A Special Interview Featuring Joe Lansdale, Carrie Ryan, Jonathan Maberry, Gregory Lamberson and Shawn Chesser

Well tomorrow is the opening day for The Savage Dead, and that means my Zombie Masters Series is coming to an end…so I decided to go out with a bang!  Today I am bringing you a huge multi-author interview featuring a few of my favorite writers.

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First off, we have Joe R. Lansdale, one of the most popular writers working today.  He was there at the beginning, when our modern idea of the Romereque zombie was just starting to see print, and he has continued to lead the way as the master and innovator of the genre.  But this is Joe R. Lansdale we’re talking about, so mentioning only his zombie fiction is sort of like saying Ray Bradbury wrote about rockets and leaving it at that.  He’s mastered crime fiction, the weird western, steampunk, science fiction, fantasy, and of course horror.  Like Bradbury, Lansdale is one of the finest short story craftsmen in modern American fiction.  And that’s not blowing smoke either.  Lansdale really is that good.  He’s won nearly every genre award out there, and has fashioned a body of work that looms large in every genre in which he’s worked.  I’m honored to have him here as part of this series.

I also got lucky when Carrie Ryan agreed to join me here for an interview.  On her website, Carrie describes herself this way:  Carrie was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina. During her time in high school she was: vice president of her class, a cheerleader (no, seriously), captain of the field hockey team (one of only two teams in SC—her team was always state champs) and founder of the girls soccer team (she played on the boys team for a year until the school created the girls team, which, by the way, went from losing every game its first season to being ranked fourth in the state Carrie’s senior year!). She also wrote her first short story, Crab Shell Angels, for Mrs. Carter’s class on Southern Fiction.

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On weekends she read. Everything from Sweet Valley High to Romance to Christopher Pike. As far as her parents know, she never threw a party while they were out of town (*cough*).

Deciding to try a different climate, Carrie went to Williams College (go Ephs!) home of the purple cows—no, seriously, that’s their mascot. She played field hockey and lacrosse for a year before becoming involved in student government and other nefarious organizations. She also spearheaded a project to renovate and re-open the local student pub. She was an avid mountain biker and a member of the Williams Cycling Team (their jerseys were white with purple cow spots—they were easy to pick out of the peloton).

During the various summers Carrie hiked the Wind River Wilderness Mountains with NOLS, worked as an intern at the Greenville County Coroner’s Office, worked on a Mayan archeological dig in El Peten, Guatemala, and taught SAT prep for The Princeton Review.

As it turns out, Massachusetts, while amazing, is cold much of the year. So after graduating and dabbling in an internet start-up (it was 2000, everyone was doing it) she moved to Middleburg, Virginia and worked at the Foxcroft School. That’s where she finished her first book and wrote her second. She tried to convince agents that they really wanted a sensual western historical romance, but they were quite adamant that they did not. So she decided to write chick lit. Unfortunately, most chick lit showcased exciting city life and Carrie’s life was pretty boring in the Virginia countryside. So she came up with the brilliant plan of going to law school and getting a job in a big city so she could have an exciting life to draw from.

And if that didn’t work out, at least she’d still have the legal career to fall back on. It was at Duke Law School where she met her fiancé JP, a speculative fiction writer who taught her all about true love. JP is the one who convinced Carrie to go to that first zombie movie, which for the life of her she can’t remember why—she must have still been trying to impress him because Carrie has disliked all horror movies since the Poltergeist incident of 1983. The remake of Dawn of the Dead fascinated Carrie and JP fanned the fires with more zombies movies and a timely gift of The Zombie Survival Guide (which he read out loud to her every night).

After graduating, they moved to Charlotte and embarked on a plan to get serious about writing. Carrie tried to write her chick lit but that market was dead and she liked young adult books so much better. After a few false starts, JP convinced Carrie to write what she loved and she started writing about zombies. There are so many movies about the days and weeks after a zombie apocalypse, but Carrie wanted to know what happened much later—generations later. The Forest of Hands and Teeth is her first published novel and she’s excited to be writing even more novels set in the same world.

That’s how Carrie describes herself; but me, I just call her awesome.

Next up we have my good friend, Jonathan Maberry.  Jonathan burst onto the writing scene with his Pine Deep Trilogy back in 2006 and hasn’t looked back since.  Like Lansdale, Maberry is a major threat in a number of formats, everything from short stories to novels to non-fiction to comic books, and Lansdale again, is a master of martial arts.  That last part is no exaggeration either.  Jonathan is an 8th degree black belt in jujutsu and a 5th degree in kenjutsu. In 2004 he was inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame.  Today he’s best known as the hardest working man in horror, having cranked out so many dazzling hits that I sometimes find myself wondering if he doesn’t have a whole basement full of clones working on stuff simultaneously.  I’ll guess we’ll never know, but at least we get to benefit from his tireless imagination.  At let’s face it, isn’t the world a better place with guys like Joe Ledger and Sam Hunter in it?

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Described by Fangoria Magazine as “the sort of force that dark fantasy and horror are lucky to have,” my next guest is the one and only Gregory Lamberson.  Gifted with the art of storytelling, both on the page and in film, Lamberson is a two-time IPPY Gold Medal winner and three-time Bram Stoker Award finalist. Rave reviews of his work have appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist. All of his books are available in print and as e-books, and some are also available as audio books. In 2013, Medallion Press will publish Lamberson’s novel THE JULIAN YEAR, the first TREEbook, which will employ revolutionary time-triggered branching technology.

Lamberson’s novel PERSONAL DEMONS, winner of the IPPY Gold Medal for Horror, is the first volume in the action packed occult detective series “The Jake Helman Files,” published by Medallion Press. Other books in the series include the zombie novel DESPERATE SOULS, the new Cthulhu themed COSMIC FORCES(nominated for Superior Achievement in a Novel by the Horror Writers Association), and TORTURED SPIRITS, which is scheduled for October 2012. PERSONAL DEMONS, DESPERATE SOULS, and COSMIC FORCES are also available as audio books from Audible.com, and TORTURED SPIRITS will be as well.  So keep your eyes out for those, because everything Lamberson touches seems to turn to gold.

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And last but not least I’m offering up Shawn Chesser for your reading enjoyment.  Shawn is the author of the Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse Series, a run that so far includes five of the best military zombie writing out there, including Trudge, Soldier On, In Harm’s Way, A Pound of Flesh, and Allegiance.

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Through a combination of tight, well-structured plots and fully realized characters, Chesser has emerged as one of the top Indie writers in the business.  He currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two children. He studied writing at Harvard on the hill (PCC Sylvania) many years ago. Shawn is a big fan of the apocalyptic horror genre. Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy and George Romero are strong influences. When not writing, Shawn spends the rest of his time doting on his two children and doing whatever his wife says.  But his wife let him off the hook long enough to come play with us today, so let’s get started, shall we?

