Tag Archives: New Orleans

Book Review: The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice

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This book review is part of the New Orleans Reading Challenge 2013, hosted by Midnyte Reader, which you can read more about here.


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The Heavens Rise
by Christopher Rice
Gallery Books
$16.54 (Hardcover, Amazon) | $16.53 (Kindle)
336 pages
October 15, 2013
Review copy accessed on NetGalley

Plot Description:

New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice brilliantly conjures the shadowed terrors of the Louisiana bayou—where three friends confront a deadly, ancient evil rising to the surface—in this intense and atmospheric new supernatural thriller.

It’s been a decade since the Delongpre family vanished near Bayou Rabineaux, and still no one can explain the events of that dark and sweltering night. No one except Niquette Delongpre, the survivor who ran away from the mangled stretch of guardrail on Highway 22 where the impossible occurred…and kept on running. Who left behind her best friends, Ben and Anthem, to save them from her newfound capacity for destruction…and who alone knows the source of her very bizarre—and very deadly—abilities: an isolated strip of swampland called Elysium.

An accomplished surgeon, Niquette’s father dreamed of transforming the dense acreage surrounded by murky waters into a palatial compound befitting the name his beloved wife gave to it, Elysium: “the final resting place for the heroic and virtuous.” Then, ten years ago, construction workers dug into a long-hidden well, one that snaked down into the deep, black waters of the Louisiana swamp and stirred something that had been there for centuries—a microscopic parasite that perverts the mind and corrupts the body.

Niquette is living proof that things done can’t be undone. Nothing will put her family back together again. And nothing can save her. But as Niquette, Ben, and Anthem uncover the truth of a devastating parasite that has the potential to alter the future of humankind, Niquette grasps the most chilling truths of all: someone else has been infected too. And unlike her, this man is not content to live in the shadows. He is intent to use his newfound powers for one reason only: revenge.

Review:

Niquette “Nikki” Delongpre is the protagonist of this Southern Gothic-influenced tale, set in New Orleans. We get her story through a mix of diary entries, flashbacks, and the current narrative. In essence, she’s a popular girl in school but went out with an utter clod in high school. A complete nutbar, Marshall, pined for her, but is now in a psych ward. He’s the other primary character of the book and drives most of it.

We also get introduced to Marissa, a reporter with a local paper, who’s all too aware of the discrimination she faces as an educated woman of colour. She was involved with a big, pivotal scene involving Marshall at the beginning of the book and starts a reluctant working relationship with Niquette’s best friend, Ben, who becomes a reporter intern, but was very badly affected by Nikki’s disappearance. Nikki and her family disappear suddenly, and her ex-boyfriend, the clod, named Anthem, is depressed about it as well.

Marshall didn’t try to kill himself, he says–he wants to pick off anyone who can oppose him or who was sent to investigate him, or so it seems. He also appears to have developed powers from the water near Nikki’s house from a well that fell into the Longpre house. He’s determined to get revenge on Nikki and all those she loves.

There seems to be a new trend in horror fiction in which parasites make people stronger and don’t kill them, which I thought added a unique dimension to the book that swerved it in a direction I wasn’t expecting (in a good way) ultimately leading to a more satisfying reading experience. The Heavens Rise is a slow burn that must be digested over time, and it takes time to percolate within the reader. Although Christopher Rice definitely has his own distinct voice, there is a flavour or seasoning of Anne Rice in here, which is also a good thing as fans of her will also like this book.

It’s hard to describe why this book is so good, but it’s an absorbing read with memorable characters. The lines are blurred between who is good and evil. There are shades of gray. There also isn’t a generic cookie-cutter ending, and many interesting and predictable things happen.

I’ve been waiting for this kind of book from Christopher for a while, something in the fantasy genre, but subtle and literary. As well, literary fiction readers will enjoy this because it’s not so “genre” that it will put them off but is definitely “genre” enough that genre fans will snap it up.

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Blog Tour Post: Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson (Book Review)

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This book review is part of the New Orleans Reading Challenge 2013, hosted by Midnyte Reader, which you can read more about here.


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Elysian Fields (Book 3, Sentinels of New Orleans)
by Suzanne Johnson
$17.58 (hardcover, Amazon) | $15.79 (Amazon Kindle)
Tor Books
Release Date: August 13, 2013
Hardcover, 352 pages
Review copy received as part of the blog tour for Bewitching Book Tours. Don’t forget to enter the Goodreads giveaway that’s running until August 31, 2013.

