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Brandon Sanderson
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Brandon Sanderson   Brandon Sanderson is the New York Times best-selling author of the Mistborn and Alcatraz series. He was chosen to complete the late Robert Jordan's Wheel of Times series, which has sold over 50 million copies worldwide and spawned computer, trading-card and role-playing games, a soundtrack, comic books, and numerous fan sites.

Buy Brandon Sanderson's Books at the following locations: (downloadable audio books) (independent bookstores)
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This episode originally aired on 11/5/2009 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with Brandon Sanderson

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Matthew Peterson: My next guest is Brandon Sanderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Mistborn and Alcatraz series. He was chosen to complete the late Robert Jordanís Wheel of Times series, which has sold over 50 million copies worldwide and spawned computer, trading-card and role-playing games; soundtracks; comic books; and numerous fan sites. Looks like youíve got some big shoes to fill.

Brandon Sanderson: Yeah

Matthew Peterson: Thanks for being on the show today, Brandon.

Brandon Sanderson: Thanks for having me.

Matthew Peterson: Now I did meet you a while back at a convention, I canít remember which one it was, maybe the World Science Fiction Convention and we were talking about the Wheel of Time and audiobooks and your podcasting.

Brandon Sanderson: Uh huh, okay.

Brandon Sanderson: But something interesting happened from that, and I just wanted to thank you, thereís something that you did that you donít even know, you gave me some advice. At that time, I was in the middle of getting my rights back for my book, and I had an audiobook that was coming out. And you gave me some advice about how to get it onto Audible. [laughs] You probably donít even remember that.

Brandon Sanderson: Well, I hope it was good advice.

Matthew Peterson: It was good. It worked. [laughs]

Brandon Sanderson: Oh, if it was good advice, then I take credit for it. If it was bad advice then it was my evil doppelganger.

Matthew Peterson: Yep. Well, you do give a lot of advice, donít you? I mean you teach creative writing classes.

Brandon Sanderson: I do.

Matthew Peterson: Do you still do that? Even with all this on your plate?

Brandon Sanderson: I still do it. But I only teach one class a year nowadays. So, it only lasts for about three months. But I feel a need to do that because it was in that class when I was an undergraduate, long ago, that I got the final bit of information I needed, it was the final kick in the pants, so to speak, to go get published.

Matthew Peterson: Oh.

Brandon Sanderson: It was taught by David Farland at the time who was just doing what Iím doing. He was a professional writer. He was just stepping in to teach the class for a few years. And he gave me real world publishing advice, gave the whole class real world publishing advice. A lot of creative writing classes are very touchy feely. Thatís a good thing; theyíll talk about the feel of writing and how to grow a story and all of this stuff. But Dave was the first one that came in and said, ďLook, you can do this for a living. Iím going to tell you how and weíre going to talk about the nuts and bolts of creating a story.Ē And that was wildly useful to me. And so I feel a need to go back, when I have the opportunity and explain to new writers, those same sorts of things.

Matthew Peterson: Dave knows what heís talking about too. I mean, he did the Runelords.

Brandon Sanderson: Yep, Mm hmm. Which is also a New York Times bestselling success now.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah! I know everybody is excited to talk about The Wheel of Time, but letís first talk, really quickly about your Mistborn and your Alcatraz series. ĎCause I think itís interesting to find out where you came from before you got into The Wheel of Time. From the title, Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, I get the hint that itís little humourous. Tell us a little bit about that series.

Brandon Sanderson: Well, that series is targeted a little younger, but most of my fans of it are actually older people. Itís a silly series about a kid who discovers that evil librarians secretly rule the world.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Brandon Sanderson: Yeah. Let me back up and kind of explain how I work as a writer. I spent many years trying to break in, as a lot of us do, and during that decades worth of time, about, I wrote 13 novels. I was working on my 13th novel when I sold my first novel which was Elantris.

Matthew Peterson: Oh.

Brandon Sanderson: A stand alone, epic fantasy. That was the sixth book Iíd written. And then my next series was the Mistborn Trilogy, which youíve mentioned. That was the first time where I had to sit down and write three books in the same world, which was actually pretty tough for me, to manage because I wasnít used to doing that. And after Iíd written the second one, I needed to do something different. I needed to do something new. And so I jumped and wrote this book and in a lot of ways it was me riffing on what I do in my other fantasy books. You know, my epic fantasy, I think, takes itself very seriously as epic fantasy has to. And so I wanted to do something that poked some good-natured fun at that. And thatís where Alcatraz came from. [note: hear more about Alcatraz in the extras section]

Matthew Peterson: And your Mistborn series, like you said, it is more serious. Tell us a little bit about the Mistborn series.