 

 

Joe McKinney:  Thanks for joining me here on Old Major’s Dream.  I’m glad you could swing by.  You’re no stranger to zombie fiction.  Would you mind telling the folks out there a little about your zombie-related writing?  How do you approach the genre?

Joe R. Lansdale:  I was attracted to this branch of monsters when I was a kid. The zombies then were not the eat your flesh kind. They strangled usually. My favorite old zombie film is I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE. Later, I saw NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD shortly after it came out, and that bent me seriously. I never really thought about writing zombie fiction, and I think it was an accident I wrote the first piece. I loved Westerns and horror, and an old movie titled CURSE OF THE UNDEAD had impressed me. It was a Western vampire movie, and these days it would seem tame. I had seen it a few times and just loved the whole idea of it. I decided I wanted to write a horror western, and I decided to combine the idea of zombies/ghouls/vampires/witchcraft and Lovecraftian  monsters. But it had a zombie vibe and is usually thought of as a zombie western. It’s amazing to me how much of an impact it has had on the field. I thought of it as a simple, pulp style, comic-book piece. I had great fun writing it, and also wrote a screenplay. It was optioned many times, and the film rights were finally bought by a French film company, Vertigo, and they never made it. So they have the rights, and it’s too bad they never filmed it, and they don’t have any interest in letting any one else have it. Or didn’t it. Maybe that’s changed now. I also wrote an off-beat science fiction western titled ON THE FAR SIDE OF THE CADIALLAC  DESERT WITH DEAD FOLKS.  It was originally a non-zombie science fiction tale with a modern western tone, but it died on me. And then I was asked to write a zombie story for Skipp and Spector’s BOOK OF THE DEAD, and I added the zombies in. They worked perfect. It’s still one of my favorite pieces. It’s a mixture of parody, pastiche, and at the time some original ideas  that have been co-opted by a lot of other writers and film makers. Besides those stories there have been others, including another story about my Western character with another take on the zombie theme, Deadman’s Road. I even wrote a kind of two people having trouble with their marriage, but it takes place in a zombiefied universe. And there are others. Christmas With The Dead, which my son adapted to a low budget film that’s a lot of fun. I don’t know exactly how many I’ve written about zombies. Seven or eight, I think. I don’t have plans to write others, as I’m kind of worn out on the whole zombie thing. But I never say never.

Carrie Ryan:  When I first became obsessed with zombies, most of the stories I found focused on the actual zombie apocalypse itself, right when the world becomes irrevocably altered and humanity has to figure out how to adapt and survive (which I love!).  I was curious what it would be like if you’d not only been born and raised in a world with zombies, but if your parents and grandparents had too.

So I set my first novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, about 150 years after the zombie apocalypse when zombies are just a fact of life (though still threatening!).

 Since then I’ve written two sequels (that take place about 20-30 years later) and many short stories (that take place everywhere from right at the zombie apocalypse itself to just before the events in The Forest of Hands and Teeth).

One of the best aspects of zombies as a creature is that there’s really no canon and so every author is free to experiment.  For my world I decided to go with a mix of both fast and slow, non-sentient zombies.  To me, the scariest thing about zombies is that they seem like they should be so easy to kill: they’re mindless creatures who can’t work together or use tools.  And yet, they’re impossible to escape.  You can’t outrun the fast ones and with the slow ones, when you have to stop to sleep or eat or whatever, they keep moving which means eventually, they’ll always catch up.  Once you’re surrounded by sufficient masses, you’re pretty much hosed.  That’s the kind of desperate situation that I love to write about.

Jonathan Maberry:  I’ve been writing about my life-impaired fellow citizens for quite a while. I took my first swing at them in a nonfiction book, THE VAMPIRE SLAYERS’ FIELD GUIDE TO THE UNDEAD, which was published in 2000 under the pen name of Shane MacDougall. The book examined various kinds of monsters –folkloric and fictional—including various kinds of zombies. I discussed other aspects of the zombie phenomenon in a series of nonfiction books I wrote for Citadel Press: VAMPIRE UNIVERSE, THE CRYPTOPEDIA, THEY BITE and WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE.

Then in 2006-08 Pinnacle Books released my Pine Deep Trilogy (GHOST ROAD BLUES, DEAD MAN’S SONG and BAD MOON RISING), which was about various kinds of vampires preparing to make war on humanity. Some of the vampire subtypes closely resembled the Romero zombie. In 2008 I did a nonfiction book, ZOMBIE CSU: THE FORENSICS OF THE LIVING DEAD, in which I interviewed over 250 experts in various fields (from molecular biology to Homeland security) about how the real world might deal with a zombie plague.

Based on some of the research I did for Zombie CSU, I decided to write my first full zombie novel, PATIENT ZERO for Griffin. It was a techno-thriller with special ops against terrorists with a zombie plague. That book was the first of a series of thrillers featuring former Baltimore detective Joe Ledger; and though the other books dealt with non-zombie threats, I return to the zombie plague in CODE ZERO, the sixth book, due out in March 2014.

I’ve done one zombie comic so far, MARVEL ZOMBIES RETURN, and it was a fun collaboration with Seth Grahame-Smith (PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES), David Wellington (MONSTER ISLAND), and Fred Van Lente (COWBOYS AND ALIENS).

I’ve also written a four-book post-apocalyptic zombie series for teens: ROT & RUIN, DUST & DECAY, FLESH & BONE and FIRE & ASH (all from Simon & Schuster). That series is now being developed for film.

Griffin wanted me to do more zombie novels for adults so I did DEAD OF NIGHT for them in 2011; and I just turned in the sequel, FALL OF NIGHT, scheduled for next August. Legendary horror filmmaker Eric Red (NEAR DARK, THE HITCHER) is writing the screenplay for DEAD and plans to direct.

And I’ve done a slew of zombie short stories, some for adults, some for teens. Some of them have been gathered into an audio collection, HUNGRY TALES (Blackstone).

Gregory Lamberson:  Thanks for including me in the dream.  I’ve written four books which could be classified as zombie tales.  The first was Johnny Gruesome, about a heavy metal obsessed teen who’s murdered and returns from the grave to kill a lot of people; it’s as much a slasher story and an EC Comics story as a zombie deal.  Two of my five Jake Helman novels have pitted Jake against hordes of voodoo “zonbies,” and I was delighted to feature old school zombies instead of flesh eaters.  A variation, “aqua zonbies,” make an appearance in the fifth book in the series, Storm Demon, which Medallion Press publishes this October.  My novella Carnage Road is the only one I’ve written that sticks to the world George Romero and John Russo created, and it’s one of my favorites.  It’s about two bikers traveling across America during the zombie apocalypse, and it’s really about humanity.   This one was just optioned as a possible movie or TV series with me attached as co-writer, so with any luck I’ll be thinking of new ways to creatively kill the undead for a while.

