Special Guests

JOHN PICACIO is one of the most prolific American cover artists for fantasy, horror, and science fiction of the last ten years. His artwork is noted for its diversity and range, often combining traditional drawing and painting with digital finishes, as well as exploring methods such as hand-made assemblages. His body of work includes covers for books by Michael Moorcock, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, Dan Simmons, Joe R. Lansdale, Jeffrey Ford, Stephen Jones, Kim Newman, James Tiptree, Jr., Mark Chadbourn, and many, many more. He has produced cover artwork for franchises such as STAR TREK and the X-MEN.

Amongst his recent published works are the 2012 calendar for George R. R. Martin’s A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE (Random House/Bantam); covers and interior art for Michael Moorcock’s ELRIC omnibus series (Random House/Del Rey); and covers and endpapers for new limited editions of Dan Simmons’ classic THE HYPERION CANTOS (Subterranean Press).

His accolades include the World Fantasy Award, the Locus Award, four Chesley Awards, two International Horror Guild Awards, and seven consecutive Hugo Award nominations for Best Professional Artist (no Hugo wins yet though). He was the 2007 World Horror Convention Artist Guest of Honor in Toronto.

Raised on Universal horror films, Screaming Meemies and comic books, he thinks THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is still one of the great films of all-time. He and his wife Traci live in San Antonio, TX with daughter Samantha.

Web: www.johnpicacio.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/JohnPicacio

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/johnpicacio


A writer for over four decades, and a writing teacher for almost as many years, Mort Castle developed and edited Writing Horror for the HWA in 1997 and the expanded and revised edition, On Writing Horror, published in 2006 by Writer's Digest. Among the magazines and books to publish his articles on the craft of writing are The Writer, Writer's Digest,  Readings for Writers, The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, and Writer's Workshop of Horror.

Of Writing Horror, American Library Association Booklist wrote:  "No one seriously interested in writing or reading horror will fail to gain something from this (book)."

Cited as one of "21 Leaders in the Arts for the 21st Century in Chicago" (Sun-Times Newspaper Group), a seven times Bram Stoker Award nominee, Castle has taught in the fiction writing department of Columbia College Chicago since 1997. Among the nearly 1000 workshops and seminars he's led are Borderlands Boot Camp, HWA Stoker Weekend, Green Lake Writing Conference, Suburban Prairie Writing Conference, NEA Conference on Gifted Education, and many others. Close to 3,000 of the students Castle has taught and workshopped with over the years have won writing competitions and / or published novels or have seen their stories, poems, and articles appear in such books and magazines as Masques, Oyez Review, Space and Time, Cemetery Dance, Tense Moments, Seventeen, Penthouse, and numerous other titles; among them, we have an Emmy nominee, a contributing editor for Paste, a staff writer for TNT's Perception, a poet with his first collection released two years ago by the University of Arizona Press,  a sports writer for The Phoenix Sun, an editor for Oakland, California's NPR station – and, of course, "others."

Castle is the author of seven novels, including The Strangers, optioned by Whitewater Films, four fiction collections, and over 500 shorter works. His novel The Strangers and collection Moon on the Water, translated into Polish and published by Replika Publishing, were cited by Newsweek (pl) as "two of the best books published in Poland in 2008." In 2011, Gauntlet Press published the graphic album formatted J. N. Williamson's Illustrated Masques, with comics stories by Stephen King, F. Paul Wilson, Robert McCammon, Wayne Allen Sallee, Robert Weinberg, and Paul Dale Anderson, edited and produced by Castle and David Campiti.

Forthcoming: New Moon on the Water, a short story collection, from Dark Regions Press; Writing Historical Fiction, a reference book, from Self-Counsel Press; All American Horror of the 21st Century: The First Decade (as editor), Wicker Park Press; and Shadow Show: All New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury,  with contributions by Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Joe Hill, Robert McCammon, Ramsey Campbell, Alice Hoffman, Jacqueline Mitchard, Audrey Niffenegger, Dave Eggers, and Harlan Ellison, introduction by Ray Bradbury, co-edited with Sam

LIVE FOREVER! Stories in Honor of Ray Bradbury, edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle is now SHADOW SHOW: ALL-NEW STORIES IN CELEBRATION OF RAY BRADBURY. New and Improved--with no trans-fats! Stories by Margaret Atwood, Dave Eggers, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Alice Hoffman, David Morrell, Kelly Link, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Robert McCammon, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Alice Hoffman, Ramsey Campbell, Audrey Niffenegger -- and more! Coming from Harper Perennial, 2012.


