Advanced Search

Search in date range:

Search results:

Found 330 entries in 0.219 seconds.

YouTube Livestream 14 ()
#151 Copy


How much research into philosophical work do you do before each book? And what inspired to use thesein particular: Kantian deontology for the Knights Radiant, consequentialism for the Alethi and Taravangian, and secular morality for Jasnah?

Brandon Sanderson

Why did I choose the ones that I did? I really like when stories are not just a conflict of personality; they are a conflict between ideologies and ways of viewing the world which are all valid ways of viewing the world. When I put Taravangian and Dalinar into conflict with each other, it's because they are both looking at life in a different way. And I'm kind of reaching to different philosophical bases for those. And I will butcher it if I try to use the actual terminologies, because I am not a philosophy major.

Why did I take what I did? They matched the characters. And they matched what I'm trying to explore, without trying to give you the answers; trying to explore theme in stories. And I just love doing that. It's what makes me excited about writing characters.

Waterstones RoW Release Event ()
#152 Copy


Do you have any specific inspirations for spanreeds?

Brandon Sanderson

Like most things in my books, you can ask me what my writerly inspiration is, and what my worldbuilding explanation is. And let me explain that.

Writerly inspiration for spanreeds is me acknowledging that I wanted to have a society that acted more like a post-Industrial Revolution society (or very close to it) than a Medieval society. And there’s lots of ways to do this. Fantasy worlds do not have to progress socially the same way that we progressed. A lot of people want to tie technology to social progression, which you don’t have to do. You don’t necessarily have to say “people from the Industrial Revolution in our world acted this way; therefore people in this world…” You just don’t have to do that.

But there are certain technological revolutions that happened that do form a technological basis for some of these things. For instance, trade was very essential to the expanding political entity that was a world economy. We needed people to at least be travelling consistently to Asia before that could happen. And I really think a lot of what makes people act the way we do, perhaps, in some of our societies is this kind of mass communication.

And I didn’t want to be there yet, but I wanted to give a way that news and ideas could travel around the world in a consistent way on Roshar, to make the continent feel like a single entity. Because otherwise, I would probably have to tell the story as not a worldwide story. You just can’t travel, and ideas can’t move fast enough. Even if you look back at Roman times; Roman times took place in a fairly small geographical area, and even that, it was really hard for them to know what was happening. And you would have to spend months and months getting information that was then months and months out of date. And there’s a lot of sitting around and waiting in those cultures for things to happen, even with having the Mediterranean to sail around and bring this information. I just wanted information to move fast, both culturally and narratively. And so I said, “I’ve gotta find a way to do this. I did it with Seons in Elantris; I need find a way to do something similar to that on Roshar.”

Real-world inspiration, if there is one, is an auto-pen. Where authors can have a little machine sign books for them; it moves on its own. I’ve never used one, but politicians use them quite a bit. When you get that hand-signed letter when you’ve donated whatever to whatever political party. That hand-signed letter was probably machine-signed with a real pen, rather than hand-signed by the individual.

YouTube Livestream 27 ()
#153 Copy


If you had creative input on a Stormlight Archive adaptation, how would you design the music of Alethkar? Which regions or instruments would inspire you or have inspired you while writing in the world?

Brandon Sanderson

One of the core inspirations for Alethkar is medieval Mongolia. And I don't know if pulling from things like throat-singing is going to just be too immersion-breaking for people, but that's the first place I'd start looking. Really, I kind of imagine the Alethi... if you're really getting down to their core influences, it's kind of like when the Mongolians conquered China, and Kublai Khan and that era, where the Mongolians became empire-builders rather than just conquerors and raiders. And that's what I was looking at specifically, kind of, in the Dalinar/Gavilar era, where it's like, "We were these kind of ruffians. And we got some momentum and had a leader with vision, and suddenly we made a kingdom out of a bunch of different groups. Reforging a kingdom that used to exist. But now we have to deal with running a kingdom." Which Genghis Khan never had to do. Genghis Khan was all about "we ride in, we pillage, then we ride off with the goods. We're not interested in empire building." So that whole concept interests me a lot.

