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General Reddit 2017 ()
#51 Copy

Kabsal

Huh. It seems a proto-Shallan did already exist as of this version [Way of Kings Prime]. I thought with the prologue's discussions of House Davar that Shallan would have been a more recent development.

Peter Ahlstrom

Brandon sees Shinri and Shallan as entirely different people who have the same last name and are both Jasnah's ward. However, most of the other characters are the same people as they are in the published novel.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#52 Copy

Questioner

We've got Kaladin's name meaning, do we have Shallan's?

Brandon Sanderson

Shallan is-- Her name comes from Shalash, the herald, so it's kind of like naming somebody Christian in a lot of ways. Or naming someone Michael, though Michael has a meaning. Shalash does too but it's so old-- Like-- Yes, it will have a meaning but really what you need to know is "she is named after the Herald Shalash", right? But I'm sure we can dig out what the meaning is because it does have a meaning... I mean Kaladin's has a meaning even though he's named after Kalak.

Steelheart Portland signing ()
#53 Copy

Kogiopsis

Kind of along the same lines, I just want to confirm something. If someone from Earth saw an Alethi, what ethnicity would they assume they were?

Brandon Sanderson

It would-- The model I use are actually for the half-Hawaiian, half-Asians that are kind of common in Hawaii. That's the model I've used; I actually have one of their faces for Kaladin. So it would depend on what your perspective is, you might say-- some people might say Arab, but the model I'm using is kind of more Hawaiian/Asian mix is what you'd get. The only ones that would look Caucasian to you straight-up would probably be the Shin, though if you get someone who has Horneater blood-- The Horneaters might look-- they just-- they're gonna look like bizarre… redhead… things, but they might look Caucasian to you.

swamp-spirit

So would Shallan also be more towards that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, Shallan has lighter skin. But she still has the epicanthic fold, and so she maybe would look to you like a Caucasian/Asian mix? With red hair? So… Anyway, she would look fairly Caucasian.

swamp-spirit

I will attempt to send you excited fanart.

Kogiopsis

I've been picturing the Alethi as Indian, myself.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, yeah. Yeah, yeah, like East India? That’s a pretty good picture on them. That would work very well.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#54 Copy

Botanica

Will Shallan undergo more apprenticeships in future SA books?

Brandon Sanderson

I think you'd find that she considers herself beyond that. Not because she's full of herself (though she is a little) but because she has started to resist boundaries placed on her by others.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

Was Adolin and Shallan always the endgame, or did you ever shift to Kaladin?

Brandon Sanderson

I did shift, back and forth. So, what I do with a lot of my relationships is, I don't usually plan them out. A lot of characterization, I have to leave the characters kind of their own volition. So I write my way into relationships and I write my way into the character elements. I plot my world, my setting, and my plot out ahead of time but I let the characters go where they're going to go. I know some people would rather she made a different decision, but that is the decision that felt right to me going forward.

I've just validated all the Shallarin people on the internet saying, "Aw, he changed his mind!"

YouTube Livestream 13 ()
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Vivasher Club Emo Teen (@skywardflights)

I know people who relate a lot to Shallan's arc due to how similar her personalities are to Dissociative Identity Disorder. Did you intentionally write her to be recognizable DID?

Brandon Sanderson

I did, but I shied away from it in the earlier books, because I knew I was going to be doing fantastical things, and I didn't want to be offering too much commentary on DID. That was kind of my worry. With Kaladin, I knew depression well enough from family members and things that I felt like I could be a very strong contributor to the conversation. But, I started with Shallan saying, "I don't know if I'm gonna go this route." But then, the further I went, the more I felt it would be irresponsible to not do this. And so, in the last books, I just bit the bullet, dug really far into the DSM-5 and into reading firsthand, primary accounts from people. We got a very helpful person with DID to be one of our beta readers for this last book. And I just did my best to present it accurately and to present the non-Hollywood version of it. And so, basically, Oathbringer and Rhythm of War lean into it a little more than the first two books do, though that was where I was going. And I do have a working knowledge of Dissociative Identity Disorder, and did even back then. I don't think I did a terrible job, but I think it would have been irresponsible for me to go forward without digging in a little further.

