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Skyward Seattle signing ()
#201 Copy

Questioner

What is the inspiration for the Parshendi?

Brandon Sanderson

There are a lot of different inspirations. One is wanting to build out of the setting a species that interacted with the setting and had a symbiotic relationship with the setting. The other was the idea of a people whose caste system, you could change castes and physically change into other castes of the system. So something like the hives you see, where you can switch from worker to various different tasks. I liked the cultural aspects of what that did.

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
#202 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering if Sazed was based on any of your own explorations when you were developing your own path?

Brandon Sanderson

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.

Tel Aviv Signing ()
#205 Copy

Questioner

I love the concept of the hair changing colors, how did you think of that? How did you get the idea?

Brandon Sanderson

So with Warbreaker I knew I wanted color to be a big theme, and so I wanted a way it manifests in some of the characters, if that makes sense. So that's where it began. I eventually settled on the color, because I knew that I was going [to be having some of the characters change shapes,] because the Returned change and transform, and so I used that kind of hair as a metaphor for that.

Starsight Release Party ()
#207 Copy

Questioner

This is a line in Way of Kings where it kind of sounds like my homeboy Nephi. Was that on purpose?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not sure if that one's on purpose. You'd have to tell me which quote it is.

Questioner

Taravangian who's like "better for one man to sin than a whole nation perish?"

Brandon Sanderson

That is probably unintentional. I don't know if that was intentional or not.

Questioner

Are there intentional ones in there?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. The Nohadon Way of Kings is directly influenced by king Benjamin's speech and Mosiah. That one is intentional. Most others will probably be unintentional though, of course, what I read a lot and what is important to me ends up in the books one way or another.

Starsight Release Party ()
#208 Copy

Questioner

What philosophies do you feel like inspired you the most? Philosophies, or mysticisms, religions?

Brandon Sanderson

I like a lot of different things. You'll see a lot of things in Way of Kings of Pantheism. You see all the old Greek dudes. You'll see some Cartesian stuff. It's kind of everything. You'll see a lot of Shinto. Yeah, probably the most has been Shinto or actually more of the kind of Buddhist and Jainism sort of idea. 

Questioner

You know, Taravangian I feel like is embodiment of compassion versus seeing the world for what it really is. 

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Right. And then there's the whole Utilitarianism versus altruism and I just find all of that stuff fascinating. I don't know if there's any one. Shinto, that idea of animism, the idea of everything having a soul, is probably... Yeah.

Tel Aviv Signing ()
#209 Copy

Questioner

What was your inspiration for Syl?

Brandon Sanderson

Syl started as an incarnation of the wind. And I'd always wanted to tell a story about a warrior and the wind. That goes back into mythology the wind being a character. It's in Chinese mythology, it's in Greek mythology and that sort of thing. And that was years ago, before it eventually morphed into Kaladin and Syl. So it was really the idea of the wind being a person. She eventually ended up not being a windspren, but that's how things happen, you have original ideas and then you spend a lot of time refining them until they end up working.

SF Book Review interview ()
#210 Copy

Ant

The use of spren are a brilliant idea, what was the inspiration for these creatures?

Brandon Sanderson

In part, they stem from the underlying cosmology and overarching rules, the dictates of the magic systems of my shared universe. I was looking for a manifestation of that in Roshar. I also was searching for something that would give Roshar a different feel from things that I'd done before. I wanted this book and this series – and everything about it – to feel different from fantasy worlds in the past. I wanted it to be fantastical, but I wanted it to be unique. I wanted something that could consistently remind the reader, "Oh, I'm in a different place. Wow. Their emotions manifest visibly when they feel them strongly. This place is bizarre." That was one of the main inspirations. Looking in our world, one inspiration is certainly the Eastern concept in Shinto mythology of everything having a soul, every rock and river and tree having something living inside of it that is a manifestation of it. Since I was working with the idea of Platonic realms and the like, I spun that off into the spren.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#211 Copy

Questioner

What was your inspiration for Steelheart's weakness...