And then, of course, there's also a lot of Middle Eastern influences on the linguistics for the Alethi, and kind of some of their scientific learning and things like this is leaning on those medieval-era Islamic scholars, and things like that, are a bit of an inspiration. Though I've said before, Shallan's more Pliny the Elder, so that's reaching back a little bit further.

I would look around for those sorts of things. Really, I would want to hire someone who's just really good at this and let them research into it. I would probably give them an explanation like I just gave you, and then let them look at it, and let them dig into it. Because my music theory is very surface-level.

YouTube Livestream 26 ()
#154 Copy

Joe Collins

What was your inspiration for the Knights Radiant

Brandon Sanderson

I prefer stories about magic awakening and magic being discovered and investigated. So the idea of these Orders of Knights whose powers were lost, and people are now recovering them, was really cool to me. You certainly would have to point at the Jedi as a theme for that. Like, I grew up in the '80s and '90s; there's no way that Star Wars wasn't a huge influence on everything that I did. I wouldn't say that I thought it was the single influence, but you cannot separate someone of my generation, so steeped in pop culture as I was, from Star Wars as a deep cultural influence.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#156 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

In a similarly amusing cameo (I must have been in a cameo mood) we have Slowswift—who is based on Grandpa Tolkien. (See this picture.) The name itself comes from his love of wordplay and of names that are inherently self-contradictory.

I'm no Tolkien scholar—I don't know the man's personality or how he would have reacted to this situation. I'm just a layman and a fan—who for some reason felt like sticking in a tiny side character in imitation of the master. We authors do strange things like that occasionally.

A Memory of Light Raleigh Signing ()
#157 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

In your novellas Legion and The Emperor's Soul, there was a common theme of a creation of character. Were you making a comment on that as a writer?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The Emperor's Soul was much more so, specifically dealing with the artistic process. That was part of the theme for me. Legion was more "Wow, this idea's awesome." I originally told Dan (from Writing Excuses) that he should write this, it's really quirky. He said, "I got my own ideas—go write it yourself!"

Legion Release Party ()
#158 Copy


Is the concept of the King's Wit inspired by Shakespear's Twelfth Night?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, a lot of Shakespear's fools. But the fool in Twelfth Night, and the fool (for a different reason) in King Lear, both are inspirations. And I think you would find that as a blanket truth for a lot of us writers. I haven't asked Robin Hobb this, but I'm willing to bet that there's some Shakespear's fool characters in that. Twelfth Night is my favorite of his fools. In fact, in the very first versions that I wrote of him, he was way more jester-like than he ended up being in the published version of the Cosmere. But if anyone reads Dragonsteel, the one at BYU, he'll feel even more like a jester.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#159 Copy


Why pancakes?

Brandon Sanderson

My kids love pancakes, I thought Lift would really like pancakes. And pancakes are pretty universal, like, most cultures come up with a pancake-type thing. Now they aren't always the sweet pancakes, fluffy ones that we imagine. But, like, almost every culture, pancakes are a thing. Some weird batter with stuff in it you pour onto a hot skillet.

Skyward release party ()
#160 Copy


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.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#161 Copy


Where did you get the idea for the Reckoners series?

Brandon Sanderson

Where did I get the idea for writing the Reckoners series? I almost got in a car wreck. I was driving to a book signing and I was late and somebody cut me off in traffic. And it was like-- I had to slam on the brakes and things like that and I thought-- At that moment I'm like "You, person in front of me, are so lucky I don't have superpowers, 'cause if I did I would blow your car up right now. BOOM" It's a great Michael Bay effect, like it explodes and I drive through the smoke. It was really awesome; I remember it. And then I was immediately horrified, right? I'm like "Here I write all these books about people protecting the world with their powers and what would I do if I had them? I'd be blowing up people because they inconvenience me." *laughter* And this is where the series came from, I thought about that the entire rest of the drive, which was about another hour. And I thought "What if-- What could we do if people just started manifesting superpowers and-- You couldn't throw them in prison, or if you did they'd just break out. You couldn't defeat them with the armies. What would the society do if there were legitimately super-powered individuals?" It's kind of the same tactic that Watchmen took, if you've ever read that, but it kind of goes the other direction with "They are all evil, what do we do?" That was the origin and I wrote a whole book series about it.