YouTube Livestream 23 ()
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enceladus_47

Does Shallan's "I killed my spren" count as a truth?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm gonna leave up to theorizing, figuring out the timeline that's going on with Shallan. What we can say is that Shallan is reconstructing, in many cases, oaths she has said before. And it is working slightly differently than someone who is saying new oaths. And indeed, saying she killed her spren is one of those steps. I'll leave it to you to try and parse through that. It's actually pretty complicated. We have a nice big page explaining all of this stuff internally, to make sure that we're keeping it all straight. Because she has violated oaths and reconstructed them, is basically what's happening. And she is regressing, and she's doing a... 1.1 steps forward, 1 step back, sort of thing, kind of frequently.

Skyward Denver signing ()
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Questioner

We're doing a piece of art for a friend that's a crossover between The Stormlight Archive and Harry Potter. How would you sort Dalinar, Kaladin, Jasnah, and Shallan...

Brandon Sanderson

Jasnah's a Slytherin. Hands down, very easy.

Dalinar's would depend on which Dalinar you're talking about. Dalinar is probably going to be Gryffindor either way, would be my guess.

Shallan's a Ravenclaw, straight up.

Kaladin's tough. You could Hufflepuff Kaladin. You could totally Hufflepuff Kaladin. I think that works.

You got one of each in that case.

Supanova 2017 - Sydney ()
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Darkness (paraphrased)

Is there any Spiritual or Cognitive effect on the subject of Shallan's memory collecting?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Well… …

Darkness (paraphrased)

Simply from taking the memory, not from the consequences of seeing the pictures or anything.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Right… no, I would say no, but there is a sliiiiight Spiritual Connection happening. So, so… but it doesn't really have an effect on the person.  I mean, you could say, you could make the argument that any slight Connection like that does have one. But I don't want you to read that much into it. So the answer is yes, with an asterisk of no.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
#70 Copy

Questioner

How was Shallan able to bond with Pattern before she was broken?

Brandon Sanderson

She was open to him even before she went through a lot of that turmoil

Questioner

I thought everybody had to be broken in order to--

Brandon Sanderson

Well, that's their philosophy in-world. But I'm not going to say whether it's correct or wrong. I will imply that there are other means as well.

Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
#71 Copy

Swamp-Spirit

Shallan's Memory ability to capture an image doesn't seem to be working exactly like an eidetic memory...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Swamp-Spirit

...because she can erase it by drawing. Is that tied directly to the magic of Lightweaving? And if so would other creative Lightweavers have similar abilities.

Brandon Sanderson

If you look at the epigraphs there is a big hint on this, where it talks about it and yes... I have problems with eidetic memory, just because scientifically most scientists say this is not a real thing. So I would say that whenever-- Because of my knowledge of the science of it understand that you would need some sort of magical enhancement to be able to do what she does.

Paris signing ()
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Demiandre (paraphrased)

I wondered about Shallan's eidetic memory, and about the possibility of trapping a spren. Could a bonded spren be trapped inside a gemstone and trapped in a safe? If so, would something else - not Investiture related - fill the "crack in the soul"? Could that be linked to her memory or her need to draw before Lightweaving?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

In and about, he answered that what Shallan does isn't out of the ordinary, and it is possible to trap a bonded spren inside a gemstone.

General Reddit 2018 ()
#76 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

So, a couple of things here. First off, I'll take any knocks I get--and try to do better. I'm not an expert on mental health, and though I do my best, I'm going to get things wrong. I'm going to risk defending myself here--and hopefully not dig myself deeper--as I at least explain my thought process, and why I built Shallan the way I did.

However, one of the rules of thumb I go by is this: individual experience can defy the standard, if I understand that is what I'm doing. Like how Stephen Leeds is not trying to accurately portray schizophrenia, Shallan is not trying to accurately portray dissociative identity disorder (if a scholarly consensus on such a thing even exists. I haven't glanced through the DSM5 to see what it says.)

In Legion, I have an easy out. I say, point blank, "He doesn't fit the diagnosis--he's not a schizophrenic, or if he is, he's a very weird one." I don't have the benefit of a modern psychology voice in the Stormlight books to hang a lantern on this, but my intention is the same. What Shallan has is related to her individual interaction with the world, her past, and the magic.

