Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Brandon Sanderson: Dude, How Do You Do It?

So, the internet is in a bit of a buzz today from a press release from Tor Books about Brandon Sanderson publishing two novels that were essentially unexpected. One is a new original alternate history of the US (with magic of course) and the other is a new installment in his Mistborn books, though it’s pretty far removed from the original trilogy. I’ve copied most of the press release at the end of this post for more details.

But, I’m more interested in how he does it and I will speculate a bit based on what I’ve seen Brandon say on the internet and from conversations I had with him during the The Gathering StormWarbreaker book tour.

It’s all smoke and mirrors – yep you heard me, smoke and mirrors (OK, just sort of). Brandon writes a lot, a whole lot, but not at the prodigious speed that he seems to with multiple books coming out. Really, it goes back to when he sold the Elantris and Mistborn. He had written and sold them several years before they were actually published. During the intervening time Brandon was not idol – he kept writing just as much as always. Combine this with his spending so much time prior to selling a novel writing them – I think it was 7 that he wrote before he ever sold one. Now I’m sure these were pretty rough, but I’m also sure that Brandon keeps those concepts in the bank and happily withdraws them when appropriate.

Also, Brandon like working on multiple projects at the same time – it’s one of the things that keeps him fresh and excited. He generally is writing one book and editing another, but sometimes he burns out on a project he’s been working on a while and takes a break from it by writing on another. During his break between writing Towers of Midnight and starting on A Memory of Light, he dusted off an idea for a Mistborn novella. He went crazy with it and it grew into a full-length novel that will be published as Mistborn: The Alloy of Law.

So, does Brandon really write something like 3 or 4 novels a year? Not really, it just looks that way. Mostly he benefited from the scheduling of his book releases and a big backlog. In reality he’s writing more like 1 or 2 books a year. Of course that’s still a pretty phenomenal rate especially considering he often writes 1000-page door stoppers.

Currently he writes something like 12-14 hours a day to meet the needs of finishing up The Wheel of Time. Brandon has said that will end with the Wheel of Time and he’ll drop back to much more reasonable daily hours. Knowing this, in the future we shouldn’t expect the same in-human production we see now, it’ll drop to just super-human production.

And the upside to all of this is that I like Brandon’s writing and it looks like there will a lot of it to read. Excellent!

Tor Books is proud to announce the acquisition of two new novels by acclaimed fantasy author Brandon Sanderson, whose recent book Towers of Midnight, Book Thirteen in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time®, recently debuted at #1 on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and ABA National Indiebound bestseller lists. Sanderson is also the author of New York Times bestselling novels The Way of Kings, The Gathering Storm, The Mistborn Trilogy, Warbreaker, Elantris, and the middle grade “Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians” series. He is currently working on A Memory of Light, the 14th and final volume in The Wheel of Time, and planning a sequel to The Way of Kings.

Sanderson’s first new project will be an original, standalone short novel set in the universe of his Mistborn trilogy (Mistborn, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages). Sanderson previously announced plans for a sequel trilogy set in the far future of that world, and the new novel, entitled Mistborn: The Alloy of Law, is set during a frontier era where “allomancy” meets gunplay. The Alloy of Law will be published in late 2011.

Sanderson’s second project, titled The Rithmatist, was first drafted in 2007 and perfected this year. Set in an alternate-history America where magic users (called “Rithmatists”) battle wild chalk creatures, The Rithmatist introduces Joel, a student at the Rithmatist academy with great interest in but no ability to use the magic. But when students start vanishing, it’s up to him to expose the sinister figure behind the disappearances. The Rithmatist will be published in 2012 after the publication of A Memory of Light.

*Random point of interest - The protagonist in The Rithmatist is named Joel, as is Brandon's oldest son.


Jamie Gibbs said...

I've yet to read a Brandon Sanderson novel, though the Mistborn trilogy has cropped up in Waterstones since the release of Towers of Midnight. I'm hoping to get my hands on a copy of The Way of Kings sometime soon, I want that to be my entry point into his work.
I've been following him on his Writing Excuses podcast, and I'm really impressed with the amount of work he puts into his writing, as well as how much he's able to do. The man is a powerhouse, and I salute him. Do you reckon that's enough compliements to land me a copy of The Way of Kings for review? Hehe.
Seriously though, I admire Sanderson a lot for his passion and his determination. From what I've heard too, his writing skill is second to none also.

Ted Cross said...

I read the prologue to the Mistborn series the other day. I mostly liked it, though there were some moments that didn't feel true, such as the MC passing out all of his food even though the text suggests that he travels quite some distance between towns, so you would think he would need some of that food. Anyhow, I wish I could even do one book a year.

trendkill said...


If you were to continue reading the book, it would make much more sense why he does this. The least spoiler-iffic explanation I can give is that he is more than capable of both finding food and also traveling much faster than the average person.

bloggeratf said...

This is a little known fact, but BS is actually three people...


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