New Release Interview: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson


sanderson-steelheartSteelheart by Brandon Sanderson is in fine bookstores today!

It’s about time! I am an eager Sanderson fan. I think he’s one of the best writers working today, prolific without a fault, and one of the nicest people a fantasy fan can ever meet. He is also one of the best storytellers, filled with so many stories that he often doesn’t have time to write them. It explains the diversity in the novels he has written.

Steelheart is one such novel. It is a young adult novel and, like any great young adult novel, it has very adult themes.

Here is a bit more about it:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mistborn trilogy, Brandon Sanderson, comes the first book in a new, action-packed thrill ride of a series—Steelheart.

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics . . . nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

I decided to send Brandon a few questions about this new novel! And he obliged me, doing something cool: He answered the questions in audio format specifically for this interview and these words are transcribed!

On to questions concerning Steelheart:


Shawn Speakman: STEELHEART is published today! Tell Unbound Worlds readers about it?


Brandon Sanderson: Steelheart may not be what you expect to see from me because I’ve primarily released epic fantasy so far. As a writer, one of my main goals is to always be trying new things to advance my writing skill and to make sure that you have a varied experience reading my books. If you’ve enjoyed my books, particularly ones like Mistborn, and you pick up this, you’ll find lots of things to love. But you’ll also find some new things. Steelheart is an action-adventure thrill ride. I wrote it to be exciting, fast-paced, and fun. It is my experimentation of dabbling more in science fiction than fantasy, and dealing with some of the current tropes in action movies, particularly some of the superhero tropes. In the end, however, it is very much a Brandon Sanderson novel.

Shawn Speakman: STEELHEART is a young adult book. That shouldn’t dismay adult readers though, as many of the bestselling stories in the last decade are from that genre. What is it about young adult that appeals to so many people? And do you think you achieve that with STEELHEART?

Brandon Sanderson: I’m not sure if I can answer what it is about YA that appeals to so many people, but I can try to explain why the genre appeals to me. Part of it is the grand tradition of YA in science fiction and fantasy. Soon after I became addicted to sci-fi and fantasy, I was reading things like the Belgariad and The Sword of Shannara, which both have a very young adult feel to them. There’s also something about the teenage years that involves discovering yourself. I was a teen when I found myself, when I discovered fantasy novels and writing. Those were the years when I transitioned from being the child I’d been to become the adult I am now. We all go through that, and there’s something special about it that draws us back time and time again to that threshold. It’s almost like the thresholds characters pass through in Cambellian myth, and the threshold between childhood and adulthood is a big one. Telling stories about that age, that transition, is exciting and fascinating. It helps me understand myself, so that’s why I find myself doing it. I certainly hope I achieved that with Steelheart! But it’s up to the readers to decide whether I’ve been able to. I think the book is fantastic, but who doesn’t publish a book thinking it’s fantastic?

Shawn Speakman: The book’s main character, David, is out for revenge. At the beginning of the book, we see the event that led to that desire. Was it hard writing a character out for revenge in a young adult setting?

Brandon Sanderson: Sometimes you write something and it just comes together, and that’s what the prologue was for me. It introduces David, his driving motivation, and was what gave me the passion and excitement to write the book. For those interested in the book, I really do suggest reading the prologue, which is free online. [link:]

I don’t think David being a teen made the revenge aspect of the story more difficult. In fact, it fely like a very natural fit because of the passions of adolescence. Yes, at its core, Steelheart is a vengeance novel. David’s passion for what he wants to do is a big driving force behind the whole story working.

Shawn Speakman: What book would you recommend your readers tackle AFTER they have read STEELHEART? Young adult or otherwise!

Brandon Sanderson: Usually if people are not familiar with my work, I point them toward one of two things, either the original Mistborn trilogy or Warbreaker. Mistborn is a little more action-oriented. Warbreaker is a little more character- and humor-oriented.

Shawn Speakman: You have finished WORDS OF RADIANCE and it publishes in early 2014. What are you currently working on? The sequel to STEELHEART, I hope!

Brandon Sanderson: Actually, I’m working on the revisions for Words of Radiance. “Finished” should be in quotes. Yes, the first draft was turned in at the end of June, but since then, we’ve been working on revisions. It is a long, arduous process to take 400,000 words—1000 pages—and take it from good to excellent. We’re in that process right now. However, I’ve often described how I can write one book while revising another—so I am indeed working on a sequel. The sequel to Steelheart, titled Firefight, which should be coming out in the fall of 2014 if everything goes well.

There you have it! From one of the hardest working writers in the business! Steelheart is now in fine bookstores for everyone to enjoy.

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speakman-shawnShawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel bestselling author Terry Brooks calls, “a fine tale by a talented writer.”

He is also editor and contributor of Unfettered, a fantasy anthology featuring some of the best writers in the genre. When Shawn isn’t lying for a living, he runs The Signed Page and Grim Oak Press.