One of the reasons I love living in L.A. is that I have the opportunity to attend some of the most wonderful writing events and book signings

Last June 26th I had the opportunity to attend one of these awesome panels. Two of my favorite YA Authors shared a panel with writers from two of my favorite shows.

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Present at this historic panel were Authors Leigh Bardugo (THE GRISHA TRILOGY) and Marie Lu (LEGEND TRILOGY , Seth Hoffman, writer for THE WALKING DEAD and Michael Dante diMartino, co- creator and executive producer of the AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER & THE LEGEND OF KORRA Series.

Leigh Bardugo (13) modified

Leigh Bardugo, Author of the GRISHA TRILOGY (SHADOW & BONE , SIEGE & STORM)


Marie Lu (8) modified



Michael Dante Dimartino (15) modified

Michael Dante Dimartino, co-creator and Executive Producer of the Nick TV Series


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Seth Hoffman, writer for THE WALKING DEAD TV Series

Moderated by LIES & ALIBIS Director Kurt Mattila, the panel talked about fandom and its many aspects.

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Director Kurt Mattila moderates a Panel on Fandom with Writers Marie Lu, Leigh Bardugo, Michael Dante Dimartino and Seth Hoffman


The panel was at Barnes & Noble at The Grove, which is a 15-minute drive from where I work (assuming of course, that I don’t get tangled up in the famous L.A. traffic). I made sure I was there an hour and a half before the event so I could snag seats for myself and my friend Tiffani.

Waiting was a breeze because I had my Avatar Airbender graphic novels to keep my busy. It was a good call, too, since the crowd had swelled half an hour before the panel started.

After the bookstore manager introduced the panel, moderator Kurt Mattila got right down to business. Kurt asked a lot of good questions about the various sides of fandom including its social media aspect, “shipping” or when fans pair two characters that might be good in a relationship together. They also talked about the different aspects of creating the stories, and how the fans react to some of their storyline decisions.

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Writers Marie Lu, Leigh Bardugo, Michael Dante Dimartino and Seth Hoffman

Here are a few of my favorite snippets from the panel:

Kurt Mattila close up

Moderator Kurt Mattila


Kurt Mattila: What is the most expressive form of fandom for you?

Leigh Bardugo: A woman named Elle Jauffret created recipes based on SHADOW & BONE. It was very cool to see. I sort of have a policy: I re-blog fanart if it’s not too racy, and I will not read or re-blog fanfic, but I’m glad it’s there.

Michael Dante Dimartino: We’ve never had Avatar fan food recipes that I know. I did sign a man’s cabbages…Fan art is always awesome but I’m always amazed by cosplays costumes when people come in with costumes that are super detailed and they spend a whole year creating these for comic-con.

Seth Hoffman: I’m relatively new to the Walking Dead series, I’ve been writing for the show for only a year so I’m still dipping my toes in the waters of fandom. One of the writers had a fan tattoo one of the lines that she wrote on her arm and then send her a picture. I was Wow, if someone did that for me, I’d retire.

Marie Lu: The fan casting is always fun. I have seen some cool fan portrayals. One person did this weird thing—she was pretending to be me but she was wearing a bear hat. They did this Saturday Night Live interview thing simulated in a room.

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Michael Dante Dimartino, co-creator and Executive Producer  AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER  &  THE LEGEND OF KORRA 

Kurt Mattila: In your journeys, did you ever decide to alter shift characters and storylines based on the fans’ reactions?

Michael Dante Dimartino: Animation takes forever so by the time you guys get to see it, it’s long past. After Avatar’s Book 2 people got very upset over Zuko’s turning on Aang. We got a fan letter asking how much it would cost to reanimate the whole season.

Marie Lu & Leigh Bardugo

YA Authors Marie Lu & Leigh Bardugo


Kurt Mattila: What long dead TV shows would you like to revive?

Leigh Bardugo: I would pay good money to have them re-do the last episodes of Battlestar Galactica. That and Buffy are my two of my number one favorite shows of all time. I say that despite the conclusion of that series.

Michael Dante Dimartino: The only show recently that made me understand why people would say “well why didn’t they bring that show back? Is Ben & Kate. It’s this amazing rally sweet sitcom. I was watching it thinking: clearly everyone is watching this show.