Plot Description:

An undead serial killer comes for DJ in this thrilling third installment of Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series.

The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi.

New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans. Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren’t random—an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard. Namely, DJ.

Combatting an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn’t easy. Jake Warin’s loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world’s most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex Warin just turned up on DJ’s to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power.

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte’s pirate wench could be DJ’s best option.

Review:

To say that I was dying to read the next installment of Suzanne Johnson’s highly addictive Sentinels of New Orleans series would be a gross understatement. After the events of River Road (you can read my review here), I was really antsy to find out what happens next and this book more than delivered.

Our protagonist, DJ Jaco, starts off in the French Quarter with increasingly volatile and troubled loup-garou Jake. They’re investigating a crime scene as a series of murders has been happening in the city that resemble killings committed in 1918-1919 by a serial killer who was never identified, but the local media called him the Axeman of New Orleans.

Things have (understandably) cooled down a bit between DJ and Jake because of his changing nature. The shift to loup-garou has had many negative effects on his life and he’s lashing out more and more at those closest to him. Jake is even moodier this time around and everyone expects him to still be the same easygoing, flirtatious guy he was before, but he’s not and he is having a hard time accepting that. I won’t spoil what happens after a sour confrontation between the two, but suffice it to say it kicks DJ’s life into overdrive and makes life even more complicated for her, as if she needs any more complications.

She summons famed jazz musician Louis Armstrong to help her with any clues about the Axeman, and it becomes evident that he didn’t just show up for no reason in the present day. There’s a shady necromancer working some seriously evil magic to shuttle the murderer back and forth from the past to the present. Soon enough, DJ becomes one of the Axeman’s most important targets, which makes things even worse for her.

DJ’s suspicions toward her best friend Eugenie’s boyfriend, Quince Randoph, continue in this book and we finally get some more answers as to what he is, what he’s doing, and what he wants with DJ. He also shamelessly flirts with DJ at every opportunity, much to her chagrin, as DJ is more interested in her former partner Alex Warin. Things intensify between them and for those readers who have been waiting for more to happen in DJ’s love life, they won’t be disappointed.

In addition, the Wizards Congress sends one of their guys, Hoffman, to teach her more Elven magic. Trouble is, he doesn’t like DJ very much and may be hiding more than he lots on about where his true loyalties lie. Fan favourite Jean Laffite also returns, as charming as ever. He thinks he can help DJ with looking into the necromancer doing the summoning of the Axeman. There’s also a major vampire character we’re introduced to, Etienne, who we’re told is in cahoots with Jean as they go way back. Etienne used to be a necromancer, but as the plot unravels more and more, it’s not necessarily clear if he’s the one behind the Axeman’s killing spree, but the author casts enough doubt on him that the reader will not be sure if he’s guilty or innocent until the very end.

As the story continues, the body count rises, and the Axeman gets ever closer to DJ. The tension between DJ, Eugenie, and Quince Randolph also increases until it finally blows up, but the reader will get a lot of interesting answers from the fallout.

If you were waiting for more explanations and an exploration of DJ’s Elven heritage and connections, this installment in the series is going to be your favourite. Although I’ve previously said in other reviews that one doesn’t see much of Elves in urban fantasy fiction, I think we’re starting to see more of them, and although I wasn’t expecting to find them in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, it’s a nice treat, and the storyline absolutely works.

The further into the narrative the reader gets, the more irresistible and unputdownable this book will be. Eventually things come to a head with the true master of puppets coming out, but he lackey strings are incredibly tangled, which will make the inevitable books that follow this series even more addictive than this one. Things end on a more positive note although, as mentioned, there’s definitely potential for more books in the series. If you haven’t picked up this series yet and you’re a big urban fantasy fan, or even if you don’t normally read fantasy but love a good yarn involving the Crescent City, you should most definitely pick up the books in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, and so far, each one is better than the one that preceded it. Suzanne Johnson has become one of my absolute favourite fantasy writers–this lady knows how to spin a good yarn ;-)

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Guest Post: Sephera Giron

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The following is a guest post from horror scribe Sèphera Girón, whose chilling novel Mistress of the Dark was the first modern horror novel penned by a woman that I read, featuring one of the most sadistic, twisted, and memorable female protagonists in the form of Abigail Barnum. Sephera and I were on the “Social Media for Writers” panel that I moderated this past June in New Orleans at The Bram Stoker Awards™ Weekend 2013 incorporating the World Horror Convention, which she added many great insights to.

