I’VE BEEN TO several Bram Stoker Award ceremonies over the years. I remember my first couple, in the early 2000s, felt very formal and a little stuffy (though that might have had more to do with me being a newbie to the field than the events themselves).
The last couple I went to were simply nerve-wracking for me, since I was a nominee. This year’s, however, was the best ever, as far as I’m concerned!
Hell – I got to stand next to one of my idols who inspired me to be a writer – Richard Matheson – and even met Doug Jones, the Faun from Pan’s Labyrinth, one of my favorite movies of the past 10 years!
The whole Stoker weekend was a great time, thanks to the amazing work put in by organizers Lisa Morton and John Little.
Bill Breedlove and I (with some help from Martel Sardina, Adam Pepper and Loren Rhoads) held down a “dealers table” for Dark Arts Books in the dealer’s room, and we debuted the presses’ latest book Mighty Unclean there, while at the same time selling many copies of Like a Chinese Tattoo, which was on the Bram Stoker Awards ballot for Best Anthology.
It was a tough category this year and ultimately Tattoo didn’t win – the very deserving Unspeakable Horrors did – but it really was an honor for our press to receive its first nomination. The full list of winners was:
NOVEL: DUMA KEY by Stephen King
FIRST NOVEL: THE GENTLING BOX by Lisa Mannetti
LONG FICTON: MIRANDA by John R. Little
SHORT FICTION: “The Lost” by Sarah Langan
FICTION COLLECTION: JUST AFTER SUNSET by Stephen King
ANTHOLOGY: UNSPEAKABLE HORROR edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Chad Helder
NONFICTON: A HALLOWE’EN ANTHOLOGY by Lisa Morton
POETRY COLLECTION: THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTION by Bruce Boston
The weekend started for me on Thursday, when I went out to the “reception-style” signing at Dark Delicacies Bookstore in Burbank, CA, where dozens of authors milled around chatting, drinking and occasionally signing some books. Someone brought me a stack of things to sign, including the anthologies Damned, Spooks!, Freaks, Geeks & Sideshow Floozies and Tourniquet Heart. It was pretty cool to see all those old books again.
It was great to see Del and Sue and the store again, and they sold the first copies of Mighty Unclean that night. And it was wonderful to see Alice Henderson again, who I haven’t seen in a couple years. On the opposite side of separation, I also got to hang out with P.S. Gifford for the second time in a week, since we were both guests at Hypericon the weekend before!
Afterwards, Bill and I caught a great Mexican dinner at an authentic joint on the corner before adjourning back to the hotel bar, where I talked with Larry Roberts from Bloodletting and RJ Cavender and Boyd Harris from Cutting Block about small press stuff.
On Friday at the Gauntlet Press Party, I talked with Nate Kenyon and hung out in the same room with Richard Matheson, and later that night heard Cody Goodfellow and John Skipp do a reading and F. Paul Wilson play drums while Heather Graham sang, at a party sponsored by Medallion Books.
I also got to catch up with Matt Schwartz from Shocklines, who I hadn’t seen in a couple years, and talked with Monica Kuebler, Kelly Laymon and Sephera Giron (the latter pictured below dancing to the all-star band).
Saturday was my busy day.
I did a video interview with Feo Amante, talked to an agent about a YA project, had a great lunch with my editor at Leisure Books, Don D’Auria, and then packed up the Dark Arts dealers table and went to the ’80s Party hosted by Unspeakable Horror where everyone was encouraged to wear feather boas. Damn, those things are scratchy!
Then I did the quick change into a suit and sat at the Leisure table for dinner and the Stoker awards, where Nate Kenyon and Goodfellow & Skipp kept the laughter coming all night.
After a good catchup with Maria Alexander, I hung at the after-Stoker room parties for a bit, until the hotel closed them down, and then spent the rest of the night in the hotel bar and, when that closed, lobby, with Bill Breedlove, Martel Sardina, Adam Pepper, Nate Kenyon.
At one point, our table also hosted Sephera Giron, Alexandra Sokoloff and Robert Fleck, and threatened to boil over into a war with the screenwriter hopefuls carousing at the next table. Thankfully, in the end, we showed some mild restraint and eventually, after splitting a sad last bottle of Heineken at 3:30 a.m., drifted back to the elevators.
The next morning, I was off to the airport early, so there were no drawn out goodbyes. It was a great weekend though. Here are some of the pictures (mostly from the Awards Ceremony).