Friday, April 6, 2012

World Horror Con Report, Part One

My bags were packed.  All deadlines met and turned in.  House immaculate. Writing Room clean and sparkly, left in the perfect state -- all I'd need to do upon my return home would be to fill out contracts and a back cover copy sheet for "Mason's Murder," my recent novella sale to MLR Press.  I woke well before dawn on Tuesday morning, the 27th of March for what would be an exciting kickoff to an eight-day adventure that would lead me through numerous states, almost across the entire country to celebrate, among other things, the publication of my monstrous collection of original short and long fiction, The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse: Twenty-Six Tales from the Terrifying Mind of Gregory L. Norris (Evil Jester Press). Ultimately, the plane and car rides would culminate in Salt Lake City, Utah for World Horror Con, a destination first discussed in November of 2011 at local, lovely Anthocon, a fledgling conference for genre writers held in my very own backyard.  After months of anticipation, I was ready to depart.  Manchester, NH to Newark, NJ.  A two-and-a-half-hour layover, then Newark to Chicago, IL.  Another two hours in Chicago, then on to Lincoln, NE where I would spend a few days with good pal Peter Giglio, EJP Senior Editor.  From there, a twelve-hour drive through Nebraska and Wyoming, then on to Salt Lake City.  A very long and circuitous route, yes, but an adventure, and I've had many in the past thirty-two years as a writer.

My last flight anywhere was in 2005 when, following a week on Kiawah Island, the plane did steep circles around LaGuardia Airport for an hour to deal with a traffic jam, leaving me swearing off that mode of travel for good (clearly, I reneged).  After my trip through security -- removing shoes, belt, and dignity -- I boarded my plane in Manchester for the relatively short flight to Newark.  En route, I dreamed of my upcoming Space:1999 novel project for August and September (my Big #1,000, which I hope to complete during the five-day writing retreat to Starr Island off the coast of New Hampshire).  For the first of my layovers, I nestled down in Newark and wrote some seven pages of a very old novella idea, "Golden Skull," starring the Martins -- Jonathan and Grace, a well-to-do couple of supernatural sleuths whose antics and adventures I first began writing while in high school.  This final installment in their series divides its time between Upstate New York, Seattle, and fictional Brackenridge, New Mexico.  I wasn't visiting New Mexico on my vast itinerary, but it seemed a fitting project to work on. I had a blast reuniting with them as I waited for my next leg of the trip.

The flight to Chicago was one step short of apocalyptic, akin to the pilot episode of the TV series Lost.  We hit turbulence somewhere east of Chicago unlike anything I have ever experienced -- so bad, in fact, that the young woman three rows up from me vomited across the back of the seat in front of her.  People screamed.  Though belted into my seat, my lower back suffered several jarring jolts that left me sore for days after.  Eventually, we made it to Terra Firma (Fox's late science fiction show Terra Nova played on the overhead screens during the flight).  Chicago to Lincoln.  I walked off the third plane of the day and met Peter Giglio, who had a copy of Muse waiting for me.  Long last, I held my beautiful offspring; the rest of that Tuesday was considerably more enjoyable.

Peter and I dined at an upscale chain called Noodles, where I enjoyed incredible Japanese noodles with seared steak, sprouts, broccoli, and cilantro (not an herb I was familiar with before) and took in the five p.m. showing of The Hunger Games, which I loved.  After a solid night's sleep, we spent our Wednesday writing (I worked on my new novel The Zoo and more of "Golden Skull") and forayed out and about, gathering supplies for the long drive west.  That night, we watched Eric Shapiro's brilliant feature film Rule of Three before lights out.  At four in the morning, we departed for Salt Lake City, crossing Nebraska through long miles of mist; Wyoming through equally long spells of stark yellow sunlight.  I saw antelope, tumbleweeds, buttes, and hundreds of miles of barren prairie broken up only by sagebrush and cattle fences.  It was a part of the world I'd only visited via photographs and I felt richer for the experience as a writer and human being.

(me and, clockwise, Peter Giglio, Rick Hautala, Holly Hautala
Hollie Snider, Marie Green.  Photo credit: Henry Snider)
We pulled into Salt Lake City just after five and began to connect with friends, old and new.  It was my absolute pleasure to greet Charles Day, EJP founder and all-around great guy, the Sniders (Henry, Hollie, and son Josh, who quickly earned my esteem for his wit, intelligence, and recent bragging rights to his first published writing credit, complete with paying contract!), Marie Green and her lovely daughter Kate, and the Hautalas -- legendary novelist Rick and his wife, Holly. Despite a hideous check-in at the WHC welcome table and a rushed kick-off ceremony in the main panel room, ten of us moseyed on foot to dinner at a local eatery, the Red Rocks Pub, where we were packed in like sardines but treated to a decent meal.  Even better was my long and wonderful conversation with Henry Snider, a true gentleman in this writing biz.  From there, it was back to the hotel on a sultry night.  While others departed to various con parties and meet-and-greets, I rode an elevator with the Hautalas up to the sixth floor, promising them I was off to snog my Muse.  I did for another few pages, then passed out, exhausted.  There was much more to follow in the days ahead and I desperately needed to recharge very depleted creative batteries.


  1. What an adventure! And there is more to come!

    That's awesome about the Sniders, I bet they are proud of their son Josh.

    I don't blame you for not wanting to fly. I hate heights as it is, and with the TSA pervs, I tend to not want anything to do with it. But at some point the TSA (thanks to the powers that be), will be feeling people up everywhere, from train-stations, to cruise lines. But seeing your baby handed to you by Pete, I'm sure made the trip worth it.

    Looking forward to part-two!

  2. Cracking post, Greg...enjoyed that. Thanks!