NecronomiCon Returned to Providence this Past Weekend

by Jason Harris

2013-08-24 06.55.52It has been a number of years since the city of Providence has celebrated the life and work of H.P. Lovecraft with the convention, NecronomiCon. It was expected to have about 1200 people attend, convention director Niels Hobbs said. The convention ran from Thursday, August 22, through Sunday, August 25 and took place at the Providence Biltmore.2013-08-23 20.21.27

Putting on a convention is a huge undertaking and the organizers did a great job. The only noticeable problem was the program wasn’t available at the start of the convention. They arrived a few hours later. The printer should have had them delivered at the beginning of the month, a volunteer at the registration table said.

The registration table.

The registration table.

The convention was spread throughout Providence at eight different locations, Hobbs said. There were art shows, gaming, and movies being shown. There were events of all types for Lovecraft fans. There were also panels and readings throughout the weekend.

The Cinematic Lovecraft panel

The Cinematic Lovecraft panel

Author Alan Dean Foster

Author Alan Dean Foster

There were also a lot of vendors on the registration floor and on the 18th floor of the Biltmore. Vendors included publishers, writer organizations, and artists.

Sam Merritt and Mark Marine of Double Vision Embroidery.

Sam Merritt and Mark Marine of Double Vision Embroidery.

You can check out the Double Vision Embroidery Facebook page here.

Sculptor Larry Elig

Sculptor Larry Elig

You can check out Elig’s work here.

H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft

2013-08-23 01.36.50

A part of the New England Horror Writers' table.

A part of the New England Horror Writers’ table.

You can check out the New England Horror Writers (NEHW) here.

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's table.

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s table.

2013-08-23 01.32.01

The TempleCon table.

Cinema Knife FIght writer Barry Dejesu holding a Crocheted Cthulhus from the NEHW table.

Cinema Knife FIght writer Barry Dejasu holding a Crocheted Cthulhus from the NEHW table.

Authors David Cassenti and Laura Hickman behind the NEHW table.

Authors David Cassenti and Laura Hickman behind the NEHW table.

The Tandy Leather Factory table.

The Tandy Leather Factory table.

The Tandy Leather Factory is located in East Hartford, Connecticut. Check them out here.2013-08-23 23.45.06

The Hippocampus Press table.

The Hippocampus Press table.

The offerings at the NEHW table.

The offerings at the NEHW table.

The Fedogan & Bremer Publishing table

The Fedogan & Bremer Publishing table

The Catalyse Studios table

The Catalyse Studios table

A.S. Koi is a writer, painter, writer, and owner of Catalyse Studios. Her first book, Tribes of Heaven: Honor & Sacrifice, took Koi 15 years to complete it, she said. She has three planned in the series, but it will probably be four since that’s what is needed for the proper conclusion of the story. The second book in the series will be released in January of 2014.

2013-08-23 23.52.45

Joe Broers Miskatonic Valley Ravenswood Studios.

Joe Broers Miskatonic Valley Ravenswood Studios.

Joe Broers' products.

Joe Broers’ products.

You can check out Broers other sculptures here.

The Cryptocurium table.

The Cryptocurium table.

You can check out the Cryptocurium merchandise here.

NEHW members Barry Dejasu and Scott Goudsward (both standing) and Laura Hickman and Jan Kozlowski (both sitting) at the NEHW table.

NEHW members Barry Dejasu and Scott Goudsward (both standing) and Laura Hickman and Jan Kozlowski (both sitting) at the NEHW table.

If you missed this year’s convention, there will be one in 2015. Stay tuned to it’s website for information.

A Newbie Shares His Experiences of NECON 33

by Nicholas Conley

 

NEHW member Nicholas Conley holding his book, "The Cage Legacy."

NEHW member Nicholas Conley holding his book, “The Cage Legacy.” Photo by Jason Harris.

For writers, the process of actually writing a book is one of the most painfully brutal tasks imaginable.  It’s a meticulous, painstaking, heart-stopping (and often heartbreaking) procedure that truly changes a person.

See, once the plucky creative-minded person decides that he or she has aspirations to become (of all the things in the world) a writer … and once that foolish, foolish person decides to embark on the god-awful,  painful task of writing a book, well … that creative person quickly becomes wrapped up in his or her own world.  And inside that world, it often seems like the only thing you’re working toward is that last page, that final period.