My main concern is always the protagonist – Jake Helman, Boone and Walker in Carnage Road, and Tony Mace in my werewolf series The Frenzy Cycle.  If the reader doesn’t really care about your leads and what happens to them, they’re not going to give a damn about the threats they face.  In most of my books, I look for a way to spin traditional monsters and mythology.  Jake Helman has faced zonbies toting machetes and machineguns, a Lovecraftian beast with ties to Christian beliefs, and angels and demons who behave like gangsters, and my werewolves have a pretty unique mythology.  Carnage Road is really the only thing I’ve written where the monster follows the tropes of a given subgenre, but the heroes, who are really antiheroes, are where I departed from the norm.

Shawn Chesser:  My pleasure, Joe! You’ve probably heard other writers in the genre say they were inspired by Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Well, you can count me among them as well. My Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse universe is full of the same type of flesh eating zombies as in the movies I grew up watching. Except for the really young specimens and the newly turned, my living dead are fairly slow and tend to catch the living by surprise or by overwhelming them in large numbers—hordes and mega-hordes in my novels. Like Romero’s, some of my zombies possess snippets of memory, but in the STZA universe, don’t really utilize them to any kind of advantage… yet.

Joe McKinney:  The zombie apocalypse is happening right now.  Are you prepared?  Would humanity win?

Joe R. Lansdale:  Humanity would win. You just wait them out. They rot. That’s the conclusion in CHRISTMAS WITH THE DEAD, the film version. If  humanity can gather and wait, it ends. Unless it’s in the air, then we have a new problem. Frankly, I don’t lose sleep over the zombie apocalypse.

Carrie Ryan:  If the zombie apocalypse started right now, I’d be screwed.  At the last place I lived I could have probably survived a bit (I even wrote a story based on that idea: What Once We Feared, but now I live in a one story house with thin windows and little food.  Plus I’m close to a city – if I made it out alive it would be because of sheer dumb luck.

I like to believe humanity would eventually win in a zombie apocalypse, but really it depends on what kind of zombies you’re dealing with.  If it’s disease based, there should statistically be an immune segment of the population.  If the zombies rot, eventually the large masses will “die” out (can you tell I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking through all of this?).   And in the end, my hope would be that at least some groups of humanity could find pockets of safety – I’ve always thought Curacao would be a great place to ride out the zombie apocalypse.

Jonathan Maberry:  If there was an outbreak of the zombie plague, I think we have a shot –as long as they’re slow shufflers and not the Olympic Zombie Spring Team. The fast-onset, fast-running zombies is a no-win scenario. Movies like 28 Days Later and Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead show that pretty well. But with the slow zombies –we can get in front of that. Cell phones would allow us to take pics and videos, send and share information, reach out to emergency services, warn our friends, and otherwise survive. Also, we’re sensitized to medical threats and we tend to respond faster now than we did, say, ten years ago. So, yeah, I think we’d survive.

Survival would bring with it a retaliatory attitude and deep paranoia, so having survived we might be in a medically-based version of Big Brother.

Gregory Lamberson:  Joe, I am not prepared.  I don’t own any weapons, and my cupboards are bare by the end of the week.  I know from watching cable TV that there are others out there who are prepared, but frankly, those are the last people I want to see surviving over the rest of us.  Or maybe they deserve to make it for keeping their feathers numbered in case of just such an emergency.  I’m an atheist, but the zombie apocalypse just might change my views on religion, and if a deity decides it’s time for us to go, the least we could do is follow his or her wishes, right?

Shawn Chesser:  I’m prepared for the worst. However, I try to hope for the best. I guess that’s a yes. Humanity certainly has a way of overcoming most adversity… so yes to that as well, unless they’re the fast 28 Days Later buggers. I can’t say with a degree of certainty that we’d be able to survive the turbocharged, rage virus infected type of creatures, so let’s put an asterisk next to the last yes.

Joe McKinney:  What’s your favorite zombie book, movie, short story, whatever?  (Please feel free to ramble as much or as little as you like here.  I’d love to know why that story or movie or whatever grabs you.)

Joe R. Lansdale:  My favorite is NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, the original. It was such a game changer, and it scared the hell  out of me. It still creeps me. I also like both DAWN’S OF THE DEAD, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Though it’s low budget, I find CHRISTMAS WITH THE DEAD a strange zombie film, not such much a horror film, but an odd and unique sort of film, made on a shoe-string. But there’s a prejudice in that. It’s my story, my son’s script, my friend Lee Lankford directed, and my daughter did part of the music in the film. But I do think the way it’s approached is what makes it unique.  I also like ZOMBIE with Richard Johnson, an Italian film. It’s scummy and fly specked and really creepy; has a real feel of disease about it.

Carrie Ryan:  I have to give a nod to the remake of Dawn of the Dead because it was really my first introduction into zombies and started my obsession.  But I also love the original Night of the Living Dead.  Mostly because when I first watched it, I hated it.  I was enraged with the characters and their inability to work together – they made such stupid decisions and by the end I thought they all pretty much deserved to die.  But then I heard George Romero speak and he explained that his intent with the movie was to point out that we as humanity have failed to work together to solve large and serious world problems like hunger, poverty, etc. 

That was a huge eye opener to me and suddenly I saw the movie in an entirely different light.  We were supposed to be that frustrated with the characters — that was the point. It was the first time I realized that a storyteller could want you to dislike a character and I loved that.

Jonathan Maberry:  I often have multiple favorites, with individual works held in esteem because they touch a certain nerve or speak to me in a specific way. That said, here are some favorites:

Favorite zombie novel is DEAD CITY by Joe McKinney. It’s a ‘get off your ass and get it done’ book. The hero is a cop and he survives because he uses that skill set. Too often a professional is presented as clumsy, stupid or ineffective. In Dead City we see a law enforcement professional who survives because of his training, even when everything else is falling apart. The author doesn’t waste half of the book having the character stand around and philosophize in situations where action is what’s required. And the action in the book is nonstop.

Favorite zombie anthology: BOOK OF THE DEAD, edited by John Skipp and Craig Specter. This book was released in 1989 and is pretty much the foundation upon which all zombie literature has been built. Skipp and Specter brought together Richard Laymon, Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Steve Resnic Tem, Les Daniels, Douglas E. Winter, Joe Lansdale, Robert McCammon and other serious heavy hitters in a batch of stories that is as timely and readable now as they were upon publication. The editors are often criminally overlooked when people talk about zombie pop culture. They planted the seeds in the minds of many, many writers.

Favorite zombie movie: the unrated director’s cut of Zack Snyder’s DAWN OF THE DEAD. I love slow zombies on TV and in books, but I like the higher-energy thrills of the fast ones on film. And, the cast is superb, the soundtrack is killer, the effects terrific, and the pace breakneck.