Here is a guest post detailing her experiences at this year’s con and some good advice for those who are thinking of attending future ones.


The Bram Stoker Awards™ Weekend 2013 incorporating the World Horror Convention

When I heard that World Horror and the Stokers were going to be combined in New Orleans, I knew I had to go. After all, I was born in New Orleans and had never been back since I was an infant. I attended the very first World Horror in Nashville in the nineties. In fact, I attended pretty much every World Horror except a couple right up until I was a Toastmaster in Toronto in 2007. I even went to one pregnant with my second son, Dorian. They were such a blast and the only reason I’ve not attended in recent years has been because of finances.

I’ve also attended many Stoker banquets and award ceremonies over the years. The last Stoker Weekend I attended was in Burbank in 2010 to receive the Silver Hammer Award.
So it’s been a very long time since I’ve been able to see my friends, peers, editors, and publishers. All of these exciting ideas combined into a fabulous weekend experience for me. It was a tough juggling act to attend the convention and see the sights of New Orleans but I believe I managed to fit a lot in.

My main con duties involved working registration for a few hours, being on a Social Media panel, working the HWA booth for an hour, reading my poem from The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, autographing books at the mass signing, attending the Samhain cocktail party, rocked rocking out to Heather Graham’s band and party, attending part of the HWA annual meeting, and watching parts of other panels. I also hung out at the bar to network before the siren song of Bourbon Street lured me back out again. I also went on a graveyard tour Friday morning that consisted mostly of con attendees.

Outside of the con, I spent the rest of my waking hours exploring the neighbourhood, something that isn’t always possible at cons. At some cons, you are put into a hotel far from anything and you really can only do the con. This con was the type where you are plunked right in the center of a cool city so you tend to only do the most important con things while taking in the sights and sounds of a new city.

You may have relatives and friends who wonder why you would invest so much money into a con. There really is nothing that can compare to putting names to faces. Even when I was sight-seeing, I mostly went out with a pack from the con, and different people every time. Bonding over graveyards and dance clubs also makes for building relationships that you will carry forward for years. You can’t share those kinds of experiences through email.

In looking back over more than twenty years of World Horrors, it’s no wonder that I knew so many people and fell into a step that felt so familiar despite my many years away.
Conventions offer a chance to network with working professionals and learn how to carve out your own niche in your craft. You can go to pitch sessions, attend panels, learn skills at workshops, get autographs from your favourite authors and even talk to them for a while.

Having drinks with famous editors and agents whether at a party or a bar can’t be beat. When you attend cons, you will meet many people who may or may not be able to help you propel yourself forward. The aspiring little fan you meet this year might become head of a major publishing house in five years. However, the best outcome from a con is creating memories and relationships that will last a lifetime.

Always be polite, try not to harass your idols but don’t be afraid of them either since most people in the horror field who attend cons are friendly and approachable.
Another interesting element of this con was the haunted hotel where we stayed. The Hotel Monteleone is a notorious hotspot for spirit sightings and most con guests had some sort of story to tell. There were shaking beds, shaking chandeliers, laughter and screams, foggy patches, and I myself even caught a glimpse of an apparition on the rooftop level at dawn.

You can find my stories on my blogs and I’ll likely be adding a few more. Here are links to the stories I’ve posted so far: link 1 | link 2 | link 3 | link 4 | link 5 | link 6

On Bourbon Street, I discovered my roots. I finally understood why I like to dance all the time. How civilized to have live bands playing constantly so that you can go in and dance as you wish and then get on with your day. You wouldn’t need to ever go to the gym. I returned to several bars to dance, sometimes by myself, sometimes with a pack.

The draw at the end of every evening was The Dungeon which was decked out like a dungeon but laughable compared to the hard core fetish dungeons in Toronto. It had two floors and loads of heavy metal. There was a jukebox where you could pick a tune or you could make a request from the deejay. We all danced and swooped and bonded in a way that isn’t possible on Facebook.

As well as understanding my urge to dance, the tarot readers also intrigued me. The voodoo shops, vampire store, and more all rendered various vibrations through me. There was one voodoo shop I visited the first night while wandering around with a giant cup of bourbon sour that I wanted to return to in order to purchase a couple of small items.

