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Firefight Chicago signing ()
#51 Copy

Questioner

Was Androl, from Wheel of Time, your own creation?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. When I went into the trilogy I actually asked them "Is there a character I can have to just do whatever I want with?" and they looked through for one Robert Jordan had left no notes on and they gave me Androl. I went crazy.

Questioner

I love his use of Gateways.

Brandon Sanderson

He was a little bit of a pressure valve, for me, being able to do the things I like to do in a novel, in The Wheel of Time, so I didn't then take over other characters too much. A bunch of me creeped into Perrin too but...

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#52 Copy

Questioner

I know you have an immense amount of your own work lined up but have you given any thought to revisiting The Wheel of Time?

Brandon Sanderson

So question is any thoughts of revisiting The Wheel of Time, ok. So, Robert Jordan was very uncomfortable with the idea of people writing in his universe. To the point that, if you read interviews with him, people would ask "So what happens if you die?" and he would say "I will order my hard drives to be bulldozed into a landfill and never accessed". He changed his mind at the end, partially because of the prodding on his wife who wanted to see it finished, and he said "I do want you to find somebody". But for those of us who know how uncomfortable he was with the idea, I just--

From the beginning when I sat down with Harriet in 2007 or 2008 when we were talking about this, I'm like "I don't know that it's right to do any more books" and she said "Yes, I agree with you". So we presented a united front, because the publisher wants more books. They always want more books. The publisher's job is to get more books right, and both of us together just said this should not happen, because of Robert Jordan's wishes. And beyond that, he didn't leave any notes, right, for other things. I mean Robert Jordan was one of these discovery writers who didn't outline a lot. What he did is he had touchstone moments through the series he knew he was going to get to and he would write towards those. When I was given the outline for the ending, the "outline", what it was was the scenes he'd already written, and Q&A's with his assistants where they asked him what's going to happen with this person, and then a few of those touchstones written as a paragraph. This is what's going to happen to this character, this is what's going to happen to this character. There was no, like, A-B-C, no outline or anything like that, and it was very free-form.

Anything else we would have to do, like he left two lines about what he was going to do for the sequel trilogy. It would have to be so much me that I don't think it would be appropriate. Now I can't speak for Harriet and the estate. Maybe they will change their mind on that. Certainly stranger things have happened, and if they do, I will support them and say go for it, but I probably wouldn't write them myself, just because I don't think it would be appropriate.

General Reddit 2018 ()
#53 Copy

il_vekkio

I'm currently reading New Spring after finishing, and going BACK to Jordan after /u/mistborn absolutely killed The Last Battle...it's interesting. Sanderson really did breathe new life into the series. I'm particularly impressed by how he took the rules of one of the most intricate magic systems I've ever seen and turned them in their head and got insanely creative with them. Particularly Talmanes and Aludra using traveling while operating the dragons. Fantastic out of the box thinking.

Also, Talmanes is hands down the best side character who is so overshadowed by the main five heroes that it's easy to forget about him. But damn it he my favorite example of peak human bravery. Not ta'veren, not one of the great generals, not the world's most skilled swordsman. But time and time again he overcomes every obstacle, accomplishing the impossible. If it wasn't a recoming of the Age of Legends with heroes abound, he'd be the main hero.

Brandon Sanderson

Talmanes is one of those characters that I was very excited to write--though I anticipated my take on him being more controversial than it ended up being. I've always read him a certain way, and felt that I wanted to push him that direction in the last books--all the while knowing that some members of fandom didn't view him as I did. One of the dangers of bringing a fan like myself to write the books is that is had specific and distinct interpretations of some of the characters, particularly some of the side characters who were going to get expanded roles.

il_vekkio

The way I read Talmanes was as a sort of "You've got to be kidding me" John McClane. A capable man who doesn't want to be there, but he's there and there's only one way out.

I'd be very interested to hear how your vision for him differed from the final character!

Brandon Sanderson

That is how I read him too--but also with a hint of self-awareness. Like when he'd say things to Mat, he wasn't always 100% serious, but sometimes kind of pushing Mat's buttons. That's the part I figured would be controversial, since I knew some other fans read him as straight serious.

Goodreads: Ask the Author Q&A ()
#55 Copy

Annie Lown

In the Wheel of Time books, did the Creator have a power, similar to the True Power that the Dark One had?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm afraid I don't have the answer for this, not for certain. I think that readers of the text could argue both ways. For example, a certain event in the epilogue of [A Memory of Light] could be interpreted this way--though everyone in Team Jordan seems to have a different opinion on what is going on, and [Robert Jordan] didn't leave an explanation.

Arcanum Unbounded San Francisco signing ()
#57 Copy

Questioner

Alright, who would win in a fight: Rand al'Thor or Vin?

Brandon Sanderson

Who would win in a fight, Rand al'Thor or Vin. I'm going to go with the person who's a pseudo-diety and held the powers of creation. Which is gonna be-- Yeah. I'm gunna say Rand on that one, pretty safely. With the caveat of "You have to pick when". If Vin where able to get to Rand while he's still on a farm, I think she'll do a better job than the Trollocs did. If you replace Narg with Vin, Rand is in trouble. If at the ends of their respective series, I still think Rand would win, even when Vin is at her most powerful., because he is able to bend reality. But I don't know, Jason?

