Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stoker Weekend 2011 - pt. 2 (The Panels).

"Horror is about fear."

Stoker Weekend had so many informative panels and workshops that it was very hard to choose which ones to attend.  Here are a few of the ones I went to and a few things I learned from them.

YA Resurgence Panel.
THE YA RESURGENCE  with Leah Hultenschmidt, Ellen Datlow, Jonathan Maberry, Lynne Hansen, JG Faherty and Lisa Mannetti.

I appreciated that the organizers put together a panel on YA at a Horror Writer's convention.  I thought it very pertinent in light of how popular it is. The panel commented that YA is a genre that hinges on trends. With the advent of Twilight romantic vampires became the rage then there was Hunger Games and dystopian followed.

When the article from the Wall Street Journal was touched upon and how that parent felt that YA is too dark, Jonathan Maberry articulated that kids see how the world is not perfect and they think about how they will get through it. They relate to “dark” YA books. Also, particularly with Dystopian stories that may be dark and brutal, they usually end with a note of hope.

When asked what attracts the authors to YA, Lynne answered that in YA, you can really get a feel for characters and the pain that adult novels may not get into. The panelists agreed that YA can make teens feel they’re not alone.  

Dacre Stoker.
This presentation that author Dacre Stoker gave on his great grand-uncle was thorough and enlightening. He went over the Stoker family tree and Bram’s background. Although I knew a lot of facts about Bram’s life, I felt the way Dacre put them all together in a cohesive way gave a great deal of insight to the legendary author. What I found interesting were the events that led Bram through his life and to the writing of his masterpiece.

Peter Straub & Gary Wolfe. 

I found Mr. Straub to be delightful, funny, good natured and friendly. He is also incredibly well spoken and smart. He discussed his role as Pete Braust on One Life to Live, his reluctance to do graphic novels (he didn’t want to work that hard) and how he was convinced to do one with Michael Easton (who told him “I’ll do all the work.”). Peter talked of limits and said they are imposed only by you and your imagination. I want him to adopt me.

Rocky Wood & Leslie Klinger.
MEN BEHIND THE MONSTERS with Rocky Wood, author of Stephen King a Literary Companion, Leslie Klinger as moderator and Dacre Stoker.

This was an in-depth chat about Stephen King, Bram Stoker and other horror authors and their works.  Peter Straub, who sat in the audience, also commented on Stephen King and how they worked together on The Talisman and Black House.  Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle was also mentioned and the panelist (sorry, I didn't note who said it) told us not to discount him as a scary writer.

The main advice in this panel for writers: "Absorb it all and make it your own.  Be a voracious reader."

Don D'Auria & Rocky Wood.
PERSPECTIVES: THE STATE OF HORROR with Don D'Auria (moderator), Rocky Wood, Norman Prentiss and Ellen Datlow.

Another informative panel where the topic was the Horror genre in today's literary market and how people view it. Ellen feels that Twilight and books like it are not horror, but romantic, paranormal romance and that there is room for both. “As soon as you get comic, it dilutes the fear, but the tropes are never going to go away.”

Norman feels that what makes horror, is the tone of the writing. He looks forward to the “bounceback.” Meaning, with so many books about romantic vampires he is excited when the trend will turn them back into scary creatures.

Norman Prentiss & Ellen Datlow. 
Ellen ended the panel with her thoughts on what will be the next trend.  "What will be popular next depends on the writer. If a writer has an interesting turn. It’s the storytelling that makes the difference."

Horror Blogging panel.
HORROR BLOGGING with John Cozzoli (moderator, Zombo’s Closet), Chad Helder , Scott Kenemore, Sally Bosco, Lisa Morton, Jonathan Maberry. (Please click on the panelist's names to check out their blogs!)

This panel was eye opening because after knowing why book bloggers blog, it was cool to hear why authors blog. Jonathan Maberry blogs because of the community he feels with readers and other authors.

