As we’re sure you already know, Camp Necon will be virtual this July due to circumstances that need no explanation. We’re calling it Camp V-Con, and our goal is to hold an event that provides as close to a full Necon experience as possible without physically being together.

Most of Camp V-Con’s programming will be held on UMass-Lowell’s digital platform. It works just like Zoom, only no one needs their own account or any third party software. Best of all, it’s also secure, so we don’t have to worry about trolls or bigots harassing our Campers. The University will supply us access links for their platform closer to the event, and we’ll provide them to all attendees once they do. We have also set up a Camp V-Con Discord channel to essentially act as our “virtual quad,” and we plan to send out a tech primer with everything Campers will need to know to access Camp V-Con in the coming weeks.

Once again, Camp V-Con is FREE to all Campers who are already registered for Necon 40 (now being held July 21st to 24th, 2022). Registration for all other Campers IS NOW OPEN HERE. The cost is $25.00 for the virtual weekend.

We have planned entertainment blocks every evening beginning Thursday (7/15), kaffeeklatsches on Friday afternoon (7/16), panels all day Saturday (7/17), and a slate of special offerings for Sunday morning (7/18). As such, and without any further ado, we’re happy to announce the official Camp V-Con programming schedule!

*** Updated as of 6/7/21. PLEASE NOTE — All listed participants are those Campers who have already confirmed with us; we hope and expect to be announcing more participants as confirmations roll in! ***

*** ALL TIMES EASTERN ***

THURSDAY, JULY 15th

*** ALL EVENTS ON THE V-CON DISCORD CHANNEL ***

ALL DAY — “Quad Time” on the V-Con Discord Channel

Our version of the Necon Quad, gone virtual! Campers are encouraged to log on, create chats, organize gaming sessions, and hang out however they see fit.

9:00PM ET — 11:00PM ET (or later) — Thursday Night Virtual Sing-a-Long

What’s Quad Time (virtual or otherwise) without a guitar pull? Featuring Gary Frank, Paul McNamee, Nick Zaino, and any other musicians who want to contribute!

FRIDAY, JULY 16th

*** ON THE V-CON DISCORD CHANNEL ***

ALL MORNING — “Quad Time” on the V-Con Discord Channel

Our version of the Necon Quad, gone virtual! Campers are encouraged to log on, create chats, organize gaming sessions, and hang out however they see fit.

*** ON THE UMASS-LOWELL DIGITAL PLATFORM ***

KAFFEKLATCHES:

12:00PM ET — 12:50PM ET — Cracking the Spine: The Best Novels of the Pandemic

An online version of our annual “Frank Michaels Errington Five Star Books Kaffeeklatsch,” focused on works that hit the shelves during the pandemic. Let’s face it, many of us have comforted ourselves and passed the time of the last year-plus between the covers of a book!

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Michael Burke, Ginjer Buchanan, James Chambers, Jaime Levine, Hank Wagner, Mad Wilson

1:00PM ET — 1:50PM ET — Making Your Word(s) Count: The Best Short Fiction of the Pandemic

An online version of our annual “Frank Michaels Errington Five Star Books Kaffeeklatsch, but for short fiction. I’m sure for more than a few of us, short fiction has been a solace during a time where it’s hard to maintain focus.

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Daniel Braum, Ellen Datlow, doungjai gam, Rena Mason, Kyle Rader, Angela Yuriko Smith, Morgan Sylvia, John F.D. Taff, Sheri White

2:00PM ET — 2:50PM ET — Kids Today: Genre Trends in YA and Middle-Grade Literature

How did COVID-19 effect young readers’ tastes and habits, and thereby the YA and middle-grade markets? Our experts discuss.

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Meghan Arcuri, Tom Deady, Michael Thomas Ford, Tara Lieberman, Jonathan Maberry, Ogmios, Cat Scully, David Niall Wilson

3:00PM ET — 3:50PM ET — Critical Roll: The Best Video and Tabletop Horror Games of the Pandemic

Gaming has been more than just a diversion during the pandemic, but a way for friends, family, and our community to come together. Our gamers chime in on how they’ve “rolled with it.”

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Amber Bliss, Cara Colyott, Kurt Criscione, Richard Dansky, Chris Irvin, Robert Macary

4:00PM ET — 4:50PM ET — Straight to Streaming: The Best Movies of the Pandemic

We do this one every year at Necon; the only difference this time is that there will be no discussions about box office and disgusting, sticky, popcorn-covered floors (unless our participants keep pretty gross media rooms!).

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Michael Arruda, Mike Casto, Shannon Grant, Dave Hinchberger, Jonathan Lees, Kevin Lewis, Paul McMahon, Hansi Oppenheimer, Judy Pancoast

5:00PM ET — 5:50PM ET — The Binge From Beyond: The Best TV and Streaming Series of the Pandemic

We split out annual “Best Books” discussion into two klatches for V-Con, separating short fiction from novels. Accordingly, we decided to give TV and series their own klatch separate from movies, too.

