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EuroCon 2016 ()
#52 Copy

Questioner

You sort of have to be productive to write the Cosmere, because it's really complex. Did you have it planned in advance when you first started, did you really have a very, very clear idea of what you wanted, or was it just the structure?

Brandon Sanderson

So, for those who don't know, it has been referenced, my epic fantasies are connected behind the scenes with a lot of secret characters who are moving between the different stories. If you haven't read my books, don't get intimidated by that. It is mostly to be found if you dig for it, but not intended to be distracting from the main story of each book.

And it did start from the beginning, at least from the beginning of Elantris, which was actually the sixth book that I wrote. It wasn't there in the first few books, but by the time I wrote Elantris it was there. I can trace the idea to a couple of places. From a very young age, when I would read books, I can remember doing this for Anne McCaffrey, it was always very fun to me to imagine a character that was hiding behind the scenes in the story that she wrote that I had inserted, that the other characters didn't know this character's secret motive, and they would appear in the various books that I read. I would say, "Oh, that's him. Ooh, that's him in this other book," written by different authors. That is the origin of the character Hoid, most likely.

I can also point toward Isaac Asimov as an inspiration. In the late 80's, early 90's, when I was first becoming a big fan of fantasy and science fiction, I read Foundation, and then read the robot books, and then read his connecting the two of them together, which was one of those moments that broke my brain, and as I've read other people's works, I've found other authors who did similar things. Michael Moorcock is one, even the Marvel and DC comics did a lot of this. Famously, Stephen King did it with the Dark Tower books.

One theme I've noticed is that many of them feel like they decided to add this as a feature after having finished several books, and thought, "What a cool idea, I will connect them," and having seen them do this, and like it, I ask the question, "What if someone started from the get-go, from the first book, setting up a hidden epic behind the scenes?" Like most writers, I owe a great deal to those who came before and provided inspiration for the things that I do.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#53 Copy

Questioner

So, when you were starting to write your books, did you have the idea for-- Like [???] magics tied together or did you have that from the beginning?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, excellent question. So, he's asking about the Cosmere, where all my epic fantasies are tied together. Where did that come from. I can trace a few paths back in my brain where that came from. What I can say is that it was built in from the beginning of the books you have been reading. But you remember, those weren't my first written books. I wrote thirteen novels before I sold one. Elantris was number six. Way of Kings was number thirteen. And so-- I love this idea of a big, connected universe. The first person I can remember doing it, that blew my mind, was when Asimov connected the Robots and the Foundation books, which I thought was so cool when I was a teenager.

Another path that I trace this [concept?] also, though-- I don't know how many of you guys did this, but when I'd read a book--I still do this, actually--I would insert behind the scenes a kind of character that was my own, who was doing stuff behind the scenes. Like I would insert my own story into the story, just kind of take ownership of it in a strange sort of way. I remember doing this with the Pern books. I'm like "Oh, no, they think that person is who they think they are, but nooo! This is this other person!" And so I had this kind of proto-Hoid in my head jumping between other people's books.

So when I sat down to write Elantris, I said "Well, I want to do something like this". All the people I've seen doing this before-- and they've done it very well. Michael Moorcock did it, and Stephen King did it, and things like this, I'm not the first one to connect their books together, not by a long shot. I felt like a lot of them, they kinda fell into it, and as a writer, having seen what they did, I could then do it intentionally, if that makes sense. And so I started out with this idea that I was just gonna have this character in-between who is furthering his own goals, and built out a story for him, and then I went-- After I did Elantris, I wrote a book called Dragonsteel, which isn't published, and it was his origin story, for this character. And then I wrote some more books, and so, of course-- and things like this. Eventually Elantris got published and the other ones didn't, and they weren't as good as Elantris was. And so I took them all as kind of "backstory canon", and moved forward as if they had all-- they were all there and they had happened, but nobody else knew but me. Which allowed this cool foundation for you like "wow, that stuff has happened", because I had books and books of material that I could treat as canon in this way, to let me know where thing were going. So it wasn't planned-- It was planned from the beginning, but not the beginning of my writing care. From about book six was where it started.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
#54 Copy

Questioner

Who is Wit?

Brandon Sanderson

He is a character who has been in all of the books so far and is somehow getting between all of the different planets these are taking place on and is somehow surviving the fact that these books are hundreds of years apart.

Questioner

I have a good idea that he's a Mistborn.

