First off, something that has nothing to do with anything:

I FOUND AN INDUSTRIAL DANCE PARTY IN DES MOINES! And it is happening THIS WEEKEND!

Boo and yah.

Secondly, I’m HOME! In the past two weeks I went from Iowa to Massachusetts to Chicago to Detroit to Iowa.

Weirdest thing I saw on my way to ReaderCon 25 in Burlington, MA? This sign:

rabbits dead or alive

Recreation of Pennsylvania Sign

Best thing about my drive to ReaderCon 25? M-EFFin AUDIOBKS! I listened to John Waters’ Carsick, The Colorado Kid by Stephen King, and Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin – all on the way to ReaderCon…because it is a damn long drive from Iowa to Massachusetts.

And and AND, holy crap, the Pope of Filth still has it, because Carsick made me laugh so hard I thought a clown was climbing out of my mouth. It’s John Waters’ account of hitchhiking from Baltimore to San Francisco. Divided into three sections – a novella on the best that his trip could go, a novella on the suckhole worst it could go, and then the nonfiction account of what happened for reals…talk about interstitial. If you dig handjobs in derby cars, Connie Francis fantasies, and beautiful warped worldviews, this book is for you. It is vulgar, hilarious, and has everything from stick-and-poke tattoos to philanthropic weed moguls. You absolutely need to listen to it on audiobook – John Waters narrates it.

rosemary's baby gifThe Colorado Kid was pretty damn good. But…Rosemary’s Baby? WOW. I’d only ever seen snippets of the movie…and the book…the book is RAD. SO RAD. The story of a woman who doesn’t know she is carrying the son of Satan, this book could’ve gone cheeseball – but it wasn’t. Ever. It was on the level and the ending is legitimately unsettling. Ugh. Seriously. I feel gross thinking about the ending. I don’t know how I would feel about it in print, but via audiobook, the story was heightened by the narration of MIA FARROW. Yep, she who played the lead in the 1968 film adaptation. <3

BUT…none of that has to do with ReaderCon.

WHICH WAS AWESOME!

ReaderCon is a favorite con of mine. I know SO MANY PEOPLE! It’s getting together for a massive hugfest with a few dozen folks I don’t get to see, but once a year and then there’s PANELS! and READINGS! to boot.

Here’s the rundown of what I saw this year.

Day 1: Thursday, July 10th, 2014
8 p.m. – Erik Amundsen: A Reading

Do you know Erik Amundsen? You should. Check him out here and here and here!

9 p.m. – Theatre and the Interrupted Ritual with C.S.E. Cooney, Greer Gilman, Andrea Hairston, and Ken Schneyer

Dissecting the import/magic that can be created in both daily life and on the stage when routine becomes ritual…just frikkin wow. Loved this panel.

Day 2: Friday, July 11th, 2014
11:30 a.m. – C.S.E. Cooney: A Reading

Guess who was in another Year’s Best anthology? C.S.E. Cooney. You should READ HER!

PLUS! She has a new ebook out. DIG IT!

witch in the almond tree by cse cooney

A rad witch romance by C.S.E. Cooney

1 p.m. – Gwynne Garfinkle: A Reading

Anyone who writes Universal movie monster poems has me in her corner forever. LOVE YOU, GWYNNE!

1:30 p.m. – Caitlyn Paxson: A Reading

GAH! Caitlyn Paxson read an excerpt from her unpublished, YA novel about a group of friends trying to save one of their crew from an underworld. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.

2 p.m. – The Interstitial Arts Foundation Town Hall with Tempest Bradford, Ellen Kushner, Sofia Samatar, and Delia Sherman

What the hell is interstitial art? Think of it this way, if a house party was raging and each of the rooms was taken up by a genre – sci-fi, fantasy, horror, mystery, contemporary lit, etc. – the interstitial art is the raccoons partying in the walls between all of them.

Check out Interfictions – the leading (print and online) journal of fiction, nonfiction, and art that bleeds through genre lines.

4 p.m. – The Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours

I LOVE MY FRIENDS!

The Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours are a trio of writers and musicians including C.S.E. Cooney, Amal El-Mohtar, and Caitlyn Paxson. Their live performances are filled with storytelling, music, poetry, and theatrical readings. Currently, they are working on an album and book (tentatively) called Ballads From a Distant Star…to boil it down, it’s a collection of music and poetry based on the idea of what if old time folk music was created out of alien abduction tales?

