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Skyward San Diego signing ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

Where did the idea of spren come from?

Brandon Sanderson

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

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

Firefight release party ()
#2 Copy

Questioner

Where did you get the idea of gloryspren and fearspren showing up when people feel certain emotions?

Brandon Sanderson

So spren in The Way of Kings where did I come up with these ideas for things that physically manifest people's emotions. So I honestly think the earliest seed of this, years and years ago, was reading Perrin in The Wheel of Time where he can smell people's emotion and I thought that having an actual different sense to recognize emotion was so cool I think that is what planted the seed in the back of my brain. The other thing that that is mashing-up with though is kind of Shinto ideas, because I was relying a lot on some Eastern philosophy when I was building Roshar and The Way of Kings. And the Shinto believe that everything has a soul and a spirit, a kami as they call it, and things like this and wanting to expand that into not just the rock but your emotions have a soul and they manifest and things like that. And then I was working in the cosmere and all this stuff but in the end I think it is a mash-up of those two concepts. Wanting a cool way, a different way, a way that changes society that emotions play out mixed with this idea of the kami and the Shinto beliefs.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

Rock sounds Hawaiian.

Brandon Sanderson

Yep.

Questioner

Hawaiian royalty. Is that a pun on Dwayne ["the Rock"] Johnson?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs* No it's not. 

Questioner

So if you have a book on Rock, you can get him to--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, that's a coincidence. 

Questioner

Dwayne Johnson is a prince, Hawaiian prince.

Brandon Sanderson

Is he? Really?

Questioner

Yes, he is. He is from a royal family, a Hawaiian royal family

Brandon Sanderson

He's from a royal family? I didn't know that!

Questioner

So, get him to pay for the movie. And star as Rock!

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
#4 Copy

Questioner

How would you pronounce Rock's full name?

Brandon Sanderson

I usually get this wrong. *apprehensively chants the name* I think, but there might be something in there. It actually means... in Horneater you don't have to use a pronoun at the beginning, which is one of the weird things, you usually start with a verb. It means something along the lines of "I saw a beautiful wet stone that no one is paying attention to, but it was really cool because of the water pattern on it." Right, like, that's what his name means, and it kinda just means "Hey, appreciate the beauty of nature." Its kind of a little Horneater, their version of the haiku. The meaning is "Nature is beautiful, don't walk past the beauty of nature and ignore it." But his name actually kinda means "lonely, or forgotten rock". But "I saw a beautiful rock washed by rainwater that everyone is ignoring." Anyway, it doesn't translate all that well, I'm using a bunch of weird Asian and Indo-European language structures for this so its not real easy to translate to English.

Salt Lake City signing ()
#6 Copy

Questioner

Rock is taller than the other bridgemen. When he gets under the bridge, will that make it more difficult for him? Wouldn't he have more load on his shoulders than the guys next to him?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, yes, though you will notice that I equalized for height with the pads on the shoulders. And a bridge that will run-- yeah, they will use pads and things like this. And you can customize your bridge over time. The fact that most bridgemen die before that's necessary... um, yes. But it would mean he would end up having to stoop for part of it unless you wanted to carry a lot more of the weight. Being next to Rock would probably be a fun thing. But then there are the pads, and things like that, so. *brief pause* And once they really got it going, they could re-- they could really customize that bridge. Like, you know, take off pieces underneath and things like that so that it fit everyone really well. But in Sadeas's army you don't really get to that point.

Skyward Houston signing ()
#7 Copy

Deana Whitney

What would Rock's favorite vegetable be in a soup? Like the Earth equivalents?

Brandon Sanderson

Ooh! Well, see, Rock is gonna base it based on the soup, because he's a chef. But if it's his perfect favorite, he's gonna want something crunchy, so he's gonna want like—

Deana Whitney

Well, I know he'll want the, the essentially the equivalent of crawdads.

