When: July 20-23, 2006 Where: San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA. The world’s largest annual convention of popular culture.

SATURDAY, JULY 22
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
ROOM 9

Bearing the Torch—and the Sword, and Shield, and Dragon…

How do established writers and new voices in the fantasy field find balance in giving readers
the familiar elements they crave while telling stories in a fresh way?

Authors: Peter Beagle, David Keck, George R. R. Martin, Todd McCaffrey,
Rebecca Moesta, Naomi Novik, Eldon Thompson
Moderator: Maryelizabeth Hart

Autographing to follow immediately in the official Autograph Area
Table #AA4

Eldon had the following to say about this year’s appearance at Comic-Con:

"What a zoo. Just when you think an event couldn’t get any bigger, it does. First, my apologies to all of those I meant to see and spend some time with—and failed. I’d say I’ll do better next year, but with the way things are going, it would turn out to be a lie.

The weekend is a bit of a blur, but I’ll see if I can recall some highlights. I’ll start with the exclusive screening of some R-rated trailer footage from the forthcoming Warner Brothers’ film, 300. If you epic battle fans haven’t heard of this one yet, you soon will. Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller (Sin City), it tells the story of the Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans waged war against, well, a lot of Persians. The overall imagery is quasi-realistic, styled to look more like a comic, which took some getting used to. But very intense. I’m looking forward to it.

Later that day was my discussion panel with fantasy newcomers David Keck and Naomi Novik, as well as a number of genre heavyweights: Peter Beagle, Todd McCaffrey, Rebecca Moesta, and, of course, George R. R. Martin. I ended up sitting next to Mr. Martin at the autographing table afterward—in almost the same exact spot where I sat next to Robert Jordan the year before. Some fine company I’ve been able to keep. That’s two #1 NY Times authors in consecutive years. With any luck, something of their skill rubbed off on me.

Other professionals I had the pleasure to spend some time with included R. A. Salvatore, Larry Elmore, Tracy Hickman, and Christopher Paolini. I didn’t get to speak with Christopher as much as I might have liked, since I was late in returning from Sunday brunch over at the Hotel del Coronado. (Anyone who has ever eaten there would understand my choice.) But I did get to catch up with Mike Macauley and the fine folks from shurtugal.com (the #1 Inheritance fan site), and also spent a fair amount of time with Shawn Speakman, webmaster extraordinaire and soon-to-published author (Best of luck, Shawn!).

Of course, there was the typical array of actors from Star Wars and other films on hand. Though it’s still called Comic-Con, it seems that Hollywood gobbles up more and more of the program each year.

Before I forget, I should say thanks to the friends and family who made the trip (Neil, Kevin, Will, the Laviolettes—heck, you all know who you are). They’re the ones who make this annual pilgrimage worthwhile. Oh, and thanks again to Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy books for having me on the program. Hope I managed to say something coherent.

At this point, I’m promising myself a year off in 2007, but then again, I thought that last year…"