The Poisoned Pen becomes geek central on Wednesday, June 1, as the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy this side of George R.R. Martin converge for Elevengeddon, a massive, pre-Comicon book signing.
The event, which started last year, is the brainchild of former Valley schoolteacher and urban fantasy author Kevin Hearne.
“We have 21 authors coming, including six or seven New York Times bestsellers, so it'll be a fabulous night for readers who can't come to Phoenix Comicon to see them while they're in town,” the author of "The Iron Druid Chronicles" says. “And it wouldn't be possible without independent bookstores like the Poisoned Pen, so we're very grateful to them.”
With such a massive slate of guests, the Poisoned Pen is making sure that fans will a chance to meet the authors and get their books signed.
"We'll have lines forming for Pat (Rothfuss), Brandon (Sanderson), Pierce Brown, and Scott Sigler, who will be seated in the back," says Poisoned Pen owner Barb Peters. "The rest of the authors will be at tables along the sides, so that people can interact with them while they're waiting in line for the others. Standing in line can be boring, but having other authors to talk to will make it go quicker."
Books will be available for purchase, but Peters isn't expecting huge sales.
"Most people will be bringing their own copies from home, and that's fine," she says. "We really want this to be more of a party than a sales event."
There will be some steps to make sure that everyone is comfortable and the fire marshal's fears are assuaged, though. At 6 p.m., attendees can get free wristbands for timed hourly entry into the store, starting at 7 p.m.
"We'll be handing out free water as well. It's still pretty nice in the evening, even if people have to wait outside for their group to enter," says Peters.
Fantasy author Sam Sykes, who will also be attending, sums up the glorious chaos.
"Kevin Hearne will one day be the death of us all," says Sykes.
"Like, in a good way, but still."
So bring your books, but be patient. Here is a rundown on the full lineup of authors:
The prolific Sanderson first came to national prominence when he was selected to finish Robert Jordan’s mammoth “Wheel of Time” series, but Sanderson has since become a star in his own right, authoring two massive bestselling series, “Mistborn” and “The Stormlight Archives,” as well as numerous YA and Middle grade series, including the recent “Reckoners” trilogy, which ended this year with Calamity. Known for the intricate magic systems in his novel, he coined “Sanderson’s Laws of Magic,” a set of rules for fantasy authors. He's best known, however, for the speed with which he produces. In addition to Calamity, he has published two other novels within the past year, with a third due in July. There are also several short stories and a graphic novel in the works, leading fans to wonder if he is actually part robot. Latest Work: Calamity (2016).
Next to George R.R. Martin, Rothfuss is probably the most popular fantasy author today. And like Martin, he is notoriously slow with his novels. His trilogy “The Kingkiller Chronicles” kicked off in 2007 with The Name of the Wind. The Wise Man’s Fear followed in 2011, and fans have been waiting (im)patiently for the finale. In the meantime, he has written an equally gorgeous and confounding novella, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and raised millions of dollars through his charity, Worldbuilders, to provide farm animals for poor communities around the world. But fans are still clamoring to find out what happened to Kvothe, the genius magician, master swordsman, and sex-god hero of "Kingkiller," to turn him into a humble, broken innkeeper, watching as the world falls to ruin around him. Latest Work: The Slow Regard of Silent Things (2014).
A relative newcomer, Brown wowed sci-fi fans with his 2014 debut, Red Rising, a brutal space opera about a Martian miner attempting to infiltrate and overthrow the ruling overlords. Equal parts Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games, the book hit a sweet spot between YA and adult audiences. The equally acclaimed Golden Son followed last year, and earned Brown a nomination for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Morning Star brought the trilogy to a bestselling conclusion in February. Latest Work: Morning Star (2016).
Mary Robinette Kowal
A member of Sanderson’s “Writing Excuses” podcast, Kowal is best known for her Hugo-Award winning short stories, “For Want of a Nail” and “The Lady Astronaut of Mars.” She also penned the Regency fantasy “Glamourist Histories” series — imagine Jane Austen with magic. Her latest novel, Ghost Talkers, follows a group of mediums who work with the dying in the trenches of World War I. She is also an accomplished puppeteer and voice actor, and performed on Sesame Street in 2015.
Latest Work: Ghost Talkers (available August 16).
A pioneer in transmedia and alternate modes of storytelling, Sigler got his start as a traditional novelist in the early 2000s. When his publisher folded, leaving his debut, EarthCore, in limbo, he chose a "novel" approach to self-publishing. In 2005, he launched the book as a podcast. From there, he released it as a traditional novel and e-book. He has continued to use that model, building up a devoted following of "Junkies" who devour such works as his horror bestseller Infected through his recent YA creepfest, Alive.
