art by Jake Johnson

Theoryland Resources

WoT Interview Search

Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.

Wheel of Time News

An Hour With Harriet

2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.

The Bell Tolls

2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."

Theoryland Community

Members: 7653

Logged In (0):

Newest Members:johnroserking, petermorris, johnadanbvv, AndrewHB, jofwu, Salemcat1, Dhakatimesnews, amazingz, Sasooner, Hasib123,

Theoryland Tweets

WoT Interview Database

Home | Interview Database

Interviews: Interview with Brandon Sanderson - A Dribble of Ink

Summary:

Entries

14

Date

Sep 26th, 2007

Type

Verbatim

Reporter

Aidan Moher

Links

A Dribble of Ink

  • 1

    Aidan Moher

    Brandon Sanderson is a hard working guy. As you're about to find out, his first published novel, Elantris is actually the 13th novel he wrote! 13! And who said that was an unlucky number? Clearly Sanderson is passionate about what he does (write Fantasy novels) and it shows in his work. Elantris, "was Brandon's first published book. A stand-alone epic fantasy novel, the book won the Romantic Times award for best epic fantasy of 2005, was chosen by BarnesandNoble.com editors as the best fantasy or sf book of the year, and is forthcoming in fourteen languages (about half of which have been released as of September of 2007.)" (pulled from HERE) Needless to say the release of his two subsequent novels (the first and second book of a trilogy, respectively), The Final Empire and The Well of Ascension were met with eager anticipation by his fans.

    Brandon is currently hard at work wrapping up the third novel in the Mistborn Trilogy and has just released his first children's novel, Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians!

    Well, enough introductions; why don't we take a look at what Brandon has to say!

    Footnote

    Elantris was actually Brandon's sixth novel; Mistborn was the thirteenth.
  • 2

    Aidan Moher

    First off I'd like to congratulate you on the success of your novels, Elantris and Mistborn: The Final Empire and your nomination for a Campbell Award!

    Brandon Sanderson

    Thanks! Being nominated for the Campbell was a great honor, particularly when I look at the other authors that have been nominated during these two years. I've been really pleased at the reactions to my writing so far, and I'm excited to see what people think of the books I have coming out this year. (Mistborn: The Well of Ascension comes out from Tor this month, and Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians comes out with Scholastic in October.)

    Tags

    ,
    ,
  • 3

    Aidan Moher

    Your first novel, Elantris, was well received by critics and fans alike, even earning you a mention from Robin Hobb as a new author to watch out for! What do you do to keep yourself grounded in what is undoubtedly an exciting time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Honestly, I still can't believe it sometimes when I see my books up there on the shelves with Robin Hobb's, Orson Scott Card's and others by my favorite authors. Reading their works helps me realize that I've still got a long way to go! On the whole, authors, even very popular authors, don't have to deal with the type of celebrity hype of say, movie stars. When you only get a little recognition, it is easier, I think, not to let it go to your head!

    Tags

  • 4

    Aidan Moher

    Stand-alone novels are a rare occurrence is the Fantasy genre, an area of literature that is typically filled with epic, multi-book series. What prompted you to begin your writing career with a stand-alone, Elantris and why the change to a trilogy with Mistborn?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Two things influenced my decision to write Elantris as a stand-alone novel. The first is the aspect that as a new author, I didn't have a proven track record. I'd grown a little frustrated with new authors releasing first books in a trilogy when I didn't know their writing well enough to trust whether or not I wanted to get bogged down in a huge series. So, I decided that I wanted my first book to be a stand-alonea self-contained epic fantasy story that could show off what I could do without expecting people to wait years and years to see if I could finish a story or not.

    Tags

    ,
    ,
  • 5

    Aidan Moher

    Your web site mentions that Elantris was the sixth novel that you had written, yet the first to be published. What do you think it was about Elantris and the Mistborn novels that managed to capture the attention of a publisher in a way that the precluding novels did not?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My first five books were very experimental. I wrote a comedy, a science fiction, a bunch of different types of things trying to figure out what I was good at and what I wanted to do. When I wrote Elantris I knew I wanted it to be an epic fantasy, and I'd had some practice writing in that style. Also, my big hang-up with my earlier works was editing. I'd finish a project and be so excited about going on to the next project that I wouldn't take the time necessary to make changes. By the time I wrote Elantris I'd learned how to revise, so when I sent it out it was a much more polished product. These two reasons, and the fact that it was a standalone, were what I think made Elantris sell when my earlier stuff did not. Mistborn was actually part of the two-book deal in the contract I got for Elantris, so the publisher bought it sight-unseen. Luckily, they liked it!

    Tags

    ,
    ,
    ,
  • 6

    Aidan Moher

    Speaking of your web site, it's obvious that you've put a lot of time and effort into creating a web site that is full and deep of exclusive content to please your fans. My personal favorite are the extensive notes, annotations and comments you've made on your novels. It's fascinating to see the thoughts of the author as he ponders the same questions that I had as a reader. You've even got a whole novel up there on your web site for your fans to download and read! What is it that drove you to create such a rich web site?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The idea for the chapter annotations and deleted scenes is based on the bonus material that you can often find with movies on DVD. I really enjoyed learning more about the behind-the-scenes happenings in some of my favorite movies, and thought that readers might feel the same way about books.

    Tags

  • 7

    Aidan Moher

    Breaking into the field as a writer is a tough task, can you give a little rundown on how your relationship with TOR developed?

