This past weekend, I attended a horror convention in Williamsburg, Virgina called Scares That Care! It revolves around all things horror: movies, books, artwork, memorabilia, crafts, etc. It included a rather impressive haunted house for the small space they had to work with, panels, Q&As with special guests, and performances. It was a blast. And it was all for a good cause. Scares That Care! is a charity founded in 2006 that raises money for sick children and families in need.
If you haven’t been to a pop-culture themed convention before, you need to go. The atmosphere is energized and fun, there is a distilled enthusiasm and passion among the crowd for whichever subset of fandom the convention you attend is for–in this case horror. Just walking around the convention will put you in a good mood.
I met three authors I want to tell you about. As you may guess, they all write horror. The first two were set up in large rooms at their personal table/booth, which was situated among a bunch of other writers.
Adam Cesare was the first author I spoke to. He was extremely approachable and offered a lot of helpful advice on the writing industry. His books really caught my eye: they had cool covers and the stories had fun and intriguing concepts. I picked up The Summer Job, which is about a college graduate who is uncertain about her next move in life, so she takes a summer job at a hotel. There, she becomes entangled in the sinister activities of a cult and a group that opposes them. I also got Exponential, which is about four colorful characters that become trapped in a bar with a monster that is continually growing larger trying to get inside. I couldn’t resist and started reading it at the convention. These were just the two that jumped out at me the most, but all of his books seemed very interesting and fun.
The second author I talked to was Kevin Lucia, and I picked up his book Through A Mirror, Darkly. It’s a collection of four novellas, all stand-alone tales but centered around the same small town and filled with mystery, dread, menace, secrets, and ancient evils. There seemed to be a cool sinister vibe among what I heard him tell of his stories, and I look forward to starting this book. The cover is great, too.
The third author, Nicole Cushing, I didn’t find at a vendor table but stumbled upon a reading she did of her new book Mr. Suicide. It’s about a very troubled child, and the dark desires people experience which are taboo to have in civilized society. Regarding another book she has, Mirrors, she actually gave us Advanced Read Copies (ARCs) of it. ARCs are basically almost done versions of the book. Mirrors is a collection of short stories with titles such as “The Suffering Clown” and “The Truth, as Told by a Bottle of Liquid Morphine.” So it should be very interesting.
There’s a lot of positives should you should check out readings and panels at a convention: hearing the author read from their new book, getting a behind-the-scenes look at their writing and publishing process, being able to ask questions and converse with them, possibly getting free stuff, getting your book signed, and just being exposed to books you never heard about.
There were a ton of writers I didn’t get a chance to talk with, of course. There’s a lot to do and see at these conventions. If you do go to one—it does not have to be horror of course—definitely talk with the authors. Every time I have, they have been very gracious and approachable. And the background they tell you about the book is fascinating: how they came up with the idea, how family or friends pushed them to finish it, the ups and downs of getting it published, who and what influenced them. It’s really great.
And if you pick up their books and end up liking them, giving them a good review online—Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, etc. It goes a long way to directly help them. It’s very cool that as a fan, you can directly have a positive hand in an author’s career. The reader is a vital component to books after all.
Obviously, I had a great time, and I’m pretty sure you will to if you go to one of these. So, whether you are a fan, creator, or just an innocent spectator, you must experience a convention of the pop-culture variety.
I’m Michael, and I love reading, writing, all things books, and attending conventions.