Unflinching and uncompromising, tough and talented, Shane McKenzie stands at the forefront of the next generation of horror writers.

—Bentley Little

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My First Convention

Well, World Horror Convention is over. Was it real? Did all that really happen?

I gotta admit that I'm having withdrawals. I had so much fucking fun out there, rubbing elbows with the best in the game. I had all these preconceptions about how the convention would be, and my expectations were high. Let me tell you, it was better than I could have ever imagined.

To be fair, from what I heard, it was the best WHC in a long time, some argued ever. I have nothing to compare it to, but goddamn did I have fun. And the people I met, hung out with, got thoroughly intoxicated with. I just never wanted it to end!

And a huge thanks to Wrath James White and Nate Southard for taking me under their wings and taking care of me. They introduced me to some huge names, talked up my writing to these people. It was surreal. It was like, "Are you talking about me? But...why?" I'm still not used to having anybody like something I've written. It's a very strange feeling for me.

I got to meet with publishers and editors of the markets that I've been dreaming about getting into, and having a damn good time with them. I doubt some of them will forget me anytime soon. I was the Asian mutt that looks Mexican with the Scottish name. And we got hammered together.

My pitch sessions went about as great as I could have hoped for. I pitched to Brett Savory for Chizine, RJ Sevin for Creeping Hemlock, and even though I had nothing scheduled, Jeff Burk let me pitch to him while he smoked a cigarette. All great people. I was terrified out of my mind before the convention, but now I see there is absolutely no reason to feel that way. And, best of all, every one of them asked me to send it over. One in particular seemed pretty damn excited about the project. Holy shit in a fishbowl!

As horror writers, we are all in this together. I mean, we all know for a fact that we have at least one thing in common, and that's our love for the macabre. I don't know about anyone else, but I have nobody to talk to about my writing, not in person anyway. My wife takes as much as she can, but I can't expect her to fully understand what the fuck I'm talking about most of the time. But at the convention, we all got it. There was this energy in the air like...I can't really describe it. It was just there. We are family. That's what it felt like for me.

And I made some new friends, put faces to names I had been chatting with online for a couple of years. I mean, I hung out in John Skipp's room! I smoked a cigarette with Jack Ketchum! Peter Straub was drinking at the table right next to me, Joe Lansdale on the couch across the room. Are you fucking kidding me?

For anyone who missed it, I'm truly sorry. All I can say is you have to make the next one. I for one won't be missing any of them. I feel like my batteries are charged, that I can write an entire library of horror now. Speaking of that, maybe I should get to work...