Once you finish the book, you’ll be done, right?   The world will just end, won’t it?  Everything will be complete! Your life is finished!

No, not quite.

As it turns out, completing your book isn’t the end of the story.  No, not by a long shot.  Now that your work is out there – now that this collection of inner demons that you’ve been carrying around in your head is finally out in the world, and it’s available for people to read — now, it’s time to get YOURSELF out there.  It’s time to meet people, form new friendships and make new connections.  You’ve done the introverted part, and you did it well — but now, it’s time to gather up your extroverted energies and, uh … mingle.

But … mingling?  How are a bunch of socially awkward WRITERS suppose to MINGLE?

See, this is why going to fiction/horror/comic etc. conventions can be difficult, but it’s also why the good conventions are so much fun.  Conventions force all of us introverted writers, artists and other creative types to get to know each other and interact.  Above all else, these conventions force us to get out of our writing shells.

0719131219a

Photo by N. Conley.

This is also why NECON (short for the Northeastern Writers Conference) is by far the most entertaining, lively and just plain entertaining convention I’ve ever had the opportunity to attend. Yes, it certainly features a smorgasbord of genre authors, artists and publishers, as well as plenty of enthusiastic genre fiction fans. But what makes NECON unique is that, really, it’s a surprisingly small, personal con; within a few hours, it’s as if you’ve known everyone there for years.

At NECON, the walls are down. It’s a highly casual affair, wherein all the big names (for example: Jack Ketchum, F. Paul Wilson, Kealan Patrick Burke, Christopher Golden, Brian Keene, etc.), small names and middling names are all on equal ground, and everyone freely interacts with one another. Everybody shares beers, trades corny jokes and gets to discuss their passions. Throughout my NECON experience, if there was one thing I heard quoted over and over again, it was this:

“Necon isn’t just a con, it’s a family.”

Yes, that’s definitely the feeling that one gets from attending. It doesn’t feel like a conference at all. Really, it just feels like a family reunion – the good kind, the kind where everyone cheerfully pokes fun at each other and catches up on what they’ve been doing for the last year.

0719131519

Photo by N. Conley.

For genre writers, the Northeastern Writers Conference in Rhode Island is something you hear a lot about, and always in highly enthusiastic tones. Put on every year by the Booth family, including founder Bob Booth (who is affectionately referred to as Papa Necon). Booth is a truly inspirational figure; currently battling lung cancer. Bob and his family’s perseverance is absolutely amazing to see.

NECON is the Booth family’s baby, and what a creation it is; most people I’ve spoken to refer to NECON as “the best con,” or “the only con I go to every year,” and now that I’ve attended, I can definitely understand why.

(Before we move on, allow me to insert an embarrassing side note and a tip: Yes, NECON is pronounced Knee-Con, not En-E-Con, Neck-on and definitely not Neeh-Cone. This seems obvious, but I’ll admit I actually made sure not to say Knee-Con out loud until I’d heard someone else say it first. Oh, the shame, the shame…)

Now, how did my weekend get started?

Okay, so I made the two-hour drive down from New Hampshire on Thursday afternoon. Immediately upon opening the doors, the welcoming nature of the whole event was made extraordinarily apparent. Once I got my badge, collected my bearings and started emptying all the empty candy/chips/highly-stereotypical-road-snack wrappers out of my bag, I was immediately greeted by Mark Angevine and artist Duncan Eagleson, both of whom did a terrific job at explaining everything, telling me the history of Camp Necon and showing me around. Seriously, I really can’t emphasize enough how great these guys were; I enjoyed many intriguing conversations with both of them throughout the weekend. From there, Mark offered me a cup of coffee – very, very strong coffee. I got the pleasure of enjoying a brief demonstration of his talented musical abilities, in particular his undeniable skill at playing the shakuhachi, an ancient Japanese end-blown flute.

From there, I met up with Scott Goudsward of the New England Horror Writers, a great guy who really does an admirable job at organizing all of these group events. There was a whole slew of NEHW members all over NECON, so all of us got to freely navigate throughout the convention. Sometimes at the table, sometimes at the panels or sometimes just walking around, you could always spot an NEHW member somewhere. Among those in attendance were Charles Day (The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief), Bracken McLeod (Mountain Home), Tracy L. Carbone (Restitution), David Price (Dead in the USA), Kristi Petersen Schoonover (Bad Apple), Michael Arruda (In the Spooklight), Eric Dimbleby (The Klinik) and Scott and Trisha Wooldrige (UnCONventional), as well as Jason Harris and Stacey Longo Harris, owners of the horror-themed Connecticut bookstore Books and Boos, which I’ll be doing a reading at on August 24.

