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Brandon Sanderson se livre à nos questions

Par Thys, le mercredi 20 décembre 2006 à 14:00:32

Interview with Brandon Sanderson, english version

Elantris was a splendid debut last year, in America. How do you manage your success?

It wasn’t easy to manage to get published! But, it wasn’t impossible, either.

When I started writing my first books, I was twenty-one. At that time, someone told me that an aspiring author’s first five books were generally terrible. This depressed me, but I’ve long believed in the power of good, solid, determination. I knew that there were other aspiring writers who had more talent than I - in fact, I still have several friends that I’m convinced had more raw ability than I ever did.

I decided that others while might have more talent, I’d work harder than them. So, I started writing. I wrote that first book, then moved on to a second, then a third. . .eventually, I’d written five books. I said to myself “Well, the terrible ones are out of the way! Time to get to business.” I started marketing my works - but I never stopped writing books. I had become a writer, even though I’d never sold anything.

When I finally got the call from an editor wanting to purchase ELANTRIS, I was at work on my thirteenth novel! (And I write mostly big fantasy books of 1000+ manuscript pages, so those weren’t short books.) However, I really think that my dedication and work ethic paid off. I learned the craft. I got better and better at writing. I really think it’s like learning any other art - you don’t start out brilliant! If you want to learn piano, you have to play your scales. Those books I never published were my scales.

Elantris was my sixth book. I wrote it, and several others, while working a grave graveyard shift at a local hotel. The manager there let me write novels while I was on shift, since it was generally so quiet during those hours. I wrote full time, went to school full time, and worked full time.

Eventually, I got that call - the one from an editor wanting to buy one of my books. I think by that point I’d earned it! And, I think that because I spent so long honing my craft, I had a head start when I actually did get published. Some authors publish the first book they write, then have trouble writing a second. Or, they get some bad reviews because their first book has the feel of one written by a new author. ELANTRIS has gone into three hardback printings, has been sold in thirteen languages so far, and got excellent reviews in all of the major review sources (including a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.) I was able to ‘hit the ground running’ so to speak because ELANTRIS, while my first published, wasn’t by a long shot the first I’d ever written.

As for how I manage my success right now, I just try to keep topping myself! I want each book to be better than the one before.

Calmann-Lévy has bought the rights of Elantris for France. By the way, will you be consulted about the French translation of your work ?Would you like it ?

The only translator who has contacted me was the one from the Dutch publisher. I guess the others don’t have any questions!

I think it is great when they contact me, but they don’t need to. Only when they have questions they don’t understand about the book. I trust the publishers to make great translations out of the novels.

You have already an impressive list of books to be published in future, even with your Mistborn trilogy. Do you just can’t stop writing ?

I will never stop writing! I just sold a young adult series to Scholastic (they publish Harry Potter over here) and am contracted for four books with them. And, you just mentioned the Mistborn trilogy, which I’m very proud of. Though only the first book is out, I’ve written all three of them already.

I love to write. I just can’t stop doing it. If people want to read more of my work, I’m releasing a free book on my website! It’s called Warbreaker, and you can find the chapters from it here:


If people read it, please give me feedback! I am releasing a free book for several reasons.

First off, I wanted to get a book done that I could use in promotion, releasing for download on my website. Hopefully, people will read it and go buy my books in the stores! Second off, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who made Elantris such a success. Third off, I wanted to see how it would work to get comments from readers via a message board during the writing process. Fourth off, I hoped it would be helpful to new writers, as they could see my process from rough draft (which is what I'm posting now) to polished final (Which probably won't be done for another year or so.)

Tor has already said they'll publish Warbreaker in hardback, assuming the Mistborn books sell well. They're hoping, as I am, that the free online version will translate to more sales for Mistborn, and eventually Warbreaker, when it's finally released.

What do you think about special editions of books, which could include deleted scenes, new artworks, etc ? Would you be interested at it ?

I think it would be awesome! I already do a lot of this (Elantris deleted scenes and extra background information is available on my website.) I’d love to publish a special edition book, as well. I think more authors should do this.

What is your opinion about the fantasy genre ? What are your favorite authors ? Is there a sense of competition between you ?