Latest Work: Alight (2016).
Also appearing are:
This Buckeye author earned a Locus Award nomination with her debut novel, the steampunk adventure The Clockwork Dagger. More recently, her novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone, was nominated for a Nebula Award. Latest work: Breath of Earth (available August 23).
Originally from New Zealand, this author is known for his “Spider Wars” series and his recent sci-fi noir, Made to Kill, about a robot private eye/assassin in 1960s Hollywood. He also writes the comic “The Shield” with Star Wars author and internet provocateur Chuck Wendig. Latest Work: Made to Kill (2015).
A newcomer to the Valley book scene, Dalton's YA debut, The Year of Lightning, hit stores in January. The tale of twins and a mysterious house has found a following though, it has already gone into a second printing. Latest Work: The Year of Lightning (2016).
This former Valley high school teacher put Tempe on the paranormal map with his bestselling “Iron Druid” urban fantasy series, about a 1,000-year-old druid-bro (and his faithful wolfhound, Oberon) fighting vampires and gods in between pints at Rula Bula and running an occult bookstore on the corner of Ash and University. Latest Work: Staked (2016).
Leanna Renee Hieber
In addition to writing Gaslamp fantasy, Hieber is a successful actor and playwright appearing on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. Her debut series, Strangely Beautiful, a magical take on Jack the Ripper, was rereleased in April. Latest Work: Eterna and Omega (available August 9).
Hough burst onto the sci-fi scene with his post-apocalyptic tale, The Darwin Elevator. Set in the titular Australian town, it explores a plague caused by mysterious aliens, who also built an equally mysterious space elevator to allow the survivors to escape to the stars. Latest Work: Zero World (2015).
This Valley YA author got his start in the local theater community, founding the Chyro Arts Venue in Scottsdale. In 2010, he released his debut, Party, and continues to work with Valley youth to help them discover their creative spark. Latest Work: Shackled (2015).
Martinez tapped an unusual stream of sci-fi exploration: seafaring planetary exploration via tall ship. Imagine Aubrey-Maturin travelling amidst the moons of Jupiter, and you've got the idea. His latest venture, "Majestic 12," follows a Cold War government agency a la S.H.I.E.L.D. as it rounds up superpowered humans. Latest Work: MJ-12: Inception (available September 6).
A protégé of Sanderson, McClellan is a pioneer in “flintlock fantasy,” blending gunpowder and magic in his “Powder Mage” trilogy, inspired by the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. Latest Work: The Autumn Republic (2015).
Another Valley native, this horror author is best known for his Stoker-nominated debut, Riverwatch. Since then he has written zombie alternate history (By the Blood of Heroes) and is editing the upcoming anthology Urban Allies. Latest Work: Fall of Night (2016).
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Remy's Stonehill Downs debuted in 2014 as part of Harper Voyager's Impulse line, getting an e-release before print. The novel about a necromancer and a mysterious hedge witch investigating blood magic has now spawned a series, with Across the Long Sea in 2015 and a third entry due in 2017. Latest Work: Across the Long Sea (2015).
Victoria “V.E.” Schwab
This former YA author caught fire last year with A Darker Shade of Magic, the first novel in her "London" trilogy, about a thief and a smuggler who are able to travel between parallel universes whose only commonality is a city called London. The sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, hit the New York Times bestseller list in February. Latest Work: A Gathering of Shadows (2016).
Michael J. Sullivan
One of the most successful independent publishers in fantasy with his “Riyria” series, Sullivan signed a mammoth deal with Del Rey last year to continue his Riyria tales, with the newest entry, Age of Myth, due in June. Latest Work: Age of Myth (available June 28).
Imagine if Quentin Tarantino played Dungeons and Dragons. This Valley author’s “Bring Down Heaven” trilogy is an audacious take on the adventuring party, filled with giant spiders and some truly unlikable (but quite funny) heroes. Latest Work: The Mortal Tally (2016).
Another member of Sanderson’s “Writing Excuses” team, the Hugo-winning Wells is best known for his horror novel, I Am Not a Serial Killer. Latest Work: Bluescreen (2016).
Along with McClellan, Wexler is another pioneer in the flintlock fantasy genre. His "Shadow Campaigns" series mixes magic with colonial warfare. He also writes the YA "Forbidden Library" series.
Latest Work: The Guns of Empire (available August 9, 2016).
Elevengeddon begins at 7 p.m. June 1 at the Poisoned Pen. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Tickets will be available at 6 p.m. at the store.