Favorite zombie TV: It’s a dead heat between THE WALKING DEAD, which is brilliant and so much fun, and DEAD SET, the BBC miniseries about the zombie outbreak happening during the filming of the TV show Big Brother. Funny, bloody, scary and so well-written.

Favorite zombie comic: Robert Kirkman’s THE WALKING DEAD runs neck-and-neck with the first of the Marvel Zombie stories, back when they were part of the Ultimates universe.

Favorite zombie short story: “What Maisie Knew” by David Liss. Elegant and disgusting –two words that seldom fit into the same description, but they work here. David is best know for his Edgar Award-winning historical mysteries, so when he did this story he came right out of left field and blindsided folks.

Gregory Lamberson:  For decades my favorite zombie flick was Dawn of the Dead, but now Shaun of the Dead equals perfection on my scale.  Besides, I can watch Shaun with my whole family; my daughter is too young for the stronger stuff, and zombies really disturb my wife.  As far as novels go, I have two favorites: Dead City, which has a fantastic pace and a really good depiction of how the apocalypse all goes down, and The Sinister Mr. Corpse by Jeff Strand, which is as funny as you would expect.  I forgot who wrote Dead City.

Shawn Chesser: The remake of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead really grabbed me when it came out. The credit sequence at the beginning when Johnny Cash sings ‘When the man comes around’ is priceless. I could watch that all day. Ving Rhames also did a great job of portraying a LE member trying to cope with a seemingly impossible band of survivors. Now I’m not sucking up here, but your Apocalypse of the Dead was one of the first eBooks I ever downloaded and read on my first iPhone. I’m a helicopter and aviation buff so you had me hooked with the first couple of paragraphs. Hopefully, one day I’ll hone my prose to maybe approach something close to your caliber of writing. Congrats to all of your success! OK that was sucking up. I was a fan of the Zompoc before I started writing about it… so I’m allowed that…aren’t I? Another book that resonated with me early on is Stephen King’s ‘The Stand.’ I loved the whole good versus evil scenario. I really got into the characters and enjoyed the vivid, yet bleak, depopulated landscape King describes so well. Another post-apocalyptic favorite of mine is Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road,’ his descriptive style of writing had me feeling cold and hungry during the entire read.

Joe McKinney:  What’s your favorite zombie kill scene of all time?

Joe R. Lansdale:  ZOMBIE, the Italian film is full of them. And there’s kill scenes that the zombies provide, like the one where they pull the character’s eye in a sharp fragment of lumber.

Carrie Ryan:  Oooh, that’s a tough one! There are so many! I’m definitely a fan of the lawnmower scene from Dead Alive.  But I think a scene that’s always stuck with me is when they have to kill the mom in Shaun of the Dead.  Especially because so much of that movie is hilarious, that particular scene becomes such an emotional gut punch.

Jonathan Maberry:  My fav is Bub’s revenge on Captain Rhodes for the murder of Dr. Logan. It was the first time I rooted for a zombie. And I’d like to think that Bub is still out there, wandering the wastelands and maybe evolving into something new and interesting.

Gregory Lamberson: I think machete head in Dawn of the Dead is the most iconic, but I thought Romero came up with some great ones in Survival of the Dead, which I love dearly and deserves to be seen by as many people who tune in to The Walking Dead every week.

Shawn Chesser: The newborn Z in the Dawn of the Dead remake is one that really sticks out in my mind. Even though you don’t actually get to see the baby being put down, the fade to black followed by the echoing gunfire paints the picture. I have a few scenes scattered throughout my series where kids kill, and also are killed themselves—both by zombies and humans—and as a result, I have received a couple of good natured tongue lashings.   

Joe McKinney:  I’ve always felt the best and most effective horror is trying to investigate what we think of ourselves and what it means to be us.  Washington Irving’s tales, for instance, generally grapple with the question of what it means to be an American in the post-Revolutionary War period.  Nathaniel Hawthorne battled with the intellectual promise of a nation rising to international credibility while simultaneously choking under the yolk of a Puritan past.  Stephen King made a name for himself chronicling the slow collapse of the American small town way of life.  What do you think the zombie and its current popularity is telling us about ourselves?

Joe R. Lansdale:  I think it’s the idea of our culture eroding, changing. I think we go through these periods, and then we find that we have changed with it, or at least the next generation in line has. And then it’s their turn. I think boiling this complex, technological world down to something simple is part of it. People would like for it to be simple, and on some level the idea of the whole thing collapsing, even with zombies, is appealing to some; same impulse for the goobers who run around in the woods in camo- pants hoping the government would collapse. If it did we’d all last about fifteen minutes, and for those who might last, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun as a movie, and you might not be the hero of the event.

Carrie Ryan:  What I love about zombies is that as a metaphor, they can be used to mean so many things!  Look at George Romero who used them to criticize consumerism and our inability to work together to solve large problems.  Danny Boyle used zombies to chronicle fear and/or mistrust of scientific experiments in 28 Days Later.  In Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies, the zombies are essentially emotionless shells.

Personally, I love zombies as representative of a fear of life unlived or unexamined.  When we refer to someone as a zombie at work or school, we mean that they’re just going through the motions.  There’s no thought or passion or even purposeful intent in their actions.  At least in my own writings, zombies exist for existence’s sake.  All they do is occupy space: they don’t think or love or feel or care or plan.  How is that different from a lot of the living who wake up and go through the motions of life without conscious thought?  Without questioning?

They say that whenever the economy crashes, the popularity of zombies increases.  There’s a part of me that wonders if that’s because people are suddenly shaken out of their comfort zones.  They can’t just continue as they had before and are forced to re-examine their lives and their priorities.  They’re forced to figure out what separates them from someone who just occupies space.   I think zombies remind us that we’re still alive and we should treasure that.

Jonathan Maberry:  There are so many reasons why zombie fiction and movies work and except for the shallow few, mostly it’s because it pushes some emotional, psychological or cultural buttons. Subtext has become the text in zombie pop culture. That said, the things about the genre that appeals most to me are the debates over issues like the definition of what makes us human, the value of human life, the right to survive, and exploring the line between the needs of immediate survival and the preservation of civilized societal values.

For example, in my ROT & RUIN novels he older brother of the protagonist teaches his younger brother that zombies were once people. They had lives, dreams, loves, families, expectations. All of that was stolen from them by a plague. They each died afraid and in pain. They are victims of a disease. Even though we have to fight the zombie, and kill it to survive, we can’t at any time disrespect it or what it was. To do that is to perpetuate a process of dehumanization.

