This weekend, I not only got Ramsey Campbell to sign that well-worn book, I took him and his wife Jenny to dinner on behalf of Hypericon, a Nashville Convention where he was the guest of honor.
Not only did I get to introduce the Campbell’s to one of my favorite barbecue restaurants — Jack’s Bar-B-Que — but afterwards, a group of us also took them downtown to the classic strip of honky tonk bars where country, rockabilly, folk and occasionally rock acts ply their tunes in bar after bar, with no cover.
Sitting next to Ramsey with Derek, the Dark/Goth/Horror track planner for Dragon*Con, while watching a country band jam on “Play That Funky Music White Boy” will live as one of the more surreal memories of my life, I suspect.
I actually first saw Ramsey several years ago at the World Horror Convention in Phoenix, but didn’t really get to talk to him at that time. Thanks to the more relaxing, quieter vibe at Hypericon, this time around we not only got to talk and have dinner, we ended up essentially interviewing each other the next morning, when it turned out that we were the only two panelists on the panel about “Developing Mood and Atmosphere in Fiction.”
It was there that Ramsey told one of the more fascinating stories I’ve heard from an author — of how he actually could read at the age of 18 months, and because of this premature talent, ended up scaring himself sleepless for many nights with an illustrated children’s story that he later sought out as an adult for years in bargain shops until he found an old used copy that he said still gave him the creeps.
But not only did I get the chance to get to know Ramsey Campbell a bit, I also got to talk about fiction “Inspirations” with Sherrilyn Kenyon and David Jack Bell, and did a reading late on Saturday night with Brian Hatcher where I read the prologues of my current novel THE 13TH, and the upcoming SIREN.
The reading actually interrupted another highlight of the con: this year I joined forces with Bryan Smith and his wife Rachael Wise to throw a “Blades, Babes, Booze and Barbecue” bash, riffing off the “girls with knives” covers of our books THE 13TH and THE KILLING KIND.
I brought in some cole slaw, pork, beef (and lots of sauce) from (where else) Jack’s for the bash, as well as a good bottle of Maker’s Mark, while Bryan and Rachael handled the room and beer and Mystery Science Theatre 3000 setup.
Sunday morning came far too fast, as it always does at a con. By lunchtime I was packed up and starting down the long road home (it’s a good 8-9 hour drive from Nashville to Chicago with rest stops).
Along the way of the weekend, I got to catch up a bit with some other old friends like Jason Sizemore, Elizabeth Donald, Alethea Kontis and David Jack Bell and met some new ones, in particular novelist Eric Wilson, who joined Derek and me for a long discussion of e-books and the music industry (yes, there is a correlation) after my signing on Saturday afternoon.
All in all, it was a great con!
Here are a couple other photos from the weekend:
– Thanks to everyone who contributed photos!
Last Saturday, when I got home from taking my son Shaun to his first Chicago Cubs game (where my Cubbies trounced arch enemies the St. Louis Cardinals!) I found a box sitting on the porch from Delirium Books.
I cracked the tape open to find a stack of my new mini-hardcover short story collection CREEPTYCH. A three-story collection of “buggy” stories, this book is close to my heart, as it resuscitates the mothballed Delirium hardcover chapbook format (which my novelette FAILURE launched four years ago) and it includes a couple of stories that have been with me awhile, along with a brand new piece that is actually the setup for a novel I hope to write one of these days.
The books turned out great, and I really love the heavy gloss that the press put on the covers — they’re shinier than the past Delirium chaps… a really nice production all the way around. I’ve got a dozen of these to sell to my mailing list or at booksignings, and Delirium still has about that many left for The Horror Mall, so if you want a copy and haven’t ordered one yet, get thee to the Horror Mall, or drop me an email at email@example.com and we’ll get one in your hands!
Tomorrow I’m driving down with copies of CREEPTYCH to Nashville to guest at Hypericon, a relaxing (not Hyper!) SF/F/H convention that I first went to last year. Nashville has quickly become one of my favorite towns, and I can’t wait to get back to Jack’s Barbecue (I ate there three days in a row last year) and that smoky little rockabilly club out on the honky tonk strip (whose name I can never remember.) I need a standup bass in my life again!
While I’ll miss not having pal P.S. Gifford at this year’s con to hang out with (see the summary post and pix from last year’s con) , I’m really looking forward to returning to Hypericon this year, especially since I’ll have the chance to meet Ramsey Campbell there, and will also be hosting a room party with fellow Leisure Books author Bryan Smith on Saturday night. Bryan and I both have books out right now featuring babes and blades on the covers, so it seemed natural to pair those with a beer and barbecue bash. I’ve pasted the party poster (sans room # and time yet, still to be decided) at right… click on it to see a bigger version.
I’m bringing the Bourbon and the Jack’s Barbecue, so let the sauce roll…