Monday, March 10, 2008
Brandon Mull Interview
This winter has been an exciting one for me. A time to discover new authors. To fall in love with new books. One of the new series I've discovered has been the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. The third book is due to release in about a month. (I reviewed it here last Friday.) More of my interview with Brandon Mull can be found in the April edition of The Edge of the Forest. But here is just a small sampling of our conversation.
Becky: Can you share what “a day in the life” of a successful author is like for readers? What does a writer do behind-the-scenes?
Brandon Mull: I’m always daydreaming about future books. Always laying plans. I want to stay busy, to keep new stuff coming. I have a lot of stories to share. I spend almost half of the year visiting schools and libraries and book stores. It consumes a lot of time, but it increases awareness of my books and lets me have a chance to be social. The other half of the year is spent at the computer and with my young family. I love a good book, a good movie, or a good conversation.
Becky: You write fantasy books. What do you love about the genre? Did you grow up reading fantasy? Do you have any favorites among the genre that you’d want to recommend? What series is your favorite? What author?
Brandon Mull: I love that fantasy books allow for enormous imagination in setting and character. I love that you can have realistic characters contending with a system of rules we would never encounter in the real world. I love the heroic aspects of fantasy, the adventure, the discovery of strange new places and beings. Some fantasy books really bore me. Sometimes the writing style can be so annoying I have to quit. Sometimes there are huge pacing problems. At their best, fantasies are my favorite. I try to read outside the fantasy genre a lot in order to freshen my writing style.
Becky: Did you have a reading hero growing up? Someone who encouraged you to read, to lose yourself in a good book?
Brandon Mull: My mom played a big role in getting me to love books. She read to me a lot, and in the process I decided that reading was fun.
Becky: Have you always wanted to be a writer? Has this always been a dream of yours?
Brandon Mull: Writing books professionally has always been my dream. I can’t express how relieved I am to be pulling it off. I feel very lucky. I realize that many talented people never get the right break.
Becky: If you could meet any author—past or present—who would you want the chance to get to know better?
Brandon Mull: Probably J.K. Rowling. Does that sound dumb? The right answer is probably Shakespeare or somebody. I guess part of it is that she seems so inaccessible now, hidden behind walls of wealth and popularity. But I genuinely think that overall, Harry Potter is the best young adult fantasy series I’ve read, and since I’m writing in that category, I would love to have a conversation with her about writing. Who would be my second choice? Hemingway. He’s pretty inaccessible too.
Becky: In your opinion, what makes a book a classic?
Brandon Mull: The book must powerfully engage readers regardless of when it is read. The timeless element is what makes it a classic.
Becky: How do you find time—do you find time—to keep reading? Do you have any recent favorites?
Brandon Mull: I don’t read as much as I would like. I just read the Dark Materials books. That guy has an impressive imagination.
Becky: If you had twenty-four hours, a time machine, and a limitless supply of money, what would you want to do?
Brandon Mull: Honestly, I’d probably throw the money into a 401k and stay put. I’m pretty conservative. I’d be worried I would somehow mess up the space-time continuum and prevent my own birth. If I were feeling adventurous, I’d make like Bill and Ted and try to visit a bunch of famous leaders/thinkers/religious figures. Maybe I’d track down Hemingway.