Crossing Over

- 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!

14 comments

  1. Nice assessment, Chris. I’m heading to Worldcon, and am going through a lot of the same pre-con prep and anxiety. You made me feel better!

  2. Great post, Chris :) For a person who thought she’d lose her cookies (and I know what that feels like) sounds like you did a great job and had a fab time.

  3. I recall the first time I was “recognised” at a con, and the first time someone asked me (with my editor’s hat on) “What are you looking for lately?”

    I thought, “Who? Me?”

    pnagle–I’ll be at WorldCon, too! Come to our Electric Spec party at the MileHiCon hospitality suite friday night 5-7.

  4. Hey, all–thanks so much for your comments!

    Pati and Betsy, have a great time at WorldCon. I’ve heard so much about it, but I’ve never gone….

    Ali, things did go better than I expected on the panel, LOL. Once I got used to my voice ringing through the room on that microphone, I calmed down. I’m sure the sound of your own amplified voice got to you at first, too!

    Hope everyone’s having a great day.

  5. I have read your books an really enjoyed them.
    Sounds like you held your own with the big guns.

  6. Hey Chris, I don’t live where I can attend what sounds like an awesome event like that but I too have read the Vampire Babylon books and am totally hooked. I love paranormal subjects and read a lot of different various ones and you have done a fantastic job with the books you’ve written. I am so looking forward to the next ones coming out. Please keep up the great work and keep them coming.

    Dawn Fan for Life

  7. Morning!

    Estella, thank you so much! One of my big worries was that, if the moderator wasn’t making sure everyone got some speaking time, I wouldn’t have the guts to say much. Thank goodness that wasn’t a problem. :)

    And, wow, thank you, too, Chris! I’m actually working on the fifth Vampire Babylon book now. I’m contracted for six, but we’ll see what happens….

    Meanwhile, have a great one!

  8. I’m so happy for you!! Crossing over is no small feat, and you’ve done it successfully. It sounds like you did great, and I’ll be you hooked a lot of new readers. Yay Chris!.

  9. Sasha! I appreciate those kind words, and talk about a success–you know the definition! ;)

  10. You had me hooked right up to the end. I was reading it out loud with my daughter because we just had to know what the question asked was… Zombie and Vamps… Hmmm, I’m guessing that someone came up with a highly intelligent, even moderately rational theory. Me, for one, would have probably fallen off my seat laughing. Thanks you for letting me know that someone else has just as bad a time speaking in public!

  11. Chris! You went, you saw, you paneled with the best of them. I know you did great. Terrific post.

    So, um, tell me…about Joe Hill…

    Squeeeee!

  12. Thank you, Teagan! And you’re right–Max Brooks gave some great zombie versus vampire answers. Something about how the stuff in the vampire’s blood wouldn’t affect the zombie but the zombie’s would affect the vampire, etc…. (Sorry, I’m not a zombie person and, depending on the author, not all vampires–or zombies–are the same, LOL.) Max was great at handling those questions, and I’ll be reading WORLD WAR Z soon. He definitely won me over.

    Hey, Christine! You’ve been supportive since day one of this, and I so appreciate that. You’ll be happy to know that Joe Hill is a cool guy. He’s also articulate, thoughtful, and not half as intimidating as I imagined. (And his resemblance to his pa is uncanny in face and voice.) He actually agreed with me about something I said on the panel (about how I wished we hadn’t found out so much about Hannibal Lecter because boogeymen are much scarier when they’re left in the shadows), and I was feeling the squee. :) I bought his book, too, and I can’t wait to read it!

    Okay, I’ll be back later to pick a winner….

  13. All right, I’m back, and by random number drawing, the winner is Teagan Oliver!
    Come back Sunday, when our wonderful mistress of the Web will be giving away more (including another copy of MIDNIGHT REIGN)!

    Thank you for being here, everyone. Hope to see you later!

  14. Oh, Thanks! Really interesting. Greets.