Brandon Royal

The Author

Q & A Session

  • Q & A Session
  • Maven Publishing

    Interest in writing and authorship

    Profile, travel highlights, and personal insights

Photo of Brandon Royal on camel in northern China

What is Maven Publishing?

I currently oversee the publication and distribution of my own line of books. I am Managing Director of Maven Publishing and am working to make my education books a global brand.

Feel free to download a 2013 Maven Publishing Catalog, containing descriptions of all books under my authorship and published by Maven Publishing.

What do you consider to your key strength as an author, teacher, and publisher?

Although I am an author, I really think of myself as an educational product developer. Since college, I've been told I possessed a knack for distilling information. As an instructor, who taught for several years at Kaplan Educational Centers in Hong Kong, I feel I have a distinct talent for being able to understand how to present information, including how to choose relevant follow-up problems, to help students learn in the most efficient manner possible. My most notable strength then as a content provider is the ability to create highly distilled, value-added content. The singular question I ask when thinking about and preparing material is: "What material do I wish I would have had as a student/reader, but that wasn't available to me?"

What do you find enjoyable or rewarding about what you do?

The thing I find most enjoyable about writing is the feeling that I'm influencing a marketplace by creating a superior "mousetrap." I like product development. I like the idea of psychologically affecting people, and am secretly motivated by the possibility that someone, somewhere is thinking, "Wow, this is good stuff."

When did your interest in writing begin?

I became interested in writing while first introduced to poetry in junior high school. One of my poems written in the eighth grade was rated as the best of that year and reprinted in the school newspaper. Although I did not grow up in a family of avid readers, I've felt a natural affinity for books from an early age.

My interest in writing professionally began after completing fiction and scriptwriting courses at Harvard University in the summer of 1994. Since then I have authored twelve books and written across a diverse spectrum, penning fiction, non-fiction, short stories, essays, news articles, speeches, poetry, and personal quotations. Reviews of my books have appeared in Time Asia magazine, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal of America, Midwest Book Review, The Asian Review of Books, Asia Times Online, and

What are examples of some of your personal quotations that you have authored and/or published?

How would you describe yourself?

In one sentence: "I am an accountant by training, an anthropologist by disposition, a writer by choice, and an occasional bar patron by preference."

Can I know more about your bio?

I was born in Western Canada but spent my early childhood in Eastern Canada. Among my special memories of youth include summers cottaging at the Muskoka Lakes in Ontario. The dream was always the same — an hour before daybreak, a 12-foot Springbok aluminum boat with a 9.8 HP Mercury engine, and an artificial Rapala minnow. Trolling for Smallmouth Bass on unbroken lake water seemed endlessly fascinating. I think this experience nurtured my appreciation for the outdoors, and my sense of adventure and independence.

After graduating from high school in Calgary, Canada, I headed for warmer climes and graduated from San Diego State University. My undergraduate days were formative ones: at different times I was a member of the varsity tennis team, varsity debate team, and a member of a business fraternity and social fraternity.

After graduation I worked for a year in Southern California in the computer industry. My desire to study, work, and live internationally brought me next to Europe and then to China in May 1988 to attend language studies at Beijing University. Here I discovered a magical time, with China opening its doors to the world, Chinese students wanting to meet foreigners, and foreigners locked in camaraderie each with their own stories of adventure and misadventure. In the spring of 1989, I worked for CTV Beijing to cover the Gorbachev visit and, by default, the ensuing student demonstrations which led to that demarcation in modern Chinese history known as Tiananmen Square. My live broadcast on June 5, 1989 (Tthe Last Canadian at Beijing University") was aired nationally in Canada by the CBC.

When I left Beijing, China, I joined the Ernst & Young accounting group in Hong Kong. As a joint-venture auditor in the China Division, I audited client companies including Coca-Cola, McCormick Seasoning and Foodstuffs Company, and the Hilton and Holiday Inn Hotels. Upon graduating from the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business in 1995, I returned to Asia and began work in the education field.

My tenure in test preparation began when first serving as Director of Business Development (in Hong Kong) for US-based Kaplan Educational Centers - a Washington Post subsidiary and the oldest and largest test preparatory organization in the world. Through my subsequent work as a GMAT test-prep instructor and MBA admissions coach, I helped hundreds of applicants achieve acceptance at one or more of the world's leading business programs. As one of Asia's most well-known admissions specialists, I conducted numerous "Getting into Business School" seminars for the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, and contributed to various news and TV programs including the South China Morning Post newspaper, the Far Eastern Economic Review and Fortune (China) magazines, and CNBC's Smart Money Program.

In 1998 I founded Royal Publications, and began publishing a series of education test-prep books and selling them through Hong Kong bookstores. My forays in publishing had begun. I also conducted corporate training work seminars for such well-known organizations as AT&T, ATKearney, Australian Society of CPAs, Bank of East Asia, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Hongkong International Terminals (Hutchison Whampoa Group), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, JP Morgan, Mast Industries, Merrill Lynch, and Pacific Century Insurance.

My current memberships and affiliations include: IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association, Manhattan Beach, CA, USA); SPAN (Small Publishers Association of North America, Colorado Springs, CO, USA); SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists, and Writers Network, Ojai, CA, USA); FPA (Florida Publishing Association); Beta Theta Pi General Fraternity; Delta Sigma Pi Professional Fraternity; The Glencoe Club (Calgary, Canada).

My past memberships and affiliations have included: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; Canadian Chamber of Commerce; Contributing Editor, Hong Kong Culture magazine; Co-Vice Chair of the Young Professionals Committee, American Chamber of Commerce (Hong Kong); Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong; Gibralter’s International Who’s Who of Professionals; IPAC (Independent Publishers Association of Canada); MBA Alumni Chair, University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business (Hong Kong).

My alma maters include San Diego State University (Bachelor of Science in Accounting) and the University of Chicago (Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and Operations Management). I also attended summer school at both Yale University (courses in Mandarin Chinese Language and Computer Science) and Harvard University (courses in Fiction Writing and Script Writing).

Your hometown?

Calgary, Canada.

I noticed you went to language school at Beijing University. Do you have a Chinese name?

Yes. My Chinese name is . This is pronounced "rong bing ming" (in Mandarin) or "wing bing ming" (in Cantonese). It translates roughly as "bright and memorable inscription."

What sports did you play growing up?

My two favorite sports while growing up were ice hockey and tennis. I played hockey since the age of five (in Eastern Canada) and tennis since the age of thirteen (in Western Canada). I played in the Canadian National Junior Tennis Championships for three consecutive years as a junior.

What are a couple of your travel highlights?

Two of my favorite travel sojourns included taking the Trans-Siberian Train from Beijing to Moscow and driving Highway 1 on the North American West Coast all the way from San Diego to Vancouver. Coincidentally both these trips took exactly six days. In recent years, travel destinations have included the Maritimes (Canada), Victoria B.C., Oregon, Whitehorse (Yukon), Skagway (Alaska), Cuba, Goa (India), Puerto Vallarta (Mexico), Thailand, Cambodia (Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, and Hawaii (attended the 2013 Aloha Writer's Conference in Maui).

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