This time last week I was at the World Horror Convention in Austin, Texas. After fifteen hours travelling there and another fifteen hours to get back plus several late night parties the convention is a bit of a blur but I think at least some of the following things did actually happen and weren't just fatigue-induced hallucinations.
* Went sightseeing with Chris Teague. Chris suggested popping into San Antonio to see the Alamo as it was supposed to be nearby. But that turned out to be nearby in American terms; it was actually 15 million light years away. So instead we went to the LBJ Museum. We arrived at this choice as it offered an insight into the social, political and historical development of 20th Century America. Plus, it was free admission.
* Met up with Matt Cardin who I haven't seen for eight years. And who, after putting up with my jokes for the entire convention, is probably hoping that I won't see him again for at least another eight.
* Was struck completely dumb when I met Peter Straub. I think he walked away wondering, "Who is this mute that Simon Strantzas has just introduced me to?" And I don't even remember what I said to Joe Hill when I met him but he ran into the toilets to get away from me.
* Took my life in my hands by ordering a salad in a Texan restaurant. You should have seen the look of contempt the waiter gave me. When he brought our food over he refused to even look at me. He would ask Chris if he wanted a refill or dessert or whatever but blanked me completely. I was tempted to blow Chris's perceived manliness by revealing how he had wussed out of putting gravy on his breakfast that morning. But I decided against it as then the waiter wouldn't have been talking to either of us and we might have wanted to order more drinks later.
* Managed to remain blissfully unaware of the tornadoes raging across Texas until I realised there was a message on the phone in my hotel room from my mum asking if I was still alive. Fortunately the tornadoes were in another part of Texas. This cheered her up but not as much as if I'd checked the time difference before calling her back and avoided getting her out of bed in the middle of the night.
* Enjoyed the panels on Horror in academia, Horror in comics, Commonwealth Horror and How to Kill People. This last panel consisted entirely of martial artists, military personnel and gun aficionados. For some reason there were no hecklers during this panel.
* Cracked up at Matt describing Stephanie Meyers's prose style in hilarious manner. And then telling a joke that nearly reduced Chris to tears.
* Mike and Carolyn Kelly being charming company. The Canadian Nick and Nora Charles. All they needed was a murder to solve.
* Chatted to Mike Casto about Fantasy novels and martial arts. We got so into our discussion of how to generate punching power that he was one step away from giving me a private lesson in the hotel lobby. During this entire conversation Chris looked on in bemusement. The next day I apologised to him, explaining that I'm as big a geek for martial arts as I am for comics. "You're just lucky that I didn't combine the two and start talking about martial arts comics like Iron Fist." At which point Matt and I both cried out, "Like unto a thing of iron!" This made us seem cool and funny and not at all nerdy.
* Complained about having to miss all of the Sunday programming in order to catch my flight home only to bump into a WHC attendee at Houston airport and holding our own mini-convention in the departure lounge. A couple more hours and we would have set up a dealers room and started a book signing.
Anyway, thanks to everyone I met at the convention and who made my trip to Texas such fun. I would list all your names but I think a list that long might break the Internet. I just hope you all had as much fun as I did.