Orgy of Souls: Making Gary Braunbeck’s Brain Melt

Some people have asked about what the thought process behind bringing Orgy of Souls to light. So I thought I would explore that for a bit.

At the World Horror Convention 2007, Wrath James White and I were telling award winning writer, Gary Braunbeck about our collaboration. If I could capture a facial expression of his reaction to just the IDEA of the two of us writing together, and use it as a blurb, I most certainly would have done so.

Wrath James White and I have very little in common beyond being bald, black horror writers. Our writing styles, our lifestyles, our politics, our worldviews, our spiritual perspectives – on paper, we shouldn’t even be friends. He writes for those with “a taste for the violent, the erotic, the blasphemous,” while I write introspective, atmospheric stories. He’s a hedonistic humanist and I’m a Christian, the facilitator (a nebulous title coming from the Greek meaning “we don’t want to keep explaining to the congregation that one of the church leaders is a horror writer”) at a church called The Dwelling Place.

Religion and horror are inextricably tied to one another, probably because both deal with the unknown and try to come to terms with the fear of it. Since spirituality is a fundamental part of the human experience, an examination of faith, especially against the backdrop of the horror genre is something that is near to my heart. Doing so with a voice diametrically opposed to mine, that’s a challenge that I’ve looked forward to.

The a “big idea” to Orgy of Souls is the examination of the idea of faith and in a lot of ways is a continuation of the kind of conversations (read: arguments) Wrath and I typically find ourselves in (in fact, my story recently published in Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest #12, “Broken Strand” is another story stemming from one of our arguments, that time on free will. Just like “Nurse’s Requiem”, in the Dark Dreams III anthology examined the idea of faith stemming from another argument; and my story “Rite of Passage”, in an upcoming issue of Space & Time Magazine stemmed from an argument we were having over the history of slavery. In other words, we do this a lot).

Seen as a crutch by some, faith is that sometimes tenuous, sometimes stronger-than-we-think thing that keeps our world in order. I believe that we’re all people of faith in our own way, it’s just a matter of what we choose to put that faith in, be it in ourselves, science, humanity, or in God. As such, we each are on our own spiritual journey.

I don’t know much for sure and I’m certainly not afraid of questioning or going through a period of doubt. Faith includes doubt. God is big enough for us to question, doubt, and wrestle with. In fact, I believe He expects us to. The opposite of faith isn’t doubt, it’s certainty. Finding faith is like falling in love: there is an element of mystery to both and let’s face it, there are times when we feel like we have been chosen and times when we choose to do it (which is what marriage has taught me).

As for “how can a Christian write horror?” (you can imagine the variations on this question I tend to field … and my sometimes less than helpful responses) or justify any story, much less one about faith, set against a backdrop of plenty of sex and violence and the occasional demon … the best answer I can offer is that sometimes exploring faith can be messy.

Orgy of Souls is as much about the collaboration as anything else. It’s important to choose wisely in your collaboration partners because it’s a lot like entering into a marriage (and divorce can be just as messy). The idea is to come together without losing the distinction of your individual voices. The way we looked at it was that I do what I do. Wrath does what Wrath does. I get to play in Wrath’s sandbox (though I swear, he wrote all the naughty bits. Absolutely. He’s solely to blame. I definitely had no role in any of that. For sure.) Wrath gets to play in mine. It was every bit as much two friends coming together to do what we love, writing, just to enjoy the give and take and learning from each other. And have a ball doing it.

Then we invite the reader to join in our fun. You can’t ask for much more than that.

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Mo*Con IV: Save the Date

The Love and Business of Writing

May 15th – 17th, 2009

Here’s all I’ll say for now (tentatively – as details are still being worked out):

Tom Piccirilli

Gary Braunbeck

Lucy Synder

Linda Addison

Gerard Houarner

There will be a poetry jam. Food. Drinks. And a sermon by Wrath James White. If this doesn’t get me fired, nothing will.

Brought to you by The Dwelling Place, Trinity Church, and the Indiana Horror Writers. Details will come (as will a re-vamping of my web site to feature a Mo*Con page to include footage of previous Mo*Cons). For now, keep the date open.

