Valley author Sam Sykes hosts the annual Elevengeddon signing at the Poisoned Pen.EXPAND
Valley author Sam Sykes hosts the annual Elevengeddon signing at the Poisoned Pen.
Libby Rich

Elevengeddon Gets More Intimate

Phoenix Comic Fest is back, and that means the Poisoned Pen is hosting its annual sci-fi and fantasy book signing, Elevengeddon, on the eve. The mass signing on Wednesday, May 23, at the Poisoned Pen features 11 author guests from Comic Fest, as well as local authors, including Sam Sykes, who will host the event, and interview guests. There may be a few more surprises as well.

Poisoned Pen owner Barbara Peters describes it as "a bonus connect for fans with authors attending the
Phoenix (Comic Fest)."

"We've loved hosting it," says Peters.

Started in 2015 by Kevin Hearne ("The Iron Druid Chronicles"), the signing has become a Poisoned Pen tradition. Dubbed Elevengeddon because it initially featured 11 authors, it quickly grew to almost 20, as more authors joined the fun, including such best-sellers as Scott Sigler and Pierce Brown.

The second year was even bigger, with fans lining up for hours in 2016 to meet superstars Brandon Sanderson, and Patrick Rothfuss, along with two dozen other authors packed into the Scottsdale bookshop.

Sykes took over the organizing from Hearne in 2017, with another monstrous lineup that included paranormal romance author Sherrilyn Kenyon, and urban-fantasy bestseller Jim Butcher. The event moved to the spacious digs of the DoubleTree Resort, eliminating the long lines in the summer heat.

MIlitary fantasy author Myke Cole returns to Elevengeddon on May 23.EXPAND
MIlitary fantasy author Myke Cole returns to Elevengeddon on May 23.
Karsten Moran

Military fantasy author Myke Cole has been a guest at two of the previous events. He thinks it is a better opportunity to interact with fans than Comic Fest.

“I look forward to Elevengeddon every year. The panel table is something of a barrier at cons. You have the authors on one side and the audience on the other," says Cole, whose grimdark fantasy The Armored Saint came out in February. "Elevengeddon gives folks a chance to do the formal stuff during the signing portion, but then it's authors and fans mixing and talking, a chance to just geek out with friends."

This year, the Poisoned Pen is scaling Elevengeddon back. The event is back at the bookstore, with a smaller lineup.

"We're actually holding it to 11 featured authors with others doing interviews," says Peters. "It's more intimate —and it's where the books are."

Cole approves of the move.

"The setting, one of the best bookstores in the country, is perfect," he says. "Writers and fans both come to this from the same quarter — love of books, and being surrounded by them sets the theme.”

But even with the smaller lineup, the bulk of the authors are making their Elevengeddon debut alongside returning favorites like Cole, V.E. Schwab, and Chuck Wendig.

Here are some of the new faces (to Elevengeddon) you can meet on Wednesday:

Sci-fi superstar John Scalzi makes his Elevengeddon debut on the eve of Phoenix Comic Fest.EXPAND
Sci-fi superstar John Scalzi makes his Elevengeddon debut on the eve of Phoenix Comic Fest.
Athena Scalzi

John Scalzi
This year’s star, Scalzi is the Hugo Award-winning author of the Star Trek parody/love letter, Redshirts. A favorite whipping-boy of the alt-right, Scalzi made headlines in 2015 when he signed a multimillion-dollar book deal with Tor Books. That deal is already bearing fruit — last year he hit the bestseller list with the space opera The Collapsing Empire, and he is currently garnering acclaim for his futuristic mystery, Head On, the sequel to his 2014 hit Lock In, about an FBI detective who happens to be paralyzed, on life support, and piloting a sophisticated robot body.

