Brandon Sanderson and Nnedi Okorafor, who wrote Akata Witch, which I just read. Susan Chang was moderating, and she started off talking about her personal experience with reading science fiction and fantasy and asked the writers if they thought the genre was a genre of outsiders. Nnedi said she never thought about genre. She read whatever was a good story. She said she saw herself as a bit of a nerd because she liked to read so much, but she was also an athlete. She moved between two worlds. Brandon said he felt like an outsider until he found science fiction and fantasy and then he found a home. He was a reluctant reader, but only because he hadn't found the right books yet. Once he found books he loved to read, read he did.
Next the writers were asked if they thought that with the rise of Harry Potter,The Hunger Games and Twilight, were we currently in the Golden Age of fantasy? Nnedi said it's always been the Golden Age of fantasy, but there is a strong trend right now. Brandon talked about writing epic fantasy, and how that's actually been down while Harry Potter took off. He hopes they'll be a rebound in epic fantasy at some point. A reason epic fantasy might be on the decline is because it's become very generic. It's white kids running around a sudo-medieval European country on some kind of quest. He hopes to show readers that it doesn't always have to be the same story.
Megan asked about how heritage influenced their writing. Nnedi grew up in the U.S. but is of Nigerian heritage and would visit Nigeria with her family. When she writes, she writes from her roots. Brandon tried to answer the question of why there are some many Mormon science fiction and fantasy writers. He wasn't really sure. He guessed that maybe it had to do with a science fiction class at Brigham Young University. Many published science fiction authors came through Prof. Smith's class. So perhaps it's less Mormon, but that many have this core class where there is a community of science fiction writers.
The author's talked about how libraries feature in their books, and what they're working on next. Nnedi is working on an adult novel, two YA books, and a movie script for Who Fears Death. Brandon is working on the final volume of The Wheel of Time series and a new YA series that will be coming out in 2012 or 2013. I gave up on The Wheel of Time at volume seven, I think. It started out so strong, but I felt it just got too meandery along the way.