Page 2 of 4
By Patrick (2006-02-23)
What author makes you shake your head in admiration?
Brandon: Just one? There are so many that do such a good job. Recently, I've been wishing I had Victor Hugo's depth of characterization and Orson Scott Card's ability to plot. Yet, I admire people like L.E. Modessitt Jr. for their ability to work hard, and long, to establish themselves as a consistent force in the genre. I greatly admire George R. R. Martin's ability to storytell without actually enjoying his stories, and I think that Neil Gaiman is the most amazing genre-hopper that has ever existed! And, of course, for pure fantasy writing, Robin Hobb and Tad Williams never cease to impress me.
You're headed for "Survivor Island" for a year. You get one book, one movie and one CD. What do you choose?
Brandon: Ha! Well, I'd have to go with the Robert Jordan omnibus edition (it has to be forthcoming, right?) because that thing will be big enough to make into a raft in case I get trapped on the island. Movie will be Emperor's New Groove, because it has a magical ability to be watched a million times without getting old. CD would be Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf, because if you're going to be trapped on an island for a year, you're gonna want something you can really sing along with.
Tor is now recognized as the very best fantasy publisher and has been for years. L. E. Modesitt, jr. once told me that Tom Doherty is probably the most underappreciated man in fantasy. Do you agree with that?
Brandon: Most definitely. People don't understand just how much of the soul of that company IS Tom Doherty. He started the company with a dream, and made it into what it is today--a huge force in the market that still has the feel of a 'mom and pop' style publisher.
Tom just a class act. He's the CEO and founder of the company, but he read ELANTRIS to give me editorial advice--me, a nobody with a tiny contract that had been picked up by one of the editorial assistants. He knew how much it would mean to my editor, and to me, and so he read the book. Plus, I'm sure he wants to keep an eye on his company and maker certain the work getting published lives up to his vision for the company.
Do you think the presidents of Random House or Pocket read and give advice on the books by their best-sellers, let alone their new authors?
I have to admit that the reason which compelled me to pick up Elantris the first time was the distinctive cover art. How important is cover art to you, in terms of a marketing tool?
Brandon: Ha! I think you probably just hit upon the most stressful thing for authors in the publishing process. We have control over pretty much all of the content except the cover, and--as you can imagine--we worry about how things are going to turn out.
For my first book, Tor let me see some of the artists they were considering, and I was able to suggest the one I liked the best--and they ended up picking him. I was very pleased with the way the ELANTRIS cover turned out. Stephen Martiniere is a brilliant artist, and I was amazed by the cover the first time I saw it.
Anyway, back to the question at hand, I think that cover art is very important. Books are sold in two ways: Through word of mouth, and through browsing. The cover art has a great deal to do with that second one. Perhaps more, even, than the content.
What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write Elantris in the first place?
Brandon: Here's the thing about my writing process--I don't write a book off of one spark. That's, perhaps, why I like to post story ideas on my blog. I give those away to people, letting them read the kinds of ideas I have so that they can, perhaps, get a boost in their own writing.
For me, a book comes from the interesting combination of a number of ideas. For instance, in ELANTRIS, I had a number of ideas combine in an interesting way. The first was the idea to write a story about someone thrown into a magical leper colony. The second was the idea for a person who was bound to a wedding contract when her 'husband' died before she even met him. Another was the idea of an 'evil missionary' working to convert for numbers, not for faith. Then there was the idea of the language, which was separate from the idea of drawing runes in the air. It all came together, and I had a novel!