Sylvain Neuvel
This Quebecoise author was working as a translator when his debut, Sleeping Giants, was published in 2016 after numerous rejections, thanks to a groundswell of buzz and comparisons to The Martian. Its unconventional narrative, reminiscent of Max Brooks’ acclaimed World War Z, follows a girl who discovers the hand of a mysterious giant robot. The novel kicked off the “Themis Files,” which continued last year with Waking Gods, and this month with Only Human.

Free speech and internet freedom advocate Cory Doctorow will appear at The Poisoned Pen as part of Elevengeddon.EXPAND
Free speech and internet freedom advocate Cory Doctorow will appear at The Poisoned Pen as part of Elevengeddon.
Jonathan Worth - jonathanworth.com

Cory Doctorow
Another genre star, Doctorow is known as much for his free speech cyber-activism as his dystopian sci-fi. The editor of the popular tech website Boing Boing, Doctorow made his novel debut in 2003 with the award-winning Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which was distributed freely under a Creative Commons license. He has since won several Prometheus awards for libertarian fiction, including for his YA bestseller Little Brother.

Jason Fry
New York journalist, baseball blogger and former Wall Street Journal columnist, Fry is also a prolific Star Wars author, penning over 40 short stories since 1999. He is featured in the 40th anniversary anthology From a Certain Point of View, and wrote the novelization of The Last Jedi.

K Arsenault Rivera will sign copies of her debut novel, The Tiger's Daughter.EXPAND
K Arsenault Rivera will sign copies of her debut novel, The Tiger's Daughter.
Courtesy of Tor/Macmillan

K Arsenault Rivera
This Puerto Rican author is an avid gamer, and drew inspiration for her 2017 debut novel, The Tiger’s Daughter, from her RPG adventures. Set in a Far East-inspired world, the epistolary novel follows the romantic correspondence between two warrior women. It kicked off the “Bright Ascendency” fantasy trilogy, with her second novel, The Phoenix Empress, due later this year.

Charles Soule
One of the most prolific comic writers of the past 10 years, Soule’s work was some of the brightest spots in DC’s “New 52” reboot. He has scripted such diverse titles as Swamp Thing, She-Hulk, Daredevil, and The Death of Wolverine. And he fits in with many of Comic Fest’s author guests as a Star Wars writer, penning comics about Poe Dameron and Darth Vader as well as a short story about Lando Calrissian in From a Certain Point of View. He’s also recently moved into novel-writing, with his debut, The Oracle Year, about a New York millennial who discovers he has the power to predict the future.

Emily Devenport's Medusa Uploaded follows a serial killer out for revenge on a generation starship.
Emily Devenport's Medusa Uploaded follows a serial killer out for revenge on a generation starship.
Courtesy of Tor/Macmillan

Emily Devenport
The Valley’s own Devenport wrote several novels in the 1990s, and was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award with Broken Time, but has been quiet for the better part of the 21st century. She’s returned with a bang, however, with Medusa Uploaded. A tense thriller about an AI serial killer on a generation starship, the novel was one of the most talked-about titles of 2018 before its May 1 release.

Aaron Mahnke
Mahnke is the creator of the award-winning podcast Lore, which examines creepy history and folklore, presenting true tales of horror. Since its 2015 debut, he has parlayed the podcast’s success into an Amazon TV program as well as a book series — Monstrous Creatures hit shelves in October 2017, and Wicked Mortals is due on May 29. (You might be able to pick it up a little early, though.)

Katherine Arden's debut, The Bear and the Nightingale, mixes magic and folklore with Russian history.EXPAND
Katherine Arden's debut, The Bear and the Nightingale, mixes magic and folklore with Russian history.
Courtesy of Penguin/Random House Books

Katherine Arden
Another acclaimed up-and-comer, Arden first attracted attention with the best-selling The Bear and the Nightingale, a dark fairy tale inspired by Russian history and folklore. A sequel, The Girl in the Tower, hit shelves last December, and the finale of her “Winternight” trilogy, The Winter of the Witch, hits shelves in August. Arden is also making her middle-grade debut later this year with the ghost story Small Spaces.

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