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Mo*Con II Recap III: Gary Braunbeck’s Testimony Part Two

(Click here for part one)

In the summer of 1977, when I was 17, I came as close to hating my father as I ever had before. All I saw was a whining, violent, self-pitying drunk who blamed the world for his failures in life—and who saw his life as a wasted one.

On this day, the Fourth of July, my mother had taken my then-seven-year-old sister Gayle Ann to watch the big parade downtown. I had been out partying with some friends the night before, and had come home at four in the morning to crash on the sofa.

I was awakened sometime around ten-thirty by my father falling on me. So drunk he could barely maintain his balance. He’d gone through all the beer and was putting a good dent in the contents of a whiskey bottle.

“Can’t sleep,” he kept slurring at me. “Can’t get to sleep. C’mon, get up and let’s go make some breakfast.”

I rose, groggy-eyed and cotton-mouthed, from the sofa, went into the kitchen, and—at Dad’s request—micro-waved a couple of TV dinners for breakfast.

I sat at one end of the kitchen table, Dad at the other. I began to eat. He started rambling on about the way his mother had treated him and my Aunt “Boots” when they were children; about the war and what had happened to him; about how he was too old and too tired to face another twenty-five years on another line at another plant. (He’d once told me he’d wanted to raise chickens for a living when he was a young man; how he wished he’d been able to do that. It was his dream, and it meant the world to him, and it just broke his heart that he and my mother never had the money to buy a proper farm for raising chickens.)

I remember all of this very clearly because, when he first began to talk, I looked up and saw the business end of a 7.65mm Duetsche Werk semi-automatic pistol pointed right at my face. I knew this gun well. Dad had taken it from where one of the SS officers who’d discovered the remains of his unit had dropped it in his haste to get away.

He ate very little of his TV dinner. But he drank the whiskey. Even used it to chase down some painkillers, as well as his heart and blood-pressure medicine—none of which were supposed to be taken at the same time, let alone with alcohol.

And he began unraveling right in front of me.

He began calling me other names—Stan, Wille P., “Slim”—all members of his deceased unit. He began talking about what had happened as if it were happening at that very moment and they were still alive to remember the experience with him. A couple of times he started crying and saying things like, “But I don’t have any money for a hotel, Mom!” He began looking around the kitchen, whispering, “Shhh, shut your mouth, Stan! Can’t you hear ‘em?”

It was at that moment that I did what was probably the first genuinely wise thing I had done in my life; very quietly, with as even a tone of voice as I could muster (surprised I could find it in me to speak at all), I said, “Hear who, Frank?”

He jumped up from the table, threw his chair aside, and started toward the back porch door. He grabbed my arm on the way past and said, “We gotta get ‘em first this time.” He pulled me out onto the back porch and forced me to squat down beside him as he aimed the gun. “The trees,” he said. “They came out of the trees.”

I remembered him telling me that earlier; how he’d seen the SS unit emerge from the snow-covered trees and move toward the detritus of his unit.
I don’t know how long we stayed like that. Once I thought he was going to pass out, but just as I was stupid enough to reach for the gun, his eyes snapped open and he stood up and plowed four rounds into the tree in our back yard. The dog next door barked and nearly got its head blown off for the effort.

To counteract the wise thing I had done before, I did something supremely stupid—I tried to pull the gun out of his hand.

“The trees,” he kept saying. “The trees.” And plowed off two more shots.

I didn’t know it at the time, but one of those shots went through my shoe and blew off part of my big toe (to this day, even in the worst of summer, I won’t wear sandals because of that injury).

Finally, Dad hit me on the side of the head with the butt of the gun and ran inside. By the time I staggered back into the house he’d reloaded the clip, pulled out his rifle, and was loading it.

I walked into the living room and said something to him—I don’t remember what—and the sound of my voice startled him; he screamed, fell backward, and fired a shot that missed me by a good three or four feet but felt like it had come a lot closer. I dropped to the floor in tears, hating myself for being so scared.

