Friday, January 2, 2009

My Penpal, Brandon Sanderson

I have another penpal! Please find below my letter to Brandon Sanderson:

Dear Mr. Sanderson,

I was recently introduced to your novel The Final Empire and was very impressed by your characterization of the unnamed author of the journal entries, the Hero of Ages. While he was largely absent from most of the book, he still holds a place of importance in the plot and in the general energy of the story.

My question, then, is this: while I know that there is fairly obvious Christian imagery surrounding Kelsier, did you deliberately imbue the Hero of Ages with a Christ-like aura, as well? When I read the final scene between the Lord Ruler and Vin, I immediately connected Rashek with Judas Iscariot, despite the fact that Rashek was never the Hero's right-hand man and friend. Perhaps this connection is due to the running theme of betrayal throughout the book. Regardless, in my reading of the book, this led me to believe that The Final Empire is more than just an exploration of, "What if the hero failed?" Instead, it is (to me) an exploration of, "What if Judas had usurped the earthly role of Jesus?"

I would be curious as to your thoughts on this subject.

Lindsay Phillips

And his response:


Thank you so much for the kind words! It's still a little odd for me, sometimes, to look in the bookstore and see my novels sitting beside some of the great works by my favorite authors. Hearing from readers who have liked my novels gives me a little boost of confidence and lets me know that maybe I really do deserve to be on that shelf.

I worked hard on the logbook author's part in the book, and so I'm gratified that you enjoyed reading about him. (His name is Alendi, by the way. There's more about him in the second book.)

I put the Christian imagery in intentionally because I think it fit so wonderfully, and I think the savior metaphor is larger than just the Christian faiths. I think it's somehow part of our nature as humans. (Those who are themselves Christian would say it come because of our connection to Christ.) Either way, I think that it's very powerful, and I thought it would be very interesting to see that imagery being co-opted by characters and themes, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.

The Judas imagery, however, was probably unconscious on my part. I didn't sit down and say that I'd use it, but as I look at the book, I can see that it's there! Thanks for pointing it out to me, and for enjoying the book enough to think about it in this way. You humble me.


I'm really enjoying the fact that, by writing to the authors I've enjoyed, there is much more of an interactive nature to the entire act of reading. It's not just a one-way transfer of information, but can in fact be a kind of two-way path.


Chatty Cathy said...

Congrats on getting another pen pal!

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

Thanks! I'm such a dork--I got really excited when he got back to me, I was bouncing around my desk at 7:00 in the morning. Waay too early to be that active, so I was lethargic for the rest of the day.

Anonymous said...

You should become penpals with Palahniuk.

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