Seth Hoffman: There’s this animated show on MTV about a decade ago called Clone High. I’m a little biased because I know the guys who created it. But the concept of the show, for those of you, really 98% of you who have never heard of it is: This mad scientist principal has cloned a bunch of famous people throughout history, so there’s Abraham Lincoln the nerd, and Mahatma Gandhi the party animal.

Marie Lu: Now that you mention animation, there’s this one show called S.W.A.T Cats which I’d love to see again. It’s basically like this cat version of Batman. There’s these two cats who got kicked off the police force, so they got assigned to this scrapyard and built their own jets there and they saved the city from monsters every—Thursday.

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YA Author Marie Lu


Kurt Mattila: Confession time. Who here has written fan fiction?

Leigh Bardugo: *points to Marie Lu

Marie Lu: I was 8 or 9, and I clearly have been writing dark stories all my life. And this was my first fictional story.  I wrote a fanfiction about Sonic the Hedgehog running through the forest, and the tree falls on him and cripples him, and he ends up in a wheelchair for the rest of his life


Michael Dante Dimartino & Seth Hoffman

TV Writers Michael Dante Dimartino and Seth Hoffman


Kurt Mattila: There this fantastic 1960 copy of Marvel Comics where George RR Martin writes a passionate letter to Stan Lee. Have you guys ever reached out to other creators? Written a fan letter?

Leigh Bardugo: I wrote a letter to an author when I was a kid. It was to James How who wrote Bunnicula, about a vampire bunny who drains the juice of vegetables. He wrote me back a two page letter on this thin onion skin paper, and he answered all of my ridiculous questions: will there be a sequel? Tell me about Harold’s character development… And it was an incredible experience because before that books came from the land of magic and this was a missive from authors. And every time I saw one of his books in the bookstore, I felt like I had a relationship, I know James Howe—he told me about Harold!

Michael Dante Dimartino: I never wrote a fan letter, but I met George RR Martin at Comic Con. There he was sitting in the bar and I thought I gotta go say hi to him. I was very very nervous. I had to introduce myself so I said I was one of the creators of Avatar, and he said “oh, good, good.” Maybe he’s seen it by now.

Seth Hoffman: I could imagine myself having written to my favorite baseball player. I was more of a sports nerd than a nerd-nerd. But I never did.

Leigh Bardugo (21) modified

YA Author Leigh Bardugo


Audience Question: What were your day jobs before you became writers?

Marie Lu: I used to work on video games and I was a concept artist for Disney. What I would do to get my writing in, was that I figured out this system where I would write my chapters on emails and people would walk by and think, “wow she’s writing a lot of long emails!”

Leigh Bardugo: I was a copy-writer, I wrote movie trailers, like you know in the land without justice…you are welcome…But then my dad passed away and I thought I needed to get away from computers so I got to work on special effects and make ups. But I think that’s why the book took longer because I would work on copy edits all day and then I would go home and I would want to watch Law & Order reruns—that muscle was exhausted. Whereas I would be on my feet for hours a day, doing a model’s make up and listening to her talk about her latest cleanse and in my head, I’m coming up with ideas. And after those 12 hours, I would still have energy left to write. There are other things that will inspire your activity and other things that would drain it.

Michael Dante Dimartino: King of the Hill was my first job, and then Family Guy so I worked on those for a number of years. Brian and I worked on both those shows and we came up with Avatar ideas.

Seth Hoffman: My first writing job that I got paid for was for a show called Prison Break so I was a writer on season 2, a writer’s assistant on season 1 so it’s just getting your foot in the door and then impressing people and making them hire you.

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Seth Hoffman, writer for THE WALKING DEAD TV Show

Audience Question: What were some of the weird “ships” of your characters that you’ve heard of?

Seth Hoffman: There is one of the writers who sort of came in with the blood drained from his face: he said that there was this kid who was begging him to have Carl and Herschel hook up. That would be the weirdest one.

