|feo tales||SPECIAL REPORT|
Report by Eunice Magill
"(Richard Laymon) thought Adam Pepper's work with the NYC Chapter was very cool. In fact, it inspired him to start the LA chapter."
Los Angeles doesn't have a beach. For that you have to go to Venice or Redondo, just several of the dozen beach cities that turn their backs to greater LA and guard the Pacific jealously. Marina del Rey, one such beach burb, was the venue for the first meeting of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Horror Writers Association on Saturday, June 30. Southern California members met at the Warehouse, a restaurant trapped in a jungle of bamboo and birds-of-paradise and fronted by a creaky bridge suspended over a koi pond. Within and without the place resembled the dark-side of Gilligan's Island. In the bar Kelly Laymon, Ann Laymon, Maria Alexander, Jenny Orosel, Michelle Mitchell-Foust, Cindy Nevins, Jason Coon, Jonathan Torres, Greg Magill and yours truly convened around an island of pulled together tables. While most of the members harkened from LA proper and the surrounding vicinity, the Magills made the three-hour trek from San Diego.
Kelly Laymon said she never seriously considered an LA Chapter of the HWA. She wasn't even an official member. Though it was her father, the late Richard Laymon, who was the writer, the three Laymons went everywhere together. Ann and Kelly were considered by all to be HWA members. "My decision to do it happened within a five minute period while driving through Santa Monica the Friday after the WHC [World Horror Convention]," she explained. When the idea hit her, she made a U-turn and returned to her college campus to open a Yahoo account and send out announcements. There was one more bit of business to tend to though. She printed a copy of the HWA membership and completed it in the campus cafeteria. "My mother didn't even know what I had done until she found the stub in the checkbook."
The ten in attendance mumbled introductions to one another and nursed beers or bottled water. After some initial silence tongues loosened and talk turned to LA car chases, jury duty, and the WHC. Of the ten, eight had gone to Seattle. "Even though all of those eight people had a lot of fun at the WHC, their experience probably would have been much better if they could have gone into it knowing a few people and having them to hang out with," said Kelly Laymon. "Attending a convention for the first time can be sort of scary, like the first day of school or something."
Through the bar's windows overlooking the marina, fog could be seen rolling in, blurring sailboats and palm trees into ghostly apparitions and bringing on dark a little earlier. Ann Laymon explained that her husband placed an announcement in the December HWA Internet mailer concerning the creation of an LA chapter of the HWA. After receiving only six responses and with impending holidays, he put the project on the back burner. Ann asked him if he was sure he wanted to do this with only a few people. "Sure," he responded, "you have to start somewhere." Unfortunately Richard Laymon died on February 14 and never saw the project to fruition.
"Meeting Adam Pepper (the founder of the NYC HWA Chapter) at the WHC in Seattle probably played the biggest role in my decision to start an LA Chapter," said Kelly Laymon. "When he got started, he wrote to my father quite a bit and let him know what he was up to." Richard Laymon recently served as HWA President until his death. "My father thought Adam Pepper's work with the NYC Chapter was very cool. In fact, it inspired him to start the LA chapter."
Several HWA members commented that if he fell and the koi attacked him like piranha, well, then that would be worth seeing.
As the fledgling chapter members became more comfortable, they swapped stories and tips on open markets. Kelly said that she doesn't know what the purpose of the chapter is right now but she feels that it has accomplished a lot by just having HWA members get to know each other. Added Jenny Orosel, "I had so much fun there. It's nice to be with a group of people and not be the weird one. A big sense of community."
The evening came to a close with "Take it Easy" playing in the background. Members drifted outside, milling about the koi pond unwilling to part from new friends. When asked if she saw the LA HWA Chapter as a tribute to her husband's memory, Ann Laymon responded, "In a way I do and that it was Kelly who got the ball rolling. It could have been anyone but she's the one who took it over when he couldn't."
Across the pond a father kneeled beside his daughter. With a proffered finger he attracted a swarm of koi for her enjoyment. A silvery fish flashed out of the pond and took the bait. The HWA members laughed at his startled reaction. Liking his audience, he offered his finger several more times to the hungry koi. He, however, didn't know he was performing for a tough crowd. Several HWA members commented that if he fell and the koi attacked him like piranha, well, then that would be worth seeing.
"I'm not sure what the future holds," says Kelly Laymon. "For the time being, we'll just keep meeting at the bar, hanging out, all that good stuff." She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for the date and time of the next meeting of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Horror Writers Association.
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