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Phoenix Comic-Con 2016 ()
#2 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)

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#4 Copy


In one of your Alcatraz books, what exactly is the meaning of fourteenth, upside-down übercousins?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughing* Ah, this is one of the weird sorting systems that is used by the Librarians and it's a weird word. What does it mean? I have no idea, I just made it up. Sorry! No no, that's not the real answer. The right answer is Alcatraz wrote those books and I've never been to the Free Kingdoms or met the real Librarians, so I have no idea what he's talking about. I'm just the name they put on the cover so the Librarians don't find him. Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
#5 Copy

Tyran Amiros

Why does Bastille say they're speaking Melerandian in book 1 and Nalhallan from book 2 on?

Brandon Sanderson

When I originally wrote Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians, I put that in there partially as a throwaway joke. Melerand is one of the main kingdoms in Dragonsteel, and I thought it would be amusing for them to be speaking that language somehow filtered into this world. By the end of the book I decided that Alcatraz could not be anywhere in the same continuity as Dragonsteel and that I was probably wrong for including that. Though there are other jokes in there relating to my other books—it's much like the scene where Quentin speaks in Spook's dialect. Those were just jokes, inside references to my other books.

Remember that Alcatraz was written as a writing experiment, not as something that I was intending to publish. As the series grew more serious to me, meaning that I developed what I actually wanted to happen—which with me usually happens as I write book two of a series, when I sit down and build an arc for the entire series—I "realified" Alcatraz's world a little bit, if that makes sense, made it its own substantial thing. So at that point it wasn't appropriate for them to be speaking Melerandian anymore.

TWG Posts ()
#6 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it's looking like my next series--after Warbreaker, which is looking like it will be a two-book cycle--will be set in the Dragonsteel world. I'm revamping the setting significantly, mashing it together with Aether of Night, which always had a cool magic system but a weaker plot.

I have some sample chapters done, actually. Dragonsteel is now the series name, and the first book will be titled "The Liar of Partinel." (Probably.) The book you all read (now tentatively titled "The Eternal War") will be the third or fourth book in the series, and we will wait that long to introduce Jerick, Ryalla, and Bat'Chor. "Liar" will take place some five hundred years before "The Eternal War."

Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn was my fourteenth book, Elantris my sixth.  One, named Dragonsteel, was my seventh and a number of the people on my forums knew me when I started writing it.  It was, in a way, the book that 'made me famous' among my group of friends.  So, many of them are excited to hear that I'm reworking the setting and planning to do the book for the big leagues. Dragonsteel Prime, the original, just isn't publishable as is.  There were some great ideas, but I didn't have the skill at the time to make them work.  So, I'm stealing some of the best ideas--and characters--and planning a new series around them.  Hence Ookla calling me a cannibal, since I'm 'Cannibalizing' my old ideas to make new books. 

The following is a complete Brandon Sanderson Bibliography, published and unpublished.  Prime indicates an early attempt at a book which was later redone.  (Note that when I redo a book like this, it isn't a 'rewrite.'  Generally, it's me taking some elements from the setting and writing a whole new book in that setting, using old ideas and mixing them with fresh ones.)  Published books are in bold.

1) White Sand Prime (My first book, took two + years to write.  1998)

2) Star's End (Science fiction.  1998)

3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime.  1999)

4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy.  1999)

5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Science fiction.  1999)

6) Elantris (2000.  Published by Tor: 2005)

7) Dragonsteel (2000)

8 ) White Sand (2001)

9) Mythwalker (Never finished. 2001)

10) Mistborn Prime (Stole the magic system and title for a later book.  2002)

11) Final Empire Prime (Stole a character, some setting elements, and title for a later book.  2002)

12) The Aether of Night (2002)

13) The Way of Kings (350,000 words.  Took a long time.  2003)

14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (2004, Published by Tor 2006)

15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (2005.  Contracted to Tor for 2006)

16) Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians (2005.  Contracted to Scholastic for 2006)

17) Mistborn: The Hero of Ages (2006.  Contracted to Tor for 2007)

18) Warbreaker (2006.  Tentatively to be released by Tor for 2007)

19) Alcatraz vs. The Scrivener's Bones (2006.  Contracted by Scholastic for 2008)

20) Dragonsteel: The Liar of Partinel (Unfinished.  2007?)

