The stuff of fantasy: True Blood and Being Human creators hit York

2 Sep 2014 @ 7.47 pm
| Entertainment

TRUE BLOOD 80: THANK YOU .Paquin, Anna - Sookie; Moyer, Stephen-Bill
Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse and Stephen Moyer as Bill Compton in True Blood. Photograph: HBO
The people behind some of the world’s most popular TV series will gather in York this weekend as The British Fantasy Society brings its annual convention to the city.

Among the guests at FantasyCon 2014 are the author whose books became the True Blood HBO show, the man who created Being Human and the artist who designs the covers for Game Of Thrones author George RR Martin.

The event, which takes place at the Royal York Hotel from September 5 to 7, will see fantasy fans from across Britain and abroad descend on the city for panel discussions, book launches and workshops.

Richard Webb, events coordinator for the British Fantasy Society, said that York was a great choice of location “given its historic and academic heritage – both of which might make it an attractive place for writers to locate themselves.

“it is a big deal, particularly given that some of this year’s guests of honour – such as Charlaine Harris, author of the series of books upon which the TV series True Blood was based, and popular fantasy author Kate Elliott – do not frequently get to the UK.

“We are delighted that they are coming to York to our event.”

Who’s here?

True Blood author

True Blood 7

Charlaine Harris is a New York Times bestselling area from the Mississippi River Delta area of the United States.

Her Sookie Stackhouse fantasy series was launched in 2001 with the book Dead Until Dark. Sookie’s adventures involving vampires, werewolves and other supernatural creatures, ran until 2013.

The books caught the eye of Alan Ball, creator of the HBO TV series Six Feet Under, and he adapted them into True Blood which premiered in 2008.

At FantasyCon, she will be interviewed about her work and take part in panel discussions, including one about fan fiction.

Being Human showrunner

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Toby Whithouse is an actor and screenwriter who has written for Doctor Who – including the episode No Angels which featured the return of robot dog K-9 and the Doctor’s companion Sarah Jane Smith.

He created Being Human for BBC Three in 2008. The show, originally starring Russell Tovey as a werewolf who flat shares with a ghost and a vampire, was a huge hit with viewers.

More recently he created The Game – a very different, six-part drama set among Cold War spies, due to be screened on BBC One later this year.

During his FantasyCon appearance, Toby will talk about writing for the screen and how to fashion the perfect twist.

Game Of Thrones artist

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Larry Rostant is the UK-based artist who has designed the artwork for books by Stephen King, Clive Cussler, James Patterson, Philippa Gregory – and even P Diddy (Sean Combs).

He also created the cover art for George RR Martin’s series A Song Of Ice And Fire, the books which were adapted into global TV juggernaut Game Of Thrones. Larry will talk about what makes a great book cover during the weekend.

Bestselling novelists

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Kate Elliott has written a number of bestselling fantasy, steampunk and science fiction series, including the Crossroads Trilogy, the seven volume epic Crown Of Stars and most recently the Spiritwalker series.

She lives and works in Hawaii, is an accomplished swordswoman and a long-distance canoe paddler.

Chocolat author Joanne Harris is not making such an epic journey – she was born in Barnsley and lives “in a little wood in Yorkshire”.

Her latest book, Doctor Who: The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller is published on Kindle on Thursday, September 4.

FantasyCon lowdown

What can a FantasyCon newbie expect?

Where and when

  FantasyCon starts at 3pm on Friday, September 5 and runs through to Sunday, September 7

  The Royal York Hotel, Station Road

Tickets range from £15 to £60

  The FantasyCon 2014 website

“A welcoming and friendly, diverse and inclusive environment first and foremost,” said Richard.

“It is informal and fun though some of the panels deal with ‘serious’ topics. There are events specifically for newbies to settle, mix and find a friend or two to team up with so hopefully no one feels too alone.

“What else should you expect? A chance to brush shoulders with your favourite fantasy authors and probably nab a few freebie books too!”

There’s no shortage of things to do, he said. “There is a dealers room with books, comics and other merchandise on sale, fun panel-show style events and quizzes, book signings, authors doing readings plus a disco!

“Then on the Sunday afternoon, the event ends with a banquet and the annual British Fantasy Awards ceremony.”

Why is fantasy so popular?

“Many reasons!” Richard said. “It is highly imaginative in terms of settings, characters and creatures, often depicting worlds of gods and monsters and other unusual creations.

“It can depict the stuff of dreams and nightmares and tap into archetypes we all recognise on some level.”

While the genre offers escapism, “I believe the best fantasy reflects the world we live in, with believable engaging characters, moral dilemmas and decisions to make – just like the best fiction in any genre”.

Cult or mainstream?

Richard is sure the success of shows like Game Of Thrones have helped fantasy break out into the mainstream.

“Fantasy, together with sci-fi and horror – which are all part of what we celebrate at FantasyCon – are now staples of movie and TV schedules.

“There has always been a thriving book community with high quality authors, regular conventions and a strong fan base.

Game Of Thrones has broadened the acceptability of fantasy to those who did not consider themselves fans, but many of us have enjoyed it throughout our lives.”

Will they return to York?

“We certainly hope to hold more frequent informal events in York, to which all are welcome – though FantasyCon will be elsewhere in the UK for the next few years. It tends to move around.”