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"I've had the time of my life..." - A few words on ChillerCon

It’s about time I sat down and wrote a few words about ChillerCon, the convention I attended in Scarborough at the end of May. It’s the 12th of June today and I’ve been at a loss for words really. I started off thinking I would write a small entry for each day, thought I’d have the time because at the events I’ve been to in the past I’ve had that time.

But this one was different.

Maybe it was partially my frame of mind that made it special. This convention was originally supposed to be StokerCon, which I was excited to attend, and a bit pouty throughout the lockdown that I never did get to attend. Still, it was a beacon, a writer’s call if you will, a promise that in the future the time would come that we’d get to have the event and so it got postponed and postponed and when it was finally time to go, thanks to the astounding Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane, it was exciting.

And it turned out when I woke up to go I really didn’t want to leave the comfort of my own home.

I’m usually like that before trips, but when I woke up at 5 o’clock the day I was flying over to Manchester to get to Scarborough I almost didn’t go. Of course I would never have actually made that decision but the thought was still in my head, very compelling. I was lethargic, somewhat scared of covid still and terrified of being in a room full of intelligent people who have forgotten more about writing than I will ever learn.

When I arrived in Scarborough I felt, right away, that it was a special place. The castle towering in the distance, the hotel standing on the ridge of a slope that led down to the beach. The strange combination of extravagance and subtlety in the hotel. The teacan in my room, that I never used.

And it started immediately, the joy of it. Meeting people I hadn’t met through the entirety of the pandemic and constantly being thrown into conversations that thrilled me completely, about books and about horror and about life in general. So many new faces and a lot that I’d met before and each time I felt overwhelmed I had the option of going up to my room and take a few moments to be with myself and breath.

I had my first panel at that convention and thanks to my co-panelists and our wonderful leader it went far beyond my expectations. I had another one too - where my imposter syndrome reared its ugly head, but was made to feel welcome and at home.

The days blend into one. I woke up early each morning and walked down to the beach and up to the castle before most people were up. It was a wonderful walk, quiet and scenic. And when I got back there was always a friendly face, a conversation to join in, a panel to watch, or a reading to listen to.

Intense, and it has taken me this time to process. I guess a part of that is the fact that this particular social muscle hasn’t been used much during the pandemic. And I felt a quick onset of con-brain, which finds you repeating yourself to people because you can’t actually remember who you’ve told what.

Still, I could get used to this. Doing nothing but speak about writing, books and horror all day long. What else does one need?

I won’t name all the wonderful people who made this con so special to me. You know who you are, and those of you who don’t? I’ll make a point somewhere down the line to remind you. May we meet again at an event just like it.

Tomorrow is a normal Monday, work, my kid comes home after a week with her dad and all that jazz, but now I’m making time to write. I’m not neglecting that aspect because there are very few things in my life more important. Thank you Scarborough, and my horror family, for that reminder.


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