Brandon Sanderson

Without spoiling Steelheart, the inspiration for the weakness was a direct outgrowth of who I saw him as a character before he gained powers. Kind of the bully sort of person given a little bit of power, exercises all kinds of terrible, just really mean to people with just a small amount of power. That character was really fascinating to me, the person who really doesn't have any authority, but still what little bit you give them they misuse. And I grew out of that, that idea. So, I kind of wanted to connect--slight spoilers for the series--but I kind of wanted the weaknesses to connect to the personalities of the characters in interesting ways, so it was a natural outgrowth there.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#212 Copy

Questioner

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.

ICon 2019 ()
#214 Copy

Questioner

Yesterday, you talked about other writers before you and kind of... fantasy of today. Although you're writing and selling quite *inaudible* novels, 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].

Skyward San Diego signing ()
#215 Copy

Questioner

What has been the craziest, most off-the-wall, unexpected kind of feedback you've ever gotten--

Brandon Sanderson

Ooh. *crowd laughs*

Questioner

...you know kind of how it sent you in the right direction.

Brandon Sanderson

Wow, craziest off-the-wall feedback I've ever gotten and what direction did it send me. I have so much trouble with these things. Some people ask me the line "what's the weirdest thing a fan has had you write in a book". And I know, if I took the time, I could think of it, but off the top of my head it's kind of hard. I'm not sure what the craziest, most off-the-wall sort of feedback I've gotten. I've given a lot of crazy, off-the-wall feedback. Legion... came about because I was trying to convince my friend Dan Wells to write this book. *crowd laughs* "Oh, you could do this thing, and it could be like schizophrenia but not really, it could be a superpower," and he's like, "Brandon, that's not a Dan Wells book. That is a Sanderson book". And so I ended up writing the book, but that has happened. I've given weird feedback. I'd have to think about that one a little more.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#217 Copy

Questioner

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.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#218 Copy

WeiryWriter

So I just recently read the Allomancer Jak short story in the MAG Alloy of Law supplement. I have to ask was the dynamic between Jak and Handerwym at all inspired by your relationship with Peter? I can very easily picture you blazing some sort of fantastic literary trail and Peter following behind explaining why it isn't possible (Kind of like how you initially intended the time bubbles to do red/blue shift and Peter was like "No you'll microwave people")

Brandon Sanderson

Peter is not nearly as biting toward me, but always having an editor looking over my shoulder and saying, "Uh...is that actually RATIONAL Brandon?" is probably a big part of my inspiration here.

Peter Ahlstrom

I hadn't made the connection... >_>

Legion Release Party ()
#219 Copy

Questioner

What inspired the idea of the lenses from Alcatraz?

Brandon Sanderson

The Alcatraz books really did come from me wanting stupid things that I do to be superpowers--and I've always worn glasses, and even when my friends got Lasik or contacts or something, I was like, "Bah, I like glasses, I like how they look; I want to wear my glasses!"

So I wanted glasses to be cool. And so I made a whole bunch of magical pairs of glasses. There is really...If you're questioning anything in Alcatraz, and saying, "Why did you do this," the answer is almost always, "Because I wanted something dumb I do to be cool."

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#220 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-One - Part One

Demoux Survives

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.

Skyward Houston signing ()
#221 Copy

Questioner

Is the cosmere, the thread connecting several of your series, something that came from the beginning, or something that kind of grew?

Brandon Sanderson

What a great question! So the cosmere, which is the thread connects a lot of my books together. All of my epic fantasies are connected in this world called the cosmere. Was that from the beginning, or was it something that grew?

So I had, I often point to the fact that I had those years not getting published as a big advantage, because while I was working on those books, I didn't write the first ones as a connected shared universe. It was after I had done a number of them, that I'm like, "Hey, there's something here! There's a thread that I can weave together." But by the time I got published, I knew all of that right?

