The World Horror Convention in Portland went pretty well for me. I didn’t come home with any new offers of work, but I didn’t go in expecting them either. Mostly, this con was about seeing and being seen. I had a list of people with which I wanted to hang out (because I’m just that maladjusted) and I managed to check most of them off.
Maybe the absolute highlight of the weekend happened entirely by accident. Since I couldn’t do my planned excursion on Thursday afternoon because of the weather, I switched gears and took the train downtown to Powell’s City of Books. I’d been to Powell’s once before, years ago, and all I remembered was that the bookstore was as big as a city block. Somehow I hadn’t realized it was also three stories tall.
I drifted from info desk to info desk, stalking cemetery books. After the initial disappointment that they didn’t have a cemetery shelf (or, better yet, a cemetery bookcase), I was still able to track down two lovely graveyard books that I didn’t already have and a book about funerals. The final information clerk directed me to their Extremities shelf — and what should I find there but Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues! They invited me to sign the copies they had. My day was entirely and completely made.
Back at the convention, I caught two readings over the weekend, both by Haunted Mansion survivors. Yvonne Navarro read a heart-rending story about enduring a Russian-engineered famine. I’m not going to guess at the title because I’ll get it wrong. Rain Graves read a bunch of poems from the soon-to-be Stoker Award-winning Four Elements. My favorite was about Medusa, with whom I closely identify. It’s the hair.
I read Friday afternoon, opposite Brian Keene receiving the Grand Master award. I dreaded that no one would show up, but I was really pleased with the turnout. It was great to see so many familiar faces — and so many unfamiliar ones. I read the first menage a trois from As Above, So Below, one of my favorite scenes with Tuan Nguyen (my favorite mortal in the book), and a couple of brief scenes from The Dangerous Type. It might have been a lot of jumping around for one reading, but it felt good to speak those words aloud.
Friday night I treated myself to the Beyond Bizarre ghost-hunting tour of Portland’s Old Town. We got to play with EMF meters, slink around some of the underground Shanghai tunnels, and walk into a spectacular early-20th century hotel. No ghosts were sighted, but we did stop for Voodoo Doughnuts, so there was magic.
The Smut, Gore, and More panel on Sunday morning went really well, too. I expected that there wouldn’t be many people there on Sunday, but the room was nicely full. It was a treat to share the panel with Lucas Mangum, Robert Devereaux, Tiffany Scandal (the first Suicide Girl I’ve been lucky enough to meet), and Dave Fitzgerald. It seemed like the audience divided neatly between the smut-peddlers and smut-consumers. They asked some great questions.
In amongst it all, I got to hang out with authors Dana Fredsti, S. G. Browne, E. S. Magill, John Palisano, Rain, Lucas, Kate Jonez, Jaime Johnesee, Lisa Mannetti, editors Paula Guran, Angel Leigh McCoy, and Ellen Datlow, photographer Beth Gwinn, artist Alan Clark, and a bunch of other people I’ve obviously forgetting.
The one thing I was really looking forward to — exploring Lone Fir Cemetery — almost didn’t happen. It was pouring rain on Thursday when I planned to go, so my ride begged off. Friday I was busy most of the day and the rain only let up in fits. It wouldn’t have been the first cemetery I’ve poked around in the rain. Saturday morning there was a tour scheduled, but I had to be back by noon for a panel I was on. I didn’t want to walk the two miles to get to the graveyard, then have to rush back. Finally, Sunday afternoon, the weather was glorious. I caught a cab with Kim Richards, publisher of the Haunted Mansion Project books, and we had a lovely afternoon. More about that adventure will be forthcoming on Cemetery Travel‘s Cemetery of the Week. Let’s just say the trip was the perfect ending to the weekend.