StokerCon 2019 Report

Stoker Awards Winners, Accepters, and Others (l to r): Kennikki Jones, Brad Hodson, Ellen Datlow, Sara Tantlinger, Gwendolyn Kiste, John Edward Lawson, Jennifer Barnes, Rena Mason, Eric Guignard, JG Faherty, Eugene Johnson (for Joe Mynhardt). By Kathy Speelman

StokerCon, sponsored by the Horror Writers Association, was held at the Amway Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids MI, May 9-12, 2019. Guests of honor were Josh Boone (who was unable to attend), Kathe Koja, Josh Malerman, Robert R. McCammon, Kaaron Warren, and Stephanie M. Wytovich; Jonathan Maberry was emcee, giving a “moving opening speech” and keeping the “pace of the awards brisk.” Graham Masterton was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Chair Brian Matthews said, “Many attendees called it the best StokerCon yet.”

Rick Lieder, GoH Kathe Koja, GoH Kaaron Warren (by Ellen Datlow), GoH Stephanie M. Wytovich, Eugene Johnson (by Stephanie M. Wytovich)

There were 417 attendees this year. The convention had 140 program items, mostly panels, but also readings, presentations, and group events, including the return of the mass author signing, this time combined with an ice cream social. Josh Malerman did a dramatic reading medley from his books Inspection, Unbury Carol, and Bird Box, “complete with actors, costumes, blindfolds, and live music.” Kathe Koja created a performance for the event called “The Art of Darkness”. HWA President Lisa Morton ran a panel to introduce Antonio D’Intino, literary manager with production/management company Circle of Confusion, and announced a story contest coming in 2019 that will give HWA members the chance to win a meeting with the production company to discuss possible representation and film options.

More than half the convention’s attendees went to the Stoker Awards ceremony, and, for the first time, all the award winners who were not present (except Graham Masterton) provided acceptance speech videos that were screened for attendees. Final Frame Short Film Competition winner Kennikki Jones was on hand to accept the award for her film Knock Knock. As part of the awards ceremony, HWA announced that StokerCon 2021 will be held May 20-23, 2021 at the Curtis Hotel in Denver CO. At the end of the ceremony, three-term president Lisa Morton stepped down and introduced new president John Palisano (formerly vice president).

Lynne Hansen, Jonathan Lees, Antonio D’Intino, Lisa Morton, Jonathan Maberry, GoH Josh Malerman (by Lynne Hansen)

The dealer’s room included Dragon’s Roost Press, JournalStone, Lycan Valley Press, Raw Dog Screaming Press, and artist Lynne Hansen. Schuler Books and Music of Grand Rapids was the official con bookseller, and sales “were far ahead of their expectations.” Other dealers reported strong sales as well.

Next year’s StokerCon will be held April 16-19, 2020 in two adjacent hotels, the Royal and the Grand, in Scarborough, UK. Guests of honor will include Grady Hendrix and Gillian Redfearn. A.K. Benedict will be emcee. For more: <>.

This report and more like it in the June 2019 issue of Locus.

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