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Jason Olson, Deseret News
Brandon Mull signs a copy of his book "Fablehaven" for a student. Mull shared with students "secrets" on how to become an author.

SPANISH FORK — Brandon Mull likes to teach about imagination when he visits elementary schools on his nationwide book tour.

The author of the children's fantasy series "Fablehaven" and "The Candy Shop War" told students at East Meadows Elementary School on Thursday that two things drive imagination: reading and creating. Those are the elements that he used to write "Fablehaven" more than two years ago, he said, followed by "Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star" and "Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague," which debuts later this month. His "Fablehaven" series has made the New York Times Best Sellers List.

He described his "Fablehaven" books as taking place in a wildlife park for magical creatures.

To illustrate how imagination works, he pulled three students out of the audience and had them imagine they were landing a spacecraft on an alien planet and to describe it. What they came up with was a red, rocky orb that had nine suns, one of them blue; a smell like rotten eggs and a strange creature that went "eeee."

"Imagination can take you places," he said. "Reading is like watching the perfect movie with no bad acting and no cheesy special effects."

Mull also shared five "secrets" for becoming an author:

• Have lots of experiences and pay attention to them, even embarrassing ones.

• Exercise your imagination and create stories.

• Read a lot — every day.

• Share your stories with others for feedback.

• Find a publisher and never give up.

Mull said it took him five months to write his first youth-oriented novel, "Fablehaven." He wrote another book earlier, "but it never went anywhere," he said. However, based on that book he caught the attention of publisher Shadow Mountain, a division of Deseret Book, which suggested he write another novel, given the popularity of Harry Potter books. That became "Fablehaven."

Later he wrote "The Candy Shop War." The soft-cover editions are published by Simon and Schuster, while Shadow Mountain continues to publish the hardcover volumes.

Movie rights to both books have been optioned.

A resident of Highland, Mull said the April 25 launch party for his third "Fablehaven" fantasy, in what is to become a series of five novels, will be the biggest ever held in Utah. A pre-show begins at 6 p.m., while the party starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Cottonwood High School auditorium, 5715 S. 1300 East in Salt Lake City. The novel hits bookstores April 21. Admission to the launch party is free. Many of the characters in his fantasies, including Muriel the Witch, will be there in costume. A series of events is planned, he said, including announcing the winner of a nationwide contest. Information is on the Web site fablehaven .com.

Mull wrote his first two books in his spare time while working as a marketing copywriter for Excell Entertainment. Meanwhile, he said, he kept coming back to the question, "How can I make a living writing books?" As readership caught on, he soon had his answer.

"Getting off the ground was unusually quick," he said. "I feel this vast sense of relief."

Mull also has plans for his first novel, which was rejected. He wants to recraft it into a trilogy. So far, it's unnamed, he said.

He is currently selecting a literary agent and because he has risen so quickly in the business, "I have my pick of the A-list," he said.

E-mail: rodger@desnews.com