Aubree Pham

She's trying to write a cosmere food article...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah. But there are-- like, if you can get like a... radish, that's going to crunch, he's probably going to look for that in a soup, because that's going to be closer to what he likes. Something that's got some variance in the texture.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#8 Copy

Questioner

In Herdazian, is there no personal pronoun, and that's why Lopen always refers to himself as "The Lopen"?

Brandon Sanderson

No, that is his personal thing. In Rock's language, most nouns are gendered, masculine, which is why you always see him flipping-- screwing that up. But Lopen, just his thing. Just his thing.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#13 Copy

Enasor

How about the Iriali and Alethi mix we have going on with Adolin and Renarin? Where would this put them within the chibi figures? I have always had a hard time trying to figure out how they would look like due to their mix ethnicity. I have ideas... of course, but I'd be great to have confirmation.

Brandon Sanderson

They're gong to have lighter skin, but skin tone isn't something Alethi pay much attention to. Hair and eye color is what draws their attention. Dalinar and Kaladin will be darker than Adolin and Renarin, though none of them would look Caucasian to us. Of course, Caucasians have varied skin tone as well, so it's hard to say specifically what they'd look like. (As a note, Renarin/Adolin are a Riran/Alethi mix--not exactly Iriali/Alethi, as there's some slightly different genetics going on there.)

Enasor

Oh I thought Riran and Iriali were the same... Where did I go wrong?

Brandon Sanderson

I can't say much without giving spoilers, but there are small differences.

CodeMonkey76

Would be cool if you ever got the chance to sit down with a sketch artist to put out images of your visualization of how some of these characters look.

Brandon Sanderson

It would be fun, though I've done this (in a small way) with Ben McSweeny, who does a lot of art for my books. I have semi-official character sketches I use for my own descriptive purposes, but I don't consider them close enough in some ways to be canon, so we don't release them or put them in the books. That said, some of them might be floating around on the internet--I'm not sure.

One thing I wish I'd done was nudge Michael Whalen to push his Kaladin on the cover of Words of Radiance a little further to be a little more ethnically Alethi--as I think it would help people's visualizations of him. But the one we ended up with is already the third version of Kaladin he did for that painting, and each one was increasingly better--I felt bad pushing him further.

As a side note, I've always loved this fanart for Rock. I don't know if there's a more on-target picture of one of my characters out there:

http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/stormlightarchive/images/d/d9/Stormlight_Archieves_-_Rock.png/revision/latest?cb=20140518054457

Skyward Atlanta signing ()
#14 Copy

Questioner

Is there anything more significant to Tien's obsession with rocks? Or is that just an example of him being a unique kid?

Brandon Sanderson

There is a little bit to the way he's seeing color in mundane things. It's less the rock, and more the things about the world he finds interesting. So I'm going to say it's the second. It's an aspect of who he is; the rock itself is not the important thing.

General Reddit 2015 ()
#15 Copy

Axartsme

I was just listening to Darn Carlin's Hardcore History podcast and Dan Carlin was talking about Genghis Khan's habit of seeing the potential in anyone, even an enemy. He was specifically going over the story of Jebe, a soldier who shot Genghis Khan in the neck and was recruited by the Khan because of his skill. This, at least to me, bears a striking resemblance to the final scene in the first flashback of [Oathbringer]. [Brandon] can you confirm or deny my suspicions that this scene was directly inspired by the real life event?

Brandon Sanderson

Yup, that's where it came from! I read a history of Genghis a number of years back, and loved this story, which was included there (though said to be just a legend.) Since I based old-school Dalinar on Subutai, a Mongolian general, I thought that this would be a perfect inclusion.

The origins of the Mongolian-Dalinar link, by the way, can be traced back to a friend of mine, Bat-ultzi, a Mongolian who went about always claiming to be "The Great descendant of the Great Genghis Khan." He'd throw his shoes at people if they offended him. He was such a character that I got very interested in Mongolian practices and history.

