Who is Jonathan Bender?
Jonathan is the author of the upcoming book, LEGO: A Love Story, the basic premise of which is a chronicle in the year of a life of an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO). LEGO: A Love Story will have its world-debut at BrickMagic, and I plan to be there to (among other things) get my own autographed copy. [note: thought the official release date is May, a number of sellers seem to have the book available already]
Jonathan’s been blogging about the experience for a while, and it’s been great to get to know him this way.
Jonathan took a few minutes this week to answer some questions I had for BricksABillion.
I stated in The Brick Side episode 42 that your premise was to become “an AFOL for a year” and that this was impossible, there is no turning back! Now that the year is up, are you in withdrawal? Have you had to get counseling?
JB: I still have a fair number of LEGO bricks kicking around the house, although (and I imagine it’s a common complaint among AFOLs), I don’t get to build as much as I’d like these days. So far no counseling, but I have an extremely tolerant wife.
You’ve mentioned a childhood ambition of wanting to be a master builder, and that the book was originally going to be how to become one. What changed?
JB: Frankly, I could see that my skills wouldn’t progress quickly enough. In addition, the world of LEGO builders was less competitive than I initially expected, meaning the story became more about the community than competition.
What do you like to build? Are you strictly a sets guy—or have you gotten into MOCs at all?
JB: I love dabbling in all of the different themes—I’ve enjoyed putting together vignettes, micro-scale buildings, and even a vending machine prototype. Some of my MOCs are featured in the book, but I’ll admit I’ve been horrible at taking pictures of my creations. I am on Flickr, but those are mostly convention and LEGOLAND photos.
Is there an “official book tour?”
JB: My publisher, John Wiley & Sons, has been great. They’re helping me go to two LEGO conventions over the next two months—Brick Magic and Brick World. And I’ll be doing signings and talks at libraries and book stores around the country. [BB: check out the list of Author Events for a location near you]
Tell us about your day job. Is this one of those things that you come home from everyday and spend the evening building with LEGO, and one day soon you’ll just quit and be the next Nathan Sawaya?
JB: I’m a writer—so this book has been my day job, which makes me feel very fortunate. I currently have two regular writing gigs as a freelancer for The Kansas City Star and a food blogger for the The Pitch Weekly. I’m also working on ideas for as yet un-named book #2 in my secret lab/home office. I love my job and I certainly wouldn’t want to quit, plus, there is only one Nathan.
Speaking of Nathan Sawaya … the book cover is brilliant. But it’s not like you can bribe a man who has over a million LEGO bricks in his office with more … LEGO bricks—so how did you land a Sawaya cover? (assuming you can tell and not have to kill us afterward…)
JB: Wiley approached Nathan and he agreed to do the cover, as well as the book video. He’s been a great supporter of the book, which has been really nice.
What is your favorite LEGO piece?
JB: I call it a lunchbox, but it’s a 1×2 clamp.
What is your favorite LEGO set ever? (whether or not you own it)
JB: It might be: 8970—Robo Attack—I’m a sucker for robots that are threatening to take over downtown.