21) Alcatraz vs. The Knights of Crystallia (Planned.  2007  Contracted by Scholastic for 2009)

22) Nightblood (Planned.  2008)

23) Dragonsteel: The Lightweaver of Rens (Planned. 2008)

24) Alcatraz vs. The Dark Talent (Planned.  2008.  Contracted for Scholastic for 2010)

I'm not sure if I got all of those dates right, but the order is correct.  I'm finished with all the books up to Dragonsteel, though Mistborn 3, Warbreaker, and Alcatraz 2 are all only in the third draft stage.

Brandon Sanderson

You DON'T have to have read the other Dragonsteel to understand this. The other Dragonsteel will never be published. Some of the plots and characters in it, however, will eventually become book three of this series. Not because I'm doing a 'Dragonlance' type thing, but because when I sat down to work on this project, I realized that I'd rather start back in time a few hundred years. In other words, I'm writing the prequels first, if that's possible.

Brandon Sanderson

In worldbuilding this, I realized that I missed a big opportunity in Dragonsteel Prime by not dealing with fainlife all that much. It was a powerful world element that got mostly ignored. By writing a book here, where I can slam a city in to the middle of the fain assault--before people learned really how to keep the alien landscape back--I think I'll be able to focus more on the setting.

One thing that always bothered me about Dragonsteel Prime is that it felt rather generic for me. I like more distinctive settings, with more distinctive magics. Yet, Dragonsteel Prime had a fairly standard fantasy world (though one set in the bronze age) with magic that didn't really get used all that much in the first book. The idea here is to add the Aether magic in, which is a 'day-to-day' magic, and to enhance the originality of the setting by using fainlife more. Microkenisis, Realmatic Theory, Cognitive Ripples and Tzai Blows, and all of that will STILL be part of this world. I've simply folded the Aethers in as well, and hopefully I can make it all feel cohesive.

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
#7 Copy


What happened to Alcatraz?

Brandon Sanderson

What happened to Alcatraz. Well he almost got sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of Evil Librarians but he survived to write his autobiography-- No, you mean the books. I wrote the fifth book this summer after researching for The Aztlanian long enough that I realized I have to do more research before I can finish it. So I stopped, knew that I wanted to write another middle-grade, so I stopped and wrote Alcatraz 5 and gave it to Tor. They're planning to publish it next year. They're going to start with Alcatraz 1 in January with new art and things like that, publish those first five and do the sixth book sometime in June-- Or fifth book in June is what I think. So republish the first four and then publish the fifth.

Legion Release Party ()
#8 Copy


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."

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#9 Copy


In the fifth book of the Alcatraz series, you wrote a whole section where there's mixed-in punctuation and capitalization.

Brandon Sanderson



Do you do that specifically to annoy the reader?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah! Oh yeah! In the Alcatraz books every book I try to do specific things to annoy the reader just because it's so much fun. So, yeah, there's in-- the fourth book has chapters all quotes from Shakespeare.


That wasn't annoying!

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah. And every line of dialogue is a Shakespeare quote. And so-- And there's one in the fifth book that's all onomatopoeia. Like they only-- it only speaks-- yeah. And they are weird books. I don't know why I wrote books for twelve year olds that use Shakespeare quotes, but I-- they just had to be written.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#10 Copy


Alcatraz, the Dark Talent. How far ahead did you decide that specific ending? I know you always knew it was gonna end up at the altar, but at what point did you decide Attica's fate?