Jason Denzel

Oh I definitely agree, but I'm a little bit biased here. But yeah it really does depend on the time. Like if you take Vin at the last few pages of Mistborn, I don't know because she's--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, certain spoiler-rific things happen there. So she could give him a fight at that point, but I'm going to side with Rand on this. I'm going to side with Rand versus any character in most pieces of fiction.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#58 Copy

Questioner

So if you had a character in Wheel of Time who was in the cosmere, who would that be?

Brandon Sanderson

If I had a character in The Wheel of Time who was in the cosmere who would it be? Oh boy...

Questioner

Jain Farstrider?

Brandon Sanderson

What's that?

Questioner

Jain Farstrider?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh Jain? That's a good choice! Jain makes a lot of sense. I was going to say one of the Aelfinn or Eelfinn, 'cause they cross dimensions already. That would be the most likely. But you could totally make an argument for Jain or one of the Heroes having fallen through the portal. I intentionally didn't put any cosmere references into The Wheel of Time. It felt like hubris to do that.

The cameo in The Wheel of Time for me is the sword that Robert Jordan's cousin gave to me out of Robert Jordan's collection, so I wrote my sword into it. So if you look, it's not too hard to find, you'll find Rand get's a new sword. That's my sword. *laughter* I got it hanging on my wall with a little plaque that says "Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time" and then Robert Jordan's name and his lifespan underneath. It's very cool. It's a katana out of his collection, it's really cool.

Steelheart release party ()
#59 Copy

Questioner

The last book, which turned into three books for The Wheel of Time, how much of that was yours and how much was notes from Jordan?

Brandon Sanderson

He left about a hundred written pages and about a hundred pages more of notes specifically for the last book. It really depends on the given scene. In Gathering Storm, if it was Egwene, it was either written by him or from his notes, and if it was Rand, it was mostly me. In Towers of Midnight, if it was Mat it was probably from his notes or written by him. He wrote the whole Tower of Ghenjei sequence, for instance. But if it was Perrin, it was me. He had nothing for Perrin, other than leaving Malden and then the Last Battle, so I had to fill in everything in between. In the final book, the meeting at the Fields of Merrilor was him and the very last chapter, which became the epilogue, was him, and a lot of the rest was me.

Shadows of Self Newcastle UK signing ()
#60 Copy

Questioner

When you took over the whole Wheel of Time thing, that must have been-- there was so much going on there... they had their own characters and you had to immerse yourself in that role and to try to create-- writing in your own words. Do you think that helped you develop as a writer?

Brandon Sanderson

It totally did. The most I've grown as a writer was my first year writing, but after that, the number two time that changed me the most, was working on The Wheel of Time. It was incredible, and awesome, and terrifying, all at once. The hardest thing I've ever done professionally was write those books. For those who don't know, I didn't know Robert Jordan or his wife. I got a phone call one day, asking if I would finish his series. His wife, who was also his editor, she discovered him and then married him, which is a really good way to make sure your editorial advice is taken; *laughter* he asked her to find somebody-- before he passed away he said to her "If I don't make it, go find somebody". So she read Mistborn and she called me, and asked me "Would you be willing--" Now she knew I was a fan of the series, because I'd written a eulogy for Robert Jordan on my website, and that's how she found out about me. But then she just called and said 'here', and the things was, she then had to go grieve, right, she's like "Once you're done I can edit it, but I'm an editor, not a writer, I can't write this myself". So she gave me all the stuff, and then I basically did it all by myself for a year, and wrote that first one. I did send her some test chapters, is this right, is this wrong, but it was a very daunting task, he had not finished very much of the book. He had some notes, but he was a discovery writer so his notes were very vague. "I'm thinking about this happening", "oh, this character has a scene that's kind of like this", "I might do this, I might do this". A lot of stuff like that in the notes and so there was a lot of-- I describe it like someone takes a Ming vase and they smash it and they throw away half the pieces and they throw in pieces of another vase just to screw you up and they give it to you and they're like, "Alright, now make the vase, see if you can do that".

Questioner

He did a lot of foreshadowing in his books...

Brandon Sanderson

There were certain things he did, to have out, and some of the most important ones he did have, other ones, I just had to catch the ball that he had thrown using my experience as a writer.

Oathbringer release party ()
#61 Copy

Questioner

By and large, I love your characters. I really dislike Eshonai. Really dislike her. Is there a character that you really dislike writing? Or, if you don't dislike them, is it hard to find their voice.

Brandon Sanderson

Cadsuane. Sorry, Wheel of Time fans, but Cadsuane, you're not my real mom. Moiraine is my real mom. I tried to do my best with Cadsuane that I could. So, I would say-- of my own characters, they're all like my children, and I love my children all equally. *gives Joel a side hug* The same thing with my characters. When I'm writing someone, they're my favorite. I wouldn't say so, but on The Wheel of Time, definitely. Cadsuane, she can go eat a brick.

JordanCon 2018 ()
#62 Copy

Questioner

Why did the Sharans have a prophecy about the Dragon slayer?

