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Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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Gadmond

Were the Whisperers inspired by the card Permeating Mass? Their green color and the way they turn everyone they touch into more of themselves seems too similar to be coincidental.

Brandon Sanderson

The Whisperers were actually more inspired by the card Strangleroot Geist. (Though I can't discount the fact that other cards, like Permeating Mass, might have been unconscious influences.)

I knew going into the story that I want green-aligned villains, and so was trying to ask myself what would inspire a group of green geists--and what would motivate them. We've seen green villains in MTG before (the Kami and the Phyrexians both did a good job of this.) I wanted to see if I could approach the color from another direction, and was trying to think of what green would want. It seemed to me that completion, the pieces being gathered to the whole, could be very green--as could the idea of survival of the fittest. (In the form of the Entity putting itself into two souls, and figuring the stronger of the two would eventually consume the other and become its host.)

Miscellaneous 2016 ()
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Questioner

How do you make up names and words for your fantasy settings?

Brandon Sanderson

Mostly, I choose an earth culture (or two) to base my linguistic influences on. For instance, in the Mistborn books, I used French. It's obvious in words like Fellise, Renoux, Blanches, Delouse and Demoux. Less obvious is Kelsier, whose name would be pronounced in-world without the last R sound.

Questioner

Do you think you'll ever develop a language like Tolkien did?

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe. I did a lot of that in White Sand, which didn’t get published. I’ll do more for other books.

Questioner

Do you use Hebrew words?

Brandon Sanderson

The name Adonalsium is derived from a Hebrew name for God, Adonai and Aharietiam was derived from the Hebrew/Jewish term for the end of days acharit hayamim or אחרית הימים

Skyward Houston signing ()
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Questioner

How did you get the idea for The Rithmatist?

Brandon Sanderson

The Rithmatist started with the drawings. I did the little doodles first, of all the defenses and things. And I just started drawing and drawing and drawing. And I drew all those out, and I thought, "Okay, I'm gonna write a book around this idea." I wanted to do something where people played a sport with magic, rather than only using it for, like, war and things.

Interview with Isaac Stewart ()
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Trevor Green

I know some of us have heard the story of how you came up with the symbols for Mistborn, but tell those of us who haven't how they came about.

Isaac Stewart

I'd drawn about a half dozen pages of symbols inspired by my first reading of the book. Pages with dozens and dozens of tiny, intricate symbols—maybe someday I'll write a post about the process: Failed Allomantic Symbol Designs. But nothing was really working for me or Brandon.

I'd collected a lot of reference material for the steel inquisitors—nails, railroad spikes, those sorts of things—and one day when I was looking at a picture of a rusty pile of bent up nails, I saw the symbol for iron. It was a Beautiful Mind experience. The symbol just jumped out at me. Glowing and everything.

After that initial experience with the symbol for iron, it was easy to come up with the others. The bent nail part eventually became the crescent shapes used in the final book.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

I was wondering if you had an inspiration for Cody.

Brandon Sanderson

For Cody, yes I did actually. I was at a convention in the South and I had someone, a guy, use y’all for "me", and I'm like, "Y'all for one person?" and he's like "Yeah, that's how you use it" for one person. *laughter* Really? And he just tried to convince me that this is true. So I went to wikipedia and they said there are some delusional people who use it that way. So I'm like, I'm totally building a character around this person who, you know, I couldn't tell the whole time if he was pulling my leg because I was not from the South, or if indeed that was his little regional dialect, that y'all is one person and all y'all was two, which is what he tried to convince me-- it is true? You say it's true?

Bystander

It's from Kentucky.

