This weekend, I got out of my cave for a bit and headed to a local sci-fi and fantasy convention. The digs were modest, the sights and sounds tamer than, say, a ComiCon. Someone described the particular day I attended as “Relaxicon.” At 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning, yeah, it was totally that.
I’m not really awake. Someone pried my eyes open and quickly snapped a picture.
But it was seriously fun, and I met some interesting people. I had the privilege of sitting on two panels with some heavy-hitting authors who have achieved success beyond anything I can even hope for. I made some new friends. And I made some new contacts at a local annual event, so I hope they’ll allow me back next year.
The Walking Dead is a dramatic post-apocalyptic television series in which zombies have risen and taken over the world and a band of survivors have to seek refuge at every turn as they continually battle the dead and the living for safety.
Just for all of you folks who have recently emerged from your underground bunkers where you weathered a nuclear holocaust that didn’t happen. Thanks for joining us!
Everyone knows about this show. It’s kind of a big deal. It exploded at the height of the zombie genre’s popularity, and for years, its success has been used as a kind of barometer for the market of such stories. Oh, what’s this? The Walking Dead’s ratings ticked down a bit!? Zombies must be dead.
[Warning: Spoilers for the show follow. If you aren’t caught up through the first half of season 6, go away.]
I’ve never been so afraid to feel at home.
As I walked among the cosplayers dressed as slasher idols and evil deadites, the people wearing death metal or obscure B-horror t-shirts, one thought kept going through my mind: These are my people.
For all of the fascination with murder and the macabre and the gore make-up, I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a place where there was more kinship and acceptance, where it didn’t matter who or what you were, just that you shared similar passions. Everyone had come for a single, unified purpose: to have a great time.
This weekend, I was at the International Day of the Book Festival in Kensington, Maryland, a small town just outside of Washington, D.C.
Kensington is on one of D.C.’s major commuter routes, Connecticut Avenue, but most people who have ever driven through it have probably never turned onto Howard Avenue through Kensington’s historic district. It’s relatively small, but its finely aged buildings set across from landmark train tracks make for an interesting stroll into one of the D.C. area’s time-locked places. Many of them have been swept away in the name of progress.
Leading up to the festival, the weather forecast was rain. Since the festival was to be hosted outside, that would have been a problem. Fortunately, the rain hurried along and came through the night before, and the weather couldn’t have been better.
A number of months ago (my consciousness doesn’t have time for time), Michael Wilson, president of Permuted Press, invited any authors in his stable to come down to Nashville for Wizard World Comic Con in September. He would later confess he expected only a handful of us. He got about twenty-five.
Despite a substantial work conflict and some crazy guy in Aurora, Illinois, setting blaze to a regional air traffic control facility, I was determined to get there. So, when I got the robocall informing me that my Southwest Airlines flight had been canceled and good luck with that, I shrugged and decided to drive it. From Chicago, which is where I had to be due to the work conflict, Nashville is about a seven and a half hour drive.
Nine and a half hours later (thanks, Indiana DOT, for all the lane closures), it’s 3 a.m., and I arrive at the hotel. I feel a bit like Tom Hanks in Castaway when he returns to civilization and can’t talk to people.