Not going to lie. This was a big trip. If you've been reading along (and I know that each and every one of you are, since I'm having the server feed all the pings back to my Apple Watch and I haven't gotten a bit of sleep since that happened) then you know that this has been one of those periods of turmoil in my career and there isn't an asterisk in the world that's big enough to park next to that word to convey the ambivalence of my feelings on the issue, that is unsettling to say the least. The payoff on this one hits late, so stay with me.
So, yeah, going up to the HP Lovecraft Film Festival (hereby shortened to HPLFF because who's got the time?) in Portland was a nice break. I get to hang out with friends, get to go over to Powells, get to eat too many biscuits. The usual. And, hopefully, I get to figure out where my next writing gig is going. Both relaxation and torment, dig? Hooray.
Nothing has been helped by ongoing issues with my foot, which I guess is attempting to ratchet up the pain levels to a point where I give into its demands and allow it to become its own independent nation, or perhaps just be adopted by someone else, because something I've been done has been pissing it off something fierce. Was acceptable when I got on the plane (with no breakfast because sure why not be doing freeway construction at 5am and make the commute take almost too long) and shuffling around town once I got there. But then it cranked over into HELLRAISER territory as I walked up to Powell's Bookstore. And stood on the concrete floor, trying to shift my weight in a way that just hurt less, much less felt good at all.
For a couple hours. Then walk back to the Helioscope Studio.
Anyways, pain is draining. I've known this for some time, like every time I get a surgery and try to do anything useful after. But this was a stark reminder. About all I could do was sit on the studio couch and push the pen around like I was pretending to work on a notebook filled with crabbed block letters. You know, like writers do. Pretty sure I fell asleep a couple times. Maybe I still am. Just like in MOUTH OF MADNESS.
Got back to my friend's place and about all I could do was sit in a chair or occasionally get up and try to stretch out the pain (Hello, Uncle Frank, yes I know you're quite cross with me but why are you flaying my heel from the inside? What did I ever do to you?) Couldn't even generate enough focus to really read anything that I'd found that day (yes, I had to ship books back -- no I don't have a problem). Just looked at the pictures, mostly. At least I think I did.
Leisurely Friday morning since the show didn't even set up until three or so, and open until five. Helped out on a minor amount of setup, and was reminded that yes, these shows largely exist on volunteer power (as well as money, but money doesn't get the tables set up directly). So a round of applause for those folks who risk throwing their backs out much less keeping their patience in the face of a thousand questions from dopes like me who can't even read the set-up email. Derp.
Originally, besides the work stuff, I came up to the HPLFF to see two movies. 1. Richard Stanley's adaptation of THE COLOR OUT OF SPACE, which was informally announced, or at least teased at last year's show. Was lucky enough to even be in a short panel discussion with him and got to ask about Clark Ashton Smith and the OTO and the use of infrasound and infared photography in the upcoming adaptation. So I was looking forward to that. Unfortunately, the lines for both the Friday screenings of the film were around the block and completely full. If I'd knifed three hours, I might've been able to get a decent seat for one of 'em. But it didn't come together. Oh well. The film itself is supposed to hit screens around the end of January and that's one that I definitely want to see on a big screen.
The second film I wanted to see was Roger Corman's THE HAUNTED CASTLE (itself an adaptation of THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD by HPL). I didn't get that one either. Because I'm a dope who can't really read. However, I was at least able to catch storytime with Victoria Price, daughter of actor and bon vivant Vincent Price. Which was certainly the highlight of the first day. Yes, even moreso than signing books and putting stories into readers' hands. One can only work for so long without needing a break.
I know other stuff happened. It was mostly a blur.
Saturday was a very long day. Started out with an author signing (and, weirdly, it turns out that most people at an HPLFF aren't really interested in weirdo science fiction about weaponized melancholy and the industries springing up around that or a boy falling in love with lost technology. I know. I don't know my markets very well. Anyways, that started at ten am. The room itself would stay open until eleven pm that night. That's, uh, 13 hours. That's a very long time, and maybe even too long. Even if you're having fun.
Spent a lot of time watching programming on Saturday (mostly because the dealer room is also the main panel room). Tough to pick a highlight, though it was a great joy to watch Victoria Price and Roger Corman both be interviewed up on stage. Oh, and if you want one takeaway quote? Consider Mr. Corman's answer to the question "How did you film LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS in three days?" the answer being "You plan your shit." Sage advice. Oh, and that movie, THE WICKER MAN, the original? The version of the film we know and love all came from a print that Corman had been given in an effort to sell him on distribution. The UK censors ripped the first version to shreds, and apparently it was the only print the producers had. Except for the one that Corman had in a cabinet here in the US. The rest is history.
A great surprise was "A Warning to the Curious" by MR James, perfomed by Robert Lloyd Parry in a darkened room and by candlelight. Super-effective, and a great way to experience the piece. Worth tracking down, if you get an opportunity to. Richard Stanley recited another story by James (and I'm sorry, but the title escaped me) also delightful. Sneaked out to catch the "Deep Time in Fiction" panel, which was pretty entertaining and informative (even got to my beloved LAND OF THE LOST) in its wide-ranging discussion (which did veer from deep time to time travel paradox a bit, but that's a danger with the subject matter.) Staggered home to do it again the following day.
I'll note that the only reason why I survived the long days was that I had started my morning with breakfast at the Biscuit Rambler. And I know, Pine State Biscuits is really good and all. But having to fight to get in on the weekends is not nearly my idea of fun. Biscuit Rambler is easy to get to, quick to serve and next door to some really excellent coffee. Oh, and really good. And biscuits are a thing that can come out really not good if you're not careful. So, go there if you're in Portland.
Meant to catch THE HAUNTED CASTLE on Sunday morning, and instead ended up in a theatre where they were running a host of short films. Mixed bag, really. Shorts are very challenging, and often not really my thing. That's not an indictment of the form, just my reception of it. Certainly interesting to see how other folks attempt to visualize the unseeable, though. Always take an opportunity to see things as someone else does.
Caught a panel on mental states and the fiction of Lovecraft. It was billed as "mental problems" and I'm not sure that's fair, but whatever. The panel was made much more lively by the presence of John Shirley, one of the original cyberpunk authors (and whose ECLIPSE trilogy is more prescient than 90% of the genre). He's always a hoot on these. And yes, I fanboy'd out and passed him a copy of QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS 'cause I figured it would be up his alley, or at least close enough by. I know. Don't meet your idols. Whatever.
Sold some more books, which is always nice. Had dinner for the second night in a row at the conveyor belt sushi house right down the street from the show. Don't roll your eyes. It can't be beaten for the price. All you care to eat for less than twenty bucks? Sign me up. I'm easy.
Caught the last panel of the show, for me anyways, with David Heath talking about Lovecraft's presence in comics, both directly and indirectly (such as Warren Ellis' and collaborators' GLOBAL FREQUENCY, which did take some overtly Lovecraftian themes and stick them right into sci-fi spy action and I'm sure he'll hate that capsule description so don't tell him for godssakes.)
And I talked to my publisher about what direction we're going to be taking things. Originally I'd thought I'd be working on VOIDMAW right about now (which is dark fantastic space opera) but it looks like there'll be more books following QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS instead. So if you're into that book and I sure hope you are, then this is good news, right? Nothing official yet, no timeline, though I have one in my head. And you'll certainly hear here when things line up. So that's the gospel, the good news, right there from the top of the mountain. Yeah, I'd say more but I'm probably not even supposed to say this much.
Flew back last night, shambled home, didn't sleep. Kinda want to sleep now. Sleep sounds good.
Planning on returning next year.