Hey look, it’s actually Thursday!
Which authors have you been lucky enough to discover at the very beginning of their careers?
And, if you’ve never had that chance, which author do you WISH you’d been able to discover at the very beginning?
I think the closest I can come to saying that I discovered someone on the “ground floor” is Brandon Mull, writer of the Fablehaven series, among others. I picked the first Fablehaven book up as an impulse buy at a Deseret Book (an LDS bookstore) down in San Diego, just a few months after it came out. Back then it was just a couple of copies on a very low shelf hidden in the back of the store in the kids’ section. Granted, these are kids’ books, but when the final Fablehaven book came out, it got its own table displays at Barnes & Noble. That’s a far cry from being hidden away on the second-to-bottom shelf in a cornered-off kid’s section.
The cover of the book got me to pick it up. I’ve heard some rumors that a green cover is death to a book for some reason, though I’ve never understood a word about that, but in this case it definitely caught my eye. The illustration on the cover did, as well. It wasn’t until after I finished the book that I understood what the cover illustration was supposed to be, and I’ll admit that the cover illustrations don’t do a whole lot for me… I either disregard half of the picture with some kind of mental-block, or I’m just not big on the cartoony appeal, but bygones.
The interesting title, gold lettering, and sparkly-ness of the cover was enough to get me to pick it up. I had been in the mood for something fantastical, and the Fable– part of the title gives away immediately that this was, even though I thought the character on the cover was creepy, and didn’t notice the colorful fairies on the cover for an embarrassingly long time. I flipped the book over and became EXTRA intrigued. In place of a carefully-worded pitch or a list of quotes was something made to look like a want ad torn from a newspaper.
If I’d had any doubt that this was going to be fantastical, the ad asking for a new caretaker “willing to perform emergency dental surgery on a fog giant” and listing knowledge of gnomish language as “a plus,” snagged my imagination from the get-go. I read the synopsis on the inside flaps of the paper cover (the book was in hardback) and decided I’d take a gamble on it. This isn’t usual for me—I like to pick up a book half a dozen times before I buy something, especially in hardcover, because I just don’t have the funds that often, but this seemed like a good day. Besides, something from found at Deseret Book can’t necessarily be found somewhere else. I was with my mom that day, and she had a membership card, which at the time still consisted of points (now you have to have a premium membership), and I think the book ended up being about free. Well, ish. You know.
The book was a slow go for me the first time I picked it up, but the second time I stuck to it, and by a couple of chapters in I was stuck. And thrilled. It was everything I’d been hoping for and more. Kendra and Seth are a VERY realistic pair of kids with a very realistic sister/brother relationship. The creatures they come across span from the amazingly beautiful to the grotesque and terrifying, but Mull does it in a way that is constantly uplifting. (Rather than being emotionally dark, like the Spiderwick Chronicles seems to be, based on the film, at least).
The books are by turn funny, scary, and downright cool. The kids make mistakes but learn from them in a very real way. And every book gets better and better. I just love this series, and I’m thrilled to know that so many people have come to love it also. It is very deserved. I’ve been passing on the excitement, fantasy and fun by word of mouth ever since. Just recently, my husband has finished reading the first book and started the second. He loves it, too.
I haven’t read any of Mull’s other works yet (except for the children’s book Pingo, which is adorable!) but I do own The Candy Shop Wars and am really looking forward to his Beyonders series, the first of which is due out next month. Woohoo!