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Brandon Mull
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Brandon Mull   Brandon Mull is the New York Times bestselling young adult author of the Fablehaven series (Fablehaven, Rise of the Evening Star, Grip of the Shadow Plague, Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, and Keys to the Demon Prison), The Candy Shop War, and Pingo. He is well known for visiting over 600 schools.

Buy Brandon Mull's Books at the following locations: (downloadable audio books) (independent bookstores)
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This episode originally aired on 01/28/2010 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with Brandon Mull

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Bonus Question(s) that Didn't Air on the Live Radio Show

Note that you can also listen to this while you read it.

Matthew Peterson: Let me ask you the bonus questions.

Brandon Mull: Sure.

Matthew Peterson: So youíve done 650 school visits, thereabouts?

Brandon Mull: Yep.

Matthew Peterson: Whatís the funnest thing about doing school visits?

Brandon Mull: Um . . . .

Matthew Peterson: Or was there a funny experience that happened when you were doing them?

Brandon Mull: For me, one of my coolest experiences was when I did school visits in Hawaii, because it was really neat. At the start of every school presentation that I did, little Hawaiian kids would come up and put leis on me.

Matthew Peterson: Oh!

Brandon Mull: This was on Kawaii and Oahu. And so it was just like ridiculously cute and friendly and welcoming.

Matthew Peterson: Ah.

Brandon Mull: That was really fun. In general, itís fun to do school visits because itís an interesting way to see the country. Where instead of going to necessarily see landmarks or sights, you go into communities and you meet with teachers and kids and readers, and you go to libraries and bookstores and schools and kind of get more the vibe of the community than you would just as a casual tourist.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. I agree. School visits are definitely my favorite thing to do.

Brandon Mull: Itís a great way to stay connected with readers too, you know what I mean? Like as you talk to these kids about what youíre writing, it becomes pretty quickly apparent what they like about what you are writing, you know what I mean? And what theyíre eager to hear more of or what bores them or what interests them. And thatís healthy I think, to kind of stay in touch with your audience.

Matthew Peterson: And these kids will remember you for the rest of their lives. We only had a few guests when I was in elementary school, but I still remember those guests. And Iím sure many of the thousands of kids that youíve spoken to, same thing, they will remember you their whole lives.

Brandon Mull: Yeah, hopefully, hopefully. If you bring them a good message, and if youíre writing fun books. And once a kid reads a book and likes a book, thatís when an author becomes a celebrity in their minds, you know what I mean?

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Brandon Mull: Once they go, ďOh wow! That took me on a great ride!Ē Then all of a sudden theyíre excited to meet you or even shy to meet you, which is funny and cute.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah. And they see you in the grocery store or something: ďWerenít you at my school?Ē [laughs]

Brandon Mull: Right. Yeah. Iíve totally had that. Iíve had that exact moment, like little shy kids peaking down isles at the grocery store and . . .

Matthew Peterson: Yep. [laughs] Well, let me ask you one more quick question. Whatís the best thing about being an author?

Brandon Mull: The most satisfying thing about being an author is being able to take these stories that have lived in my mind for so long and share them with other people.

Matthew Peterson: Mmm. Okay.

Brandon Mull: I literally felt a lot of my life like I was going around with this secret life in my head that nobody knew about.

Matthew Peterson: Uh, huh.

Brandon Mull: And this is a way to share something thatís . . . these stories have been a big part of my life, my whole life basically, and itís really neat and weird and cool to share them and actually have other people enjoy them.

Matthew Peterson: And get paid to do it. [laughs]

Brandon Mull: Yeah, I know. Thatís the big fat relief part of being . . . of whatís happened with my career is that itís found enough of an audience that itís comfortably the day job. And who doesnít dream about that? Having their hobby become their job and pay the bills, you know?

Matthew Peterson: Yep, yep.

Extra Material That was Cut from the Show Because of Time Constraints

Note that you can also listen to this while you read it (you'll need to fast forward past the bonus questions).

Brandon Mull: And they do lots of grassroots, lots of person-to-person kind of contact with their authors.

* * * * * * * * * *

Matthew Peterson: Now you definitely came up with this idea, you know, years and years ago. Have you seen the new TV show Sanctuary?

Brandon Mull: I havenít seen Sanctuary, yet. No, no. Iíve heard of it.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, I watched the first season. I havenít watched the second one yet, but itís kind of a little bit similar where thereís these mystical people and creatures. Basically theyíre humans that have been altered, and they have these sanctuaries . . . [laughs]

Brandon Mull: Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: . . . where they keep them away from the populous, so the people donít know about them

Brandon Mull: Yeah, yeah, itís a . . . sounds like my kind of thing. Iíve always been a sucker for fantasy. [Side note: Sanctuary is more science fiction than fantasy. Itís also geared for adults, not kids.]

* * * * * * * * * *

Matthew Peterson: [More questions from the fans] And did the Sphinx give Kendra the backpack to help her escape?

Brandon Mull: That has to remain a mystery. Itís a pretty good guess, but it has to remain a mystery. Thatís something from book 4.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, okay.

Brandon Mull: You will find out who gave her the backpack in book 5. Itís an event that happens in book 4.

Matthew Peterson: Okay. And this is an interesting one: After Seth stole the horn from the centaurs, Grandpa stated that Seth "would be the death of him." Was this a foreshadowing or simply casual talk?

Brandon Mull: We will have to see. We will have to see. Itís a good question, but it would reveal too much to say either way.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, you can tell these kids have been thinking about this.

Brandon Mull: Those are good questions. Those are questions from readers whoíve given the series a close reading.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Brandon Mull: You know, I try to write the books in such a way that close careful readers get rewarded for paying attention: lots of little hints and lots of little things that Iíll drop in book 2 will then go on to have more significance when you read 4 and 5. I like it when a series does that and I assume readers like it as well. Thatís why I do it.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

* * * * * * * * * *

Brandon Mull: I think Candy Shop War has a ton of cinematic potential. I know my agentís still a big believer in it. So weíll just see. Itís kind of the same story as Fablehaven. There seems to be a good deal of interest, but we donít have a production schedule yet.

* * * * * * * * * *

Brandon Mull: [referring to Candy Shop War teaching kids to take candy from strangers] If they read the first, you know, like the first third and then quit, they could complain about that.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Brandon Mull: But anyone who reads the whole book would complain about the opposite. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Yep, yep. [laughs]

Brandon Mull: Yeah, yeah.

* * * * * * * * * *

Brandon Mull: Yeah, I know, itís fun. All my books have a little bit of psychotic-ness to them, just Ďcause to me thatís partly what makes the story interesting: is kind of a strange hook or strange twists and turns. And Pingoís definitely this idea that, you know . . . well: what made me think about it in the first place was trying to decide when and why I ended my relationship with my imaginary friend as a kid.

Matthew Peterson: Uh, huh.

Brandon Mull: And I thought a fun way to explore that would be, ďWhat if you tried to break up with your imaginary friend and the imaginary friend wouldnít go away--just became your enemy instead?Ē And so even though that can be sort of a psychotic premise . . .

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Brandon Mull: . . . I end up taking it down a funny road.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Brandon Mull: Itís just a story about friendship and imagination. Itís my only childrenís, little kid, illustrated picture book Iíve written it so far. The reason I wrote it was Ďcause Iíve got three kids of my own who are six, three, and one and I realized I hadnít written anything for them.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, yeah.

Brandon Mull: So yeah. So I was just like, ďIím kind of a jerk dad. I better write something for the kids.Ē

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Brandon Mull: And Pingo just really fell into place. The illustrator is Brandon Dorman. And heís illustrated all my other books and interiors and Iíve got a really good relationship with him. And he totally delivered on Pingo--made a really terrific illustrated kids book.

Matthew Peterson: Well your books are definitely well illustrated. The covers are, of the books that are out there, just very good. So I do have to say that. And Pingo--I havenít seen Pingo--but if, you know, the same illustrator did those, then it must be... it must be good, Ďcause the illustrations are just fantastic.

Brandon Mull: Yeah. Pingo is my newest thing. It just barely came out at the end of this past summer. So if youíve got little kids, itís the Brandon Mull book for your little kids. Itís worth checking out. The good thing about a picture book is you can browse it really easily.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Brandon Mull: Like it takes two minutes to see what youíre buying and to see if youíd want your kids to have it.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

* * * * * * * * * *

Matthew Peterson: [referring to Brandonís dancing at the Book Babe event with Stephanie Meyer] I hear youíve done some comedy. Youíve done some comedy, and youíve done a lot of different things.

Brandon Mull: Yeah, no, I ran a sketch comedy troupe for a bunch of years. So if Iím going to dance, itís going to be like funny, goofy dancing.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.[laughs]

Brandon Mull: Not anything that would ever land me a dancing gig.

* * * * * * * * * *

Brandon Mull: But thatíll start in 2011. So the year after Fablehaven ends, weíll see this new Beyonders series start. And Simon and Schuster has made a real commitment to it. I think itíll have probably the biggest push of my books so far.

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