We are ecstatic to announce that the 2021 virtual festival will now be a 2-day event, to be held on Saturday, May 8th and Sunday, May 9th. There will be over 30 fantasy and bestselling authors participating! We are so confident that these panel discussions will be fun and engaging, especially since we have many great things planned.
Please note that all times are in Eastern Standard/Daylight Time.
Saturday, May 8
10:00am - 10:45am
The Unreality of Magic Sidekicks
The best friend. The voice of reason. The loyal defender. Sidekicks have many components and characteristics that easily make them our favorite archetype. They can be a companion to the protagonist or a minion to the villain, and sometimes they may even steal the spotlight with unique magical powers or comic relief. Panelists will discuss the purpose and value of sidekicks, especially apart from their heroes.
Panelists: Amy Cissell, Andrea Tang, April White, Margo Bond Collins, Natalina Reis, Shayne Leighton, and Tosca Lee.
11:00am - 12:30pm
The Action of Writing Action
Let the battles begin! During this panel we will discuss the many ways action scenes can further a story and amp up the stakes. How are they written? How does each choice impact the protagonist’s goal? What do they stand to gain? What will they lose? What type of fighter are they, and how do they use this to their advantage? Enter the world of fast-paced action and the weapons authors deploy to excite their readers … or terrify them.
Panelists: Angelique Archer, Emily A. Duncan, Laura Thalassa, Roshani Chokshi, Shelby Mahurin, Stephanie Mirro, Theresa Kay, and Tosca Lee.
12:50pm - 2:20pm
Through the Looking Glass & Back Again
There is a thin portal between fantasy and reality, and sometimes even when we believe a story is fully set in a fantastical realm, there are always aspects that feel close to home: the real world. Whether it’s a modern setting with mythopoeic elements, a story inspired by strange, chronicled events, or an adaptation of cultural folklore; there’s usually a mix of what we know and what we don’t know. Panelists will discuss the ways in which “reality-blending” can defy expectations and create entire stories of fantasy.
Panelists: Aiysha Sinclair, AJ Vrana, Amy Cissell, Elizabeth Kirke, Jodi Meadows, Lindsey Richardson, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Roseanne A. Brown.
2:40pm - 4:10pm
If Your Villain Sucks, So Does Your Hero
Even though heroes are often cast in the main role of a story, they are only as good as their adversaries. Because the more worthy their opponent, the more heroic the hero will appear. But what, exactly, makes a villain worthy? Is there a secret potion to crafting the perfect and most evil antagonist? What makes the bad guy more than … bad? Let’s delve deep into the characteristics, habits, and flaws that make villains so deliciously compelling.
Panelists: April White, Brigid Kemmerer, Elise Kova, Jacy Sellers/Nicole D' Arcangelo, L. Penelope, Roshani Chokshi, Shaila Patel, and Stephanie Mirro.
Sunday, May 9
10:00am - 11:30am
Demystifying Fantasy Tropes
We begin every quest by venturing into familiar territory: those dreaded fantasy tropes. Or are they? From secret heirs to evil overlords—we’ve seen these tropes and we’ve definitely read many of them. Are they simply overused or misused? Panelists will explore how popular tropes, that often drive us mad, can also be compelling character/plot devices with a little reinvention.
Panelists: Andre R. Frattino, AJ Vrana, Ava Cuvay, Ayana Gray, Kat Cho, N.D. Jones, Shayne Leighton, and Starla Huchton.
11:50am - 1:20pm
The Laws & Whims of Magic
What are the limitations of magic? Where does it come from? And how do you create a magic system that's believable, both in reality and in a narrative? The truth is that magic can range from hard to soft on a very broad, nebulous spectrum. It can drive the plot of a novel, or it can convey a specific theme. But which system carries the most advantages for magicbuilding and worldbuilding? Is there a middle ground?
Panelists: Brigid Kemmerer, Elise Kova, Emily A. Duncan, Kat Cho, Kathrin Hutson, Lindsey Richardson, Shelby Mahurin, and Theresa Kay.
1:40pm - 3:10pm
The Prophetic Dilemma
An ordinary character that has lived most of their life in monotony is suddenly cast as a secret heir, who must fulfill an ancient prophecy in order to save their kingdom from eternal damnation. Sounds familiar, right? ‘The Chosen One’ is a popular trope that has been used countless times since the dawn of the fantasy genre, in which protagonists race against the odds to inherit their destiny and become a hero. But does this really make them a credible hero if they were always destined for their achievements? Does a prophecy diminish the idea that anyone can be a hero? And if so, does the hero even have to be a hero in order to save the day, given that the day was already saved by mere circumstances of their birth? Panelists will discuss the logic, pros, and cons behind this well-loved trope.
Panelists: Andrea Tang, C.L. Cannon, Hafsah Faizal, L. Penelope, Laura Thalassa, Shaila Patel, and Tracy Wolff.
3:30pm - 5:00pm
Perfectly Propelling Prose
One could argue that prose come in many different languages, and that it’s a pivotal feature when developing your tone and voice as a writer. It has its own rhythmic structure, it can be poetic or formal, and it may even pen a love letter to some of our favorite imaginary worlds. But one could also argue that it has no place in sci-fi/fantasy. In this panel we will deconstruct the use of prose and how its various techniques can define a plot, a setting, and its characters.
Panelists: Angelique Archer, Ayana Gray, Elizabeth Kirke, Jodi Meadows, Margo Bond Collins, Rebecca Roanhorse, Tracy Wolff, and Starla Huchton.
Stay tuned for more updates, and we hope to see you soon!