And so, like when I wrote Mistborn, which was my, the first book I wrote knowing it would get published. Elantris was my first published, it was number 6 in those years. I sat down specifically with Mistborn and built the cosmere, using some of these unpublished books as the history of what had happened. So from the get-go of reading it, it was all interconnected. Elantris got retrofitted a little bit, to fit in with this. From Mistborn is where it all kind of starts working together and things like that.

I was inspired to do this by authors I had read who did this really well, that I liked. Stephen King did it. Michael Moorcock did it. It really kind of blew my mind when Asimov connected the Robots and the Foundation books. Of course, you know, comics have been doing it forever. But when I saw authors doing it is what made me really excited. I would count those as inspiration.

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
#222 Copy

Questioner

Do you think any of your characters have ever been influenced by people you know in real life?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it happens. It definitely does happen. Sarene, from Elantris is based on somebody. Most of Bridge Four is friends of mine, most of the lesser Bridge Four members. Not the main ones, but like Skar is a friend of mine, Drehy is a friend of mine, Peet is a friend of mine.

Questioner

So I was going to say-- What about, what's his name?

Ben McSweeney

Lopen?

Questioner

Yeah, Lopen.

Brandon Sanderson

No, not the core group. Not Lopen or--

Ben McSweeney

None of those guys.

Brandon Sanderson

But everyone else is like a cameo of my friends that I stuck in Bridge Four and, y'know,  then mutilate in horrible ways.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#223 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty - Part One

Keep Venture is actually based on real cathedrals. Actually, visiting a few cathedrals was what that sparked the entire structural theme for the buildings in this book. The main inspiration for Keep Venture was the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. I loved the way it incorporated the huge windows at the sides, inset with pillars, with interesting balconies above for viewing. I took that concept and changed it around a bit, turning the worship hall into a ballroom.

After that, the other keeps were easy. Keep Lekal came from the Luxor in Vegas. Hasting and Elariel I came up with on my own–one because I wanted a tower keep, and the other because I imagined a room with stained glass windows in the ceiling.

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

Jeanne

You write such wonderful, believable female heroines, who are your role models and influences?

Brandon Sanderson

Writing believable female heroines—I should probably back up and point out that I wasn't always good at this. In fact, in the first few books I wrote before ELANTRIS I was terrible at it. That disconcerted me because it was something I wanted to make a strength in my writing. This is partially due to the fact that so many of my favorite fantasy novels growing up, when I first discovered fantasy, were from female writers with really strong female protagonists. So there was a piece of my mind that said having strong female protagonists is a big part of fantasy. I don't know how common that viewpoint is, but because those were the people whose books I read—writers like Anne McCaffrey, Melanie Rawn, and Barbara Hambly—I wanted to be able to do that in my own fiction. Even beyond that you want every character you write to be believable, and it's been a habitual problem of men writing women and women writing men that we just can't quite get it right, so I knew it was going to be something I'd have to work hard at.

I took inspiration from women I know, starting with my mother, who graduated top of her class in accounting in an era where she was the only woman in her accounting program. She has always been a strong influence on me. I also have two younger sisters who were a lot of help, but there were several friends in particular who gave me direct assistance. Annie Gorringe (who was a good friend when I was an undergraduate—and still is) and Janci Patterson were people I sat down to interview and talk to in my quest to be able to write female characters who didn't suck. I would say specifically that Sarene from ELANTRIS has a lot of Annie in her, and Vin from MISTBORN has a lot of Janci in her. In WARBREAKER, Siri and Vivenna don't really have specific influences but are the result of so much time working at writing female characters that it's something I'm now comfortable with. (Their personalities arose out of what I wanted to do with their story, which was my take on the classic tale of sisters whose roles get reversed.) It's very gratifying to hear that readers like my female characters and that the time I spent learning to write them has paid off.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#226 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Five

Fadrex

Fadrex was originally named Fadex. However, nobody—not my editor, my agent, or my writing group—liked that name. I added one letter, and suddenly it was okay. Go figure.