Gregory Lamberson:  Zombies are popular because they’re reflections of ourselves.  Romero and Russo hit on the perfect formula, and every good zombie story someone creates, in awhatever medium, tells us something about ourselves, and that’s why such seemingly limited characters are actually limitless.  Bub listening to a Walkman or thumbing through a Stephen King novel says it all.  Zombies are obsessed with the same things we are (other than human flesh), and seeing continue our daily pastimes conveys the same sort of revealing satire as watching the apes in Planet of the Apes behave like humans.  These images tell us we build our lives around some pretty silly materialism and habits.  Because zombies are us, the idea of being eaten by them is a lot more frightening than being eaten by dinosaurs, sharks, or Martians.

Shawn Chesser:  I think we are all facing a new type of world filled with a lot of uncertainty. In a way some of us are already living in a post-apocalyptic world; one where war is an ongoing occurence and everyday life has been turned upside down. Earth is becoming incredibly crowded and our resources are in danger of being stretched very thin or even running out eventually. Then, we are bombarded on a daily basis with news of the next… near-miss asteroid fly-by, coronal mass ejection from the sun, bird, or bee die off, etc… Maybe the masses find some comfort in reading and watching post-apocalyptic entertainment because it’s a way absorbing information that they may have to fall back on later. At any rate, like I said earlier, I’ll prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. Thanks for presenting me with the opportunity to babble away at you, Joe.

Horror for Good: A Charitable Anthology

Horror For Good: A Charitable Anthology

Late last year I got a call from Boyd E. Harris at Cutting Block Press, asking if I’d be willing to contribute a story for an upcoming charitable anthology they were doing.  Now Boyd is a good friend of mine, and Cutting Block Press is one of the finest Indie publishers out there, so he pretty much had me at hello.  “Sounds great,” I said.  “What’s the charity?”

He explained that all revenues, less direct costs for production, marketing and distribution will be donated to amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.

I was intrigued.  Won over is actually a better way to describe my reaction.  An anthology put together by one of my favorite publishers to benefit a great cause (you can learn more about amfAR here), it’s a win-win.

I agreed and sent him my story “Sky of Brass, Land of Iron.”  South Texas, where I make my home, is crowded with old Spanish ruins from the 1700s and early 1800s, theAlamobeing the most famous example.  I’ve always had a deep fascination with these ruins, and they’ve figured prominently in several of my stories.  But I’ve always suspected that there are ruins out there in the empty landscape ofSouth Texasthat haven’t been discovered.

Texas, with its vast, and sometimes inhospitable territory, was colonized slowly with lots of dead ends and false starts.  My story imagines one such dead end, and picks up the thread when two good friends fromSan Antoniouncover some old ruins on the land they are trying to develop.  What they find beneath the ruins of an abandoned church represents one of my rare forays into Lovecraftian horror.

Boyd then introduced me to three outstanding folks: Mark Scioneaux, Robert Shane Wilson and R.J. Cavender.  These gentlemen were the editors and visionaries behind the anthology, and unbeknownst to me, had managed to assemble an amazing list of contributors.  When I finally saw the table of contents, I was simply bowled over.  Check out this list of talent:

A Message from the HWA President ~ Rocky Wood 
The Journey of Horror For Good ~ Mark C. Scioneaux
Autumn as Metaphor ~ G.N. Braun
On a Dark October ~ Joe R. Lansdale
Mouth ~ Nate Southard 
Blood for the American People Reception ~ Ray Garton 
The Long Hunt ~ Ian Harding 
The Apocalypse Ain’t so Bad ~ Jeff Strand
The Gift ~ Monica O’Rourke
The Silent Ones ~ Taylor Grant 
Sky of Brass, Land of Iron ~ Joe McKinney
Consanguinity ~ Lorne Dixon 
Dead Letters ~ Ramsey Campbell 
The Monster in the Drawer ~ Wrath James White
Baptism ~ Tracie McBride 
Atlantis Purging ~ Boyd E. Harris
Returns ~ Jack Ketchum 
The Other Patrick ~ Brad C. Hodson 
A Question of Morality ~ Shaun Hutson
The Meat Man ~ Jonathan Templar
A Man in Shape Alone ~ Lee Thomas
Solution ~ Benjamin Kane Ethridge 
To and Fro ~ Richard Salter 
Please Don’t Hurt Me ~ F. Paul Wilson 
The Depravity of Inanimate Things ~ John F.D. Taff 
The Lift ~ G.R. Yeates 
The Eyes Have It ~ Rena Mason 
Road Flowers ~ Gary McMahon 
The Widows Laveau ~ Steven W. Booth & Norman L. Rubenstein 
This Thing That Clawed Itself Inside Me ~ John Mantooth 
Somewhere on Sebastian Street ~ Stephen Bacon 
June Decay ~ Danica Green 
Shiva, Open Your Eye ~ Laird Barron

 

I am incredibly excited about this project.  Pick up a copy of this book, please.  Not only is it a great collection of stories, but it’s for a good cause, a just cause, a necessary cause.

You can purchase the print edition here, and the Kindle version here

Hope you enjoy it!

Bram Stoker Awards On the Web!

I just received the following press release from HWA president Rocky Wood. If you can’t make it to the 2012 World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City you can still catch the presentation ceremony for the Bram Stoker Awards on Saturday night. It’ll be like the Oscars, sort of, except, you know, without all the beautiful people.

For immediate release Contact Lisa Morton, HWA Stoker Event Organizer
March 22, 2012 vp@horror.org

Bram Stoker Awards™ to be webcast live on March 31, 2012

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is proud to announce that it will again webcast the Bram Stoker Awards™ presentation live in 2012. The Banquet is being held in Salt Lake City and the event will begin live on the internet at 9 p.m. (Mountain Daylight Savings Time) on March 31. The ceremony will take about 1 ½ hours to complete.

The webcast will be presented at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bramstokerawards2012.

This year the Bram Stoker Awards celebrate 25 years as the leading writing Awards in the horror and dark fantasy genre: http://www.stokers2012.org/ . The Bram Stoker Awards Banquet is sponsored by Samhain Publishing.

Among the nominees are those for the Vampire Novel of the Century (a special Award to mark the centenary of the death of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula) – they include Richard Matheson for I Am Legend, Stephen King for Salem’s Lot and Anne Rice for Interview with the Vampire. This Award is sponsored by Jeremy Wagner.

Lifetime Achievement Awards will also be conferred on iconic horror writers Joe R Lansdale and Rick Hautala, both of whom will be in attendance to accept the Award. And this year’s presenters include Robert McCammon (Swan Song), one of the HWA’s Special Guests.

Bram Stoker Awards for Poetry, Non-Fiction, Fiction Collection, Anthology, Screenplay, Short Fiction, Long Fiction, Young Adult Novel, Graphic Novel, First Novel and Novel will be presented. Among the nominees in these categories are Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Mike Mignola, Jonathan Maberry and Joe Hill. Episodes of The Walking Dead, American Horror Story and True Blood are nominated in the Screenplay category. A full list of the nominees appears at:
http://www.horror.org/blog/?p=2331.

