What inspired you to write about immortality in Elantris?
Honestly, it was zombie stories. I wondered what it would actually feel like.
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Elend in the Mists after Vin Leaves
I wanted to include a reference to mistwraiths in this book. They're a minor world element, but aspects of their origins are a piece of the puzzle that gets explained further. . .in book three.
The mists are indeed coming earlier in the day, and they are staying later in the mornings. They're getting stronger, you might say. Elend doesn't know this, but some of the very outer parts of the empire already have mists lingering almost to the afternoon. The answers to why are coming. . .in book three.
The mist spirit doesn't want Elend to go to Luthadel. And yes, it was using Allomancy on him. (Influencing his emotions, as it's done several places through this book.) It doesn't work very well. The thing doesn't have much of a mind remaining. The answer to why. . .yes, you guessed it. Book three.
As you can tell, I'm using this last section of the book to set up The Hero of Ages. I didn't want to do this–I wanted all three books to stand well on their own. However, the events in the third book are just too large to deal with in one novel, so they spilled over into the end of this one. I actually began foreshadowing a lot of these things in book one–they were just easier to hide then.
By the way, the scene where Elend stands there, looking into the darkness, hearing leaves rustle and thinking how frightening it is. . .well, that's a scene from my life. Nothing big, but one night I was just walking past a darkened backyard and I heard rustling like that. I stood for a while, looking into that darkness, realizing just how creepy it was to stand in shadowed light and stare into the void without knowing what was back there. I had to put that in a book.
Where did you get the idea of the Elantris magic system?
The drawing glyphs is based on Korean and Chinese writing systems. I'm Mormon, I served a mission in Korea for two years, loved the writing system and the language. It was part of what inspired me to do that. There is this really cool thing where in Korea they used Chinese characters to write for a long time and they are very difficult to learn because you just have to memorize them and there was a great king, named Sejong, who said, "My people are being mostly illiterate because this is so hard and we don't even speak Chinese, we are not Chinese. We use their characters, can we develop a language, a writing system that will allow us to do this" and his scholars got together and devised Korean which is a way to phonetically write Chinese characters kind of? It's their own thing. You write them in little groups to make little Chinese characters, it's the coolest thing ever. But you can write most Korean things, not everything, most you can write as a Chinese character or as a phonetic Korean construction of three letters that create that Chinese character sound and I liked that idea and it spun me into the idea of the Aons and the Aonic language and things like that.
<Where do your inspiration comes from?>
It's very different based on the book. Is there a specific... like, ask me a specific *inaudible*.
Way of Kings.
First idea was Dalinar which is: brother of king who... the king gets assassinated and the nephew is a bad king and where does that leave you? The second idea was storms shaping the world. Spren were based on Shinto Kami, the Shinto religion. Kaladin was based on the conflict between a surgeon learning *inaudible*. Different ideas for different things.
Do you get any of yours [inspiration from mythology]? Like I know you mentioned sciences and physics.
Yeah a lot of science and physics is where it's coming from. A lot of, I mean, having lived in Korea for two years, and speaking Korean, a lot of my linguistics come from Korean, and the idea of Spren comes from Asian mythology: the idea that everything has a soul. So that's an inspiration.
I want to look into ancient Asian culture, and it sound like something to do.
There's that. I would bet that the three kingdoms stuff has some influence on me, and Sun Tzu's Art of War has been an influence on me, and things like that.
Were any aspects of Elantris at all biographical? In my case, at least, my writing is often unintentionally reflective of my own experiences. Is this the case for you as well?
Every book is a little autobiographical. You can’t separate yourself from your work, though I try not to include intentional messages in my writing. (That doesn’t mean I’m opposed to my books having meaning; it just means that I don’t tend to approach them with the idea “I want to teach something in this book.”)
Each of the characters is a little autobiographical, something that is most noticeable to me in retrospect. Raoden represents my belief in the power of optimism. I’m an optimist. I can’t help it; it’s just the way I am. And so, a hero like Raoden often grows to represent my beliefs. His conflict–that of being cast into the most horrific place in the kingdom–is an outgrowth of me trying to devise the most hopeless situation I could, and then make the conflict for my character the attempt to retain hopeful in the face of that.
