FanBoy Moment: Meeting Brian Keene at WHC


About eight years ago I was a completely newbie author with a couple of fantasy books out and maybe three horror short stories published to my credit (I have a lot more horror stories published now), and I went to Horrorfind Weekend convention in Baltimore, Maryland. I sat at a table in the dealer room and sold a few books and met a few people. It was fun. 

But I stayed in the dealer room for 99% of the weekend, convinced no one there would give me the time of day. And, unfortunately, I was kinda right. A couple of authors were friendly (Michael Laimo said hi to me) but I was just there. And it was my own fault, because I didn’t talk to anyone or make any effort. Believe it or not, I was shy and insecure among all these great authors. 

Cut to the bar area that night. 

Brian Keene was sitting there, and I knew who he was thanks to MySpace (remember MySpace?) and because his book The Rising had completely knocked me off of my feet. I kid you not. I owe the Dying Days zombie series to this man, because without his book I wouldn’t have attempted zombie fiction. I even wrote a piece about it conveniently titled “Why I Write About Zombies” (feel free to read it and then come back for the rest of this post… I’ll wait…)

Brian Keene - The Rising zombie

I walked up to the bar, as close to Brian as I could get without bumping into him, and casually turned and stared at him like a little schoolgirl. Brian Keene turned to me with a smile and said hi. 

I said blahbehchickablehblehugghhhh and felt my chest and throat tighten. Then I did what every cool person does when meeting an idol… I ran away like a little schoolgirl.

Cut to eight years later and across the country in Portland Oregon. 

The World Horror Convention, and while I’d come a long way but had much more to do and to rise, I felt I’d earned a place at least at the kid’s table. And I was fine with it. And when I heard Brian Keene was going to be the Grandmaster of the weekend, I was excited. And then nervous. 

I wanted to meet him. I needed to meet him. I posted on Facebook about my last and only encounter with him, and how this was going to be cosmic payback. I would stride up to him with a grin, pat him on the back and we’d hug it out like real men. Or something like that. 

Of course, on Thursday afternoon, as Special Gal and I had lunch in the hotel restaurant, Brian Keene walked into the lobby and I might have squealed a little. She thought it was quite amusing and ‘threatened’ to call him over, but I was not ready. I needed time to prepare. 

Cut to a few hours later. 

Special Gal and I were walking through the lobby, minding our own business, when I saw Brian Keene chatting with a few people. As I went to go past him he suddenly turned and noticed me. He smiled and said hi. He put his hand out and I turned my brain off and gripped his hand, shaking firmly. 

He said something but I have no idea what because I was too busy trying not to talk or say something incoherent. I nodded, smiled back, and walked away. Special Gal busted my chops the rest of the night but I was flying. 

The next time I saw Brian Keene was at a zombie panel, and as it wrapped up Special Gal turned to me and said in no uncertain terms we weren’t leaving the room without a picture of me and Brian together. 

I nodded dumbly. She asked him to take it and he smiled and took us into the hallway.

Then he put his arm around me and said “we need to do the Devil Horns, right?” 

He had either done his homework and knew who I was (and that I was a fellow Metalhead) or it was an excellent guess. Either way, I was damn proud as the picture was taken. But, wait… there’s more…

“Are you going to the Gross Out Contest tonight?” Brian asked me.

I had no intention of going but I said yes. Of course I was going to go! 

We made small talk for a few minutes and the guy was just genuine. He gave me a few minutes of his time and even said to find him at the bar that night so we could have a drink. 

I learned three things from this encounter… 

1. I am still such a FanBoy when it comes to him but at least I strung a few sentences together

2. THIS is the way you treat fellow authors, no matter how big or small they are. Brian Keene’s WHC posts aren’t just about what he did and accomplished but about pointing out all the new writers he met during the con, and praising the new batch of authors who are inspired by him

3. Special Gal is the greatest woman I have ever met and I am damn lucky to have her in my corner to help me fumble through the non-writing parts of this career. Friends lucky enough to have met her in Portland can attest to this

Brian Keene 

My goal for years to come is not only to emulate him but also to remember this lesson. Oh, and now I want to hang out with him again and pick his brain for hours… and I’ll try not to make it too creepy…

Armand

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Spreading Out Your Blog Posts


I get a ton of e-mail, as I’m sure a lot of you do. I usually wake up to anywhere from 200 – 450 new e-mails a day in my main account, and spend the first hour of my day running through it and answering the important stuff and deleting all the garbage. I subscribe to about 200 different WordPress blogs… I am addicted, and I’m like a child. I need to not miss anything.

The one thing, however, that irks me is when I find a new blog I like or they have an interesting post and I start following them because of promise. Last night, for instance, I found a great blog post by another horror writer. I have never read her work or even knew her name. She posted about her work in progress and I enjoy reading the process of other authors as they write and hope to learn something new from them. 

This morning I wake and start going through my pile and I see a post from her, reviewing the World War Z movie. It isn’t a long post, only about 150 words. I read it because I saw the movie and I felt a certain trust with her blog after last night. She gushed for a line how she loved it and then likened the zombies in the movie to her zombies she’s writing in her unfinished book, going into detail about her main character (who is a zombie). End of review. 

Then I notice there are 22 new posts from her this morning… twenty-two! What are they all about? Pretty much about her zombie story no one has yet to read and she hasn’t completed it, but yet… she talks about Jonathan Maberry and his excellent books and how his zombies were cool but HER zombies were cool, too. Same with Brian Keene. These posts came 6 and 7 minutes before her movie review one. And it runs that pattern, all posts within 60 minutes… that’s about a post every 3 minutes. 15 of them were just reblogs of stuff she liked but none of it about writing or zombies. It seemed very random, like she was reblogging anything her friends put up or she saw. 

So, me being me… I dug deeper and found out she hadn’t posted in 8 days. But her last time she posted she had 13 entries, all at 4 am EST and all within 45 minutes.  5 days before that she did a sweep of 16 entries in about an hour and all at 2 am EST. She lives in the Northeast, so she is posting before bed I assume. 

Now, I’m all for content. I like blogs that post interesting and original things each day or every few days, but are consistent. I want to read about their work and what they like and don’t like. I want to get to know them as I read. But it has to make sense. I know next time she binge posts I’m going to simply delete all of them. Who has time to read 16 posts, most of them not having anything to do with one another? 

I have my own ideas for what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to posting new blogs. I don’t post as often as I would like or I should, but I try to be consistent with the ones I write or reblog. I would think anyone reading my blog has come to expect a certain level from me and is reading because I am doing something right, something they would be interested in reading. Not about random things. And they don’t want to hunt for it in the middle of the night, either. 

What’s your take?

Armand