I have always loved the fantasy genre. I started reading it when I was very young, and still admire it greatly. There’s so much imagination and creativity in it.

I have been a little worried about it lately. It seems that everyone wants to write the exact same stories! We’ve had enough of young peasant boys going on quests. I think those series were great when they were published, but we don’t need to keep doing the same thing. I think we’ll see a lot more originality in the genre in the coming years.

Here are some of my favorite authors:

Science Fiction: Anything by Orson Scott Card, DUNE, and Asimov’s works are my favorites. (Card’s Ender’s series are probably my favorite books of any genre.)

Mainstream Fantasy: Tad Williams, Robert Jordan, L. E. Modesitt, David Farland, Robin Hobb, Melanie Rawn are just a few. David Eddings was my favorite when I was a young teen.

Young Adult: Harry Potter! Lemony Snicket, Diana Wynne Jones, and Garth Nix.

Finally, competition. I really don’t feel it. I think that in books, we all feel that the more people who read, the better. If someone reads a Harry Potter book and loves it, I hope that they will then search for other fantasy books to read! It’s less a competition between authors, and more a competition between all of the authors and things like video games and movies.

Internet seems to be a really important tool for you…How do you develop those features ?

Well, I like the concept of ‘Special Edition DvDs’ like Lord of the Rings, where there is a lot of bonus information. I figure that if someone is going to spend as much as they do for books, then they should get plenty to go along with the package! So, I though “what can I put on my website that will be interesting for people.” As a result, I started doing annotations of every chapter (like a director’s commentary), Deleted scenes, and story prompts (to help aspiring writers see how I generate ideas.) I hope all of this is useful to people!

How would you define your relation with fans ? Can their expectations sometimes weigh you down ?

Yes, a little bit. It’s hard because Elantris was so well-received. Everyone loved it. It made me wonder if I could ever do anything to top it. I don’t want my first book to be my best!

Mostly, however, fans are just encouraging. They send me wonderful emails that keep me writing and feeling good about my writing. I love hearing from them! Fans in sf/f aren’t like rabid fans in movies or film. They’re very literate and discerning. I feel like they’re my colleagues, and I am writing books to bring them joy, if possible.

Are you influenced by book reviews, or do you seek to write something that satisfies you in the first place?

I think every author is influenced by book reviews. How can we not be? Of course, I want to write books that I love first and foremost. But, it is hard to get a bad review, even if it doesn’t happen very often. It is also hard to see some authors, who haven’t worked very hard on their books (celebrities or the like) sell so many copies when I have to struggle so hard to make a living at writing. However, I consider myself very lucky to be doing what I love and making money at it.

Do you have any book recommendations for our readers, fantasy or otherwise?

Sure! If you haven’t discovered Ender’s Game yet, I suggest that. Also, Garth Nix’s Sabriel and, lesser known, Barbara Hambly’s Dragonsbane.

Last but not least, is there anything you wish to share with your (future) French fans ?

Yes, of course! Please, keep reading! It’s so important. It has changed my life. When I was younger - in grade school - I was a big reader. However, I stopped by the time I reached Jr. High. Interestingly, my grades did as well.

At that age, I’d never heard of fantasy, and people kept trying to give me other books to read. Most of these were realistic fiction - the types of books that bored me out of my skull. Because of this, my reading habits dribbled off, and I landed in junior high as a “C” student who just didn’t care about studying or learning.

Then I had a wonderful English teacher - Ms. Reader, ironically - who told gave me her copy of Dragonsbane, by Barbara Hambly. (I mentioned it above.)

That was the beginning of the end for me! I was amazed by the book - I hadn’t realized that there were things like the fantasy genre out there. The book engaged my imagination to an extent none ever had. I read through every book in the Library that had “Dragon” in the title, then quickly move on to the bookstore, buying whatever fantasy I could get my hands on.

By the time I hit high school, I was an ‘A’ student. I had something I loved, and I think that fantasy novels changed my life. Reading does something to the imagination and the brain, I think, making a person more determined and thoughtful.

So, keep reading!

  1. Entretien avec Brandon Sanderson, version française
  2. Interview with Brandon Sanderson, english version

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