Brandon Sanderson

Well he did steal a bead of lerasium.

Questioner

And he has extra Breath because he said it was easier with perfect pitch.

Brandon Sanderson

He did indeed say that didn't he... I will eventually write a book series that is about him, but it is a ways off.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
#55 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering, how many pieces of different Shards does Hoid have to collect before he is considered Ascended?

Brandon Sanderson

You know that's even a little bit false, uh-- not begging the question. Whichever logic fallacy is assuming that he could. Or, you are assuming that he could. Who knows if it's even possible, or anything like that.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
#57 Copy

Blightsong

Was Hoid trying to become an Elantrian kind of in a way how Kelsier was able to connect to Preservation to take up the Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, the thing about it is you're getting Hoid before he knew as much as he did in Scadrial era, so what he was trying to do was completely ineffective and it couldn't have worked.

Questioner #1

Doesn't it get weaker the farther away you are, so it wouldn't help at all.

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner #2

Well we have an example of an Elantrian on Roshar, so.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes we have an Elantrian on Roshar, but we don't see him use any powers, and his skin is dark on Roshar rather than glowing, granted that could be a disguise. That is something to be aware of.

Calamity Austin signing ()
#59 Copy

Questioner

Can you share any abilities that Hoid has accrued so far in the books, does he-- with him taking the bead, I can't even pronounce the L-word...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, lerasium, he is indeed an Allomancer. So. That has happened. I haven't confirmed much else, but he does have that.

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
#60 Copy

Alteroden

Can Hoid safely have an MRI?

Brandon Sanderson

Why do you ask that?

Alteroden

Because if you have metal inside your body, and you have an MRI, which is magnetic, it's very bad for you.

Brandon Sanderson

You're just assuming that... That's a very clever way to try to get around a question that I have not answered and intentionally said I am not going to answer, so...

Alteroden

Also, tattoos. You can't have a tattoo with an MRI. The ink has little bits of metal in it.

Brandon Sanderson

You can't? Well, I assume there are tattoo inks that are not little bits of metal.

Alteroden

That's true.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#61 Copy

Questioner

Will we see the Moon Scepter again?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I intend for you to see it again. But I've already said what it does, I believe. It's a Rosetta Stone for the different symbols on [the world of] Elantris that mean different things.

Questioner

So, it's more specific to Sel?

Brandon Sanderson

It's specific to Sel, it's specific to understanding the magics on Sel. It helps figure out how the different magic systems do the different things they do on Sel. So, it does have Aons along one side of it. You probably will see it again, but it will probably be in cameo. Hoid got the information he needed off of it, from that.

Tel Aviv Signing ()
#62 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

And your name is Topaz, huh?

Questioner

Yes, it is.

Brandon Sanderson

Topaz is a great name in the cosmere, because.. I if you know Wit/Hoid? Topaz is one of his aliases. It was the first name I came up for with him, when I was a teenager. I named him Topaz.

Figment chat ()
#64 Copy

Questioner

What’s the most dangerous non-Shard thing in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood’s up there, Hoid is up there, but not deadly dangerous, a different type of dangerous, yeah no, what we know of, right now, those, those are in the running. Chasmfiends, chasmfiends are pretty nasty. Whitespines are a little more nasty probably. The… the Unmade are pretty nasty. Yeah. There’s a couple of mercenary troops that you haven’t met yet that are really quite, quite dangerous, I would list them as well.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
#66 Copy

Questioner

In the last part of the book [Words of Radiance], Wit is talking to <the songling>, and says "If you think hard, this sentence is really clever." Are there any implications beyond this, or was that him just talking?

Brandon Sanderson

Go compare to another sentence he used earlier in the book. He is making a pun off of the sentence he used before. [...] It's not as clever as he thinks he is, I'll just warn you that.

Footnote: The original line was, "Two blind men waited at the end of an era, contemplating beauty."
Oathbringer London signing ()
#67 Copy

kalamitous_emoashions

With Hoid, we know that he's got some sort of Lightweaving, Yolen magic. If we're gonna hypothetically say that he bonds with the Cryptic, at the end of Oathbringer. Talking about resonance between magic systems, what are we going to see if he tried the two together? Would they be separate? Or would they form some sort of resonance magic system?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I'm gonna go ahead and RAFO that.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
#70 Copy

Michael Kernan

How would a dinner party between Kelsier, Hoid, and Harmony go down, and who else would be invited?