Brandon Sanderson

...Partially, that's a RAFO. RAFO, meaning, "I am no longer the voice of canon for The Wheel of Time." And I've been very careful about this. While I was working on the books, while I was writing them-- When I was first handed The Wheel of Time, Harriet said, in essence, to me: "You are the author on these now. You just have to convince me. You can do whatever you feel is necessary to tell the story the right way." And for that time, I stepped into the shoes of being in charge of all of that. Though, like I have Karen here, there's always Maria and Alan even back then, that are like, "Certain things contradict. You just can't do that." But for a while, I was the voice of canon. I have stepped out of those shoes. It's not an appropriate place for me to stand any longer. That was a mantle that I bore for a short time ,and then I gave the One Ring back to Frodo. Because that was something I had to carry, because no one else could, for a short time, but it wasn't mine. It wasn't my duty. I've left those shoes behind. So I do not give canon answers. I let that to Maria and Harriet on things like this.

Now, I can talk about, like, story and narrative reasons why I did certain things that I did. For instance, I, as a reader, waited for years and years to find out what's happening in Shara, and I wanted to do something big and cool with it when the books came along. When Harriet said, "You can do whatever you want. Here are the notes, you can do whatever you want." If you've looked at the notes, Robert Jordan's notes were really interesting in that he would often say, "I'm gonna do this, or maybe this, or I'm not sure, I could do none of the above." So there was a lot of creative freedom in there. One of the things I wanted to do was do Shara. And this is the thing that I did, that at the end, Harriet said, "You didn't convince me on this one." There were actually two things I didn't convince Harriet on. I got away with a lot. A lot of things I did, I convinced her on. Like Aviendha going through the pillars. That was something that I had to do some-- like, when I first suggested to them, they're like, "Woah." But when I wrote it, they're like "Wow, this really works." But Perrin going back and cleansing the Ways with the Ogier, and the scenes in Shara, are the two things they didn't feel I pulled off in the original draft.

But my goal was, I really wanted to bring Shara into all of this. I wanted to narratively connect it. I wanted it to be a part of, and show how some place that had been so isolated form Randland for all this time could have their own legends and mythologies spawned. I wanted to have a different perspective. I wanted you to go there and say "Wow, it's really different. But there are some core ideas that are really cool that have grown up." And if I would have had three more books, Shara probably would have worked. But we didn't have three books, and it was the right call to cut Shara, because it was a real big deviation in the final book. And maybe even if I'd been able to work it in earlier, it would have worked. But it didn't work where it was.

I can give you narrative reasons. I can't give you the canon in-world reason. You can ask Maria or Harriet about that, and see if they'll answer.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
#64 Copy

McCullough

In what ways do you feel that finishing The Wheel of Time helped to prepare you for The Stormlight Archive and how did it change your writing in general, if at all?

Brandon Sanderson

I gained three things, I feel, by working over the years on [The Wheel of Time]. (And, in particular, by studying [Robert Jordan]'s work in depth.) I learned how to better balance lots of different viewpoints, I got a better grip for foreshadowing and subtlety over many books, and I gained a deeper understanding of how to write a really sold third person viewpoint.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#65 Copy

Questioner

Going back to The Wheel of Time for a second... One of my favorite things about A Memory of Light is you had so much-- I guess free rein with parts of it... Can you give me an example, or a couple of examples, of something that you got [???] I could be totally wrong about this situation but say like, when [???] was first creating a weave to see a whole battlefield. Was that something you did, or was that actually Robert Jordan's.

Brandon Sanderson

Excellent question, I'll go through a few of these things for you, that one was me. One of the things that was awesome, but also a little bit difficult is the wrong term-- Anyway, it was awesome to be able to come into The Wheel of Time as a fan, and have read the books for twenty years and be thinking about "Wow, I wish this would happen", and then say "Wow, I'm gonna make that happen" ...But as I was doing it, I was also realizing it was dangerous, because there was a real danger for putting in fanservice type stuff, not in the traditional meaning of fanservice, but like the fanservice of "Narg showed up in the Last Battle again" or things like this. Like little fan jokes. I found that I had a lot of temptation to put those in, and so I had to ride this really careful line where I was saying "What do I as a fan want, to make the book more fulfilling not just as a joke".

One of the things that as a writer I've always wanted to see was gateways used for more than they were used in the books leading up to that point, you know, teleportation, instant travel has a lot of ramifications. One of the things I kind of put on myself was that I didn't want to create a lot of new weaves, because I knew if I did, I'd really risk taking it to far away from Robert Jordan's vision. So I said "Let's stick mostly to the weaves he's used, and see if I can use them in more innovative ways". This whole idea of taking the magic and digging deeper into it rather than going wider with it. And so a lot of the stuff with gateways is me. A lot of--

So for instance, I also went in and said to Harriet coming in, "Every book that Robert Jordan's done, almost all of them, has added a new character who's become a main character who used to be a side character. If we don't do that for these last books it's gonna feel weird to people. So I would like to take one of the Asha'man and bring them to prominence, and make them a viewpoint character and do what Robert Jordan's done" and so that's where Androl came from. And they're like "Well there's nothing in Robert Jordan's notes other than this little bit about his profession, take him and play with him, and do whatever you want." And that was almost a little pressure valve for me, to put the more "Brandon-y" sort of things, goofy magic system stuff with that, and that pressure valve allowed me to not really-- knowing my writing style, I was able to make the rest of it be a little more Robert Jordan-esque, if that makes sense.

