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8 | MARCH 10, 2016
HITS&MISSES BY KATHARINE BIELE
RANDOM QUESTIONS, SURPRISING ANSWERS
Deseret News hit on perhaps the most dire issue facing Utah—its dying extractive industries. Amy Joi O’Donoghue’s frontpage story talked about the misery in Uintah and Duchesne counties and how more than 3,000 nonfarm jobs have been lost in the past year. People in the oil-and-gas industry are suffering, despite the Wasatch Front just busting with jobs in a bright economy. Then along comes the Legislature with Senate Bill 246, proposing to invest $53 million in mineral lease revenue so that Utah can access a port in Oakland, Calif. You know, to send coal back and forth. Oh, and not to forget Senate Bill 115, the “clean coal bill,” which will raise rates and transfer the risk to ratepayers without due process. Lawmakers all about saving these industries, now vegetating on life support, even as O’Donoghue pointed out the downside of dependence on them. But the Legislature is bent on heroic measures at the end of life rather than nurturing it at the beginning.
Playing Both Sides
Meanwhile Rocky Mountain Power is working to get the best from both worlds, according to Radio West. It’s going to build a 20-megawatt solar farm in Holden, and customers will be able to subscribe to solar energy without installing panels. This is actually an example of a company re-evaluating its direction for the future—for its own health and for that of its customers. But don’t get us wrong. RMP still wants to hedge its bets. With Senate Bill 115, STEP legislation, RMP could ultimately kill the solar industry, solar advocates say. Isn’t that ironic? RMP is also asking ratepayers to take on the risk of utility rates and likely pay more.
Speaking of dying industries, the cancer-stricken Salt Lake Tribune just announced another amputation—Tuesdays, comics and television. Depressing, isn’t it? Tuesdays were just as poorly read as Mondays, so why not reduce print to just two sections? Readers balked, however, at discontinuing all TV listings, so broadcast and public stations will continue. A March article in the Nation notes, “In 2007, there were 55,000 full-time journalists at nearly 1,400 daily papers; in 2015, there were 32,900,” according to the American Society of News Editors and the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Florida International University. No doubt, the Deseret News is being the bully in the Trib’s decline, but all newspapers are waking up too late to the seismic shift in readership. “If we find there are better choices to be made, we will implement them,” was Publisher Terry Orme’s sad statement.
Legislative Life Support
Local best-selling author Brandon Mull has published more than a dozen books since his first, Fablehaven, hit shelves 10 years ago. He’s inspired by the likes of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. Though he writes primarily for children, in an email interview with City Weekly, Mull says kids don’t outnumber adult readers at his signings very much at all. His latest novel, Five Kingdoms: Death Weavers, hits the shelves March 15. To celebrate, Mull will appear at a book signing at The King’s English Bookshop (1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100, KingsEnglish. com) on March 18 at 7 p.m.
Many of your novels feature fantasy elements: Your Fablehaven series has dragons, fairies, centaurs, satyrs and other magical creatures. What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?
I love the big imagination of fantasy. I love taking elements that are larger than life and helping them feel real and then searching for truths in them. I enjoy that, in fantasy, I can design a world or a race or a type of magic that serves the story I wish to tell.
Your latest, Five Kingdoms: Death Weavers, is the fourth in your Five Kingdoms series. What kind of work goes into such a project?
Among other things, it requires tons of daydreaming, planning and making connections. Figuring out meaningful setups and payoffs. Part of what made Five Kingdoms possible are the other fantasy books I’ve written. I borrowed from everything I have learned to design a big, complex ride. I also borrowed some of the fantasy elements I invented in my Beyonders series and gave them new life in Five Kingdoms.
As a national author who has made Utah his home, what is it like interacting with local fans? Is it different when you tour across the nation?
Not long ago, I visited Jakarta, Indonesia, where audiences of kids were singing songs about Fablehaven. Next week, I go to Singapore to speak at a bunch of schools. And I’ve also visited many schools here in the Salt Lake area. My local fans are amazing. Because I’ve done a lot of touring in Utah, I have a lot of devoted readers, young and old. But whether near or far, it is always a relief when somebody enjoys one of my stories.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Care to share any tips, tricks or pitfalls you’ve learned from over your career?
Pay attention to how your favorite writers build their scenes, and practice building your own scenes. Write the kind of stories you most want to read. Write what you’re most passionate about—that will give you the best chance that others will care as well. Don’t stress about succeeding immediately.
—MATT KUNES email@example.com