More tidbits. Rock and his culture started Mongolian long, long ago. (98-99 era, when I first wrote him.) As Roshar in general (and the Alethi in specific) became more Asian in look and less Semitic (though they are still a mash-up) I decided to push Rock's people in the direction of a human/parsh hybrid strain. This also was part of moving Rock himself from Yolen to Roshar, following after Dalinar and some other characters, who came earlier during the original Dragonsteel / Stormlight split in the early 2000s.

These changes drove the Horneaters away from Mongolian influences, though I can't say specifically where the Polynesian/Russian mashup came from. I liked how it read, and felt the linguistics supported the accent. These changes, of course, had a domino effect that resulted in the Veden people gaining their occasional red hair and fair skin from Horneater relation, which means Shallan is part parshman--though the relation is distant at this point.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#16 Copy

wiresegal

Are most kandra comfortable in any body configuration, or is MeLaan being comfortable in any gendered body an outlier? (i.e. do female kandra usually prefer female bodies, etc). And if this is common among kandra, is it because their long lives lead to introspection and self-examination, or is it just part of the species psychology?

Also, it's mentioned that kandra can "smell" whether another kandra is male or female, biologically. Does a transgender kandra have a different "scent?" What about nonbinary? And if they don't smell different, can they change what they "smell" like? (without using any magic beyond their shapeshifting)

Brandon Sanderson

You find a lot more kandra like MeLaan in the later generations. Generations who were allowed to develop a stronger, independent kandra culture separate from always being integrated with human culture. However, I'd say that almost every kandra, by nature of their physiology, spends a good time exploring both genders. I wouldn't call MeLaan an outlier.

Kandra learn very extreme control over their bodies, and can choose which scent to express and which gender (even to other kandra) to present. This includes a neutral scent, or some mix or something new, if they so decide. Remember that a kandra who wants to hide who they are, even from other kandra, is fully capable of doing so. Under current in-world technology, even blood tests would not be able to distinguish a kandra from the form they have decided to take.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#18 Copy

Questioner

So we know some people can survive going through perpendicularities.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

But we also know, like, when Rock talked about the lake that people swam in, that Hoid came out of, he said that some people who swam in it died. So, who can and can't survive a perpendicularity?

Brandon Sanderson

So, you should not take much of what Rock says. When he says they swim in it and they die, they have gone through the perpendicularity. They just don't come back. What would you think if someone swims and doesn't come back? They have drowned. Right?

Questioner

So pretty much anyone can?

Brandon Sanderson

It is not traumatic to go through most perpendicularities.

Questioner

So it depends on where, who and when?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh huh.

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

Noah Hill

Is there any chance we will have a deeper backstory for Bridge 4 members? Maybe an anthology or something with short stories that detail backstory for Rock, Lopen, etc? That would be amazing!

Brandon Sanderson

I do intend to dig into some of them a little. (Rock, for example, is currently plotted to have a viewpoint sequence in a later book.)

General Reddit 2017 ()
#20 Copy

jamiedgreen

In chapter 37 [of Oathbringer], as Rock is looking for his family after the Voidbringer attack, he notes an arrow fletched with goose feathers.

Was this intentional? Should it be chicken?

Peter Ahlstrom

Horneater language has a word for goose, and they have them in the Peaks. I'm pretty sure geese used to be mentioned another time by Rock in an earlier draft, but that might have been cut.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#21 Copy

Lord_Natimus08

So basically a Thunderclast is a rock giant. I thought it was a rock monster. Same difference I guess?

JorusC

I got the sense in the prologue of Way of Kings that the dead Thunderclast there was quadrupedal. So maybe it's more the class of monster, with different shapes?

Peter Ahlstrom

This.

Orem signing ()
#22 Copy

Questioner

How does an object in the Cognitive Realm view itself if there are competing viewpoints of it? Like if two kids view a toy as their toy, how does the toy view itself?