Brandon Sanderson

Alright, Kelsier, Hoid, and Harmony? Hoid and Kelsier squabble the entire time, and Harmony tries to get them to stop.

Skyward release party ()
#71 Copy

Questioner

I'm curious, you mentioned at the Legion release that the Fused were after the spren that Hoid bonded. Was there a specific reason why they wanted that spren? Or was it just because [it was] the enemy?

Brandon Sanderson

I will say they would have done that for another spren in that situation.

Questioner

Any other spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Not any other spren; but there wasn't something uniquely identifying about that spren that they were hunting.

Questioner

They wouldn't have done it for any spren, but there were other spren they had done it for?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Words of Radiance San Diego signing ()
#72 Copy

DefiantBurrito (paraphrased)

Can you tell me what Wit put in his drink in Shallan's flashback scene?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It was something that you or I would probably not want to eat in our world, but that Wit got some benefit from eating...

DefiantBurrito (paraphrased)

Something we've seen in the Mistborn books, perhaps?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

[sounding pleased] Yes, perhaps like something you've seen in Mistborn.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#74 Copy

Questioner

...At some point in the novel, there is a character who gets a certain, shall we say, powerup that falls in-line with many things that he, or she, already has. Is there, from an Investiture standpoint, is there a Compounding effect?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there will be. *laughter* If we're talking about the same individual.

FanX Spring 2019 ()
#76 Copy

Stormlightning

You've talked about how Hoid really appreciates his new Lightweaving abilities, but what about the Soulcasting side of things?

Brandon Sanderson

So, you'll have to see.

Stormlightning

Is he excited about that, or does he already have all of that?

Brandon Sanderson

No, he doesn't have all of that. He knows more than a lot of people do, and knows to be more-- frightened of Soulcasting than others are. Frightened is perhaps the wrong term. Wary. 

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#78 Copy

Argent

I've been listening to the Graphic Audio The Hero of Ages and just got to the point where Vin meets with Slowswift. While the meeting itself revealed nothing knew, the events after it made me wonder about something. When Vin leaves Slowswift, she burns her bronze to check whether the informant is an Allomancer, and then heads off to meet with Hoid - where, of course, something makes her turn away. Was she still burning bronze at that time? Was Hoid maybe manipulating Investiture in a way unfamiliar to Vin, so her bronze alerted her of something, but because it was such a foreign experience to her, she didn't recognize it for what it was?

Brandon Sanderson

I have to RAFO this one. It's been hard not to spill the beans here, as it's such a small thing, but it has important ramifications. You will have an answer eventually, I promise.

A Memory of Light San Diego Signing ()
#79 Copy

Freelancer (paraphrased)

In the opening of The Emperor's Soul, I see a scene familiar to Warbreaker; the first character we meet is in jail. Was this "connection" intentional?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes and no. Originally there was a prologue which featured Hoid speaking with the main character and setting some of the plot in motion, but it was cut before final revision. Also, it's convenient to begin with a character who is already in trouble.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#80 Copy

Questioner

Will Hoid be appearing as a major character in other books besides Stormlight and Dragonsteel?

Brandon Sanderson

Will Hoid be appearing as a major character in books other than Stormlight or Dragonsteel. Yes, he will have a major role to play in the end sequence of the Cosmere, where he will be a major viewpoint character.

YouTube Livestream 23 ()
#81 Copy

Katelyn Gigante

After the epilogue, when Odium took Hoid's memories, did he gain them or just remove them?

Brandon Sanderson

He removed them, he did not gain them. He excised them, he performed a little surgery on the Breaths. You have seen this happen before in the books, though I will not give spoilers to another book. It happened on a different world.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
#82 Copy

Questioner

So I've been told there is one character who is in each of the series.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes there is.

Questioner

Is that Wit by chance?

Brandon Sanderson

It is.

Questioner

Does he show up in some of the others?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, in this [The Final Empire] he shows up briefly, Kelsier meets with a blind beggar at one point who is introduced by the name Hoid and that is the name Wit uses through most of the books. If you read Warbreaker he's in that one, there is a storyteller who uses dust and sand. He's in most of them Way of Kings is where you see him the most he's not in the other ones nearly as much but he's mentioned by name in most of them.

Salt Lake City signing ()
#87 Copy

Questioner 1

Who or what is Hoid? Or Wit?

Brandon Sanderson

Wit? He is a person who has shown up in all the books. What else do you want to know?

