Your characters often gain confidence from beg to end of a book. What inspired that trend of personal growth?
My own life! :)
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Your characters often gain confidence from beg to end of a book. What inspired that trend of personal growth?
My own life! :)
Fourth - Outside of books, what influences his writing?
1. People he knows (Sarene is based on a friend, etc; also includes character conflicts)
2. Cinema, especially when it does something poorly and he wants to do it better
3. video games may be an influence, unsure.
The line about a Svordish epic is, for those of you who are wondering, a reference to the monomyth. (I.e., the heroic archetype.) It's ironic that I should include a nod to Campbell in my novel, since I rant about fantasy writers paying him too much heed in one of my critical pieces regarding Elantris. (I posted it in the Elantris resources section.)
What was the thought process behind Shinovar being so similar?
A couple of reasons. One is, by having some sort of Earth analogue on-world, I could give some contrast, and I could have a kind of an explanation for why they might use words like chickens and things until I can get to the big reveal. Like, if there weren't Shinovar there to act as a red herring, I think it would give away the twist very early.
Beyond that, I like the idea of the people that are like us being the alien ones to the society. Kind of helps separate it and make it this is a different world, this is a different culture. So, it gave me a lot of advantages. Plus it also gave an explanation for how they could-- humankind create a foothold on this planet after coming across. So, lots of different thought processes behind that.
What were your inspiration when you wrote the [Mistborn] series, or for particular characters--
Well, Mistborn-- I passed, honestly, through a fog bank at 70 mph driving from my mom's house, and I'm like, "This looks cool, I've got to use this." That's the first thought I can think of. Feruchemy goes back to being in high school and being an insomniac, being really tired and wishing I could store up my sleep, so I'd be sleepy when I wanted to be sleepy. Kelsier's inspiration was a guy who had been only out for himself, who realized the greater import of doing something.
Did you go into creating Davriel with the color pie in mind? What colors would you say he is?
I went into the story knowing I wanted to write a black-alinged hero. Someone who showed off the pragmatic side of black, and someone whose ambition was different from traditional black-aligned ambition.
I'd say that Davriel is black primary, with a strong secondary blue aspect. There is a slight white tertiary side to him, mostly in his belief in organized systems and society that makes sense. (Though he prefers these boundaries for others more than for himself.)
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.
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.
Where did you get your inspiration for Kaladin?
Kaladin came because I was reading about the life of a surgeon in the Medieval age and how it-- how strange it was to be like this person who had one foot in science and one foot not, and that was really interesting to me. And he evolved a lot over time becoming more the hybrid warrior and things like that. But that's where it started, what it was like to live and be a surgeon in a Medieval world.
So, the chalk circles in Rithmatist. Are they, like, related to the chalk circle quote that you get with the BYU honor code?
No, that's not an inspiration I'm aware that. It could have been in the back of my head, but it was not a specific inspiration.
"Hama," Galladon's word for grandmother, is actually another theft from the real world. One of my cousins has a little son who calls his grandmother "Hama," and I always thought it was a cute nickname. The really funny one, however, is when he refers to my grandmother–his great-grandmother. She's Big Hama. (In keeping with this tradition, Sarene's childhood nickname for Kiin is "Hunkey Kay," a child's version of "Uncle Kiin." This is a spin off of what that same little kid in the real world calls my mother. She's "Hunky BaBa," or "Aunt Barbara.")
What did I warn you about we writers and filching things?
You might be curious to know that I based Elend, in part, on my editor Moshe. I don't know that it was conscious–in fact, I just noticed the connection while writing right now. However, the speech patterns and the way he thinks are very similar to Moshe, and I kind of see him in my mind as looking like a younger version of my editor. I guess I see Moshe as a sort of heroic guy.
He wouldn't make a very good dictator either. But, then, I think that's a good thing, since I have to work with him.
Where did you get the idea for a chasmfiend?