Now, NECON is a four-day event , so naturally, there’s an enormous amount of great moments to talk about. However, since I’m far too aware of my own tendency to turn every article into a novel-length work (yes, I’m one of those guys, ugh), I’m going to force myself to whittle this down into a neat, tidy, manageable length. To accomplish this daunting task, I’m going to write out a concise list of highlights:

Rick Hautala

Rick Hautala

1. The Rick Hautala memorial.  Rick, who was famously known as “Maine’s other horror writer,”  was the author of over 30 novels and short stories; his recent death this past March was an enormous shock to many in the literary community. As a regular attendee of NECON – an event that was, according to his close friends, “Rick’s Christmas,” – most of the first night of NECON 33 was devoted to a moving tribute of the man and his work. Touching speeches were given by many of Rick’s friends and loved ones, including Christopher Golden and Rick’s wife, Holly Newstein Hautala. I’m sorry to say that I only had the opportunity to meet Rick once, back at Anthocon 2012. However, even in my limited interactions with him, Rick’s kindness and generosity were truly remarkable, especially for someone who so many young horror writers (myself included!) have looked up to for so many years; he was truly one of a kind. Rest in peace, Rick.

2. For the next highlight, going back to speeches; I can’t go without mentioning that every speech given by Mike Myers and Rio Youers was absolutely gut-bustingly hilarious. Great job, guys.

3. The Hawaiian shirt contest! Ridiculous as it might sound, this was totally one of my most anticipated events of the weekend. Since I consider myself to be something of a Hawaiian shirt connoisseur (and with that, the crowd groans), I was excited to give this a whirl. As it was, my shirt – a white and red number – placed in third, winning me a set of googly eyes. I was happy with third place, since my fellow top fivers (including the winner, Barry Dejasu) had some really terrific shirts. My personal favorite was probably Errick Nunnally’s Spider-Man number, which displayed almost all of the major Amazing Spider-Man issues of the last fifty years.

4. “That Damn Game Show,” hosted by Craig Shaw Gardner and Doug Winter. This is the sort of event that could only happen at NECON; a relentlessly silly “game show” with a head-smacking number of “simple rules.” Truly, an enormous amount of fun.

5. The artists’ reception – complete with coffee! – where everyone got to chance to spend some time exploring all of the amazing art pieces at the show, and discussing them with the artists themselves. Artists in attendance included Jill Bauman, Caniglia, Stephen Gervais and the aforementioned Duncan Eagleson. Overall, I probably spent the most time speaking with him. Duncan is an exceptionally interesting guy with a lot of great insights, as well as being a truly remarkable artistic talent; his Lovecraftian “Homo Avis” piece was absolutely fascinating.

6. …and finally, the courtyard! Why the courtyard? Because when it comes down to it, those nights in the courtyard – the long, late nights spent drinking an ocean of alcoholic beverages, chatting with friends and eating saugies – are truly where the warm, beating heart of NECON becomes most alive. The friendly, even affectionate atmosphere of the whole event is truly something special.

Photo by N. Conley.

Photo by N. Conley.

Special. That’s what NECON is, really — special.

And this, right here – right when I’m beginning to really, really enjoy reminiscing about what an amazing time NECON 33 was – is where I’m going to cut myself off, before I go into the aforementioned novel length territory. I’m already sailing ahead at almost 2,000 words, so I’d say it’s time to call it a night.

But in all seriousness, I just want to thank everyone who organized, contributed and attended NECON this year for creating an absolutely extraordinary event, one which even a “NECON newbie” like myself will never forget. Necon doesn’t just live up the hype, it surpasses it. There’s no other con like it, and I guarantee that I’m going to make a point to come back.

Pictures from Anthocon II

Pictures from Anthocon II

by Jason Harris

Half of author Jan Kozlowski and author Scott Goudsward.

Photobucket

Writers Stacey Longo, Andrew Wolter, and Barry Dejasu.

Photobucket

Artist Danny Evarts and editor Mark Wholley.

Shock Totem staff Sarah Gomes and K. Allen Wood at the Shock Totem table.

Author Rob Watts.

Author Gregory L. Norris.

