- by Chris Marie Green
Not long ago, Elaine Isaak wrote about going to conventions, and the subject really caught my attention. See, I’m not what you’d exactly call a new writer since I’ve got a few romance books out there under the pen name “Crystal Green.” But I am fairly new to the urban fantasy world as “Chris Marie Green,” and I was scheduled to make my first panel appearance at Comic-Con, San Diego.
But first, just a word about public speaking.
Like many of you, it makes me want to lose my cookies. And to speak at the Con, which played host to over 125,000 guests this year, separated the chocolate chips from the dough, if you know what I mean. I’d attended Comic-Con as a fan for several years before this, so I also knew how intense things could get at a panel, where the Q&A sessions would entail massive fanboy/fangirl questioning creativity. After all, the Con has an entire panel about which spaceships would win if they were pitted against each other. (Battlestar Galactica versus the Enterprise? You decide.)
So I prepared to speculate on who would triumph if Dracula fought Lestat. I was pretty sure I’d even be asked how my vampires differed from the norm and how they would fare if they came up against Van Helsing (both the traditional one and the new one with all the cool weapons).
All good, but I just wasn’t ready for the simplest matter: appearing alongside the other authors who were invited to speak. Joe Hill, who wrote the critically lauded HEART-SHAPED BOX. Max Brooks, who has cornered the market on zombie culture with WORLD WAR Z. And Adrienne Barbeau, who in addition to acting, has co-written a book about (what else?) vampires. Additionally, Natasha Rhodes and Jeffrey Mariotte have strong careers writing about vampires and zombies, along with many tie-in novels.
Oh, and then there was me, the possible cookie-hurler.
Our subject was “Things That Go Bump,” and I supposed that meant we were to talk about scary stuff, so I prepped by thinking of everything that had shaped the darkness in my novels: horror movies like SESSION 9, DON’T LOOK NOW, and PSYCHO. Books that had frightened me, such as NIGHTSHIFT and HELTER SKELTER.
But when I met the moderator and the other panelists outside the room before the big event, I felt like a big faker (even though everyone was really, really nice. Still, I’m neurotic, so what can I say?). Joe Hill and Adrienne Barbeau talked about how they’d been in the same movie once, since Joe is Stephen King’s son and King worked on CREEPSHOW, getting his son a small part alongside Adrienne. And then Max Brooks and Adrienne realized they’d worked on a project together, too, because Brooks is a Hollywood kid (Mel Brooks’ and Anne Brancroft’s son).
I just smiled, the cookies stirring in my stomach—and I mean that literally since I’d only had time to eat a Mrs. Field’s beforehand.
Thank goodness the moderator did a great job of spreading the questions around, indeed asking what motivated us to write horror. My preparation was justified! Yet after a few more “getting to know you” queries, the Q&A opened up.
That’s when I looked down the panel and had an epiphany.
As far as a great deal of people in this room knew, I was a “horror writer.” I was being seeing in a way that I’d never even imagined seeing myself. I had crossed over.
So the point of all this?
Even if you’ve written several books in one genre, it generally doesn’t mean squat when it comes to doing your time in another one. No matter how many novels I’ve got to my credit, I’m still a little urban fantasy writer, making her way up the ladder.
But, really, there’s a certain thrill in that—the first time someone recognizes your name. The Oz-like fascination with this different world I’ve entered.
So even if I’m still not used to answering questions like “What would happen if a vampire bit a zombie and vice-versa?” I’m making my way, as we all must do in this crazy career we’ve chosen….
Chris is giving away a copy of her second Vampire Babylon book, MIDNIGHT REIGN. She’ll be choosing from the comment section on Friday, so post away!