This actually a pretty good one. So, what has happening with the Stormlight books is-- Originally, the Shattered Plains were not in Stormlight. If you didn't know about this, Stormlight started without the Shattered Plains. And when I came back to the series to write it after kind of failing at that 2002 version and wanting to try again, I hired a concept artist to do sketches of characters and settings for me. His name was Ben McSweeney... Ben is the person I eventually hired to do a lot of the artwork, because he had done all this great concept art. And one of the things he did is, he drew a giant brain coral, 'cause I said, "Give me corals, things that you would normally find underwater in a coral reef, but above ground, and this is where we're gonna start our big brainstorming," and he did this giant one that people were walking through the cracks, and there was a little crustacean monster in there. And I'm like, "Oh, that looks like the Shattered Plains. Hey, the Shattered Plains! Why didn't I think of that? They work really well!" 'Cause they had originally been in Dragonsteel, they hadn't really worked there. So, I brought the Shattered Plains over, and the original inspiration for a chasmfiend was that little beastie. It looked more like a crayfish, that he had stuck in one of these grooves. That's where chasmfiends came from.
Are any of the characters in your books strongly influenced by people you know in real life? Would you be able to share a few if so?
Sure! Most are cameos. Many people in Bridge Four are based on friends/family members. Skar, Peet, Drehy, Bisig, Yake, and a few others are friends or family.
Sarene was loosely based on a friend of mine from college.
What inspired you to write that series [Mistborn]? It's amazing.
Oh good question, what inspired me to write Mistborn… A couple of things have to come together for me to write a book. Usually it is not one idea. Usually one idea is kind of the sparking point but then I file it in the back of my brain and wait until other ideas stick to it and work in really cool ways. Mistborn is a conglomeration of several things. First off it was watching-- I guess it was reading-- reading Harry Potter and being like "Wow these Dark Lords sure get a tough time of it. They're always beaten by these dopey kids." Right? *laughter* Like Sauron, there's this little furry-footed British dude who's like-- destroys your whole empire or things like this. And I was like "These poor guys, what if we had a book where the Dark Lord won? Where-- What if Frodo got to the end and the Dark Lord was like 'Oh thanks for bringing my ring back.' and then killed him and took over the world." It was really, I'm a fan of The Wheel of Time and thinking what if Rand got to the end of The Wheel of Time and the Dark One is like "Okay, I'm all powerful, you're not, end." And he won. Oh the Pattern just broke.
As an aside for Wheel of Time fans, I actually wrote that scenes for my own catharsis. I actually wrote a scene, I never let anyone else see it, where Rand lost *laughter* and it's actually like this dramatic moment and he's like "I could just destroy the world right now" And I just wrote "And so he did, The end." *laughter* I had a good laugh over it and then deleted it.
So, what if the Dark Lord won, but I figured that would be a downer of a story so I filed that in the back of my head and it melded with my love of heist stories. You'll notice Steelheart is also a heist story. It's one of my favorite archetypes, the gang who all have their individual talents and they get together to do cool things like-- I think one of my favorite movies in recent times was actually Inception which was a heist story using people's brains. So cool, such a great concept. But one of my classic favorite movies is Sneakers, if you haven't seen that. It's so good! So that genre made me want to write a heist novel in a fantasy world so I developed that independently. Allomancy and Feruchemy were developed independently as cool magic systems, that eventually started interacting in interesting ways. And then Kelsier was the other kind of linchpin, him as a character, wanting to tell this story about a guy who had been an upper-class thief, a con-man who then got motivation to go "No I'm going to do something good with my life. I'm going to change the world. It's kind of hard to explain.
What inspired you write Way of Kings? Was that your first one?
That was not my first one. It's different-- There are lots of different ideas that usually come together to make one book. And Way of Kings is lots of different ideas. One of them was wanting to tell a story about a world where the highstorm, where the magic storm hit it periodically... The idea of how life would have to adapt to a storm. But there are lots of different ideas that come together.
Good old Goradel—or Richard Gordon, a good friend of mine and a fantasy fiction fan. Since this became the series to work in cameos (I didn't put many at all in Elantris), I wanted a place for Rich. He's very similar to how Goradel looks and acts; a solid, good-natured guy. The type you want running your important message through a dying world in an attempt to save it.