Authors Stacey Longo, David Price, Craig D.B. Patton and Dave Goudsward.

The Goudsward brothers.

Author Tracy L. Carbone.

Authors Peter Dudar, L.L. Soares, and Scott Goudsward.

Author G. Elmer Munson (right) waits on a fan whose looking at the books on the NEHW table.

NEHW members Matt Bechtel and T.J. May talking.

Author Jack Haringa.

Writer Barry Dejasu.

Authors K. Ken Wood and Robert J Duperre behind the Shock Totem table.

NEHW members Stacey Longo, Tracy Carbone, Barry Dejasu, and Scott Goudsward.

Author T.T. Zuma (a.k.a. Tony Tremblay).

Author Stacey Longo.

Authors Bracken MacLeod and Andrew Wolter.

Author K. Allen Wood.

Author Kevin Lucia.

Authors Errick A. Nunnally and Stacey Longo.

 

Author Reading at The Brown University Bookstore

Author and New England Horror Writer member Paul Tremblay will be reading from his newest novel, Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye, this Wednesday at the Brown University Bookstore.

Tremblay’ Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye was published last month by Chizine Publications. According to Cinema Knife Fight writer Barry Lee Dejasu, who also works in customer service at the Brown University Bookstore,  describes Tremblay’s book as a “strange, dystopian novel, [where] a man fulfilling his six-year time at Farm learns that his mother has dropped out of contact back in City and he begins a personal journey to try and find out just what happened to her.”

According to Amazon, “join Farm today! It’s only six years of your life! Farm is the mega-conglomerate food supplier for City, populated with rabidly bureaucratic superiors, antagonistic and sexually deviant tour guides dressed in chicken and duck suits, and farm animals illegally engineered for silence. City is sprawling, technocratic, and rests hundreds of feet above the coastline on the creaking shoulders of a giant wooden pier. When the narrator’s single mother, whom he left behind in City, falls out of contact, he fears the worst: his mother is homeless and subsequently to be deported under City to the Pier. On his desperate search to find his mother, he encounters ecoterrorists wearing plush animal suits, an election that hangs in the balance as the City’s all-powerful Mayor is infatuated with magic refrigerators and outlaw campaigns, and a wise-cracking, over-sexed priest who may or may not have ESP, but who is most certainly his deadbeat dad. Whether rebelling against the regimented and ridiculous nature of Farm life, exploring the all-too-familiar and consumer-obsessed world of City, experiencing the all-too-real suffering of the homeless in Pier, or confronting the secrets of his own childhood, Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye’s narrator is a hilarious, neurotic, and rage-filled Quixote searching for his mother, his own dignity, and the meaning of humanity.”

Tremblay, who lives outside of Boston, is the author of the novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland. He has also authored the short story collections Compositions for the Young and Old and In the Mean Time, two novellas, and his essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times,  Five Chapters.com, and Best American Fantasy 3. He is the co-editor of four anthologies including Creatures: Thirty Years of Monster Stories (with John Langan).

Check out Tremblay’s website by clicking here.

The reading starts at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 12, at The Brown University Bookstore, which is located at 244 Thayer Street in Providence, RI  02912. The store’s phone number is  (401) 863-3168 if you have any questions.

More Pictures from Necon 32

More Pictures from Necon 32

by Jason Harris

Author and NEHW member Peter N. Dudar getting ready to bowl at Dudek Bowling Lanes in Warren, Rhode Island.

NEHW member Barry Dejasu watches as fellow member Jason Harris bowls. Photo by Stacey Longo.

Writer Sheri Sebastian-Gabriel with a look on her face like a deer caught in headlights. Photo by Stacey Longo.

Author Peter N. Dudar (A Requiem for Dead Flies). Photo by Stacey Longo.

Author Peter N. Dudar (A Requiem for Dead Flies). Photo by Stacey Longo.

Necon campers from left to right: Peter N. Dudar, Steve Dorato, Barbara Gardner, and Sheri Sebastian-Gabriel. Photo by Stacey Longo.

A group shot of the bowling team bookended by its two cheerleaders. Photo by Jillian Booth.

Who Was That Masked Man? panel at Necon 32. From left to right, panelists Hank Wagner, John Mcllveen, Bob Booth, and Jack Haringa.

Who Was That Masked Man? panel at Necon 32. From left to right, panelists Hank Wagner, John Mcllveen, Bob Booth, and Jack Haringa.