This city, as I mentioned earlier, was very tough for me to figure out how to describe. I can picture it quite distinctly in my head. Of course, I've spent a lot of time in southern Utah, where rock formations like this are plentiful. If you Google "Cathedral Valley" you can get an idea of what this area might look like—except that the formations in Cathedral Valley are a little bit higher and more spread out than what I imagine for Fadrex.

Sometimes I wish I could crawl inside the heads of my readers while they experience these stories and see what they imagine the places to look like. I've said before that I like how fiction is participatory—that each person who reads my books imagines slightly different things; each person gets different images for places and characters. I'd like to know what they see, just for curiosity's sake. There's no wrong way to imagine these people, just like there isn't a right or a wrong way to pronounce the names. It's all up to you.

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

Elise

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.

Phoenix Comic-Con 2016 ()
#228 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)

General Reddit 2019 ()
#229 Copy

allofthe11

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.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#230 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher Awakens the Straw Figure

I love how intricate and delicate Vasher is in creating the straw figure. The little eyebrow is a nice touch, and forming the creature into the shape of a person has a nice resonance with our own world's superstitions.

Voodoo dolls, for instance. This is very common in tribal magics and shamanistic rituals—something in the figure of a person, or the figure of the thing it's supposed to affect, is often seen as being more powerful or more desirable. The same is said for having a drop of blood or a tiny piece of skin, even a piece of hair.

Those two things—making the doll in the shape of a man and using a bit of his own body as a focus—are supposed to create instant resonance in the magic for those reading it. I think it works, too. Unfortunately, there's a problem with this, much like with the colors above. In later chapters, the characters are generally powerful enough with the magic that they don't have to make things in human shape or use pieces of their own body as a focus.

If I were to write a sequel to the book (and I just might—more on this later) I'd want to get back to these two aspects of the magic. Talk about them more, maybe have characters who have smaller quantities of Breath, and so need to use these tricks to make their Awakening more powerful.

Anyway, this little scene threw all kinds of problems into the book. Later on, I had to decide if I wanted to force the characters to always make things into the shape of a person before Awakening them. That proved impossible, it was too limiting on the magic and interfered with action sequences. The same was true for using bits of their own flesh as focuses. It just didn't work.

I toyed with cutting these things from the prologue. (Again, they are artifacts from the short story I wrote, back when Awakening wasn't fully developed yet.) However, I like the resonance they give, and think they add a lot of depth to the magic system.

So I made them optional. They're things that you can do to make your Awakenings require fewer Breaths. That lets me have them for resonance, but not talk about them when I don't need them. I still worry that they set up false expectations for the magic, however.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#231 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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#232 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.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#233 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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. 

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#237 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Four - Part Two

Kelsier saving Elend in this chapter was indeed something of a homage to Les Miserables. It is one of my favorite classics, and Elend's own character—with his group of idealistic noble friends—was partially inspired by Marius and his cohorts. I wasn't originally going to have Elend in this scene, but I decided to throw him in and give Kelsier the opportunity to save him, partially as an inside reference to the story that inspired him, and partially to let Kelsier do something truly selfless as a final send-off before he died.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#238 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Origin of Bluefingers as a Character

Bluefingers originated, like most ideas for my books, as a character unconnected to any story or world. I wanted to tell a story about a scribe in a palace who was looked down on by the nobility for his simple birth, but who became the hero of the story. I felt that a scribe would make a nice, different kind of viewpoint character.

And maybe I someday will tell a story like that, but the character evolved to be the one who entered this story. He's much changed from those origins, as you can see, but he's largely the same person in my mind. And I love the name Bluefingers for a scribe character.

Yes, Bluefingers was also planned as a traitor from the beginning. The whole reversals idea required me to build my shadowy villains quite carefully and deliberately.

Just above, I spoke of the original Bluefingers as a hero. Well, the thing is, that's how he still sees himself. The heroic Pahn Kahl figure with his fingers in events, ignored by the nobility (or, in this case, the priests) because of his race and position, he was able to manipulate quite a bit of what was going on in the kingdom.