Is this Hollywood MPD? I'm not convinced. Hollywood MPD (with DSM4 backing it up, I believe) tends to involve things like a person feeling like they're possessed, and completely out of control. The different identities don't remember what others did. It's a very werewolf type thing. You wake up, and learn that another version of you took over your body and went out and committed crimes or whatever.

Shallan is coping with her pain in (best I've been able to do) a very realistic way, by boxing off and retreating and putting on a mask of humor and false "everything is okay" attitudes. But she has magical abilities that nobody in this world has, including the ability to put on masks that change the way everyone perceives her. She's playing roles as she puts them on, but I make it very clear (with deliberate slip-ups of self-reference in the prose) that it's always Shallan in there, and she's specifically playing this role because it lets her ignore the things she doesn't want to face.

She's losing control of what is real and what isn't--partially because she can't decide who she wants to be, who she should be, and what the world wants her to be. But it's not like other personalities are creeping in from a fractured psyche. She's hiding behind masks, and creates each role for herself to act in an attempt to solve a perceived shortcoming in herself. She literally sketched out Veil and thought, "Yup, I'm going to become that person now." Because Veil would have never been tricked into caring about her father; she would have been too wise for that.

I feel it's as close as I can get to realism, while the same time acknowledging that as a fantasy author, one of my primary goals is to explore the human interaction with the supernatural. The "What ifs" of magic. What if a person who had suffered a great deal of abuse as a child COULD create a mask for themselves, changing themselves into someone stronger (or more street-smart who wouldn't have been betrayed that way. Would they do it, and hide behind that mask? What would that do to them and the world around them?

DID is indeed controversial, but I really like this portrayal. Not of a disease, but of who this character is. And I've had had enough positive responses from people who feel their own psychology is similar that I'm confident a non-insignificant number of people out there identify with what she's doing in the same way people with depression identify with Kaladin.

English Reading Series at BYU 2018 ()
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Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He told me he consults with several people who are well versed in psychology when he tries to portray anything along these lines. He did say (and this goes along with other statements already made) that his intention was not to have Shallan diagnosed with DID like Kaladin is with Depression. He did take some ideas from the disorder to use in the story, but he didn't intend for her to be set into a specific mental illness category. Like we said before, Brandon's focus was mainly on the magical consequences, which makes her case weird anyways.

General Twitter 2016 ()
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Silverstars

Every time Shallan thinks about Jasnah it's so gay which is #relatable, @BrandSanderson did you realize how bi you wrote her?? Either way, thank you.

Brandon Sanderson

This wasn't directly on my mind while writing, but looking back, I think it was in my subconscious. I'm flattered to hear it.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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vanahian

And for a friend of mine and her sanity... The Shalladin thing will be something or is all in her head? Stop her pain please :D.

Brandon Sanderson

Shallan has made her choice. I wouldn't expect that to change.

vanahian

And thanks for the answer in 11. My friend is crying but now she can go ahead with her life :)

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah...I do feel bad about that. If it's any comfort, tell her I think she'll eventually be very pleased it went this way. It might take a few more books, though.

Stuttgart signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

Was Shallan's ability to draw intentional, just so you could have her draw all the maps?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, basically that was the seed for her. I was inspired by people from history like Darwin who was a scientist and did drawings. That was part of the concept that made me put Shallan into the books. All those drawings are intended to give you a sense of immersion.

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
#85 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Shallan berates the book merchant

The timid nature is a result of the problems in her past (see book two's flashbacks). I see the moments of flaring passion as being far more “her.”

Shallan's father has an infamous temper; it's buried deep within her as well. If she'd been allowed to grow up more naturally, without the oppressive darkness that her family suffered, she would have turned out as a very different person. Still, the person she could become is buried inside her. In my mind, this is one of the big connections between her as a character and Kaladin. It is also part of why both attract a certain type of spren…

Firefight Miami signing ()
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Questioner

I can't really remember very well, but I think only Kaladin really says Radiant Oaths in the books, at least. So, for Shallan to have as many powers as she does, has she already said one of the ideals, and we just don't know?

Brandon Sanderson

...You have her glyph whisper one. And you have seen Dalinar say one. So, most of them say them. Shallan's Order, they admit truths. Their Oaths are a very different sort of thing.

