My home life is still…complicated. My kid’s headaches are still out of control and the weeklong treatment at UCSF in January only seems to have made things worse. Getting away to FogCon last weekend was the first break I’ve had in months.
The Horror Writers Association event that I hosted went pretty well. Most of our audience were writers, so I talked about StokerCon, the promotions the HWA has done, the upcoming anthology, and the weird truth that horror writers are among the nicest people I’ve ever met.
Then E. M. Markoff read from her prequel to The Deadbringer. I followed her by reading two of the ghost stories from 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die. She read a lovely, atmospheric bit of The Deadbringer. I read the bloody bit of “Valentine,” one of the Alondra stories in my Alondra’s Experiments chapbook.
I’d prepared a bit of The Dangerous Type, too, but it seemed like too much, so we ended the event early.
Directly afterward was the Broad Universe RFR, hosted by Rebecca Gomez Farrell. Each of us read a 5-minute excerpt in two rounds, so the evening moved along quickly. Becca read a short called Hobgoblin, followed by a taste of her novel Wings Unseen. Liz Green read two pieces from her novel 11/11. Sarah Grey read from her story “The Ballard of Marisol Brook,” which was published in Lightspeed. (You can read it here.) L.S. Johnson read from her collection Vacui Magia (I think — I forgot to write it down!).
I read the initial seduction from Lost Angels, which was fun. I haven’t read enough of that book live. In the second round, I read the beginning of “Catalyst,” another Alondra story from Alondra’s Experiments.
We adjourned to the bar, but one glass of pinot noir chased me off to bed at midnight.
I spent the morning lazing luxuriantly around the hotel room, editing interviews for this blog, working on my next HWA column (I’m swapping with Rena Mason for the April issue, so I want it to be good), and picking at a new Alondra story. Mostly, I enjoyed a selfish morning where I didn’t need to nurse or worry.
After a great lunchtime conversation with James Beach, I ran down to the Dealers Room. Jude from Borderlands asked me to sign the copies of 199 Cemeteries she had on hand, which is always a great feeling.
Then it was time for the Strange California reading. I didn’t get the initial invitation to it, so I asked at the last minute if I could join. I’m so glad I was able to! Co-editor J. Daniel Batt outlined the Kickstarter process, talked about the editing, and threw out some fascinating questions.
Juliette Wade read her charming children’s story, “If It Were Meant to Last.” Laura Blackwell rocked a segment of “The One Thing I Can Never Tell Julie.” Marion Deeds read a taste of “Magpie’s Curse,” a Russia-flavored fairy tale that was my favorite story in the book. K. A. Rochnik read the start of “The Panther Lady’s Incredible True Tale of Horror,” which I love because it captures the flavor of the Bela Lugosi version of The Island of Dr. Moreau. I read, then Marion read the beginning of Ezzy Languzzi’s “Naranjas Immortales,” a story about migrant workers and blood-thirsty elder gods. Then Chaz Brenchley came up out of the audience to perform the beginning of his story, “Uncanny Valley.”
I was glad I didn’t go last. I read the necromancy scene from “Guardian of the Golden Gate,” which isn’t the grimmest in my attempt to grapple with all the suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge, but still was the darkest moment of the reading. People laughed at Clement and his Ninja motorcycle, so that was good. And I remembered to put a trigger warning in my introduction, so that was good, too. I didn’t notice anyone leaving, but I would have totally understood it.
After the reading, I was relieved that someone else suggested we sign each other’s books, because I really wanted to ask that, but was too shy.
I really hope we get together again to read at Borderlands or WorldCon.
After the reading broke up, I was feeling guilty, so I headed home. Still, getting 24 hours away recharged me. It was great to catch up with my friends and meet people whose work I am deeply inspired by. I was really grateful to be able to share some of Alondra’s stories with audiences that seemed to enjoy them. Those stories have been living in my head for so very long.