You see that pressure valve there, you see it with Perrin in the Wolf Dream, in the world of dreams, because-- I've said before, Robert Jordan didn't leave very much on Perrin. Perrin is a big, empty-- big blank slate for these books. We knew where he ended up at the end and that was it. So Perrin was the other sort of "Do whatever you want, Brandon" sort of thing. He left a lot more on the other characters. So if you're reading a Perrin scene or if you're seeing them play with gateways, you're seeing me kinda let Brandon leak out a bit more. And this was done intentionally, I'd say part was a pressure valve, but also when I was given this, Harriet sat me down and said "You are the author now. I didn't hire a ghostwriter on purpose. I didn't want somebody who was just going to be Robert Jordan, because that would make a bad book", in her opinion. "What Jim-- Robert Jordan can't finish this, so you need to do it and yes, we want to stay true to his vision, but you are the writer now." And she was very clear on that, and I've always remembered that and how much that meant to me, being-- You know, she was the ultimate authority, but I had creative control to do whatever I felt the books needed, and the she-- her job was to rein be back if she though I went too far, and make sure the voice was consistent and things like that. So I got to do a lot with these books that I don't think a ghostwriter would have been able to do.

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

Questioner

And in Wheel of Time...

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner

Do we know what Moiraine's three questions or requests were to the Finn folk?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes... You're going to have to ask Maria. They're in the notes. I'm not going to quote them right. I thought that I already gave people that answer.

Questioner

I may have not been *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

But you can go to Theoryland and see, but I thought that we answered that. 

Questioner

Okay. *interrupted*

Brandon Sanderson

And so I'm not going to say anything now, because I might-- I mean it's been forever. I might contradict myself.

Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
#68 Copy

beingcobra

What has been the hardest book for you to write? And the easiest? Was this particular book difficult to write?

Brandon Sanderson

Hardest was by far A Memory of Light. Easiest was probably Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, which I discovery wrote and did half as a writing exercise to keep me from burning out while working on the Mistborn trilogy.

This one was middle of the road. Most of it was easy, but the ending in the first draft didn't work and required a lot of beating my head against the wall until I was able to get things to click together.

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

Questioner

Do you know the part in Wheel of Time when Mat is-- seems to be trapped in his *inaudible* ways before he meets Verin?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

In the town? I always think, when I read-- Every time I feel like-- Is it a <tone> war?

Brandon Sanderson

It is, yeah.

Questioner

Writing the characters?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Questioner

And is there any correlation between that and Legion and you?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah, most definitely. Legion is... You know, I'm-- I don't actually hear voices or see things. But there is this sort of part of you that becomes a different person all the time. I can see if I were more unhinged I'd be like that or like Shallan.

Daily Dragon interview ()
#70 Copy

Daily Dragon

Your new epic fantasy series, The Stormlight Archive, has been in the works forquite some time. In an interview earlier this year with Fantasy-Faction.com, you said that you set the project aside in 2003 because you needed to "get better as a writer." During the interim, as you worked on other projects such as the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, and your middle-grade Alcatraz series, which skills did you improve the most?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that I learned to juggle multiple characters a lot better. That's one of the places where I needed to grow, and it's one of the aspects where the original Way of Kings that I wrote in 2002 flopped. I wasn't good at juggling all these viewpoints. Working on The Wheel of Time really forced me to learn that, and I think I've gotten much better at it. I've also learned to be more subtle with my writing; Robert Jordan was incredibly subtle in his foreshadowing. Going through his notes and rereading the books and seeing how he set up things for many books later, it impressed me quite a bit that he was able to do that. I think I've been able to learn from that.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#71 Copy

Questioner

As an Asha'man Warder, I have to ask, would you consider going back to The Wheel of Time and writing a book about the Trolloc Wars?

Brandon Sanderson

So, remember that part about a piece of art being done? Sometimes that is painful. In fact it-- it hurts that there are certain characters I've said "Their story's done. I don't think I should touch this again." We put on top of that, I don't believe Robert Jordan would want me to do more. Now I have to say that very timidly because it's entirely possible that Harriet or one of her heirs and descendants will decide that there should be more Wheel of Time books. And I'm not going to be one who gets up and "No you shouldn't be doing that!" Right? That's not my choice. And I want more Wheel of Time like anyone else wants more Wheel of Time but my personal decision has been that I think Robert Jordan was uncomfortable with the idea of my writing in his world, even though he asked it do be done. And if I--particularly with the prominence I have--spent more time in The Wheel of Time I risk The Wheel of Time becoming more associated with me than Robert Jordan. And I think that would be a very bad thing. And so the current answer is "No, I--" Well, yes I would consider it. I'd consider it a lot, and the answer is no. I don't think it would be appropriate for me to do more Wheel of Time for a multitude of reasons.

