Bestselling new book and a battle with mental illness

Miles Shaw

Image from Flickr

A small group gathered at the Weber County Library on 25th St. on Oct. 10 to hear acclaimed best-selling author Robison Wells discuss the new book he co-wrote with James Patterson, The Warning, and his career experiences as a writer.

“I got into writing kind of backwards. I wasn’t really interested in reading growing up but fell in love with it in college,” Wells said.

He said his brother, Dan Wells, also a best-selling author, was very interested in reading and wanted to be a writer by the time he was in the second grade.

“I didn’t want to be in my brother’s shadow, so I did things that he didn’t. He was good at writing, so I was good at math. I played sports, and he didn’t,” Wells said.

The first book that sparked Wells’ interest in reading and creating his own stories was Huckleberry Finn. He shared that he read this book several times while he visited his mother in the hospital.

“I realized maybe my English teachers were onto something when they told me to read these books, and so I made a list of all the books I should’ve read in high school,” Wells said.

With this interest in reading, he came up with a story idea and took the idea to his brother. His brother said he was working on something else and that he should write the book himself.

Wells started writing and went to his brother’s writing group, which included about four other people. In this group was Brandon Sanderson, who would go on to be a best-selling author.

After being published in the local market in Utah, he went on to get his Masters of Business Administration from BYU. He was having a hard time finding work, and his brother said that if he wrote a science-fiction/fantasy novel, he would pay for him to go to the World Fantasy Convention.

The problem was that the convention was only two months away. He wrote the book in eleven days, and two weeks after attending the convention, he got an agent. The book he was working on would go on to be his book Variant. This book would earn him a five-book deal with Harper Collins Publishing.

Wells’ writing career was not the only part of his life that he discussed, but also his battle with mental illness. After being diagnosed with depression and OCD, just a few years ago he was diagnosed again, but with schizophrenia.

Wells discussed how the disease has affected his life and writing and how he is doing much better now because of a new medication that he is taking.

“I’m glad he was here to share, and I’ve read many of his books, and we have many of them here in our collection,” One of the librarians, Josh Clemens, said.

Chairwoman of Weber Book Links Kathy Gambles, who helps with these events, said, “I really liked his presentation and that he talked about a dimension of writing that I haven’t considered before.”

The book festival will continue on Oct. 15 at the Pleasant Valley Branch of the Weber County Library as fantasy writer J.M. Sullivan presents at 7 p.m.