    Brandon Sanderson

    One of the best things you can do as an aspiring writer is learn about editors who publish writing similar to yours, then attend conventions to meet people and make contacts. I met Moshe Feder, a consulting editor at Tor, at World Fantasy Convention in 2001. He agreed to take a look at my work, so I sent him the manuscript for Elantris, my 6th novel. I didn't hear anything from Moshe, so I continued writing and submitting. Elantris sat on Moshe's desk for eighteen months, but eventually he read it, and liked it! I'd moved, so my contact information was no longer correct, but with a little persistence, Moshe managed to track me down and make me an offer for Elantris.

    AIDAN MOHER

    Eighteen months! That's a long time to wait patiently, what can you recommend to aspiring novelists to help them avoid such a fate...but still get their book published!

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I think a writer who has several works to send out, and is actively seeking multiple sources to which to send them, is more likely to get published. Be aware, though, that it is against industry protocol to send a complete manuscript to more than one editor or agent. You can send query letters or partial manuscripts to several sources, but if someone asks for a full manuscript, that person must accept or reject it before you send it to anyone else. It is important to know and follow the submission guidelines for the places to which you send manuscripts.

    Tags

    ,
    ,
    ,
  • 8

    Aidan Moher

    Readers of Fantasy generally seem to like to lump authors into one of two fields: World Builders and Character writers. This is obviously a very black-and-white definition of the genre, but that being said, which into which side would you place yourself and what are your thoughts on the two in regards to writing a novel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think most people would put my writing in the field of the World Builders because many of the comments I receive center on the uniqueness of my magic systems. Honestly, I would rather not be lumped with either side! I try very hard in all of my books to create both interesting worlds and believable characters. If I had to choose just one, however, I would rather be on the side of the character writers because I think characters make better stories than worlds do. In my opinion a good book is a balance between character, setting, and plot with character being the most important of the three. You can have the coolest magic system in the world, but if readers don't care about the characters who are using that magic system, the book won't be very fun to read.

    Tags

    ,
    ,
    ,
    ,
  • 9

    Aidan Moher

    As you mentioned, the systems of magic you create for your novels are particularly strong and well thought out. How much time do you spend fleshing these ideas out before you sit down and start writing the novel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's hard to say because I am always thinking about ideas for books. Concepts for magic systems, characters, settings and such come to me all the time, so I try to write them down and keep them for future use. When I am actually ready to sit down and write a book, I spend a couple of weeks or so pre-writing. Some of this time is spent outlining the plot. Some is spent fleshing out the ideas for the magic system, and some thinking about character arcs. Then, of course, more details come as I write.

    Tags

    ,
    ,
  • 10

    Aidan Moher

    Another of your complex creations are the Aons you created for Elantris. Where did the inspiration for this symbolic language come from? Did you create all of the designs yourself as you wrote the novel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I spent two years in Korea as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. One aspect of Korea that particularly interested me was the written language. This interest in Asian writing systems later sparked the idea of Aons. The Aonic symbols at the beginning of each chapter of Elantris increase in complexity as you continue through the book. I did create the designs myself, though luckily Tor had someone who could make them look better than my original messy sketches!

    Tags

    ,
    ,
    ,
    ,
  • 11

    Aidan Moher

    Just taking a look at the names of your characters, it's obvious that you put a lot of thought into the cultures that inhabit your world and the naming structures that they would have in place (no randomly pulling from the "Big Ol' List o' Fantasy Names"). What is it about this aspect of world building that appeals to you so much?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A fantasy world can seem so much more full and interesting when it has many diverse cultures, just like the real world does. I try to produce the feeling of a wide range of cultures in my fantasy settings by creating groups of names that sound culturally consistent.

    Tags

    ,
    ,
  • 12

    Aidan Moher

    How did your experiences differ when writing Elantris as compared to writing Mistborn?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Elantris was my 6th novel. By the time I wrote Mistborn, my 13th, I'd figured out some things about writing and my own style that made me more effective. At least I'd like to think so! I wrote Elantris as a standalone, and I knew I wanted to make Mistborn the first of a trilogy. Even though I borrowed some ideas from my own earlier works, Mistborn was a more complex story and took more planning. I'd never written a trilogy before, so it was a little difficult to figure out how to wrap up the story in the first book, while still setting things up for the other two.

    Tags

    ,
  • 13

    Aidan Moher

    What of the things that most appeals to me about you as an author is that you're also about to publish your children's novel, Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians. What compelled you to write a children's novel and how does it differ from writing a novel for adults?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Alcatraz actually started out as a freewrite. I'd been deep into the Mistborn books, and needed a break from their complexity and darkness. I decided to come up with something completely silly, so I wrote down a sentence that I'd thought of recently, and just started adding to it. When I finished I sent it to my agent, even though it was very different than what I'd written before. He suggested marketing it for kids, which we did, and it worked! In writing a children's novel I have to keep things simpler and shorter than I do when writing for adults—fewer viewpoint characters, simpler plot construction, more straightforward language. I actually really enjoy the variety of doing both types of novels.

    Tags

    ,
    ,
  • 14

    Aidan Moher

    Any parting words?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Thanks so much for doing this interview! It is fun to answer questions that are so well thought out.

    AIDAN MOHER

    Well, Brandon, I wish you all the luck with the release of Mistborn: The Well of Ascension and Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me here at A Dribble of Ink!

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    My pleasure!

    AIDAN MOHER

    Be sure to check out Brandon's web site (HERE)! You'll find a ton of interesting and exclusive content relating to his novels and, best of all, an entire novel that you can download and read...for free!