Brandon Sanderson

That was right at the beginning. I was using some mythology, and things like this, and that was the big part. So, if you go back and look, I knew Alcatraz, when I wrote the first book, before I outlined the rest of them, something terrible happened. Something actually terrible happened, which is why he refuses to accept... 'cause he failed in some major way. It had to be a real and kind of awful thing in order to justify the way he is. Because otherwise, you're just like, "You're an idiot." And this turns him into something that had really traumatic, and so you could understand it. And I was worried about that being in a kids book, but I'm like, "It says what it has to be." I knew it was infiltrate the <library>, altar, Attica. But I didn't know all the details, just like I usually don't for the Alcatraz books. Those are supposed to be improv.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
#11 Copy


What are the chances that you will eventually write a fifth Alcatraz book?

Does Alcatraz ever actually end up tied to a stack of encyclopedias, about to be sacrificed by evil librarians?

Brandon Sanderson

I bought the rights to the Alcatraz series back from Scholastic earlier this year, and they were given a 'sell-off' period to sell the rest of their stock. I now own the rights again free and clear, and will probably be putting out an omnibus ebook. (Perhaps a print one with Tor as well.)

I can now write the fifth book (which Scholastic did not want.) It was always planned as the book where he ends up on that stack of encyclopedias. I'll do this sometime next year, hopefully.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#12 Copy


This is a question I was wondering when you did Steelheart. When you were developing the story did you ever think of what kind of Epic you would be?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs* Uh, no, I didn't really. My-- The Alcatraz books were kind of focused on dumb things I do. Steelheart I was really just kind of looking at comic book lore, and dealing with, you know, tropes from comic books.


Thank you.

Brandon Sanderson



But in that car, where you thought, "If I had super powers..."

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah, that's true!


What were you going to do to that car?

Brandon Sanderson

I was gonna blow up the car.


So there's your answer.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, blow up the car, yeah.

Orem Signing ()
#13 Copy


How rare was it for somebody to get the warrior lenses from Alcatraz?

Brandon Sanderson

Those are not that rare. I would say they're one of the most common lenses. But you do have to go through some training and prove yourself, and things like that. So, as lenses, they're not that rare. But you're not gonna see them every day on people.


So what are the most rare lenses?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, the lenses of Rashid would be the most rare, obviously. But a lot of the ones that Grandpa Smedry points out as being very rare... there are lots of very rare lenses that there are only one or two copies of around. And we don't deal with many of those, but there are a couple of them we mention.

Brandon's Blog 2016 ()
#14 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Any of you who haven't read the Evil Librarians series might want to duck out here, because I'm going to talk about the big reveal at the end of the fifth novel. This is a post that's been brewing since 2006, so I'm eager to talk about it—but anyone who has read stories like Secret History will know that I like to brew surprises over the long haul. I'd rather you discover this on your own, by reading the series. I've posted before my pitch on what the books are about, and why you might like them.

For those of you who have read up to the fifth book, it's time to give a behind-the-scenes look at what happened with this series.

If we look back to 2006, we can find the seed of the first [Alcatraz] book in a writing prompt I wrote out for myself: “So there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to be sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil librarians.”

Great first line to a story. I typed it into my phone while at a meeting one day, and quickly became enthralled by it. I'd been reading a lot of middle grade, and wanted to try my hand at something in the genre. I discovery-wrote the story, mostly as a writing exercise—and as a break from the Mistborn series, which I felt needed some breathing room before I could work on the next book.

The story turned out great. Quirky, sarcastic, and fun. So I sent it to my agent, and he liked it too. It took us only a few months to get four offers. Each of the editors we were talking to wanted to know, what was my vision for the series?

And this was tricky because the first book had left me in a bit of a conundrum. You see, a big theme of that first book was a character telling their life's story and warning everyone that he wasn't a hero, that things ended poorly for him. And yet the series was lighthearted and fun, full of humor and wackiness. It didn't have the dark tone of Lemony Snicket, despite the main character's insistence that he was no hero.

