My Horror Realm Experience…

Many of my friends and co-workers were surprised (and amused) when I told them where I spent last weekend – in Pittsburgh, PA attending a horror conference called Horror Realm.   Ben and left The Squish at home with a close family friend and spent three days at a hotel attending writers panels, networking events, and hanging out with some pretty cool people.

A lot of you know that Ben is writing short stories / novels of the zombie and post-apocalyptic genre.  His ultimate goal is to be able to quit his 9-5 job and support our family by writing full time.  I’ve been supporting him by serving as his first reader slash copy editor, support team, and motivational source.  We went to Horror Realm to meet people, try to get contacts in the industry, and get any tips on writing that we could.

Honestly, I headed into this endeavor with a sense of dread.  Seriously – a HORROR convention?  But it turned out to be not-so-bad and I ended up not hating it.  Got there on Friday, met some people from the Library of the Living Dead forums, and snagged some dinner.  Attended an awesome panel with Jonathan Maberry, James Melzer, and Rob Fox.  We skipped the movie panels but also attended the author panel containing David Dunwoody of Empire fame, Steven North of Dead Tide repute, and Kim Paffenroth, PhD who has a new novel coming out with Dante Aligheri as the main character.  Yes, he will run into the zombie horde. I hit the hay early and fell asleep watching Boise State dominate Fresno State.  Hooray for having ESPN at the hotel!

Saturday I skipped out on a lot of the festivities.  Ben and I took a detour to IKEA (did you think we wouldn’t sneak in at least one trip while we were there??) and then I dropped him off at the hotel so he could geek out.  I stole the car and tooled down the freeway to the (extremely rural) area where I used to live.   Stopped by my Grandma’s grave site; believe it or not but there were still flowers alive in her floral arrangements two weeks after her interment.  She always did have a green thumb.  Went past the old farm on the mountain (Mt. Joy) and wound my way through gravel covered dirt roads where I was chased by a pack of dogs – 2 German Shepherds, a cattle dog, and some mutt that could have had some beagle in it.  Drove past the old homestead and found that the trailer (with an addition) had been replaced by a more modern mobile home that was neatly anchored in place with a brick ‘foundation.’  I was shocked; I thought that our old place would stay the same forever.  I guess things change over 23 years, huh?

Got back to the hotel, changed into my bathing suit, and prepared to hit the pool because it was a 80+ degree day.  Uhhhh, the pool was empty.  A bit misleading to have a POOL PARTY on the schedule later that night, eh?  I ended up sitting at a table by the empty pool soaking up some sun.  Forgot my sunscreen so I got a little extra crispy.

Met back up with Ben and found out we had plans for the night – dinner and then a brief excursion to the cemetery where they filmed scenes from Night of the Living Dead.  No biggie.  Michelle, a friend of Ben’s from the LOTLD forums, doesn’t have Bob Evans down in Louisiana where she lives so we stopped there and then headed up to the Evans City cemetery.  At this point my internal “WTF’ radar starting going off because it was <i> getting dark </i>.  I don’t *do* dark, especially in creepy areas like cemeteries.  It took us about 1/2 hour to get there and we pulled the car up, killed the lights, and hopped out.  Creepy Central.  Found some tombstones from the movie, took some pictures, and then helped Mike (Michelle’s husband) look for a geocache spot.  Didn’t find the first one even after searching in the bushes so we headed down to the second one near the entrance to the cemetery.  It looked like it was in the woods close to the gravel road so we let him search while we took pictures of the sign and poked around.  All of a sudden, Ben saw something moving on the hill making the dry leaves on the ground rustle and we all started running like the devil was behind us.  I banged my finger off the trunk of their rental car and stowed it.  We hopped in the car and took off; we started laughing once we hit the main road again.  We’re idiots.

Got back to the hotel just in time for the deceptively named Pool Party to start.  Hung out for a bit, got pissed at cigar smokers, and went back to the room to watch more football, this time it was Texas and Texas Tech.   Hey, I had to take advantage of having ESPN, right?  Ben hung out down there for a while longer and then came to bed.  Slept in the next morning (hallelujah!) and got the car all packed for the trip back home.  Hit two more author panels with Rhiannon Frater of As the World Dies fame, Eric S. Brown, and Kody Boye.  Kody’s short story ‘Jade’ was pretty awesome.  If you want to read the best opening to a novel, check out Chapter One of Rhiannon’s ATWD’s  ‘Tiny Fingers.”  Eric Brown gave Ben lots of writing advice, encouragement, and told me to get him to finish his stuff.  He and Stephen North (they co-wrote a book together) were Ben’s biggest supporters. 