When I returned the next day, I had to leave the shop quickly. A wave of nausea and a pounding headache had suddenly befallen me. It cleared up after I left the shop and wandered around some more. At the time, I figured it was a long delayed hangover, after all, I’d seen the sun come up that day, but the way it vanished again led me to believe it was related to the voodoo shop. I had browsed several voodoo shops before that one with no ill effect. So I wasn’t certain what it might have been that was in there that I shouldn’t be around.

Each time I passed that shop on my adventures over the next few days, I’d get an uneasy sensation, of someone or something watching and waiting for me. I attempted to enter one more time but partway up the steps, I decided to turn away.

Ask anyone who knows me what I’m all about and how I’m perfectly matched with my birth city. I’m the girl who loves to dance and throw beads, have a few drinks, hang out with friends, read tarot, cruise graveyards, bond with ghosts and my son could tap dance on the streets to earn a living as well. Living in New Orleans would not be a stretch for this fun-loving city girl.

The vibe in New Orleans is different than any I’ve experienced. I’m not a huge traveller but I’ve been to Manhattan and San Francisco many times and they too, have a distinct vibe. The vibe in New Orleans was a familiar echo that called to me. My birth place was resonating with my bones. Business connections went smoothly, although I didn’t see everyone I wanted to which happens when there’s hundreds of people to see.

Magic connections were made, like minds dancing together in lively conversation and then flitting off to meet with another. Coincidences and kismet abounded. The karma wheel turned. I lost my favourite sunglasses and lo, there they were at the front desk lost and found. Combining a horror convention with the carnival atmosphere of Bourbon Street was a great idea. So much has inspired me, from the ghost sightings to panels to cocktail parties with friends that I’m going to be drawing from the resonance of this fabulous experience in many stories for years to come.

Next year, The World Horror Convention is in Portland, Oregon. You really should attend if you are serious about building connections in your career. Sign up for as many pitch sessions and workshops as you can. When you get there, talk to everyone about everything. If you see me, talk to me! Go to as many panels as you can and take notes. Your experience will be priceless. You will build memories and new friendships that will last you a lifetime. Most importantly, you will realize you are not alone in this crazy business. You do indeed have a tribe.

sephera gironBio: Sèphera Girón is the award-winning author of over 15 published novels and many short stories. She received the “Marty” in Established Literary Category from the Mississauga Arts Council and a “Silver Hammer” from the Horror Writers Association.

She’s a professional tarot counsellor and writes horoscope columns. Her latest hobby is paranormal investigator! Sèphera also dabbles in acting and appears as “Ruby” in the movie, SLIME CITY MASSACRE. You might also catch a glimpse of her as an extra in THE LOVE GURU and a few other movies. One of Sephera’s day jobs is editing books for other people. Her books include House of Pain, Mistress of the Dark, The Birds and the Bees, Borrowed Flesh, Eternal Sunset, The Witch’s Field, Weird Tales of Terror and many more. For more information, you can visit her website, find her on Twitter, or find her on Goodreads.


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Book Review: River Road (Sentinels of New Orleans Book 2) by Suzanne Johnson

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This book review is part of the New Orleans Reading Challenge 2013, hosted by Midnyte Reader, which you can read more about here.


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River Road (Sentinels of New Orleans, Book 2)
by Suzanne Johnson
$11.53 (Amazon, paperback) | $12.40 (Amazon Kindle)
TOR Books
Release Date: November 13, 2012 (original hardcover)
Review copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Please note, if you haven’t read book one in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, River Road, you may wish to skip this review until you’re caught up because I will be discussing some plot elements and spoilers!

Plot Description:

Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and someone—or something—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series continues.

Review:
Before I start the review of River Road, I would like to commend the author for arranging for a percentage of the royalties from the book to go to the Greater New Orleans Foundation for its Gulf Coast oil spill fund as much of this book is set in Plaquemines Parish, which suffered tremendous damage during and after Hurricane Katrina.

Things kick off with our protagonist, DJ Jaco, at the historic Hotel Monteleone where notorious pirate Jean Lafitte, who we met in book one, is waiting for DJ. He’s staying in the Eudora Welty suite, but although he’s in the lap of luxury, he’s got problems, namely two feuding merpeople clans. Jean and DJ’s partner, Alex, still despise one another so DJ knows she’ll have to limit their interactions, making for tension in the plot and on a romantic level.

