Fans at the event, held Sept. 16-18, will have the chance to meet actors from shows like Cobra Kai, Doctor Who and Stranger Things.
For many fans, though, FanX is less about the celebs on the convention’s freeway billboards and more about the people behind their favorite comics, games and books. KayLynn Flanders, the Utah-based author of recently released novels Shielded and Untethered, is among this year’s FanX special guests, and YA fiction fans can meet Flanders and get signed copies of her books.
In Shielded, young Princess Jennesara (Jenna) of the frigid kingdom of Hálendi is promised in marriage to the prince of a neighboring kingdom in exchange for resources for Hálendi to fight a war, but the battle comes to her just as she comes to terms with her magical abilities.
Untethered follows Jenna’s brother, Ren, and Chiara, princess of Turia, that neighboring kingdom, in their quest to defeat evil mages.
Hálendi takes inspiration from Icelandic and Nordic cultures, along with Flanders’s own experiences in Idaho during the winter. Flanders says her books are for ages 11 years and up, though she’s come across some precocious 10-year-olds who have dived in, too. Some kids have even posted their own YouTube reviews.
(Though he’s beyond the target age, the 34-year-old male writer of this blog read Shielded and was engaged and honestly stunned by its first big twist.)
“I’m really excited to attend FanX,” said Flanders, a BYU graduate in English language and freelance editor and book designer for more than 12 years. “I’ve actually always wanted to go; it’s my first time.”
Shielded, her first novel, was released in 2020. Earlier that year, Flanders finished writing Untethered, which came out in July 2021.
Due to the pandemic, a lot of the marketing efforts for Shielded didn’t happen. Most of the work Flanders has done to promote her books has been virtual. While she’s excited to get out and see fans in person, events like FanX are “kind of scary,” she admits. “I’ve gotten really comfortable staying behind a screen and talking by myself in my house.”
Recently, though, Flanders had some warm up events with a Barnes & Noble signing and a writer’s conference. The fans she has met so far have been a mix of those who read and loved the book, and those intrigued by the covers by artist Alex Dos Diaz and designer Regina Flath.
“When I first got the cover [of Shielded], it was just a sketch; it wasn’t even colored in,” Flanders recalled. “I was looking at the email on my phone, and I just screamed and threw my phone across the room because it was so good, and, every step of the way, it only got better and better and better.”
While the dynamic covers have drawn people in, Flanders admits the books lack an artistic element she initially hoped to include: a map for readers to orient themselves as they join Jenna and Ren’s adventures.
Luckily, she’ll have maps for readers at FanX, along with both books.
Find her at FanX at the Printed Garden Booth. She will also participate in panel discussions on becoming a published author and writing fight scenes.
To impress her, say “Glaciers!” if anything happens to go wrong. It’s the expletive her characters use when things don’t go their way in the books. So far, she hasn’t met any fans cosplaying as Jenna. So, to go the extra mile, take a look at the cover of Shielded to plan your costume.
Wear a mask, too; they are now required at FanX.
Read our interview with FanX founder Dan Farr.