Sarene represents an amalgamation of several people I knew in my life, most notably Annie Gorringe, a friend of mine in college. Not that Sarene acts just like her, of course–but that some of the conflicts in Annie’s life, mixed with some of her personality quirks, inspired me to develop a character that ended up in my book.
Hrathen is as much a piece of me as Raoden. I served a mission for the LDS church, and while I did so, I thought often about the ‘right’ way to share one’s beliefs mixed with the ‘wrong’ way. It seemed to me that focusing on the beauty of your message, mixed with the needs of the individuals you met, was the way to go. When you start to preach just to be preaching–or to convert not because of your concern for those around you, but because you want to seem more powerful–you risk beating the life out of your own message. You also get in trouble when you focus on putting other religions down (or challenging others on their beliefs) instead of just talking about what makes you believe like you do.
So, in a way, Hrathen represents my fears of what I could have become–a warning to myself, if you will.
I chose to use Shallan as my other main character in Part One, rather than Dalinar, because I felt her sequence better offset Kaladin's. He was going to some very dark places, and her sequence is a little lighter.
She is the only "new" main character in this book. Kaladin (under a different name) was in Way of Kings Prime, and Dalinar was there virtually unchanged from how he is now. The character in Shallan's place, however, never panned out. That left me with work to do in order to replace Jasnah's ward.
Shallan grew out of my desire to have an artist character to do the sketches in the book. Those were things I'd wanted to do forever, but hadn't had the means to accomplish when writing the first version of the book. I now had the contacts and resources to do these drawings, like from the sketchbook of a natural historian such as Darwin.
One of the things that interests me about scientists in earlier eras is how broad their knowledge base was. You really could just be a "scientist" and that would mean that you had studied everything. Now, we need to specialize more, and our foundations seem to be less and less generalized. A physicist may not pay attention to sociology at all.
Classical scholars were different. You were expected to know languages, natural science, physical science, and theology all as if they were really one study. Shallan is my stab at writing someone like this.
So, don't consider [harmonium] magically-enhanced cesium. Consider it a magically-created alkali metal. It's going to share attributes with the alkali metals, and generally follows the trends of the others, save for its melting point.
But in answer to your real question, atium would be a platinum group metal. (And platinum itself was my model.)
The High Priest Tells Siri She Needs to Produce an Heir
Note that in a previous section where I said that I couldn't delve as deeply into Siri's plot in this book as I could have in one where there was only one viewpoint character, I didn't mean that I didn't intend to give her a lot of political intrigue and plot twisting. I only meant that I decided it was best to keep things a little more focused for her, rather than adding a lot of subplots.
I've been wanting to do a story like this one, with a woman sent to marriage in a politically hostile country, since I wrote Elantris—where Sarene arrived and found out her wedding couldn't happen. Again, this is an attempt to turn in a new direction for me, but the inspiration is the same. Sarene arrived and found that her fiancé had died and the court didn't care about her. Siri arrives and does get married, then has far too many people paying attention to her.
What was it that inspired you to write a superhero series in which all the super-powered heroes had become so corrupt?
What made you think about people with superpowers that could destroy the world, since most people make people with super powers the good guys?
I did it exactly because I hadn't ever seen anyone do it! I've enjoyed the superhero genre quite a bit during my years, and as a writer I'm generally looking to do something similar to stories I've loved in the past. At the same time, something in me rebels at just doing "the same thing" again. This is the conflict of fan against artist inside me and the result is usually that I spend time thinking about a genre of stories, and try to find a take on it that feels fresh and original. It's like eating my cake and having it too! I feel that I can add something to the genre, giving people a new story, yet also incorporate some of the things I love about the genre the things that make it really work.
Is Slowswift an Allomancer?
No. Slowswift is a cameo for Grandpa Tolkien.
Don't think I didn't notice the Jewish couple that Wit insulted in Way of Kings. Yonatan and Meirav, huh?
I loved it.
They're relatives of my editor, Moshe. He requested a tuckerizeation as a wedding gift to them, and I was happy to oblige, considering some of the Hebrew roots of various Alethi cultural features.
I know you went on mission in Korea, as did I, did anything come from that?
