I gotta admit something; when I eagerly went to the first ever Crypticon here in Seattle back in 2009, I had a great time, but I didn’t honestly think there was ever going to be a second one. It seemed to me like the organizers had great intentions, but that they were biting off more than they could chew. They had a large space, wonderful guests, and a great vendor’s room, but the place felt a little deserted, so I felt they might have overestimated how much of a draw a horror convention was going to be here in the Pacific Northwest. Seemed like they’d spent a lot of money and effort on what looked like very little return, so I thought, well, at least they tried, and figured they would just go quietly into that good night.
Instead, I’m happy to say that I just attended their fourth convention, and instead of fading away, they are getting bigger and better every year.
The vendor’s room is still awesome and kind of overwhelming. I’m not big on autographs and I just flat out never know what to say to celebrities, so I just wandered through and kind of stared at Doug Bradley, Marilyn Burns, Don Coscarelli, James O’Barr and others with a kind of helpless longing, wishing I knew how to tell these people how much their work has shaped my life, simultaneously worried that anything I could say would be too effusive and yet somehow never, ever enough to express what I feel.
Fortunately, since I was quite pleased to once again be asked to be a panelist this year, my tongue loosened in time for my panels.
My first panel — well, first one I actually made it to, traffic had made me completely miss my Friday panel — was Publishing Horror Magazines in the Internet World, with Eloise J. Knapp of Z Magazine, James Beach of Dark Discoveries, and K.L. Young and Rick Tillman from Strange Aeons.
I couldn’t be late for this panel, because I was moderating it. I’ve moderated convention panels before, but this time I think I finally learned the trick of it — don’t just research the panel topic ahead of time, but also thoroughly research the people who are going to be on the panel, so that you can ask them questions that are actually relevant to their projects and their experience. It went really well, once I got past the heart-stopping moment at the beginning of the panel when I opened my mouth to ask my first question and realized that my brain had suddenly gone absolutely blank. Fun!
Immediately after that panel was Zombies Can’t Run & Vampires Don’t Sparkle: The Psychology of Why We Argue Over What Fictional Things Can Or Can’t Do, with Derek M. Koch, Eloise J. Knapp again, Jake Stratton, Chris Saint, and Steve Holetz. This was a topic we had a lot of fun with, although we drifted pretty far away from the question of why we do this and concentrated more on what does count as “real” zombie/vampire fiction and what works and what doesn’t. (I need to remember to bring pen and paper to these things — I’m sure I can’t recall even half of the great movie recommendations my fellow panelists were making.)
I learned two things about Crypticon’s audience at this panel, and I picked up on these same things at the other panels I attended as well — these people love zombies (that was practically all we talked about, with vampires coming in a distant second), and they hate “Twilight.” I mean, seriously. I definitely made my own share of snide comments about it, although I was quick to point out that while the “sparkly vampire” thing is inherently ridiculous, the impulse on Stephenie Meyers’ part to come up with a totally new explanation for vampires avoiding sunlight was a good impulse for a writer to have, even if we don’t like the resulting idea.
I attended several panels as an audience member, as well, although the only one that really stands out in my mind was the Blysster Press panel. Blysster Press is a “not-for-profit publisher,” and I found the panel intriguing enough that it definitely warrants a post of its own, so watch for that later this week.
The last panel I was on was Female Heroes in Horror, with Timothy W. Long, Jessica Meigs, Melinda Reeves, John Skipp, Morgue Anne Morrighan, and Lorelei Shannon, at 9:00pm. (Panels at Crypticon run a little later than most cons I’m used to. You people are night owls.) This one was also a lot of fun, with a very lively and enthusiastic audience. Also, I think I speak for practically everyone on the panel when I say we were pretty damn geeked-out and excited to be sharing the stage with John Skipp, who turns out to be hilarious in person.