Sazed and Clubs, then Tindwyl in the Keep
Finally we get the Sazed scene. This is my favorite in the chapter, and it's a chapter filled with a lot of scenes I really like. Allrianne may make me chuckle, but Sazed MEANS something. Showing off the cost of Feruchemy like this made for some interesting worldbuilding, and having Sazed interact with Tindwyl and Clubs gave us some character.
Sazed is beginning to feel troubled by what he's done and what is happening around him, but he's not the type to show it yet–even in his thoughts. However, the fact that he preaches a religion to Clubs (the first time he's done that to anyone in a while) shows that he's stretching, trying to figure out who he is and find his place in this mess. He figures that with the fall of Luthadel, he'll probably end up dead–and so he wants to know who he is before that happens.
Which is also why he finally seeks out Tindwyl to confront her. The scene where he brings back his senses while holding her is one of the great moments that you can have as a fantasy novelists that those realistic writers just can't have.
Two little behind the scenes thoughts on this section. First, Clubs mentions that the latest messenger to visit Straff was executed. If you guessed that this was because Straff himself is now awake, you guessed right!
Also, the religion Sazed preaches here is one I decided to spin off into its own book, focusing Warbreaker around it. They aren't the same planet, but I wanted to do more about a religion that worships art, and that was one of the initial motivations for Warbreaker's setting.
I just finished the audiobook this morning, and in the setting are rules about how to not provoke shades of the dead. The rules are in order of least to most severe:
The post script talks about how these rules were based on shabbos as presented in the Torah. It was just interesting to see a non-Jewish author (In this case, Mormon) base something off of Judaism.
:) Thanks for the thread.
The Double Eye from the Stormlight books (inside front cover illustration of the magic in the hardcover of book one) has some roots in the Tree of Life also, and if you look at Alethi, you'll find some Hebrew poking through now and then.
I read all of your books as audio books because they are all so well narrated, especially the Wax and Wayne series.
I will have to keep a better ear out for the Alethi.
It can be easy to miss, as I play with it a little first, fitting it to Alethi. But Moash came from Moshe, for example.
Is that a hint of things to come? Is Moash like Moses or something? He is, isn't he?
Sorry. It doesn't mean anything other than "My editor is named Moshe, and I've always liked how the name sounds."
Speaking of which, there's a Lighteyes named Yonatan (a very Jewish name) that Wit insults in...I think it was Way of Kings. Is that based off of someone you know as well?
That is indeed. (Look again at what he's wearing.)
That's based off of my editor's nephew, who was included as a wedding gift.
Who or what was your inspiration to start writing fantasy?
When I was 14, I discovered the fantasy genre through Barbara Hambly's Dragonsbane. After her, I read McCaffrey and Rawn. They are really the ones who inspired me to start. When Robert Jordan's books came along, I was done for. ;)
What's your Smedry talent?
...I usually say "being long-winded." But the truth is, when I wrote the books, I kind of did all the stuff that I do as the first powers. So I'm habitually late, bad at dancing, good at breaking things... But if you actually go "What's the core one," probably being long-winded. I can say things that could be said in one word, in seventeen instead.
Here's a quote. "Why, the Astalsi were rather advanced—they mixed religion with science quite profoundly. They thought that different colors were indications of different kinds of fortune, and they were quite detailed in their descriptions of light and color. Why, it's from them that we get some of our best ideas as to what things might have looked like before the Ascension. They had a scale of colors, and use it to describe the sky of the deepest blue and various plants in their shades of green." Do the pre-Ascension religions correspond to religions from other Shardworlds, as this one seems somewhat like Nalthis?
I mention this in one of the Well of Ascension annotations.
After I came up with the idea and had Sazed mention it, my desire to explore it more was one of the initial motivations for Warbreaker's setting.
The answer to your question is yes and no. There are shadows.
