Bestselling author features Southern Utah as background for latest story

ST. GEORGE – New York Times bestselling author David Farland has written dozens of books. He’s set them in diverse places such as Tatooine, like in his novel “Star Wars: The Courtship of Princess Leia,” 1940’s Egypt, with his Mummy books based off “The Scorpion King” movies, and on a wide variety of his own worlds. But for his latest novel, “Nightingale,” Farland set the tale quite literally in his own backyard.  

“My daughter went to the Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts,” Farland said, “which is set in the gorgeous red-rock canyons in Snow Canyon State Park. Every time I would take her to school, I’d think, this has got to be the coolest school in the world. Why couldn’t I have gone here? So when I came up with the idea for “Nightingale,” I decided to set it literally in my own hometown.”

The novel follows the story of 16-year-old Bron Jones, who was abandoned in the Utah desert at birth. Raised in foster care, Bron is kicked out of one home after another for being “too strange.” Finally, he is taken in by a wonderful, new teacher at Tuacahn, a woman who recognizes that, like her, Bron isn’t human. He’s a “masaak”—a species similar to humans but has unique powers and abilities.

A number of reviewers have commented on the “extraordinary sense of setting” in the tale, stating that it brings Utah to life.

“I think that transporting an audience is one of a writer’s primary jobs,” Farland said. “One great agent in the field, Albert Zuckerman, says that authors should choose ‘sexy locations’ to set their stories in, places like Paris and London, places that a reader would want to visit. But what’s sexier than Utah? Once you’ve been to Bryce, everywhere else seems second-rate.”

So far the reviews for “Nightingale” have been positive. In a video review, Tuacahn student Amber Mutton said it was her favorite book ever, “better than Twilight.”

Two other local teens, Joe Thompson and Spencer Wolverton, found that they couldn’t read it fast or often enough.

One professional book reviewer, A. Benson, said: “It’s High School Musical falling in love with Twilight and having Harry Potter babies. I Love, love, loved everything about it – highly recommended.”

Farland chuckled at that particular review. “I couldn’t quite figure out how to tell people what the book is about. I think she explains it as succinctly as possible.”

David Farland has taught a number of successful writers, including Brandon Sanderson, author of the “Wheel of Time” series; Brandon Mull, the creator of “Fablehaven;” and Stephenie Meyer, the mind behind the “Twilight” series.

The book is now available at Costco stores throughout Utah, at E-born books, and at some Barnes & Noble bookstores. Farland will soon be kicking off a West Coast signing tour.

“Nightingale” can also be purchased as a hardcover, e-book, audio book, and enhanced novel for the iPad online at The enhanced novel uses new technology to incorporate illustrations, author notes, and even music. “Nightingale’s” soundtrack, by James Guymon, head of the American Composer’s Guild, can also be sampled and purchased at the site.

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