SKELOS #3 arrived with a bang at the World Fantasy Convention. I hadn’t been to WFC in the last six years, and I’d almost forgotten how fascinating and enjoyable this con really is. Having the lead story in this third issue of SKELOS (“Ten Thousand Drops of Holy Blood”) was a surprising synchronicity–almost like a “welcome back” to World Fantasy. The folks in Texas really put on a great convention, and the SKELOS crew made it extra-special.

Always great to spend time with Darrell Schweitzer, whose latest collection AWAITING STRANGE GODS I picked up in a gorgeous hardcover edition from Fedogan and Bremer. I try to catch all of Darrell’s fiction wherever it appears, but he is so prolific that I always miss a few tales. This latest volume is no exception, with rare dark-fantasy jewels like “The Last of the Black Wine” and “Stragglers from Carrhae” appearing alongside a strongly Lovecraftian set of stories.

The “Reading Dunsany Aloud” panel was a fantastic experience for all involved, as was the “Ancient Cultures, Modern Sensibilities” panel. I was honored to be on both of them, and the latter was the second time I’ve done a panel with the great David Drake. Also the first time I met Alex Irvine in person–his MARE ULTIMA stories made me an instant fan when I read them awhile back. Alex tells me he’s written a new tale in this setting, and hopefully he will write more of them in the future.

Overall, I met so many great people, it’s hard to express in words how vital WFC is for a fantasy writer like myself. It’s a great blend of writers (both professional and aspiring), artists, dedicated fans, editors, publishers, and fantasy enthusiasts of all kinds.

My first WFC was in San Jose in 2009, and I loved it so much I went the next year (Columbus), and the next (San Diego). Then I got so busy working, writing novels, and generally being distracted by the Art of Living, that I stopped attending. Sometimes this globe-hopping con was simply too far away, other times I was simply unable to make the trek.

That won’t happen again.

You see, if I had gone to Britain for the 2013 WFC, I would have met one of my greatest heroes and favorite authors, Tanith Lee. I didn’t make the trip to England that year, and now Tanith is gone. (Rest In Peace) Her legendary body of work remains, so part of her remains with us, but I’ll never be able to shake her hand or see her smile or tell her how much her work means to me. Who knows what I’ll miss if I miss another WFC? If my pal Darrell can make it 40 years in a row, I can too. Of course, he’s got a 39-year head start. But I’m glad to say that I’ve been to WFC four times now, and the con is better than ever.

Next year WFC comes to Baltimore, home of Edgar Allan Poe. This is a good sign for me: My first first WFC was celebrating Poe’s 200th birthday–I remember we had red velvet cake and a spot of absinthe in San Jose. My association with Poe goes back even farther: After a performace of the late John Astin’s one-man-play THE LIFE OF EDGAR ALLAN POE in Chicago circa 1997, I participated in a seance with the actor and a guest medium to call upon the spirit of Poe himself (the results were entirely subjective).

So once again the spirit of Edgar Allan is calling me, this time to Baltimore, where World Fantasy convenes in 2018.

I am so looking forward to it.