I wonder if you got the inspiration for Doomslug's character from your parrot Magellan?
I wrote Doomslug before i had Magellan. However, I have had pet birds since I was a kid. I love parrots. Other people are dog people or cat people; I am a parrot person. So, I basically always had a parrot. There was a period in my life where the kids were young that my cockatiel Beaker went to live with my mom because the kids were tormenting him. Now they're old enough, and they're afraid enough of Magellan that we can have a parrot again. So, parrot behavior influences a lot of how I treat animal behavior because of that. So, yes.
How did you sort of develop and write the character of Vin? 'Cause her upbringing is so different from anything we-- that I have experienced and I'm guessing you had a similar experience. So did you have a model or somebody you could talk to?
I-- Not really. Now I did have two sisters, which helped, but my sisters were not raised in such a manner. It is more just trying out personalities, like I talked about in my speech until I got one that worked. Lots of practice if you want to be a good writer, lots and lots of practice. Try writing people very different from yourself and try to get them right. Give it to people and have them see if anything "Yes this feels right" and things like that. Just do lots of practice.
I was wondering if Sazed was based on any of your own explorations when you were developing your own path?
Yeah, definitely he is a part of me, but there are big things that are different from me as well. Really the main concept for him was "the Missionary for Every Religion" and that was a cool idea to me.
What's your inspiration?
It really depends on the book. If you want to know the inspiration for the Mistborn books, you can google Sanderson's First Law. It's an essay I wrote about how I came up with the magic system. That'll help you see where some of the ideas came from and how I take them and use them.
What about The Stormlight Archive?
Stormlight, the original inspiration was the storm of Jupiter. The big storm that rotates around Jupiter, and I wanted to do something that had a perpetual storm like that.
Who is Rock, of your friends?
Rock is one of the ones that isn't. The core of Bridge Four isn't, yeah, Rock, and Teft, and Moash, and Lopen. Those aren't-- It's all the ones that aren't the main characters, except for Skar, I just named after my friends.
What inspired Hemalurgy?
So Hemalurgy was probably-- It's hard for me to say, because it's been fifteen years, but I think I started with the image of the Inquisitors with spikes through their eyes. At the same time I was trying to work up a third magic system to go in the trilogy so I could have one magic, two magic, three magic, and I wanted one that was super creepy and evil. And I built it around those two ideas.
Robert Jordan has said that in The Wheel of Time, even material objects have a thread in the Pattern. In The Emperor's Soul, you have a world where objects have souls. Was Jordan your source for this?
Both stories draw from the same Asian belief system.
You've talked a little bit about scripture readings contributing to your writing earlier today. How do you keep that separate from the worlds you're creating?
I've really never had a problem with that. It's easier than keeping myself separate from other fantasy writers' things and that I've had to learn to put a line in place where I'm like "Ooh, this is a cool idea. Remember that this was someone else's cool idea." Because I consider the scriptures history, I don't mind if they influence me. Like, history does a lot. In Roshar you'll find the Mongolian invasion being a big basis for where the characters for the Alethi come from and in the same way, King Benjamin's speech is a bit of an inspiration for Nohadon's Way of Kings. I don't mind getting inspired by history.
Are any of your books' locations (barring Legion) based on real-life places? If so, where? If not, what propels your creative drive to make new worlds?
All of the keeps in the Mistborn series are based on real structures I've visited. The mists are based on a trip to Idaho, were I drove through a fog bank at high speeds.
Warbreaker's setting was inspired, in part, by a visit to Hawaii.
Much of Roshar is inspired by tidal pools and coral reefs.
This cosmere that you have is gigantic, enormous, and wonderful, by the way. But, it's one of those things... how long has that been kicking around in your head before you started putting it down on paper?
