Interview with Brandon Mull, Part Two!

I had the privilege of interviewing Brandon Mull for a second time after reading his new book, Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, book 4 of his Fablehaven series. Here’s what he had to say:

Chris Howard: This book certainly has some huge reveals and some of the most heart pounding moments to date! Have you known where the series was going from the beginning?

Brandon Mull: I daydream about my books until I see them like movies in my mind.  Sometimes I let the ideas stew and evolve for years.  I had a plan for the five Fablehaven books from the start.  I like having plans because then I can create webs of set-ups and pay-offs.  I love it when something in book four can throw new light back onto events in books 2 and 3.  Although I have fairly elaborate plans before I start writing, the stories inevitably continue to change as I make discoveries while bringing to life the individual scenes.

CH: The once complaint that I hear from some reviewers is that Seth bugs the daylights out of them with his getting into trouble! Personally, I enjoy it 😉 Seth seems to be growing up a little bit though here. Is that a natural progression or are you just pulling our leg a little bit and making us think he’s grown up?

BM: Seth is growing up and getting more mature with his decision making.  But he is still drawn to the forbidden, and he remains somewhat too daring for his own good.  I think many adults respond to Seth by wanting to strangle him because most adults have learned caution.  We hate to see needless heartache, and we fear for the children in our lives, not wanting them to bring unnecessary suffering upon themselves through careless choices.  But kids enjoy daring and adventure, so you might not be surprised to hear that among boys 10-13, Seth is often the favorite character.  If the adults want to spank him, and the kids enjoy and relate to him, I know I’ve written him correctly.

CH:  Dragons play a huge role in this novel! And all of your dragons are unique in their own way. How was the experience of creating them?

BM: To me, dragons are the most iconic fantasy creature.  I reserved them for later in the series so the books could have a feeling of crescendo. I wanted to do justice to the dragons, to write them as majestic and impressive as I have always imagined them. Part of my goal was to create a lot of variety among the dragons. I didn’t want species of dragons so much as a collection of unique individuals. As the writer of Fablehaven, a big part of my job is to take familiar creatures and put a new spin on them. I’m content with the dragons in book 4.

CH: Sadly, there’s only one book left in the Fablehaven series. What are the plans after that?

BM: Lots of plans. A three book series about a kid who crosses over into another world. This one has been cooking in my head for about ten years, and I think readers will really enjoy it. Fablehaven 5 should come out spring 2010, and then the new series should start spring 2011. I’m also toying with the idea of a sequel to The Candy Shop War. The sequel remains a few years away.

In general, I have lots of plans for future projects. I’ll never write all of my ideas. But hopefully I’ll get out one or two each year. Expect a book or two a year for a long time. I’m confident that the best is yet to come.

CH:  I loved Brandon Dorman’s art in this book and I see at the end of the book that the pair of you are teaming up for a picture book to be released in the Fall! Can you tell us a little about that?

BM: My first picture book comes out at the end of this summer. It is called Pingo, and deals with a kid whose imaginary friend becomes his imaginary enemy when he tries to stop believing in him. That may sound psycho, but it turned out fun and funny, a story about friendship and imagination. The art is done by Brandon Dorman, who has done all of my covers and interiors to date. I’ve seen it, and the art is amazingly fun.

CH: The question everybody has been dying to hear answered….what’s going on with the movie?!

BM: Movies either happen slow, or, occasionally, fast. Both Candy Shop War and Fablehaven are moving forward slowly. Both are still under option by major players, and I remain optimistic. I’ll post updates when I have news at Fablehaven.com

CH: Reviews of the Fablehaven books have been springing up more frequently in the blogging community. Do you think the blogging community has had any effect on your marketing/book sales?

BM: Word of mouth is the biggest factor in book sales, and blogging is the online embodiment of word of mouth. So yes, the blogs are helping. I’m a new author. My first novel, Fablehaven, was published in 2006. So my audience is disproportionate right now. In the areas where the books are known, word of mouth is huge and they are smoking hot. In some fairly large areas of the country Fablehaven is the book to read in schools and in constant library circulation with tons of holds. These areas account for my success on the bestseller lists. But in other areas of the country the books remain almost unknown. My books are up for young readers awards in many states, and in other states, the books are absent from many schools and community libraries. I see bloggers as a big way to help the books get discovered in new areas.

CH: Have you found that you’re gaining a larger adult audience for your books? Or is it still mostly children/teens?

BM: I have lots of teens and adults reading the books. I think this is largely because I’m trying to write books I would enjoy, and I am a 34-year-old man. Don’t get me wrong. I leave the books accessible to kids. These are not adult fantasy. But many adults have fun with them and eagerly come out to my book signings with or without kids.

CH: You had a huge Fablehaven celebration last year for the release of Book 3! Anything planned for the release of book 4? A tour maybe?

BM: I’ll be touring for book 4. We had another huge launch party in Salt Lake, and drew a crowd of 3,000. It was tons of fun. I tour a lot. Fablehaven.com has my schedule in my author section. And you can sign up for a newsletter at Fablehaven.com or BrandonMull.com.

CH: Finally, have you had any time to read anything yourself recently, and if so, what’s on your bookshelf?

BM: Recently I read the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix and Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov.


Other Fablehaven links at Stuff as Dreams are Made on:

Interview with Brandon Mull
Review of Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague
Review of Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star

Buy the Books:
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5 Responses

  1. Another wonderful interview!

    I can’t tell you how excited I am about Pingo!

  2. I am not into Dragons but I know someone who is!

    BTW – Placebo’s Black Market Music is one of my fave CDs. I love listening to it to clean.

  3. I’ve said it before and I’ll said it again: I need to read this series!

  4. Er, I’ll SAY it.

    Also, Brandon Mull has good taste in books 😛

  5. Since Brandon lives by me, he’s one of the authors that I would love to interview. But I’ve only read the first book. I must finish the rest before I can even think about it. Great interview Chris!

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