More than 400 people attended StokerCon in Grand Rapids, securing its spot in HWA history. It was a whirlwind of panels and events, and I loved every minute of it. As part of my schedule, I presented my paper “Mapping the Collective Body of Frankenstein’s Brides” at the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference coordinated by Nicholas Diak and Michele Brittany. And Friday afternoon, I participated on a panel with Marge Simon and Lisa Morton on the HWA Scholarships. When I won the HWA Scholarship in 2016, it literally changed my life. I constantly urge others to apply for the amazing educational opportunities offered by the HWA, which made this particular panel especially meaningful.
I also had the good fortune to meet Gwendolyn Kiste, author of The Rust Maidens and the winner of the Stoker for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Along with Donna Munro and April Grey, Gwendolyn participated in the discussion on Fairy Tales: A Child’s Introduction to Horror, which I moderated. Hansel & Gretel, Baba Yaga, and Tam Lin were the favorites by far; Gwendolyn and I even snuck in a side discussion on Angela Carter’s fairy tales, which are definitely not written for children.
Although poetry is normally an outlier in these events, there was a strong interest in the form evidenced by full rooms of poetry reader and writers attending the panels Writing to Prompts: Prose, Poetry, and Sources of Inspiration and the Weird Poetry Panel: Weird, Horror & Otherwise Speculative Poetry. Buy my favorite poetry-related event at StokerCon was the Poetry Open Mic on Friday night. Poets of all levels were able to share their work. Highlights included readings by renowned poets Linda D. Addison, Karen Bovenmyer, Kyla Ward, Randy D. Rubin, Angela Yuriko Smith, and David E. Cowen, who was also a nominee for Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection and my dining companion at the banquet on Saturday night.
The awards banquet is always a stunning affair, and this year was no different. I celebrated in style with Marge Simon, Linda D. Addison, Stoker nominees David E. Cowen, Angela Yuriko Smith, Kyla Ward, and other new and old friends alike. It was a thrill to watch the Bram Stoker Awards handed out and to see the changing of the guard as John Palisano stepped into the role as HWA President. But perhaps even more exciting than that was the announcement that StokerCon 2021 will be held in Denver, Colorado. I look forward to welcoming all of the wonderful people involved in HWA to my home state alongside the other Colorado committee members Hillary Raque Dodge, Dean Wyant, and Lawrence Berry, who is also the president of the HWA Colorado Chapter. We can’t wait to share what we have in store for you!