I had the honor of being a guest reader in the performance, as did the fabulous Nicole Kornher-Stace. She read from her novel Archivist Wasp (upcoming from Small Beer Press) and I read from There Is No Lovely End.

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After dinner at a Chinese joint and random shenanigans with friends, there was an Ellen Kushner-created Impromptu Song and Story Circle! Folk songs! Hella rad readings! I was able to hear the work of Carlos Hernandez – who frikkin slayed me with a story of a reanimated Fidel Castro. I heard Viking tunes, murder ballads, sorrowful songs…and, people, I did something I never do. Ever. I sang. Because I wanted to share something of myself with all these people who were sharing themselves, some of whom I knew, some I didn’t. I sang Cock Sparer’s “We’re Coming Back.” There was something completely fitting about singing a tune about holding on till the next time you get to see your friends with a room full of likeminded folks I get to see only once a year. And the room didn’t sink into a hellpit or explode, so I guess it went ok.

Day 3: Saturday, July 12th, 2014
12 p.m. – New Models of Masculinity with Erik Amundsen, John Benson, Kameron Hurley, Catt Kingsgrave, and Bart Leib

Good talk on creating male characters that don’t symbolize oppression in all its given forms. Badass.

1 p.m. – The Shiny, Candy-like Zombi with Dale Bailey, Scott Edelman, Catt Kingsgrave, John Langan, and Sarah Langan

Why the hell are we all still attracted to zombie stories? God only knows. Only got to see half of this panel and wished I had saw more.

1:30 p.m. – Sofia Samatar: A Reading

Have you read A Stranger in Olondria yet? You should. Hey look. Buy it here.

2 p.m. – Nicole Kornher-Stace: A Reading

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Read Nicole Kornher-Stace. Read Nicole Kornher-Stace. Read her. Look to Small Beer Press for further details.

3 p.m. – Dark Fantasy and Horror with Jeanne Cavelos, Ellen Datlow, Gemma Files, Jordan Hamessley, Jack Haringa, and Steve Rasnic Tem

Is there a difference between dark fantasy and horror? If so, what is it? The best distinction that I thought came out of this panel is that horror sets out to cause dread or terror. Dark fantasy sets out to use elements of horror as worldbuilding. Re: Near Dark is different in tone and purpose than say…Twilight. Near Dark seeks to cause unease through vampires that will dance to the Cramps and eat your face off. Twilight seeks to cause sexual tension (not scare tension) through a vampire/human relationship.

6 p.m. – Ken Schneyer: A Reading

Fucking eh. Love me some Ken Schneyer. He is gd hysterical. You. Must. Read. Him.

6:30 p.m. – The Works of Mary Shelley with F. Brett cox, Gwynne Garfinkle, Adrienne J. Odasso, and Diane Weinstein

I don’t know much about the life of Mary Shelley. This made me want to read a bit more about her.

7 p.m. – John Langan: A Reading

GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I can’t wait to read everything that John Langan has ever written.

7:30 p.m. – Glen Hirshberg: A Reading

And damn, Glen Hirshberg read a helluva creepy vampire tale. I dig it.

Day 4: Sunday, July 13th, 2014

…I left early.

I know! I know! I missed Ellen Kushner, Gemma Files, and Sonya Taaffe readings! But  I had to get through at least 4 hours of my drive on Sunday. Nicole Kornher-Stace and I drove to her place.

And.

And.

My car did quite fine for the 4 hour drive from ReaderCon to her town. But then, of course, we get off the highway and my breaks are all like GROAN OF A THOUSAND MOANING GEAR GODS. It sounded like I ran over a metal stegosaurus and was dragging his fatass down the road. Not. Good. So we left my car at a Midas with a voicemail begging them not to tow it, that I would, indeed, be there in the morning to talk about what work it needed, and then phoned Nicole’s husband to pick us up.

Ugh. I spent the rest of the night praying to Eris that whatever was wrong was an easy fix, in-stock, and cheap.

Which it ended up being at least two out of three. My bank account is still whining from the exertion. BUT! It was only the breaks on one side. It got fixed and I was able to leave midday from New York for Chicago…about an 11 hour drive.

Which I did.

But I’ll save that for my next recap…TALES OF A BOOK LAUNCH!