Dad crawled over to me and said that it was gonna be okay, we’d keep an eye on the trees, that his mom would be proud of him because he got a medal and everything. (He received a Purple Heart and several other medals. They now hang in a display case next to my desk at home.)

Shortly after this, the police showed up, armed to the teeth and in full riot gear, tear-gas grenades at the ready – which they did not hesitate to use.
What followed was a six-minute battle between my father and the police, one that ended with four officers and one attack dog injured, and my father in handcuffs (it took 6 officers to subdue him, and all the while he was screaming, “Get your hands offa me, you Nazi bastards!” He was still back in Austria, in the middle of the burning pile of bodies).

I ended the day with two cracked ribs, three crushed fingernails, a broken collar bone, a dislocated shoulder, cuts on my head, arms, and chest that garnered a total of twenty-six stitches, a badly sprained left arm, powder burns on my temple, and two “official” gunshot wounds. I remember all this when I think I’m having a bad day now.

During the worst of the violence, I managed to drag myself through the kitchen and down the backstairs into the basement. I stayed down there until I heard the last of the officers leave the house. I pulled myself back upstairs and peeked out through the remains of the front window.

And this is where I was given a gift from God that I did not know at the time was a gift.

There were three ambulances and four police cruisers parked out front, visibar lights flashing to beat the band. Neighbors lined the street on both sides the length of the entire block. The police officers could have put Dad in any one of nearby cruisers—there was one right in front of the house!—but they chose, instead, to walk him all the way down the block, parading him past the neighbors, to a cruiser that sat at the far end of the street. Dad was in handcuffs. He was sobbing. He had thrown up on himself. He kept apologizing to every neighbor he was dragged past.

The worst of it, though, was that my Dad’s pants had started to fall down in the back, revealing what some people laughingly refer to as a “workman’s crack.”

He was completely, totally, and utterly disgraced.

That moment is forever frozen in my memory, and I knew right then it was important for me to memorize everything I was feeling—the shock, the sick-making sadness, the pain, the helplessness, the sudden, unexpected, mystifying, overwhelming love I felt toward this man who once wanted to be chicken farmer but spent his life on the factory line, instead.

I wanted to mark this moment, and to remember it.
And the anger.
And the anger.
And the anger.
Thank you, God, yes—the anger.

That was the moment that set me on the path to becoming a writer of dark fiction. I promised myself that I would always try to convey in my stories at least some small sense of what I felt at
that moment during the summer of 1977 when I watched the police haul my father down the street.

I wanted to create something more than stories that simply let emotions both light and dark bleed all over the page. I wanted to create something that would convey the genuine sense of tragedy and fragility that hangs over all our lives. I know now that what I experienced that moment, looking through that window at my father as he was made a mockery of, is what all forms of creative expression strive to convey: the terror, tragedy, sadness, anger, and soul-sick absurdity of violence and grief and how we struggle from womb to tomb to reconcile those things with the concept of a Just universe, watched over by a loving God, where even the most trivial and mundane of our daily activities carry some greater meaning.

Sometimes a hand reaches out from the shadows to protect us, to lead us toward safety and acceptance; sometimes this same hand grabs your throat and begins to squeeze; and sometimes no hand reaches out at all, we’re just left cowering in the basement, alone with the coldness and the darkness and the injuries, bleeding and scared and helpless.

I was changed that day, in that moment from the summer of 1977. It defined me as a human being, and that bleeding, frightened, rage-filled teenager defined me—and defines me still—as a writer. That day – with all of its violence, pain, brutality, terror, bloodshed, all of it – was a gift from God. Look at this pain, He was saying to me. Look at it and taste it and remember it and know it as well as you do your own reflection, so that you may recognize it when it comes around again. And then ask yourself: What can I do to ease it?

The scrim was lifted from my eyes that afternoon – I no longer saw the world only in terms of how it affected me; I saw it in terms of how I might come to affect it, to help it in some small way.