Goodreads February 2016 YA Newsletter Interview ()
#162 Copy


What was your premise behind the main character David [in The Reckoners]? Why did you create him as he is, scared yet fearless at the same time, smart about specific things yet totally ignorant about others, etc.?

Brandon Sanderson

I built David around two pillars of personality. One is his interest in the Epics, which balances between hatred and fascination. The other one is his fierce determination, which leads him to be impulsive and bull-headed at times, but also pretty inspiring at others.

I feel that as people, sometimes our greatest strengths are also our greatest liabilities. In this respect, every human being is a conundrum in at least one or two ways. With David, his fixation on the Epics is a huge strength but he's been so narrowly focused in his interests that he neglected many other areas of study. So he's both smart and stupid. At the same time, he's impulsive and determined, which leads to acts of great bravery, but he lives in a society that beats people down so if he stops and thinks too long, he can often psych himself out.

Goodreads Fantasy Book Discussion Warbreaker Q&A ()
#165 Copy


I really loved the character Lightsong, he was my favorite and probably one of the most interesting characters I've ever read about. Did you have anyone in particular in mind when you came up with him? How did go about developing him as a character?

Brandon Sanderson

Rupert Everett was sitting in the back of my mind.

Actually, in order to develop Lightsong's character well, I didn't want to imitate any one voice. That's something we always stay away from. But I had been wanting to work on writing humor in a different way from what I'd previously used. I spent a lot of time watching and analyzing the movie THE THIN MAN, the old comedy/mystery/crime film with an emphasis on very witty characters making wisecracks as they investigate a murder. If you haven't seen it, it's delightful. Along with AN IDEAL HUSBAND and THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, those were my three sources of inspiration. I was trying for a blend of those two styles—and then of course added my own sense of humor.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#166 Copy


From the very beginning did you already know-- like cosmere? Like was that your goal setting out?

Brandon Sanderson

It was my goal very early on. In fact, before I wrote any books I wrote a short story about Hoid. So he goes back to before the very first book that I wrote. So yeah it goes back pretty far. I can trace inspirations back to Asimov tying Foundation and Robots together and feeling like that was really cool and wanting to do something like that, if it makes sense. And so I would say that’s probably like the first seed was when I read the later Foundation books and they tied them together.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#167 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Four - Part Two


Why, yes, I did visit Hawaii in the middle of writing this book. Did you notice?

Following Mistborn, I wanted to do a book set in a place that looked very different from the Final Empire. What's different from a burned-out wasteland? Why, a tropical paradise of course! One of the great things about being an author is the ability to justify going to Hawaii just so I could do research on how to properly describe the plants, landscape, and atmosphere in a place like that. It's really a tough job, but I'm willing to sacrifice for you all. No need to thank me.

YouTube Livestream 21 ()
#171 Copy


Where did the idea of pooping in Shardplate come from?

Brandon Sanderson

Because I wondered how it happened with knights on the battlefield and thought, "This is the sort of thing that just doesn't show up very often in fantasy books."

Adam Horne

Or in history books, probably.

Brandon Sanderson

It's there in history books. The historians are very interested in this sort of thing.

One of the ways that I wanted to ground some of the conversations in Stormlight was to talk about some of these things. And it turns out that Shallan and Adolin's conversations tend to be very good places to talk about this sort of thing.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#172 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twelve

Lightsong Hears Petitions

The concept of petitions—and the gods being able to heal someone one time—grew out of my desire to have something about them that was miraculous. Something obvious, something more than just an ability to make vague prophecies. Their Breath auras are amazing, true, but an Awakener with a lot of Breath can replicate that.

I took the idea of being able to die in order to heal from an idea discarded from Elantris. If you look at the deleted scenes (Caution: Spoilers for the ending of Elantris), you can read about how there was originally a subplot to the story where the Seons (the floating balls of light) could expend the Aon at their center and create a miraculous event one time. However, doing so would kill them. I eventually ended up not using this plot structure in the final draft, and so I cut all references to this ability from the book. I felt that it was too contrived in that novel.