I felt I'd promised the audience a fun reversal—that Alcatraz would end up being a hero, even if he didn't think he was one. This was tricky though, because I had the feeling that if I ended it that way, it would be too obvious. Somehow I had to have an ending that justified Alcatraz thinking he was a huge failure in life, but at the same time indicating to the reader that he was actually heroic.

And that's when I hit on a structure that would let me do this. I pitched the following to the various editors interested in the books: I'll write a six-book series that I tell everyone is five books long. The main character will write five, and the fifth will end with the disasters he predicted. This will show exactly why he thinks of himself the way he does.

But then the sixth book will be from the viewpoint of his bodyguard, continuing the story and giving the real ending.

I felt this would work because it played into the themes of Alcatraz being honest about his past, mixed with his feelings of failure. But it would at the same time let us have an ending that wasn't quite so much of a downer. All it required was that we remain quiet for six years or so (it ended up being ten) about the secret sixth book. (In the intervening years, if people asked me if book five was the end, I tried to always answer, "The fifth book is the last one Alcatraz will write.")

Some of the editors loved this idea, and others didn't like it at all. One who loved it was Susan at Tor, who is now publishing the books—so yay!

My initial pitch for the release of book five this year was to have a little envelope inside the back cover that you opened and found a note from Bastille, saying she was going to write the last book. However, that proved to be a problem. First, it's easy to lose a card from an envelope, which meant that library books and secondhand books risked having the true ending get lost. Second, it seemed like it would just be too much for people to resist opening early. We ended up going with a folded-over page at the ending, which at least can't get lost. (And in the ebook, Bastille's note is at the very, very end, past all the footnotes, like a post-credits scene.)

So what does this mean for the future of the series? Well, two years ago I posted a screenshot of my folder showing all of my books in order. It hid a secret project, scribbled out. People assumed this was Secret History, and I didn't disabuse them (as I was working on it at the time). But it's actually Evil Librarians Six, which I've done a bunch of work on. I'm not sure when I'll have it out, but it won't be too long. (I will probably finish it sometime next year.) I'm tentatively calling it Alcatraz Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians: The Worldspire. (Yes, Alcatraz's name will likely be crossed out on the cover, with hers written over it.) Originally I'd named it Alcatraz vs. His Own Dumb Self, but I think that might be going too far.

Thank you to all the fans who have kept with this series over the years. It's because of you that I went through all the trouble of buying the series back from the old publisher, when they decided to end it at four books. And it's because of you that we have the gorgeous new Tor editions, finally with cover art that fits the books. (Not to mention the awesome interior art.)

But book six WILL be the last. You can trust this, because it's me saying it, not Alcatraz. 

Starsight Release Party ()
#15 Copy


Do you actually have a potted plant named Count Dooku??

Brandon Sanderson

I used to but the joke was it was actually not in a pot; it was in a glass jar.


Was it an air plant?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. It had water but it was like one of those air plants. That was the joke. They were supposed to put the picture in the original ones of Count Dooku, my plant, and they refused with that picture as the picture of me. So the joke didn't work. And then by the time we did the new ones, I didn't have Count Dooku anymore. Count Dooku had died. So we just put in a regular potted plant but that was supposed to be the joke that you would be like "wait a minute, that's not a potted plant." But Scholastic, they wouldn't deal with it. They didn't want me to be that goofy.

Legion Release Party ()
#16 Copy


I was wondering, where did you get the idea for <crystals>?

Brandon Sanderson

It came from the crystal sword, and just grew out of that. Most of the things in the Alcatraz books, I start with an idea, and then I grow it outward. Which is the reverse process of how I normally write books, where it's where I outline and then build according to the outline. The Alcatraz books are me practicing the other style of writing, which we call discovery writing. Because I think writers need to know how to do both.

