We caught up with the most decorated man in horror fiction, Wayne Simmons, to talk about the forthcoming Scardiff. For more information please visit the Scardiff 2013 website.
What is Scardiff festival and how is it different to other conventions?
Scardiff is Cardiff’s first horror expo; a one day fan con, taking place at the Mercure Hotel on 27 October. Basically, it’s a horror event created by horror fans for horror fans.
Talk us through the genesis of Scardiff; who came up with the idea and how did it materialise into what it is today?
It was an idea that Mike Allwood (Fantasy Events) came to me with. Mike and I met at the first Cardiff Comic Expo that he put on at the Mercure. He asked me to do a horror panel. So up I rolled to do the panel only to find about 150 punters waiting for me: there were people sitting around the edges of the room, standing around the back, loads of them in cosplay. And it wasn’t like any of us panellists were particularly well known or anything: people just came to talk about horror, it seemed; there was a real appetite for it. When I told Mike, he didn’t seem surprised: he had noticed an appetite for horror growing among the expo crowd already so it was a natural progression to talk about putting on an all-horror show. And here we are, one year and a lot of hard work later.
Who is Scardiff for and what can the average punter expect to get out of the weekend?
It’s aimed at all horror fans over the age of 16. We have something for everyone, from talking heads panels, a short film showcase (ran by Zombiehamster.com), zombie gaming (facilitated by playARK) and an SFX duel where two of our SFX guys, Mike Peel (The Descent) and David VG Davies (Days of Gory) go up against each other to create the best Demon. Add to that a jam-packed dealer’s room with book/ DVD launches and horror memorabilia aplenty. And Bobby Rhodes! Did I mention Bobby Gaddam Rhodes?
How did you manage to secure Bobby Rhodes as Guest of Honour? Can you talk us through some of the other key players on-board who have helped make Scardiff possible?
Dean Boor at Shock Horror Magazine helped us with that. He knew Bobby’s manager and, basically, put the feelers out to see if it was something we could make happen. After a little back-and-forth, Bobby was booked and we’re very much looking forward to having him with us. Demons 2 is one of my favourite 80s horrors so, personally, it’s going to be a real honour for me to shake Bobby’s hand.
Dean’s been great. Colin at Zombiehamster.com also deserves a big shout-out for putting together a superb short film showcase with guests and workshops and all kinds of awesome stuff. And then there’s Iz and our crew of volunteers: Scardiff has very much been a team effort and we’re hoping that shows in the varied and jam-packed programme we’re presenting on Sunday.
Who else are you particularly proud of on the Scardiff line-up and why should fans part with their hard earned cash and make the trip to Cardiff this weekend?
Oh, too many to mention without leaving someone out. We have Dominic Brunt coming down to show his new film, Shellshocked, and take part in panels and a Q&A. Dom will be known to most as Paddy from TV’s Emmerdale but he’s become a wonderful presence in the UK independent horror scene with the films Inbred and Before Dawn. Anthony DP Mann from The Horror Etc. Podcast is coming over from Canada to show his awesome Hammer-esque pastiche, Terror Of Dracula, and take part in programming. Signings-wise, we have John Higgins (Watchmen, Razorback), David Moody (Hater, Autumn), three new books launched by comic book press Markosia (with about twenty of their creators signing) and loads more. For film buffs we have James Plumb and his crew from Mad Science, Sim and Rach from Grimm Entertainment, Sousila and SJ from Dark Arts, and loads more. I know what you’re thinking: all this for £8?! Are we mad? Yep. Mad on horror.
Is Scardiff just for horror fans or is there a wider appeal?
I’d say with the likes of Markosia and John Higgins in attendance, sci-fi and comic book fans will also be well catered for. It is a Fantasy Events expo, after all!
Speaking of fans, my understanding is that Scardiff is much more fan-centric than other conventions which focus more on professionals within the industry. What are the most positive and worst convention experiences you have had and what lessons from these have you taken onboard whilst creating Scardiff?
Definitely fan-centric. Personally speaking, I don’t enjoy the stuffiness and posturing of literary/industry cons, so we’ve tried to make this very much a fan-centred event with nil points given for an over-inflated ego. This is very much a place for fans to kick back and talk to industry professionals, at all levels, in a very open, relaxed and informal environment.
Finally, we understand your latest novel Plastic Jesus will be released within the next month via Salt Publishing, can you tell us anything about it and how it differs from your previous works?
Hell yeah! I’m very excited about it and particularly excited to be working with Steve Haynes and all the gang at Salt Publishing. Basically, Plastic Jesus is my love letter to William Gibson (for Neuromancer), Ridley Scott (for Blade Runner) as well as a host of noir and neo-noir writers such as Lawrence Block, Christa Faust and Day Keene. This is a straight-up sci-fi thriller. There are absolutely no zombies in this book.