He was the hero trying to free his people. He just took it too far.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
#240 Copy

Questioner

Why did you write Zane for the Mistborn series?

Brandon Sanderson

Zane was a character that I found fascinating. When I designed him, I felt that the setting and characters needed more nuance, and he provided it. I feel that Zane could've gone either way, and he made a bad decision at the end, but could've absolutely gone the other direction and I was really interested in the idea of someone who thought they were insane but actually weren't. So a bunch of things collected, making Zane.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
#241 Copy

Questioner

What inspired you to write Dalinar's amnesia and all that? What was your inspiration for that?

Brandon Sanderson

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.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#242 Copy

namer98

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:

  • Don't run
  • Don't kindle a flame
  • Don't draw blood

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.

Brandon Sanderson

:) 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.

namer98

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.

Brandon Sanderson

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.

MuslinBagger

Is that a hint of things to come? Is Moash like Moses or something? He is, isn't he?

Brandon Sanderson

Sorry. It doesn't mean anything other than "My editor is named Moshe, and I've always liked how the name sounds."

PM_ME_LEGAL_PAPERS

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?

Brandon Sanderson

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.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#243 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Three - Part One

Similarities Between Warbreaker and Elantris

And finally, we arrive at my personal favorite character in the book. Lightsong the Bold, the god who doesn't believe in his own religion.

I had the idea for Lightsong a number of years ago. My first book, Elantris, dealt with the concept of men who were made gods. However, in that book, we never actually get to see men living as gods. The gods have lost their powers and have been locked away.

This time I wanted to tell a different story, a story about what it is like to live as a member of a pantheon of deities. Yet I didn't want them to be too powerful. Or even powerful at all.

I realize that there is some resonance here with Elantris. I hope that the concepts don't seem too much alike. What I wanted to do with this story was look at some of the same ideas in Elantris, but turn them about completely. Instead of dealing with gods who had fallen, I wanted to look at gods at the height of their political power. Instead of dealing with people who were ridiculously powerful, I wanted gods who were more about prophecy and wisdom.

I made it so that the Returned couldn't remember their old lives as a way to distinguish them from the Elantrians. However, I can't help the fact that the ideas had the same (yet opposite) seed. But I'm confident that there's plenty of room in the idea to explore it in a different direction, and I think this book comes out feeling very much its own novel.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#244 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#245 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Three - Part Two

Llarimar

Llarimar is based on a friend of mine, Scott Franson. Back when I was working on Hero of Ages, my local church group had a service auction for the local food bank. The idea was that church members would offer up services—like a car wash, or some baked cookies, or something like that—and then we'd all get together and bid cans of food for them.

Well, I offered up for auction naming rights in one of my books. The idea being that if you won the auction, you'd get a character named after you and based on you. It was a big hit, as you might imagine, and ended up going for several hundred cans of food. The guy who won was Aaron Yeoman. (And you can see him in The Hero of Ages as Lord Yomen.)

Well, the other major bidder on that was Scott. He's a fantasy buff, a big fan of classic works like Tolkien and Donaldson. (Though he reads pretty much everything that gets published.) He really wanted the naming rights, but I think he let Aaron have it, as Aaron was very excited and vocal about wanting to win.

About a year later, I discovered that Scott, being the kind soul he was, paid for Aaron's cans himself and donated them on the younger man's behalf. I was touched by this, so I decided to put Scott into Warbreaker. It happened there was a very good spot for him, as I'd already planned Llarimar to have a very similar personality to Scott.

I decided that Franson wouldn't work for the name. (Though you do see that one pop up in The Hero of Ages as a nod to Scott as well.) Instead, I used Scott's nickname, Scoot. I thought it worked pretty well, as it's only one letter off from his first name, and his brother claims that they always used to call him that.

So, there you are, Scott. Thanks for being awesome.

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Questioner

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.

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Questioner

What inspired you to write that series [Mistborn]? It's amazing.

Brandon Sanderson

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.