Questioner 2

All of the books?

Brandon Sanderson

He has shown up in all of my epic fantasies, yes.

Questioner 1

Every single one of them?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, he's been...

Questioner 2

Wit or Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid-- is the same, Wit.

Questioner 1

But how do you know it's him?

Brandon Sanderson

Because he says his name in all of them.

Questioner 1

As Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

As Hoid.

Questioner 1

Really?

Brandon Sanderson

Yep.

Questioner 2

I-- now I need to be more careful.

Questioner 1

How does he know so much information about what's going on, and how is he always in the right place at the right time?

Brandon Sanderson

Those are two excellent questions.

Questioner 1

That you won't tell me.

Brandon Sanderson

That I won't tell you. You get a [RAFO] card. But he has a sp-- surprising ability to be in the right place at the right time very consistently in the cosmere. That's the name of the shared universe of all the books.

Questioner 1

I didn't realize it was a shared universe.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it is. There are characters in Way of Kings from Elantris, and... yeah. But it's all Easter eggs. It doesn't-- it isn't something you have to. 

Questioner 2

So it's not, like, crossovers.

Brandon Sanderson

There are crossovers, but it's all Easter egg-ish right now. Some day there'll be one where I do full-blown crossover. For now the story is about this. And so the crossover is all just in the background.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#88 Copy

Questioner

The Herald of War at the end of Way of Kings-- I assume he had an Honorblade with him?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Okay... So when Dalinar had the sword that he gave up...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

...for the Stormfather it actually cried, which it typically happens if there's spren in the sword, which means that was not an Honorblade, correct?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, and if you look they're described differently!

Questioner

Which means somebody else has the sword, correct?

Brandon Sanderson

The sword was switched out!

Questioner

Probably by Wit. I'm not going to ask you for spoilers, but...

Brandon Sanderson

Wit does not have the sword.

Questioner

No!?

Brandon Sanderson

But... I can't-- I dunno if I've told people whether or not he at one point had the sword... But he does not have the sword now.

Firefight Houston signing ()
#92 Copy

Questioner

The short story you wrote for Dangerous Women [Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell], the one that's in the cosmere, is Hoid actually in that story?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid does not appear in the Dangerous Women story. I made that choice consciously because I don't want Hoid showing up to be something that always has to be checked off a list. This is a story, it's not a sequence of silly cameos, it's actually a story going on behind the scenes. There was no reason for him to be there, so I didn't put him in.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#93 Copy

Questioner

Other than his home planet, what's Hoid's favorite planet in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

He probably would pick Scadrial. Hoid likes his creature comforts. Scadrial is the nicest place to live right now. Now there are other places that are easier to get Investiture, which is very nice, but if you actually want to go to a restaurant, your options are limited. They've got some on Nalthis, but you want to get a nice restaurant, go to Scadrial. You want a car service, Scadrial. And if he sits around long enough, he'll have instant noodles.

/r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
#94 Copy

staircasewit

You’ve mentioned some of the characters who we are going to see throughout the Stormlight Archive series (Shallan, Dalinar, Szeth, Jasnah, etc.). However, I don’t remember seeing you comment on Wit. Are we going to see Wit (or plain ol’ Hoid) more throughout the series? Or less? (Hopefully more! :D)

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid has a large part of the story in the Stormlight Archive. You will be seeing much more of him. However, he will not get a 'book' of his own, most likely. He will get his own novels, just not among the Stormlight sequence.

Holiday signing ()
#97 Copy

Questioner

The nature of humans on different worlds, like people from Warbreaker have a Breath, people from Scadrial, do they have a Breath as well?

Brandon Sanderson

They do not.

Questioner

That's specific to the Endowment Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

Yup.

Questioner

I've read that Hoid does have a Breath. Was he born with a Breath or--

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid was not born on Taldain-- err Nalthis, on Nalthis. So no, he did not start with one. But the magic was much different when he started. He was before the Shattering of Adonalsium so things are weird regarding him.

/r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
#98 Copy

Renian

When will we see a book that basically revolves around the concept of the Cosmere and the shard-travelers? Basically, a book revolving around people like Hoid who can jump from shard to shard.

Brandon Sanderson

Third Mistborn Trilogy involves a lot of this. I MIGHT do some parallel stories showing more of what Hoid has been up to. He is a primary viewpoint protagonist of Dragonsteel, but that happens before all of the other books.