Brandon Sanderson

See I have gotten-- I have gotten more emails about from Southerners who say "You've committed the great sin for a non-Southerner by using it that way, and it's an abomination, and it's not true". And I'm like, wow I must have done something right. 'Cause they hate that. I'm getting it from the people from Atlanta, they're like "this is not-- this is not correct". You know, Charleston, where they're all like the hoity-toity Southerners. So anyway, yeah that's where Cody came from. That idea.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna and Vasher Meet with the Idrian Workers

Now we get to see the other part of what Vasher has been doing all this time—the part that I couldn't show you earlier, since it would have made it too obvious that he had good intentions. (And that, in turn, might have spoiled the surprise that Denth was manipulating Vivenna.) He's been trying very hard to convince the Idrians not to get themselves into trouble. He's been only mildly successful.

Vivenna listening here has some things to work through. Some alpha readers had difficulty with how easily she started helping Vasher, so I've reworked that in the final draft. Hopefully you now see her struggle and her reasoning.

What she sees here is something real. She notices that most of Hallandren doesn't care about Idris or the Idrians. When I lived in Korea, I sensed a lot of resentment from the Koreans toward the Japanese. The Japanese had done some pretty terrible things to the Koreans during the various wars throughout the history of the two countries, and the anger the Koreans felt was quite well justified. The thing is, most Japanese I meet are surprised to hear how much resentment there is. It's kind of like Americans are sometimes surprised to hear how much dislike there is for them in Mexico.

When you're the bigger country, the one who historically won conflicts and wars, you often don't much notice the people you've stepped on along the way. While the smaller country may create a rivalry with you, you may not even realize that you have a rival. This is what happened with Hallandren and Idris. While some people push for war, the general populace doesn't even think about Idris—except as that poor group of people up in the highlands who sell them wool and do jobs they, the Hallandren, don't want to do.

This can be very frustrating for someone from the smaller country, like Vivenna, when confronted not with anger, but with indifference, about your feelings.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

What was your inspiration for making Doomslug? It's a very fun character.

Brandon Sanderson

You know, it was basically me wanting to have a pet sea slug and it just not being something you can do in real life. And I knew I wanted a creature that had some import to the worldbuilding and I settled on something that I thought would look cute.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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[unknown]

Rereading Words of Radiance... Are the Herdazians a caricature of Mexicans? Is that ok?

Brandon Sanderson

Parts of their culture are inspired by Mexican culture in the same way the Alethi are inspired by Mongolians, Lift's origins are indigenous Bolivians, and the Final Empire (Central Dominance) was 1800's France. Human beings need a launching-off point for creativity to work.

I don't consider them a caricature. Lopen is extreme to say the least, but I made sure to include Palona, Huio, and others as a balancing factor. That said, I don't get to decide if what I did works--I get to try, and explain my motivations, but the decision on whether or not I succeed is not in my hands. Many a writer has had the best intentions, but has failed anyway.

I think it's important to diversify my inspirations, and push myself. If I were going to say the true inspirations for Herdazians, it would be a Mexico mashup with Korea (where I lived for several years.) The smaller country that has long been overshadowed by a dominant neighbor is a very common thing in our world, and it really felt like Alethkar would have a similar effect on kingdoms around it.

I will take a moment to note that chouta wasn't inspired by burritos, really, but more the "street food" explosion that accompanied the industrial revolution. I took what they had in the society (flatbread and Soulcast meat) and tried to build something that would replicate the things I've seen and read about in our world during that era, because it fascinates me.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seven

Marasi finds Waxillium experimenting with metals

I was very amused to find that the cover of this book had been steampunkified a little bit, with Waxillium having a pair of extraneous goggles on his head. But, to be fair, I did put some goggles in the book, so I guess I can't complain too much.

One thing I was aware of when writing this book was that I didn't want it to feel too much like Sherlock Holmes. There are a lot of parallels, as I mentioned in an earlier annotation. It was important to me to acknowledge the obvious influence to myself, but try to keep myself from falling too much into the same mold.

That's kind of hard when the story is set up, basically, to be a mystery with an investigator set in a similar time period to the Holmes stories. In my head, however, I decided this book would be more police procedural and less quirky-genius-does-deduction. I wanted Waxillium to be a cop, through and through, not an eccentric who solves cases out of curiosity. In that regard, Sam Vimes—from Terry Pratchett's books—was almost as much of an inspiration as Holmes was.

