Saturday, November 20, 2010

Brandon Sanderson Book Tour Review

This was an oversight on my part not posting this earlier. Reading date was Sep 14 2010

The Short Version: The fantasy community turns out in force to hear a great reading by an author I admit to knowing nothing about. The author demonstrated a rare display of humanity not seen before at any author reading and joined the cause to support small book stores.

Never been personally attracted to Fantasy literature but this blog is not about the genre. It’s about the author, how they present their product and are they worth going to see.

With Jonathan Franzen in town tonight charging $50 bucks a ticket I decided to give “some guy” named Brandon Sanderson a listen. I don’t have time to check out Mr. Sanderson prior to attending and I admit know nothing about him or his work. I decide to show up believing that it is going to be a quiet reading with few people attending.

Sometimes I’m not so bright.

This “some guy” turned out to draw the biggest crowd I have yet to see at the University Book store. It was to the point that staff were moving back shelves of books and squeezing in every chair they could and it still wasn’t enough room. If the fire marshal walked inside his teeth would have fallen out of his mouth.

The size of the crowd wasn’t the only first to this reading. I was shocked to find out how many had read a book after only three weeks post release. By my count nearly twelve people were reading the book while they waited for Mr. Sanderson to appear.

Mr. Sanderson new novel “The Way of Kings” is the first of a ten part series. At a thousand pages and nearly $30 a copy this novel had all the makings of a marketing nightmare not to mention the publishers risk involved if this series doesn’t take off.

But Fantasy readers are committed fans. No they didn’t come to the reading, dressed up waving swords and wands the way they do at Comic-con. They came to listen and learn. From my point of view this crowd asked some of the most engaging questions I have heard during an audience Q + A.

The Reading:

The second this round face icon walked in the room there was a huge burst of applause few authors receive.

Even the introduction by University Book Store buyer, Duane Wilkins, was entertaining as he fed raw meat of inside Fantasy lit jokes to the crowd that went right over my balding head.

Now I am not a fan who drinks his Kool-aid but I liked Sanderson as a presenter. You could tell he loved his craft and was so comfortable in front of the crowd that he had that special ability to shrink the room down to an intimate feel. He is young (34) and yet his body of work is profound. He explained how he can work on multiple projects at the same time.

For Sanderson the process of editing is different than writing. The compartmentalization of the two disciplines allows him to work on the various projects simultaneously. The author claims he maxes out at 6 hours writing new material but often edits and revises up to fourteen hours a day.

Another interesting point was his admission that Mr. Sanderson wrote 13 novels before the first one was accepted.

Nothing earth shattering at this reading. It was a classic well done presentation UNTILL…

In the middle of a question Sanderson stopped talking. A man from the audience, holding a book in one hand and a small child in the other, got up to leave the reading.

Most authors would have let this pass but Sanderson, realizing the man had his priorities with his child first, STOPPED EVERTHING and offered to sign the book right then so the man could leave with a sighed copy. It was so human and cool that I began to applaud along with the others. This is what any author reading should be about, the fans first.

Then Sanderson went an extra step that should be required of every author in the Galaxy. He finished his Q & A session early so that the store could ring up last minute sales and then Sanderson actually implored the crowd to buy something, if not his book, any book or anything from the University Book Store. His was a battle cry to support the independent book sellers was as loud and as passionate as his fans were for his work.

That is a Fantasy we all can share in.

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