Storm Leader Report: Washington D.C.
This is the seventh of our Storm Leader reports we'll be posting throughout the U.S. book tour for
A "birthday present" for Brandon
"Who is your favorite WoT character?"
"I killed Asmodean"
There were also several young kids who asked sincere questions about the Alcatraz books, and Brandon gave hysterical answers. He said he wrote the books wanting to make glasses cool, and breaking things an asset. He also expressed his everlasting hatred of fish sticks, contrasted with his undying love for macaroni and cheese. Brandon told Coulter, aged 7, that he tries to order macaroni and cheese whenever possible, as he considers it a personal quest to identify the best macaroni and cheese in the world.
We also had several people talk about how they had been inspired to try writing because of Brandonâ€™s works â€“ and Brandon offered them genuine encouragement. When he used an â€œitâ€™s like practicing the pianoâ€¦â€ simile, one of the aspiring authors lit up in understanding, as he currently is a jazz music major. As he dispensed advice, I was awed by just how much Brandon practiced before he ever was published. I think I have been too quick to dismiss â€œgoodâ€ vs. â€œbadâ€ authors in my life as some sort of inherent talent, without paying attention to how much behind-the-scenes work they put into their craft. By Brandonâ€™s count, he wrote 13 books before Elantris. I asked if we would ever get the chance to see any of them, and he laughed in embarrassment, saying he wouldnâ€™t want to diminish his brand by attempting to sell inferior works. (He mentioned there was ONE book that might be salvageable, but he hoped the others never saw the light of day). He has no shortage of ideas, though! I counted him referencing at LEAST 17 distinct books he either expressly planned or hoped to write. When I called him on that, he enthusiastically remarked that he had far more books planned then he knew what to do with, and was everyday thankful that he had fans who enabled this compulsive writing addiction of his. I, for one, will long be grateful that heâ€™s only 33, and will have such a long, long time to bring these ideas to fruition. I expect Iâ€™ll be continuing to buy his works the week they come out for as long as there are books to buy.
My last comment of the day is that I noted lots of people asking him â€œwhat do I read next?â€ or â€œwhat are your favorite books?â€ throughout the evening. So I compiled a list of every book, whether young adult or adult fiction, Brandon referenced in a positive light. Many of them I had already read, but there were several I had never even heard of. So here, my fellow Dragonmount friends, is an official list of Brandon Sanderson Recommends Â®
Patrick Rothfuss: The Name of the Wind (Sanderson must have sold several copies of Rothfussâ€™s book last night. He practically ordered one guy to take his signed Gathering Storm, walk downstairs, and buy Name of the Wind off the shelf before leaving the store.)
Barbara Hambly: Dragonsbane
Jane Yolen: The Pit Dragon Trilogy
Melanie Rawn: Dragon Prince (he once set this one on fire, surreptitiously reading it by candlelight after his mom had turned out the lights and sent him to bed.)
Terry Pratchett: recommends starting with Guards! Guards!
Vernor Vinge: A Fire Upon the Deep
Jim Butcher: The Dresden Files
Robin Hobb: various trilogies, including the Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies
- Adam Rex
By Storm Leader Steve
When I first heard that Brandon Sanderson had been asked to complete the Wheel of Time series, my first thought was, "Who?" I went online, and was pleased to find that Brandon is a very e-author. He is constantly online and interacting with his readers. Between his blog, Twitter, his forums, and the Writing Excuses recordings, he seems to be active all the time. In fact, I can't imagine how he has time to write given his other activities and the responsibilities of a father. I read an early draft of Warbreaker online before it was released, and was pleasantly surprised. I then bought and read Elantris, and truly became a fan.
Having now met Brandon and shared a meal with him, I can say that I am even more impressed than before. He is a very engaging man. He showed an interest in everybody he met last night. Brandon asked questions of many of his fans, wanting to get to know at least something about his readers, then incorporating those things into his book personalizations. He did this for me, referencing a story I told him over dinner on the cover page of my Warbreaker hardback. Whether it was talking to women who husbands are serving in Afghanistan, or agreeing with a little boy about how much he dislikes fish sticks, Brandon was always engaged. This is no small task, as he met several hundred people last night.
Brandon was also great at answering questions. He occasionally gave a RAFO answer, but he tried very hard to answer questions if there was any way to do so. Over dinner, I asked him a question about the final scene in The Gathering Storm as it relates to one of Min's visions from The Eye of the World. Brandon asked me to rephrase my question several times so that he would be able to answer it without saying "RAFO." Eventually, I came up with a version he felt comfortable answering. His answers combined the most intriguing aspects of Robert Jordan's mysterious answers with a youthful eagerness and passion for the material and the readers.
He was also passionate about the characters. When asked about why Matt somehow seems different in tGS than in the earlier books, Brandon explained that the changes were intentional. How, he asked, could Matt have lived through the events in his plotline at the end of Knife of Dreams and not come out a changed man?
This is just one example of how Brandon seems to have a vision for A Memory of Light. Although he credits nearly all of the book's success to Robert Jordan, Harriett, and Maria, he clearly has strong opinions about how to achieve Jordan's vision. Based on my first reading of The Gathering Storm and my experience with Brandon last night, I think Harriett made a wise choice -- the conclusion to the Wheel of Time is in good hands.
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