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
#72 Copy

Questioner

Matrim Cauthon, Kelsier, and Vasher all decide they need to get together and run a heist on Hoid. How do they do it? Why? And what are they looking for? Assuming they know where his "hideout" is...

Brandon Sanderson

Mat has to be persuaded. He doesn't think this is worth it. Once he knows about Fortune, he'd be interested.

Kelsier wants to beat him to a pulp.

Vasher is very utilitarian about it, and agrees that having access to him would be smart, but dangerous.

Goodreads: Ask the Author Q&A ()
#73 Copy

Scott King

Out of all the books you've written which do you think is the best?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, Emperor's Soul is the one that won a Hugo, which gives it some objective credibility for being the best. [A Memory of Light] was the hardest by a long shot, and in some ways the most satisfying, but I'm perhaps most proud of The Way of Kings. So one of those three, likely.

General Reddit 2018 ()
#76 Copy

OVERLYLOUDCOMMERCIAL

I know you can't comment [on Nakomi] that's what the wish was for :). Just hoping for some day in the future is all. I'm actually more concerned with this forsaken/aMoL secret we are apparently all missing.

Brandon Sanderson

I am sure someone has figured it out; I just don't watch the theory threads for WoT as well as I used to. Either way, I'll be able to reveal it on the 10th anniversary of the book being out.

OVERLYLOUDCOMMERCIAL

I'm sure you're a busy man. That's good to know about the tenth anniversary, would you confirm it if it was directly asked to you? There's one theory I've seen but I don't want to push my luck :).

Brandon Sanderson

I wouldn't be able to confirm it or deny it.

A Memory of Light Raleigh Signing ()
#78 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

Do you see Robert Jordan’s characters coming out in your writing?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No. That may happen unconsciously, but my goal is not to have that happen, because I want to tell different stories. It would be like if Kelsier started coming out in Dalinar. It's just not something we want to have happen as a writer. We want everyone to be their own individual.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#79 Copy

Chubby_Monkey

As The Gathering Storm draws near release, there are many WOT fans that have a large worry that you will not do RJ justice and ruin his series (especially after 4 years of waiting). How big of a worry is this for you, having to fill his shoes, and what are you doing to prepare yourself?

Brandon Sanderson

They are right to worry, and I don't blame them at all. They have no assurance whatsoever that I won't ruin their book—the past has proven, I think, that series get ruined more than they get saved when a new author steps in.

I hope, very sincerely, to be in the second category, the one who saves a series rather than kills it. But only November will offer any proof other than my word, and I fully expect people to worry right up until they've read the novel.

The only preparation a person could really have for something like this was to be a lifelong fan. I think this book is good. I think it is VERY good. I'm not worried any more myself, though I was quite worried when I began.

What can I offer fans right now? Only the promise that the book has had Harriet and Mr. Jordan's assistants working from the beginning to make certain I didn't screw it up. Beyond that, I've made it my first priority to stay true to his wishes and notes, and not deviate unless there is a very, very good reason.

(The only times I've 'deviated' was in to offer more explanation or depth to a scene. I haven't cut anything he wanted to be in the book, save for a few places where he contradicted himself. I.E. There were some scenes where he said "I'm thinking of doing this or this" or "I'm thinking of doing this, but I don't know." In those places, I've made the final call.)

All I can ask is this. Give me a chance. Read the book. After that, we'll talk.

(The most stressful part is probably the realization that no matter what I do, I won't be able to please everyone. Robert Jordan couldn't do that himself. So I will fail some of you. But I hope to please the vast majority of you.)

General Reddit 2017 ()
#80 Copy

NotClever

I can't remember, was it true that Jordan wrote the last chapter before anything else, or was that just apocryphal?

Brandon Sanderson

I've heard that, but can't find any evidence for it--I do know he had it in mind very early, and did write it down in a very complete form before passing. In fact, it was in a more complete form than most everything else in the notes.

But I don't think it was written before he did Eye of the World. And I seem to recall an interview with him before he passed saying something along the lines of, "I've got it in mind. I know what it is. It might be slightly different if I write it now, as opposed to if I write it after I finish the last book, but the soul of it will be the same."

nermid

Can I ask how much of the sequence where Rand and the Dark One devise possible futures post-TG was you and how much was RJ? Because that was phenomenal.

Brandon Sanderson

That was one of the sequences where I had to construct something to fit what I felt RJ wanted--using the notes, in part, and the momentum of the books as my guide.

In the notes, RJ said something along the lines of, "Rand and the Dark One fight. Rand realizes that he can't destroy the Dark One, because doing so destroys choice." So I constructed the idea of dueling possibilities because I felt a simple sword fight with the Dark One would be anti-climactic, and that RJ would have done something more epic.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#81 Copy

CoverYourSafeHand

My other question is about Wheel of Time. At the end, Rand just kinda walks away in Moridin's body. Does he stop being a ta'veren? I can't imagine the pattern would just let him live a quiet normal life if he still was.

Brandon Sanderson

The ending portion of WoT that you reference was written by [Robert Jordan] himself, and he didn't leave a lot of explanations. Subtext and things Mr. Jordan said lead me to believe that the character you indicate is free, now. But we don't have a 100% for sure answer.

