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Old 07-19-2013, 09:00 PM
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Default BYU Magazine Interview, January 24, 2013

There is a print portion and a video portion to this interview. The print portion is here; the video portion is included on the print web page, but is also given here. The transcript of the video is not included in the print interview; it is given below.

BYU Magazine Interview

Brandon Sanderson
When you've finished 12 novels and you haven't made a single dime, you really ought to, you know, have a long, hard look at what you're doing. And I did.

When I look back and say, what grabbed me? What was it? And I think it's partially the imagination, the sense of wonder. We as people like to go do this. We want to see new things. There's an adventurous, exploratory sense inside of us. And fantasy books are about that: taking us to places that we haven't been, that we can't go. But our imaginations can.

BYU Magazine
Adjunct instructor and BYU alum Brandon Sanderson (BA '00, MA '05) harnessed his imagination to write 12 manuscripts filled with magical worlds and inspiring characters–but after six years of writing, not one book had been accepted for publication.

Brandon Sanderson
These books that I'd started writing–you know, after the first six. The first five I thought, you know, were just practice. But, books six through about nine, I really put a lot into those. I felt I was getting really good as a writer. I felt I knew what I was doing, and I felt I was writing really good books.

I was getting stacks and stacks of rejections. And people were telling me, "Why don't you be more like this writer over here?" "Why don't you be more like this writer over here?" "Your novels are too big. They're too long. We can't buy things that are this long. Write them shorter."

And I had to make the decision that, at the end of my life, if I had a hundred unpublished novels in the closet, would I be okay with that? Would I be okay with never selling anything? I decided I was going to write the biggest, baddest, most awesome book that I could. I was going to ignore everything that people were telling me.

At that time, really popular in fantasy was kind of very gritty and dark fantasy. And I said, no, that's not what I want to write. I'm going to write heroic fantasy–you know, stories like I want to read.

By coincidence, it was a few months after I'd finished that book–I hadn't sent it anywhere–that someone called me wanting to buy Elantris, the sixth book that I'd written–that I'd really had felt would be the book that broke me out, all those years ago.

BYU Magazine
Once Sanderson published Elantris in 2005, the floodgates were open. By 2013, he had published 14 novels, including the final three books in the epic Wheel of Time series, whose original author, Robert Jordan, died in 2007.

Brandon Sanderson
It was kind of a–I don't know–a fulfillment for me that I was doing the right thing. But it was also this great moment where I realized, hey, people do want to read those things that I was doing.

I'm glad I had the crisis, and came out of it, before I sold the book. I'm glad that I was able to make the decision that this was what I wanted to do, and commit myself to writing, even if I never sold anything. And then it was perfectly all right and awesome for me to get a really nice book deal with a big New York publisher, and become a best seller. I'm perfectly okay with that now that it's happened.

BYU Magazine
Sanderson hit the New York Times Best Seller list six times in four years. With A Memory of Light, the 14th and final book in the Wheel of Time–delivered to a throng of die-hard fans at a BYU midnight release party in January 2013–Sanderson topped the list again.

Brandon Sanderson
Stories are about people; the stories aren't about the fantasy. When I read Tolkien, the story of Sam and Frodo and what they went through, and their determination, and Sam's loyalty–these are inspiring. This is what changes peoples' lives.

That's my goal in writing this. You know, people–real people–and the struggles they go through. And hopefully, by reading them, and having a fun time because it's an adventure, but at the same time, what should stay with you is the choices they make. And hopefully that will help the people who have read them to lead better lives.
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