All the people I talked to at the con were incredibly friendly and welcoming, there were people in great costumes and makeup wandering the halls, and I have to say, some of them were almost ridiculously attractive. So there’s that, too. There was a great little short film festival that I wish I’d seen more of, a room set up as a classic video game arcade, Phoenix Jones was there for no readily apparent reason, there were apparently some great parties going on at night that I was way too tired to attend — basically, what I’m getting at, is that in just four short years, this has really turned into a can’t-miss event. If you can make it, you gotta come by next year. I’ll see you there.
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Frank had walked away from the Games years ago, and wanted nothing more than a quiet life, no thoughts in his head except his own — but the past has a way of catching up to you ….
Free from May 23, 2012 through May 28, 2012! Download now »
This short story originally appeared in the collection “COUNTING FROM TEN,” available now.
If you’re a horror fan and you’re in the Seattle area, then you’re probably already planning on coming to CRYPTICON this next weekend, May 25th-27th, right? And if you’re a Seattle-area horror fan and you weren’t planning on going, what the hell are you waiting for?
The guest list includes Hellraiser‘s Doug Bradley, Phantasm‘s Don Coscarelli, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s Marilyn Burns, and many, many more. But enough about those guys — the important thing is, I’m gonna be there, for your stalking convenience. Here’s my schedule, come by and see me!
- Hollywood Laziness: Remakes, Re-imaginings, and Nothing Original
Friday, 5:00pm, Emerald Ballroom B
- Publishing Horror Magazines in the Internet World
Saturday, 1:00pm, Emerald Ballroom B
- Zombies Can’t Run & Vampires Don’t Sparkle: The Psychology of Why We Argue Over What Fictional Things Can Or Can’t Do
Saturday, 2:00pm, Emerald Ballroom B
- Female Heroes in Horror
Saturday, 9:00pm, Emerald Ballroom C
I’ve been getting Counting From Ten ready for a new edition — one to replace my dwindling stock of the original small-press edition, one that will be available both for the Kindle and via print-on-demand, so people will finally be able to order the damn thing via Amazon, instead of sending me money via PayPal and waiting for me to actually go to an actual Post Office. Pretty much a win/win situation.
I’ve been going over the text of the book — and, annoyingly, re-typing several of the stories, since I mysteriously seem to lack electronic versions of them — and doing a little light line-editing. Nothing serious. Catching a couple of typos that made it into the original edition. Tightening up the occasional word choice here and there, but mostly leaving it alone.
There are a couple of stories, though, where I’m seriously altering some of the details to bring the story up-to-date.
Mainly, it has to do with telephones. The book originally came out in 2004, and, well, things have changed since then. Here’s a for-instance: in a story entitled “The Catalog,” the lead character makes calls from his land-line phone, and at one point, from a pay-phone. Right now, I honestly don’t even know where I would go to find a pay-phone if my life depended on it.
In short, there are random details that make the stories feel like they were written in another time. Which, yeah, they were. But I had to ask myself — did I want to leave them that way?
Often, whenever someone goes back and changes something in their creative works before re-releasing them, it annoys me. I usually wish they had left well enough alone. (Case in point: Greedo shot first. End of discussion.) I would rather that creators knew when to leave well enough alone, and let a story be the product of its time.
But on the other hand — every time I tripped across something that now felt anachronistic, it jarred me a bit. I stopped and noticed it. In other words, it took me out of the story a little.
In any kind of editing, from a massive overhaul to a simple line-edit, there’s really only one question that should be paramount in the editor’s mind: What’s the best thing to do to tell the story?
And I finally decided that, in most cases, it didn’t matter to the story whether it took place in 2004 or 2012 — and if the fact that a detail made the story feel like it wasn’t taking place in the present day was at all distracting from the story itself, then out it goes. In the case of “The Catalog,” I gave the lead character a cell phone.
So that’s what’s going on with Counting From Ten — all the stories are getting pulled out, dusted off, squinted at in the sunlight, and sometimes getting a shiny new coat of paint before I put them back in the anthology.
What’s your take on updating stories vs. leaving them alone? What would you do?