Questioner

'Cause I know, I did read that, but I was wondering-- it said somewhere else that all the Knights Radiant have to say the First Ideal.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they do have to do that.

Questioner

So, she has said that.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, she has said that. That is somewhere in her past.

Questioner

Which, presumably, we'll find out about some other point in time?

Brandon Sanderson

Possibly. I think that can be inferred.

Stormlight Three Update #3 ()
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Moosehead

I'm pretty sure it's a case of me just forgetting that I read such a part, but where in the book does Shallan find out about Kaladin's abilities? I know once Adolin confronts Shallan for the first time about her powers, he then asks if she can fly like 'him (Kaladin)', and she just goes yeah, as if she knew for some time now about Kaladin's abilities.

It's such a small thing but it's been grinding away at me. I know Shallan revealed to Kaladin by summoning her Shardblade over his shoulder in the chasm, but how did Kaladin reveal himself to Shallan?

Brandon Sanderson

If you re-read that scene, I believe she's confused by the question about her being able to fly, as so far as she knows, Radiants don't fly. (She only knows about herself and Jasnah.) She finds out about Kaladin sometime around when most everyone else finds out about him, I believe. I'd have to look back specifically to see if I noted it, but by the end of that battle, everyone will be talking about it and so she will know.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

Is Shallan's truth, "I am hap-- It's okay that I can be happy?"

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to dig into that, but this is a big part of it. Let me RAFO that because I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to express it as it goes along, but that sentiment is a huge part of what's going on with Shallan.

Questioner

I was expecting her to manifest Shardplate in the middle of her wedding because she had spoken such a core truth of her identity.

Brandon Sanderson

Let's just say that I'm being very careful about how I show off the first manifestations of Shardplate for narrative reasons.

Orem signing ()
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Questioner

What was your inspiration for Jasnah?

Brandon Sanderson

I had done several times, when I was designing characters in the cosmere, someone who kind of thought they were an awesome scholar but really wasn't. That's the kind of thing with Sarene and a little bit of the thing with Shallan. They're young people who haven't quite made it there yet, whose opinion of themselves is kind of beyond their actual skill level. Who would be, like, the scholar? Like, the ideal Rosharan societal scholar? And I built Jasnah out of that, and then took her in a way that would allow her to also be in conflict with that at the same time. Always a good source of writing a character.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
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Rachael

When she [Shallan] Soulcasts, does she physically go?  Or does she just think?

Brandon Sanderson

She transitions into the Cognitive Realm… Yeah she transitions but she’s not a hundred percent there…

Rachael

Then does Jasnah’s… does she work the same way?

Brandon Sanderson

She goes completely over.  That’s one of the differences between their magics. Shallan could get there if she wanted to, she hasn’t so far completely transitioned.

Argent

Even during regular Soulcasting, for both of them?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh for regular Soulcasting Jasnah doesn’t either.

Argent

‘Cause we were talking about the scene with the ship and Shallan. So would an outside observer see her shift over or—

Brandon Sanderson

The outside observer would see weirdness happening for sure.

Firefight release party ()
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Questioner

Who is your favorite character, character development-wise?

Brandon Sanderson

Oooh, favorite character for character development. Who develops the best? That is really hard for me to say... From any book? Who has the most development-- I would say Shallan has undergone the biggest transformation in the major books. No, Vin. Vin goes through the biggest change, so we'll go with Vin. Vin's the best character development across the course of the books.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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Questioner

Considering Brandon likes MTG, this is probably something he has thought out haha.

Kaladin strikes me as someone with a very White personality and Blue powers.

Shallan's Blue.

Dalinar's White, but I feel like he was Red before.

Adolin has some Red, some White, and recently some Black I guess.

Lift is Red in personality and I guess Green at powers.

What else can you guys come up with?

Brandon Sanderson

Hmm... These are not bad, and it's always hard to figure out how to define by this system--honestly, I wouldn't trust my definitions, I'd have to go to MaRo or something.

I'd suspect that Shallan is red/blue instead of mono blue.

Lift is very green, not just in powers, but in personality. She's all about instinct, and doing what occurs to her in the moment.

As OP said, Kaladin is very white/blue. And Dalinar is red who became white. Navani is mono-blue. Szeth is black/white, and Taravangian probably mono-black. Eshonai is probably green.