Leigh Bardugo: I cannot top that. I like ships were people don’t want to give anything up—they just want everybody together. So there’s a character named Mal, there’s a character named The Darkling, and there’s Stormhan and one named Alina so there’s now a ship named Malarklinghan and I guess that’s one way of ending the series.

There were so many more wonderful moments in the Panel–I recall a lot of witty responses from the panelists, as well as a lot of laughter from the audience.  But like most good things, the panel came to an end, and everyone lined up to get their books signed. I was sooo thrilled when I got my books signed by Seth Hoffman and Michael Dante Dimartino, since I’m a big fan of their shows.


book signing

Writers talking with fans and signing books

Seth Hoffman was adorable when I approached him to have my book signed. He said it was his first time signing a book so he didn’t know what to write. He asked me what I wanted him to write on the book cover and I told him to write anything he fancied. In the end, he wrote: “This is the 4th book I’ve signed!” I told him that I got so hooked on the Walking Dead, but I made a mistake of watching it before I went to bed. So for my second book, he wrote: “Don’t watch the show before you go to bed!”

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Myself with WALKING DEAD Writer Seth Hoffman

I was even more excited to get my books signed by Michael Dante Dimartino, (who had the longest book signing line at the event). I thanked him for creating AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER and told him that the show was what had inspired me to write my first novel URTH.

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Myself with AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER Co- Creator Michael Dante Dimartino 


I had such an amazing time at the panel, particularly since I got to see four of my favorite writers in one room–with my good friend and fellow fan Tiffani. 

If you want to watch the full panel on youtube, you click on this link from FTSWPodcast:


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17 Responses to “– The Power of Fandom Panel with Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Michael Dante DiMartino & Seth Hoffman”

  1. I love that I get to learn about these awesome events through your posts! It’s like I am living vicariously through your experiences LOL. Thanks as always for sharing, Nutschell.

    Have a great weekend! :)

  2. Shelly says:

    Cool stuff. Our B & N doesn’t have cool stuff like this.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  3. You’re so lucky to have gone to all these cool events. I would have loved to attend this one.

  4. Mary Pax says:

    You are lucky to have access to so much. From your wonderfully written article, I’d say this was a fab event. Loved the photos 😀

  5. What an amazing event! It looks and sounds like so much fun. I had such a good time reading through the questions and answer highlights. So fun to find out more about each of them. So glad you got to go and that you shared it with us. :)

  6. Al Diaz says:

    OMG! You met the co-creator of Avatar! Now I’ll have to move the cave to L.A. for such great opportunities. I’m so very jealous, hahaha. Good for you and thanks for sharing with us.

  7. unikorna says:

    You are such an active observer of the literary world :), that explains why you are always so well informed :)…kisses

  8. Hilary says:

    Hi Nutschell – I appreciate your comment about living in LA .. I would love to live a littler nearer or in London – yet .. being by the seaside is great too!

    Love hearing about the events you attend … cheers Hilary

  9. tara tyler says:

    i’m so jeslous!! no one cool comes to cincinnati!
    cant wait to get over to the west coast! i will look you up!

  10. L.A.? Bah. We’ve got Comic-Con in S.D. =] So awesome for you to see them in the flesh. See, this is why Barnes & Noble can’t ever go out of business!

  11. You are lucky to be in a place where so many writing events happen. These are great pictures, as usual, Nutschell!

  12. Carina Olsen says:

    AHHH! So damn jealous. I LOVE Leigh Bardugo and Marie Lu. Sobs. Wish I could have been there. <3 Glad you enjoyed it, though :) And thank you so much for sharing. <3
    Thank you for commenting on my WoW. <3
    Love, Carina @ Carina’s Books

  13. Nas says:

    What an amazing event. You are so lucky to get to attend it.

  14. Emilyann says:

    It looks like that was a great event. I’m so jealous you Seth Hoffman… I love The Walking Dead! Also, the name tattooed on the fan’s arm story is wild. Cool stuff. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Karen Lange says:

    Exciting stuff! Glad you were able to go. Glad too, that you shared it with us! :)

  16. mooderino says:

    I’m really looking forward to the new series of Korra. There’s a trailer for it up on the web. Cool stuff.


  17. […] Met Seth Hoffman, one of the writers of The Walking Dead. […]

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