GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ The Genesis of The Imaginarium Convention- Part II: The Building of a Guest List | I Smell Sheep

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Genesis of The Imaginarium Convention- Part II: The Building of a Guest List

Ever wonder what goes into creating a convention? Stephen Zimmer has agreed to take us through the steps. He has agreed to do a six week series about what it took to put together Imaginarium which will make its debut this September.

The Building of a Guest List

With the venue and date in place for Imaginarium 2014 (Part I), one of the first tasks we faced was building a solid guest list for the main programming. There were many considerations in regard to guests, from the number of guests needed, to the type of panelists required, to their personal styles, and even to how we would present highlighted guests and a Guest of Honor.

Envisioning the large number of panels and workshops we planned on incorporating, we knew from the outset that we would need a fairly large number of guests to participate as panelists and workshop hosts. Further, we wanted to build the kind of guest list that would be attractive and of interest to potential attendees.

We sought from the beginning to make sure our guest list featured a very wide range of genres to reflect the comprehensive nature of the event. We also had to be sure to include professionals from many areas of creative writing, including film, gaming, poetry, and comics and graphic novels.

Having attended a large number of conventions, participated on a host of panels, and having put together literary tracks at other events, I knew the kind of panelist we wanted for Imaginarium. From the outset, I had the advantage of already having a great number of individuals in mind to invite for the big kickoff weekend.

It is important that any Imaginarium panelist is high credible in their given areas as a professional. But it is also very important to the concept of Imaginarium that the panelists reflect the spirit of this particular convention. We wanted guests who are approachable, congenial, and of the type who are willing to share their insights, experience, and knowledge with the attendees.

Allan Gilbreath
There are some wonderful personalities all throughout this business, individuals who are both entertaining and engaging in a panel setting. Some examples of this type include Allan Gilbreath of Dark Oak Press, Sean Taylor, and Tony Acree of Hydra Publications. Panelists such as these three bring a great energy to a session and at the same time have a lot to offer to any discussion they are a part of.

There are also panelists who are extremely erudite in their fields of expertise, to the extent that they are a part of the academic world. Guests like this include L. Andrew Cooper and Michael Williams, both of whom are currently professors at the University of Louisville, and Brady Allen, who teaches at Wright State.
Benjamin Smith
There are many tremendous industry-side panelists, such as the Hugo-nominated Jason Sizemore of Apex Book Company, author/screenwriter Anthony Taylor, magazine publisher Benjamin Smith (Ertel Publishing) and Eric Beebe of Post Mortem Press. The inclusion of top flight industry professionals brings a cutting-edge perspective to various discussions as well as real-world advice and insights.

Lee Martindale
Panels are enhanced greatly with top level moderators and we wanted to be sure to put solid focus on bringing in some superb individuals in this capacity. Lee Martindale, who also happens to be our ToastMistress, is one example of an exceptional moderator, as is Carol Malcolm, who also runs the Urban Fantasy Track at Dragon*Con. We reached out and invited several individuals who are adept at moderating a panel discussion. The core of good moderators on hand for Imaginarium will benefit the attendees greatly with orderly, balanced discussions that allow for interaction with the audience.

Rose Pressey
Most every convention has some highlighted guests. For Imaginarium we decided to name a main Guest of Honor and then create a special type of spotlighted guest called an Imaginator. For the debut of Imaginarium, we thought it would be ideal to name a Guest of Honor who resided in the Louisville area. Our choice to be our first ever Guest of Honor was Rose Pressey, who is a fantastic author and also one of the big indie book success stories of recent years. Rose’s story is very inspirational to up-and-coming writers and definitely highlights the indie-friendly nature of Imaginarium.

For our Imaginators, we chose Maurice Broaddus, author of the Knights of Breton Court series from Angry Robot, Dan Jolley (I Smell Sheep interview of Don Jolley), an writer in multiple mediums who has done everything from write for Transformers video games to projects for Dark Horse Comics, and Jeffrey Reddick, Hollywood screenwriter who created the Final Destination movie series. Collectively, our first three designated Imaginators represent the worlds of books, movies, video games, and comics/graphic novels, reflecting the multifaceted nature of Imaginarium very well.

Looking over the guest list slated for Imaginarium I feel extremely confident that we have achieved our main objectives. From NYT Bestselling romance author J.M. Madden to our Guest of Honor Rose Pressey, our guest list reflects a full range of genres, including romance, mystery, thrillers, speculative fiction, and many more. It also includes screenwriters like Scott Sullivan, who wrote for The Tonight Show and NCIS: Los Angeles, game design creators like John Arcadian, poets like Sheri Wright and Bianca Spriggs, and comic writers like Bobby Nash and the aforementioned Sean Taylor. It is balanced and filled with expertise. With strong moderators and approachable, knowledgeable panelists participating in an intensive amount of programming (over 140 panel and workshop sessions), the stage is set for a wonderful creative writing experience for the attendees of Imaginarium!
John Arcadian (left) and Scott Sullivan (right)

-Stephen Zimmer

About the Author:
Born in Denver, Colorado, Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning fantasy author and filmmaker based out of Lexington, Kentucky.

Stephen has two series being published through Seventh Star Press. One is the epic fantasy Fires in Eden Series, which was launched with Crown of Vengeance (winner of the 2010 Pluto Award for Best Novel). Book 2, Dream of Legends, was released in January of 2011. The other is the epic urban fantasy series The Rising Dawn Saga. The Rising Dawn Saga launched in spring of 2009 with The Exodus Gate (nominated for a 2009 Pluto Award). The next step was taken in June of 2010 with The Storm Guardians. Highly prolific, Stephen is adhering to a release schedule that sees a new book approximately every seven months!

As a filmmaker, Stephen has credits in fantasy and horror, including the supernatural thriller Shadows Light (feature), The Sirens (horror short film), and Swordbearer (fantasy short film). Swordbearer debuted in early 2011 and is currently being exhibited on the convention and festival circuit. Featuring a special appearance by former WWE wrestler Al Snow, the film is based upon the H. David Blalock novel Ascendant.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate Stephen Zimmer allowing me to continue to bask in the glow of his rising star. I'm looking forward to meeting many new people and harassing many old friends, at Imaginarium.