Firefight Houston signing ()
#82 Copy

Questioner

How much of your input was put into the Wheel of Time books that you did, or was it strictly of the notes that Robert Jordan had?

Brandon Sanderson

How much of the Wheel of Time books was through me, and how much was from the notes? ...When I went to pick up the Wheel of Time materials, I was handed two things. One was a stack of 200 pages. That 200 pages contained about 100 pages of written material that Robert Jordan had written for the last books. And about 100 pages of that was interviews with his assistants, Q&As about what was going to happen. The other thing I was handed was a disk with all of his worldbuilding notes. This did not contain much at all about the last book. This was just the worldbuilding through the whole series, talking about the different cultures and things like that. And I used that to write the books. So the actual writing, I would say, it's very hard to say. I was given full creative control, I will say that. Harriet said "Take this. I'm an editor, not a writer. Do what you feel you need." In all of that, there was one sentence on what to do with Perrin. So, you can guess, if it was Perrin, it was me. There was a whole lot done with Egwene. In fact, almost, I would say, half of her scenes were written, in fact half of that stack was Egwene stuff; of the hundred pages, fifty pages just written about Egwene and a big stack of notes on what to do with her. If it's in the books and it relates to Egwene, you can almost guarantee that that is something Robert Jordan wrote or instructed me to write. With Rand and Mat, it was about half and half. Gathering Storm Mat and A Memory of Light Mat was more me, Towers of Midnight Mat was more him. A lot of his Mat stuff related to the Tower of Ghenjei. Rand was sprinkled all the way through, about half and half, I would say, on that. Most of the words you're reading are mine. Almost everything he wrote was either Egwene or ended up in the three prologues.

So, yeah, it was a big project. There was not a lot finished on it. But at the same time, those interviews, with him with almost all the characters he kind of talked about who they were, where they were going, what the arcs he envisioned for them being, and things like that, which gave me a lot to do. And even the one thing on Perrin was near the end, so I knew what to shoot for, if that makes sense? And one of the things he did write is what ended up as the epilogue. I had a target, if that makes sense. Although, a lot of the actual writing was on me to do, which is why they had me do it, by the way, rather than getting a ghostwriter. If it had been 90% of the way done, they could have just gotten someone to quietly come in and finish those last few scenes, and it would have been the right thing to do, because it was mostly done by him. The fact that it wasn't, meant they needed a writer to actually put the whole thing together. There wasn't an outline. Robert Jordan was a discovery writer. He knew what he wanted to have happen, but he had no order or form or anything like that.

Daily Dragon interview ()
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Daily Dragon

How did you find the time and energy to work on The Way of Kings while you were immersed in Jordan’s Wheel of Time? Are you a hidden Allomancer, a slider like Wayne in The Alloy of Law, with the ability to set up a mind-boggling speed bubble?

Brandon Sanderson

I wish I could magically create bubbles of time to give myself more space to do these things. After working on The Gathering Storm, I felt more and more that I needed to do The Way of Kings—I had done it and failed once, and I began to see all of the places where it went wrong and how I could fix it. When you get excited about a book that way, you kind of have to write it—strike while the iron is hot. It's something I never want to do again—working on that and Towers of Midnight at the same time just about killed my entire family. The hours were very long, and I'm still kind of recovering from that. How did I find the time? I didn't do much else during that year when I was getting those both ready. I think it was really good for me to do, and I don't think I'll ever do something like that again.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
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Questioner

I'm not sure if you're allowed to answer, or you've probably been asked a million times-- the idea of channeling-- the fact-- in the last book of The Wheel of Time--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

You know what I'm talking about.

Brandon Sanderson

The One Power?

Questioner

The One Power, yeah. So Rand loses his ability to channel the One Power. But then--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh the True Power. Er, yeah yeah, the One Power, yeah yeah.

Questioner

Yeah, yeah. But he can channel-- Um, basically when he, you know, when he takes over Ishamael's body he can--Where did that idea come from?

Brandon Sanderson

That's Robert Jordan. He wrote the whole epilogue except for Perrin scenes.

Questioner

Oh, really?

Brandon Sanderson

And he wrote them as is and just left them and didn't explain to us.

Questioner

So the Perrin scenes were from you.

Brandon Sanderson

The Perrin scenes were from me. He didn't leave very much on Perrin--

Questioner

Oh that's amazing. Well done, cause I think the Perrin picked up right at the end too, so--

Brandon Sanderson

But the epilogue. He wrote that whole epilogue, from where Rand stumbles out of the... But when Rand stumbles out of the cavern, that's all Robert Jordan and--

Questioner

Wow, that's amazing.

Brandon Sanderson

He did not explain to us, how it... We just left it as is.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
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Questioner

So I know that you read The Wheel of Time.

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

Questioner

How was it-- the process of this when you found out that you were going to be part of the series?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, so I would-- did not apply. It just-- they called me on the phone one day. Harriet did...

So, yeah, they just called me on the phone and said, "We know you're a fan. Would you be willing to do this?" And I was just dumbfounded. I hadn't planned on it. I hadn't applied for it. So what I did is, I went and reread the whole series again, because I had read it before. But I had his notes in hand when I did it, and I built an outline out of notes he'd left and scenes that he'd finished, and built a massive outline. I presented that to Harriet and her assistants, and they said go for it. And I just started writing.