Chad Helder blogs because of the community as well, but also because as an English major he feels a need to write about what he has read and viewed. But the audience, he said, is more satisfying than writing a college paper.

Sally Bosco, Lisa Morton & Jonathan Maberry.
The authors discussed the subjects they blog about, what they started out doing and what they are doing now.

Scott’s advice on blogging: “Don’t do what you hate.” 

The panelists felt that the negatives of blogging was that sometimes they felt like they were writing in a void and it is time consuming.  I think many bloggers, no matter what they blog about, can relate to that.  

Monster Mom Splosion panel. 
MONSTER MOM SPLOSION with Sarah Langan (moderator), Gillian Flynn, Stephen Graham Jones, Lisa Morton and F. Paul Wilson.

This was one of my favorite panels.  It was a lively discussion of mothers, mother issues and gender issues in horror. From The Ring to Carrie, from Splice to Alien.  Theories, thoughts and questions were explored.  It was a great discussion into the fascination of a bad mother in society.

Shades and Variations on Genre Roundtable.
SHADES AND VARIATIONS ON THE GENRE with David Morrell, Peter Straub, Gary Wolf (moderator), Gillian Flynn and Douglas Clegg.

This guest of honor roundtable was another favorite.  The authors discussed what the horror genre is based on and what it meant to them.

Douglas Clegg shared that horror is a part of life that people don't want to look at.  It's a "...journey into darkness that I don't see in other genres."

Horror is "free floating anxiety" Gillian explained and discussed putting a finger on the unknown.  She said that the "...best horror is when you can channel the fear to one specific thing in your life."  David added that the extra element is tone and that horror writers expose the unconscious.

Peter Straub had a lot to say on the subject, but to sum it up he concluded that "Life is a tragic business..." and he felt that horror is the best possible response.  "It is the deepest and most profound (genre).  Horror writers face the darkness."  

Night Terrors panel.
NIGHT TERRORS with Douglas Clegg (moderator), Sarah Langan, Peter Straub, Norman Prentis, Stephen Graham Jones.

After a great story from Douglas on how he discovered Peter Straub’s books, the authors talked about why they write horror and why they are drawn to it.

When asked why the supernatural/horror is so important, Stephen answered that it makes the stories more interesting and that there is something primal about it.  Norman feels that  "...people who pretend it's not there can get the ground taken out from under them."  Peter Straub summed it up by saying that writing books like that is tremendous fun, and they are fun to read.

Douglas Clegg & Sarah Langan.  
I appreciated Peter Straub's opinion when the notion of horror being looked down upon came up.  He told us that he is annoyed when people make a distinction between horror and literary.  I agree and I think that horror can be and has been beautifully written.  And, to be honest, I find it more interesting and fun than many literary works out there. Stephen added that literary should indicate the quality of the writing, not the genre.

Graphic Novel panel.
SO YOU WANT TO WRITE A GRAPHIC NOVEL with Rocky Wood (moderator), Joe Hill, Jonathan Maberry, David Morrell and Jim Chambers.   Okay, I have to admit, I have no desire to write a graphic novel. I just went to see Joe Hill. But to be honest, I learned a lot about the nature of graphic novels and how they differ from a written novel in terms of storytelling and how to convey what you want to say. Hill started out as a graphic novelist and after hearing his thoughts, I need to read Lock and Key as well as explore other Graphic novels.

There were many other panels, workshops, and Graveside chats.  I didn't cover everything I learned from this convention because this post may not have ended if I had done so.  Also, I didn't want to give everything away...you'll just have to come yourself to Stoker Weekend next time.

Stay tuned for my final post on Stoker Weekend 2011.


Unknown said...

Great stuff, Midnyte. As someone with zero chance to attend I wish there were podcasts or transcripts of these panels, as I've been able to read or listen from other conventions.

Midnyte Reader said...

That would be a great option, as I couldn't attend every panel and workshop offered.

Unknown said...


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