Firefight Houston signing ()
#17 Copy


When you started writing, especially Mistborn, did you know you were writing a series, or were you just kinda writing--

Brandon Sanderson

Did I know I was writing a series, or was I just kinda writing? I usually know I'm writing a series. I like to outline. The beginning, middle, and end; then what came before, and what came after before I start any project. That is different for some few; for instance, the Alcatraz books were more freeform. I didn't know how long they were going to be until I wrote the first one, but almost everything else I know the length of what I'm shooting for. It's just kind of a quirk in the way that I write.

Legion Release Party ()
#18 Copy


Do you think when the Alcatraz series is done, you can make a short story where they have a Smedry family reunion?

Brandon Sanderson

Ooh, what a great idea. I'll have to think about that. I like that idea a lot. If I write it, you can take credit for it, if I forget to credit you.

Miscellaneous 2022 ()
#19 Copy


Do the Lenses at the start of each chapter [of the Alcatraz books] correlate to the contents of the chapter in any way? Or just whatever's fun? 

Hayley Lazo

I always tried to pick ones that loosely have something to do with things, whether it's a chapter where they are used or introduced, or something thematically that happens in the chapter. Sometimes there's no correlation, we just needed to pick one. 

TWG Posts ()
#20 Copy

Peter Ahlstrom

Dark One. What is it?

Brandon Sanderson

YA novel I'm working on. I have a few sample chapters, if you want them. I may have to change the title, though, since a very dissimilar book just came out with a close title.

I'd rather not talk about the book too much, since I won't be able to get to it for a while, and I'd like to keep the ideas off the internet for a bit.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, anyone here can have the sample chapters if they want. In fact, anyone can have sample chapters of any of my books. I send those out pretty freely. I'm just not sure I want to go posting the ideas for this one about yet.

Also, if anyone wants any of my old books--anything pre-WAY OF KINGS--you need but ask. Most of them won't ever get published in their current form. So, if you're ever board, you can read an old, unpublished Brandon novel.

The complete Brandon Library is:

1) White Sand Prime (My first Fantasy Novel)

2) Star's End (Short, alien-relations sf novel.)

3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime)

4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy.)

5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Far future sf involving immortal warriors)

6) Elantris (You have to buy this one!)

7) Dragonsteel (My most standard epic fantasy)

8) White Sand (Complete rewrite of the first attempt)

9) Mythwalker (Unfinished at about 600 pages. Another more standard epic fantasy.)

10) Aether of Night (Stand-Alone fantasy. A little like Elantris.)

11) Mistborn Prime (Eventually stole this world.)

12) Final Empire Prime (Cannibalized for book 14 as well.)

13) The Way of Kings (Fantasy War epic. Coming in 2008 or 2009)

14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (Coming June 2006)

15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (Early 2007)

16) Alcatraz Initiated (YA Fantasy. Being shopped to publishers)

17) Mistborn: Hero of Ages (Unfinished. Â Coming late 2007)

18) Dark One (Unfinished. YA fantasy)

19) Untitled Aether Project (Two sample chapters only.)

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
#21 Copy


My friend is mad at you about the last of the Librarians series.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, well, it's not the last. Because, tell them to look at the page at the very end end, some people missed, another character-- Alcatraz wrote the last one, another character refused to let be the ending. She is going to write an actual last book. There's a last page hidden in there.

YouTube Livestream 24 ()
#23 Copy


How does the revision process for Alcatraz differ from your adult series?

Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz is a very different process from other books, because when I write the Alcatraz books, I like to discovery write the whole book. And I usually approach this like an improv comedy sketch. Where what I'll do is, I'll brainstorm a bunch of 'props' to use in the story. For the first one, this was talking dinosaurs. Just things that occur to me. I make a big list; I'm like, "I have to draw at least three or four items from this list and make a story around it." And then I just start writing.

