A weekend at Camp Necon

Just got back from Necon, the warmest and fuzziest horror convention you’ll ever attend. I’ve always heard that mystery writers are so friendly because we release all our violent tendencies in our fictional homicides, but apparently the authorial and artistic mayhem committed by horror practitioners is even more cathartic. This was one laid-back, friendly group. The beer probably helped.

Though this was Necon 28, it was a new convention for me. I don’t write horror, and haven’t read a lot recently, but my friend and co-editor Charlaine Harris was one of the guests of honor and my editor Ginjer Buchanan is a regular camper. I say “camper” because the convention is affectionately known as Camp Necon. Instead of being held at the usual bland hotel, Necon takes place at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. (Usually, they take over a dorm or two, but this year, we were at the college’s conference center.) And in addition to a robust selection of panels, dealer’s room, and art show, we had:

  • A saugie roast. A saugie is a local type of hot dog, and believe you me, it’s a Rhode Island delicacy. I think I ate enough of them to make up for the blood loss caused by tiny Rhode Island vampires, also known as mosquitos.
  • A Hawaiian shirt contest. It took me a while to find a Hawaiian shirt of my own-apparently they are not a big item in Boston-but when I did locate the perfect selection, it came with matching flip flops. Unfortunately I couldn’t compete, because I helped judge the contest. I understand it was the first year a Hawaiian shirt won the Hawaiian shirt contest.
  • A miniature golf tournament at Fantasy Land, which I came nowhere near winning, despite getting a hole in one. I also got to ride a wonderful sea dragon on the merry-go-round, once somebody helped me get my foot over the wings. (Thanks John, and I SO hope nobody had a camera handy at that moment.)
  • A softball game, which I single-handedly saved. It was I who supplied the bottle opener for the beer.
  • Other sporting events such as poker, croquet, and darts. The Brits won the darts medals, naturally. Yes, there were medals.
  • A talent show, which included singing, dancing, ranting, magic, and several hours of laughs. If they ever make a CD of that song about murdering mermaids, I want a copy.
  • A roast of a longtime Necon camper, and even though I didn’t know him or anything about him, I still laughed my tail end off.  Even without beer.

I got to meet some really talented and interesting people (Laura Anne Gilman, Carole Whitney, James, and Mad), renew acquaintances with others (Chris Golden, Morven Westfield, John Douglas, and online friend Nate Kenyon) and share cans of Off with total strangers. I came home with a wonderful picture of a pirate werewolf (I’m not making this up-http://skeeryvilletown.blogspot.com/) and a list of authors to read that includes Michael Marshall Smith, Tom Sniegoski, Hal Bodner, and Elizabeth Massie. 

Despite the itching from the mosquito bites, I am one happy camper.
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2 Responses to A weekend at Camp Necon

  1. Kate Laity says:

    The mosquitoes were murder — I guess the feral cats on campus keep them away from the quad. Good to see you at Necon. We need new blood there! Not to mention entertaining panelists like you and Charlaine.

    I laughed out loud at your saving grace for the game — since becoming Necon campers, we always keep a bottle opener and corkscrew in our glove compartment. You never know when you might need it. I always wonder how the incestuously insider humor seems to newcomers. I remember feeling quite confused my first year or two. Fortunately, some of the inside jokes are repeated soooo often that it’s easy to catch up on them.

  2. Toni Kelner says:

    Thanks, Kate. It was a fun weekend, and the itchy bites will go away…some day.

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