Got back from Armadillocon a few days ago, and I guess it’s time to post an update about what went on. Armadillocon is a great con, always one of my favorites. Not slighting any of the other cons I’m lucky enough to be invited to. Love you too, guys. But Armadillocon takes place in Austin, where I get to visit with friends and family while I’m there.
This was my third Armadillocon, and it was a blast. Busy but fun. Let’s get to the highlights.
First and foremost, I want to give a shout out to all the cool writers at this year’s con. The very cool and pop culture savy Chris Roberson was there. Very cool guy. Also, Lee Thomas and Joe McKinney, a couple of horror writers who are always fun to hang out with. Lee has a great dry sense of humor. Joe is a cop, who in addition to being a funny guy, is also blessed with that real life experience I completely lack. Rosemary Clemente-Moore, my fellow DFWWW writer and pseudo-arch nemesis, was there too. She’s a burning pyre of enthusiasm that is ingratiating and just a joy to be around. Pity I must destroy her some day.
Living legend Michael Moorecock was there. Didn’t get a chance to talk to him, but it was awesome to just be in the same room as the man. Joe Lansdale and I had a brief chat. He was complimentary and supportive and just cool.
Rie Sheridan was there too. She’s a terrific lady, and so damned supportive of my career that it can make me blush. We shared a spot on a humor panel, and she paid me the ultimate compliment. More on that later.
I got a chance to meet Mario Acevedo (author of The Nymphos of Rocky Flats). A very cool guy. Yes, I know. I keep saying everyone was cool. But they were. So deal with it.
Don’t want to forget Matt Cardin, a cool guy and talented writer. Read a surreal short story of “religious-themed horror” that really impressed me. And I think we all know I am not easily impressed.
Also, want to give a shout to Gloria Oliver. She’s such a sweet lady.
Sorry if I forgot anyone, but I could waste hours just typing names of cool people. So let’s move on.
I was on several panels. One was about zombies, where I was the moderator. Considering that the subject description quoted my blog post on zombies, I guess somebody out there does read these things. Joe McKinney, Lee Thomas, and Mario Acevedo joined me. We had quite an interesting discussion with Lee and myself on the zombies are overdone side, Joe on the pro side, and Mario more neutral. The discussion was spirited. Everyone had some good points, but I still stand by my original opinion that zombies are the comfort food of horror and that to try and make them more than this is wishful thinking.
There was one tense moment when an audience member suggested that she liked the zombie genre because it was unique in that it presented strong females defending their familes. Well, I disagreed quite a bit here. Not that the zombie genre doesn’t have plenty of strong female protagonists. It does. But this isn’t limited to the zombie genre. It’s across the board in all genres of fiction and all media.
More importantly, I hated the assumption that women enjoy the fiction because it plays on their protective natures while men enjoy it because we’re violent cavemen. I make no bones about it. I hate this sort of sexism. Brian Keene’s The Rising is all about a father’s cross country trip to save his son from the zombie apocalypse, for example. More importantly, I just don’t buy that women are innately nurturing and men innately violent. To reduce either sex to such a stereotype is to invite stereotyping of us all. A heavy subject for a zombie panel, I suppose, but I refuse to let such foolishness go unchallenged. I just hope I expressed myself well, rather than coming across as a rant. Either way, it’s something worth thinking about.
I was also on a humor panel. It’s no secret that I don’t classify myself as a humor writer despite the fact that I am funny. I said as much on the panel. Something along the lines of: “I’m not a funny writer, but I am a funny person so I will make you laugh.” And sure enough, I did. It’s like this weird superpower I’m stuck with. Inevitably, I make the audience laugh, and it doesn’t help to avoid the “comic fantasy writer” label I’m stuck with.
Rie Sheridan gave me the best compliment I could think of when she recommended my own books when the audience asked for funny writers. So, yeah, I know I don’t always like being called funny, but this once, I’ll forgive her because she’s so damn nice to me.
Really, I’m not upset with being labeled funny, but I also just like it to be clear that I’m not a stand up comic wrapping a story around a routine. I’m an adventure writer who doesn’t mind making readers laugh. Is it an important distinction. Probably not. But it matters to me. Although if people read my books and enjoy them, I could really care less why.
Well, I could go on and on about Armadillocon, but I’d hate to wear out my welcome. Just saying that the con was a lot of fun and hope to be invited next year.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,