Author Brandon Mull writes the wonderful children’s series Fablehaven. The fourth book in the series, Fablehaven: Secrets if the Dragon Sanctuary, releases tomorrow in bookstores! SciFiChick.com recently had the chance to interview the author to discuss his latest release and upcoming endeavors.
In Fablehaven: Secrets if the Dragon Sanctuary, readers get a look at an entirely different sanctuary for magical creatures. Where do you get your ideas for your unique characters in Fablehaven?
Most of the creatures at Fablehaven and the other magical wildlife parks in the books come from different myths and legends. I borrow from Greek mythology, German and Scandinavian folklore, even Native American legends. My job as the author is to take these somewhat familiar creatures like dragons, trolls, fairies, centaurs, etc., and decide how they will behave in my books. Bringing the magical creatures to life, giving them personalities and establishing rules to help explain their natures and behavior is a blast.
Of course, not all of the characters are magical creatures. A good writer is usually a good observer, so I often create my characters using observations I’ve made of people around me. I’m not trying to transplant people I know onto the page, but rather take personality traits or quirks and combine them into new characters. And yes, part of it I simply invent. The goal is interesting, relatable characters.
There are some big secrets and twists in the book. Have you had those planned out from the beginning?
Most of the big twists are planned from the start. That way I can offer early clues. I love when a twist in book 4 can shed new light back on events in book 2 and 3. To me, those complicated set-ups and pay-offs help make stories feel deeply imagined.
According to Fablehaven: Secrets if the Dragon Sanctuary, the series will conclude with the next book. Can you tell us anything about it?
Book 5 will be called Keys of the Demon Prison. That’s all I’m revealing so far. I can say I have the story planned, and I’ve started writing it. Expect a fun, exciting conclusion.
You also wrote Candy Shop Wars, as a stand-alone. Any other stand-alone novels on the horizon?
I am laying plans for a three-book series that will follow Fablehaven. Generally, the series will be about a kid who crosses over to a strange, imperiled world. I think I have an awesome plan for the trilogy. Plus I will probably write a follow-up to Candy Shop War within the next three years. Of course, the question was about stand-alones. Yeah, some of those too, but not for a couple of years.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience in writing.
I’ve always been a massive daydreamer. When I have time to myself, I make up stories in my head, and have done so ever since I can remember. As I got older, the stories got cooler, and I decided I needed to get good at writing so I could share them with others.
How did you decide to write books geared towards children?
Writing novels for kids fits the kind of ideas I daydream about. When I write, I’m mostly trying to create a story I enjoy, which may explain why lots of older teens and adults have fun with my books. But I know that the ideas behind my books fit young readers, so I keep that in mind, leaving the books accessible to eleven-year-olds.
What do you enjoy most about writing the Fablehaven series?
I love bringing the magical creatures to life and putting my own spin on them. I love the sense of discovery in the books, and the very human relationship between Seth and Kendra. Their relationship echoes my relationships with my own siblings.
What inspires you?
Reading great books, seeing great movies. Getting outside also inspires me. I love dramatic landscapes. Wyrmroost, the dragon sanctuary in Fablehaven Book 4, came to life in my mind after a visit to Glacier National Park.
Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?
I’ve always been a sucker for fantasy. The Narnia books got me started. Tolkien sealed the deal. A couple other books I like a bunch? Dune. Ender’s Game. I don’t just read fantasy/sci-fi. Hemingway or Ayn Rand or Dumas have all left impressions, along with many others.
What do you do when you’re not writing? In your spare time?
I play with my wife and kids! My kids are a blast, and I love conversing with my wife. I also like tennis. And I follow a few shows like Lost.
Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If you haven’t tried Fablehaven, most people find it a pleasant surprise! Also, my first picture book comes out in August. It is called Pingo, and deals with a boy whose imaginary friend becomes his imaginary enemy when he tries to stop believing in him. That may sound psychotic, but it turns out to be a sweet, funny story about imagination and friendship. The illustrator is Brandon Dorman, who has done all my other covers and interiors for the Fablehaven series and the Candy Shop War.