This year, I decided to check out the Scares that Care Weekend in Williamsburg VA. When I first announced I was going to attend (as a fan this time around, not as a working author), I had several people ask for me to give a run-down on how it was and what I thought of it, so that’s what this is. If you’re curious about a first-timer’s experience as a member of that strange mid-ground world of both a fan and a writer, read on. If not, well, feel free to skip to the pictures and then move along.
A quick note on said pictures: most were taken as I met folks, and being a writer, authors are where most of my attention fell this weekend. There are some groups on Facebook where you can see the awesome cosplay pictures from the con, as well as the other actors and movie guys, so feel free to check those out as well.
GPS declared this to be a ten-hour trip, so my friend and I decided to leave the Nashvillle area at around four in the morning (Central time) in order to arrive at the hotel just as it became check-in time. The trip actually took eleven hours, and neither of us got much sleep the night before, so Thursday already had all the earmarks of a strange and interesting day before it even got started.
|Partners in crime! With Somer Canon.|
Somer told me that there was a room aside for writers to hang out in and talk instead of the crowded hotel bar, so we headed there and got to watch as Brian Keene, Mary SanGiovanni, and a table full of other friends and authors held an impromptu remembrance for J.F. Gonzales while they signed the signature sheets for the Clickers Forever anthology done in his honor. This was recorded for Brian's Horror Show podcast, so you’ll all get to hear it for yourselves some time soon.
|He might have given me shit, but he's|
genuinely one of the nicest guys I've
had the chance to meet.
Since we’d been up since before the ass crack of dawn, my friend and I called it a night early and headed back to our own hotel, which put an end to the pre-con festivities. A few hours’ sleep, and it was time for the first official day of the convention!
Things kicked off later in the afternoon today, so I actually got to go in well-rested this time around. Met Armand Rosamilia and Jay Wilburn when we went to trade our tickets for wristbands, and then headed to lunch based on an awesome recommendation from Armand. Grabbed a quick nap, and then we were off to the races.
Friday is typically the slower of the days (aside from Sunday, which is the slowest) and the place was still full of people. I had an hour and a half to kill before the first panel, so I hit the celebrity room and decided to meet some of my heroes and now co-wanderers on this crazy road of writing.
|The Warlock himself, Julian Sands.|
In between panels and readings, I managed to wander through the vendor rooms, where I met even more awesome folks, and like as not, picked up signed books from them as well. I spent an especially fun time talking with Chuck Buda, comparing notes about being a new author in horror (we’re both just now in our second years of it), and then it was off to a reading. A final trip to the celebrity room where I got to meet and chat with one of the fathers of splatterpunk, John Skipp, and the most recent addition to my influence list, Jonathan Janz, and then it was time for things to wind down in one sense and kick up in another.
I wound up having dinner with a herd of authors as well as Mike Lombardo—who is exactly like he sounds on Brian Keene’s aforementioned Horror Show podcast—and then it was back to the Doubletree for some libations. After some discussion on what was happening where, and a bit more wandering, I found myself in a room with a different herd of authors and some readers playing a round of Werewolves (think the party game Mafia, only horror-styled). After much conversation and fun, it was time to head back to my hotel for a few hours’ sleep before the insanity that was Saturday at Scares That Care began.
(And for the record, Kane kept his promise and gave me shit again today, too….)
The longest day of the con, and one of the most fun and interesting. Somehow I even escaped Kane Hodder giving me shit, which is a minor miracle, too.
|The insane hosts of The Mando Method,|
Chuck Buda and Armand Rosamilia.
|Horror folks running for|
|At a guess, it was over a hundred degrees|
in this room....
Once that was over, it was time to hang out and have some fun again, and I once again joined the “after-hours” group from the night before for pizza, bourbon, and Werewolves (where Melissa Hayward and Rachel Autumn Deering officially christened me "Best John", which makes me smile just to type). I had to be back for an appointment at nine Sunday morning, so I called it a night after one round, and headed back to the hotel.
|Waiting for food before the bourbon; half of the "village" for|
Saturday night's round of Werewolves. Photo by Hannah
As I mentioned, I had to be up for an appointment at nine this morning. Well, I woke up, looked at the clock, and thought “oh, it’s 8:30, I can grab something from the free hotel breakfast before I….” and then I actually looked at the clock. It wasn’t 8:30. It was 8:50. Thankfully, the hotel I’m staying at isn’t that far from the Doubletree where the con was being held, so I made it by 9:02. No coffee, but I was able to get some before we got started, so it was all good.
(And yes, that’s vaguebooking, but I’ll announce what it is when I have more details, so just bear with me. Trust me, it'll be good.)
|Quite possibly the nicest guy working|
in the field of horror fiction, Jonathan
Janz. Not pictured: the flowered pants
he was wearing....
Today was definitely slower than the other days, and everything was much more relaxed as well. I did manage to catch the reading from Jonathan Janz and Mary SanGiovanni, both of whom blew the audience away. After that, it was time to make those dreaded rounds to say goodbye to all the awesome folks I’d spend the last weekend getting to know and hanging out with.
After that, I headed up to the live recording of Armand’s ArmCast Dead Sexy Podcast, where I was included as a participant alongside the wonderful Wile E. Young, who is working on his first novel for Deadite Press. We both had a blast talking to Armand, and then I hung out in the audience for a few more guests. When that was over, the time had come. As much as I hated it, I had to go back home.
I said goodbye to the last few folks I’d promised to meet up with before heading out, and then we hit the road for the long trip back to Tennessee. We got stuck in an accident cleanup within the first hour, fought through rain so hard you couldn’t see the road and almost constant cloud-to-ground lightning as we made our way out of Virginia and into Tennessee, but finally, we made it.
This wasn’t my first convention, but it was my first in over a decade, and definitely my first where I had a “vested interest” in going. It was also my first purely horror-themed one, so I really didn’t know what to expect.
|This is just the swag from Day One...|
I’m not even going to try and name everyone who I enjoyed meeting this weekend, because the list is so long and I’m sure I’d forget someone or something. What I will say is that this weekend made me feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing. Everyone I talked to made me feel like I belonged, and there are no words to express how that feels. It also reinvigorated me to the whole process of writing and got me fired up for whatever project is next for me.
|One of this year's convention hosts,|
the multi-talented Brian Keene.