Yeah, quite a number of things have been influenced by it. I'd say the biggest influence is Elantris, the writing system is based on the idea of Korean and Chinese mixed together. But Asian philosophy, like the kami and things like that are also common in Korea, that belief that everything has a soul. So yeah it's had a huge influence on me, just the way I worldbuild-- I mean just the fact, I don't know if you've read The Way of Kings… I don't know if you know but everyone's Asian, right? Like Szeth, the white dude, is the one that looks weird them. And that's just because-- It was partially influenced by that.
I have a question in regards to the soulstamps… When Shai is creating it she blows flakes off of it. Are those flakes able to be enchanted and do they have any power?
Do the flakes that Shai blows off the front of the soulstamp have any hidden power? The answer is, no. I'm sorry, nice theory. The blowing off is actually just related directly to my experience. Soulstamps come from--
I lived in Korea for two years as a Mormon missionary, and then I went back to Taiwan to visit because there's a huge Brandon Sanderson fan base in Taiwan. For those who don't know, what happened is the publisher who got The Emperor's Sou-- No, no, the publisher who got Mistborn in Taiwan, published it the same month or so that Hunger Games came out, and everyone who was looking for-- read The Hunger Games wanted something like it ended up buying Mistborn. So actually-- *laughter* It's one of those things over here, like The Maze Runner or one of these other YA dystopians are what took off in the kind of halo of The Hunger Games. Over there, Mistborn was in the halo of The Hunger Games. It actually sold about as well in Taiwan which is-- So we just sold tons of copies in Taiwan. So I went back and it was really fun-- by the way you can go to my timeline on Facebook and whatever, and here, people like to ask questions. A lot of the superfans like to have a question and things like that. There, the superfans like to get pictures. And so there are like 5,000 pictures of me and teenage schoolgirls *laughter over Brandon* just all over Facebook from that period. But I went and visited the palace museum.
And anyway, I remembered a time in Korea where I'd seen someone carving these and he would do a little of this and blow it off, do a little bit and blow it off. Kind of the old-school carver. Now most days it's actually-- they're actually made by machines. You load in a design, you lock in your little tojong into the machine, and it goes and it will carve it out to look like the little computer design. But you see occasionally old school people carving them hand-- That's why I made it do that, because I'd actually seen someone carving one. There is not supposed to be any hidden magical meaning, other than the fact the stone that they're using is a traditional type of stone, which may or may not have Invested properties.
How did you come up with The Stormlight Archive's gem magic/technology?
One of the things to keep in mind is I that developed this book before Mistborn was published. I do wonder if sometimes people are going to say, "Oh, he did metals before, and now he's doing crystals." But the thoughts arose quite independently in my head. You may know that there is a unifying theory of magic for all of my worlds--a behind-the-scenes rationale. Like a lot of people believe there's unifying theory of physics, I have a unifying theory of magic that I try to work within in order to build my worlds. As an armchair scientist, believing in a unifying theory helps me. I'm always looking for interesting ways that magic can be transferred, and interesting ways that people can become users of magic. I don't want just to fall into expected methodologies. If you look at a lot of fantasy--and this is what I did in Mistborn so it's certainly not bad; or if it is, I'm part of the problem--a lot of magic is just something you're born with. You're born with this special power that is either genetic or placed upon you by fate, or something like that. In my books I want interesting and different ways of doing that. That's why in Warbreaker the magic is simply the ability to accumulate life force from other people, and anyone who does that becomes a practitioner of magic.
In The Way of Kings, I was looking for some sort of reservoir. Essentially, I wanted magical batteries, because I wanted to take this series toward developing a magical technology. The first book only hints at this, in some of the art and some of the things that are happening. There's a point where one character's fireplace gets replaced with a magical device that creates heat. And he's kind of sad, thinking something like, "I liked my hearth, but now I can touch this and it creates heat, which is still a good thing." But we're seeing the advent of this age, and therefore I wanted something that would work with a more mystical magic inside of a person and that could also form the basis for a mechanical magic. That was one aspect of it. Another big aspect is that I always like to have a visual representation, something in my magic to show that it's not all just happening abstractly but that you can see happen. I loved the imagery of glowing gemstones. When I wrote Mistborn I used Burning metals--metabolizing metals--because it's a natural process and it's an easy connection to make. Even though it's odd in some ways, it's natural in other ways; metabolizing food is how we all get our energy. The idea of a glowing object, illuminated and full of light, is a natural connection for the mind to make: This is a power source; this is a source of natural energy. And since I was working with the highstorms, I wanted some way that you could trap the energy of the storm and use it. The gemstones were an outgrowth of that.
