What a weekend. Where do I even begin? StokerCon 2019 was an amazing adventure. Right off the bat I have to say my favorite thing was the support of this community. Seeing the amazing work that everyone is doing is really exciting. I think it also encourages each one of us to do our best and challenge ourselves, too. I look forward to the HWA’s continued outreach for diversity and inclusiveness. This is an area I am really aiming to be more proactive in, as well.
I don’t think I could capture everything in a recap post, but here are some highlights from my favorite parts of the trip:
*Reuniting with friends and making new ones — I’m going to try and remember names here, but if I leave anyone out it’s because my brain is fried, so I apologize if I miss anyone!
Something I was really excited about this year was that my good friends from graduate school, Kristy and Mike, were able to attend. Hanging out with them and catching up was wonderful. They are two of the best people I know (and are both killer writers). I also got to catch up with many people I haven’t seen in so long: The brilliant EV Knight who has a debut novel coming that I cannot wait to read; Bill and Jeanne Bush, Linda Addison, David Cowen, Marge Simon, Nick Diak, Matt Betts, Brian Keene, Wile E. Young, Chad Stroup, Tim Waggoner, Donna Munro, Hanna Gribble, and more — it was fantastic seeing you all again!
I also FINALLY got to meet online friends in person, which was so delightful. These people included Gwendolyn Kiste, Gabino Iglesias, Sarah Read, A.E. Siraki, David Busboom, Kathryn McGee, RJ Joseph, Kathleen Kaufman, Leza Cantoral, Christoph Paul, Gaby Triana, Cina Pelayo, — even though some conversations were brief, it was incredible seeing you all in person. I hope we meet again! (sorry if I missed anyone, like I said, brain = dead)
*The poetry reading with Saba Razvi and Donna Lynch. This was honestly the most fun reading I think I’ve ever done.
The atmosphere was so relaxed, the three of us were into each other’s work, and everything was fun and supportive.
We had a great Q and A session with the audience after our readings, and I think we just really dominated as women in horror who write bloody good poems. Getting to know both of these ladies better and spending time with them was a real joy. Please check out their work!
*Panels: Moderating the historical horror panel was incredibly fun. I received great feedback from the attendees, which didn’t surprise me because the panelists are literal superstars, and their answers to my questions were informative, inspirational, and
genuine. Thank you again to Lisa Morton, Lisa Kroger, Kevin J. Wetmore, Alma Katsu, and Kathleen Kaufman.
*I was also on the weird poetry panel moderated by the wonderful David Cowen. I had a great time with my fellow panelists answering David’s thoughtful questions and delving deeper into how weird poetry can be defined.
*Also, the panels I attended were really fantastic overall — everyone killed it this year. Thank you so much to the organizers, Brian Matthews, and all the volunteers.
*And of course, the Stoker banquet Saturday night. Saturday was especially exciting to
me because Nick Day and Don Noble, the minds behind StrangeHouse Books, made a crazy one-day trip just to come hang out and be supportive of my nomination. This meant the world to me (and still does). I am still stunned, humbled, and thrilled that The Devil’s Dreamland took home the Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry Saturday night. Being nominated along with such great talents (Donna Lynch, Marge Simon, Alessandro Manzetti, Bruce Boston, and David Cowen) was a huge honor. I could not believe I was even nominated.
I sat with a wonderful table at the banquet, which included the lovely Gwendolyn Kiste. The fact that we both got to share our wins together was really incredible. The whole experience has been surreal. Again, thank you to everyone who has supported the book and myself in any way. It means the world. You can watch the speeches from the livestream on YouTube — they start around the 3:50:00 mark, and then the first category starts around 4:19:00. As I mentioned in my speech, having my former thesis mentor, Mike Arnzen, be the one to announce that I won was a pretty special moment. Hearing my friends cheer and whoop and clap, having friends and family text me congrats and raise their glasses, was all something I will never forget. It’s giving me goosebumps and making me grin as I write this out. I love you all to death. Thank you for your support and faith when I could not always see it in myself.
Huge congratulations to all the winners and nominees!
*I always learn so much from these experiences. This year, I think I am finally learning that sometimes you may encounter someone who decides to snub or dismiss you for whatever reason, but that it always says more about their own insecurities and issues than it does your talent and how damned hard you work. I don’t have time for people like that. Instead, I am going to continue to surround myself with supportive friends and company who have often taught me and are continuing to teach me to believe in myself. The biggest thing I really did learn from this con experience is to simply believe in myself and my work, to understand that I do belong in this world and community. To all who have helped show me that through all the support and love, thank you.
It’s doubtful I’ll make it to StokerCon UK 2020, but I will absolutely see you all again in Denver for 2021!