Ask anyone the difference between CrimeCon and the Dark History and HorrorCon (DHHC) and they will tell you that each convention is its own entity from start to finish. Where CrimeCon is large and full of events throughout a two-and-a-half day event, DHHC is a much more intimate affair with few break-away sessions during the course of one day. While I love the events held at CrimeCon and exploring each city where it is held, there was something very comfortable and familiar about the Dark History event held this year.
I don’t know what I expected when I arrived in the small town of Champaign, Illinois on October 22, 2021. I admit that I only knew the coordinator of the convention, Brian Ward, when I got to town. I’ve traveled alone on many occasions and, while I wasn’t intimidated by getting to town, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As my plane landed, I was surrounded by square patches of land and ramrod straight roads. For someone used to the rolling hills and winding streets of North Carolina, this remote town area felt very different indeed. The fifteen-minute ride to my hotel in nearby Urbana consisted of only one or two turns and, before I knew it, I was at the Eastland Suites. I checked in and high-tailed it to the bar. It didn’t take me long to locate some true crime fans who invited me to join them at their table. I met myriad people fascinated by the psychology of Ted Bundy and other serial killers in a way that I haven’t experienced at the CrimeCon events I’ve attended.
At DHHC the next day, I had a table to disseminate information about my upcoming book, “Ted Bundy: Memories of the Beast,” and I hosted a session titled, “The Real Ted Bundy: The Truth Behind the ‘Golden Boy’ of Serial Killing.” Since my session wasn’t being held until 2:00 P.M. CST, I moved amongst the nearby tables in the large room where my colleagues and fellow writers were plying their wares. I was glad to have already met most of them the night before in the hotel bar, but the ones I met at this event are also now considered friends. John Borowski, documentarian and storyteller, was gracious and so friendly. We discussed his upcoming documentary about John Wayne Gacy (The John Wayne Gacy Murders: Life and Death in Chicago) and he mentioned that he would feature the LGBTQ community during the 1970s when Gacy was committing his crimes. I met Steven and Leya Booth, owners of Genius Publishing (Genius Book Publishing), who were both kind enough to tell me about their experiences working on crime books and other genres. I talked to Waco survivor, David Thibodeau (David Thibodeau) who discussed his relationship with David Koresh and how he came to join the Branch Davidians. He also gave an excellent session shortly after mine which included some fascinating insight into the 1993 attack on the compound. I stopped by a booth with some incredible serial killer and dark character artwork (The Art of Barcode) and purchased a drawing of Ted Bundy and another of Edgar Allan Poe. I even got to speak with the artist who was kind enough to sign both pictures. I was excited to meet both Ash Hamilton and Brett Blakley who interviewed me last September about Bundy for their YouTube show (EJ’s Night Terrors Radio Interview) and actor Bishop Stevens, who tapped my interest in Bundy for his upcoming role in a film about the January 6th insurrection. Corin Nemec was kind enough to talk to me about Bundy after playing him in the 2008 film, Bundy: A Legacy of Evil. He explained that he watched old interviews of Ted to get into character. I was also surrounded by interesting conversations by convention attendees Tanya Wall, Chris Wall, Timothy Taylor, Jeff Ignatowski, author Steven Giannangelo, and Rick Staton.
Though I was surprised by the warm, welcoming feeling I received in Illinois, I shouldn’t have been. Smaller conventions tend to be more intimate as a rule and the reputation of people in the midwest preceded them. I look forward to returning to this convention in the future once my book is available (early 2022!) and perhaps I’ll give another lecture on any number of topics while I’m there.
To view my session from the event, click here: EJ Hammon at Dark History and HorrorCon 2021 (Thanks to Timothy Taylor for filming & editing it!)