I've always thought it was interesting conceptually, however, so I developed it into this book as an aspect of Returned that makes them different. They can create one miracle—and in this world, that one miracle has to be a healing. They can expend their divine Breath to heal someone.

This created another problem for readers, however. It became very difficult in the book to explain to them that a Returned could still Awaken things—but not by using the Breath granted to them by their Return. In other words, if a Returned gained a hundred extra Breaths, they could use them just like anyone else's. But if they give away the Breath they start with, it kills them.

Every person starts with a Breath. Well, Returned start with one too—a divine Breath that can be given away to heal someone else's Breath that is weakening and dying. That's what these petitioners are asking for.

But regular Breaths, they can give those away. They just have to be tricky about it.

Arcanum Unbounded San Francisco signing ()
#173 Copy


The fact that Vorinism was partially inspired by Judaism and [???] means a lot to me, as a Jew, especially because there's not that much [???] other than dwarves. So thanks for that. I wanted to know if you could elaborate a little on some of the specific Judaism had on Vorinism.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, sure. Specific influences of Judaism on Vorinism. There are a couple of things. And I can go on this one for a while. I will pick Numerology which-- Jewish Numerology is really cool, particularly if you go back-- Like we always focus on alchemy and astrology as kind of the pseudosciences that were really interesting to scientists back in the day. If you don't know, Newton thought that alchemy was real and he could figure out how to make it work. I love these things that people approach scientifically but have supernat-- superstitious roots. And Jewish Numerology is really cool because the letters and numbers are basically the same thing, so a name can actually mean numbers, and vice-versa, and stuff like that. Which leads to some really cool and interesting attempts to understand the world by taking things from the Torah and transferring them back and forth between numbers and things. That sort of thing is very prevalent in the Vorin religion. To the point that it was really important to them, and then got forbidden. Because they were spending too much time on it. And you will find out roots about that. But that was an inspiration for Vorinism. Of course the Sephir, from the Tree of Life, were an inspiration for the Double Eye of the Almighty, and the idea behind all the different connections and philosophy going in that. The language. Kholin is actually pronounced /χolɪn/, and things like this--


Was that-- Sorry... Was Kholin supposed to be kind of close to kohen? Because--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, mmhmm.


Okay, cool.

Brandon Sanderson

So yeah, you're going to find all kinds of things like that in linguistic roots. And there is of course more but I will move on from that because I can talk too long on that. But yeah, there's some very fun stuff.

Legion Release Party ()
#174 Copy


What technology that you have heard of recently in real life has inspired fantasy?

Brandon Sanderson

There's gotta be something in Skyward, right? Maybe?

Obviously, the Legion stories are, all three of them, inspired by real-world technology that I read something interesting about, and then go and write a story about. The first one, taking pictures of the past with a camera, not a real-world technology, but I was reading about photography and things like that. The second one, storing data inside of human cells, that's a real thing that lots of people are trying to do that, it's very interesting. And I didn't want to do a story about that, because I thought other people would do stories about that, so I did a story where someone storied data in a body and then lost it. And the third one is directly inspired by my kids love of their VR.

Oathbringer Newcastle signing ()
#176 Copy


So, I was wondering, as a dyslexic, when you were designing Thaylen names, was that intentionally a massive practical joke on your part?

Brandon Sanderson

No. Though I will admit, when I was designing Thaylen names, I had a little bit of Welsh going on, and things like that. Now, one of my good friends, actually, the person this book is dedicated to, Alan Layton, is dyslexic. He was one of the people I brainstormed Stormlight with, but he listens to them all on audio. It's more a practical joke on the people who read the audiobooks, because I don't know how they read those names sometimes. But they also have to do Rock's name, right? Numuhukumakiaki'aialunamor. I make them do stuff like that.

Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
#177 Copy


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.)

General Reddit 2019 ()
#178 Copy


Is Dalinar based off of Genghis Khan to any extent, and if so did you blend him with other historical figures?

