Early October. People are planning their Halloween costumes and décor, and the film festival circuit eschews drama for zombies, slashers and gore. Some remember the old-fashioned way to go wild with the imagination — telling ghost stories around a campfire. The fourth Imaginarium conference comes to town this week — and it celebrates those who want to turn their dreams into thrills as a book, or film or perhaps a video game. But for the avid reader or viewer or gamester there’s plenty, too.
From Friday through Sunday, there are expected to be over 150 professionals — from bloggers and podcasters to game designers, book editors and multimedia artists — learning from each other and passing on their wisdom in dozens of panels and events. The conference has its own awards, and its own juried filmfest and costume contest.
It is with books and authors, though, that Imaginarium took root. The weekend advertises itself as “the largest creative writing convention in the Midwest” — and it has the firepower to back up that claim. Guest of Honor this year is Michael Knost — author and editor who literally wrote the book on one particular genre that gets attention in October. That is, his “Writers Workshop of Horror” is a sourcebook with advice and short interviews coming from a wide range of the very best — including at least one of his fellow guests, the multiple-Stoker-winning Gary S. Braunbeck.
LEO got in touch with two of the many scheduled guests via email. We wanted to learn more about how they feel about their own place in their chosen genres and what they hope to share with attendees.
Sara O. Thompson is an urban fantasy writer from Louisville. Her ambitious first novel — “Muddy Waters,” featuring a young witch who meets both threats and troubles with lots of attitude — has come to print via Curiosity Quills, a small press that Thompson enjoys working with because of its “creativity, flexibility and willingness.” Publisher and then-aspiring author first connected at a Twitter pitch party, and now the author is working to bring to life more from her “73-page series synopsis/outline that covers all 10 of the planned Otherwhere books.” At Imaginarium, Thompson said, she’ll be “offering advice to new authors (Friday at 6 p.m.) and talking about querying and submissions (Saturday at 3 p.m.).”
Tim Waggoner is one of the weekend’s “Spotlighted Panelist Guests.” He has dozens of novels and shorter works out in the world, including award-winning, original dark fantasy works, but also some movie tie-in novels. He’s also a full-time, tenured professor teaching creative writing in his native Ohio. Conference attendees can see his workshop on “How to Build a Better Monster.” When asked about what he discovers along the process of drafting and revising, Waggoner said, “I plot out the basic story before I write, but often the weirdest, creepiest details come to me as I compose scenes. Not only is it more fun for me to discover those details as I write, but I hope they surprise readers as much as they do me.” Regarding the value of Imaginarium, the veteran author said that when it comes to sharing his knowledge with beginning writers, “I truly believe in paying forward and Imaginarium is an excellent place to do that.”