Firefight release party ()
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Questioner

So when are you going to tell us who Gaidal Cain is reincarnated as?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs* One of the prevailing theories online is true.

Questioner

One of 18?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Most of the-- It's not Olver for instance. People thought that for years but Robert Jordan said it wasn't. I think there are two or three leading theories and it is one of those.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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flyingnomad

I just finished a reread of WOR (actually my first audiobook listen of the series, which was great), and when I reached your last three, I definitely noticed you really had a skill with shaping chapters to speed things up or slow things down. Initially it felt like you introduced more frequent shifts in main character POV instead of some of the lengthy sections with one POV that we'd seen in RJ's last few books. This made it feel like the story was coming together and things were starting to really happen at the same time. Then later it felt almost like a kind of dilation effect where a massive amount was happening at the same time - but with the added complication of the actual timeline manipulations, which was extremely well done in this regard... I was so caught up in the story I wasn't able to keep my attention on it at the time but later, after finishing AMOL, I was pondering that it felt like a Christopher Nolan movie, where the structure itself was part of the narration.

Brandon Sanderson

I've always preferred a frequent POV jump style to the large chunk style Mr. Jordan used later in his books--but there are merits to both. In the Stormlight Archive, I've been pleased with a kind of hybrid of the long chunk from the later WoT books with a quick jump method. (I pick a group of characters and quickly alternate POVs.) But I have the WoT to thank for helping me, as a younger writer, study and learn the different ways POV jumps can influence the storytelling.

State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
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Movie/Television Updates

Bonus Mention: The Wheel of Time

As The Wheel of Time does not belong to me, I like to be careful about what I do and say with it. I don't want to overstep my bounds. But for those who haven't been paying attention, this series has progressed into a full-blown green light at Amazon Studios—with actual episodes being written and filming soon starting.

I don't know what role, if any, I'll have in this. Like I said, I like to be respectful of Team Jordan. It's not my place to try to muscle in and pretend I'm in charge. At the same time, I do think I could offer something to the production, and the showrunner (who is quite sharp) has reached out to me multiple times for conversations about the adaptation. I'm impressed with everything I see, and hope to at the very least be able to pop over to the set when filming happens and grab some photos for you all.

For most of my own properties, I'd say to not hold your breath. I think they'll happen eventually, but you shouldn't start to get hyped up until Step Five happens for something. Well, we're past Step Five with the Wheel of Time, and you can officially begin to feel hyped. It's actually happening, and it looks great so far.

Goodreads: Ask the Author Q&A ()
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Kirsty Cabot

Were there any characters you found difficult to connect with when writing the remaining books of The Wheel of Time series?

Brandon Sanderson

I've never really been able to get into Cadsuane as a character, and so she was the most difficult for me to do. I love Aviendha and Tuon, but both of them think so differently from the rest of the characters that they gave me a challenge.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Questioner

What was your hardest character to kill?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh. That's spoileriffic. I would say it's a character who dies at the end of The Wheel of Time, which is a series that I finished for another author. Because it was someone someone else created. And then, having to write some of those scenes.

Questioner

That would be really hard, because you're killing somebody else's character.

Brandon Sanderson

Right? And somebody I grew up with, right? So, I would say those are the hardest guys.

Skyward San Diego signing ()
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Questioner

Lopen, from the end of The Wheel of Time; and Lopen, from Stormlight Archive. Do they have anything in common?

Brandon Sanderson

Lopen, is there a character in Wheel of Time called Lopen? ...Must just be a coincidence, then. *laughter* I didn't write any intentional Wheel of Time references to my books, or anything like that. The only cameo sort of thing there is in there for me is, the sword that Robert Jordan's cousin gave to me out of Robert Jordan's collection, I wrote into the book. Kind of in the same way Robert Jordan wrote himself into the books as a ter'angreal that had lots of stories in it, that they discovered was his cameo for himself. I wrote in my sword. So my sword, that they gave me, which has painted dragons on the scabbard that look a lot (in my mind) like the ones on Rand's arms. And I don't know if he got that from that katana that he was given, but it was the one they gave my out of the collection, so I wrote it in. But any other connections you think you run into are going to be just coincidences. I do have a fondness for certain types of names.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
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Questioner

In Memory of Light, how Lan didn't die.

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner

And you were surprised that fewer people were discussing how you could interpret Rand's actions as bending the Pattern to make it that he did not die.

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner

And I'm trying to-- You mentioned that there were certain real world homages that you were trying to make because of this...

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner

I couldn't remember what those were.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, Lazarus.

Questioner

Well, okay. But like something like with K-- like King Arthur or something like that.

Brandon Sanderson

There's-- yes, there are... *interrupted*

Questioner

But I don't remember what that was.

Brandon Sanderson

There are... the Fisher King.