Yeah, I figured I hadn't given Alan a cameo, and I wanted to. So, I named a mountain [in Mistborn: The Final Empire] after Morag.
It suddenly occurs to me that the "bridge four salute"... kind of looks like the actual number "4". Think that was intentional?
It was, but backward of what you assume. I wrote the book first, salute included, then Isaac and I designed the glyphs and writing systems.
Was Roshar mythos inspired by Shinto or Japanese mythology?
Yes, it was. There is definitely a large part of Asian mythology, specifically Korean. So less Shinto and more Korean but there's a deep relationship there, and I lived in Korea for two years as an LDS missionary.
This short story actually has a very interesting backstory.
If we flash back to January 2006, we find me having been dating Pemberly (her real name is Emily, but she goes by Pemberly online) for about two months. Our relationship was still quite new, and we weren't exclusive yet. (Though I wanted to be. I was pretty sure I wanted to marry her by that point.)
Well, at one of our dates, Pemberly told me an amazing story. It seems that one of her eighth grade students—a girl named Matisse—had done a book report on Elantris. Now, Matisse didn't know that her teacher was dating me. She didn't even know that Pemberly knew me. It was just one of those bizarre coincidences that happens just to prove to us all that the world is a funny place.
Now, when I say book report, that doesn't get across the scope of what Matisse did. Being a clever, creative girl, she went the extra mile. Instead of a simple write-up on the book, she did a Dragonology-style book on Elantris. This thing is amazing; it has sketches and bios of the characters, strips of Elantrian cloth stapled in as examples, little pouches filled with materials from the books, all of that. A total multisensory experience dedicated to the novel, all handmade. Pemberly showed it to me, and it was honestly just about the coolest, must humbling thing I'd ever seen. Matisse had obviously loved the book very much.
That set me thinking of something I could do as a thank-you surprise to Matisse, who still didn't know that her teacher was dating one of her favorite authors. I'd had this idea itching in the back of my head.
Who is Vin modeled after? Is she modeled after a real person?
She was not... I don't think there was a specific model for Vin.
So, I'm entering a portion of my current book [Mistborn] where I have to devise a lot of names. Anyone want a Cameo? I could throw in something close to your name, or perhaps a version of one of your usernames, if you wish. Firstcomers get speaking parts.
Well, Lord Rian Strobe just got added to the book. He's even got a line! (He asks a young lady to dance.)
OutKast: Elariel is a good fantasy name--won't have any problems with that.
Tekiel: Can probably use that one straight-up, if you want.
Okay, 'House Erikeller' just got mentioned as one of the major noble houses in the book. They probably won't have a big part, but they are weapons merchants, which I thought you might appreciate.
Gemm, I didn't so much as give you a character as base an entire cultural dialect off of your language patterns. They're a bunch of underground street punks who like to speak in a slang that (intentionally) confuses everyone else. There is a character in the book from that culture, though he's a few years younger than you.
Well, House Elariel and the Lady Stace Whiten just got cameos. House Elariel throws a party that some characters attend; Lady Whiten is a young woman that is supposedly one of characters' dates, but he ditches her. (Sorry. He's kind of like that.)
Okay, busy night.
First off, House Tekiel showed up in the book. In connection with that, I managed to work in House Geffenry and House Izenry.
My favorite for the night, however, is the appearance of Lord Charleir Entrone. He shows up only as a corpse, having been stabbed in the back while in a drunken stupor, but he has a reputation of being a twisted connoisseur of underground bloodfight gambling.
On The Orville, the enemy space aliens are called the Krill - any connection there?
Maybe? The word Krell is one of those ones that pops up in SF now and then, as an homage to The Forbidden Planet. (Which is why I chose it.)
