Guest Post,  Interviews

Teresa Visits the 1st Ever Ghoulish Festival!

Ghoulish Festival 2022 by Teresa Ardrey

When Max Booth III announced his idea to do a festival dedicated to the love of all things horror, I was interested and excited. I hadn’t been to a convention since 2019 and Ghoulish was the first one that I thought might be worth trying to venture out into the public after being in lock down for so long. I still struggled with going, though. It would be the first trip I have made that didn’t involve being at a friend’s or family member’s house. But, then the list of special guests, vendors, and panelists was announced and I knew it was going to be a festival for the ages. And I signed up; it helped knowing that I would get to be a part of the inaugural Ghoulish Festival. I wanted to be able to say I was there in the beginning and to support this endeavor, so that it could continue happening.

I had not actually been to a convention dedicated solely to horror before; the conventions I have attended have been general pop culture. Ghoulish set the bar high for what a horror festival could be. The panels were diverse and interesting!  They were about the love of horror in all forms, and not strictly about craft or how to break into the genre. But, with panels with titles like “Horror Cartoons of Our Youth” “Cryptids!” “Small Town Horror” and “Urban Legends” there was a large range of panels to interest any horror fan. And the conversations among the panelists were interesting and insightful. Everyone was given a chance to talk, and the moderators did a great job of engaging the audience and the panelists. Trust me, I have attended a vast number of panels in my time of going to conventions, and it is hard to have an entire weekend of excellent panels. Ghoulish succeeded. Along with the panels, there were live readings which were also diverse and interesting. Some were funny, some were terrifying, and every emotion in between, but they all varied, and showed such talent!  I love attending author readings, even authors I don’t know because they could be my new favorite author that I just haven’t discovered yet. Many authors I had not known before, but now I am a certified fan. Other authors I have been following on Twitter for awhile, and was ecstatic to meet in person and cheer them on from the audience. (And, if you end up listening to the panels when Max posts them to his Ghoulish podcast, or watching the readings on the Ghoulish YouTube page, you can probably hear me laughing from the audience). 

Since it was the first year, attendance was small. As a fan, I thought this was great; I really got to talk with and interact with creators and other fans (and the creators were also fans of the genre, so it was just one big happy, smiling, glorious weekend).  It was intimate and special, and truly, I could not stop smiling throughout the entire weekend.  And I made some really excellent friends; we bonded over our love of horror.. As a data head/logistics nerd, I worried that attendance wouldn’t be enough to keep the festival going in future years. But, after the weekend ended, and the amount of enthusiasm shown, I think it is going to be a success for years to come. I hope so, certainly. And I haven’t even mentioned the bookstore!  What a dream. I bought so many books! I am glad I drove because I would have had to pack a suitcase just for my book purchases. 

I thought my face may break in half from grinning and laughing all weekend long. It was just such a great atmosphere; everyone was just so happy to be there. It really was a festival, a celebration, rather than just a convention. Max Booth III and Lori Michelle did an amazing job.  I am really looking forward to next year. And the rumors are true, The Annual Ghoulish Book Festival Spooky Campfire Storyteller’s Horror Storytelling Contest ™ AKA TAGBFSCSHSC, was a highlight of the festival, and every story told was a masterpiece. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the venue, Hermann Sons Home Association Building, was the perfect setting for a spooky weekend of horror delights.  

But enough about me; I asked some of the Ladies of Horror Fiction who attended the festival a few questions and they were gracious enough to take the time to answer them!  And I know this is really why we are all here. I would like to thank each of these authors for their time! 

Without further ado, I present Eve Harms, Laurel Hightower, RJ Joseph, and Jessica Leonard. If you haven’t checked their stuff out yet, what are you waiting for?!

Eve Harms

What made you decide to attend/table at Ghoulish?

Max and Lori are some of the most passionate and hardworking folks in the genre and I’ve always been a fan of the work they do with their press PMMPublishing. I felt confident they’d put together something special, and wanted to support their endeavor. And after so many years of isolation and getting to know everyone online, it was time to meet my friends in the horror community in person. When the festival was announced, I asked my friend Lucas Mangum if he’d be interested in sharing a table, and we made it happen!

If you did a panel, did you get to pick which panels you were on, and did you feel like the panels were a good representation of the genre?

Max sent out an email with the panel topics and asked if I was interested in any of them, and then graciously accepted my request to be on the DIY Horror panel. I didn’t get a chance to see the other panels as I was at my booth, but they sounded pretty cool! I’m definitely going to give them a listen on the Ghoulish podcast when I get a chance. 

Favorite moment?

Meeting everyone! The horror community is such a warm and welcoming group of people, and you can really feel the good energy in person. The festival overall was fantastic, a ton of awesome writers and a ton of readers who wanted to buy books!

Is there anything you will do differently next year, if you are able to attend (and, of course, they are able to host again)?

I would love to attend next year, and it’s looking like it’s going to happen. Hopefully I’ll have more titles to sell and have a  chance to make better signs. I’ll also probably spend a little more time away from my table to get to meet new people and see some of the readings and panels. 

If you want to talk about your work, upcoming or already out, please do!

Thank you so much! I recently re-relaunched my books and zine store! You can find it here: Eve’s Books and Zines

Transmuted by Eve Harms

Laurel Hightower

What made you decide to attend/table at Ghoulish? 

When Max and Lori announced it last summer I was interested, because I’m all about getting more accessible horror cons, plus it’s PMMP so you know it’ll be fun. Having published BELOW with their new Ghoulish imprint sealed the deal, and it helped that so many folks I wanted to see were coming!