For those who aren't aware, and might just be here having read the Reckoners, all of my epic fantasy books are connected. But they're all connected through little cameos. And I did this before Marvel movies, let's just point that out! They're copying me, I'm sure. I'm sticking to that. But there's little cameos for the various things because there's a story behind the story. I started doing this because I knew, in my career, I was going to have to... just the way I am, I need to jump between worlds to keep myself really interested. But I also like big epics. So it's me trying to have my cake and eat it, too, right? Lots of little things, but a hidden big epic. Right now it's all cameos, you don't have to worry about it, it's never really relevant to the story. Each story is self-contained. And then, if you want more, you can dig into it, and... it goes pretty deep. The guy who bought the Emperor's Soul movie rights was like, "Oh, I hear that this is connected," so he went and started reading. And, like, a few months later, he called us and said, "Uhhh, I just read the whole Cosmere. Uhhh, my brain is breaking." So, you can jump down a rabbit hole with the Cosmere if you want.
So, how long has this been kicking around? I can trace it back to a couple of events in my youth, as a budding writer. First one was, I've talked about this idea that you're the director of the book when you read it. When I was a kid, what I would always do is, I would want to have some sort of... it's hard to explain. I wanted some control over the story, even though it was a book I was reading, I wanted to participate, and so I would always insert a character behind the scenes. Like, in the Anne McCaffrey books, when there's somebody who's a nobody, I'm like, "Actually, this is some secret agent type character," and things like this. And I would always insert these characters into the books. But I would even be like, "Oh, this is the character from this other book, that I'm now reading." I would have my own headcanon, is what you call it, that would be parallel to the book canon, with this story behind the story happening. I also remember really being blown away when Isaac Asimov tied the Robot books and the Foundation books together, and thinking that was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen. Where I'd loved these two book series, and the conclusion to them is interwoven, and at the end of the Foundation books you kind of get a conclusion for the Robot sequence as well. That kind of blew my brain, and I'm like, "I need to do this."
So that's the origin, and that's kind of really the origin of Hoid. He's in the first book that I started writing, in very proto-form. He's kind of the same character who had been hanging out in Anne McCaffrey's books and other people's books as I'd read them. And that was it for a while, until I became a better writer, and then started actually building an epic. So, it's been around for a while. I would say the actual origin of the Cosmere was when I wrote Elantris, and then jumped back and wrote the book called Dragonsteel, which was this next book that I wrote after that, which was the origin of the Cosmere, kind of the prequel to all of it. And then I went and wrote White Sand. And those three together were my beginning. Only Elantris, of them, got published so far, although White Sand does have the graphic novel.
Where did the idea to use chalk come from?
Y'know, I have trouble pinpointing that one. I remember the idea of chalk circles, and things like that, and just seeing those in the lore of our world's sort of magical mythology and thinking about chalk circles. I remember thinking about how I want to do a book some day about people who play a game with magic, and things like that. At the end it is just one of things that I'm like "Hey, magical Starcraft with chalk. Go!" and I just started working on it, and it happened.
Are any of your characters influenced or inspired by your immediate family, like your wife or kids? And if so, which ones?
My wife has asked me not to put her in a book. And so I haven't.
My children have inspired a number of characters, but they change so quickly. Steelheart is dedicated to Dallin from when he was, like, a two year old or whatever. And now he's an eight year old, and he's a very different guy. So basing characters on my kids is less basing them on a person and more on the experience of being a father and having young kids. Like, hero of The Rithmatist is named Joel. My first son is named Joel. That's not a coincidence. But when The Rithmatist came out, he was really little, and it's not like that character could be based on his personality at all, because he was crawling and eating his fingers at that age.
My good friends, particularly during the years when I was trying to break in, they have inspired a lot of characters. Sarene from Elantris is based on a friend of mind named Annie. A lot of Bridge Four, particularly the second string Bridge Four members. (Because I don't want them to have to worry that I'm gonna use them in a major way. It's more like they're getting cameos.) Skar is based on a friend of mine, Leyten is based on a friend of mine, Peet is based on a friend of mine, a bunch of the people from Bridge Four that aren't the ones that the main story is about, those are all my friends from college who were supporting me when I was writing these books.