I can see a network being more worried about using the actual name, and making the creators go with something similar but not the same. You'd have to ask them.
In The Rithmatist, you mention that Joel actually sneaks into the classroom, is that a spin-off of what you did?
I actually had a teacher once ask, "Who are you?" One of them actually picked me out. Fortunately, that was one that my roommate was going to, so I was able to [pretend I was just there with him].
Will you tell us a little about the sword from Warbreaker?
Nightblood is a weapon that I devised. He is partially inspired by my love of Michael Moorcock's writing. He was built into the cosmere using many of the foundational cosmere magic system things that exist on multiple worlds.
Lightsong's Climactic Scene, with His Vision of the Boat
Lightsong's vision and eventual death in this chapter are another of the big focus scenes. In fact, I'd say that this little scene here is my absolute favorite in the book. It's hard to explain why, but I get a chill whenever I read it. It's the chill of something you planned that turned out even better than you expected. (As opposed to the planning for the Siri/altar image, which turned out poorly and so had to be cut.)
I worked hard to bring this scene in my head to fruition. No other section of the book has been tweaked more in drafting—everything from changing it so Lightsong grabs the God King's hand as opposed to his foot, to reworking the imagery of the ocean. (That imagery, by the way, came from my honeymoon while standing on the cruise ship at night and staring into the churning white froth above deep black water.)
Many people on my forums called this event ahead of time—Lightsong healing the God King. I'm fine with that. It did seem like a very obvious setup. One character with powers he cannot use until healed, another with the power to heal someone one time. Sometimes it's okay to give people what they expect—particularly when the result is this scene. I hope they didn't expect it to be as powerful as it is (assuming readers like the scene as much as I do). I want this one to be very moving.
It's the final fulfillment of Lightsong's character. Note that even in the end, his sarcasm and irony come through. He told Siri not to depend on him because he would let her down. Well, Lightsong, you're a better man than you wanted us to believe. There's a reason why so many are willing to rely upon you.
So, where did you get the name Roshar from?
I have no idea. It's been twenty years that I've been calling it that. I don't know what my specific inspiration was. It's just one of those words that just felt right.
What kind of research did you do?
Mainly, it was about fighter pilots and what they go through, what g-force feels like, stuff like that. I'm indebted to a couple of real-life fighter pilots for helping me to get it right. Also, I had to research what it's like to live in societies where the machine of war grinds people up out of necessity to keep the country alive, what it does to them. I took inspiration from real-world regimes to create an amalgamation, which still doesn't go as far as it could have. I just included subtle markers to the reader to suggest the sort of stress they live under.
What was your inspiration for Wit, or who?
Hmm. You know, the closest thing I've been able to say is the court jester from King Lear, he's one of my favorite literary characters. But I'm not sure if I can, you know, if I can point to anyone specific other than that.
How did you come up with the geography on Roshar?
The geography on Roshar was developed as a natural outgrowth of the highstorm, which was the first concept for Roshar, which was inspired by the storm of Jupiter, which was me wanting to tell a story about a world with a continual magical storm. And then I built the ecology and all of these things up from that. Roshar had to grow up--I had to find a mechanism by which stone was deposited by rain, because I felt that the constant weathering over that long of a time would leave no continents. So the crem was my kind of scientific-with-one-foot-in-magic hack on keeping the continent. So the continent does drift. They don't have plate tectonics. The continent actually moves as it gets weathered on the east and gets pushed that direction over millennia of time.
The Kandra were my favorite part of the Mistborn series. What was your inspiration for them?
For the kandra, I started with the idea that a thieving crew would need a good "inside man" type, who could do costumes. None of the powers fit this, but I knew I also wanted to foreshadow Hemalurgy. From there, developing them was an organic process digging deeply into the history and worldbuilding I was doing.
The idea of the wolfhound kandra appealed to me a great deal before even starting the first book, and was where I targeted my plotting after it struck me.
What was Skyward inspired by and how long have you been working on it?
I've been working on it since about 2012, on and off. It was inspired by my love of stories about kids finding dragon eggs.
How did you get the idea for The Rithmatist?