If you did a panel, did you get to pick which panels you were on, and did you feel like the panels were a good representation of the genre?

I did three panels, and we all got to name our preferences, similar to other cons I’ve been to. It’s fun, too, when you get a panel you’re not knowledgeable about, because it’s not about creating a lecture to students, it’s a discussion, and having a range of folks at the table sparks great conversation. One of the coolest contributions to the Cryptids panel I was on was from Johnny Compton’s partner in the audience!

I felt like the panels were a great cross section of con- specific horror subjects – in particular the DIY horror panel was immensely informative and fun. 

Favorite moment?

Hands down the campfire storytelling competition Saturday night. All three participants kicked ass and really put work into creating the fun, campfire atmosphere. 

Is there anything you will do differently next year, if you are able to attend (and, of course, they are able to host again)?

I’d plan to stay Sunday night as well so as not to be rushed and spend time exploring the city – also bring more books to sell because WOW. The foot traffic was incredible and people were there to buy. 

If you want to talk about your work, upcoming or already out, please do!

BELOW came out March 29th, it’s my take on Mothman and I’d love if you checked it out! I also just put out SHATTERED & SPLINTERED with James Sabata, a charity anthology benefiting the Glen Haven Area Volunteer Fire Dept. We have some amazing stories in there, and the cover is gorgeous!

Below

Shattered and Splintered

RJ Joseph

What made you decide to attend/table at Ghoulish?

We have so few literary events here in Texas, especially ones that are horror focused. When I saw the announcement, I made sure to get in from the beginning. Then all the cool people started showing up on the roster and at the tables. . . YAY! I knew I’d made a good decision. Early, for a change. Also, I’ve long admired Max’s writing and the work he and Lori do with Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. I figured any festival they organized would be something I’d enjoy being a part of. I wasn’t wrong. 

If you did a panel, did you get to pick which panels you were on, and did you feel like the panels were a good representation of the genre?

I did get to pick the panels I wanted to participate in, and I especially loved the offered topics of childhood cartoons, cryptids, and fake monsters. All the panels offered light hearted vehicles for talking about the horror genre in ways we don’t always view it: as something fun many of us have engaged in since childhood. Every conference/festival has a vibe and Ghoulish Festival has already established itself as a much needed entertaining venue where no one person within, or the horror genre as a whole, takes themselves too seriously to enjoy what we’re doing. 

Favorite moment?

My favorite moment was being able to finally meet people I engage with online and see a dear friend, Cina Pelayo, again. We chat all the time and I love that, but there’s just something about being in the presence of great people that I find really motivating. 

Is there anything you will do differently next year, if you are able to attend (and, of course, they are able to host again)?

Seeing how well the campfire stories went this year, I may have to try my hand at doing one next time. Okay, not really. I’m not great at coming up with stories on the fly like that LOL. What I will try to do next time is recruit one or two of my children to work my sales table so I can attend more activities at the festival. There were so many cool things I wanted to go to and couldn’t because I figured I needed to try to be at my table some time. 

If you want to talk about your work, upcoming or already out, please do!

I’m staying busy! The Cemetery Gates Media anthology, Picnic in the Graveyard, released early May and includes my short story “The Crazy with Daisy”. This August I have my first horror collection, Hell Hath No Sorrow like a Woman Haunted, coming out with Seventh Terrace. I’m super excited about this because the whole experience has been nothing short of awe inspiring. I love working with them and I can hardly wait for readers to see what we created. Also, in November, my short story “Where the Horizon Meets the Sky” will be included in the anthology Into The Forest, an anthology of stories about Baba Yaga. People can also find me as a co-host on the Genre Blackademia podcast and as an instructor at the Speculative Fiction Academy. 

Hell Hath No Sorrow like a Woman Haunted

Jessica Leonard

What made you decide to attend/table at Ghoulish?

I was excited to support them with their first festival in any way I could. My book, ANTIOCH, was published through PMMP and they’ve been amazingly supportive to me and my career. I wanted to return the favor in a small way. You hear a lot of stories about small/indie presses being nightmares to work with, so when one is exceptional it makes sense to throw your money in that direction. 

If you did a panel, did you get to pick which panels you were on, and did you feel like the panels were a good representation of the genre?

I did a panel! There was a lot of conversation before the programming was set in which they asked what sorts of panels we’d like to see/possibly appear on. From there, once they decided on panels you got to let them know the ones you’d be interested in being on. 

I thought they were a good representation, and also pretty unique. I was happy with the panels and the places the panelists took them. 

Favorite moment?

This is such a hard question! I think the campfire storytelling was great. After a long day it felt like a perfect way to decompress and unwind in a fun relaxing setting. The overall vibe of the event was just one of happiness and I think that event embodied that. 

Is there anything you will do differently next year, if you are able to attend (and, of course, they are able to host again)?

I don’t know that I’d do anything differently. Maybe take more breaks? This was my first event like this as a published author and I wanted to see and take part in everything. Which was great but also kind of exhausting. 

If you want to talk about your work, upcoming or already out, please do!

My current book, ANTIOCH, is available through Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and you can find it on their website – Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing

It came out in 2020 and so any in-person events around it had to be put onhold due to global pandemic, so it feels really nice to be around people who have read it or are excited about it now.


Teresa creates our Shelf Edition posts and is one of our LOHF Awards readers. You can find Teresa on Goodreads, on Twitter as @teresa_ardrey, and lurking in a corn maze.

If you got to attend The Ghoulish Book Festival, Teresa would love to hear about your experiences in the comments! 

Photo of the Ghoulish Book Festival program was taken by Teresa.  The Festival logo artwork designed by Betty Rocksteady.

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