayyyy in the back, Laird Barron.

reading-waiting

Joe, better known as Joseph S. Pulver Sr., read a story that will be published in S.T. Joshi’s “Mountains of Madness” themed anthology. In his introduction, Joe described his motivation in writing the story as trying to imagine “What if Laird Barron wrote a riff on At the Mountains of Madness?”

He carried along a copy of the anthology he edited, The Grimscribe’s Puppets, but didn’t read from it. This didn’t seem unusual. Lots of writers carry their latest book up to the table or stage during readings and panels, so people will see it and be mind-controlled into buying a copy.

reading-joe

Joe’s reading was excellent. He stopped about halfway through his story, and said he and Laird both felt strongly about the importance of helping boost newer writers by lending attention and offering endorsement.

He held up his copy of Grimscribe’s, said a few flattering things about me and about Scott Nicolay, and asked us to come up and read selections from our stories in that anthology. Me first.

reading-mg1

I recall thinking “I should be really nervous.” I did feel on the spot, unsure how to begin. A story came to mind, a recurring dream I used to have about going to a David Bowie concert. I’d sit in the front row, and before the band started, Bowie would call me up to the stage and insist that I play guitar for them. I’m certainly no guitar player, but in the dream, I make a go of it, convinced that good intentions and zeal will allow me to bluff my way through, playing in place of Ronson, Fripp and Alomar.

I told the audience, “This feels something like that dream,” then read the beginning of “Diamond Dust.”

reading-mg2

It seemed to go well, though that’s hard to gauge as it’s happening. People applauded.

Scott Nicolay came up, and wisely skipped the sort of preamble and introduction I offered. He read a chunk of his excellent tale, “Eyes Exchange Bank,” drawing laughs in all the right places.

reading-scott

Laird Barron came up last, and read the entirety of “D T” from the Pulver-edited King-in-Yellow-themed anthology, A Season in Carcosa. It’s a wonderful story, full of dark unease as well as humor, and pseudo-biographical portraits of recognizable figures, primarily Karl Edward Wagner.

I’ve read “D T” several times before, and very much enjoyed hearing it in Laird’s own voice.

The reading came full circle, from Joe mentioning Laird’s inspiration in his story, to Laird reading his story from a book edited by Joe. And in between, two writers with the highest respect for Barron and Pulver. This was a very special opportunity for Scott and me.

reading-laird

Afterward, many people came up and said nice things. We all signed many books, that is, Scott and I signed The Grimscribe’s Puppets, and Laird and Joe signed their many, various other things. I watched one guy pull out a stack of at least a dozen Barron collections, novels, and anthologies in which his stories appear.

There were questions about Grimscribe’s, and comments from a few who had already read it. One guy told me he was going to run upstairs, buy a copy, and hurry right back so Scott and I would sign it. Also in the room were other contributors to the same anthology, such as Richard Gavin, Cody Goodfellow and Simon Strantzas, so it was a great opportunity for a reader to grab several signatures, including that of Editor Pulver.

Later, when Scott, Lena and I went to lunch, a guy came into the burrito place and asked, “Was it you, just reading with Laird Barron and Joseph Pulver?”

I affirmed that we were. He said he’d enjoyed the reading, and had tried to buy the book, but found it sold out. I told him he must be wrong, that he should’ve asked at the Miskatonic River Press table, because I knew they’d had quite a few copies left before the reading.

It turned out he was right. There was at least some kind of run on these books after the reading. If Scott and I allow ourselves to imagine we had some part in creating a bit of buzz about the book, this is the greatest possible feeling. I’m already very grateful to be included in the book to begin with, and the reading was a wonderful treat.

grimbscribes

The book is currently available from Amazon in three formats: Hardcover (of the casewrap variety, not cloth-cover-with-paper-dustjacket), Paperback and Kindle. Direct link HERE. You’ll also be able to grab it from Miskatonic Press, as soon as Tom Lynch obtains more copies, HERE.

Again, thanks to Joe Pulver, Laird Barron, Scott Nicolay, Tom Lynch, and everybody who attended the reading.

One Great Photo, and the Matter of Subsequent Con Reports

I intend to post some more stories and photos to document NecronomiCon, but probably won’t do the exhaustive and chronologically sequenced rundown of everything that happened, as I did at HPL Film Fest in Portland this year.

More likely I will find a few interesting or provocative pictures that seem to go together, and tell a bit about what was happening in the scene where the pictures were taken.

This event ended up with quite a few “blind spots” for me, where I took no pictures. I may be able to find and borrow a few photos to help me document such events. Many people are still just settling in at home, and just starting to post photos.

Here’s one of my favorites, taken on the steps of Providence City Hall late Saturday night. Left to right, that’s me, Cody Goodfellow, Nick Gucker and Justin Steele. Photo by my wife, Lena Griffin.

cityhall

We’d ventured out to see Lustmord and Neurosis. After, we walked down to the canal to see the Water-Fire thing, which was interesting in a quiet, meditative way, if a scene can be quiet and meditative with swarms of people on concrete walkways along the shore. Lena wanted to see a band perform, but we went to the wrong location and missed it. Rumor has it that the band experienced performance issues, and their crucial elements of their act fell limp.

NecronomiCon Providence Preliminary Report

The NecronomiCon Providence event was incredible, wonderful beyond all expectation.

I met an amazing roster of weird/horror talent, interacted with great writers, editors, publishers, critics and artists. Below, I’m showing off for Richard Gavin, Scott Nicolay, John Langan and his mentor Bob Waugh, Jack Haringa, Michael Cisco, Selena Chambers and Simon Stranzas.

redpants

I attended a reading by two of my very favorite writers, Laird Barron and Joseph S. Pulver Sr., and was surprised to be asked to step up and read some of my work for the crowd that had gathered to hear the big boys read.

I experienced a live performance by Lustmord, one of the giants of dark ambient music, and a primary influence on my own efforts as founder of Hypnos Recordings, and as a recording artist.

I bounced off any number of inspiring people, sights and sounds, so much humor and fun and inspiration, it was like the best and craziest 4 days of college distilled into one long weekend.

I was able to drag my lovely wife Lena along, and bask in her giddy enjoyment of the same pleasures.

At the end, I was swept up into the kind of mind-blowing all-star room party you see people bragging about in con reports, and you think, “Oh shit, I missed THAT!” Laird Barron and John Langan’s room, filled with all manner of madness. Barron’s Big Chair, Langan and Nicolay’s Cuddle Corner, and even Jerad Walters of Centipede Press, perhaps the finest creator of dark genre books we’ve got. Mix in an appalling abundance of very good Scotch whisky, and ohhhh golly!

cisco

I intend to write about this in greater detail, and offer more pictures, once the world stops spinning so fast.