Jean Lafitte is more endearing in this book and as he grew on me, I think that he will grow on many readers with his charm. Although DJ is still vehemently opposed to liking Jean, she does have to go out on a date with him as per their agreement from the first book, and she spends much of River Road denying that she has feelings for Alex, a shifter, mostly because she’s gunning for Jake, who *spoiler alert* became a loup-garou at the end of book one. Let’s just say he’s not adapting particularly well. It takes her most of the book to realize that it’s not going to be easy to maintain any kind of a relationship with him, let alone a romantic one. Alex spends much of the book treating DJ like his property, which pushes her away, but he also sends mixed signals, which confuse her.

Although I enjoyed DJ’s romantic quandaries, it felt a bit odd to me to have Alex jealous of Jean Lafitte, with the implication being that he doesn’t trust the pirate (and with good reason) but also he’s threatened by the prospect of DJ choosing to be with Jean. But Alex doesn’t seem jealous of DJ’s interest in Jake, with whom she also has a date, and to further complicate matters, DJ has agreed to pose as Alex’s girlfriend for an upcoming family reunion, but he does have feelings for her even if he’s pretending not to. To be fair, at least Jake asks at one point whether there’s anything between her and Alex, which made a bit more sense.

The merpeople are Cajuns, which adds good flavour to the cast of characters. As well, they have Houma Native American heritage, which makes them even more awesome. There are two families that are feuding, the Villeres and the Delachaises. We venture into bayou and swampland territory where they find a corpse on the shore who died in a particularly gruesome way, and DJ detects a wizard signature from it. We soon learn that there’s more history between wizards and merpeople than initially revealed. I also liked that the loup-garou in this universe aren’t just your average werewolves. They’re larger and don’t join packs, not to mention oher werewolves are scared of them. They also live in the Beyond, Johnson’s alternate dimension where Old Orleans exists, as introduced in the first book. Loup-garous can also shift into their beast form in an instant.

There’s also some Greek mythology mixed in this time with a nymph, as well as the River Styx (as in the one in the Underworld), and also an Elven Synod who don’t like the fact that DJ, who is a wizard, can use Elf magic due to her heritage. They think the Elven staff she uses is one of four, belonging to the clan of the fire elves. No one else can claim or use the staff as long as DJ is alive, which seems to make the Elves even angrier. She even encounters one of the Elves, Mace Banyan, in the Beyond, and suffice it to say it’s not exactly the most pleasant meeting.

She works closely with both merpeople clans, but in particular with Rene Delachaise, with whom she has to form a special bond. Things come to a head as the murders of wizards and a woman who claimed to be human but DJ suspected wasn’t point increasingly in the direction of one person, and everything leads to an intense, suspenseful ending that makes me excited to devour the next book, Elysian Fields, as soon as I can.

If you want urban fantasy that incorporates New Orleans into the setting and makes it a character in and of itself in the book, you need to pick up a copy of River Road, and once you get to the ending, you won’t be able to resist picking up Elysian Fields, for which I am participating in the blog tour as part of Bewitching Book Tours (it releases on August 13, 2013).

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WHC2013 Coverage: Day 3

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Day 2 of the convention was already jam-packed with lots of fantastic and informative panels, events, parties, and a broad range of activities to tickle one’s fancy, and Saturday was also quite a full day. The first panel of the day was dedicated to the topic of women in horror, called “Sisters Are Doing it for Themselves,” and actually I thought that novelist Yvonne Navarro had a very interesting response in a recent issue of Dark Discoveries Magazine, which if you haven’t had a chance to read it, you should consider tracking down as part of her new column for the publication. At the same time there was also a panel on the rules of the horror genre, followed by an interview with Poet Guest of Honor Bruce Boston.

For those seeking pointers on the pitching sessions later on in the day, there was the Pre-Pitch Panel, which provided some general good advice that we’ve all heard before about do’s and don’ts of pitching editors and agents, mainly to relax and not to be nervous and to realize that the people taking pitches weren’t there to grill us with trick questions or to try to make us trip up, but rather because they were genuinely interested in finding new works from authors.

Next I attended an Guest of Honor interview with acclaimed novelist Jonathan Maberry, interviewed by equally as acclaimed novelist Joe McKinney, which was so interesting that I couldn’t stop scribbling notes in my notepad. For those who don’t know, Maberry had a very challenging childhood and grew up in a rough neighborhood. He used martial arts as a way to get out, but also understood the importance of a good education, which he also made sure to equip himself with. One of the most interesting points was his discussion about how he uses folklore as an inspiration for many of his stories, something I think is part of what makes his stories so creative and interesting.

