One thing that still surprises me is how the horror/dark fiction genre authors treat each other. For the most part, I’ve decided that the genre is really one large family.
Perhaps because the genre isn’t as fractured as others, it removes the cliquishness that can pop up in other fields. Science Fiction, for example, has hard, soft, cyber, military, and many other variations. Fantasy has romantic, epic, sword-and-sorcery, and several other versions. You’ll find atmospheric Lovecraftian-tinged horror sitting at the same panel table as bizarro and splatterpunk, and the only difference is you’ll laugh harder at the jokes.
Of course, no family is perfect, but infighting and boorish behavior is a rarity, from my experience. I’ve seen far more acts of kindness since I jump-started my writing focus from just-for-fun to a career choice.
At KillerCon 4 in Las Vegas, for example, I attended Gene O’Neil’s reading session. Gene spent a solid five minutes talking about the Bad Moon Books re-issue of his classic novel, The Burden of Indigo. The rest of the time, Gene called out different audience members by name to discuss whatever projects they were working on. Gene opened up the floor to promote other authors and publishers, and he always had a positive word for everyone. Bringing Gord Rollo into the conversation, Gene told the audience about one publisher’s vision to bring back a version of the old Ace Doubles, pairing an established author with an up-and-comer to help get fresh writers in front of readers. Gene and Gord will be participating in the program, and a lucky new author will find a potential new audience thanks to the generosity of these two gentlemen.
Another surprise I discovered was how the established stars of the horror genre were all so open and friendly. William F. Nolan could be found hanging out in the dealer’s room or a sponsored con party, smiling and willing to talk with newcomers to the genre. Jack Ketchum is not only an amazing author, but he’s willing to give advice and support to anyone who asks. My wife and I stayed an extra day in Las Vegas for KillerCon 4, and after the con “dead dog” party was over, Jack invited everyone who was still functional and present to his room for an after-after-con party.
Beyond the confines of KillerCon, one can see how the genre supports fellow authors and publishers. The Horror Writers Association provides a forum and mentors to members, and dishes out information and advice to non-members through their Facebook group, which is open to anyone with an interest in the genre. A few minutes ago on the normal newsfeed for Facebook, I saw a post by Eric S. Brown (author of Bigfoot Wars) that today would be dedicated to promoting other authors. I can’t recall an instance where I saw this kind of selflessness in the other genre groups I follow.
Today, I experienced the outpouring of support for author Tom Piccirilli, who found out he has a tennis ball-sized tumor in his brain. He’ll be in surgery this Monday, and he and Jen can sure use some extra positive vibes, well-wished and prayers.
Like any family, there are good times and serious times. I’m glad I found all of you so we can support each other. Keep Tom in your thoughts this weekend.