As a writer, using someone in a book is less about basing a character on them, usually for me, and more about finding some interesting tidbit about their personality that I find fascinating that I spiral off into a new character whose seed was a little tiny aspect of somebody I know. Just like every character-- People ask me who my favorite character is. I don't have one. I don't have a favorite book either, they're all like my children. But every character is based a little bit on something I do and something that's very different from me. And I take those two seeds, and I intermix them, and build a character around it.
Skyward: Is Rodge a hat tip to Anne McCaffrey?
Yup, he is! The White Dragon is one of my inspirations here.
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...?
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."
How do you get the Asian themes in without it being so corny?
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.
The theme of creating people in The Emperor's Soul, is that an example of my brainstorming process?
It is actually drawing upon some of those same things so I would say that is a true analogy.
What was your inspiration for making Doomslug? It's a very fun character.
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.
As silly as this may sound, one of my favorite things about The Stormlight Archive thus far has been the flora you describe in the world.
What inspired you to spend time developing unique and world-appropriate plants? I feel like plants are so often an overlooked detail, even in books with heavy world-building.
I knew that I wanted some worlds in the cosmere to be truly strange. Fantasy tends to shy away from very odd ecosystems, but I think it shouldn't. (Even in Mistborn, we started with strange flora.)
For Roshar, I started with the storms, then worked toward what I think would have evolved there (erring on the side of the fantastical.) The primary inspirations were tidal pools and coral reefs.
What inspired you to write Dalinar's amnesia and all that? What was your inspiration for that?
That, all of that, was really just partially narrative necessity. I didn't want to dig into that until I got to the right book, and so I needed the meddling to have pulled a little bit of that back. Plus, the fact that he was an alcoholic let me get away with a little bit of what was going on there. I really liked the intriguing element of someone who had had a piece of their memories ripped away and then was being given it back at the right time, right? That deliberateness of it was really interesting to me. I thought it made for an interesting story hook, when you meet a character and then realize he's had part of his memory excised. It's a bunch of things moving together.
What gave you the idea to write the Alcatraz books?
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.
Any of those people that you learned with, did you relate any of them with characters in some of your stories?
Yes, actually. But most of the times, I take one aspect of somebody. Like, I had a good friend named Annie who was a six-foot-one woman. And I had never thought about the problems being six foot one in our society as a woman could cause. And she talked about it a lot, it's not all who she was, but it was something that was a conflict that I had never seen. So when I wrote Elantris, I'm like, "I'm gonna use this, because it feels real, it's really interesting, it's something I'd never heard about from someone else. Plus I have a reader who can read it and tell me if I get it right." So it's not like Sarene is based on Annie. But Sarene has that one aspect of Annie that I used. And that's usually how you normally see me using people in books.
Bridge Four are all my friends, though. All of the non-main Bridge Four members who keep surviving and not getting killed, those are just my friends. Skar and Drehy and Leyten, and Peet is Peter my assistant. All my friends ended up in Bridge Four, except for Ben, who's still in my writing group, who said "No, you can't put me in."
Because that actually happened during Mistborn. I said, "Hey, Micah," who was my roommate at the time, "Your last name is DeMoux, that's a cool French-sounding name. Can I use it in a book?" He's like, "Sure. But I have to get a girl. And I have to not die. It doesn't have to be the girl. I have to be successful in my romantic inclinations." And I'm like, "Alright." So Captain Demoux got put in. Meanwhile, Ben was walking by, who was my roommate at the time, and he's like, "Put me in, but kill me in a really, really terrible way." So I did. I put him in Mistborn and killed him in a terrible way. Then he read the book, and he's like, "No, you can't use me like that." It's okay, it became a guy who dumped my sister-in-law. *laughter* But there's a very gruesome death in Mistborn 2 that happens in a very-- shall we say, someone who does not do well for themselves, let's just say that. And that was Ben. But he made me take him out. And then I was putting people in Stormlight, I'm like, "You don't want to be in?" He's like, "No, don't use me." I finally got away with slipping him into the Wax and Wayne books under his online name Rick Stranger.
