Dragon Watch Is Out

Click below to see clips from Maxwell’s interview with author Brandon Mull.

“Imagination can take you places,” said best-selling children’s book author Brandon Mull.

Mull’s imagination has taken him far. He is the author of the Fablehaven series (Shadow Mountain, 2006), Beyonders (Aladdin, 2011), and the Five Kingdom series (Aladdin, 2014). He also wrote the first book in the Spirit Animals series (Scholastic, 2013).

Max with children's book author Brandon Mull at Blue Bunny Books in Dedham, Massachusetts

Maxwell with the author at Blue Bunny Books in Dedham, Massachusetts

In March, Mull published Dragon Watch (Shadow Mountain), the first title in the long-awaited sequel to the Fablehaven series. The main characters, Kendra and Seth, must use their knowledge, skills, and talents to battle dragons and other dangers.

Mull, who lives in Alpine, Utah, has been traveling around the country giving school presentations and inspiring students to be creative and share their own stories. I recently had the opportunity to interview him at Blue Bunny Books in Dedham, Massachusetts. Here are highlights from our conversation:

What makes a good story like Fablehaven?

Interesting characters that the reader cares about, interesting trouble that the characters get into, and scenes with stuff like magical creatures doing things that you’ve never seen before.

Where do you get ideas for your fantasy writing?

My writing is a mix between observation and daydreaming. I pay attention to the world around me, and then I daydream about the stuff I see. I layer fantasty on top of realty. For inspiration, I draw from books that I read as a kid. The Chronicles of Narnia showed me how imaginative a story could be. The Lord of the Rings showed me how realistic you can make fantasy feel. And the Harry Potter series showed me that you can write a story about a young main character, but make it smart and twisty so that adults like it, too.

What were you like as a kid in school?

I was really spacey. I describe what I had to do as “harness the crazy.” It took me some time to learn how to have a big imagination and also be a good student. Eventually, I learned that, but I think I made it hard for some of my elementary teachers.

Besides reading and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?

As a kid, I played organized baseball and soccer. Now, I love to play with my four kids in the yard. We made up a game called “Dragon Tag,” a complicated form of freeze tag.

What is the most rewarding—and the most challenging—part about writing?

I’m so grateful that I have a career as a writer so that I can share my stories with other people. The most challenging part is deadlines. Being creative under the pressure of deadlines can be hard. But I also write my books faster. So, in some ways, it’s a good thing.