Sometimes, being a writer sucks. Terrible amounts of alone-time go into it. Sometimes a person loses their way. It's good to find others who are successful, who can impart a little of advice and a little whimsy.
Let's see. Shout out to Christa Faust, who enlivened the media tie in panel and gave a great reading of her short story "Tighter" from one of the Hot Blood Volumes. Go buy it and read it, a very fun, sexy tale. This advertisement is in no way altered by the fact that she bought Trista and I lunch (which was also appreciated). Faust is a highly intelligent, funny and fascinating person. Be sure to buy her novels, too.
Harlan Ellison is as animated as ever, which is to say, he's a dynamo of energy red lined and ready to blow. Other folks have stories about his bad behavior (one lady, a reader in the hospitality suite, railed against him pretty harshly), but I have no such stories. I did not get stuck in the elevator with him, and when Trista and I swapped banter with him at the signing, he ended up calling us "a coupla nice kids". As he is 71, I suppose I'll tolerate his calling me a kid. :) During the transition between his hour long rant and his reading, he sang to Trista (as she had the onerous task of holding the microphone, while he flipped through a book, looking for the story he was deciding on reading). So, no horror stories here. Oh, he's a character, all right. A funny and opinionated and brutally honest fellow. But he's still nothing short of amazing.
Joe R. Lansdale wins several awards in my book. He's charming, funny and an excellent reader and storyteller (but I've already gone on about how Good Lansdale is as a storyteller). I swear, I could listen to the man jaw about just about anything. He has the ability to make just about any subject interesting. And his reading was probably the best (close call here). His stories are absolutely unique, and Trista and I marvelled to hear some of his shorter pieces ("Bob the Dinosaur Goes to Disneyland", "Chompers", "Firedog"). He also wins the quotable award, as Trista and I have made his "Well, an asswhoopin' will decide." our motto. Of course, "Like my Daddy said, 'If it cost a nickel to shit, we'd just throw up.'" is a close second, as are countless other off-the-cuff, colorful comments. He is an inspiration, and his kids are an excellent sales staff (just as slick and courteous as their father) and cute to boot.
One of the truly great bits of the con was meeting Phil Nutman. Now, when I was back in high school, my chums and I were huge fans of a series of Zombie books set in the Romero universe. These were the Book of the Dead duology (a third has been slated for release for over a decade). The first of these had several brilliant stories (Dave Schow's "Jerry's Kids Meet Wormboy" and Joe Lansdale's
"On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks" among them), but the pinnacle story for my little posse was a wonderful gem called "Wet Work" by, yep, Phil Nutman. It was made into a so-so novel (so-so because of cuts, I understand; it's due for an uncut release, soon from Overlook Press), but the short story kicked serious ass. We read it, dissected it, read it again. It was very, very cool. So, now I get to meet the Splatterpunk Journalist. Very cool. Would've been great just to chat with him. But no, there's more. When Mick Garris' reading ran over, Trista and I cut out early to listen to Mr. Nutman. I had no idea the effect it would have on him. T and I were the only ones, until Chris Golden came in late. Nutman read the prolouge to his second novel (which has been looking for a publisher for the last five years, yeek) which was quite engaging. Mr. Nutman was very appreciative of our attending. He even gave us a hug, later on. He's a good bloke, that Phil Nutman! I look forward to seeing him again at NECON. :)
Well, time for lunch. Hmmm. So far, it looks like characters are overshadowing plot. More later.