There’s an old saying: “The devil is in the details.” I prefer to side with Albert Einstein, who said, “God is in the details.” I see God’s details all around me, in laugher, in music, in tears, in art, in kindness and autumn and science and the way a beam of moonlight slants through a Venetian blind at 3 in the morning; I see it in disguises such as regret, sadness, and loneliness – all of these are God’s details, His gifts, and I thank Him every day for having given me the faculties to recognize them, and the ability to try to convey some small part of their greater meaning through the little stories I tell.

I do this for the memory of my mother, and that of my father, both of whom thought it was just wonderful that I manage to make a small living from writing what they called “scary stories.” I do it as a way of one day forgiving myself for all the years that I did recognize others’ pain and loneliness. I do it to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed on, and those I haven’t yet met. I do it to honor and to thank God.

I do it because, as Heinrich Hein said, “All our acts should originate from the spring of unselfish love, whether there be continuation after death or not.”

Hidden within the horrors of that day during my 17th summer was proof of one man’s unselfish love, a love that until that day I had been too foolish to recognize. But I recognize it now, and carry it with me always. After that day, my father and I became more than father and son; we became friends, and the love between us only grew stronger. I don’t know if that would have ever happened had not we been plunged into the nightmare of that day that had been in the making for nearly 40 years. Were it not for that time of horror, I would never have known a deeper love between myself and my father.

That is why I write horror fiction, and that is why I feel God’s presence as I write it. In my heart I know this is what I was intended to do with His gift, and I hope when the time comes for me to meet Him, that He’ll smile at me and say, “Your mom and dad keep talking about your stories. I want to hear them. All of them. Don’t worry – we’ve got the time.”

I’d like to leave you with a quote from my father’s favorite comedian, Red Skelton, who closed every show with the following words:

“Thank you. And may God Bless.”

Mo*Con II Recap II: Gary Braunbeck’s Testimony Part One

Good morning. I’m honored to have been asked here today.

When Maurice first invited me to speak, he also informed me that there was more than a little bit of controversy centered around the inclusion of so many horror writers, mostly because several people couldn’t understand what practitioners of this particular form of story-telling could offer to a congregation gathered to celebrate their creativity, faith, and spirituality in a House of God, and I can fully understand how it would be difficult, if not impossible, for some to reconcile the two.

As many of you may be aware, there are a few of us who are Agnostics, and you might be wondering how someone who harbors that level of doubt can lay claim to any canon of spirituality.

There is a quote from German poet and philosopher Heinrich Hein that I hold very close to my heart, because I think it can be embraced by those who, like myself, believe in God, as well as those who have their doubts:

“Regarding my actions in this world, I care little in the existence of a heaven or hell; self-respect does not allow me to guide my acts with an eye toward heavenly salvation or hellish punishment. I pursue the good because it is beautiful and attracts me, and shun the bad because it is ugly and repulsive. All our acts should originate from the spring of unselfish love, whether there be continuation after death or not.”

I’ve always felt that philosophy could be accepted by everyone, regardless of their private spiritual beliefs – and despite Hein’s claim that he cares “…little for the existence of a heaven or hell…” he nonetheless concludes his statement by giving voice to what seems to me to be a central credence of Christianity: “All our acts should originate from the spring of unselfish love, whether there be continuation after death or not.” In essence, one should be strive to be kind to all others without the expectation of reward at the end of one’s days.

I like that so much, not only because it comes as close as anything I’ve ever encountered to summarizing my own personal beliefs, but because those words could very well have been spoken by Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount.

This is simply a way of telling you that, yes, I am a horror writer; yes, I do believe in God; and it is through my work that I give thanks to Him every day for the blessings I have while learning not to focus too much on those things I have yet to achieve.

I’m not going to defend what we as horror writers do – this is neither the time nor the place – but instead offer you the reasons why I – who once briefly studied for the priesthood – chose to do toil in this particular field of fiction.

And it has to do with a gift from God that I did not know was a gift at the time.