Questioner

Fisher King?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, Google the Fisher King if you want to read about that. There's a lot of him... I mean, there's also Hindu and Muslim symbolism that I cribbed from, so to speak. The thing about Lan is I... if you press me, I would probably say he didn't die. But the parallelism of Rand in book 3 trying to raise from the dead and not being able to, and Rand in the last book with him there--

Questioner

This man *inaudible*.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Um, you can make the argument that, and you know, we'll never know if he did or didn't. I think it is... I made it intentionally ambiguous. Brandon the reader, you press me, I'll say, "Eh, he probably didn't." But there is parallelism there, and it is intentional.

Kraków signing ()
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Questioner

Any chance of any new Wheel of Time materials?

Brandon Sanderson

Not likely... not definitive, it's up to Harriet. I'm worried that he wouldn't want us to do anymore.

Questioner

<Yeah, that's the thing>

Brandon Sanderson

And so, I have told her that I don't think I would want to do anymore, but if Harriet came out and said "I really feel we should do the prequels", then they could happen, I think it's very unlikely, but...

Questioner

The prequels were <written> by Jordan?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, he did, he has a little bit about them, not very much but a little bit. He did want them to come out sometime, so it’s possible.

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Duiker8

Is the fact that The Way of Kings and rest of the books in the series are going to focus each one on a different character connected in any way to the fact that both The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight focused each one on a pair of characters?

Brandon Sanderson

No, not really. Most of my plans for The Stormlight Archive go back years and years to before I was working on The Wheel of Time. I would say that the The Gathering Storm/Towers of Midnight character split happened because of the book split, less than any real planning on my part. I had the character arcs and decided which ones would fit well together if I was only going to be releasing one batch of them at a time.

So the answer is no, but with the caveat that with the way my mind works, it may have been working in the same way in both cases.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

So, I'm about to read the last four books of Wheel of Time, and I know in your interview with Deseret News is that no one has asked you about something big, world-shattering. What should I be thinking of while I read these books?

Brandon Sanderson

I can't give you even a clue, because I've been sworn to secrecy by team Jordan. I made it up, but they said "We can't tell people this." So, this is something I added to the books, it's not something that was in the notes. So there, you learned something about it.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

When you're thinking about parallel stories and writing them, how do you keep them disparate so that you don't have characters from one story overlapping with another story...

Brandon Sanderson

This is a balancing act I perform when writing big, long books, because a lot of times for narrative reasons, it is better to write them "this set of characters, then the next set, then this set, then that", and go back and forth, but a lot of times, for continuity of theme and character building, it is better to write them straight through, right, that one character's throughline, so you make sure it has an emotional arc to it. And the longer the book gets, the more delicate that balancing act gets, right?

So on a Stormlight book, I usually split the book in my head into three parts, like I write a trilogy of books, and then bind them together as one, with a short story collection making up the interludes and things. And I usually would go, alright, part one, Kaladin from beginning to end of part one. Part one, Shallan from beginning to end of part one. Now I will weave these chapters together and I will read through for theme and make sure that the pacing is working, because the pacing and tone can really get messed up when you're doing that.

Fun story about that: A Memory of Light, I did this with some of the things, and I was weaving them together for the prologue, and two of the things I was weaving together, was characters getting engaged, it was the ladies making a bridal wreath to give to Rand, and the other was the fall of Caemlyn and the people who were trying to live as things were happening there. Not to go into too many spoilers, but it was a really dynamic action sequence, with a lot of terrible things happening, and when I wove those two together, the tone whiplash was terrible. And it was like, one of the worst parts of the book was "here's a happy thing where we're gonna get engaged, now this person dies, then we go back to this happy thing". *crowd laughs* So I had to yank the engagement sequence from the book, because there was no tonal place in that novel where it could go that it wouldn't do that.

And so you run into that trouble, but I think that with the longer books, what you're noticing, keeping the characters' throughline consistent is the more important factor. It's a lot easier, I think, to fix pacing and tone by where you move the chapters and what you cut out and what you add in in revision.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
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Questioner

I do have one question, A Memory of Light couldn't be better, except for the Padan Fain thing.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the Padan Fain thing is that I have a little bit of regret on that one. That's the one thing-- You see he didn't leave anything about Fain at all. Just completely blank. That was worrisome to me. The only thing he said was "Padan Fain cannot be Gollum" actually, he wrote that in the notes. So I was left with trying to figure out what to do and in the end I feel it just ended up feeling tacked on because there were so many other things I was interested in doing and Padan Fain I had never really enjoyed as a character that much. You are seeing my biases come through on that. Looking back at it I'm like "I really should have done something more with him". That's the big one that I feel I would change, if I could change something.

Questioner

'Cause it's kind of a threat that goes away…

Brandon Sanderson

The other one is I would've liked for the viewpoint chapters from Demandred to be in the book instead of separated out and put in that charity anthology [Unfettered], but I didn't have any say in that one.

FanX 2018 ()
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Questioner

So why does Rand bow to the Empress when the actual prophecy was that she was supposed to bend to him, it was changed by one of the...

Brandon Sanderson

So that was actually in Robert Jordan's notes, that this is what he was supposed to do. It was to fulfill that prophecy, and so I don't have an explanation to that other than he made sure to include "this needs to happen", so I did it.

Questioner

Even though the prophecy was not supposed to be that way?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. That one was very clear in the notes; needs to happen.