New York Comic-Con this past weekend was full of geeky goodness of all types. For readers or aspiring writers of science fiction and fantasy, the panel on Making the Impossible Possible was one not to be missed.
Panelists included authors Evan Currie (Odyssey One), J.D. Horn (Witching Savannah), Marko Kloos (Frontlines), Rysa Walker (The Chronos Files), Chuck Wendig (Star Wars – Aftermath), and Jeff Wheeler (Muirwood). The session was moderated by Courtney Miller, Editorial Director of 47North, Skyscape, and Jet City Comics. Each author started off by describing their books in 15 seconds or less, an exercise which had the audience chuckling as panelists raced the clock.
With introductions complete, the discussion began. The first question from the moderator concerned what made a story science fiction or fantasy. Answers ranged from famous quotes to talk about how the setting influences genre. Authors were then asked about whether they felt constrained by the “rules” within a genre when they write.
Most of the authors did not feel limited by the “rules” but they felt that it was important to be aware of these conventions for a particular genre so that you know when or how to break them. Jeff Wheeler stated, “I like to constrain myself with rules,” when speaking about his Muirwood series. He likes to establish the rules for his world and is then forced to think about how to get a character out of a given situation while being limited by those rules.
This discussion led into a conversation about YA versus adult science fiction and fantasy. YA fiction tends to be very trend-driven, but themes can also be found in adult sci-fi. When a trend develops commercially, the panelists agreed that it is generally too late to join in on that trend as an author. The writing and publishing process takes too long for this to be an effective strategy for success. Chuck Wendig recommended that writers, “create your own trends and worry about the story.”
The panelists were asked what they found to be the biggest challenge in writing. “Staying off Facebook,” was offered up first as semi-serious advice. Another author mentioned that starting the first paragraph and the first few pages of a new story were tough. Wendig recommended writing in a variety of genres to avoid becoming “branded” in a single one, and that it was good to diversify what you write early in your career.
A Lightning Round of questions followed the main panel. This posed important philosophic questions, such as whether you would rather be a worker on the Death Star or at Jurassic Park, or which video game franchise is better, Super Mario or Zelda.
The audience then had a chance to ask questions. These varied from whether New Adult (NA) was a distinct genre, to which tech or magic from the authors’ books they wished would really exist. When the panel was asked about what they enjoy reading in order to recharge, a surprising number of the authors preferred non-fiction, although science fiction and fan fiction were also mentioned.
While the hour passed too fast, it was a well-attended and engaging panel for anyone who may be an aspiring author.