Michael R. Collings

For over a quarter of a century, Michael R. Collings has been acknowledged by many as a leading scholar and critic of Horror, both as a literary genre and as a popular-culture phenomenon. His Stephen King as Richard Bachman (1985) was among the first book-length studies of King and was followed by nine additional studies of King as well as works on Peter Straub, Orson Scott Card, and others. His essays on horror in literature have ranged widely to discuss the great Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, the works of William Shakespeare, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and seventeenth-century devotional poetry, as well as contemporary writers.


He has served as Academic/Author Guest of Honor at a number of conventions, including Horrorfest ’89 (one of the first cons devoted to the works of Stephen King); MythCon XXVI (1994); EnderCon (2002, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Card’s Ender’s Game); Life, the Universe, and Everything (at which he has been honored variously as Guest of Honor, Poet Guest of Honor, Academic Guest of Honor, and Special Guest); and most recently World Horror Convention 2008.


In the past several years, he has turned his attention to fiction, having published (in addition to a collection of reviews, Names and Naming in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and Toward Other Worlds: Perspectives on John Milton, C. S. Lewis, Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, and Others) a collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror poetry; several collections of SF/H short fiction; and nine novels, among them Shadow Valley: A Novel of Horror  (2011), Static! A Novel of Horror (2011), The Slab: A Novel of Horror (2010, Wildside Press Bestseller), and The House Beyond the Hill: A Novel of Fear (2007). The latter two titles have made frequent appearances on the Amazon/Kindle Top 100 Horror lists during much of 2011.    


Author of poetry, fiction, and literary criticism available online at: Wildside Press, Amazon.com, and Smashwords.com.


  Rocky Wood is an award-nominated writer and researcher best known for his books about horror author Stephen King. He is the first non-American to hold the position of President of the Horror Writers Association. Wood was born in Wellington New Zealand and lives in Melbourne, Australia with his family. He has been a freelance writer for 30 years. His writing career began at university, where he wrote a national newspaper column in New Zealand on extra-terrestrial life and UFO-related phenomena and published other articles about the phenomenon worldwide, in the course of which research he met such figures as Erich von Daniken and J. Allen Hynek; and had articles on the security industry published in the US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and South Africa. In October 2010, Wood was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (Lou Gehrig's disease).

In the Stephen King and horror communities, Wood is regarded as a leading expert on Stephen King’s work. He is the co-author of The Complete Guide to the Works of Stephen King (Kanrock Partners, 2003, 2004  Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished (Cemetery Dance Publications, 2006. The Stephen King Collector's Guide (Kanrock Partners, 2007) Stephen King: The Non-Fiction (Cemetery Dance Publications, 2009) and the author of Stephen King: A Literary Companion (McFarland, 2011), Wood has also written many articles on King that have appeared in such magazines as Cemetery Dance, Dark Discoveries, and Lighthouse.

In 2002, he traveled to Orono, Maine and spent three weeks researching the Stephen King Archives at the Special Collections Unit of the Raymond H Fogler Library at the University of Maine. Wood has undertaken five research trips to Maine in the course of his research on King's work.

His first King book was The Complete Guide to the Works of Stephen King, a 6000+ page encyclopedia on CD-ROM, which summarizes every story, every character, every place, and the entire timeline of King's work. In-depth information on all 270+ fiction works by Stephen King, 26,000 King characters, and 5,000 King places are included, along with adaptations of King’s work to the big and small screens. The Guide is even used by Stephen King's office for research.

