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Interviews: Brandon Sanderson gears up for release of latest novel

Summary:

Entries

10

Date

Mar 2nd, 2014

Type

Verbatim

Reporter

Karen Hoag

Links

Daily Herald

  • 1

    Karen Hoag

    New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson is releasing his newest fantasy novel, Words of Radiance, on Tuesday. His first and favorite place to sign his books is at Brigham Young University's bookstore, where he will appear late Monday night and early Tuesday morning at midnight.

    Words of Radiance is the second of Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive series and follows The Way of Kings. After Provo's signing at BYU, Sanderson heads for San Diego, Huntington Beach, San Francisco, then on to Portland, Seattle, Houston and back to Utah in Salt Lake City on March 12. His busy tour schedule then takes him to the Midwest and East before wrapping up in Chicago and Milwaukee on March 22.

    The 38-year-old fantasy writer took some time to answer some questions in an email interview before preparing for his tour.

  • 2

    Karen Hoag

    Brandon, you are a celebrity and Utah County claims you. How do you feel about that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, I feel pretty good about it. I passed a milestone recently where I realized I had lived in Utah County longer than anywhere else—which may not seem like much of a milestone to you, but for years I was from Nebraska, transplanted to Utah. Now, I am from Utah with my origins in Nebraska.

    Though the celebrity part, I'm not 100 percent sure about. As a writer, we get to do this thing we love and it's about the stories. It's not about us. I don't write these to be a celebrity. I write these so that I can tell the stories I want to tell, so I like the focus to be on the books and less on me.

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  • 3

    Karen Hoag

    What do you think of the BYU signing for Words of Radiance? Are crowds different from location to location of your signings and appearances?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. Provo has always been my biggest signing area from my very first book, Elantris. The biggest of the signings I've had was the one at the Waldenbooks, there in the Towne Centre Mall. Ever since then, I think, teaching at BYU, being a BYU alum (has helped) with crowds always being biggest in Provo.

    But places I've gone repeatedly, there are these great bastions of fandom for me. Portland is always enormous and San Diego is always really good. These are places I've been going for years and years, but it's always the BYU signing that's the big one. We cap out often at 1,000 people at these signings which is very large for a book signing.

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  • 4

    Karen Hoag

    How do you imagine all this magic? Tell us briefly of your rules of magic.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Seven or eight years ago, I was thinking about what I love in fantasy. My love of the fantasy genre is this sense of another world that really couldn't, but for a while, we pretend that it could. With a science background, (I started my academic life as a chemist) I like to imagine worlds where our fundamental laws of physics don't apply but other fundamental laws of physics do. And so, for me, I like "magic" to be a new branch of physics that only exists in these worlds. That sounds a little sterile. It's more sterile than I wanted to sound because I think science has this wonder to it, and as you discover and you learn, there's this beautiful sense of discovery.

    It's where the great discoveries of our age is happening and scientific. I love particularly the era at the turn of the 19th to 20th century. The feel the people had for science back then—I often find myself writing in my books during a similar era, an age you might call an enlightenment. That's really the Renaissance, a little post-Renaissance age of industry where people are discovering that the magic follows rules and laws.

    I have rules for myself about how to write my magic systems and these are really just storytelling rules. I call them Sanderson's Laws. I can't really go into depth in an article here. (I've done essays on them, you can Google them.) But they're really writing advice to myself. I call them Sanderson's Laws, not because I think everyone should follow them, but they are laws I follow myself.

    They have to do with things like properly laying the foreshadowing for my magic so the reader understands what it can do and looking and exploring the different aspects of what a magic can do rather than adding a ton of new powers. Taking one power and setting (to see) if I can really explore it in its depth, things like that.

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  • 5

    Karen Hoag

    What types of worlds do you create?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I create worlds that feel like our world, but not. I like the "but not." Fantasy is about the "but not," the "what is different, what couldn't be, but what do I maybe wished could be?" or "What do I wonder about?" There are things that come from my dreams and my imaginations and then I try to make them feel real.

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  • 6

    Karen Hoag

    When you are off in another world, how do you come down from it and relate to, say, your children, your wife and your students?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Writing is hard. You spend a day at work writing and at the end of it I feel tired. But stepping out of my room and transitioning out of that is not as difficult as it was once. Because it's time to be done and I've divided my life in such a way that when I pass out of the door, I'm transitioning out of the writing mind and into the family mind.

    When I was younger, when I was just first married, these transitions were hard. But it was just a matter of practice. I feel that it's important to have my family ground me in real-life experiences, otherwise, I won't actually have anything to write about.

    Fantasy is the genre of the imagination and it is only as imaginative as we have real-life experiences to explore. We take what we know and we expand upon it. People often say, "Write what you know." For fantasy, that applies to taking your real life experience and asking the "what ifs" about it.

    Really, I think fantasy is a genre about the now, the things that we're worried about, the things we're concerned about, the things we wish could change in our world—these could become manifest in our fantasy stories. I don't think there's a fantasy book out there that isn't in some way an allegory for the author's own life experience.

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  • 7

    Karen Hoag

    All right. Who are you a fan of, maybe one who has inspired you? In what way?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, the obvious answer is Robert Jordan who's been a big inspiration to me through my life. But I would say some of the most inspiring works I've read are the works of Victor Hugo. I love his abilities to characterize real people with all of their scratches and their flaws, but they are still heroic at heart. This is the sort of thing that I really love to read.

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  • 8

    Karen Hoag

    What are you proudest of?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What I'm proudest of? That is an open-ended difficult question to answer. There are a lot of things that I'm proud of. More than proud, I'm thankful, honestly. I'm thankful that I get to do this. I'm thankful for the readers who support me. I'm very proud of all of my works in some ways and yet, at the end of the day, it's less about being proud of these things and more just supremely thankful that I get to do what I love for a living. That people enjoy experiencing it, that I get to do this thing that it is supremely creative that engages all of my faculties and gives me a zest for life and then, I actually get to do that for a living. I'm sometimes just in awe that it all comes together and works.

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  • 9

    Karen Hoag

    Do you still teach fantasy/sci-fi classes at BYU?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, I still do. The BYU English department has been great to work with. I only teach once a year during the winter semester and only the one class.

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  • 10

    Karen Hoag

    How long is your tour for this book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    March 4-22. The midnight release party will be held at the BYU Bookstore late Monday night, March 3. Details can be found on my website, brandonsanderson.com.

    If you go:

    Brandon Sanderson book release

    What: "Words of Radiance"

    Where: Bookstore, Brigham Young University, Provo

    vWhen: Monday into Tuesday morning

    Schedule of events: Monday at 7 a.m., line numbers distributed. Bookstore opens at 10 p.m. Sanderson holds a reading and Q&A at 10:45 p.m. At 11:45 p.m., guests begin lining up in numerical order for midnight signing. 1 a.m. Tuesday, cash registers close, all purchases must be made by this time. Sanderson says he will stay even until 3 a.m., if needed, to personalize everyone's books.

    Info: brandonsanderson.com