Anyway, that's all a side note to what is happening in this chapter. Waxillium is being methodical in the way he tracks down what is happening. He's very much a step-by-step kind of guy in these matters. And now that he's let himself loose and decided to be involved, he's gone a little overboard.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

Where did you get the idea for the gemhearts.

Brandon Sanderson

So, I wanted-- in the books, I wanted there to be an economic component to the magic, like, something that was based on the money in the world. And I knew I wanted to use the gemstones, but I also knew they would be used up really quickly by the magic, with Soulcasting. So, I built something into the creatures of the world, so that we could renew the gemstones, so they wouldn't all just be gone after a few hundred years.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Nine - Part Two

The Canal Genius

Lord Fedre, the infamous nobleman mentioned here for his research in canals, is none other than my editor, Moshe. He got several cameos in relation to canals, as he was the one who suggested the use of them way back in book one as a way to enhance the feel of the series and give it the right technological level.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Why would you choose Chicago as a setting?

Brandon Sanderson

I grew up in Nebraska, Lincoln, and Chicago was the big city we would travel to. I liked that it was-- This is kind of going to sound weird but it was a big city full of mid-westerners. Like when I went to LA everyone talked and acted different, when I went to New York everyone talked and acted different, but in Chicago it-- they were kind of like a bunch of hokey mid-westerners had somehow built a big city? *laughter* If that makes any sense. So I have always had a fondness for Chicago. It's like the big city of farmers or whatnot. I don't know there's just something about it, the being on the lake and the profile of it and things like that. And I'm a Batman fan and Gotham is Chicago. Chicago was my go-to when I was going to destroy a city in our world; I picked Chicago.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Jofwu

I'm really hooked by the "girl and her dragon" idea. Were there any fun or interesting things you were able to explore by virtue of replacing the dragon with a spaceship? That is, it's easy to imagine the fun similarities, but I'm curious if there were any notable differences introduced by that swap.

Brandon Sanderson

Hm... Well, normally in the dragon egg story, a trope is that the dragon needs to learn how to fly/fight and the trainer needs to learn with them.

Here, the ship knows how to fly--but is busted up. So there's a lot of fun in the story relating to how exactly to get parts for the ship--which leads to a completely different style of storytelling.

Skyward Denver signing ()
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Kogiopsis

I really loved both Ender's Game and Anne McCaffrey when I was in early high school, and I felt like this book was in conversation with both of them.

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that that is a really, really accurate way of looking at it. Little Last Starfighter mixed in as well, a little Top Gun.

Kogiopsis

I just want to know how much were you thinking about Ender's Game in particular?

Brandon Sanderson

Ender's Game, I was not thinking about a ton. More How to Train Your Dragon. Because it really parallels How to Train Your Dragon. I was trying to make sure it didn't hit those beats too closely. I wasn't thinking about Ender's Game specifically, but the underdog sports story part of Ender's Game worms its way into a lot of my different writing. I was thinking more about Ender's Game when  I was writing Bridge Four sequences.

Kogiopsis

I felt like Skyward was a really interesting philosophical refutation to Ender's Game. Because Skyward is fundamentally a book where nobody is actually wrong, Ender's Game everybody is wrong.

Brandon Sanderson

That's a pretty interesting thing, yeah.

Kogiopsis

I really appreciate that. Also, the part at the end where Spensa did the navigation thing was so like Between, I almost threw my book at the wall in excitement.

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted for years to do a "Monsters live in the Between" story, which is what this is going toward. 'Cause I always thought-- Like, there's this one episode of Star Trek where someone sees monsters as they are being beamed. And it's one of my favorite Next Generation episodes, there are monsters when you are teleporting. That one stuck with me forever, so you can blame that as part of the inspiration.

Oathbringer Leeds signing ()
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Questioner

What's the concept of the safehand?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. There's a writerly answer and an in-world answer. Which do you want to know?