The Rithmatist started with the drawings. I did the little doodles first, of all the defenses and things. And I just started drawing and drawing and drawing. And I drew all those out, and I thought, "Okay, I'm gonna write a book around this idea." I wanted to do something where people played a sport with magic, rather than only using it for, like, war and things.
Talking Horses that Talk about Their Feelings
A fun story about this chapters beings by me admitting that I didn't come up with the "TenSoon digests a horse" trick at first. I tried writing this scene with Sazed clinging to TenSoon's wolfhound back as they ran to the south. It was awkward to describe, even more awkward to imagine, and it never worked that well.
Eventually, while working on a solution to the problem of getting Sazed south to the Homeland, I realized that TenSoon could just digest another body and use that. Easy fix, and one that fit marvelously with the magic and setting.
This intersects another story relating to my friend Nate Hatfield, one of the guys in my writing group. He's a big fan of Dinosaur Comics, a webcomic that often deals with philosophy or literary criticism. Years ago, he brought a comic to the group where one of the characters in the comic strip complains that fantasy books are all about talking horses that talk about their feelings.
All through the writing of book two of Mistborn, Nate took delight in the Vin/TenSoon scenes as they were about a talking dog who talks about his feelings. He never let me live that connection down.
And then, almost just for him, I had TenSoon take on the body of a horse for a few chapters. I doubt I'll ever hear that end of that one. At least he didn't end up saying much about his feelings. ;)
What is the inspiration for the Parshendi?
There are a lot of different inspirations. One is wanting to build out of the setting a species that interacted with the setting and had a symbiotic relationship with the setting. The other was the idea of a people whose caste system, you could change castes and physically change into other castes of the system. So something like the hives you see, where you can switch from worker to various different tasks. I liked the cultural aspects of what that did.
Is Re-Shephir related at all to the Midnight Essence in Aether of Night?
Yes. It's me, like-- Related in that Aether of Night isn't canon, and I really liked how that worked in the cosmere, and I ported it to this instead. So that's like--
So you're not gonna write Aether of Night?
Aether of Night, I might eventually write, but the Mid--
It may be different?
What inspired the Shattered Plains?
Little Wild Horse Canyon and others in southern Utah. That's what inspired the chasms.
What influenced the creation of the writing system in Warbreaker?
I'd been writing a lot of kind of grungy books, Mistborn and Elantris are both sort of grimy, and my editor pointed that out and suggested I write something colorful.
Where did you get the idea of a world ravaged by fierce storms?
The original seed of an idea was the storm of Jupiter, this massive persistent storm. Of course, that's a gas giant. The physics are very different. But I remember one day staring at a picture of Jupiter and thinking about a storm that circled the world that was massively powerful. That was one of those seeds that stuck in my brain. This sort of thing happened over months and years until that seed grew and developed and mixed with other things I was thinking of, and the result was Roshar.
This is a question I was wondering when you did Steelheart. When you were developing the story did you ever think of what kind of Epic you would be?
*laughs* Uh, no, I didn't really. My-- The Alcatraz books were kind of focused on dumb things I do. Steelheart I was really just kind of looking at comic book lore, and dealing with, you know, tropes from comic books.
But in that car, where you thought, "If I had super powers..."
Oh yeah, that's true!
What were you going to do to that car?
I was gonna blow up the car.
So there's your answer.
Yeah, blow up the car, yeah.
Captain Goradel, by the way, is named after my friend Richard Gordon.
Nazh is an embodiment of his adventurous spirit, that he expresses through the books. Nazh is also much grumpier than he is and gets visibly angry when Isaac himself wouldn't.
Nazh is basically a young Peter Capaldi and is very prone to swearing when he is off screen.
How did you develop M-bot?
M-Bot grew out of many different inspirations. I love quirky and odd robots and so you can go all the way back to some science fiction history and you'll find all my inspiration.
When Jasnah takes Shallan on as a ward, she teaches her a strategy for research. Is that strategy you use when you are doing research?
No. It's a strategy like the one they tried to teach me in college, and I was never good at.
So you used it as a-- You used it intentionally because of?
Not that I don't like it. My brain doesn't work the way that note-taking methodology worked. I know it worked for some people, and probably if I had spent more time on it, then I would have. But I work in a different way.
