I spent the past weekend in Portland, Oregon at the World Horror Convention.
I’m from New York, so the three-hour time difference kind of kicked my ass. And since I never really got off my East Coast time, I spent a lot of the weekend feeling like this:
Of course, my zombie-like state had nothing at all to do with this
This was my first World Horror, and it was fantastic. I sat in on some great panels, including one called Horror from the Page to the Silver Screen. Each panelist had a unique perspective on watching his or her words come to life, as well as on losing creative control. And, although at times, I’m sure they must have felt like this…
…each offered great thoughts on how to handle oneself professionally.
Another memorable panel was The Short Form, which dealt with how to write effective short horror stories.
Pro tip: Be scary.
Seriously though, the members of this panel dropped some amazing pearls of wisdom about how to begin a story and keep it captivating. The whole weekend was almost worth those pearls alone.
Throughout the weekend, many other events were offered, including pitch sessions, the Bram Stoker Awards, and the infamous Gross Out Contest.
Yes, a gross out contest. I’ll get to that in a minute…
One of the best parts of the weekend was reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. I spent a lot of the weekend with Tracie Orsi, my Borderlands Boot Camp roommate. We shared many laughs and enjoyed spending time with two of our Boot Camp instructors, Paul Wilson and Doug Winter, and Doug’s lovely wife, Lynne.
I also got a chance to connect with people whom I’d only ever met on Facebook, including Benjamin Kane Ethridge and John Palisano. Both are as wonderful and funny in person as they are on Facebook.
We hung out in what’s known as the con suite: a large room on the top floor, where the hosts of the convention serve free food and drink.
Here’s how the hotel prepared for this:
And although Benjamin, John, and I may not know the proper pronunciation of the word meme, I think we can all agree there’s probably a good meme to be made involving plastic-covered floors and horror writers.
We also had a lot of fun at the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet. Emceed by the hilarious Jeff Strand, the show was organized and entertaining. And seeing fellow writers awarded for their hard work is always good.
Plus, we had a Borderlands Boot Camp table.
If you’re not sure what Boot Camp is all about, check out my post about it here.
And that brings me to one of the highlights of the weekend: The Gross Out Contest.
This is a moment in the weekend when people stand before a panel of judges and a roomful of curious observers, and try their hardest to gross everyone out using words and/or props.
Tracie, Michael Bailey, Kelly Rumble Westrope, and I walked in, ready to sit in the back. Before we could even grab our chairs, Gard Goldsmith pulled us to the first row, right in front of the action.
I felt like I was being set up and couldn’t help but wonder if we would witness something like this:
Except, instead of being sprayed with watermelon bits, I thought the food products might resemble blood, pus, and other goop sure to be mentioned in a gross out contest.
I learned a couple of lessons that night.
People tend to laugh upon hearing gross things, myself included. Although it’s probably more of a nervous laugh…
Grossing out people involves many common themes, including eating and harming various body parts. Also sure to be mentioned are placentas, disease, babies, and fluids. Of the 11 participants, I would say all 11 of them mentioned at least one of these things during their performances.
At many points during the competition I found myself burying my face in Tracie’s shoulder, trying to find my happy place.
As a parent, I deal with my fair share of fluids, but even that was not preparation enough for what I heard and saw. I’ll spare you the photos, but let’s just say the event started with petroleum jelly and ended with mayonnaise and sausage.
Overall, I loved World Horror and would highly recommend it…especially if you like learning about writing, meeting great people, and, of course, hearing about fluids.