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Fantasist Clive Barker, one of my writing idols and heros, who would later in the evening be awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award along with fellow novelist Robert R. McCammon, had a panel dedicated to him called “Clive Barker: An Appreciation,” which was also full of interesting insights and stories, and at one point his biographer, Douglas E. Winter who was on hand for the festivities said “Is there anyone who has a story about how this man is not good?” followed by laughter, because Barker is of course well known for his generosity of spirit and warmth. I was very sad that he couldn’t attend, as were many con attendees, but we all wish him the best in his recovery from the recent health issues he has encountered.

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Fellow Brit and Guest of Honor Ramsey Campbell, had his interview next, which was not only interesting but also devastatingly funny. He says he learned to read at 18 months old and was “hideously precocious” for it, discussed the influence of M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, as well as some discussion on his writing process and how he outlines now versus how he did when he was starting out. He’s more of a pantser with his novels (as opposed to a plotter, who compulsively outlines), and discussed his love of Salvador Dali and surrealism in paintings. He mentioned not following trends too much, and likes writing novels when he can’t specifically see the end because he likes the fun of figuring out how it all wraps up.

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Another panel that’s frequently a staple of horror conventions is at least one on vampires, and what’s going on with them, what’s going to happen to them, etc, and this year’s was “Reclaiming the Vampire,” moderated by Canadian author and editor Nancy Kilpatrick, featuring Carl Alves, James Dorr, Leslie S. Klinger, and Jim Gavin. Les usually brings up many interesting points, and although this one got off to a bit of a slow start, the conversation got better by the end, but it also has to do with the fact that vampires are laying a bit dormant at the moment and the post-Twilight wave has been at a bit of a standstill. The panelists also brought up the good point that many novelists resent Twilight because of its success, but that as long as it continues to encourage people to read and to find more books, that it can have a positive effect. We’re waiting for the next vampire uprising cycle in publishing, and when it will come is anybody’s guess ;-)

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Following this and again interspersed with readings and kaffeeklatsches, there was a panel on young adult literature in horror, and another panel called “Are You Ready for an Agent?” which presented a mixture of authors and agents as panelists, and provided some interesting insights into the fact that agents are still a valuable asset for those writers wishing to break into the big markets and that although many find success in the small to mid-sized presses without one, ultimately there are things an agent can do that and gates they can unlock that authors normally can’t by themselves. Agents are also taking on more of an editorial role with authors in preparing submissions and doing rewrites with them, which is a recent phenomenon, as well, and the writers on the panel expressed their relief that they could focus on writing and if they wanted to, separate small press projects on their own, but that for the major stuff, the agent made sure to take care of things that they it’s difficult for an author to do without a pool of resources like an agent has.

There was also a panel about films, “Horror Movies from Both Sides of the Screen” exploring adaptations of novels and short stories to the big screen, but the main highlight of the evening was of course the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet, sponsored by Samhain Publishing. I was live tweeting the results from the event, and overall things went smoothly.
For a full list of the winners, please click here.

In particular, the acceptance speeches for HWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award winners this year, Clive Barker and Robert R. McCammon were infused with emotion and very touching.

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Robert R. McCammon accepting one of two HWA Lifetime Achievement Awards. The other went to Clive Barker.

Funnyman Jeff Strand was as funny as ever, but Ramsey Campbell, when co-presenting for an award, stole the show a bit in a hilarious speech that saw him speaking to a future generation of 50 years from now, explaining what books used to be. This had everyone in stitches, and following that, there was an after-party in the Iberville Room, which many folks attended, as well.

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Caitlin R Kiernan accepting her Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel for “The Drowning Girl” (Roc)

Unfortunately I couldn’t attend programming on Day 4 (Sunday) due to scheduling issues, but there were panels on advice for new writers, estate planning, a workshop on writing narrative for video games, a discussion on how to write good dialogue, as well as small press publishing and the future of writing, capped off by a party in the Iberville Suite to close things off with Dead Dog Press.

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend filled to the brim with great panels, readings, kaffeeklatches, guest of honor interviews, a wonderful awards ceremony, great reactions from people attending the con, and everyone had a blast in New Orleans, including yours truly. There were great vibes in the air, and it was a not-to-be-missed event that set the bar very high for future World Horror Conventions. It’ll be a tough act to follow indeed.

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