Sunday brought  more writerly panels.  My favorite reading of the weekend was Scott A. Johnson’s “Epiphony.”  That guy is crazy, but awesome.  Imagine that know-it-all teenager that has everything figured out in the event of the zombie apocalypse actually confronting it with his own family.  Classic.  I think he was my favorite author of the whole weekend, followed closely by Kim Paffenroth.

Headed home, reunited with The Squish, and unpacked a whole lotta laundry.  Caught the first quarter of the Giants / Cowboys game and shuffled off to bed to start the workweek over.  All in all, the weekend wasn’t too bad with the exception of being separated from Squishy.  I might take her next year en route to the beach for a vacation with my family.  Spend the weekend at Horror Realm (a treat for Ben) and then the following week at the ocean (a reward for me for being such an awesome wife / mom / all around good person).


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Benjamin
    Sep 23, 2009 @ 16:37:02

    Great post honey and I can’t thank you enough for going with me and all the support you have and will provide. One day I will get there!

    Glad you liked it. You’ll be thanking me aaaaaaallllll year for going with you, believe me. And I believe in you… you’ll get there!


  2. DarcKnyt
    Sep 23, 2009 @ 17:30:34

    Sounds like a great time was had by all. Good to hear it! 🙂

    I dunno about “great” but at least it didn’t suck as badly as I thought it would.


  3. Sherri
    Sep 23, 2009 @ 23:00:08

    That scene in the cemetery made me laugh. “We’re idiots”…ha! But it’s so fun!

    Yeah, “idiots” pretty much sums us up. It *is* fun!


  4. Elizabeth Himes
    Sep 24, 2009 @ 08:45:25

    You two are too funny. Great post Kristy, loved hearing your side of it.

    There are 2 sides to every story… and I wasn’t going to let my telling of it go untold!

    I am still laughing at the jumping at shadows in the cemetary. I guess it’s better than a person in a horror movie, “let’s investigate.” 🙂

    Idiots, we’re idiots. And yeah, we didn’t break any of the horror film rules like investigating strange noises or wandering off by ourselves or making out. We’d definitely be dead meat then.


  5. whatigotsofar
    Sep 24, 2009 @ 09:25:03

    How many times did somebody jump out from behind something to yell “Boo!”
    If I was there, I’d have been kicked out after about 15 minutes for having done that a couple dozen times.

    It wasn’t scary horror, more like disturbing horror. I doubt people would have thought it weird if someone popped out from behind chairs and yelled “Boo!” all the time. It probably would have fit right in. Now tell them that Stephanie Meyers was in the building and you would have been lynched…


  6. whatigotsofar
    Sep 24, 2009 @ 09:25:45

    Oh, and I’d have been wearing a Hallowe’en mask of some sort. Generic zombie or monster or demon mask. Nothing specific.

    Some people were there in full out zombie make-up so you really wouldn’t have been out of place. If you REALLY wanted to freak people out or make an impression you would have had to put stripper glitter all over your body and pop in some fake fangs to simulate a Twilight vampire.

    Heh. Mental image: WIGSF in stripper glitter. ROFLMAO!


    • whatigotsofar
      Sep 24, 2009 @ 18:56:29

      So, that’s just me on the usual Saturday night. But you’re forgetting my pimp hat and cowboy boots.

      And you reserve the assless chaps for special occasions and bachelorette parties, I assume?


  7. DarcsFalcon
    Sep 24, 2009 @ 19:55:00

    “at least it didn’t suck as badly as I thought it would”

    HAHAHAHAHA! Well now there’s an endorsement! 😉

    The truth, the whole truth, and nothing BUT the truth. Never ask me for my opinion unless you’re really sure you want to hear it.

    It sounds like you found ways to enjoy yourself and have a good time, even if it’s not your thing. I’m glad you guys had fun. 🙂

    Yeah, I’m pretty good at amusing myself in strange situations. Normally I just bury my nose in a book and I’m good to go – instant amusement.


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