Adventures of a Goblin Princess at StokerCon

Sumiko Saulson and Hillary Raque Dodge

“Scholarship from Hell” winner Sumiko Saulson, runner-up Hillary Raque-Dodge

As many of you already know, I was the proud winner of the Scholarship from Hell for StokerCon 2016. I, along with runner up Hillary Raque Dodge (also a horror blogger, she is the wicked mind behind The Horror Librarian) , was given free entry to the four day convention in Las Vegas at the historic Flamingo Hotel, and an all-access pass to a series of exclusive educational workshops. As the first place winner, I also received a hotel room, airfare, and a limo ride two and from the airport, which as I posted on Facebook, made me feel like “a goblin princess.”


While I was at the convention, I had a book signing with four-time Bram Stoker Award Winner Linda Addison. If you are familiar with 60 Black Women in Horror, you probably know Linda as the first African American to win the coveted horror award.  We were also on a diversity panel, which is listed on the StokerCon events schedule online this way:

 11:30pm – 1pm  Diversity & the HWA –  Red Rock 4 Introduction: Lisa Morton / Moderator: Lucy A. Snyder / Panelists: Ellen Datlow * Guest of Honor, Shane McKenzie, Sumiko Saulson *Horror University Scholarship Winner, Linda Addison, Greg Herren, Angela Yuriko Smith


HWA Diversity Panel

HWA Diversity Panel –  Angela Yuriko Smith, Linda Addison, Greg Herren, Lucy A. Snyder, Ellen Datlow and Sumiko Saulson shown.

 wrote a very comprehensive blog post about the panel, which addressed diversity both from the point of view of how to reach out to diverse populations of writers, and from the view of how to populate works of fiction with diverse characters. I was extremely honored to be included in the panel. As a scholarship winner, I had no idea I would be invited to speak on such a subject which you, as a reader of my blog, already know is near and dear to my hear.

As you can see, they made a very big fuss about me.  They showed runner up Hillary Raque Dodge a lot of love, too. I am not being falsely modest when I say this: I am still at the bottom rungs of the ladder. I am a support level member of the HWA, and although I’m sure I will be an associate member before summer is over, it may be years before I attain the highest, voting level: active membership. I am still relatively, early in my career, and the encouragement and support meant a lot to me. It also seems very much in the spirit of the educational, outreach and mentoring focus that the HWA has embraced to encourage new writers.

Ace Antonio Hall, Suzanne Paul, Steven Van Patten and Sumiko Saulson.

Ace Antonio Hall, Suzanne Paul, Steven Van Patten, Linda Addison and Sumiko Saulson at the Stoker Awards After Party.

I learned a lot while at StokerCon, and just only from the fabulous and comprehensive workshop series for which I was awarded the scholarship. The readings I attended taught me a great deal about how authors can work together and entertain. I also learned that being easy to work with is a plus in the business. All of the actually famous people were super easy going. The few people I met who copped any kind an attitude didn’t have anything published (or even self-published). I guess when you’re really busy you don’t have time for high-school shenanigans or a chip on your shoulder.

Guest of Honor Jack Ketchum was at a signing table next to me and Linda Addison and was so low-key I didn’t even notice him there until Linda introduced us. Guest of Honor Ellen Datlow, who paneled with us earlier, let Linda and I bogart her table when she wasn’t there. I tabled with Ellen and we had a heated discussion with a young man, a fan of hers who stopped by the booth, about Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and the Democratic Party primary which was going on in Las Vegas pretty much while we were in town for StokerCon.

Speaking of Linda Addison, I was really very fortunate that she looked out for me the whole time I was there.  She introduced me to a lot of cool people who were present, and I was happy to get to spend time with her, and Ace Antonio Hall who she introduced me to.

Linda Ace Miki

Linda Addison, Ace Antonia Hall and Sumiko Saulson

In case you are noting a theme here: I got a lot of support from other writers, especially other women. Although the HWA still has work to do on ethnic diversity, women were very present and prominent at StokerCon, discrediting the outdated myth that women do not write horror.

I received a lot of moral support from women I already knew through Women in Horror Month, via social media, and through this blog, including Guest of Honor Marge Simon.  I was introduced to Marge and Linda by Rain Graves. She’s one of the writers who is a part of the Bram Stoker Award Winning Four Elements. Rain is a local author here in the Bay Area, and we met through longtime mutual friend Serena Toxicat. I also met Elizabeth Black, who like me is currently working a short story for Killion Slade’s The Market Place anthology, in person for the first time. Our stories in The Market Place involve a lot of character crossover.

Marge Simon and Sumiko Saulson

Marge Simon and Sumiko Saulson

One of the subjects we touched on during the diversity panel was how people naturally reach out to people they know. Women who know about anthologies and post to their women in horror groups make other women aware then there are more submissions from women. The same holds true with people of color reaching out to other people of color. 60 Black Women in Horror was written as a part of a blog series I did as an ambassador for Women in Horror Month, but I have as a result of it, come in touch with a lot of other black writers, not just women.

Women are starting to close the gap. Three women won Stoker Awards in 2016, as did one minority (Latino) and one non-English speaking (Italian) author.

During closing statements for the event, President Lisa Morton reported that of the 79 applicants for the Scholarship from Hell, fifty were women. The fact that two women; Hillary Raque Dodge and myself, is less surprising, but not any less amazing in this context. The closing panelists attributed this in part to the Horror Writers Association’s mentorship programs and the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship.

~ by Sumiko Saulson on May 22, 2016.

6 Responses to “Adventures of a Goblin Princess at StokerCon”

  1. Nice reporting. Thanks for the update and congratulations on the scholarship award.

  2. Good blog entry. I enjoyed meeting you at Stoker. Hope to see you again at the Queen Mary. Best wishes.

    • Long Beach isn’t that far away from the (well just 500 miles lol) – I was born down there so I do have family in Southern California and I plan to be there next year.

  3. Congratulations, Ska!

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