Allow me to introduce you to my father, Frank Henry Braunbeck, who was born on May 22, 1926, who passed away June 15, 2001, less than 9 months before my mother joined him. My father was a WWII veteran, 71st Infantry, Artilleryman. He fought in the battles of Regensburg, Straubing, Reid, Lambach, Weis, and Steyer; he crossed the Rhine, Danube, Isar, Inn, and Enns Rivers; and he helped to liberate the concentration camps of Strubing and Gunskirken Lager. He was a loyal soldier. He was born and raised in Ohio. He never made it past the eighth grade because he had to go to work to help support his ailing mother and three younger siblings after his father abandoned them during the Great Depression (he worked as a paper boy, ten different routes each day).

Near the end of the war, Dad was the sole survivor of a crash in Eberstadt, Austria—just beyond the village of Darmstadt—that killed all the men in his unit; while driving down an icy mountain road, the driver lost control of the truck and it went over the side of a cliff. The truck plunged, upside-down, over 150 feet before landing in the ice and snow below, killing everyone except my father. He lay inside the wreckage of the truck for nearly two days, kept from freezing to death only because of the bodies on top of and below him. When at last the wreckage was discovered, it was by an SS unit that had been hiding out in the mountains, the very ones Dad’s unit had been looking for. The first thing this unit did was pull all the bodies from the remains of the truck; the second thing was to defile the bodies; the third was to build a pile with the bodies; and the last thing they did, before they left, was to set that pile on fire. My father—who had been faking being dead the entire time—was right in the middle of that pile, and didn’t dare move or speak for fear they’d discover he was alive and…

…and I’ll just leave the rest of that to your imaginations. The smoke from the fire was spotted by the Darmstadt villagers, who immediately came to the scene and put out the (thankfully) slow-burning fire (snow had begun to fall quite heavily, and while it did not douse the flames, it hindered their spreading a great deal). My father was discovered alive, was taken to Darmstadt where he remained in their small hospital for several months before being transferred to one in Munich upon Germany’s surrender.

He had broken nearly every bone in his body. He spent 18 months in a full-body cast. (18 months. Can you imagine what it must be like to not be able to move at all for a year-and-a-half? My entire life, I don’t think I ever saw him once sit still for more than thirty minutes at a time.)

After the war, he never received any kind of therapy to help him deal with it. As a result—and because he came from a generation whose members simply Didn’t Talk About Such Things—he suffered from nightmares about the incident. He had a tremendous amount of trouble sleeping, and so took to having a few beers before bedtime to make him sleepy. As the years went on and the sleeplessness persisted, those few beers became a few more beers, then a few more beers with a couple of belts of whiskey, and he slipped quietly in full-blown alcoholism.

The term “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” didn’t exist yet; in post-WW2 America, the term that was used was “shell-shock,” and the popular treatment was a prescription for sleeping pills and a firm, “Suck it up, buddy.”

We now jump ahead to the summer of 1977. This summer was, to put it mildly, not pleasant. Dad’s alcoholism was at its violent peak, his self-respect was non-existent, and he saw no point to his life. He had worked for the Roper corporation for nearly twenty-three years when they decided to close down their Newark plant after the fifth labor strike. What my father received as a severance package was $125.00 for every year of employment. Dirt money. Chump change. Money gone before it was got. And, oh, yeah: Kiss retirement before sixty good-bye, pal.

In the summer of 1977 my father had been at his new job at Larson’s Manufacturing for a little over five years. He operated a sheet metal press, with lathe work on the side. His body was already showing the wear of a life that had been one struggle after another. He still couldn’t sleep for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time. He couldn’t concentrate. The mortgage—which should have been paid off with some of his pension money—was still looming over his head, and there was talk of layoffs.

His drinking that summer was the worst it had ever been. The nightmares were incessant. The pain in his body—from both his war injuries and those sustained from working the factory line for thirty years—was nearly unbearable, and the painkillers prescribed by his doctor barely helped. Add to this his heart and blood-pressure medication—plus a recent diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes—and the man never had a waking moment where he wasn’t worried to death about something.

So he drank. A lot. He flew into violent rages that usually l
eft my mother bleeding and me having to take her to the emergency room and lie to the attending physicians about how she came to be in such a state. Throughout the first 18 years of my life I intervened as often as I could when Dad went into these rages. I’ve got some impressive scars to prove it.

(to be continued …)

Mo*Con II Recap I: First Impressions

Dear Jesus,

The idea of Mo*Con always seems like such a good idea on paper. You know, being missional, continuing conversations with people, serving others. But you know these things can go terribly, terribly wrong without any notice, especially when you have Brian Keene and Wrath James White involved. Please remember, I’m just trying to do my best.

Love always, your working-on-being-humble servant,

Maurice

Mo*Con II actually started Friday night with my reception dinner for my guests of honor, one of whom was late (because 2007 is the year of planes vs. Wrath James White. So far, Planes 2/Wrath 0). It was my way of saying “thank you” for all of my friends who made the trek in from all over the country. With Wrath MIA, it gave Brian Keene and I the perfect opportunity to have our Magic: the Gathering tournament in peace, re-matching our on-going battle. I don’t care what you read elsewhere on the InterWebs, goodness triumphed over trash-talking evil.

There’s no way I can cover everything that went on at the convention. We opened with a panel on spirituality and horror featuring myself, Wrath, Gary Braunbeck, and Lucy Snyder and moderated by Keene. My first inkling that things were going well (besides the church being packed) was when the early criticisms running along the lines of “why’d you have to end the spiritual panel so early?” and by early, they meant after only two hours. Next came lunch and apparently Bob Freeman won the chili cookoff.

The readings were great. Keene read “Burying Betsy” due to appear in the next issue of Cemetery Dance. Gary B. read Rami Temporalis and then screened the short film based on the story. After that came a panel on Race and horror, featuring myself, Wrath, and Chesya Burke. In short, the discussions were fabulous. A whole day of engaging dialogue with bright people talking about big ideas – exactly what we were aiming for.

Um, Saturday night. We had an after party at my house. Alethea Kontis sums it up on her blog this way:

The ambulance just left.

Again.

I have GOT to get some sleep.

It’s probably a really good thing we’re all going to church in the morning.

The evening started simply enough with another re-match of Magic, with Keene setting the rules (“I can’t believe I just spend $130 on a game of Magic”). I am positive that I neither did or said anything that would lead to this picture:

As for the ambulance incident, I’ll leave the details for my wife to blog. Suffice it to say that in the Necon tradition, someone (a fan of Keene’s) ended up needing to be rushed to a hospital. I won’t tell you how ghetto we got, posing with the ambulance or stretcher while the EMTs were working. Nor will I mention the EMTs, upon realizing that they were at a gathering of writers, stopped to network. In fact, they came back after dropping off our injured party … to pitch their “Forest Gump in space” science fiction novel. I’m not kidding.

Sunday morning, The Dwelling Place gathering welcomed the convention attenders in ways that surprised even me. There’s nothing like having the cover to Dead Sea projected on the big screen to greet a congregation. The only difference from our usual gathering was that Gary Braunbeck spoke instead of our pastor. (Keene spoke also, but 1) it was a rough Saturday night for us and 2) NO ONE wanted to follow Gary. I am posting his comments in the next two blogs and you’ll see why. I don’t think I can use the word “tremendous” often enough).

After the official end of Mo*Con II, we hosted an informal hang out time so that we could say our good-byes. My cooking schedule was insane. Friday night, chicken marsala and fettucine alfredo. Saturday, my “skyline” chili and white chicken chili. Sunday, my pan seared pork chops with mandarin oranges. And because Chesya was hungry, and I was showing off, Sunday evening I grilled steaks (with my home made Jack Daniel’s sauce) and burgers.

At which point, I set the grill on fire. Literally.

Capping off a perfectly splendid weekend. I’ll hopefully have a full gallery of pictures up on my website before too long.

(Things Overheard at Mo*Con II)

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Mo*Con II: The Intersection of Faith, Race, and Art (Updated 4/5/07)

Yes, I’m doing it again.

Featuring Guests of Honor:
Wrath James White
Brian Keene
Gary Braunbeck & Lucy Snyder

with a very special guest appearance by Chesya Burke.
(seriously, she makes me do this sort of stuff)

The mission statement of the Dwelling Place states that we exist to help people resist empty ways of life by becoming fully human in the way of Jesus. We desire to be a refuge or sanctuary, a place of rest and freedom for people to be themselves, where we connect with God and one another by joining Jesus’ mission to bless the world. To that end, we believe art is an important part of who we are and should be valued.

Just as each one of us is a masterpiece in progress and creation is continuing in us, so we desire to keep generating new creative possibilities. We long to be students awakened to the process of learning to create in the way of the Master Artist, Jesus, who saw lilies, children, mustard sees, plowing, vineyards, and housework as indicators of a wider truth. Art is never for its own sake, but people’s sake. We believe that art should be engaged with and in its own way explores truth – and we shouldn’t be afraid of truth. Another thing we want to be is a safe place for folks to work our their spirituality and ask questions.

About continuing conversations. Which brings me to Wrath James White and Brian Keene and our continuing mission to test the boundaries of what we say we’re about.

Regular readers of my blog may be familiar with Wrath James White. He has guest blogged for me, I have reviewed him, and have interviewed him (part I and part II). His blog has opened up a new audience for him. And folks who know us or are aware of our blogs, style, politics, and personalities are stunned that the two of us are friends. I explain it to them in one word: respect. We don’t try to convert each other and we don’t have the arrogance of certainty about our positions. In a nutshell, we believe what we believe, we can argue why we believe, but we’re open to the possibility that we may not be right and are willing and able to listen and learn from each other.

Adding to the conversation will be Gary A. Braunbeck and Lucy A. Snyder. Those familiar with their backgrounds will know exactly why I want them added to the conversation (and note that I used the word conversation: Gary and I know better than to argue with Wrath and Lucy).

Keene’s determined to see us all go down in flames, serving as Moderator and general provocateur.

The overall weekend will look something like this:

Saturday, July 28th
The Dwelling Place
7440 N. Michigan Road
Indianapolis, IN 46268
Starts at 10:00 a.m.

Will feature discussions on faith perspectives, writers discussing their craft, and a book launch party for Dark Dreams III (that, coincidently, Wrath, Chesya, Lawana, and myself are in). Lunch will be hosted by the Indiana Horror Writers and (due to the amount of trash talk done at the 2007 World Horror Convention) will feature a chili cookoff between myself, Wrath, and John C. Hay. Dinner will feature authentic Jamaican cuisine.

Sunday
10:30 am – Dwelling Place Service
Will feature “sermons” by Brian Keene and Gary A. Braunbeck, followed by a Guest Farewell Luncheon.

Cost: Nothing. Donations appreciated.

Hotel Information
Here’s the deal: I tried to schedule Mo*Con around the other major cons going on (sorry those going to the San Diego Comic Con instead). Unfortunately, I paid no attention to events going on in my own city, namely, the Brickyard 400. So hotels in the area are filling up fast. We however are using

Hampton Inn
7220 Woodland Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46278
(317) 290-1212 (or 1-800-HAMPTON)

Mention The Dwelling Place or Mo*Con when you book your room. Right now the rates are $199 + tax per night (two night minimum) full deposit required at time of booking (non-refundable after 5/28/07). If enough rooms are booked, the room rate will be discounted. We will also have a few spaces available at Chez Broaddus plus some members of our congregation are opening up their homes for some folks to stay at. They are going on a first come, first serve basis. If you have any questions, or need to be picked up from the airport, write your host at Maurice [at] MauriceBroaddus.com

Other confirmed guests include:
Wayne Allen Sallee, Steve Shrewsbury, Jason Sizemore, Debbie Kuhn, John C. Hay, Lawana Holland-Moore, Taylor Kent, Gary and Nancy Frank, Lauren David, Carrie Rapp, Tracy Jones, Steve Savile and Alethea Kontis. You can let me know if you are coming by leaving a note here.

Hosted by The Dwelling Place and the Indiana Horror Writers.

This page will be updated as more guests and details are confirmed.

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