Brandon Mull, a Utah father of four and author of the five-book Fablehaven fantasy series, will be releasing his new series, Dragonwatch, in March.
When Mull spoke at a writer’s workshop as part of Salt Lake Comic Con in September, he had one central message: “Follow your passions.”
“Often I’ll get asked why I write fantasy stories,” he said to the audience. “For me, this all started with a lion as a little kid. When I read ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’ it broke my little brain. I wanted it to come true, and I wanted it to be real.”
He told the audience about pushing his way to the back of his grandmother’s coat closet, fingers crossed, hoping to find a new and magical land. When he found a tiny set of doors at the back, he remembered thinking that it was “show time.”
“I went through those doors to a tiny room filled with canned peaches. ’Twas an enormous disappointment,” he remembered. “But, for a brief while, I was the Lord of the Canned Peaches. Because I could not cross into an imaginary world, I started doing it in my head. If dreams can’t come true, then why not pretend?”
Although Mull’s journey wasn’t easy, he said it was a satisfying path. He told the audience becoming a writer is challenging, as he remembered attending Brigham Young University and debating whether he should “make a go” of his story ideas.
“But I also wanted to get married and have kids and have a family. How’s that going to work if we are starting in the gutter?” he asked the audience. “Who’s going to want to marry me, a fantasy book writer? It’s cool once you’re doing it professionally and making money but, before you’re making money, it seems very impossible.”
When Mull’s first child was born, he got a marketing day job and wrote fantasy stories on the side. He didn’t find success with his writing until he was 30, when "Fablehaven" was published.
“There was a lot of stress up to age 30,” he said. “But my advice when people say they have a great thing they want to do is do it. Get really good at it. Do you love it enough to do it as a hobby? Then do it instead of watching TV.”
Mull stressed the most important concept of writing a book is to “follow your passion” and write the kind of book you wish you could read.
“If you read my books, you would come away knowing what I think is brave, what I think is silly, what I think is dumb, what I think is funny and what I think is cool,” he said. “It’s all there because I write about things I think are brave and funny and cool and interesting."
In the session, Mull discussed three more writing tips: “Find your voice and stay true to it,” “learn your craft” and “stay open to possibilities as a writer.”
“Give them you until you is what they want,” he said. “Give them you because that is what’s different. Lots of people have written stories about kids and magical creatures, but they haven’t written it how I have. What I brought to it and how I told it is a big part of what made it marketable.”
Mull’s new series is a Fablehaven sequel and starts with “Dragonwatch: A Fablehaven Adventure," set to be published March 7.