More information about the Bram Stoker Awards may be found here:http://www.horror.org/stokers.htm .

The HWA is the leading writer’s organization for horror and dark fantasy and has nearly 800 members worldwide. More information here: http://www.horror.org .
Media enquiries to Lisa Morton via vp@horror.org.

The Event Schedule for the 2012 World Horror Convention is Out!

The 2012 World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City is coming up next week.  I’ve got my plane tickets purchased, hotel room reserved, and bags packed.  It’s going to be a great time.  For those of you still undecided about going, here’s the schedule.  I’m going to be sitting on a panel, attending the HWA events on Saturday, and attending a number of book launch parties for anthologies I’ve taken part in recently.  I hope you can make it!

World Horror Schedule

THURSDAY 29 MARCH

3:00 PM
-Social Networking.  How blogs, facebook, twitter and other social media can help you network with others.
(Loren Rhoads (M), Lawrence C. Connolly, Lincoln Crisler, Derek Clendening)
-Religion in Horror.  It’s more than just exorcism.  Religion has always played an important role in horror.
(John W. Morehead, Eric James Stone, Jaleta Clegg (M), Michael R. Collings)

4:00:
-Poetry of the Weird from the Romantics to Lovecraft. A discussion of the history of “weird poetry” and some of the poets who wrote it.
(G. O. Clark, Michael R. Collings, Stephen M. Wilson (M), Linda Addison)
-Horror Film Festivals.  How to get involved and where to find them.
(Thomas M. Sipos, Blake Casselman (M), Stephen Graham Jones, Jonathan Martin, Mario DeAngelis)

5:00
-Breaking into Comics. The Managing Editor of Dark Horse Comics tells you what you need to know to break into the business.
(Scott Allie)
-A Vampire is NOT your boyfriend.  Why it’s not a good idea to fall in love with the undead.
(Tom Carr (M), Christine Morgan, Carter Reid, Jeff Carter)

6:00
Opening Ceremonies  A brief welcome to SLC.
(P.N. Elrod, hostess)

7:00
Poetry Readings
A stellar lineup of some outstanding horror poets reading their works.
-Book Bombs/Blasts.  How to get your book to shoot up the charts at Amazon and other sites.
(Michaelbrent Collings, Paul Genesse)
-Rev Mayhem Concert

8:00
-Poetry readings, cont.
-Classic Horror Movies.  What you really need to watch – and own.
(Thomas M. Sipos, Norman L. Rubenstein, Michael McCarty, Orrin Grey, Mike Marano
-Cutting Block Press/KillerCon party (what better way to start off a convention?)

9:00 PM
-Buffy and cult TV shows.  We still love ’em.  Why they resonate with fans and forever live on in syndication, books and comics.
(Scott Allie, Leslie S. Klinger, Dana Fredsti(M), Alice Henderson)
-Why We Love Lovecraft.  His works are more popular than ever.  Come here why we love the grandfather of horror.
(Peter Cannon, Bobbie B. Wilcox, Eric Swedin (M), James Chambers, Ross E. Lockhart)
-Cutting Block Press/KillerCon Party, cont.
-Zombiance Concert

10:00 PM
-Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: What you need to know when the zombies attack. (Don’t forget your Twinkies!)
(Tom Carr (M), Dana Fredsti, Yvonne Navarro, Weston Ochse, Stephen W. Booth)
-Writing a believable ghost story.  How can you make your paranormal seem, well, real?
(Ellen Datlow, Michaelbrent Collings, Christine Morgan, JoSelle Vanderhooft)
-Cutting Block Press/KillerCon Party, cont.

FRIDAY 30 MARCH

10:00 AM
-Laugh ’till you Die: The “Joys” of Humorous Horror
(Jeff Strand, Jaleta Clegg, Scott Allie (M), Tim Marquitz)
-Stephen King.  He’s gone beyond a genre writer to one of the legends of literature.  Why we read and study him over and over.
(Rocky Wood, Scott Edelman, Jason Brock, Blake Casselman (M), Michael R. Collings)
-Pre-Pitch Preparation Panel
Pitching your project is an art form and a learned skill. The purpose of this panel will be to give “pitchers” an idea of the “Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Your Project”. So why not get the rules straight from the editors you plan to pitch this weekend? What better edge could you possibly have than hearing what those editors want from authors and the best way to deliver it? Show up early, take some notes, and prepare for the pitch sessions to follow immediately after!
(R.J. Cavender)

11:00 AM
-Understanding the Mind of a Serial Killer.  An expert looks at what makes a killer kill.
(Dr. Al Carlisle, PhD)
-A Short Look at Horror Fiction: why short fiction is still popular
(Gene O’Neill, John Skipp, Ellen Datlow, Stan Swanson (M), Darren O. Godfrey)
-Pre-Pitch Preparation Panel, cont.
Pitching your project is an art form and a learned skill. The purpose of this panel will be to give “pitchers” an idea of the “Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Your Project”. So why not get the rules straight from the editors you plan to pitch this weekend? What better edge could you possibly have than hearing what those editors want from authors and the best way to deliver it? Show up early, take some notes, and prepare for the pitch sessions to follow immediately after!
(R.J. Cavender)

Noon
-The Art of Mike Mignola
(John Picacio, Mike Mignola)
-Writing Your First Novel: What you really need to know.
(Steven James Searce (M), John R. Little, John Hornor Jacobs, Simon McCaffery, Thomas Roche)

1:00 PM
-Sherrilyn Kenyon: Dark Hunter.  A Q & A with the Queen of Paranormal Fiction
-How Poetry can influence your fiction writing.
(Michael R. Collings, JoSelle Vanderhooft, Charlene C. Harmon, James Dorr, Roberta Lannes

2;00 PM
– The Tapestry of Horror: Words Horrific, Words Hilarious.” It will use examples from Lovecraft and others to talk about how horror writers use language to create horror–or misuse it to create unintentionally comic effects.
How horror as genre uses language to create a sense of the horrific
(Michael Collings)
-Women in Horror.  Some of the top women in their field talk about beign female in the horror industry.
(Ellen Datlow, P.N. Elrod, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lisa Morton, Kim Richards(M))

3:00 PM
P.N. Elrod Q&A
-The Digital Revolution: ebooks and the future of publishing.
(Guido Henkel, Joe Nassise)

4:00 PM
-The craft of writing comics (2-hour workshop)
(Scott Allie)
-Horror Makeup: Making it look good
(Mindy Trim, Michael McCarty,

5:00 PM
-The craft of writing comics (2-hour workshop, cont.)
(Scott Allie)
-What a horror author needs to know to write YA
(Derek Clendening, Lynne Hansen, Dan Wells (M), Jacob Ruby)

6:00 PM
Break

7:00 PM
Break

8:00 PM
Mass Autograph Signing

9:00 PM
Mass Autograph Signing, cont.