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Elizabeth A. Black, G.D. Dearborn, Barry Lee Dejasu, Gary Frank, Scott Goudsward, Mary Hart, Gordon Linzner, Hildy Silverman

5:50PM ET — 7:30PM ET — DINNER BREAK

7:30PM ET — 8:00PM ET — Favorite Necon Memory Montage

A presentation of 30-60 second videos describing Campers’ favorite Necon memories.

8:00PM ET — 8:50PM ET — V-Con Update with Mike Myers

Think there’s been any news for Mike to report over the last two years?

9:00PM ET — 9:50PM ET — Not a Staggering Squirrel: A Virtual Mix-a-Long

Meghan Arcuri, Richard Dansky, Bracken MacLeod, and Errick Nunnally present craft cocktail recipes and walk us through how to make them. Ingredient lists will be posted ahead of time so V-Campers can, well, mix-a-long!

10:00PM ET — 10:50PM ET (or later) — The Return of Friday Night Ghost Stories

Hosted by Mike Myers. Everyone always loved ghost stories on the quad, but the logistics of holding outdoor readings and expecting an audience of 200 to stay quiet made things difficult. Thanks to V-Con, those difficulties are moot! Linda Addison, Brian Keene, Errick Nunnally, and Jeff Strand (and perhaps others) regale us with their spookiest, campfire-worthiest tales.

*** ON THE V-CON DISCORD CHANNEL ***

11:00PM ET (or later) on — “Quad Time” on the V-Con Discord Channel

Our version of the Necon Quad, gone virtual! Campers are encouraged to log on, create chats, organize gaming sessions, and hang out however they see fit.

SATURDAY, JULY 17th

*** ON THE UMASS-LOWELL DIGITAL PLATFORM ***

PANELS:

9:00AM ET — 9:50AM ET — Doomed to Repeat It: Drawing on Real-Life Horror in Your Fiction

From Truman Capote to Necon’s own Dallas Mayr, the tradition of drawing upon real-life inspiration to craft horror is as rich as it is terrifying. A panel of esteemed authors discuss how, sometimes, truth is not just stranger, but scarier than fiction.

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Maurice Broaddus, Carol Gyzander, Jack Haringa (M), Bracken MacLeod, Errick Nunnally, Ben Percy

10:00AM ET — 10:50AM ET — What About the Dead Guy?: Ghosts and other Revenants as Engines of Story

When Tim Powers was a guest at Necon, he said that he often starts a story by asking himself, “What about the dead guy?” Many noir and mystery stories do this, too. Panelists will discuss how the unsettled question of a death — before the book even starts — drives the action or shapes a character in their work.

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: P.D. Cacek (M), Kristin Dearborn, Michael Rowe, Sheri Sebastian-Gabriel, Chet Williamson, Craig Wolf

11:00AM ET — 11:50AM ET — A Spiked Flail to the Face: the Intersection of Horror and (Grim) Dark Fantasy, Both High and Urban

From medieval dragons to contemporary werewolves, it is virtually impossible to write any form of fantasy without overlapping the horror genre. Our authors who have donned both hats explain the inevitability of wearing both at the same time.

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Christopher Golden, Heather Graham, Charlaine Harris, Paul McNamee, James A. Moore (M), Yvonne Navarro, David Price

11:50PM ET — 12:30PM ET — LUNCH BREAK

12:30PM ET — 1:20PM ET — When Life Happens: Moving Past the Creative Slumps That Come with Global Pandemics and Other Events We Can’t Control

True story — when choosing participants for this panel, Matt Bechtel sadly commented, ‘We have WAY too many candidates for this one.” Life is always hard and it always gets in the way of creative work, but the past sixteen months have been ridiculously so. On behalf of all of us, brave authors who’ve been thrown from the saddle discuss getting back on the horse.

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Diana Catt, Craig Shaw Gardner, Brian Keene, Angi Shearstone, Mellisa Sherlin

1:30PM ET — 2:20PM ET — How to Haunt a House

Haunted houses are a staple of horror fiction and film, and two series recently portrayed the trope with great effectiveness: The Haunting of Bly Manor and The Haunting of Hill House (based on Shirley Jackson’s classic novel). How do writers keep this trope feeling fresh, and why do we come back to it so often?

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Tananarive Due, Marianne Halbert, Jennifer McMahon, Weston Ochse, Tony Tremblay (M)

2:30PM ET — 3:20PM ET — There’s an Ogre in My Basement: Using Folklore and Mythical Creatures in Modern Horror

It’s one thing to write in a “shared world” with other authors, but with myth and folklore, that shared world is literally an entire culture, community or civilization. So, no pressure! Feel free to incorporate these centuries-old creatures, characters, and legends into your own work … just make sure you use them right!

