On Saturday, Sydney and I discovered that the drive from Frostburg, Md., to Morgantown, W.Va., takes only an hour by interstate (in good weather) and winds through gorgeous mountain scenery the whole way. We went over to say hello to one of our ICFA cronies, who was doing a signing at Barnes & Noble. Mike Arnzen is a horror writer and an associate professor at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pa.
Soon after we arrived, Mike and his fellow Raw Dog Screaming Press author Alyssa Sturgill commandeered the children's corner of the store to do a reading. "Hello, boys and girls!" Mike told his all-adult audience. Because their backdrop was Winnie the Pooh's 100 Aker Wood, as illustrated by Ernest Shepard, both performers proceeded to read stories in which small children are murdered, tortured and traumatized in countless unpleasant ways. I don't think any actual children were within earshot, but if there were, I daresay you'll soon be able to read all about it at Focus on the Family. At one point, just to further alarm passers-by, Mike concealed his manuscript behind a copy of Scooby-Doo! and the Creepy Chef.
Mike has one website devoted to his horror writing and quite another devoted to the scholarship of teaching. It's good to have varied interests!
At the 2003 Nebula Awards weekend in Philadelphia, Mike and I were standing in the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel, talking shop, when my hero Ellen Datlow walked up and told both of us that as fellow active members of the Horror Writers Association, we should do the honorable thing and volunteer for service on the Stoker Additions Jury, where she could use some help. I never will forget Mike's response: He threw back his head, roared with laughter like a Pirates of the Caribbean extra, then turned and walked away, without another word. But because I politely stood there in Ellen's cross hairs, thinking I could talk her out of the idea, I wound up toiling the next three years on the awards jury, the third year as chair. And on many occasions during those three years, I told myself, "Next time, emulate Mike Arnzen, dummy! Mike Arnzen's a smart guy!"