This weekend, genre readers have a rare treat on their hands. A *whole weekend* of authors talking about their favourite science fiction and fantasy subjects - and hopefully yours too. You'll find talks on worldbuilding, writing, dragons, YA fiction and far more.. So without further ado, below is info on what our own Tor and Pan Macmillan Children's authors are talking about at FantasyCon. Do say hello to Frances Hardinge, Lucy Hounsom, Adam Nevill, Brandon Sanderson and Adrian Tchaikovsky! You can also see the full program here. I wish all attendees a wonderful time.

FantasyCon 2015 Panel Programme


Room: Conference Theatre
5.00pm Someone Else’s World: Writing in a Franchise
Earning a living and building a career as a writer might include working inside already established parameters. Our panel shares its experiences working in franchises, shared worlds, games and ghost-writing other people’s stories.

  • getting franchise work: opportunities, self-marketing, contracts
  • what are the disciplines required?         
  • understanding what is ‘canon’ and how to use it
  • how does working in a franchise compare to devising your own world, stories & characters?

Moderator: David Thomas Moore
Panellists: Paul Kane, Mark Latham, Rebecca Levene, Mark Morris, Brandon Sanderson


Room: Conference Theatre
7.00pm Funtasy: Comedy & Humour in Genre Fiction
Arguably the greatest legacy of Sir Terry Pratchett was to prove that fantasy can be funny without reducing its power to tell great stories and move readers. But it is a delicate balance — being funny can be a serious business. Our panel discusses uses of humour in genre. Hilarity ensues.

  • what is the role and effect of humour in fantasy writing?
  • what type of funny? Narrative tone, situation, language, character etc.
  • different humour for different readers eg. humour for YA readership; ‘broad’ humour, matters of taste
  • how can you tell it is funny when you write it?
  • does a humorous book have to be a comedy? How to balance humour with action, suspense, tragedy, darkness etc.
  • which genre writers make us laugh?

Moderator: Donna Scott
Panellists: Frances Hardinge, Steve Jordan, Heather Lindsley, Terry Newman, Craig Saunders



Room: Conference Theatre
12 midday The Fantastic Mundane: Imaginary Social Infrastructures
Health, wealth, law, government & learning are key parts of our lives, but how are they depicted in genre writing? What do these and other ‘everyday’ social establishments offer within created worlds?

  • doctors, teachers, law-keepers, bankers & bureaucrats as characters
  • using social hierarchy in alternate universes
  • fantasy economics: how money shapes a fantasy setting
  • beyond Hogwarts: knowledge, education & learning
  • filling in the forms: administrating fantasyland
  • health, medicine and other forms of healing

Moderator: Karina Coldrick
Panellists: Leigh Bardugo, Lucy Hounsom, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Brandon Sanderson, Neil Williamson

Room: Conference Theatre
2.00pm War: What Is It Good For? Martial Conflict in SFF
War continues to abhor and fascinate us as writers and readers but portraying it brings many challenges. This panel goes into battle on the following campaign fronts:

  • are the reasons for war too simplistic in genre fiction?
  • depictions of combat, martial training and practice
  • writing about violence, injury and death in action
  • the after-effects of war on fighters and non-combatants
  • alternative resolutions, diplomacy and showing all sides

What do YOUR characters fight for?

Moderator: Natasha Bardon
Panellists: Steve Aryan, Bradley Beaulieu, Sophia McDougall, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Gav Thorpe

Room: Suite 1
2.00pm Guest of Honour interview: Brandon Sanderson in Conversation with Juliet E. McKenna
Bestselling epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson talks about his writing, career, inspirations & influences

Room: Dealer Room
3.00pm – 4.00pm Signing: Brandon Sanderson
Bring your favourite Brandon Sanderson books to be signed, or pick some up in the Dealer Room while you’re there!

Room: Conference Theatre
3.00pm British Horror Present & Future
Horror fiction and fiction have a rich history in the UK. But where is it currently at and what does the future hold? Our panel of writers and horror-lovers explores the state of play and tell us whose work is exciting (and terrifying) them at the moment.

  • the market: are there enough horror writers, readers, publishers?
  • what trends are we seeing in terms of different types of horror?
  • how much is diversity changing the nature of British horror?
  • horror as an increasing element of fantasy, crime, SF fiction

Moderator: James Everington
Panellists: Nina Allan, Cate Gardner, Stephen Jones, Alison Littlewood, Adam Nevill, Simon Kurt Unsworth

Room: Conference Theatre
4.00pm Here Be Dragons: How Can Epic Fantasy Reinvent Itself?
The success of Game of Thrones has thrown a spotlight on epic fantasy, but what does it reveal–a genre of originality or one that is becoming a parody of itself? Our panel of warriors, wizards, paladins and thieves considers the tropes of the genre:

  • 50 shades of grim: darker, grittier, grimmer, longer. . .always?
  • the young hero, the older mentor, the evil wizard, the rogueish sidekick: archetypes or stereotypes?
  • what is diversity bringing to this sub-genre?

How ‘epic’ can fantasy get before it eats itself?

Moderator: Gillian Redfearn
Panellists: Bradley Beaulieu, Den Patrick, Brandon Sanderson, Marc Turner, Jen Williams

Room: Suite 1
4.00pm YA: Why, eh?
Writing for a young adult readership brings many challenges in terms of themes, tone and terminology. This panel considers how the YA market compares to fiction written for adults, the appeal of YA fiction for adults readers and how we portray youth and reflect their view of adulthood and authority.

  • how subversive can the author be?
  • does the age of the author matter when trying to appeal to teenage readers?
  • how should authors navigate the minefield of teenage sexuality?
  • why is so much YA genre fiction dystopian in nature?

How do you put yourself in the mind of teenager — would you even want to?

Moderator: Juliet Mushens
Panellists: Scott K Andrews, Leigh Bardugo, John Connolly, Frances Hardinge, Teri Terry

Room: Suite 2
5.00pm Robots, Beasts & Humanimals: Writing Non-Human Characters
Genre fiction is rife with animal companions, familiars, weres, AI entities, even robotic pets. How do you write inside the mind of the beast? Or the machine-noid? Or the undead? Or the creature that eats people?

This mostly-human panel of authors purrs and whirrs over the following:

  • the role of the non-human protagonist or side-kick
  • abilities, instincts, programming, special powers etc.
  • humanity in non-humans: what works, what doesn’t
  • inter-species communication & relationships
  • how far can we take AI, biology, technology, transhumanism or anthropomorphism?

Moderator: Guy Haley
Panellists: Janet Edwards, Deborah Install, Gareth L Powell, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Ren Warom

Room: Conference Theatre
6.00pm Tea & Jeopardy
Live edition of the Hugo Award-winning podcast, presented by Emma Newman, assisted by Latimer the Butler. Featuring special guest Brandon Sanderson

Room: Suite 2
7.00pm Super Relaxed Fantasy Club
till 9.00pm A FantasyCon special edition of the monthly genre-fic social gathering, featuring the usual blend of readings, author Q&A and drinks. Hosted by Den Patrick and Jen Williams. Guest authors: Kim Lakin-Smith, Adam Nevill



Room: Suite 4a
12.00pm Kaffeeklatsch: Brandon Sanderson
Maximum: 11 attendees. There will be a sign-up sheet from the start of the day. Places will be allocated on a first-come basis