Letter to Toronto from San Francisco: OMG Brandon Sanderson

Yesterday we got a very interesting letter from an old friend in San Francisco urging all us Northern readers to go to the Toronto repeat of an event they just had in town: a book-launch appearance by Brandon Sanderson, second author of the now-complete The Wheel of Time series. Sanderson will be at the Lillian H. Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library this Friday launching A Memory of Light. Host Bakka Phoenix Books is calling the event OMG BRANDON SANDERSON. Here’s what Evan Klein had to say about its San Francisco edition:

Last Saturday there was a book signing at Borderlands in San Francisco to celebrate the completion of A Memory of Light, the final book in The Wheel of Time series. The first book, The Eye of the Word was published in 1990. The store was packed. There was a sense of both completion of a long road and one of celebration of the world that was created by the series. The late Robert Jordan wrote the first 11 books and Brandon Sanderson completed the last three. Harriet McDougal, widow of the late Robert Jordan, edited the series. Both Brandon and Harriet were there on Saturday. The audience was great! Everybody was in a good mood, in spite of the long wait for the signatures. Everybody was chatting with each other about favo[u]rite parts of the series. There was a lot of participation in the trivia contests.

Brandon and Harriet showed incredible generosity, signing books for four solid hours. Brandon asked every signer, “Do you have any questions for me,” and answered them all. He only handed out red RAFO cards a couple of times. (That’s “Read And Find Out”—the answer to questions that are answered in the books.) One of the most moving moments of the day was when Harriet read the paragraph that started every one of the books. It was happy and sad, bittersweet and triumphant, all at the same time.

I was very grateful to be a Memory Keeper, one of a team of seven who got to help with the logistics of the signing, and chronicle the event. As a Memory Keeper, I had the opportunity to attend a private Q&A session with Brandon and Harriet. One question was, “You write and edit for a living. What do you read for fun?” At the same time, both Harriet and Brandon said “Pratchett”! [Terry Pratchett is a well known writer of fantasy novels. -Ed.]

Brandon answered questions about being a writer. When asked for his secret to being such a prolific writer, he did not hesitate. He replied that you have to spend a lot of time writing every day, regardless of the progress you make in the time. He mentioned that he had written 13 novels before he sold one. He said that personally it helped him to switch between novels that he’s writing and not work on them sequentially, to keep story lines fresh. He also gave some great advice for writers who are working on their first novel. He suggested writing something different! He explained that many new authors try to write a great story that’s been in their minds for a long time as a first novel, but that they don’t really have the skills to do justice to the idea. His advice was to write something different, and then write the great story when you’re a better writer.

The Toronto launch of A Memory of Light is happening this Friday, Feb. 15, at 6 pm, in the basement of the Lillian H. Smith Library.

About the author

Jessica Duffin Wolfe

Jessica Duffin Wolfe is the Editor-in-Chief of The Toronto Review of Books.

By Jessica Duffin Wolfe