Questioner

Let's do the writer answer.

Brandon Sanderson

Writer answer, so. I am fascinated by taboo. I am fascinated by the fact that in Asia you don't show your, the bottom of your foot to people. It's terribly offensive. I am fascinated that in some cultures some parts of the body are shown and others aren't. Things that we would consider vulgar, to other people are not, and vice versa. It just fascinates me as a writer and when I approached the books I was looking for a ways that I could give a feel for a human culture but not one that we have seen before and the safehand grew out of that.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Ironspine

In the summer of 2010, my wife and I visited New York. My editor, Moshe, is a life-long New Yorker and a repository of details and facts. (I've found this is a common thing in a lot of editors; they tend to be the type to pay attention to details.) The result of this was him towing us all over the city, telling us little tidbits about this building or that one.

Well, one of the stories he told us was about the early days of skyscrapers, and how people would race to build the highest building. He talked about some of the famous rivalries; I think that's the first time I began to envision a cool Allomantic fight taking place in the heights of an unfinished skyscraper. Five months or so later, I wrote this scene.

Skyward release party ()
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Questioner

A lot of authors say that a lot of their writing comes from personal experiences. For Warbreaker, do you have any personal experiences that led to...?

Brandon Sanderson

I did write it on my <honeymoon>, so that may play into the whole marriage, all that stuff. I'll go with that one. There's a weird one. As I was working on Mistborn, my editor said, "Wow, Elantris and Mistborn both take place in pretty dark and grimy worlds. Do something more colorful next time." And so I'm like, "All right, I can do colorful."

Skyward Houston signing ()
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Questioner

What gave you the idea to write the Alcatraz books?

Brandon Sanderson

You know what, it was the first line. I was just doodling in a notebook one day, and I wrote down, "So there I was, tied to an altar made of outdated encyclopedias, about to be sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil librarians." And I had to write that book. So I just kind of took that line, and I ran with it.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

I've had to hide this news for a long time. It was almost one year ago that the Dark One outline finally snapped together for me at long last. We had interest almost immediately from Fremantle, and I've done multiple flights to LA to chat with them about it. I think this one might finally be the real deal when it comes to a Sanderson adaptation--which is amusing, considering we don't have any books for Dark One yet. But if this goes forward, I'll be sure to write some.

Aurimus_

I'm a big fan of this multimedia approach, but I'm wondering what inspired it. Was it your idea or Fremantle's? Is this an experiment for other properties in the future at all? A lot of us on the 17th Shard discord have discussed the sheer size of Stormlight, for example, and worry about DMG either going the Hobbit route (hours upon hours of content for a single book, which'll really rack up even by the time we reach OB), or missing out on a ton of content. If Dark One pans out well, would you use this multimedia approach for Stormlight? (I'm a big fan of the idea of a Black Mirror style show for the interludes, but straight up separating them from the rest of the books would take a lot away, especially with characters such as Szeth and Venli)

Brandon Sanderson

With Dark One, I've pounded myself against the idea for years. Finally, I sat down with it and said, "What if I were going to design this for a television show or graphic novel first?" Using Stranger Things and the recent Westworld reboot as guides, I dug into a parallel narrative--half in our world, half in another world. A kind of dark "portal fantasy" story.

It came out as an eight episode outline that I really liked, with a solid outline for two prequel novels about the previous generation. (Characters still important in the episode outline.) With this in hand, I took it to Hollywood and said, "If you guys are interested in doing the episodes, I'm interested in writing these books--and we can intertwine them in a (hopefully) very cool way."

Fremantle was on board immediately. (They'd been intrigued by Dark One from a one-page outline they'd seen, back before I did this new treatment.)

Warning: I can't say how much of my original outline will end up in the show; I've never written for a television show before, and the showrunner will know better than I will what will or won't work. But (theoretically) the graphic novels will follow the outline pretty closely.

