StokerCon & Silver Hammers

This last weekend was a whirlwind of activities, panels, and readings. The pandemic has affected many things over the last 15 months, and StokerCon 2021 was one of those things. Through a truly massive effort on the part of co-chairs Brian W. Matthews and James Chambers, StokerCon shifted to a virtual platform in a matter of just a couple of months. It was an impressive feat.

During StokerCon, I was lucky enough to take part in three prerecorded panels: From Poetry to Fiction and Vice Versa, Reinventing the Classics, and HWA Chapters: What They Do and How to Start One. I also moderated the readings by two guests of honor: Lisa Morton and Seanan McGuire. And, before I knew it, the  Bram Stoker Awards® presentation hit the schedule Saturday night. Normally, I enjoy the awards as a spectator there to cheer for the finalists. This time, it was a little different.

A couple of months back, I was notified that I was won the Silver Hammer Award alongside Brian W. Matthews. This is the first year there have been two recipients of this award since 1997 when it was given to Lawrence Watt-Evans and Robert Weinberg. With the truly massive amount work Brian dedicates to HWA (StokerCon co-chair in 2019 Grand Rapids, 2021 virtual, and 2022 Denver), he represents the epitome of dedication and devotion in his efforts to shine a light on the best horror has to offer. However, I have to admit that winning an award for my own volunteer efforts threw me for a loop. The entire experience of recording an acceptance speech and writing something for the souvenir anthology was somewhat surreal.

Every single minute I’ve spent volunteering for the HWA has been a minute well spent. It is rewarding work, and I find great joy in contributing to an organization dedicated to providing a safe and supportive space for members. I’m grateful to be a part of this creative and compassionate community.

Carina Bissett, StokerCon 2021 Souvenir Anthology: The Phantom Denver Edition

The Silver Hammer Award is periodically given to “an HWA volunteer who has done a truly massive amount of work for the organization, often unsung and behind the scenes. It was instituted in 1996, and is decided by a vote of HWA’s Board of Trustees.” Since I won the HWA Scholarship in 2016, I’ve volunteered annually as a member of both Stoker and Scholarship juries. In 2020, I started work on the HWA Membership Committee and worked alongside Hillary Dodge to create the Colorado Springs Chapter of HWA. I also helped with StokerCon 2021 as the Sponsorship Coordinator. The work in itself has always been rewarding, and I look forward to many more years of service in supporting this organization that has given me so much.

One of my favorite parts of the virtual conference was that I was able to see everyone’s panels and all of the author readings. So often during a physical conference, I’m forced to pick and choose. For my own reading, I shared “Twice in the Telling,” a mashup of the murder ballad “The Twa Sisters” and the fairy tale “The Water Nixie.” I was lucky enough to have this story included in the anthology Upon a Twice Time, which is now available from Air and Nothingness Press. Best of all, I was able to see comments from attendees who stopped by to listen to my reading.

To say the weekend was important to me would be an understatement. Even though we were not able to be together at a physical conference, I was happy that I had the opportunity to see and speak with friends-old and new-at the virtual conference. The entire experience has been an amazing one, and I’ve learned a little more about myself along the way.

A Panel and a Publication

I’m looking forward to talking about horror with fellow panelists Christa Carmen, Sara Tantlinger, Nicole Willson, Jessica Guess, and Zoje Stage at the online event Females of Fright! The panel will be moderated by award-winning author Gwendolyn Kiste. The panel starts at 8 pm (EST) on Friday, February 12. You can register here: http://ow.ly/ZyKp50DtEFC. I hope you’ll join us. It’s going to be so much! (Note: The panel is archived at HWA’s YouTube channel.)

And, if you’d like to hear Gwendolyn Kiste read one of her stories, check out the Valentine’s Day special at HWA COS. On February 14, recordings of readings prepared for last year’s Bloody Valentine event will be available for everyone to enjoy. It’s a power-packed roster including Linda D. Addison, L.C. Barlow, Andrea Blythe, Gwendolyn Kiste, Kate Jonez, Sarah Read, Marge Simon, and Mercedes M. Yardley. Also, each week during Women in Horror Month, members of HWA COS will be reading their work for the virtual edition of A Bloody Valentine. This year’s line-up includes J. A. Campbell, Claire L. Fishback, Shannon Lawrence, and Angela Sylvaine.

I’m also excited to share the gorgeous cover for the StokerCon 2021 Souvenir Anthology, edited by Josh Viola. As always, Hex Publishers puts out a gorgeous book with The Phantom Denver Edition. StokerCon 2021 has moved to a virtual platform this year, but we will have the opportunity to meet up again in Denver at StokerCon 2022! The Phantom Edition of this year’s anthology includes my interview with past HWA president Lisa Morton. It was definitely a thrill to see my name on the back cover along with so many incredible writers and poets. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!