Siri and Susebron Eat a Midnight Meal
This is a scene lifted almost from my own life. While on my honeymoon, Emily and I thought we were being so indulgent by ordering room service at three a.m. It was on a cruise ship, and you can do that kind of thing without having to pay extra for it. It kind of felt like the entire ship's kitchens were there for our whims. And so, a variation on the event popped up in this book.
That doesn't happen to me very often in books. Usually, it's hard to point toward one event in my life that inspired a scene. But those sorts of things are peppered throughout this book. Another one is the scene where Siri tries to look seductively at Susebron, then bursts into laughter. My wife is absolutely terrible at looking seductive—not because she isn't pretty, but because whenever she tries, she ends up having a fit of laughter at how ridiculous she thinks she looks.
What inspired Skyward?
It might seem strange for a sci-fi story, but my major inspirations were dragon stories like How to Train Your Dragon, Dragonflight, and Eragon.
An actual Skyward question: Were you inspired by the anime Gurren Lagann at all for this? That anime starts out with humans living in caves and being attacked in order to keep their population down. The cave dwelling and constant attacks is the only connection so far that I see (the rest of the anime gets pretty crazy and I don't think you'd go that far).
I'm afraid I haven't seen Gurren Lagann, which is probably an oversight--a lot of people talk about it being great.
First Line and Lightsong's Origins
Lightsong's character came from a one-line prompt I had pop into my head one day. "Everyone loses something when they die and Return. An emotion, usually. I lost fear."
Of course, it changed a lot from that one line. Still, I see that as the first seed of his character. The idea of telling a story about someone who has died, then come back to life, losing a piece of himself in the return intrigued me.
The other inspiration for him was my desire to do a character who could fit into an Oscar Wilde play. I'm a big fan of Wilde's works, particularly the comedies, and have always admired how he can have someone be glib and verbally dexterous without coming across as a jerk. Of course, a character like this works differently in a play than in a book. For a story to be epic, you need depth and character arcs you don't have time for in a play.
So, think of Lightsong as playing a part. When he opens his mouth, he's usually looking for something flashy to say to distract himself from the problems he feels inside. I think the dichotomy came across very well in the book, as evidenced by how many readers seem to find him to be their favorite character in the novel.
Chapter Twenty-One - Part One
Yes, Demoux lives. He'd have died, save for a promise I made. If you've read the other annotations, you'll know that he was named for my former roommate Micah DeMoux. I always thought his name was cool, and wanted to use it for a character. He said I could, but made me promise two things. 1) His character had to get a girl eventually, and 2) His character had to survive to the end of the series.
So Demoux couldn't die here. He's protected by a magical shield known as the author's promise to his pal.
In Stormlight Archive, all three main characters, Dalinar, Shallan and Kaladin, suffer from various mental health issues. Is that a normal psychological condition for all Radiants or the lead three is an extreme example of how people break?
I am very interested in mental health, and the way that we--as human beings--react to and interpret the world around us in different ways. This is a theme of the Stormlight books, but it's going to take a lot of work to do it justice--and I want to approach it from different directions. So yes, it's a theme, and these sorts of issues were common for Knights Radiant.
But I'd point out that they are also common themes for being human. And one of the correlations between orders of Knights Radiant is people who overcome, persist, and push through very difficult trials.
If you were going to make Horneater stew here on Earth, how would you go about it?
If I were going to make Horneater stew, on Earth, how would I go about it. It's going to be a spicy seafood stew. When I think of Horneater stew I'm actually thinking of Yukgaejang which is a Korean dish. Or Haemultang is what I mean. Haemultang is a spicy-- spicy seafood-- it's basically whatever thing from the ocean-- I don't eat things from the ocean personally-- but everything from the ocean they want to throw in there with some spices. They stir it up and give it to you and if you like fish in there and there are like crab claws and full clams in the shells. You're like "Really guys?" But Rock would just be munching those down and being happy.
What's the concept of the safehand?
Yes. There's a writerly answer and an in-world answer. Which do you want to know?
Let's do the writer answer.
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.