Editor’s note: StokerCon is the annual convention of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) when, among other things, they honor the Bram Stoker Award winners. This year, the 4 day event was held at the historic and very haunted Queen Mary. We sent our own intrepid Mackenzie Kiera into the mouth of the beast to look around, and haven’t heard from her since. Luckily, she dashed off a few reports before… well, whatever happened to her.
Mackenzie Kiera – You’re meant to be a writer, with that name, sir.
Billicent James San Juan – Indeed. Also, I figure I can shorten it, so I can be like Cher or Bono. Billicent. I usually just go by Billy though, because it’s just easier.
MK – So, Billy, you won something here at StokerCon?
BSJ – I won the Scholarship from Hell. I was honored that they chose my essay. First place received airfare to the convention, a 4-night stay, free registration, and as many workshops for the Horror University tract. The essay I wrote essentially explained in 250 words why I deserved the Scholarship from Hell.
MK – And why did you deserve the Scholarship from Hell?
BSJ – Because I am one lucky bastard! First of all, props to Eunice Magill who helped edit my essay. I spoke about how my main financial hardship is student loans. I have a doctorate in psychology and it’s been a rewarding experience, but let’s just say the process set me back six figures and the first number in that figure is not a one or a two. I was also able to make my case because in my fiction, I tend to write about horror within my culture. I am Filipino-American and I take aspects of the Filipino folk lore I also have an academic background. I’m part of the ‘Psych Geeks writing group’ and we have a series of books out by Sterling Publishing that combine psychological issues with pop culture.
MK – Do you have some titles you’d like to share?
BSJ – Yes! We just came out with Star Trek Psychology. We also have other titles. Some chapters I co-wrote with New York Times Best Selling Author Alan Kistler. He’s awesome, shout out to Alan. In Star Wars Psychology, I write about masculinity—which is one of my clinical interests—and how traditional masculine narratives that are stereotyped for men helped lead Anakin to become Darth Vader. He wasn’t allowed to express grief, so he stifled it. And he expressed it in the ‘socially accepted’ way for men to feel the emotions. Men feel emotions as everyone else does, we’re just told not to express them. Men are taught that emotions are vulnerabilities, and the only way to express grief that’s socially acceptable is through anger and fear.
MK- And that is the path to the dark side.
BSJ – It is the path to the dark side! Alan and I also have The Walking Dead Psychology where we explored masculinity concepts also. Oh, and, Captain America vs. Iron Man Psychology. Our foreword for that was written by Stan Lee, which was quite the honor. Alan and I explored how Tony Stark and Captain Steve Rodgers also abide by traditional stereotypes to communicate. Yeah, we have books on Game of Thrones, Wonder Woman, Doctor Who, all sorts of topics. So, those are available in major bookstores and independent bookstores like Mysterious Galaxies in San Diego.
MK – Is there anything else you would like the readers to know? Because one of the stigmas going against horror writers is, people think you’re scary, so it’s important that everyone knows horror writes are just people.
BSJ – Well, in real life I’m a therapist at a community clinic and I help low income at-risk people with mental illness. People struggling with PTSD, schizophrenia, depressive disorders, things like that.
MK – That’s incredible. Where else can we find you?
BSJ – Pending approval, members of the Psych Geeks will have some panels at San Diego Comic Con. We were recently at WonderCon and Los Angeles’s ComicCon. You can also find me on Twitter @Billi_sense or via my blog: Trilobits.net.
MK – What are you currently working on?
BSJ – I’m currently working on an anthology of short stories. One of my favorite things about horror is finding horror in everyday situations because we all experience fear. It’s part of the human condition. I’m querying out. And I recently had a story accepted into an anthology.
MK – Congratulations.
BSJ – Thank you
MK – Which one?
BSJ – California Screaming. My story is centered around the Delano grape strike. Years ago Mexican and Filipino farm workers went on strike for their rights. I threw a little bit of Filipino folklore in there, and if you want to read more about all the blood and gore that goes with it, pick up a copy when it’s out! Shout out to the San Diego chapter of the HWA!
MK – Thank you very much for this, Billy. I hope we’ll be hearing from you more and I encourage everyone to pick up the books listened above.
BSJ – You surely will be hearing from me.
MK – Until next time, sir.
Dr. Billy San Juan was the recipient of the 2017 HWA Scholarship from Hell. He is a Filipino-American, a skeptic, and a raconteur. He received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Alliant International University in 2014, and has been published in the Psych Geeks line of books (including The Walking Dead Psychology, Star Wars Psychology, Captain America vs. Iron Man Psychology, Star Trek Psychology, and Doctor Who Psychology). He has also spoken on panels at various conventions including San Diego Comic Con, WonderCon, and LA Comic Con. He has written flavor text for Magic: the Gathering and is an avid player of the game. In his spare time, he enjoys watching professional wrestling and cooking dinner for his wife. None of his friends believe that Billy writes horror stories because he’s “too damn cheerful.” You can read his thoughts about life’s dichotomies on his blog: trilobits.net. You can also follow him on Twitter: @Billi_sense.