10:00 PM
-Cemetery Tour (hosted by Tom Carr and the Residual Hauntings Revived Team).  Space limited.

10:30 PM
-Gross Out Contest!  It’s back and better than ever!  Come root on your favorite readers and crown your champion!
(Hosted by Rain Graves)
-Dark Moon Digest Party
-Damnation Books Party
-Evil Jesters Press Party

SATURDAY, 31 MARCH

9:45 AM:
Introduction to “Celebrate HWA Day”
(6 panels/presentations to celebrate 26 years of the Horror Writer’s Association.)
(Lisa Morton)

10:00 AM
-Q&A with Robert McCammon
-Writing for Comics.  How it differs from other forms of writing and how to work with the art for better storytelling.
(Scott Allie, Mike Mignola, Howard Tayler (M), Brady Canfield)
-Pre-Pitch Preparation Panel
Pitching your project is an art form and a learned skill. The purpose of this panel will be to give “pitchers” an idea of the “Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Your Project”. So why not get the rules straight from the editors you plan to pitch this weekend? What better edge could you possibly have than hearing what those editors want from authors and the best way to deliver it? Show up early, take some notes, and prepare for the pitch sessions to follow immediately after!
(R.J. Cavender)

11:00 AM
-Presentation by Dacre Stoker
-What an Editor Does
(Scott Allie, Don D’Auria, Ellen Datlow, Dave Wolverton (M))
-Pre-Pitch Preparation Panel, cont.
Pitching your project is an art form and a learned skill. The purpose of this panel will be to give “pitchers” an idea of the “Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Your Project”. So why not get the rules straight from the editors you plan to pitch this weekend? What better edge could you possibly have than hearing what those editors want from authors and the best way to deliver it? Show up early, take some notes, and prepare for the pitch sessions to follow immediately after!
(R.J. Cavender)

Noon
Q&A with Joe Lansdale
-Vampires Through the Ages. From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to the myriad of modern bloodsuckers.  The on-going fascination with our favorite form of undead.
(Leslie S. Klinger, James Dorr, Hal Bodner (M), Thomas Roche, Ed Erdelac)

1:00 PM

-The Supernatural in Fiction.  Why it fascinates us and its place in horror and other genres of fiction.
(Sherrilyn Kenyon, Michaelbrent Collings (M), Rick Hautala, Michael L. Calvillo, Andrew Fuller,
-Real vs. Fictional Multiple Personalities.  The realities behind Disassociative Identity Disorder.
(Dr. AL Carlisle)

2:00 PM
HWA: Past, Present and Future
(Lisa Morton, Robert McCammon, Joe Lansdale)
-Writing for RPGs and Video Games
(P.N. Elrod, Angel McCoy, Guido Henkel, Travis Heermann,

3:00 PM
Q&A with Rick Hautala
-Music in Horror.  How it influences the “scar” and why we love it.
(Lawrence C. Connolly, Guy Anthony De Marco, John Hornor Jacobs, Rain Graves (M), Rio Youers)

4:00 PM
Horror Publishing
(Don D’Auria, others)
-The Art of John Picacio: A Song of Ice and Fire, Elric and more!
(John Picacio)

5:00 PM
Resonance in Storytelling
(Dave Wolverton)
-Disney’s Haunted Mansion
(Paul F. Anderson)

6:00 PM
Artists’ Reception

7:00 PM
Artists’ Reception

8:00 PM
HWA Bram Stoker Awards Banquet

10:30 PM

SUNDAY 1 APRIL

10:00 AM
-The Good, The Bad And The Ugly in Cover Art.
Industry professionals  Joe R. Lansdale, P.N. Elrod, Scott Allie, John Picacio, and Mike Mignola discuss their favorite recent horror/dark fantasy cover artworks as well as some of their not-so-favorite.
-Screenwriting Techniques.  Or, how to write a screenplay that works.
(Blake Casselman, Michaelbrent Collings (M), David Hayes, Hal Bodner,)
-WHS Board Meeting
World Horror Society meeting.  Want to know more about running WHS?  Want to run a convention?  Come to the meeting!

11:00 AM
-H. P. Lovecraft: The short stories
(Peter Cannon (M), Michael R. Collings, Scott Allie, Travis Heermann, Orrin Grey)
-Residual Hauntings Revived: A Look at Hauted Sies
(Tom Carr, RHR Crew)

Noon
-Scaring ’em Young: MG horror
(Jacob Ruby, J. Scott Savage, Roh Morgon,
“Zombies, Vigilantes, and Antiheroes: The Ambiguities of Monstrousness in The Walking Dead”
(Kyle Bishop)

1:00 PM
-Collecting Horror.  What is collectable, why to collect and where to find the best stuff.
(Paul Anderson, Nick Montelongo (M), Allen Lewis)
Writing Groups
(Henry and Hollie Snider)

2:00 PM
-Paranormal Romance.
(Aaron Bennett, Kim Richards, JoSelle Vanderhooft, Hal Bodner (M))
-Classic Horror
(P.N. Elrod, Scott Allie, Robert McCammon, Eric Swedin (M), Joe McKinney)

3:00 PM
Da End: Closing Ceremonies and Gothic Belly Dancing

5:00 PM
Dead Dog Party

Vincent Chong Added as Artist GOH at WHC 2011

VINCENT CHONG ADDED AS ARTIST GUEST OF HONOR FOR WORLD HORROR CONVENTION 2011
Two-time winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Artist
joins all-star convention line-up.

Austin – January 21: The World Horror Convention 2011 is honored to announce the addition of visionary artist and designer, Vincent Chong, as Artist Guest of Honor. The international conference of horror’s premier talents and their fans will take place in Austin, Texas from April 28th through May 1st, 2011.

“I’ve been a fan of Vinny’s work for years,” said convention co-chair Lee Thomas. “His use of texture and color are stunning, unique, and have put him in high demand the world over. It’s rare to find an artist whose work elicits such a strong sense of foreboding, particularly when the images he creates are so strikingly beautiful. Vinny is a wonder, and we can’t wait to bring him to the U.S. to meet his fans.”

Vincent Chong works as a freelance illustrator and designer in the UK. He has worked with clients from around the world on projects ranging from book and magazine illustrations to album art. His incredible illustrations have adorned the covers of the top names in horror fiction, including works by Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Ramsey Campbell, Joe Hill, Simon Clark, and others.

Chong joins award-winning authors Steve Niles, Joe Hill, Sarah Langan, Joe R. Lansdale, and Brian Keene on the WHC 2011 guest list. Additional Guests of Honor will be announced in the months to come. A website featuring convention and hotel information, registration, and more is live at http://www.whc2011.org.

The World Horror Convention is an annual gathering of professionals in the horror industry: publishers, authors, artists, musicians, filmmakers, dealers and, of course, horror fans. WHC serves as both an industry insider’s networking event and a chance for fans of the genre to get together, meet some of the creative talents in the field, and generally spend a weekend celebrating All Things Scary.

Visit our guests at:
Steve Niles: http://www.steveniles.com
Joe Hill: http://www.joehillfiction.com
Sarah Langan: http://www.sarahlangan.com
Joe R. Lansdale: http://www.joerlansdale.com
Brian Keene: http://www.briankeene.com
Vincent Chong: http://www.vincentchong-art.co.uk

For more information please contact Nate Southard at registration [at] whc2011.org or Lee Thomas at info [at] whc2011.org.

Report from ArmadilloCon 2009

ArmadilloCon 2009 has come and gone…and what a time it was! The folks at ArmadilloCon have really figured out how to do it right. The hotel was great (love those DoubleTree chocolate chip cookies!), the guests were fantastic, and the panels were top notch. Plus, I got the added thrill of introducing my wife to her first convention and I think ArmadilloCon sold her on how much fun they are.

Here were some of the highlights:

The Meet the Pros party opening night. I got to hang out with John Picacio, Sanford Allen, Lee Thomas, Gabrielle Faust, Matt Cardin, Scott Cupp, Chris Roberson, Mario Acevedo, Jeanne Stein, A. Lee Martinez, and a host of others. We got a surprise visit from Michael Moorcock, who presented the Jack Trevor Prize to Howard Waldrop. Good times and good booze all around!

Later I went to hear Matt Cardin read his short story “The Devil and One Lump” and was blown away. I’m now a fan.

I closed out opening night with a panel called “What Happened to the Monsters?” Jeanne Stein did a great job moderating this one. And, as usual, Lee Thomas and Matt Cardin brought some intellectual heavy lumber to this one. The conversation ranged from Aztec snake demons to zombies and we had some great audience participation.

Saturday morning started with Lee Thomas reading his short story “I Am Your Violence.” If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading a Lee Thomas short story you need to stop reading this and get busy. The guy is absolutely brilliant! Go out and get a copy of Unspeakable Horrors or Inferno or, better yet, his upcoming collection Out of the Closet, Under the Bed.

After lunch I sat on a panel called “Zombies!” moderated by A. Lee Martinez. Lee Thomas was on that one as well. A. Lee Martinez and Lee Thomas basically had me bookended on the critical side, leaving me in the middle to defend my beloved walking dead. Luckily, I had some timely help from the audience in the form of Rhiannon Frater. This was probably the highlight of the convention events for me. A. Lee Martinez and Lee Thomas brought up some really great points and kept me on my toes. I think the audience enjoyed this one as well. For the rest of the convention people kept telling me how much they enjoyed it.

Later that night I made the rounds to all the parties up on the sixth floor. I got to hang out with Mario Acevedo and John Picacio and Sanford Allen. I have no idea what time I finally turned in, but I think the sun was coming up.

The next morning I got some breakfast and then headed over to hear Jeanne Stein read from her latest book. Damn, that woman can write. Great plotting, great characters, great all the way around.

After that, it was my turn to read. I did a selection from Quarantined and had a pretty good crowd. I don’t think I put anybody to sleep.

A. Lee Martinez got up to read next. He gave us a selection from his new book Monster, which caused me to laugh away my hangover. I know a lot of funny people, but A. Lee Martinez just takes the cake. I can’t recommend him enough.

I finished off the convention with a long stay in the dealer’s room, where I signed a bunch of books and bought even more. I picked up a copy of Terry Bisson’s Planet of Mystery, Joe Hill’s Gunpowder, and Jeff VanderMeer’s The Situation. But the real find was a hardback first edition of Joe R. Lansdale’s God of the Razor. And I even got him to sign it! Very cool!

Thanks ArmadilloCon for showing me a great time!

New Guests Announced for WHC 2011

My good friend Lee Thomas just sent me the following bit of good news. Here it is, folks. World Horror 2011 is going to be a blast.

June 22, 2009

For immediate Release
Contact: Lee Thomas
leethomas1@aol.com
Nate Southard
natesouthard@gmail.com

WORLD HORROR CONVENTION ANNOUNCES
TWO NEW GUESTS
Award Winning and Critically Acclaimed Authors
Joe R. Lansdale and Brian Keene Join WHC 2011

Austin – June 22 The World Horror Convention Austin is proud to announce the additions of legendary author Joe R. Lansdale and bestselling author Brian Keene to the lineup for its 2011 convention. Lansdale, the master of mojo storytelling, will be taking on the mantle of Toastmaster for the event, while Keene will be in attendance to run an intensive workshop on the business of writing.

“You can’t have a spec-fic convention in Texas without Joe,” said Convention Co-Chair, Lee Thomas. “Well, you could but it would be just plain wrong. He’s iconic. With superlative works in the suspense, science fiction, Western and horror genres, he is a versatile and exceptional craftsman, and we’re honored he’ll be attending.”

Lansdale is the author of more than a dozen novels, including Lost Echoes and Leather Maiden. He has received the British Fantasy Award, the American Mystery Award, the Edgar Award, the Grinzane Cavour Prize for literature, and seven Bram Stoker Awards.

Lansdale joins award-winning authors Sarah Langan and Brian Keene on the WHC 2011 guest list. Special guest Keene’s workshop on the business of writing will be a unique WHC presentation.

“Attendees are going to have their eyes opened,” Nate Southard, Co-Chair of the convention, said. “Brian has always dedicated himself to helping aspiring writers, and his presentation will carry on this commitment. His distinguished career has given him insights into the realities of publishing – the good, the bad, and the grotesque – and he’s going to share them with a roomful of his colleagues.”

Keene, who came to prominence in 2003 with the release of his debut novel The Rising and has since published over 20 books, in addition to his work with Marvel Comics, will be presenting Business Unusual: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Business Of Writing But Were Afraid To Ask. Seating for this informational seminar will be limited and pre-registration required. Details are forthcoming.

This international conference of horror’s brightest talents and their fans will take place in Austin, Texas from April 28th through May 1st, 2011. Additional Guests of Honor, registration information, and hotel information will be forthcoming. A website featuring convention information is currently in development.

The World Horror Convention is an annual gathering of professionals in the horror industry; publishers, authors, artists, musicians, filmmakers, dealers and, of course, horror fans. WHC serves as both an industry insider’s networking event and a chance for fans of the genre to get together, meet some of the creative talents in the field, and generally spend a weekend celebrating All Things Scary.

Visit our guests at:
Sarah Langan: http://www.sarahlangan.com
Joe R. Lansdale: http://www.joerlansdale.com
Brian Keene: http://www.briankeene.com

For more information please contact Nate Southard at natesouthard@gmail.com or Lee Thomas at leethomas1@aol.com.

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