Brandon Sanderson

There is going to be often, things are going to be in a position of change. And usually it will have one thing. You will say, "What am I?" "I'm Brandon's toy." Then a little later it might be you say "What are you?" "Well, I'm Brandon and Joel's toy." And then at some point it might just become "Joel's toy." There's-- It's kind of the "When does a pile become a heap?" and that sort of philosophical question. At what point do you transition between one and the other? It happens, but it's fuzzy and it's vague. And it also influences what you can do to it and how to change it and things like that. Like a rock viewing itself as a rock changing into sand, there's some fluidity there.

Legion Release Party ()
#23 Copy

Questioner

What can you tell us about food in Arelon? Is there a specific Earth culture that it resembles? Because in Elantris, we only really see cooking an eating when it's Kiin's cooking. And he kind of has a mishmash.

Brandon Sanderson

I was looking at Renaissance Europe, maybe Spanish...with the coastline...Let's go with Spanish-esque. So some olives, something close to a paella. I would imagine it being somewhere along those likes, probably. The problem is I don't really know what they ate in Renaissance Spain. I only know what they eat in Spain right now. But I was looking at it like a Renaissance Mediterranean for Arelon when I was building it.

SpoCon 2013 ()
#24 Copy

Shardlet (paraphrased)

You said previously that a slider's bubble is anchored to its position on Scadrial rather than on the slider's position or on the train (if the burner was on a train). If the slider was on a rock in space, would the bubble be anchored to a position relative to Scadrial, the rock or something else?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

RAFO

Chris King interview ()
#26 Copy

Chris King

Why can Rock see Syl?

Brandon Sanderson

Ooh, good question, why do you think Rock can see Syl?

Chris King

My personal theory here is because his people have such a strong belief and reverence in them it allows him to see them for that reason because his strong belief creates some sort of cognitive or spiritual pressure which allows them...

Brandon Sanderson

He would agree with that philosophy. I would say, usually when something like that happens there is also something physiological going on.

Supanova 2017 - Sydney ()
#27 Copy

Darkness (paraphrased)

Further on in that… do different gemstones hold a different flavor, or different "frequency" of Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Umm…. Nnnnnnnnooooooo… But kind of? Here's the thing: So with the gemstones on Roshar… scientifically some of these gemstones are just really close to one another. Like chemical formula and whatever. But, their cognitive selves and their spiritual selves are gonna be very different because of human perception, right? (sure) And so, the answer is both a no and a yes because of that. So people's perception has sort of changed how the magic works, to an extent… but it's the same amount of investiture, just with slightly different flavorings.

Darkness (paraphrased)

Right, so… is it easier for a Soulcaster to turn rock into smoke with a smokestone as opposed to a ruby?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

So… Soulcasting… is gonna really depend on whether you're using a soulcaster.

Darkness (paraphrased)

First is for a Soulcaster, second is for a Surgebinder.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

A Surgebinder is far less constrained than someone using a device accessing surges, right? A Knight Radiant is far less constrained than somebody using a mechanical means of accessing magic, and I would include Honorblades as a mechanical means of accessing a surge.

Darkness (paraphrased)

Cool! So with the whole Jasnah scene, she inhales Stormlight, for using Soulcasting. So how is it the Soulcaster appears to glow more fiercely instead of growing dimmer in that scene?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Um… heh heh heh… So… this is perception on Shallan's part, watching and kind of resonating with the Soulcasting, and some weird things are happening that she sees, and not necessarily anyone else is seeing.

Darkness (paraphrased)

I love that! Alright… Also, did Taravangian recognize that Jasnah was not Soulcasting traditionally? Like was it the hand sinking into the rock that gave it away?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Taravangian knew and already suspected.

17th Shard Interview ()
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17th Shard

You've told us that you took the idea of the Shattered Plains from Dragonsteel into Way of Kings and reading Way of Kings it's hard to imagine the book without them. What did Roshar look like without them? Can you walk us through the process of moving that concept from that series to this one?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it looked pretty much like it looks in the books, but Way of Kings Prime takes place mostly in Kholinar and in a location that has not yet been talked about in the books.