If this works, will I apply it to the Cosmere? That's the goal. I do like the idea of getting some experience with TV/Film through non-cosmere projects, particularly as we see how things shake out these next few years in regards to TV/film distribution.

cusoman

Brandon, I'm curious how you see the same scenario playing out with Cosmere material considering the material already exists and the opportunity for the same intertwining wouldn't be quite the same. Unless of course you go back and interweave new stories with the already completed books?

Very excited to see what comes of this venture! I've loved the concept from the moment you first mentioned it and I can't think of a better way to see it come alive than how you're doing it here.

Brandon Sanderson

I can't really say at this point. There are just too many variables. There are a lot of ways these things could be approached, however.

Orem signing ()
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Questioner

How do you get the Asian themes in without it being so corny?

Brandon Sanderson

You try to break down... Use multiple inspirations and tie them together. Try to extrapolate. Try to look at what are caricatures and stray away from that. Being influenced by the philosophy and the thinking and the culture to create things that are similar but going their own direction will help you do that sort of thing. Justifying things in-world rather than just dropping them in. Take a look at the safehand, which is based off of not -- but as an Asian culture thing, when I lived in Korea, you didn't show the bottom of your feet to people. It was considered rude. That was really interesting to me, and creating a similar taboo but with different groups and different reasons, it was... You can see my experience in how it came out. Do things like that.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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Sensitivemuse

Also, was there an inspiration for Vin and if so who/what was it?

Brandon Sanderson

Vin has been hard for me to pin down, inspiration wise. I tried so many different variations on her character (even writing her character as a boy) that it's hard to pinpoint when I got it right. There was no one single inspiration for her. (Unlike Sarene, who was based on a friend of mine.) She's a mix of my sisters, a good writer friend of mine, and a dozen different other little bits of people.

The time when I got her character RIGHT was when I wrote the scene that became her first in Mistborn, where she's watching the ash blow in the street, and envies it for its freedom. That, mixed with Kelsier's observation that she isn't a bad person—she just thinks everyone else is—were the big points where her character took form.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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DiamondLightfoot13

I love Mistborn! (also Elantris). I can hardly wait to begin on Warbreaker. I know many have questions on the metal based ideas. In Elantris, where did the idea for the disease come from?

Brandon Sanderson

Three things. First, some reading I was doing about leper colonies. I wanted to tell a story about someone locked into a similar situation, only tie it to the magic of the world and the history of the city itself.

Secondly, I had this crazy desire to do a book starring zombies that nobody would realize were zombies. It was one of those things that stuck in my head. Undead corpses, with weak bodies that slowly stop working? As heroes? Could I make it work?

Finally, the idea of pain that didn't go away. What would happen if every little wound you took continued to hurt just as badly as it had in the first moment of pain? And what if that pain never, never went away?

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Susebron's Priests

Susebron is right to trust his priests. At least, he's somewhat right. They aren't evil men, and they do want what is best for him—as long as that doesn't include going against their traditions and rules. They believe they have the charge to protect Peacegiver's Treasure, and the God King holds that treasure. They do feel bad for what they are required to do to him.

Their interpretation is extreme, but what would you do, if your god (Peacegiver) commanded you that the Breaths be held and protected, but never used? Cutting out a man's tongue to keep him from using that terrible power is the way they decided to deal with it. Harsh, but effective.

Either way, they aren't planning to kill him. One of the big reversals I planned for this book from the concept stage was a world where the priests were good and the thieving crew was evil—a complete turnabout from Mistborn. Denth and his team were developed in my mind as an "anti-Kelsier's Crew." The priesthood, then, was to turn out to be maligned by the characters and actually working for their best interests.

In the end, I went with the evil crew idea, but the priests aren't 100% without their flaws.

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
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Questioner

How did you come up with the idea of windspren?  

Brandon Sanderson

Windspren in specific? I was thinking about the way the wind is often anthropomorphized, right? It's treated as if it's something alive. And that, for years, just stuck in my head. For a while there were only four windspren, one for each of the quadrants: the north spren, the south spren, the east spren, the west spren, or the west wind and things. But eventually I split them into many more, because I was working with the honorspren and things like that.

