In between the masquerade ball, the discussions of all things zombie and a concert by Tesla coil rock band ArcAttack, there will be plenty of events vying for guests' attention at Chattacon this weekend.
Among the options available at the three-day fandom convention celebrating pop and niche culture will be guest of honor author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.
Yarbro is a highly acclaimed writer of more than 70 books within many genres but is best known for her 24-book "Saint-Germain" horror fiction series. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including the lifetime achievement award from the Horror Writers Association, the Grand Master Award from the World Horror Association and a literary knighthood from the Transylvanian Society of Dracula.
Q: You just passed 40 years as a professional writer. Are you surprised by where you've ended up?
A: Oh yeah, in more ways than one. (Laughs.) There are areas where I like to write, genres that these days are not as accessible because we're increasingly being boxed into a very limited package as writers. Publishers will say, "Well, you write X," and you say, "Well, sometimes, I write X, but now I'd like to write Y." There is a big resistance to that.
Q: What, other than the economics of the situation, keeps drawing you back to writing horror?
A: I've always liked horror. It's a very interesting genre, in that you can do almost any kind of genre as a horror story, and you can't do that with most of the others. It's considerably more flexible than almost anything else out there.
Q: Would you consider yourself a scary person?
A: (Laughs.) No. I'm 5 feet tall, I'm stout, I have arthritis and I'm 68, so you know, no, I'm not really scary. What do they think I'm going to do? Climb up a stool and bite their kneecaps? Come on. (Laughs.)
Q: What about being horrifying on page? Does that come to you naturally?
A: Oh yes, very. That part has been very easy. ... I have a real affection for those kinds of stories that have things that are not only ambiguous but unexpected. The unexpected is a lot harder to pull off than ambiguity.
Q: What was your intention when you started writing the "Saint-Germain" series?
A: I wanted to push "Dracula" as far to the positive and still have a recognizable vampire. I also wanted to do series of books that are essentially about the lives of women. Yes, Saint-Germain is the point-of-view character, but it's always about the women he's interacting with.
Q: You have written about Saint-Germain for 30 years. How has your relationship with the character changed?
A: He's a wonderful character, and not just because he's 4,000 years old, but because he gives me a lot of change that can occur within him as a way of elucidating things about various stages in history. At this point, I've done so many stories about Saint-Germain that I don't really have to worry, in the usual sense, about building him because he's built and he isn't going to change, except in the context of the story.
IF YOU GO
• What: Chattacon 36.
• When: 7 p.m. today-2 p.m. Sunday.
• Where: Chattanooga Choo Choo, 1400 Market St.
• Admission: $50.
• Phone: 800-872-2529
• Website: www.chattacon.org.
A full programming schedule is available at chattacon.org
• Meet the Pros Reception (8 p.m. in Galleries A and B)
• Chattacon Revue (9 p.m. in the Centennial Theater)
• Young Jedi Academy (10 a.m. in Finley Lecture Hall)
• Introduction to mead and the process of making it (6 p.m. in Gallery A)
• Guest of Honor Q&A (noon in Finley Lecture Hall)