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: John Buja, John Foster, Grady Hendrix, Michelle Renee Lane, Trisha J. Wooldridge (M)

3:30PM ET — 4:20PM ET — Are You Jekyll or Are You Hyde: The Art of Collaborating with Another Author

We almost filled this panel only with people who had collaborated with Christopher Golden or Jim Moore, but the UMass-Lowell digital platform caps us at twenty participants.

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Stephen Bissette, Kasey Lansdale (M), Izzy Lee, Charles Rutledge, John Skipp, L.L.Soares, Jeff Strand, Bev Vincent

4:30PM ET — 5:20PM ET — The Return of Grimscribe: A Look Back Thomas Ligotti’s The Nightmare Factory on Its 25th Anniversary

Thomas Ligotti’s The Nightmare Factory is a touchstone work in the canon of weird fiction. Please join as some of the best and brightest of the subgenre celebrate its silver anniversary by discussing its influence upon their own work and horror literature in general.

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Laird Barron, John Goodrich, Todd Keisling, John Langan, Anya Martin, Mary SanGiovanni, Darrell Schweitzer

5:30PM ET — 6:20PM ET — Dead to Rights: The Intersection of Crime and Horror Fiction

At what point does a “suspense” novel become a “thriller,” and at what point does a “thriller” reach “horror” status? A generation ago, we may have asked if these distinctions were remotely relevant for anyone outside of a publisher’s marketing department. Of course, with every author now tasked with marketing their own work, these questions have never been more relevant for authors straddling the crime and horror genres.

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Dana Cameron, Gabino Iglesias, Nick Kaufmann (M), Toni L.P. Kelner, Joe Lansdale, Tim Waggoner, Doug Winter, Rio Youers

6:20PM ET — 7:30PM ET — DINNER BREAK

7:30PM  ET— 8:00PM ET — Awarding of the Pandemic Fez(zes)

Hosted by Barbara Gardner, Craig Shaw Gardner, and Mike Myers. Our Campers will be asked to nominate someone who best represented the Necon Campers spirit over the course of the pandemic. The fez will be awarded to the recipient and mailed to their home. Fezzes will be awarded in other categories as the distinguished hosts see fit.

8:00PM ET — 8:50PM ET — V-Con Virtual Artist Gallery

Hosted by Ogmios. A group of Necon artists will highlight one or more of their works, speak to the piece, and answer questions from the audience (participating artists TBA).

9:00PM ET — 9:50PM ET — V-Con Honors Craig Shaw Gardner

Hosted by Mike Myers. In a way, consider this Necon’s “anti-roast,” as our community pays tribute to, and shows its appreciation for, one of the legends who helped shape it. Featuring a Q&A and panel discussion with Craig himself, Ginjer Buchanan, Barbara Gardner, Christopher Golden, and Doug Winter.

*** ON THE V-CON DISCORD CHANNEL ***

10:00PM ET on — “Quad Time” on the V-Con Discord Channel

Our version of the Necon Quad, gone virtual! Campers are encouraged to log on, create chats, organize gaming sessions, and hang out however they see fit.

10:00PM ET — 12:00AM ET (or later) — Saturday Night Virtual Sing-a-Long

What’s Quad Time (virtual or otherwise) without a guitar pull? Featuring Gary Frank, Paul McNamee, Nick Zaino, and any other musicians who want to contribute!

SUNDAY, JULY 18th

*** ON THE UMASS-LOWELL DIGITAL PLATFORM ***

9:00AM ET — 12:00PM ET — V-Con Academy

A mixed offering of seminars, one-on-one conversations, interactive presentations, and informal workshops (i.e., no manuscripts, mandatory reading, or pre-prepared work), led by some of V-Con’s most accomplished Campers and centered on the topics of their choosing so they can share their expertise with the rest of us. Specific topics, time and length of sessions, and attendance capacities TBA as soon as possible. *** PLEASE NOTE — Select sessions with limited attendance will only be open to Campers who are already registered to attend Camp Necon 40 in 2022 (limit one select session per Camper). ***

12:00PM ET — 12:30PM ET — LUNCH BREAK; UMASS-LOWELL PLATFORM CLOSES

*** ON THE V-CON DISCORD CHANNEL ***

12:30PM ET — 1:20PM ET — V-Con Town Meeting

A virtual version of the Town Meeting held every Sunday at Necon; V-Campers provide feedback on the V-Con experience.

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Matt Bechtel, Jack Haringa, Nick Kaufmann, Bracken MacLeod, Mike Myers.

1:30PM ET on — “Quad Time” on the V-Con Discord Channel

Our version of the Necon Quad, gone virtual! Campers are encouraged to log on, create chats, organize gaming sessions, and hang out however they see fit.

Thank you all again so much; we cannot wait to see you (virtually) come July!