Brandon Sanderson has recently become one of my favorite authors as I’ve devoured his series Mistborn and The Stormlight Archives. In many ways, Sanderson has reawakened in me a love for epic fantasy and storytelling in general. He has weaved a Cosmere that is fascinating, complicated, magical, and truly mesmerizing. His characters are full of life and vigor. Trust me, you will quickly be sucked into his worlds.
Below is his story of how he became a writer, directly from his web site. If you want to learn more about him, you can check out his stories, book progress, and other information here.
Brandon Sanderson was born in December 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested for him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This all changed in eighth grade when an astute teacher, Mrs. Reader, gave Brandon Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly. Brandon thoroughly enjoyed this book, and went in search of anything similar. He discovered such authors as Robert Jordan, Melanie Rawn, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, and Orson Scott Card. Brandon continued to be an avid reader through junior high and high school. He liked epic fantasy so much that he even tried his hand at writing some. His first attempts, he says, were dreadful.
In 1994 Brandon enrolled at Brigham Young University as a biochemistry major. From 1995 to 1997 he took time away from his studies to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brandon often says that it was during this time in Seoul, Korea that he realized that he didn’t miss chemistry one bit, but he did miss writing. Upon his return to BYU, Brandon became an English major, much to the dismay of his mother, who had always hoped he would become a doctor.
Brandon began writing in earnest, taking a job as the night desk clerk at a hotel because they allowed him to write while at work. During this era he went to school full time during the day, worked nights to pay for his schooling, and wrote as much as he could. He says it made for a rather dismal social life, but he finished seven novels during his undergraduate years. Brandon submitted many manuscripts for publication . . . and accumulated quite a pile of rejection letters. In spite of this he continued to be a dedicated writer.
Volunteering for The Leading Edge, BYU’s science fiction/fantasy magazine, was a wonderful experience for Brandon. He read many submissions, formed some lifelong friendships, and served as Editor in Chief during his senior year.
Brandon learned much about the business side of being a writer by taking a class from David Farland, author of the popular Runelords series. One piece of advice Dave gave Brandon was to attend conventions, such as WorldCon and World Fantasy, in order to connect with industry professionals. Brandon and a small group of friends who were also aspiring writers began to do so. He eventually met both his current agent and one of his editors at conventions.
It was in 2003, while Brandon was in the middle of a graduate program at BYU, that he got a call from editor Moshe Feder at Tor, who wanted to buy one of Brandon’s books. Brandon had submitted the manuscript a year and a half earlier, and had almost given up on hearing anything, so he was surprised and delighted to receive the offer. In May 2005 Brandon held his first published novel,Elantris, in his hands. Over the next few years, Tor also published Brandon’s Mistborn trilogy, its followup The Alloy of Law, Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings, the first in a projected ten-volume series called The Stormlight Archive. The second book in the series, Words of Radiance, was released on March 4th, 2014. Other projects continue to be in the works.
In 2004 after graduating with his Master’s degree in creative writing from Brigham Young University, Brandon was asked to teach the class he had taken as an undergraduate student from Dave Farland. In spite of his busy schedule, Brandon continues to teach this one section of creative writing focused on science fiction and fantasy because he enjoys helping aspiring writers. It also gets him out of the house, he says. Additionally, along with Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Dan Wells, he hosts the doubly Hugo-nominated writing advice podcast Writing Excuses, which has twice won a Parsec Award.
In July 2006 Brandon married Emily Bushman. Emily and Brandon ran in many of the same circles at BYU during their student days, since Emily majored in English as well. They never met, however, until a mutual friend set them up on a date in 2005. Emily had spent seven years as a teacher, but chose to quit with the birth of their first child in October 2007. Emily now works from home part time as Brandon’s business manager.
Brandon’s repertoire expanded into the children’s market when Scholastic published Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, a middle-grade novel, in October 2007. Nancy Pearl gave this book a very favorable review on National Public Radio, which pleased Sanderson fans. Three more volumes of the series have been released so far. Additionally, Brandon’s novella Infinity Blade: Awakening was an ebook bestseller for Epic Games accompanying their acclaimed Infinity Blade iOS video game series.
In December 2007 Brandon was chosen by Harriet McDougal Rigney to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series after his untimely passing. 2009’s The Gathering Storm and 2010’s Towers of Midnight was followed by the final volume in the series, A Memory of Light, in January 2013.
The only author to make the short list for the David Gemmell Legend Award eight times in seven years, Brandon won that award in 2011 for The Way of Kings. He has also won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice award for Best Epic Fantasy twice and has been nominated three other years. His novella The Emperor’s Soul won the Hugo Award in 2013. Brandon has been serving as a judge for Writers of the Future since 2016. He has hit the New York Times Best-Seller List fifteen times, most recently at #1 with Oathbringer, book three of The Stormlight Archive, which is also Audible’s most pre-ordered book of all time. DMG Entertainment optioned the rights to the Cosmere universe shared by his fantasy novels, and Fox acquired the Reckoners trilogy for Shawn Levy’s production company 21 Laps. Brandon’s books have been published in thirty-five languages.
Follow Brandon’s blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram, and Google + for up-to-date information, and check out his events calendar to see where he will be appearing. Anyone who subscribes to the mailing list and indicates what city they live in will receive reminders when Brandon’s signing tours bring him nearby. For more in-depth information and preview chapters for Brandon’s books, see the book pages, and for detailed behind-the-scenes information about the writing of each chapter, see the annotations. And for those who want a larger taste of Brandon’s writing, the entire text of Warbreaker is available here.