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Utah author Brandon Mull visited Cache Valley on Wednesday on a tour promoting his new book “Dragonwatch 5: Return of the Dragon Slayers.”

In addition to presenting at local schools and signing books at the Logan City Library, the New York Times-bestselling author stopped by The Herald Journal offices for an interview about his new book, touring during a global pandemic and sharing the joys of reading with others.

Q: This is the fifth book in the “Dragonwatch” series and the end of the “Fablehaven” series. How does it feel to wrap it all up?

A: So good. It’s a huge relief, because I go back to the Fablehaven universe.

I finished “Fablehaven” in 2010, and I returned to that universe around four or five years ago to write “Dragonwatch.” This is the series I’ve written that reached the farthest. It’s in the most languages. It’s gone to the most countries. It’s got millions of readers. And the big risk is, Are you going to screw it up now? (Laughs.) Are you going to go back in and wreck it?

I wanted to go back. I wanted to pick up where we left off. I wanted to finish the character journey of the main characters, especially the character Seth. I felt like he had unfinished business at the end of “Fablehaven.” The more I looked back at it, the more it bugged me that I didn’t finish his character journey.

I feel like it ended with way more closure, things were way more complete at the end of this series and I feel like I told a grander story, a more epic story, than the first one.

Q: Was there sadness, too?

A: Sure, that too. But it paled next to, “What if I messed this up?”

So, I am sad to wrap it up, but I knew at some point I had to get to the end of it. And the relief that it turned out cool, that was my prime feeling — relief.

Q: You’re here in Logan in part to speak at local schools. What’s the students’ response to reading books in 2021?

A: In the places I go, it’s generally positive. I do a thing at the start of my presentation where I list five things we could do for entertainment: movies, TV, video games, sports and reading. And I get about as many hands for reading as I do for the other things. There’s a lot of people reading for fun. A lot of kids are reading for fun.

Q: Does that surprise you?

A: It doesn’t surprise me anymore. (Laughs.) Lots of kids are reading — they dig it. And that’s encouraging to see.

Reading does something that nothing else does. As far as that movie in your head, it’s just more personal. It’s more intimate than when it’s on a screen and it’s somebody else’s vision.

Q: It seems like touring schools and meeting with readers is something you’re passionate about. How has COVID-19 affected your ability to tour?

A: In a big way. I tour a ton.

At the start of my career, I probably toured four or five months out of the year. I’ve been to 43 of the states on book tour. I’ve gone to Moscow, Russia. I’ve gone to Jakarta, Indonesia. I’ve gone to China, Singapore, Poland — I’ve gone all over the place.

But lots of stuff around the states — literally thousands of schools. I did virtual visits, you know. I still do virtual visits, but that loses so much actual humanity.

For me, it’s been exciting. There’s a few places that are open for business for assemblies right now. I like getting in front of people and sharing that message about reading and creating. And sharing my books, you know, trying to get them curious about the crazy books, because I think I write stories that are cool. So, I’m trying to get kids to give them a try.

Q: What reactions to your writing have impacted you the most?

A: There’s maybe three kinds of things.

There’s, “Your book got me reading.” I get that a lot, but it means a lot every time. For me, Narnia got me reading. I owe C.S. Lewis an eternal debt, because it changed my life. So if my book got you reading, that’s an awesome thing to hear — it’s so exciting.

I hear, “Our family bonded over the book.” And I get people, and this is the heartstrings one, where the book distracted them in a time when they needed a distraction. I’ve had kids with cancer tell me, “I was in a hospital getting chemo and your books distracted me.” That wrecks me.

I had a kid from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, as Fablehaven 5 was about to come out, who wanted to know how the series ended before he died, because it had been a distraction for him at a time when he needed it.

(Mull chokes up, turns away briefly.)

I would have written the book just for that one result, you know what I mean? It makes it feel meaningful in ways I didn’t anticipate.

Q: How did you manage that? Did you meet with him and talk with him?

A: We talked on the phone. He ended up actually living until after book five did come out, but I already spoiled it for him. (Laughs.) But he got to read it. We had to come out to the launch party and he did pass away not too long after that.

But it was cool that we bonded over stuff and talked about stuff. His family was excited about it — he was excited about it. It was that thing that fiction can be, which is a distraction when someone needed it.

Q: What’s your sales pitch to get someone reading? How would you get them to dive into a book?

A: Reading a book gives you a very unique type of entertainment where it’s interactive, where you co-create the story with the author — it comes to life in your head. And because you’re co-creating the story, you can make everything look exactly how you think it looks best. It becomes your own creation.

And because it’s your own creation, you become intimately involved with that story. It’s like it’s living inside of you. It’s like you’re living it, and it’s in a way that’s different than when it’s just someone else’s vision on the screen.

For more information about Mull, his writings and his tour, visit brandonmull.com.

Please be aware that Cache Valley Publishing does not endorse, and is not responsible for alleged employment offers in the comments.

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