Brandon Sanderson: Okay. One of the things I felt that I wanted to do, when I finally did break in, was find some way that I could add to the genre, rather than re-treading the same ground. I felt that I wanted to try and look at the fantasy genre and do plots that hadnít been explored yet. And the Mistborn books are my attempt at doing that. [note: hear more about Mistborn in the extras section]

Matthew Peterson: Well, your Mistborn series did bring attention to you. I mean, thatís one of the reasons why you are writing the Wheel of Time series. Robert Jordan wrote the first one in 1990, itís called The Eye of the World. Eleven books later, he passed on, suddenly, and left millions and millions people with their mouths open like, ďWell, whatís next?Ē Tell us a little bit about how you jumped on board to complete the Wheel of Time series.

Brandon Sanderson: Okay. I got up in the morning one day in October of 2007, fumbled downstairs to my long commute to my couch, picked up my phone to see if anyone had called me. And lo and behold there was a message from someone I didnít know the number of. And so I picked up my phone and I listened to it and was completely dumbfounded and shocked to hear a message from Harriet Rigney, Robert Jordanís widow, asking me if I would call her because thereís something she wants to talk to me about. To be perfectly honest, my response was something on the lines of, ďBlah, blu, blahbĒ.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Brandon Sanderson: I mean I couldnít even talk. Well, turns out that I was well known at TOR as a big fan of the series. I had written, when Robert Jordan had passed away, a eulogy for him, that kind of explained how he had been such a big influence on my life and upon how I had decided to become a writer and why I even chose my publisher. And so that eulogy had ended up on Harrietís desk and she had read it and then called Tom Doherty the publisher, and asked him, ďIs this one of your guys?Ē Heís like, ďYeah, this guyís a good writer. You should look into his work; heís a possibility.Ē And so thatís how I got brought on. Iíve described it like being hit by a freight train that I wasnít expecting. [note: hear more about this in the extras section]

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Well, I caught Tom Doherty at a convention a couple years ago. He was alone, which doesnít happen very often. So, I chatted to him a little bit about this. At that time it was one book, and he said, ďWell, heís actually written like close to 1,000 pages so far, and heís only gotten like 1/3 into Jordanís notes. So, we might have to split the book into two.Ē And then lo and behold, thereís going to be three books.

Brandon Sanderson: Itís an enormous amount of work and we feel that fans will enjoy it better, if we give it to them 1/3 at a time, for three years. As opposed to making them wait an extra three years and then get the whole thing.

Matthew Peterson: Well, youíve got so many things to tie up. And Robert Jordan, he knew that he was going to die. He knew that, and so he was writing as fast as he could. He got these notes. And youíre working off of these notes, which is so great for the fan base, Ďcause we get a feel for what Robert Jordan had in mind. I do have one question that everyone is asking me to ask you. [laughs] Are we going to find out who killed Asmodean?

Brandon Sanderson: Yes. He left notes about who killed Asmodean. To be included in the book. Harrietís decided where it goes. I canít tell you which of the three books itís going to appear in. But it is going to be in there and he did write the ending himself, of the entire thing.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, okay.

Brandon Sanderson: Which is just wonderful. It makes this book possible because I know what the ending is. He left a lot of material through the middle too, as well. But he left that ending. Heíd been promising us for years that he knew the ending of the series. And he did. And he wrote it down. And so Iím really working towards the goal of getting to that ending and working with it in mind and so, yeah, you donít need to worry that the ending wonít be Robert Jordanís ending, because he wrote that himself.

Matthew Peterson: That is great to know. I didnít know that. Well, that is awesome.

Well, Brandon, Iíve been so glad to speak with you. I know a lot of people are really excited. The first book is The Gathering Storm, next one: Towers of Midnight, and the third one: A Memory of Light. Iíve been speaking with Brandon Sanderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Mistborn and Alcatraz series, and now The Wheel of Time series. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Brandon.

Brandon Sanderson: Yeah, yeah. Thanks for having me.

Matthew Peterson: Well, thatís it for today. Be sure to check out for the bonus questions that didnít make it onto the live show. Next week Iíve got five popular authors whoíve written some of the most well-known, modern classics of our day: Anne Rice, Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Orson Scott Card. See ya next week!

  Read or Listen to the extra questions that didn't make it onto the live show.  

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