Ah…it took place in another location, how about that?

One of the big things with this book is, as I was saying, that I think I started [Way of Kings Prime] in the wrong place. I moved some things back in time and some things forward in time. For instance, if you ever read Way of Kings Prime, the prologue to Way of Kings Prime is now the epilogue to The Ways of Kings. You know, the thing that happens in the epilogue with the thumping on the door and the arrival of a certain individual? That scene is now from Wit's viewpoint which it wasn't before. Pull Wit out of that scene and you'll get almost exactly [what happened] in the [original] prologue. So, the timing has been changed around a lot.

As I was playing with this book I found that, like I said, one of the big things I had a problem with was that I felt that Kaladin had taken the easy route when he needed to take the hard route. I was really looking for a good plot cycle. I needed something to pull this book together. I had characters but I didn't have a plot and I've mentioned before that sometimes things come [to me] in different orders. In this book world and character came to me, in fact character came to me first, world came second and then I was building the plot around it. I knew the plot of the entire epic and the entire series but I needed a much stronger plot for book one. Because of the various things that are happening I wanted to deal with a war.

So I was planning a war away from Alethkar, and I'm trying to decide what I'm going to do with this war. Meanwhile I have Inkthinker, Ben McSweeney, doing concept art for me to use in my pitch to Tom Doherty at Tor and he says, "Hey, I just drew up this sketch of some creature that lives at the bottom of a chasm, what do you think?" And he showed me this.

I told him that we were looking for kind of above water coral reef formations, and he sends me this brain coral, which is essentially the Shattered Plains with a big monster living at the bottom and I'm like, "Wow!" I actually did a book where this was essentially the setting. I looked at that, and that's actually what made me say, "Wait a minute, could I transpose this and would the Shattered Plains actually make more sense on Roshar than they ever did on Yolen?" I started playing with that concept and I absolutely fell in love with the idea. Unfortunately for Dragonsteel, that was the only really good plot cycle from that book.

So, I ripped it out of that book and I put it here, and that means it brought with it a few side characters who no longer live on Yolen because they now live on Roshar. Rock is one of them, though he's been changed. When he came along the Horneaters were born; they had not been in the books before. For those who have read Dragonsteel, he was Ke'Chan in that book. I couldn't bring that culture because that culture is extremely vital to [Dragonsteel]. I can bring a plot cycle or a little region, and there's certain things you can pull out of a book without ruining the soul of what the book is. I couldn't take the Ke'Chan out of Dragonsteel; they're just part of what that book is and so Rock had to change nationalities. I had to build him his own nationality, a new culture essentially just for him. And yeah, it worked wonderfully.

Someday I'll let you have that art, and if you remind me to ask Peter you can probably post it with the interview. As you can just see it's not the way that it ended up being because it looks different from how the Shattered Plains turned out, but it was the spark that made me say, "Let's move this over."

Idaho Falls signing ()
#30 Copy

Questioner

Something I've noticed, 'cause I've been watching your videos, which I'm super grateful for. What I was wondering is, something I've noticed is that you're very good at asking the right questions. Like, when you're teaching your class, then you ask questions that garner great ideas. So, this is probably a really hard question, but how do you get your questions?

Brandon Sanderson

Instinct, I think. Looking for the questions that are not yes-or-no questions, that's certainly part of it. Practicing deconstructing stories, so that you start to learn, like the whole chef versus cook thing. It's very cook question to say "Why does this tastes good?" It's a chef question to ask "What does putting this spice in do."

Questioner

Like, "Why does this work?"

Brandon Sanderson

"Why does this work?" I think that really leads you on the route to the right questions. A lot of instinct, a lot of practice. Practice makes instincts. The hardest thing about teaching my class is acknowledging that a lot of what I do, I do by instinct, and breaking it down may not be that helpful, even though it sounds really smart, if that makes sense?

Questioner

And something that you said is that a lot of it is just sinking into your unconscious, because you do it so many times?