Skyward San Diego signing ()
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Questioner

Where did the idea of spren come from?

Brandon Sanderson

Comes from two primary inspirations. One is my perhaps too-much fondness for things classical philosophy. Specifically some of the ideas that Plato talked about with certain Ideals, and the ideal picture of something, the theory of the Forms, and all this stuff. Mixed with the idea of, in the Eastern religions and mythology, you have the idea of the kami, or things like thsi, in which everything has a soul. A rock that you pass has a soul to it. And these two ideas kind of mashing together is where the spren were birthed out of.

I can also point a little bit at The Wheel of Time. One of the things I always liked about The Wheel of Time is, there's a character named Perrin who can smell people's emotions. And as a writer, when I was working on The Wheel of Time, I'm like, "This is so convenient!" Super convenient as a writer. Because it gets really cliched to use the same sort of phrases to indicate emotion. If you're always having somebody smirk as they talk, it starts to really stand out. But since, when I get to Perrin scenes, he can describe emotion in a completely different way, because he was using different senses, almost a synesthesia sort of thing where he would catch scents and know someone's emotion, it was a really cool writing tool. And I think the spren popped a little bit out of that, the ability to show emotion in a different way in my narrative, and that would change society in some (I thought) very interesting ways, made for a really interesting narrative tool for me as a writer.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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Phantine

[Question unknown]

Brandon Sanderson

So, don't consider [harmonium] magically-enhanced cesium. Consider it a magically-created alkali metal. It's going to share attributes with the alkali metals, and generally follows the trends of the others, save for its melting point.

But in answer to your real question, atium would be a platinum group metal. (And platinum itself was my model.)

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Lieutenant Conrad

Lieutenant Conrad is Tom Conrad, another roommate. Tom was my first roommate ever—a computer stuck us together in Helaman Halls at BYU, and wacky high jinks ensued. We roomed together for two years, after which Tom decided he wanted to pay less for rent than we were paying. He then moved into the crawl space beneath a trailer home off campus. (Well, not really, but it sure felt like that when I visited.)

Tor.com The Way of Kings Re-Read Interview ()
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shdwfeather

One of my favourite parts about Roshar is the diverse set of cultures that exist in the world. Could you talk about some of the inspirations for the complicated cultures such as the Alethi?

Brandon Sanderson

Building Roshar, I wanted to make sure that I was doing a little extra worldbuilding work. I don't want to say that for something like Mistborn I'm not doing worldbuilding work, but my focus was in other areas. I wanted Mistborn to be accessible, so I made it an Earth analogue.

I consider Roshar my showpiece for worldbuilding, and as such I wanted everything about it to display some of the best of what science fiction and fantasy is capable of: new ecologies, new cultures, cultures that feel real but that at the same time are not just earth analogues. Because of that, I've done a lot of work to individualize and distinctify a lot of the various cultures on Roshar.

Now, that said, creativity is really the recombination of things you've seen before. We as human beings, by our very nature, can't imagine something we've never seen. What we can do is take different things we've seen and combine them in new ways. That's the soul of creativity. It's the unicorn idea—we've seen things with horns, and we've seen horses. We put the two together and create something new, a unicorn.

Because of that, I don't know if it's possible to create a culture in a fantasy book that isn't inspired in some way by various earth cultures. I'm trying not to be as overt about it as The Wheel of Time was, because one of the cool things about The Wheel of Time was its twisting and turning of Earth cultures into Randland cultures.

That's a big preface. What are my inspirations for the Alethi, for all of the different cultures? There's definitely some Korean in there. There's some Semitic cultures in there. The magic system table, the double eye, is based on the idea of the Sefer and the Tree of Life from the Jewish Kabbalah. That's where I can trace the original inspiration of that. I can trace the original inspiration of the safehand to Koreans not showing people the bottom of their feet because they felt that that is an insult—that's not something you do. I can trace the Alethi apparel to various different clothing influences. I'm hoping that a lot of where I get the cultures is based off the interplay between the setting, the histories, the idea of the highstorms, and the metaphor of the desolations. My influences come from all over the place.

