Even before he sold his first novel almost two decades ago, epic fantasy and science fiction titan Brandon Sanderson was a prolific and persistent writer, who famously took a job as a night clerk in a Utah hotel so that he could write in the tranquil pre-dawn hours. Today, having published dozens of bestselling adult, YA, and children’s novels in more than 30 languages, Sanderson is having a banner year—with another taking shape.
This week, Random House Children's Books imprint Delacorte Press published Skyward Flight: The Collection, a compilation of three novellas—Sunreach, ReDawn, and Evershore—which were co-written by Sanderson and Janci Patterson and previously available only as e-books and audiobooks. The hardcover also features exclusive character art, commentary by Sanderson, and deleted scenes from his three-book Skyward series (encompassing Skyward, Starsight, and Cytonic), which Delacorte published between 2018 and 2021.
The three novellas comprising Skyward Flight: The Collection, Sanderson said, were inspired by his wish to “expand the scope” of his original Skyward series. That trilogy centers on Spensa Nightshade, a girl who dreams of becoming a pilot in a dangerous world at war for humanity's future.
“Since the Skyward novels are all told from the viewpoint of the primary protagonist, I began thinking that the side characters were being shortchanged and not getting enough attention,” the author told PW. “I felt I was letting down those fans who bonded with the other characters and I decided I needed to do something about that.”
Sanderson solicited the help of Patterson, a longtime friend who has written a number of YA novels (including the paranormal A Thousand Faces trilogy) and has collaborated with other authors, including James Goldberg, Lauren Janes, and Megan Walker.
“Janci and I spent quite a bit of time brainstorming and discussing writing the novellas from the perspectives of three different protagonists,” Sanderson explained. “Then I did the outlines and she wrote the stories. I knew that Janci excels at writing first-person narratives from different viewpoints, and I knew she would do a great job. And she did.”
A Busy Year for Rogue Librarians
Sanderson also collaborated with Patterson on another new book scheduled for release this year: Bastille vs. The Evil Librarians. Due from Tor’s Starscape imprint on September 20, the sixth hardcover installment of Sanderson’s Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians series features illustrations by Hayley Lazo. The art for the cover, first revealed here, was created by Justin Gerard.
The middle-grade adventure continues the saga of Alcatraz Smedry, who is on a quest to retrieve his 13th birthday present from his parents, a bag of sand that holds the power to rule the universe, which was stolen by a secret cult of Evil Librarians. In the latest caper, Alcatraz is distressed after failing to save his father from Bilbioden, the Evil Librarian’s ancient founder, and the boy’s friend Bastille must step in to foil the villain’s plot to dominate the world.
Tor will pave the way for the release of Bastille vs. The Evil Librarians with the staggered release of repackaged paperback editions of the series’ earlier books over the summer months. The publishing program kicks off on May 3 with the series’ debut title, Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians, followed by The Scrivener’s Bones and The Knights of Crystallia (July 5), The Shattered Lens (August 20), and The Dark Talent (September 20).
An Energetic Jumpstart to 2023
And there’s more in store for Sanderson’s legion enthusiasts—though some details are still shrouded in secrecy. It’s no secret, however, that Sanderson’s Dragonsteel Entertainment launched a Kickstarter campaign in March to help fund the author’s mystery publishing project, conceived during the dark days of the Covid eclipse. Supplying respondents with books in a variety of formats and swag boxes, the month-long venture broke Kickstarter’s all-time, most-funded project record, with more than 185,000 backers pledging more than $41,750,000.
“I gave these four books to myself as a gift, after my 2020 tour got canceled because of the pandemic,” Sanderson recalled. “I was feeling stressed and I had some extra time, and I thought about how Jane Austen wrote her stories to share with her family. I thought about writing something to share with my wife. Some ideas wormed their way into my brain, and I found I couldn’t let them go.”
And the author is pleased that these four new books have already found an audience. “I am very proud of these books, and I think each represents some new aspect of storytelling that has forced me to grow in an interesting way,” he said. “This has already been a year of surprises, and the success of the Kickstarter campaign was a giant surprise. I was blown away by the result—and am gratified and humbled.”