Brandon Sanderson

Putting things into your unconscious so that you can consciously think about new things until you're familiar enough with those that they sink into your unconscious, and you can focus on something else.

Boskone 54 ()
#31 Copy

Questioner

Do you ever get to travel? Does travel inform your experience? From that little vignette you did [the interlude reading at the monastery] did you go to Sinai or Kyoto for the monastery?

Brandon Sanderson

I travel a lot. I enjoy traveling. It’s a little hard on my schedule, as one might imagine. But I really do like it. That little vignette, I did go to Japan. On a trip to Taiwan, we stopped for a day in Japan to hike monasteries, specifically. We hiked the one that’s right next to the airport, outside the city. Then we went into downtown Tokyo and hiked one of the ones there. The coolest thing is, they have these big rocks that they inscribe quotes in, anciently, just piled on top of each other. I travel a lot, it does inform my writing a lot. Famously, the Emperor’s Soul came after I went to Taiwan one time. Snapshot came after a trip to Dubai. You can’t find as much Dubai in Snapshot as you can Taiwan in The Emperor’s Soul. I usually write one of my novellas as a response to a trip or just taking a break for a trip. That happened to Legion, it happened to most of the novellas.

Paris signing ()
#32 Copy

Narkac

At the end of TWoK, in the last Dalinar's vision, he stands "in a place of smoke. He turned about, wary. The sky was dark and he stood on a field of dull, bone-white rock, jagged and rough, extending in all directions. Off into eternity". Is this place Damnation/Braize ?

Brandon Sanderson

That will be explained in Oathbringer. So RAFO.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#33 Copy

Questioner

I don't really read much, but-- *laughter* I listen to all of the audio books of all your books... And one thing I really respect that you do is you're very punk rock about how you approach things. Like "Three [prologues], yeah why not?" It actually reminds me a lot of Final Fantasy, like when that came onto the scene it was just "Dang, these guys are doing everything. The best, the newest, the freshest thing." And I was actually curious, have you ever actually played Final Fantasy, where you inspired by it? Especially because the swords are HUGE like in Final Fantasy.

Brandon Sanderson

I will admit, there's a bit of me saying "Man, what would it take to make giant swords realistic?" *laughter*  Like I actually-- No, this is real. Like fantasy art, and particularly Japanese fantasy art, has these oversized weapons that's completely unrealistic. But that's a challenge to me.

I actually played-- Like I have Final Fantasy cred. *laughter* I played One, on the original Nintendo, right? When it was released. And I have actually played them all. Ten is my favorite. As an aside, what I loved about Ten was-- The voice acting really helped, but I loved that-- Like Ten is what taught me that you don't have to have an angsty, depressed character. Angsty, depressed characters are awesome but sometimes you can have a hero who's not angsty and depressed and it works out alright. But I would call myself deeply influenced by that, certaintly.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#34 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.

Skyward release party ()
#35 Copy

Questioner

If you had to pick actors to play Kaladin, Lopen, Skar, Dalinar, and Rock, who would you pick?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not sure if I could pick them all. I really like Dave Bautista for Dalinar, he is somebody that I think would do a really good job. I can give you that one; I'm not sure about the others.

Another Long and Rambling Post On Future Books ()
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Brandon Sanderson

PART FOUR: STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE PUBLICATION SCHEDULE

Now on to Stormlight Two. (The title was originally Highprince of War, but I’m feeling in my outlining that this book needs to be weighted more toward Shallan, so a different title is likely). I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place here on this one. Writing a Stormlight book, like writing a Wheel of Time book, is a huge undertaking. Getting one of each out in the same year required fourteen-hour days, six days a week, for a good year and a half. I can’t ask my family to go through that again. Beyond that, the buffer is gone. (I still had a little bit of it when working on Towers of Midnight—not to mention the first version of The Way of Kings that I’d written in 2002. I threw it away and started over, but having written it once before sped the process a great deal.)