In his research, Wood rediscovered previously unknown King stories.  including two written in his high school years, of which even the author did not have a copy  King agreed to allow the inclusion of another two previously unpublished pieces, Sword in the Darkness and Dino in Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished. That book covered nearly 100 King stories that had never been published or appeared only in obscure venues.

In 2005, he returned to Maine for a lengthy investigative trip into King’s non-fiction, discovering over 40 previously unknown pieces, again including lost material from King’s formative years, which he later provided to the author. King agreed to the inclusion of an obscure article, My Little Serrated Security Blanket in Wood's Stephen King: The Non-Fiction, which covers more than 600 individual items. Wood returned to Maine in 2007, 2008 and 2009 to continue his research. In 2008/9 he wrote the 'King of Horror' column for the Australian magazine, 'Black: Australian Dark Culture'

Horror Writers Association (HWA), serving a two-year term from 1 November 2010 (having previously served a term from 2008-10 as a Trustee). Wood was also President of the Australian American Association (Victoria) in Australia from 2008–2010 and was elected a Life Member in September 2010; and is a member of the Australian Logistics Council.

He was nominated for the HWA’s Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction for Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished (2006) and Stephen King: The Non-Fiction (2009). He is a member of the Australian Horror Writers Association. He served as Guest Judge (Edited Publications) for the Australian Shadows Award, 2010.

Wood's first mainstream fiction was the graphic novel, Horrors! Great Tales of Fear and Their Creators (McFarland, 2010), a re-imagining of events in 19th century horror, illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne. Horrors! was nominated both for a Black Quill Non-Fiction Award and a for Best Illustrated Book or Graphic Novel in the 2010 Aurealis Awards.[


Michaelbrent Collings is a bestselling novelist, produced screenwriter and WGA member, martial artist, and has a killer backhand on the badminton court.

He published his first "paying" work - a short story for a local paper - at the age of 15. He won numerous awards and scholarships for creative writing while at college, and subsequently became the person who had more screenplays advance to quarterfinals and semifinals in the prestigious Nicholls Screenwriting competition in a single year than anyone else in the history of the competition.

He has written numerous bestselling novels, including Billy: Messenger of Powers, RUN, The Loon, and Rising Fears. In addition, he has also written dozens of non-fiction articles which have appeared in periodicals on several continents.

Michaelbrent is also a member of the WGA (Writers Guild of America) and the HWA (Horror Writers of America), and he has sold, optioned, and done rewrites for screenplays for major Hollywood production companies. Additionally, he is currently developing several movies and television shows.

Michaelbrent has a wife and several kids, all of whom are much better looking than he is (though he admits that's a low bar to set), and also cooler than he is.

He consoles himself by hanging out with his imaginary friends...or at least, he used to, until they moved and failed to provide a forwarding address or any contact information. If you know of the whereabouts of either "Jib-jab the Wonder Dolphin" or "Mr. Sniffle-ifficus," please contact Michaelbrent immediately


  David Farland

David Farland is an award-winning New York Time bestselling author in science fiction and fantasy, with nearly 50 books in print, published in over 20 languages.  He also has worked as a videogame designer, screenwriter, Hollywood green-lighting analyst, and as a writing professor.

As a novelist he has worked with such major franchises as Star Wars and The Mummy.  As a videogame designer he worked on games such as the #1 international best-seller Starcraft: Brood War and Xena.  As an analyst, he did early work to help shape the upcoming John Carter and the Princess of Mars?among other films.

For years David worked as a coordinating judge of one of the world?s largest writing contests.  In that capacity and as a creative writing teacher at Brigham Young University, he trained dozens of writers who have gone on to become New York Times Bestsellers, including a number of New York Times Bestsellers, such as Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, Eric Flint, Sean Williams, Elizabeth Wein, and Stephenie Meyer.

Dave had won numerous awards for his work, including the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for ?Best Novel in the English Language? and the Whitney Award for ?Best Novel of the Year.?

Currently, Dave is finishing up the last book in his Runelords series while he prepares to take the series to Hollywood.  His latest novel, Nightingale, begins a new young adult fantasy series and has been garnering rave reviews.

His web sites are as follows: