HorrorHound 2022: The Weekend They Returned

Krystyna Cole Ratliff and John Everson

TALK ABOUT AN AMAZING weekend. HorrorHound 2022 in Cincinnati was outstanding. I have been to shows with more people (DragonCon, Wizard World) but never a show with more engaged people. Horror fans were glad to be back at their spring convention, and it showed. From the time HorrorHound opened on Friday afternoon until the last hour before it closed on Sunday, I was talking to people most of the day. It was my most successful convention ever in terms of both book sales and just talking to cool people!

I have done the HorrorHound Indianapolis show for years, but last September was the first time I went to their larger Cincinnati event — mainly because they moved the Indy show to Cincy last fall. I’d always heard the usual Cincy March show was huge, but all of the vendors I talked to agreed that last month’s convention was the biggest ever. So it was the perfect place to debut Five Deaths for Seven Songbirds, which arrived in bookstores just a couple days prior to the convention!

I headed down on Thursday, since with the time change between Chicago and Cincinnati, it’s a 6-hour trip.  Plus, I wanted to stop at Newport on the Levee, where I used to do a lot of booksignings at the Barnes & Noble and hang out at the Hofbrauhaus, back in my Leisure mass market paperback book tour days.

I hit the Hofbrauhaus mid-afternoon on Thursday and it was a very welcome return. It felt smaller than I remembered, but the sausages and sauerkraut were just as good as I remembered. Maybe better! I ordered extra kraut and red ale!

I spent a couple pleasant hours there setting up a video on my laptop for the theme song I wrote and recorded for my new novel Five Deaths for Seven Songbirds. Once I was nearly done (I finished it and uploaded it to YouTube at the hotel later), I went out to walk the Levee for the first time in close to a decade.

Things were not quite the same.

COVID was hard on some of the places I remember there. My old Irish Pub along the river was shuttered, with a new brewpub taking up a fraction of the space at the front now. But most disturbing was when I walked up the steps expecting to see the familiar green logo of Barnes & Noble…

… and found a whitewashed half-empty building.

B&N, the anchor of the Levee, apparently pulled up stakes over a year ago. That was a bummer. I spent a lot of hours at that store a dozen years ago, driving down on weekends and doing Friday AND Saturday night signings while spending the afternoons of those weekends driving around to sign books at other stores and doing signings in Indianapolis and Florence, KY.

The times, they have a-changed.

A little more somber than before, I drove down to my hotel, checked in and finished my video before going out to Twin Peaks for a quick late dinner. Luckily that was the only sad part of the weekend!

Friday morning, I drove over to the nearby Waffle House and enjoyed one of my favorite things — jalapeno-peppered hashbrowns and an omelette, before setting up my booth at the convention center.

Once I had everything in place, I had a couple hours to kill before the show opened, so I hopped in the Mustang and headed to the outskirts of Cincinnati to discover Fifty West Brewing. I’d really enjoyed their IPA the last time I was in town and decided to check out the home base. I’m glad I did… the place is super cool with a very retro 50s look, a hamburger bar and it looks like it would be hopping spot in the summer with a huge outdoor beer garden.

I tried a couple things and brought back a couple sixpacks before diving into sociability for the rest of the weekend!

Over the next few hours, I talked to lots of people I had met at previous HorrorHounds, and met lots more. The evening flew by fast, and at 10 o’clock, the Synapse Films crew of Jerry Chandler, his daughter Noa and Sean Provost and I all headed over to the nearby BJ’s Brewhouse for a late, well-earned dinner.

Saturday went much the same — I hit Waffle House first-thing and settled in for a long day of chatter. So many cool horror fans and conversations made the day go by crazy fast!

We ended the day again with a Synapse dinner — but with a much expanded cast — at Synapse’s traditional Saturday night haunt — Vincenzo’s, an amazing Italian joint. Afterwards, Jerry and Noa and I decamped to Tim and Angie O’Saben’s room to talk and watch a classic Outer Limits episode.

On Sunday morning, I introduced Jerry and Noa to my Waffle House obsession before the con started. Yep… three days in a row for me!

And, then the doors opened and the hallways flooded with people! Other than a couple cool pennants featuring Robert Smith and David Bowie as The Goblin King from my booth neighbors (artist Matthew Lineham), I never ended up buying anything at the show because I almost never left my booth! Before I could believe it, it was 5 o’clock and I was pulling down my vinyl banners and packing up the few remaining books on my table to head out. Conventions always go fast, but this one flew, because I was busy talking most of the time.

I said my goodbyes, and headed up the road an hour and a half to Indianapolis to have a quick dinner at one of my favorite spots, the Yard House, before hitting the road for another three hours.

I wish I could remember half of the crazy conversations I had that weekend, but all I can really say is that it was a blast and I can’t wait until we do it all again in the fall! Until then, here are a few more pictures from Cincinnati, the floor of the Sharonville Convention Center and more!

About John Everson

John Everson is a Bram Stoker Award-winning horror author with more than 100 published short stories and 13 novels of horror and dark fantasy currently in print. His first novel, Covenant, won the Bram Stoker Award for a First Novel in 2005. His sixth novel, NightWhere, was a Bram Stoker Finalist in 2013. His latest novel, Five Deaths for Seven Songbirds, releases on March 22, 2022.

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