I've seen a lot of forum posts about the mistcloaks themselves. What is the standard wear underneath those?
So there isn't a lot of standardization, because Mistborn are rare and each Mistborn commissions their own cloak. Most of the time, I think you're going to find that they would wear a buttoning shirt with short sleeves. Probably something dark would be my guess, probably a dark gray. But it just really depends on the person.
Okay. I was thinking about working up a Mistborn cosplay--
My theme for clothing other than miscloaks was a look a little of-- Dickensian London was my inspiration, so.
Which bit of Magic lore inspired Davriel?
Mostly me thinking about what I'd do if I were to write a story (I started thinking about this years before I got the chance.) I'd say the biggest influence might have been Umezawa, as I really liked the way a black-aligned hero played in that story.
We've seen some hints of the over-arching cosmere story arc, what was the inspiration behind that story originally?
I had an idea for a book when I was fifteen and just getting into fantasy novels—just getting into meaning, reading everything I could get my hands on and diving in face first—and I developed that idea over the next few years. I started writing and realized I was just no good as a writer yet. Which was okay, it wasn't a big deal to me. I realized this story was beyond my ability to approach, it was a vast, enormous story. And so, years later when I was writing Elantris I thought "Well let's just pretend I wrote that book and it was awesome and it's the prelude to what's going on here." That expanded into something much larger and much greater.
I've mentioned before, part of my inspiration for this was the fact that one of my favorite writers, Asimov, later decided to connect two of his main story universes, the Robot books and the Foundation books. It was really cool when he did it and I felt what would happen if I started doing something like this from the get go. I've known several authors who do it at the end of their careers—well I guess Stephen King's not even at the end of his career, in the middle of his career—saying let me tie a bunch of these things together. What if I seeded all of this from the get go and use this story, this awesome story, that I wasn't able to write when I was younger as a foundation for it.
So, could you give us some examples of how the ideals that spren represent work in other magic systems, like we have Forging where you get plausibility, or Returned how they're beautiful or any other systems?
Okay, one more time on that.
Okay, so you know the ideals the spren are manifestations--
How-- Do those have impacts on other magic systems?
Yes, yes, in the same way the Returned- that's the exact same system at work there.
Is it the same reason why the Lord Ruler has to die of old age, and why you can't heal yourself into being an octopus or something?
Um... Yes, that is all connected in the exact same way.
Okay, so it's all like these highfalutin Spiritual ideals?
And are there like, median Cognitive ideals that gradually kind of influence these, or--
Yeah, they transcend between the three. I mean the original concept for the Three Realms is Platonic philosophy.
So it goes up *makes absurd reverse-waterfall hand gesture*
Yeah, it goes up and it comes back down. A lot of the Cognitive is-- So like, the Cognitive has a bigger effect on how you can heal and things like that. Does that make sense?
But the power to heal is a actually a Spiritual thing.
So it's like the Spiritual says "I want to be like this" and the Cognitive is like "Okay I'll try really hard to be like that, but I have a limit."
Right. Right. Filtered through how you see yourself, yeah.
By the way, I took the bit where Sarene judged Raoden's height from real-life experience. My friend, Annie Gorringe, always used to talk about how her near 6' height sometimes made it difficult for her to find men to date. Often, the first thing she'd do when she was interested in a man was judge his height compared to her own.
Watch out, folks. If you know an author, you have to watch your tongues. Anything you say is fair game to be used in a novel, as far as we're concerned.
Where did you get the idea for the gemhearts.
So, I wanted-- in the books, I wanted there to be an economic component to the magic, like, something that was based on the money in the world. And I knew I wanted to use the gemstones, but I also knew they would be used up really quickly by the magic, with Soulcasting. So, I built something into the creatures of the world, so that we could renew the gemstones, so they wouldn't all just be gone after a few hundred years.
Skyward question! The light line is mentioned as using two fingers to shoot it out. Are they the middle two fingers, and was this inspired by any jovial community arachnid folk?
First draft didn't have specific controls to shoot it out, and during revisions, I thought, "Oh, what the heck. It's not a big part of the story anyway." So yes. :)