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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CONduit 21

Todd Jepperson

As you may have heard, we recently had the opportunity to cover CONduit, the largest and longest running science fiction and fantasy convention in Utah. The guest list included names such as artist/writer Brian C. Hales (website), critically acclaimed author of over 50 published novels Carole Nelson-Douglas (website), scientist couple Dan and Laura Lind (I couldn't find a website for them), and co-author of the first [and some of the greatest books I’ve ever read] Tracy Hickman (again, website).

The first thing you may say is that nobody on the list above is a notable face among the Zombie community. Take a seat, and allow me to entertain you while I tie our presence in with the masters above.

This was my very first convention . . . ever. No lie. So, I was completely lost. I got checked in at the desk and started down the long list of events searching for the top places I might find other re-animate enthusiasts. It just so happened that I had noticed a book cover with the title Silver Zombie, and the author was presenting about five minutes from the time I checked in. I thought that was as good a place as any to get my start, so I made my toward the presentation room. I discovered that the above mentioned book was actually named after a mixed drink, and was a Sherlock-Holmes type of mystery novel which had nothing at all to do with the legions of undead I was hoping for. However, I was entreated to a highly intelligent discussion about entering the world of publishing and how to create longevity in your writing. Ms. Douglas was very entertaining and was even kind enough to pose for a quick photo. She asked me why I had attended her presentation, and we had a quick laugh over my mistake. She thanked me, and I was off to, once again, find a place for us where we fit in.

The next panel I saw that interested me was on Romanticizing the Monster with the above mentioned Linds and Tracy Hickman as a special guest. Luckily, it was about a half-hour away, and I had time to do some networking. I found myself in Artist Alley standing in front of a display for the art of Billy Tackett (you may have heard of him). I was able to shake a few hands, and give away some of the exclusive artist series four buttons had done for us, before moving on to the panel.

At the panel, they focused mostly on the pro-misogynistic vampires in the world today, but also mentioned how Zombies were the only monsters who still have their pride intact; and still commit regular destruction of humanity. It was said that it is impossible to have a functional romance with a Zombie, and the book Warm Bodies was brought up. The panel and audience decided for the world that the type of corpse that could engage in a full-fledged romance was merely a parody of the monster it resembled, and therefore just plain didn’t count anymore. It was also on this panel that I got to know Mr. Dan Lind, who had me laughing my ass off the whole time.

Again, I was entertained, and actually found myself having a great time. I had dragged my brother along with me promising him that he’d have a chance to meet Tracy Hickman; that promise was fulfilled after the panel. Tracy happily autographed my brother’s book and also took time to let us know about an online writer’s workshop he was putting together. He also gave us some free bookmarks, and signed those as well.

After that, I had the chance to talk to people from Wasatch Paranormal Investigators, Dungeon Crawlers Radio, and Artist Extraordinaire Carter Reid from The Zombie Nation. We were invited to do a radio spot and podcast for Dungeon Crawlers and also to attend Conclave of Horror in August, where we could have a partner in crime tag-teaming with The Zombie Nation’s booth.

Sadly, the end came and I was forced to turn in my press pass. Before I could go, however, the head of registration wanted to talk to me about my experience. As it turns out, the convention had attracted so many people they ran out of registration forms, and the hotel was concerned with maximum occupancies and fire code. Next year, there’s a high likelihood that the convention will need to be moved from the Radisson Downtown hotel to a larger convention center. I was told that they enjoyed having Zombies and Toys there to cover the event, and invited us back any time we wanted. I left a business card and some free goods with them on my way out the door, hoping for a happy reunion next year.

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