So . . . what do I do? I’m feeling right now that I will go straight into Stormlight Two after A Memory of Light. But that means (at very best) it won’t be out until the fall of 2012. I don’t really have a choice, however. The Wheel of Time fans have waited too long for their ending already. I need to do AMoL, and I need to do it right, no matter how long it takes. So I can’t make any promises about Stormlight Two except that I won’t take a break after AMoL, but will go right into it and try to have it done in time for the fall 2012 season.

That means, by a quirk of the publishing business, that I have two epics this year, none next year, and two the following year. (If I meet my Stormlight deadline, which may or may not happen.) Still, this is what I’m planning to do. Barring something unexpected, this is what you should anticipate. I don’t think there will be a book at all from me next year, which punches me in the gut. But that’s what we get for pushing to have two books out last year and two books this year.

Elantris Annotations ()
#38 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-One

This is a different kind of Hrathen chapter. With it, I wanted to set the tone for the final section of the book. Only about 15% of the novel remains, and things are going to change for the last bit. You may have noticed a slight tone shift in this chapter–I made it a little darker, filling it with death imagery. (Incense, ash, darkness, Svrakiss.) I wanted to subtly get across that things are growing more dim for Hrathen and Arelon.

Originally, this scene happened outside, at the Mad Prince's pyre. I liked the death imagery there a little better–Dilaf sifting through the ashes of a funeral pyre made for a very interesting image. However, the visuals in this newer version have their own advantages. I was able to use the lantern to half-light Dilaf's, and the smells from the tent make a nice sensual addition to the section.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Brandon Sanderson

I have it cutting right now, but I don't know if I can have it actually completely cut because we slide it through the rock and things like that, right? So it's gotta be that, like, atomizing a little bit into Investiture or something like that. Because I use it in a way that they just-- but there's not really friction on it, so mathematically I'd probably have to say that something is vanishing... I don't want it to but I probably have to.

Questioner

Yeah, I was just sitting there, thinking about Dalinar getting that trench. That would be difficult.

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. RAFO for you, sir.

SF Book Review interview ()
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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.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
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Questioner

In Words of Radiance and The Way of Kings, was there something important about the stone and the herald <in> the *inaudible* <scene> that has to do kind of with the stone, and maybe Tien giving him rocks?  Am I reading too much into that?  

Brandon Sanderson

Some of that is reading too much into it and some of it is real. I'm not going to tell you what is what. But the st-. . . there is definitely something about that.  

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

I wonder if you knew what color the stone was inside of Horneater peaks and the mountains around the Shattered Plains?

Brandon Sanderson

Depends if-- most of it's going to be cremstone. So it's going to be various shades of tanish brown. Very generic stuff, particularly around here.

Horneater peaks, you-- *pauses thoughtfully* Horneater peaks you're probably going to get into some more slate, some more dark grays and things like this, weathered stone that doesn't have the crem buildup because the peaks are gonna pop up above where the crem is building up, so.

So that's where you're going to get some real, untainted rock which otherwise on Roshar you've got to burrow to get.

Questioner

So the gray one is the untainted one?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Phantine

Let's say some kid ended up with Szeth's Oathstone and tried to pull an Aladdin by destroying it and freeing him.

Szeth doesn't seem like he'd actually let himself be freed, but with the Oathstone destroyed, what does he do next (designate a new rock?)

Brandon Sanderson

Use the pieces and try to glue them back together, I'd say. If you actually completely destroyed it, it kind of depends. He might transfer the devotion to the object used to destroy it, or he might try to get another one assigned to him by his homeland--though he would have trouble convincing himself to go back.

 

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Two - Part One

Siri Rides South, Stunned

Already, you should be able to see another tone shift in the book. We've gone from lazy highland romping to frustration and terror. My goal with this book was to keep that up—to always have things moving and the characters being pulled out of their comfortable lives into situations that force them to stretch.

