When Words Collide
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
August 8-11, 2019
When I was invited to attend and be a panelist at When Words Collide in Calgary by Chris Marrs (http://hauntedmarrs.zinginc.com/), I jumped at the opportunity. I’d never been to this area of Canada (essentially the middle of Western Canada and most known for its annual Stampede event (https://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede) and was curious to see what it was like. Flying across the Canadian Rockies was a sight to behold. I’d lived in Denver for over a decade and was impressed by the difference between those Rockies versus the ones in Canada. The biggest comparison I noted is that there are many more trees and denser forestation throughout vast areas of the Canadian Rockies. They were not covered with snow and resembled curved spines of ancient giant monsters forgotten and overgrown like a titan graveyard. On the other side, like a sanctuary where the monsters dared not go sits Calgary, located in a flat valley just past the mountain range.
Chris Marrs had convinced the event organizer (also in charge of programming), who’d agreed for the first time ever, to add a couple of panels on horror: “Monsters, Inc.” and “The Resurgence of Horror,” including myself, and HWA members Chris Marrs, Colleen Anderson, and hopefully future member Konn Lavery. I wasn’t sure what to expect since this is a mixed genre event but was very pleasantly surprised at the interest in the panels with packed rooms (even with one being slated against the keynote speakers). We couldn’t have a proper horror discussion at these panels without continuously referencing and mentioning the HWA, how it brought us together, keeps us apprised of the horror community, and offers so many great things to members from scholarships to mentorships. I’ll have to remember to ask for information pamphlets/handouts to be printed or shipped for next year. I believe these are available upon request.
The event was held at the recently renovated Courtyard Marriott Calgary South hotel, which doesn’t have a reputation for being haunted. I was too busy to investigate any of the local haunts, but here’s a list of the supposedly most haunted places in Calgary for anyone interested in checking them out: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-ghost-haunted-house-inglewood-johanna-lane-1.4380114.
Everyone was very friendly and inclusive. One of my favorite parts of the convention was seeing Craig DiLouie’s (https://craigdilouie.com/) presentation “This is Your Brain on Words.” I highly recommend this interesting and informative production into the brains of readers, should the opportunity arise.
As well as the horror panels, I also spoke on panels about historical fiction, armchair traveling, and diversity. Overall, it was a great event and well worth the lower price point as far as writers’ conventions go.
From San Francisco, it took about 2.5 hours to get to Calgary. On the way back, it was less than an hour to Seattle. I also recommend the event for its central location and reasonable hotel costs. It’s a nice place to get to know some authors from abroad who write in many different genres.
For more information about When Words Collide, please visit the Web site: https://www.whenwordscollide.org/.