Pretend for a moment that I didn’t just see Brandon Sanderson for three days at Dragon*Con. Pretend for a moment that I’m not some sort of creepy stalker (along with a half-dozen or so other attendees who were at Dragon*Con) who decided to follow him to Raleigh. No, instead, picture a quaint little bookstore in Raleigh, Quail Ridge Books to be precise, and a civil group of Sanderson fans waiting patiently for the author to appear and read to them. Fortunately for us, he did.
But, let us go back in time a bit. Sanderson fans and Quail Ridge Books started a Facebook movement about a year ago, pleading, demanding, and begging for Brandon to do a signing for The Way of Kings in Raleigh. The idea seemed to take, but I can’t say I’m surprised. Quail Ridge has been host to Robert Jordan himself, as well as David Drake and Orson Scott Card from Tor, and also Terry Brooks from Del Ray. Combine this with the Death Star beam intensity of the “Triangle Area” of North Carolina, and it appears you get an author signing.
Although, it might have been a small part intimidation. Brandon himself told of how the Facebook movement became more and more insistent until his publicist called him and said “Brandon, I think they are going to storm the Tor offices if we don’t send you down there.” This led Brandon to the idea of including three stops on his signing tour that were not very often visited, and thus St. Louis and Orlando, which both likewise started Facebook movements after seeing how successful Raleigh’s was turning out, were added to the tour as well.
And from the crowd at Quail Ridge Books, it was easy to see that Raleigh was very sincere in wanting Brandon there and wanting him back besides. The below picture was taken some twenty minutes before the signing, and the store continued to readily fill. You can’t even see the two banks of chairs on either side of the main one. It was very much standing room only.
Brandon was somewhat chagrined, though, as it turned out there was a decent showing in the audience that had been at Dragon*Con. Not that he wasn’t happy to see us; he was impressed at the turnout himself. No, see, he had planned on repeating his reading from Dragon*Con, where he was able to read out the opening scenes of Towers of Midnight. As he wanted to give us something different, he instead grabbed the display copy of The Way of Kings that was sitting in front of him and started to tell the story of how it has three “cleverly disguised” prologues, defended himself by saying it was still half the length of Robert Jordan’s longest, then read from “Prologue Three” which is labeled “Chapter One.” Alas, he only got through about half of the chapter before he was out of time in the reading portion, but it was still fun listening. I refrained from reading along, as Brandon admitted that he was of the habit to not always exactly say the words on the page as he reads. He’s the author, he reasoned, and could change the way it was written if he wanted to.
After the reading was a short Q&A, where miraculously no one asked Wheel of Time questions in specific, despite the large number of Wheel of Time fans present. Brandon answered each of the questions at length, asides included, and then broke off the questions so he could get to the signing, although he assured us that he would gladly chat with each of us some while signing. And if you are curious, my questions to him both in the Q&A and as he signed my book were about the differences in the editorial process between The Way of Kings and Elantris (I bet ya’ll thought I was going to say Wheel of Time, ha!) His answer was more or less that his pages still bled, but not quite as significantly now as with his first book.
I am remiss that I don’t know entirely how the evening ended. Brandon started signing books around 8:30, and while there were only somewhere between eighty and one hundred people present, he still had a good clip of people left to sign when my book was reached by 10:00. As I had a two hour drive ahead of me to get back to my cave on the coast, and I was still running on some pretty heavy sleep debt from Dragon*Con, I made my farewells and got home.
Brandon had said on his Facebook that Raleigh should be sure to prove he was right to include the “not often visited” stop so that Tor would be willing to possibly send him again, and I think they more than delivered. Raleigh and Quail Ridge books, bravo. You screamed to the sky, and the sky listened.
Aside for anyone wondering: Yes, I am going to do a small series of posts about what went down at Dragon*Con. It isn’t completely like Vegas, some things get out. Just be patient, eh?
Richard Fife is a writer, blogger, totally not a Brandon Sanderson stalker, honest. You can read more of his ramblings and some of his short fiction on http://RichardFife.com. Also, you can follow him on twitter @RichardFife.