The Toronto Horror Irregulars

The Leavings - after Gord Rollo, Sephera Giron, James Roy Daley and Colum McKnight met.HORROR WRITERS ARE a strange, rare and wonderfully twisted breed.

Ten years ago, I attended my first World Horror Convention in Denver — a total newbie. I didn’t have a book released, and didn’t know anybody in the genre, really, except through e-mail. But I met people there over the course of one weekend that I still call friends today. I think I first met Sephera Giron there. I met Gord Rollo at a World Horror Con a few years later. I probably saw them both last at World Horror Con in Toronto back in 2007, the very same convention where I signed my mass market deal with Leisure Books to issue Covenant and Sacrifice. Ironically, I’m in Toronto again for the first time since then just a few weeks after Leisure Books killed the mass market horror line that all three of us published novels on.

A lot of water and a couple books  have passed over or under the bridge since WHC 2007, and here we are today. I’ve been in Toronto this week on a business trip, and just before I came, I put out the word to the couple people I knew in the area here that I’d be in town. The next thing I knew, a few hours after my plane landed, I was on a tour of the Rue Morgue Magazine “House of Horrors” courtesy of managing editor Monica Kuebler, another horror writer who I’ve met at conventions. Talk about an amazing place to work — Rue Morgue Magazine is put together in a renovated funeral parlor/mortuary, with one room of “pews” where funeral viewings once took place now serving as a film screening room. All of the building’s walls are covered in horror movie posters and memorabilia, and they even sit above a basement where the remnants of a crematorium remain. What better place to produce the premiere magazine of horror?

Monica and I had a great dinner at a little Thai place down the street on Wednesday night, catching up. Then on Thursday, I had dinner with Colum McKnight, a writer and reviewer who founded www.paperbackhorror.com. He’s been amazingly supportive of my work, and it was awesome to meet and talk with him for an evening without the usual push-and-pull of “horror convention” events breaking up the time.

Finally tonight, I’d asked Gord  if he wanted to come on out and have a beer and catch up. We’ve both been caught up in the uncertainty of the current Leisure Books situation, and have talked a lot on email over the past couple years since we last saw each other.

Gord came out to my hotel tonight armed not only with Newcastle (in cans?!?!) and Alexander Keith’s IPA, but with Sephera, and Colum and writer and editor James Roy Daley of Books of the Dead Press in tow. Roy gave me, I think, the very first copy of Best New Zombie Tales Vol. 2 hot off the press since it includes my story “Camille Smiled”… which is pretty damn cool. He also paid me in Canadian cash, which is just as good as money. Or so he told me.

The bunch of us talked music and horror and strange life events and more in my hotel, well armed with beer thanks to Gord, and then decamped to a jazz club for dinner and occasionally acerbic music commentary about the band, but finally had to split up to get the sleep needed to deal with a soon-to-come Monday morning work day.

Naturally, despite having cellphone cams and my own real camera – none of us thought to actually snap a shot of the gathering! So I shot the above picture of the things “left behind”.

Five hours and many beers later, all I can say is that I’m proud to be a horror writer as much for the people I know in this genre as for what I’ve written. The friendship of the people I’ve met over the past 10 years has made me happier than any writing accolade I’ve received. So Gord, Seph, Roy, Colum and Monica – thanks for making a Chicago kid feel at home in Toronto. You guys are the best!

I hope this will not be the only meeting of the Toronto Horror Writer Irregulars!

About John Everson

John Everson is a Bram Stoker Award-winning horror author with more than 100 published short stories and 10 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 tenth novel, The House By The Cemetery, was released in October 2018.

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