In a couple of days I’ll be stepping on a plane and heading off to Brighton for a few days–I’m going to the World Horror Convention. I’ll be on a panel Thursday at 7 pm called “New Blood: The Next Generation of Horror” with Simon Kurt Unsworth, Steve Duffy, Gary McMahon, Michael Louis Calvillo, and Rio Youers.
I love traveling and I’m excited about being out in the world again, even if only for a few days, but I have grown to loathe flying, and it looks like the airline is going to reinforce that by squashing me into one of those horrific (in all the wrong ways) middle seats and starving me both coming and going. Such are the trials that penury forces upon us. This was meant to be a longer visit, and Derek was going to fly over and we were planning to spend a bit of time in London as well as visiting friends in Ireland and/or Germany, but that’s not going to work out this time; we’re doing our best to make that trip happen later this year, though.
The good news is that it is much easier to get to Gatwick Airport from Brighton than from London in the early morning hours, so I will not be sleeping at Gatwick this time (or ever again, for that matter).
I don’t really know anyone going to the con, so if you see me sitting off in a corner by myself intently studying the wallpaper patterns or the fabric of the chair I’m in, do come over and say hello if you’re inclined. In return for your friendly gesture, I shall attach myself to you, barnacle-like, for the remainder of the weekend, setting you free only when you duck into an opposite-sex bathroom (and out the window) or lie about a meeting with your agent, to which I will attempt to invite myself anyway. No, I kid. Seriously, I’m kidding. Well, not about not knowing many people or the saying hello part, but the rest of it.
In, again, all seriousness, I’m looking forward to this convention because the British horror scene in literature has meant a lot to me–not just that they buy my fiction over there while their American counterparts don’t, or because of their fine tradition of weird and ghost fiction that includes writers who mean so much to me, like Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood and Robert Aickman, but because at a time in my life when I was quite wee in writer’s years (that would be the 90s), I was reading a lot of horror, trying to feel my way around the contemporary field, and feeling like nobody out there (save for Ramsey Campbell, who was famous so he didn’t count) was writing the kind of horror I loved and that perhaps there wasn’t a place for me in the genre I’d grown up reading. And then I found a whole host of Brits who were writing this sort of fine-honed, urban existential-despair horror (to make a huge and probably unhelpful generalization), grounded in a gritty realism, in which you rarely, if ever, saw anyone’s guts fall out but put the story down chilled to the bone in a far more profound way. I’m not comparing myself; I have my own thing that I do (I don’t know really what it is, but it is a thing and I do it), but it opened up my imagination and cheered me (ironically, since I understand some folks were calling them “miserabilists”)–showed me that the genre was indeed capable of all the things I’d thought it capable of, and that it had both room and readers for any number of approaches.
So there was never really much question that I’d miss out on this convention, even if it is falling at not-the-best-time and necessitates only a quick trip over instead of the longer one I’d anticipated. I’m really looking forward to hearing some of the writers who filled my head with those awful, awful stories (I mean this in the best way!) read and speak, and to picking up some fiction by some newer writers as well. I’ve been out of the loop for the past few years and I think there’s been some exciting stuff happening in that time.
Next time I check in I’ll probably be cross the pond–see you then.