A couple weekends ago, I attended Bizarro Con in Portland. Bizarro Con is a gathering of bizarro fiction authors. It’s basically a big party for people who read and write weird books. This was my third Bizarro Con.
Day 1: Thursday
As soon as my plane landed on Thursday night, I met up with two authors who I have tons of respect for: Kevin Strange and Bradley Sands. Kevin is relatively new to the scene, but he’s already cranked out a ton of ridiculous and wonderful books. As the former editor of StrangeHouse Books, he published a bunch of my short stories. Bradley is a bizarro lifer.
So the party began immediately. We picked up my rental car and were warned of the freezing rain. In Minnesota, freezing rain is when rain turns to ice and forms a shell around you so you have to keep moving. Portland’s definition of freezing rain is a little looser. It wasn’t even slippery.
We cruised to Edgefield and I caught up with as many awesome writer people as I could. I met a lot of people who I had befriended online. Cool to meet people in real life. But that’s what Bizarro Con, and the bizarro scene in general, is all about. These are not just random writers putting out books. This is a community. Everybody supports each other and works hard. Creativity and passion inspire creativity and passion.
Day 2: Friday
Friday night was kind of life changing for me. I’ve been into drag almost as long as I’ve been into writing. I’ve always wanted to combine the two. Eraserhead Press boss Rose O’Keefe asked me to do a reading from my latest book, Dungeons & Drag Queens, for the EHP fifteenth anniversary party, so the time was right! I donned my four-inch heels and my favorite skully dress and…
Yup, that’s me and my buddy Kevin Strange. Pretty fucking fabulous, right? I had so much anxiety walking into the party, but was greeted with total luv, so most of my nerves just drained out of me. Did I mention that I seriously love this scene? Everyone’s so open minded and supportive.
One of the big parts of the Friday night party is beer. Certain books are selected to be the basis of a beer, and Dungeons & Drag Queens was one of them. Total honor! Check it out: Dungeons & Drag Queens Belgian IPA. I’m told it was delicious.
Friday night is when the top names in bizarro books perform. Carlton Mellick III did a piece about the rules of fight club that cracked me up hardcore. Brian Allen Carr, Violet LeVoit, Bradley Sands and M.T. Granberry also blew minds. So much fucking talent. And me! I was nervous, but I didn’t wobble at all in my heels. I did forget literally every joke I had planned to tell. I just read the first chapter of the book.
The rest of the evening was a blur of fun and nonsense. Bizarro musical jam. I was on the receiving end of a motorboating. First!
Day 3: Saturday
I got up early on Saturday for breakfast and the traditional Saturday morning raffle. Prizes included cat testicles. I didn’t win anything, but I ate a lot of French toast. The rest of the day included readings and panels. I did not witness a bad reading!
Saturday night was the Wonderland Book Awards banquet. My first book, The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone, was one of the final nominees for best novel. I’m not going to be disingenuous and say I didn’t want to win, because I did, but between the emotions I was feeling from the previous night and just my general duh-ness, I kind of didn’t want to win because I would probably have nervous vomited all over everyone. But yeah, I wanted to win.
But I didn’t win. Brian Allen Carr won. And my heart didn’t sink when I didn’t hear my name. Here’s what happened: He gave a speech that started out poignant about just watching dust in the beams of light and ended with something about lotion and his dad, and I knew that destiny dictated that he had to win (and I read Motherfucking Sharks on the way home, and HE HAD TO WIN!).
Then I decided that I am going to win this award sometime, and I don’t care if that’s cocky. I’m going to work hard and it’s going to happen, maybe next year for Dungeons & Drag Queens? Who knows?
The banquet was followed by more partying. Stunt vomiting. Musical shenanigans. High fives. Stage dives. Actually no stage dives. Shit, writers party pretty hard.
Day 4: Sunday
Sunday I was going to leave early and wander around Portland, but instead I stayed and checked out more panels and stuff. I met with my editor at Eraserhead, the mighty Kevin L. Donihe, and talked plans for Dinosaurs & Drag Queens and world domination. Then thumb wrestling with Bradley Sands. Movie trivia. If you ask me to name the movie with poodles that turn into drag queens, yeah, I’m going to know the answer. People started to leave. Darkness fell over Portland. Shit just kind of ended.
Now I’m back here, alone, in front of my computer, but I know that I’ve got this whole badass community backing me up, and vice versa. It feels nice.