The House of Last Resort Weekend A celebration of the new horror book from Christopher Golden, By Rebecca Rowland
Photos by Tony Tremblay
Brian Keene knows how to throw a party.
Held January 18-21 at Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s Sheraton Hotel along the harbor of the Piscataqua River, The House of Last Resort weekend drew some of the biggest names in horror fiction to celebrate Christopher Golden’s upcoming release, on the anniversary of his first published novel, no less. Although temperatures dipped to negative twelve degrees Celsius by Saturday, authors and fans flocked to the event from as far away as Ontario, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
Unlike many traditional writing conventions, only one discussion panel or author reading ran each hour, so attendees did not feel pressured to choose between attractions. In Friday’s My Writing Process panel, Bracken MacLeod explained the detailed roadmap to creating each of his stories, while Ronald Malfi confessed that he is a diehard pantser. Later that evening, in The End of the World as We Know It panel, Joe Hill led a discussion on the changing face of horror. In conversations within the My Favorite Exorcism table, the definition of possession was expanded to analyze everything from the short fiction of Kate Chopin to America’s political extremists. Saturday’s highlights included panels on working with corporate IP and other people’s creations in comics, prose, and film; the television and film adaptation process, and how to pen horror for audio broadcasts and adaptations.
The more streamlined and simplified schedule allowed authors to relax into casual conversations with fans and colleagues. “The intimate setting has allowed access to some of horror’s biggest names without the stress of a huge convention,” noted John Durgin, author of The Cursed Among Us. Boys in the Valley’s scribe, Philip Fracassi, agreed: “It’s great to go to a con with a hundred folks versus four hundred and have real conversations with authors and readers.”
The catalyst for such an unusual format stemmed from Golden’s newest high concept horror novel featuring a new twist on the haunted house trope. “Chris wanted to do some outside the box promotion for his new novel, The House of Last Resort, so he called me to brainstorm,” explained Keene, a friend of Golden’s for more than two decades. “I felt that the title lent itself to an event like this and thought it would also be a fun way to celebrate his thirtieth year as a full-time novelist.”
Fun, indeed, but the weekend was also an opportunity to show appreciation to a member of the horror world who has given so much to fellow authors. “I love this community and have Chris Golden to thank for connecting me to it several years ago,” said Jennifer McMahon, author of My Darling Girl. “Thanks to Chris, I have found my people.”
Rio Youers, author of Lola on Fire, reiterated her sentiment. “Chris Golden has been a constant source of support and inspiration, and I owe him so much. I am not alone in this. He has helped so many new writers find their way onto the ladder, and to see the community come together like this has been heartwarming and nothing less than he deserves.” Similarly, Clay McLeod Chapman, author of What Kind of Mother, explained, “Christopher Golden has done so much for so many over the decades…in a lot of ways, it was like coming to a frost-bitten Mecca, where everyone who attended was on some sort of pilgrimage to give thanks to the Goldman himself. And since it was a one-off, never to be repeated, the hand-crafted singularity of the conference felt even more special.”
Brian Keene knows how to throw a party. This one was an event few who attended will soon forget, and much of that is due to the comradery felt by all. “The House of Last Resort weekend has given us so many chances to meet so many incredible people and remind us why we treasure this community,” noted Zachary Rosenberg, author of Hungers as Old as this Land. “The horror community is so wonderful and welcoming, and this was never so evident as at this event where we all came together to celebrate Christopher Golden’s book,” agreed Carol Gyzander, co-chair of HWA’s New York chapter.
V. Castro summed up the weekend best with her sentiment: “The horror community is filled with fantastic people I respect and am lucky to call friends. You clearly see who is real. Horror cons can be intimidating when starting out, but everyone is welcome.” This is especially true when that con is in celebration of an author who has welcomed so many others.
The House of Last Resort by Christopher Golden
The next high concept horror book from New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden.
Across Italy there are many half-empty towns, nearly abandoned by those who migrate to the coast or to cities. The beautiful, crumbling hilltop town of Becchina is among them, but its mayor has taken drastic measures to rebuild―selling abandoned homes to anyone in the world for a single Euro, as long as the buyer promises to live there for at least five years.
It’s a no-brainer for American couple Tommy and Kate Puglisi. Both work remotely, and Becchina is the home of Tommy’s grandparents, his closest living relatives. It feels like a romantic adventure, an opportunity the young couple would be silly not to seize. But from the moment they move in, they both feel a shadow has fallen on them. Tommy’s grandmother is furious, even a little frightened, when she realizes which house they’ve bought.
There are rooms in an annex at the back of the house that they didn’t know were there. The place makes strange noises at night, locked doors are suddenly open, and when they go to a family gathering, they’re certain people are whispering about them, and about their house, which one neighbor refers to as The House of Last Resort. Soon, they learn that the home was owned for generations by the Church, but the real secret, and the true dread, is unlocked when they finally learn what the priests were doing in this house for all those long years…and how many people died in the strange chapel inside. While down in the catacombs beneath Becchina…something stirs.
Rebecca Rowland is an American short dark fiction author and the curator of seven horror anthologies, including the best-sellers American Cannibal and Unburied: A Collection of Queer Dark Fiction. She delights in creeping about Ginger Nuts of Horror partly because it’s the one place her hair is a camouflage instead of a signal fire. For links to her latest work and social media, or to make arrangements to send her a tasteful vodka and cheese plate, visit RowlandBooks.com.
Tony Tremblay is the Bram Stoker nominated author of the horror book The Moore House. He is the writer of short story collections containing numerous tales that have been published in various horror anthologies, horror magazines, and webzines. Tremblay has also worked as a reviewer of horror fiction for Cemetery Dance Magazine and Horror World. In addition to his print work, Tremblay is the host of That Taco Society Presents, a cable T. V. show (also available on You Tube) that features discussions on horror as well as guest interviews with horror authors. The author lives in New Hampshire.