Brandon Sanderson

One inspiration for the Alethi is the Yuan Dynasty, which has Mongolian roots. Because of that, I've included little hints here and there connecting the peoples. I'd imagine Dalinar more as a Subutai than a Genghis, but the episode where he recruits a guy who shot him with an arrow is based off of a piece of folklore that surrounds Genghis, so it's not off base to note the connections there.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#180 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Architectural and Character Cameos

Many of the High Noble keeps I described in the first book are real buildings. Keep Venture, for instance, is based on the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. Well, Keep Orielle here is based on the LDS Salt Lake Temple, only with more stained glass. Go read the description again (I think it's in this chapter) and maybe you'll be able to see it.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#181 Copy


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.

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


She noticed that the race in Skyward that the people are fighting are Krell, and that there are krell in Sixth of the Dusk.

Brandon Sanderson

That is not a direct connection. It's just, the Krell are a race of aliens from Forbidden Planet, one of my favorite classic science fiction movies, and I'm just doing it in Skyward as an homage to that. Krell in Sixth of the Dusk is just me looking for a thing that sounds like the right name for the thing.


So they're completely unrelated?

Brandon Sanderson

Completely unrelated. Other than the fact that I've watched Forbidden Planet, like, six times.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#183 Copy


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?)

Supanova 2017 - Sydney ()
#184 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

What inspired the Epics?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I got cut off in traffic and thought, "you're so lucky I don't have superpowers because I would totally blow up your car!" And then I started to think about how I couldn't be trusted with superpowers and what the world would be like if no one with superpowers could be trusted.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#187 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Spook is based very loosely on a person I knew from the timewastersguide forums. Zack–or Gemm, as his nick was–is very good at posting random gibberish which, if you look at it very closely, actually reads to be rather poetic. I wanted to do a character who spoke with a dialect that had an interesting rhythm, yet was difficult to make out.

Hence the character of Spook. Normally, I don't like dialects. Yet, something about this one was very intriguing to me. I like the way his sentences sound, even when they're completely unintelligible. I do realize, however, that some people really don't like reading what he has to say. Don't worry–he begins to speak more and more intelligibly from here on out. The Way of Kings Re-Read Interview ()
#188 Copy


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.

FAQFriday 2017 ()
#189 Copy


Do your children sometimes inspire your writing?

Brandon Sanderson

Having children has certainly been a big help in understanding the way that younger people think.  I spend a lot of time reading with them, and seeing what engages them in other books.  This has been an excellent help to me in my writing.

So far, I haven't taken any of their specific ideas–but they're still a little young.  They do offer suggestions, but they tend to be things like, "You need a big orange dinosaur that builds itself a robot suit to fight ninjas."

On second thought, that's a pretty cool idea, isn't it?

Skyward release party ()
#190 Copy


What was the inspiration for Sazed's spiritual turmoil?

Brandon Sanderson

He came from several ideas. One idea was the missionary for all religions. Which was that the cool concept, that originated his story, was someone who tried to fit a religion to someone like you fit shoes to somebody. "Let's find the right one to fit them." When I was developing that character and working on it in the outlining process, and after I tried a few scenes and knew that I liked who he was, the question that followed up is, "What does he really believe?" As I developed the character, I settled on "He doesn't know," because that's not what he does, he tried to suit to other people. I knew that the story had to put him in a crisis of deciding what does he actually believe, and what is his belief system, because that is who he is. The inspiration of that was simply growing out of who the character was as I saw this character, and trying to create a crisis that would force him down that path, to make the hard decisions.

ICon 2019 ()
#192 Copy


Yesterday, you talked about other writers that came before you, and talked fantasy today. And although you're writing and selling quite novel, and this is part of the magic, I wanted to ask if you had to choose one author who is an inspiration for you, who would it be?

Brandon Sanderson

There's a bunch. So, I love how Guy Gavriel Kay is able to tell epic fantasy stories in one volume that are really compelling, that's one of his things. I like how Nora Jemisin is able to use literary trappings to tell really powerful stories. Like, if you guys haven't read The Fifth [Season], it's in second person, it's just crazy, but it works.