One fun thing you can research yourself by looking at the first draft chapters of Warbreaker I posted. In them, I toyed with having Mab the cook be sent with Siri to be a lady's maid.

I didn't intend this while planning the book, but after writing Mab—and having so much fun with her character—I wanted to keep hold of her and let her add some color to Siri's sections. However, I cut this idea out pretty quickly. (Though a draft of this chapter exists with Mab accompanying Siri—I think in that draft, Mab is the one Siri is complaining to, rather than the poor guard outside the window.)

Why cut Mab? Well, a couple of reasons. First off, Siri's plotline was much more dramatic and emotional if she was forced to leave behind everything she'd known. Giving her a support character like Mab undermined Siri's plot and growth as a character. Beyond that, Siri's plots didn't need more color. We've got plenty of interesting characters and experiences coming for her, so the addition of another character wasn't needed.

I tried the chapter, but then realized that my original instincts had been right. I was forced to cut Mab out.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Argent

On Roshar, certain people seem to be able to always see spren (Rock comes to mind). Are there people who can never see them? Similarly, can people from other worlds see them?

Brandon Sanderson

Those with Listener blood are more likely to be able to interact with spren who aren't currently trying to manifest.

If they appear on the physical realm, then they're visible to all who can see.

Leipzig Book Fair ()
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Questioner

I was wondering: Stormlight doesn't cross walls, because people put their spheres outside. But it crosses the glass of the spheres. Is that material dependent or...

Brandon Sanderson

It's thickness dependent. In the third book there's actually a little place where it's mentioned. Some people put it right inside a little, kind of thin rock portion and the Stormlight can still reach it. So I did that quite intentionally.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Where does the fiber for fabric come from on Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson

[Brandon misunderstands the question to be about Rosharan fabrics] Some of it comes from seasilk. The silk is not the same silk that we [have], most of it is from plant-based textiles. Most of the-- here we have insects, we can use their cocoons and stuff; cocoons on Roshar have rock in them. And so it's a little bit hard. But a lot of the plants do too, and there are a lot of plant-based textiles you can use, so...

Argent

Didn't you ask about Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, Scadrial! I was thinking about Roshar. Yeah, Scadrial is an Earth analogue. Scadrial is my place that if it's on Earth, you can assume it's on Scadrial. That is not the case for the other worlds, but it is for Scadrial.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

Szeth-son-son-Vallano is one of my favorite characters and I was wondering how-- He's so complex, right, which is why I love him. What was your inspiration for him, and how did you get all those amazing layers of--

Brandon Sanderson

What was my inspiration for Szeth? Boy. Talking about my inspiration for characters is one of the hardest things that I do because, while I plan my settings a lot and I plan my outlines a lot, I do not plan my characters in the same way. I actually discovery-write my characters and this is something I do very intentionally because I feel like if I plan the character too much, I plan the life out of them basically. So when I have a plot I basically cast a bunch of people in it. I'll write a chapter with someone in it and I'll throw it away, and I'll a chapter with a different personality, and I'll do that until somebody clicks with that plot. Once I know who they are I'll usually rebuild the outline to fit them, kind of the character has veto power over the plot that I've designed for them. But I just keep casting people in the roles, and with Szeth I think it was the whole idea of when I was building Roshar and I'm like, alright, I know there's going to be a place where there aren't any rocks, the rest of the world is all about this kind of stone sensibility to it so what if it's reversed, what if these people worship stone. What if stone were holy. And so I kind of built out of that, it was his religious ideals that came first. 

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

It was sad to kill off Old Chaps so fast, but at least he went out with style. Besides, he wasn't a very good person, as you can guess. He quite literally sold out his own mother once. He wanted her apartment, so he pinned a theft on her when he was a teenager. That's the room where he was still living. He didn't realize, in his youth, that she didn't even own the place, and all he ended up inheriting was a rent payment. Not exactly the brightest guy around. But at least he waited until after she had died in prison to tie rocks to her feet and toss her into the bay.