This year’s Bram Stoker Awards® Weekend 2013 incorporating the World Horror Convention kicked off in the coolest city in America, the Big Easy, New Orleans, Louisiana. Having dreamed of going to New Orleans for many years, I finally had the chance to do so, and it was one thrill-ride of an experience!
Where to begin…oh dear Lord, the heat. The heat. It is intense to say the least, especially for someone like me who is far more used to seeing snow and having much milder summers. Don’t get me wrong, it can get downright humid and sticky in parts of Canada in the summer, but it’s nothing compared to the heat of the Deep South. And we were told that if we thought the heat was bad now, wait until July and August when the heat really intensifies.
For our hotel this year, it was held at a place that made a huge difference from the usual hotel chains like Ramada, Doubletree, Holiday Inn, Marriott, etc, and that was the historic (and haunted!) Hotel Monteleone, on Royal Street, one of the main streets of the French Quarter in the heart of New Orleans. It didn’t take long for the convention attendees to book up the rooms in preparation for the con, but the great thing about a city like New Orleans is the plethora of choices when it comes to hotels. One can find very reasonable and spacious accommodations with great amenities just outside the Quarter within walking distance, particularly in the adjoining Central Business District.
The opening ceremony was to start at 6pm officially but got started a bit closer to 7 with the convention organizers and coordinators starting things with a big “thank you” to everyone who had a hand in organizing the convention, including yours truly as Social Media Coordinator for the event. They reminded folks of the Mass Signing on Friday from 7-9pm, as well as the Dance Party from 9-11pm. The goodie bags had some really exceptional items this year, including a copy of Blood Gospel from James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, and the bags themselves, with a design from Samhain Publishing (one of the official sponsors of the event), were more like backpacks, a marked improvement from the flimsy tote bags of previous years (my favourite convention goodie bag ever is still the amazing one from World Fantasy 2008 that happened in Calgary, Alberta).
Convention attendees had a chance to say hello, catch up, grab a drink, and chill out a bit before the panels kicked off at 7pm with the first one, entitled “Genre Mash-Ups” which talked about how combining horror with different genres can sometimes produce more interesting results.
The art show also opened up at 6, and there were readings from authors well into the evening, as well as two more panels, one on co-authoring do’s and don’ts as well as one on changes in the publishing industry as a whole and how to deal with them. Overall, things kicked off to a great start, and the weekend just got better as it continued.