Get into the “spirit” of the season at the first HallowRead Convention – hosted in historic Ellicott City, Md. This inaugural event brings together paranormal writers, readers, and fans to celebrate the spooky season in style.
Rachel Rawlings, author of the Maurin Kincaide Series, a blend of paranormal and fantasy, created the event as a way to connect authors with their fans – locally. She said she even came up with the name for her mini-convention in the Fort McHenry tunnel.
Fans of the genre will be pleased to know that Fangoria, an internationally distributed horror magazine, has partnered up with HallowRead. Tom Defeo, president and owner, will participate in one of the panels. Defeo will be signing and premiering his magazine’s new book, a collection of their magazine covers and the stories behind them.
“Halloween is my favorite time of year,” Rawlings said, adding that she and her husband are even making decorations to put up around town.
But HallowRead is more than just a book festival. The mini-con does feature author panels and book signings, but there’s lots of activities for fans to enjoy the genre. Convention goers can enjoy a pop-up bookstore, a ghost tour, pub crawls, and the chance to dine with favorite authors.
Plus, sign up for the SteamPunk Author Victorian Tea to enjoy a sit-down afternoon tea – costumes welcome.
The best part, Rawlings said, is the play – an interactive performance of Dracula in the haunted ruins of the Patapsco Female Institute. The play will be performed by the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. Tickets for the play must be purchased separately; see below the post for more info. Make sure to mention HallowRead when ordering for a discount.
“It’s not just the books that will have you sleeping with the lights on,” Rawlings said. “The town’s haunted as well. All the panels take place in the buildings on the ghost tour or that are rumored to have a haunted history.” For example, the Trolley Stop, a quaint tavern, used to be called The Bloody Bucket.
But non-paranormal fans take note – the gore level is low, Rawlings said. “It’s all in good fun.” Ellicott City has plenty of historic shops, museums and restaurants without a paranormal flavor. Take part in the author panels and shop around town separately.
The event cost isn’t just a flat rate – although there was a three-day access pass for everything but the tea and the play. That pass sold out in late September. Participants can sign up for whatever events they’d like, then spend the rest of their time enjoying the city.
Ticket prices are reasonable, Rawlings said, compared with other conventions. “We’re not trying to make a profit with the HallowRead, just cover the tickets for [the events].” Ticket prices and info are listed at the end of the post.
Participants can receive special rates at the SpringHill Suites, with a free shuttle service provided to and from the event.
The weekend unofficially begins on Thurs., Oct. 24, with a free reception in The Still Life Gallery, hosted by authors L.M. Pruitt and Shea MacLeod, explained Rawlings. “This is an opportunity to really get to know some of the industry’s leading authors in genre fiction.”
A convention wouldn’t be complete without a swag bag full of goodies. Attendees will each receive a bag of freebies from authors and some businesses in town.
Win door prizes and other goodies during the panels too. Rawlings said they are hosting a raffle for Art Where We Are, a nonprofit that brings art teachers and supplies to children in shelters. The raffle includes baskets filled with books, swag and other goodies. Plus, those who stay at SpringHill Suites will enjoy prizes from participating authors too.
There are still some spaces left for vendors, depending on the size of merchandise, and businesses and authors are welcome to donate items to the participant swag bags. (Rawlings’ email is posted below.)
HallowRead is slated to become an annual event, Rawlings said, adding that Ellicott City and its businesses are “thrilled” to be the host. “I think it’s important for authors to connect with readers and vice versa. It reminds us why we write and is a fun way to say thanks for their loyalty and support.”
HallowRead Convention Details
Address: Main Street, Ellicott City, Md. 21043
Dates: Fri., Oct. 25 from 6 p.m. to midnight
Sat., Oct. 26 from 10 p.m. to midnight
Sun., Oct. 27 from 9 to 11 a.m. *@ Springhill Suites, Columbia, Md. – breakfast and photo op/signing
Cost: Ghost Tour and panels: $38
Saturday panels only: $25
SteamPunk Author Tea Add-on: $15
Dracula Play Tickets & Info: http://chesapeakeshakespeare.com/ (Tickets for the play must be purchased separately. Mention HallowRead for a discount!)
- Ellicott City is a historic town and some buildings may not be handicapped accessible.
- These are walking tours so wear comfortable shoes.
For more info: