Ascendio 2012: ‘Special Guests’ to Meet Up With in Orlando

As I wrote last week, I’m really looking forward to touching down and catching up with friends and serious readers in Orlando this July at Ascendio 2012. I’ll be giving a talk, as always, this time an advanced course on Ms. Rowling’s alchemical-ring story scaffolding, and I know I will love doing that presentation and the Gilderoy time afterwards in which I sign books. This is my sixth HPEF gathering — that’s three in Orlando, one in Vegas, San Francisco, and Toronto — and each one has been better than the one before in variety of programming, professional organization, serious reading discussion, and thoughtful scheduling.

If I could only do one thing at Ascendio 2012 besides the talk I’m giving, it wouldn’t be Starkid Productions (surprise!), Wands by Wands Magical Wizard Revue (though that is tempting!), or Connie Neal‘s Keynote, all of which promise to be SRO events. It would be the spectacular ‘Quill Track’ event HPEF has planned.

Look at the list of special Quill Track guests on that page — there’s something for everyone, quite literally (literarily?). Agents, publishers, academics, YA authors, fan-fiction giants, and genre authors, all of whom have taken their cues from the Hogwarts Saga they love and who are, individually and collectively, the dynamic engine of Harry Potter‘s legacy in the culture at large.

Me? I’ll have my copies of Divergent and Insurgent to ask Veronica Roth if she has a purple plume pen and if she’d be willing to gilderoy them. And Lev Grossman will be there for signing, too, and for conversation, I hope, after his children are asleep, exhausted from a long day at the park.

Some Quill Track Programming Panel Highlights:

  • Schools of Magic: A Staple in Fantasy
    panel: Lev Grossman, Cecilia Tan

J.K Rowling was far from the first, and won’t be the last, to write a fantasy using a magical school setting. From A Wizard of Earthsea’s Roke to the Unseen University in Discworld, from Jane Yolen’s Wizard Hall to Tamora Pierce’s Carthak University, the magical school or university is a staple in fantasy literature. Why? In books intended for a young audience and featuring young protagonists, school may seem a logical setting for the age group, but there are many more reasons why an educational setting lends itself to fantasy storytelling. Lev Grossman sends his main character to Brakebills in upstate New York, while Cecilia Tan hides her Magic University inside Harvard.

  • A Writer’s Guide to Harry Potter, parts 1 and 2
    workshop: Susan Sipal

In this two-part writing workshop, Muggle writers can learn from the skills which have made J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series more than beloved, but truly an absolute obsession among millions. Using Ms Rowling’s phenomenally popular series as a base, delve below the surface of her prose to determine what made her writing so magical for so many. Learn about giving the reader more, the value of subtext, using mythic themes and structure to advantage, plotting a trail-of-clues mystery, and the business of self promotion. This is not a workshop about writing fantasy (magic), but rather about how to learn techniques from a bestseller in order to improve your own writing and style.

  • Dystopia in YA Fiction
    panel: Beth Revis, Veronica Roth, Aimee Carter, Ben Schrank

Dystopic novels are all the rage in YA, and even the latter Harry Potter books dealt heavily with dystopic themes. This panel of authors, editors and publishers will discuss the genre’s popularity and appeal, as well as what makes a good — and a bad — dystopia.

Forgive me. I have never met, spoken to, laid eyes on from a distance, or corresponded with Joanne Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, or Suzanne Collins, about whose books I have written several books and probably too many blog posts. I’m delighted that Ascendio 2012 is bringing writing like Roth and Grossman as well as other Hogwarts literary legacy notables to this gathering for serious readers to meet and share notes with.

I look forward to seeing you there, too (Register Here), so we can compare notes about what we learned from the notables — so our own contributions to the legacy can come into a clearer focus. Thank you, Ascendio and HPEF, for this Quill Track opportunity!

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