Fans of “Ender’s Game” can catch Orson Scott Card this weekend at a national conference on science fiction and fantasy writing organized by BYU students Feb. 13–15 in downtown Provo.
“If you read or enjoy or have ever considered writing science fiction or fantasy, come to this conference,” said Amy White, a veteran attendee and librarian at the Orem Public Library.
The conference attracts the likes of David Wolverton, New York Times best-selling author and a driving force behind the explosion of creative writing being generated from the university.
“When I came to BYU, not much was going on for writers in the state of Utah,” Wolverton said. “Now we have a lot of wildly successful authors, to the point that there were rumors going that there was a Mormon mafia of science fiction writers.”
Wolverton, who writes under the pen name David Farland, taught and inspired the creative minds of Stephanie Meyer, Dan Wells and Brandon Sanderson — former BYU students who have become some of the biggest names in the science fiction industry.
As the mentor and Gandolf-like figure of this cadre, Farland is regarded by industry-insiders as the godfather of this Mormon writing mafia. His most recent work, “Nightlingale,” won the 2012 International Book Award for the best Young Adult Novel of the Year.
It is the opportunity to interact with these inspiring personalities that has BreeAnn Moore, 23, a former BYU student studying English, coming back to the conference for a fourth time. A native of Payson, Moore is preparing her first fantasy novel for publication and is excited to hear from other authors in the field.
“When you meet them face-to-face, you realize how they are just normal people just like you,” Moore said.
This year’s conference features Orson Scott Card, David Farland, James Owen, Brandon Sanderson, Michael Collings, Anne Sowards, Blake Casselman, Michaelbrent Collings, L.E. Modesitt Jr. and Brian Hailes and other noted publishers and writers.
Regular attendees encouraged BYU students to make visiting the conference this year a priority.
“If you are an avid reader of science fiction or fantasy, it starts oozing out of your pores. You read enough of it, and you’re going to want to write it,” White said.
White, who is writing a book on puppetry, said the conference is invaluable for networking with editors and authors and improving writing skills.
The three-day event features workshops and classes on short stories, publishing and social media presence, accompanied by panel discussions on character development, world building and writer health. A banquet, films and more intimate kaffeeklatsch discussions are also on the schedule.
These courses provide a unique opportunity for students and aspiring writers to learn real-world secrets and meet face-to-face with the leading personalities and successful writers of the genre.
The event also features a massive book-signing on Friday, Feb. 14, where more than 70 authors will be on hand signing personal editions of their novels.
“Bring your pile of books and get them signed by lots of people,” said Marmy Parkin, academic track head and lead publisher for the symposium committee.
The symposium will be held at the Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in downtown Provo Feb. 13–15. Admission to the conference is free with a BYU ID and $45 for the general public. Events and classes begin at 9 a.m. each day and continue through 9 p.m.
The event is the largest student-led science fiction conference in the nation and has been run by BYU students since its inception 32 years ago, Parkin said.
Students are encouraged to register online at www.ltue.net to receive a printed name tag and receive further information.