'Fablehaven' author Brandon Mull makes it big in foreign countries

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 21 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

Though "Zzyzx," the name of a prison for demons in his book series "Fablehaven," was quickly becoming a well-used term and teens everywhere had their eyes glued to the travels of Kendra and Seth, writer Brandon Mull was still a little skeptical of his newfound success.

He had been trying for five years to break through into the world of full-time writing, and finally, he sold enough copies to quit his day job.

"It was a huge relief," said Mull, who served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chile and now lives in Utah. "Any writer hopes that they can turn their passion for stories into an actual job, and for me, I had tried long enough and failed long enough to know it may never happen."

But the Brigham Young Unversity graduate's efforts paid off. Not only have his books sold more than 2 million copies in the U.S., they are starting to make it big worldwide.

"Fablehaven" has been sold in more than 25 languages and territories throughout the world, and has done especially well in France, making the top 100 best-sellers list for six weeks.

"The cool thing about it is that I don't speak French," Mull said. "It's cool to think that people I can't even talk to are enjoying the book and that it's one of the most popular in the country."

The whole series is not yet released in foreign countries in its entirety, but thus far is doing well, with more than 125,000 copies sold in France alone.

"It was exciting and surprising," Mull said. "It kind of came out of the blue, and I've never been to France."

Having books published in foreign countries comes with certain trade-offs, and one thing Mull said he laughs about when he gives up the rights over the cover and translation are some of the foreign illustrations.

"Some of them are great, like there was one of Eastern European with tons of illustrations inside the book, too," Mull said. "It gave the book a whole different feel."

With other countries, however, sometimes Mull said he just scratches his head, especially with the German cover.

"It's really odd looking," Mull said. "It looks like a weird Yoda thing."

"Fablehaven" isn't Mull's only series that's currently faring well.

His most recent book, "Beyonders: A World Without Heroes," topped charts and hit No. 1 on the New York Times best-sellers list for children's chapter books.

Book 2 of the series, "Seeds of Rebellion," will be out this March, and then readers will have to anticipate the release date of the third.

"I am confident that it's the best book I've written," Mull said of the third book.

But his ultimate test of a book's success is the audience's reaction. He said the anticipation of a book's release is worse for him than for one of his readers.

"It's probably worse for me, seriously, because the whole reason I write this stuff is to get it out and shared," Mull said. "I hate the waiting."

His other series, "The Candy Shop Wars," will come out with a second book this fall and is called "The Arcade Catastrophe." However, Mull said "The Candy Shop Wars" books will be more like episodes rather than a series. He said he wasn't even going to continue to the second, but the audience's reaction encouraged him to keep writing.

This is also true with "Fablehaven." Mull has an idea to continue the series and wants to because of his readers' response, but this is still in planning stages and he is currently just generating content.

"At the beginning it's a very private thing, just you alone with a story sitting in a basement somewhere," Mull said. "I think this is cool. I think if I got an overwhelming negative response I would find it very discouraging because my point is to take readers on a very fun ride."

But for Mull, the future looks bright, and overall, he said the general response to his books is positive.

"The whole point for me about writing a book is I've got these stories in my head, and the only way to share them is to write them down," Mull said. "When I finish a book it's thrilling to think that I can take the story and put it into the mind of other people."

For more information about Mull or his books, visit brandonmull.com.

Email: tackerman@desnews.com

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