Paris signing ()
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Question

When writing Stormlight, did you get any inspirations from the Chinese Confucian system? The Azish government really reminds me of that.

Brandon Sanderson

So... Yes. Um... Chinese. 新年快乐? This is my only Chinese. [It means] Happy new year. So yes. Living in Korea for several years, I became very interested in the Confucian system. When I returned back from Korea, I studied in college about Chinese history and I found it fascinating. So the Azish are partially inspired by the Chinese Confucian system.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

How often do your dreams ever influence your books?

Brandon Sanderson

Once in awhile.

Questioner

Once in awhile.

Brandon Sanderson

Yup. […] writer you have a cool dream […] something there […] Usually there’s not but once in awhile there really is something and it turns around in your head and eventually ends up in the books.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
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Questioner

What were the Allomantic metals based on?

Brandon Sanderson

The Allomantic metals were based on two main concepts, magic that feels one step science one step superstition so I was reading things like alchemy and I wanted something that was one half chemistry, one half alchemy. The idea of eating the metals and metabolizing them was really interesting to me because it's kind of almost scientific but not really. That mixed with me wanting to have a thieving crew have different powers that would help different members of a crew and I built the powers to match people like Ham and Breeze.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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TheRealKuni

Throughout TWoK, Kaladin complains that he is cursed. When others call him lucky, he thinks about all the times he has failed to protect people and considers himself unlucky. Everyone around him dies.

His Journey in that book takes him to Bridge 4, the bridge team that has the most losses, that everyone knows is a death sentence. Death being the end of every journey, this is appropriate.

But what I've never really noticed before is the importance of the bridge number. 4 is, in East Asian cultures, considered unlucky or cursed. In Chinese 4 is nearly a homophone to the word death. Buildings will skip the 4th floor, companies will skip from version 3 to version 5 of their products (Palm, OnePlus, I'm sure there are other examples but I can't think of them right now).

We already know that The Stormlight Archive finds some of its inspiration in anime/manga. We know that the Alethi are what we would consider ethnically East Asian. Dark hair, tan skin, and they don't have the large, round eyes of the Shin. It seems very fitting that the least lucky bridge, the one responsible for the most death, is Bridge 4.

Of course, Kaladin comes to believe he isn't cursed as he uses his powers to defend his bridgemen. 4 becomes the most envied bridge as they suffer the fewest deaths, have camaraderie, and eventually become squires to a radiant.

They are numbered unlucky and cursed, but turn out to be the most "lucky" of the bridge crews.

This all struck me today because at the end of Oathbringer, Dalinar casually mentions that his personal guard from Bridge 13 isn't there because that bridge crew became Teft's squires. 13 is the number in Western culture that we consider "unlucky" or "cursed," so fitting that it would be the second bridge crew to become squires of a Radiant! With that realization, everything about Bridge 4 clicked in my head.

Did anyone else catch this, or notice anything else cool with these numbers?

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of things fans find are coincidence...but neither of these are, actually. Those are both intentional, as are a few other little numbers things.

Numerology has not become a big thing in Stormlight during the development of it, but original (2002 version) The Way of Kings leaned a lot more heavily on numerology (gematria style word/number interactions) and that's still around in the world.

General Twitter 2018 ()
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Pelham TP

Sadly I am currently suffering with toothache. However as the waves of pain fluctuate through my jaw I am reminded of the two blind men discussion with Hoid and Shallan. I understand the beauty of pain receding. I wondered if you endured a similar experience when you were writing that passage.

