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Just who is this Brandon Spars?


"Well, first off, he’s at least eight feet tall. You can’t tell by looking at him if he’s entertaining.  Some people look like they have interesting stories to tell. Some look like they may work in finance. Brandon sorta leans toward the finance side. Or a high-school teacher, which makes sense, because he is a high school teacher. But that just adds to his mystique."

—Bil Lepp

A nationally renowned storyteller—five time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest, author, and recording artist


About Brandon

Brandon has been a college and high school instructor for twenty-five years, primarily at UC Berkeley and Sonoma Academy. He has also taught at the College of the Marshall Islands, The Padang Teaching Institute in Sumatra, The University of Mahasaraswati in Bali, Indonesia. He received his doctorate in an interdisciplinary program at UC Berkeley in 2002.

As a teacher of both high school humanities and college writing, Brandon has always brought storytelling into his lessons, whether focusing on ancient history or English language acquisition. He has contributed to countless workshops and conferences on the intersection between storytelling, ancient history, and pedagogy. Brandon is a regular Bay Area storyteller as well as a TEDx speaker and a five-time champion of the Moth StorySLAM (including two GrandSLAMS).


Rangda: The Legendary Goddess of Bali

August 10, 2020

Rangda: The Legendary Goddess of Bali examines the layered origins of this premier Southeast Asian goddess. As prominent as Pele of the Polynesian Islands, Rangda is perhaps the most familiar, most feared, and most revered deity, regularly represented by her unique and horrifying mask in the temples of Bali while also adorning the tourist pamphlets and t-shirts of Kuta Beach. Even though prominent, she has been both misunderstood and misrepresented. This book delves into her textual origins in the lontar tradition (palm leaf manuscripts) and combines that with a close look at her crucial role in Balinese cleansing rituals before arriving at how modern Indonesian writers are trying to free this goddess from her imprisonment by state and patriarchal powers. In an illustrated section, the author and illustrator combine their talents to portray Rangda’s power to captivate and enchant today and through the ages.


Setting a Plot: The Impact of Geography on Culture, Myth, and Storytelling

August 24, 2019

"Capacious in its coverage and compellingly written, Brandon Spars reflects on how the stories we tell—not only their settings but their plots, characters, and themes—are conditioned by the environments we inhabit. With refreshing candor, Spars describes experiences teaching various oral traditions that have emerged from valleys, islands, deserts, and mountains. This book is smart and fun to read."

Bryan Wagner, Dept. of English, University of California, Berkeley.

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Live to Tell Again: Tales of Self-Discovery and Healing

June 18, 2019

*Winner of the Storytelling World 2019 Honors for Special Storytelling Resources category

Live to Tell Again is the second book in this series that explores the art and craft of storytelling. This volume explores storytelling as a means to discover meaning and purpose in one's life, using moments in which difficult decisions are made as material for generating powerful personal stories. One story even highlights the potential for storytelling to aid in the process of healing after a tragic event. The October fires of 2017 in Santa Rosa devastated a community. Live to Tell Again captures some of the stories told at a live event the author hosted called "Thicker Than Smoke," weaving them together in a way that reveals not only the personal loss t suffered by the storytellers but also the hope, dignity, and humor that are helping to heal and renew the community. Live to Tell Again provides excellent opportunities to study the structure and development of personal narrative, as well as a unique and lively manner of learning spoken English.


Live to Tell: Six Award-Winning Tales

February 22, 2017

*Winner of the Storytelling World 2019 Honors for Special Storytelling Resources category

Live to Tell explores the art and craft of storytelling in such a way that readers can appreciate the dynamic between the written page and the live stage. The scripts for six award-winning tales are anthologized in this collection, with links to live performances from storytelling competitions, including The Moth StorySLAM. Additionally, Live to Tell brings storytelling into the ESL, high school, and college classroom, providing excellent opportunities to learn spoken English and reflect on the elements that make up a lively tale told in an animated way. This collection will inspire students and storytellers alike to bring their own personal narratives to life--and possibly even to the stage.



  • Thu, Dec 31
    Online Event
    Dec 31, 2020, 7:30 AM PST – Jan 01, 2021, 12:30 AM PST
    Online Event
    Brandon will be telling at 8:15 pm PST on December 31. 2020 will be remembered by the wide-ranging events - from election to pandemic, from wildfires to hurricanes, from KPop to TikTok, from murder hornets to UFO sightings, from MAGA rallies to Black Lives Matter protests - what a year!
  • Dec 05, 2020, 6:00 PM
    Online event
    Join us for an evening of celebratory stories as we (finally!) close in on the end of 2020. No live shows, no vacations, no toilet paper, it has been a year filled with adapting to a new reality.
  • Tue, Nov 10
    Online Event
    Nov 10, 2020, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
    Online Event
    A Worldwide Storytelling Event Stories for Everyone Tellabration!™ 2020 Presented by The Inland Valley Storytellers in Southern California Do Tell Story Swap of Sonoma County

Get In Touch

One of the greatest perks of my job is getting feedback and interacting with readers. Contact me if you’ve got any comments or questions for me, I’d love to hear from you.

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©2019 by Brandon Spars