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Old 10-13-2011, 10:22 PM
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Default Provo Daily Herald Interview - February 2010

This is the transcript of a video interview with Brandon Sanderson by the Provo Daily Herald, posted on February 12, 2010.


Brandon: My name is Brandon Sanderson. I began writing seriously about 15 years ago now, was unpublished at the time. Spent many years trying to break in and write that book that would hopefully sell and make me able to make a living as a writer. I went to BYU as an undergraduate. After I graduated, still hadn't published, but by that point I'd finished around seven or eight novels, so I was pretty sure this was something I wanted to do. I loved doing it, I loved writing. I've now published eight or nine novels, most of them epic fantasy. I do have a children's series, called Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, targeted at 11-, 12-, 13-year-olds who are too smart for their own good.

In 2007, I was asked by Robert Jordan's widow to complete the Wheel of Time novels, which had long been favorites of mine. Robert Jordan passed away in 2007. And the first of three that will finish that series, called The Gathering Storm, came out last year and was a #1 New York Times bestseller.


Brandon: I see myself as part of a greater movement that is doing some new and interesting things. I'm certainly not the only one doing it, and I wouldn't even know if I'm at the forefront of it. I'm part of it. But. . . I can't help but be, I think, considering all I've read and what I've been part of. If you read the fantasy that's coming out right now, it feels different from what came before. And I think a lot of that is a reaction toward or against the epic journey, and we're saying, well what else can we explore? So, a lot of reaction against the classic, standard medieval setting.

We're also kind of stepping forward into a more modern era for our fantasy, things taking place in a more 1900s level of technology or 1800s level of technology. I feel that a lot of us, a lot of the authors during the '80s and '90s spent a lot of time exploring what Tolkien had revealed, particularly in epic fantasy which is my sub-genre, and saying, well what else can we do with this? But at the same time, telling these stories that were very classical in an archetypal sense. That ground has been explored by masters of the genre, and so we have to take a few steps outwards. And I'm part of it, I'm certainly not the only one.

We're the first generation of fantasy writers who really grew up reading a ton of fantasy because in the early days there wasn't as much. There were some great authors who were writing, Tolkien of course being one of them, but there were many others who were writing at that era. But, before the '60s and '70s there wasn't very much of it. There was the science fiction, and there was some fantasy mixed in there with the pulp and things, but our generation grew up reading the great epic fantasies of the '70s, '80s, and '90s. And because of that I've noticed my generation is. . . we're kind of these post-modern fantasy writers. We're building upon all these things that happened before, and now seeming like we want to explore different directions because of how well some of the authors like Robert Jordan covered the topics that they did.


Brandon: Story, to me, is about character. And if you don't have those characters to latch onto, then your book is not just gonna hold me or grab me. There are plenty of people who enjoy just a solid plot. And a good plot is good, but it's the characters that are the heart and soul of it.

Religion is fascinating to me. I'm a religious person. And the different ways that people approach religion, think about religion, are all very interesting to me. And I find myself dealing with these themes because what fascinates me is what I find interesting and write stories about. It's really no more complicated than that. People ask me, do I put religious themes in intentionally? No. I think that religion is very important to a lot of people, and so people end up thinking about it or talking about it. And so it becomes themes, therefore, in my books.

Granted, what I find frightening or what I find interesting or what I find noble is influenced by who I am and by what my religion teaches. And on the flip side, the misuse of religion strikes me as a very frightening thing. And so I've made religions bad guys in my books before. That wasn't intentional, me saying religion's going to be the bad guy. It's me sitting down and saying, I want an antagonist who is legitimately frightening. What is legitimately frightening to me? Well, this is legitimately frightening: someone who misuses this, who takes things that I think are wonderful and turns them into something terrible. That's frightening. And I like to show all aspects of things if I can in my books.


Brandon: I am working on two major projects right now. The first, and probably of most interest to most people watching this, is the second of the three books that will complete the Wheel of Time. I have a large chunk of the actual writing done, and right now I am fine-tuning some of the character viewpoints and things like this to make sure they feel right. The soul of the Wheel of Time, the reason I love it so much, is because of the strength of characters, the strength of the viewpoints of those characters. And I want to make sure I'm writing them as they should be, as they really are. The goal is to have that book out by November of this year, which is still likely that it will happen. It will depend on how long it takes me to do the revisions, but we're looking like we'll be on target.

The other book I'm working on is called The Way of Kings. It is a book I've been working on for about ten years now. It is the start of a longer epic, a story I've been wanting to tell for a very long time. I did that over the summer last year. I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and that is coming out in August.


Brandon: Advice for writers: I would say, practice a lot. Remember that you're gonna to have to practice on this. And it's advice no one really told me when I was wanting to break in. I thought you just wrote a book and then you sold it. And sure, that happens to people sometimes. But for most of us, learning to write a book is like learning to play the piano. When you first start, you're not very good. And just like you wouldn't record your first piano sessions and sell them, your first attempts at stories are probably not going to be worth selling. That doesn't mean they aren't worth writing. They are worth writing. But just keep in your mind, it's all right to practice for a while and spend some time really turning yourself into a writer.

Last edited by Marie Curie 7; 10-13-2011 at 10:38 PM.
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