Brandon Sanderson

Similar, yes, but scenes like that are always part my experience, part my extrapolation of what the character might have experienced.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

This introductory scene, where Dox and Kell meet on the city wall, has just the right feel for me. I wanted this book–particularly at the beginning–to have the feel of a heist movie. Something like Ocean's Eleven, Sneakers, or Mission: Impossible. I thought a couple of senior thieves getting together on the wall and talking about the team they are gathering would fit in just perfectly.

That was, by the way, one of the major inspirations for this book. I've mentioned that I stole the concepts for Allomancy and Vin's character from other books I wrote. The plot came from a desire to write something that had the feel of a heist movie. I haven't ever seen that done in a fantasy novel–a plot where a team of specialists get together and then try to pull off a very difficult task.

Skyward release party ()
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Questioner

What made you want to write Skyward?

Brandon Sanderson

Skyward is a weird book in that it is a science fiction book based on a fantasy idea. Some of my favorite books when I was growing up were stories about a boy who finds a dragon egg or a dragon, and raises the dragon and then flies on the dragon, all sorts of fun stuff happens. And I've always wanted to do one of these stories. One of the very first books I ever read in fantasy was Dragonsblood by Jane Yolen, which I just reread so I could write a little review of it. And it's great. One of my favorite books of all time is The White Dragon, by Anne McCaffrey. And you'll find some Anne McCaffrey references in this book, you won't have to look that hard. But the idea was I wanted to do one of these books, but I never felt like I could give a good spin to it. And it is when I combined it with some other worldbuilding I had done in a science fiction universe and changed it from "a boy and his dragon" to "a girl and her spaceship" that the story really started to connect, because the worldbuilding that I had built for this galactic science fiction really clicked with this story. And that was kind of the breakthrough that I made, was combining these two things together.

So, Skyward came from me wanting to write a story about a dragon. It just turns out the dragon is a spaceship with a really weird AI.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Calderis

The light lines/lances are a very fun concept. Is there anything in particular that inspired the idea of grappling combat in space?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably watching too many cartoons or B movies where someone turns a corner in a vehicle by throwing out an anchor or something. (Didn't the batmobile do this once in the old Adam West batman?)

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
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Question

One of my favorite moments in The Way of Kings is when Dalinar is having the vision of the Knights Radiant and they're descending from the sky and going into battle. I'd like to know the origin of that scene in your head.

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted to provide a contrast. This scene is one I came up with in outlining, it's not one of those scenes that I hang everything on. Most of what you do as a writer, you discover as you do, even if you're an outliner like me. And this was a scene where I'm like, I need something to show the contrast between the world that Dalinar is seeing and the world he is living. And that scene was kind of the metaphorical starfall, that felt like it would express the drama of the contrast, the dark night with the monsters and the bright Radiants from the sky.

Orem signing ()
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Questioner

Why did you choose the political system in Elantris, just based on an economic system, I thought that was fascinating.

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted to explore, this was just an idea for a story I had: what if an MLM were in charge of a monarchy? And it obviously didn't go straight that direction, but that was my pitch to myself. I feel like sometimes fantasy books just take everything as assumed. And you end up with these-- And sometimes it's okay, right? But in every book I write, I'm like, let's look and see if there's something different, not taking all of our assumptions for granted. And with Elantris it was that--MLM runs a monarchy, go. And that's where my worldbuilding went. You can probably blame Dune a bit for this, because Dune's worldbuilding and economy are so wrapped up together that ever since I read that,almost everything I've built has had an economic component to the worldbuilding.

Warsaw signing ()
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Questioner/Translator

<Where do your inspiration comes from?>

Brandon Sanderson

It's very different based on the book. Is there a specific... like, ask me a specific *inaudible*.

Questioner/Translator

Way of Kings.

Brandon Sanderson

First idea was Dalinar which is: brother of king who... the king gets assassinated and the nephew is a bad king and where does that leave you? The second idea was storms shaping the world. Spren were based on Shinto Kami, the Shinto religion. Kaladin was based on the conflict between a surgeon learning *inaudible*. Different ideas for different things.