I actually envy a lot of the videogame writers, because they can do things that I can't do and it's a lot of fun. Like, the guy who wrote Undertale, Toby Fox, right? Like, that story is the type of story that I can't tell because it only works in that medium. I think it's really cool and so I envy their ability to tell stories the way that they tell them. So, that's just a couple [of inspirations].

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#193 Copy


Do you ever take inspiration for your characters from people you know in real life?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I do. Usually, it's one small thing about a person that I know. Sarene from Elantris is based on a friend of mine named Annie. And many of my characters have some little attribute... I was just talking online with <?>, who is a guy that I know from Mongolia. I'm LDS, and I served a mission, and he was one of the other missionaries. And he threw shoes at people. This was his deal. Like, when he got mad at you, off came the big old Doc Marten and he threw it at you! So, in Dragonsteel, one of my books that's unpublished but we'll publish someday, there is an entire race that that's what they do when they're offended. The shoes come off. And Hoid once described it as, "When a bunch of them when they get angry, it's like a tornado hitting a cobbler shop." And shoes go everywhere.

So, definitely, they do.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#196 Copy


Are there historical figures that were inspirations for Elhokar?

Brandon Sanderson

Dalinar is based very slightly on Subutai, the great Mongol general. Elhokar, no one specific. I thought of him when I was a kid, when I was, like, fourteen, I wanted to do a story about a weak king and his uncle who's a really strong figure, and that interplay, and that's where he came from.

Skyward release party ()
#197 Copy


If you were a Smedry, what would your talent be?

Brandon Sanderson

I base most of the talents of the people in the Alcatraz Books off dumb things that I do. So I am famously bad at dancing. Famously. So I would definitely have that one. I am always late; that came from me. (Though really, secretly, it came from my mom; 'cause she is even more late that I am.) Most everything thing in there is me. But I would say probably "bad at dancing", that would probably be my best, because I am just really bad at dancing. It's not even in a funny way, it's just in a boring way.

Firefight release party ()
#198 Copy


I was just wondering if you were going to continue the mirroring as the Elantris and Warbreaker series continue...

Brandon Sanderson

They are probably not going to continue that way. There will be some things, like there will be some tonal things. Part of the reason I wrote Warbreaker was this idea that I'm like "I wrote this whole book about the city of the gods but I didn't actually get to deal with people living as gods". So I came back to the topic because of that reason but the second one is probably going to be a little bit more like my unpublished book Aether of Night. I'm going to fold in some of those ideas.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#199 Copy


Okay so Brandon, I've gotta ask, Rig's last name is McCaffrey. I thought, oh haha, nice McCaffrey reference.

Then I got thinking.

So Skyward is a story about a girl and her starship (dragon) who join a group to help defend their planet, which is made up of separate caverns (Holds) after humanity crashed (colonized) their world, and who has to defend said peoples from an enemy that periodically comes from the sky called the Krell (Thread).

Let's just assume the world takes place in the DE universe and that Spensa and Co will eventually work out how to psychically teleport and... Brandon... Is Skyward just a sci fi retelling of the Dragonriders of Pern...

Brandon Sanderson

The White Dragon (along with Dragon's Blood by Jane Yolen) are direct inspirations for Skyward. And Rodge's last name is a nod to Anne McCaffrey.

I wouldn't say it's only a sci-fi retelling of these stories. But the plot archetype that inspired me is the "boy and his dragon" story. (Including Eragon and How to train your Dragon as well.) I've always wanted to do a story like this, but wanted to find a way to put my own spin (heh heh) on the story.

You'll see how they diverge as the story progresses. But much as Mistborn was inspired by heist stories, this one was inspired by dragon egg stories.

Phoenix Comic-Con 2016 ()
#200 Copy

Badger (paraphrased)

What was your motivation/inspiration behind the Alcatraz books?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

- They're weird and modernist.

- His goal was to do something so different from what he was working on.

- He uses different books like this as breaks in order to keep the momentum up for writing and yet let himself rest.

- Still has a wacky magic system, so it's still one of his books, still what he likes writing, but it's still different.

- Inspired by like, The Emperor's New Groove sort of off the wall storytelling (gave the example of the fact that the opening scene is cut by a flashback and then never addressed again anywhere in the books)