Sunday, June 15, 2008

An impressive author

In these days of the internet opening lines of communication, have you ever noticed that it can be harder to get in contact with someone? Take authors for example. I've seen sites where they say "Mr. X reads all of his emails, but doesn't have the time to respond to every one. Please write anyways, because they like feeling loved and cherished by their fans." And I often think "Sure, and I read all the junk mail that comes to my house as well." Unwanted mail is still unwanted mail.

So, earlier yesterday I was visiting the website of Brandon Sanderson. Brandon is a fairly new author in the Fantasy genre. He's written the book Elantris, along with a trilogy called Mistborn - with book three coming out later this year.

Frankly, I had never heard of him before last fall. There are tons of authors in this genre, and not every one appeals to me. So how did I hear of Brandon? Well, it was in a news release from Tor Books:

Tor announces that the final novel in bestselling Robert Jordan’s legendary Wheel of Time® fantasy series will be completed by author Brandon Sanderson.

New York, NY: Friday, December 7, 2007

Tor Books announced today that novelist Brandon Sanderson has been chosen to finish the final novel in Robert Jordan’s bestselling Wheel of Time fantasy series. Robert Jordan, one of the greatest storytellers of the 20th and early 21st centuries, died September 16th after a courageous battle with the rare blood disease amyloidosis.

Like many other fans of the late, great Robert Jordan, I went "Huh?" Never heard of the guy. But apparently Harriet (RJ's widow) had suggested and approved of him - so done is done. And like so many fans of RJ, I went looking and found out more about Brandon, and read Elantris. It was really good! I'm presently working on Mistborn. Both have made me feel much better about what would come as book 12 in the Wheel of Time. The fact that I knew that he would be working from COPIOUS background information, including an outline for what was to happen in book 12, didn't hurt things.

So, yesterday I was on Brandon's website looking around. Not only does he offer another book for fans to download and read - the book isn't even published yet! He's seemingly beta testing one of his books. This is pretty brave. And he also has the obligatory section about emailing the author - except this one is different than many:

Brandon does try to reply to all of his reader mail. However, all time spent answering email is time he can't be writing, so sometimes he lets himself get backlogged. It may take several months to get a reply!

So I sent him an email, mentioning how I've enjoyed his work very much thus far, and that like many in the Wheel of Time fanbase, I'm EAGERLY awaiting the release of the final book the the rather massive series (11 books, all in the 700-900 pages size). I also had a question, because when I went looking at Amazon, I see that his books aren't available in ebook format. I figured, hey, the guy is offering his book for free in ebook format, why not make some money off of it? Everyone knows about the atypical "starving author" stereotype.

Well, shocker of shocker, I received a response today. Yes, less than a day later, Brandon responded, and at length.

I won't share the whole email, but will offer this from it:

I've been getting a lot of good wishes from Wheel of Time fans, and frankly I'm humbled at how positive and supportive everyone is being. We lost a great man, and I know I can't replace him. But I CAN make sure we all get to read that last book as he intended.

As someone who was truly saddened by the untimely death of Robert Jordan, I am very happy that the person who is trying to finish his work is so equally indebted to him for his contribution to the genre. I am also impressed by how friendly and approachable he is being as he carries this yoke of expectation upon his shoulders.

If you have any enthusiasm for the fantasy genre, I highly recommend Brandon's works thus far. Not only are they great reads, but he's a really nice guy!

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