Sunday, April 28, 2013

Nancy Holder, Lisa Morton, Benjamin Kane Ethridge and Horror at LiteraryOrange

We all took a long break after the long, seemingly never-to-end campaign season that ran into Christmas that ran into the winter blahs. But around WonderCon we began to snap out of it, and the final straw was the great LiteraryOrange festival we attended on April 6.  There were probably 300 people there, most of them middle-aged women. A few men. Hardly any youngsters. The panels were eclectic and the whole event was fun.

The best panel was Horror: Dead and Loving It. What a line up! We were really excited to learn the panel included Nancy Holder and Lisa Morton. My daughter was a big Buffy fan (at 6 she was Buffy for Halloween, during its first season, when no one knew who Buffy was. She wore black clothes and a backpack with a bottle of holy water in it, and even carried a wooden stake she carved herself.) And we really enjoyed hearing from a newcomer (to us) Benjamin Kane Ethridge.

The panel members covered a wide variety of topics, including:

  • The decline of horror after the glut in the 1980's (does anyone still have their Goosebump books?)
  • How gore in movie released in the first decade of this century killed the word "horror" and no one wanted it associated with their movies
  • The affect of smart horror shows like Buffy and Angel and Supernatural, where the writing was never dumbed down. Supernatural is a horror show a week in itself (and who doesn't like those hot guys?)
  • The glut of vampire movies, books and TV shows. The panelists said vampire popularity seems to run in 20-year cycles.
  • zombies
  • The Horror Writers of America and the help it can give aspiring writers. Anyone can join and help support others, even if one doesn't write oneself.
  • The rise of self-publishing and the critical need for editing. How many of us have read books lately that cried out for editing: lousy punctuation and sentence structure, anachronisms (I threw a book across the room just yesterday for being so out of synch with the time in which it was set.), lack of continuity, misuse of words, etc.
We were really entertained by the writers' stories about writing. Nancy Holder watches a horror movie every morning to put her in the mood. When she first started writing she submitted articles to all kinds of obscure magazines, and collected rejection letters from all of them. Even from a magazine aimed at cement makers. But she explained there are all kinds of business-related reasons your submission might be rejected, and not everything is personal.

We also liked the reasons the writers gave for writing horror:
  • Mr. Ethridge said his horror books sold better than his fantasy ones. Horror is a unique genre where the author is trying to get an emotion from the reader: Fear. A romance writer is not trying to get the reader to fall in love.
  • Ms. Morton wanted to write horror ever since she saw The Exorcist as a child. She wrote screenplays until she decided she didn't want her name on lousy movies anymore.
  • Ms Holder started as a romance writers and found her readers loved Stephen King.
They also explained the actual work of writing is only part of the work. There's a lot of associated activities for which a writer does not get paid, like doing research and promotion.

Naturally we bought their books and talked to the authors after the panel. And I ran home and ordered Nancy Holder's Buffy: The Making of a Slayer. Too bad there weren't more people at the panel. The last time I saw Ms Holder at Comic-Con the lines to get her latest book were huge. 

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