Because the books are improv, the revision process, then, needs to do more work to give a structure to the story. So they are really off-beat and a little off-kilter as I write them. I try to retain as much of that as possible, but inject actual story, foreshadowing, and these sorts of things that don't I don't have to do in my other books, generally, because I've outlined them. But I think discovery writing is an important enough skill for a writer to have, because sometimes you go off script in your outlined books, that it's good practice. And I consider the Alcatraz books to be practice for that skill.

That's what the revision process is. There's also a lot of cutting bad jokes in the revision process of the Alcatraz books. Because things that seem funny when you're writing the book don't always seem as funny in second or third draft. Sometimes it's because you've read it too many times. But a lot of times, you can tell; you're like, "I was just in a mood, and that one does not land."

Shadows of Self release party ()
#24 Copy



Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz. Oh yes, Alcatraz. *crowd woos* So we got the rights back from Scholastic, who was not treating my baby with the, y'know, reverence that Alcatraz deserves, which isn't very much let's be honest *laughter* And we re-published those, they're going to start January, Tor's putting them out. Isaac has done a brand new full-color map for it. And is that going to go on the cover?

Isaac Stewart

...Yeah that's on the back--

Brandon Sanderson

So the cover you'll be able to take off and spread out, and there's a map on the back of it. The jacket cover. Isn't that cool? We want to test this out and see if we should do it for Stormlight, so you have like a map you can spread out. So it's got a brand new full-color cover art, it's got interior art done by someone who did fan-art for the series and we just loved her fan-art so we hired her. So doing fan-art gets you places. And we have brand new covers for the first four and the fifth book, the last book, that Alcatraz will write, is coming out in June. *crowd woos* And the cover is awesome. We finally have good covers for the Alcatraz books. *laughter* They've been so bad for so long.  

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#28 Copy


Since Disneyland is taking over the world, Disneyland is obviously Librarians. So is Alcatraz ever going to visit Disneyland?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh that's a good question. He should because Disneyland is totally Librarians. They totally run that. I will consider that. I will consider that. Good question. Alcatraz 5 is written. We're re-releasing the Alcatraz books with new covers and new artwork and all sorts of cool things like that starting January of next year [2016] and they'll run straight through to the fifth book which will come out in the summer sometime.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#29 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty

Bluefingers Warns Siri Outside the God King's Chamber

I'll admit that many of Siri's thoughts here are complaints I myself have. She wonders why Bluefingers had to be so cryptic. It's a weak literary device, in my opinion, always having people with knowledge tease with it but never give the full truth. I hate it when I read stories where characters withhold information just because it needs to be withheld in the book.

At the same time, the only way to have a mystery is for there to be things the characters don't know. There can be legitimate reasons why someone doesn't want to speak or share what they know. In my books, I want those reasons to be good ones—which is why in the Alcatraz books, I never have the adults refrain from giving Alcatraz information just because of his age.

In this case, Bluefingers has very, very good reasons for what he does. I hope that it doesn't feel contrived for him not to speak further here.

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


Did you know from the beginning how you were planning to end [Alcatraz]? Because the whole time, I was going, "He'd better fulfill all of these promises."

Brandon Sanderson

I was. I'll tell you this, when I pitched that to the editor, they did not like it at all. They didn't like the idea of me ending on such a downer note. But I knew that the right way to do it was to have him give up on the series after that dark moment. A lot of the Alcatraz stuff I discovery wrote, but that ending I had from the beginning.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#31 Copy


Is Bastille really going to write the sixth (Alcatraz) book?

Brandon Sanderson

Bastille is going to write the sixth book. In fact, she has already written half of it. It's got some good progress, and it is so cool, Bastille philosophizing at the front of the books about how to best punch people, instead of Greek philosophers, it's so much fun. She's got this essay about how it's cathartic about both the puncher and the punchee, right, it's good because you get to work out aggression, it's good because they may stop being stupid.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#32 Copy


Is it possible that there could be more than four Alcatraz books, or will the story conclude there?

Brandon Sanderson

I pitched the series at six books, but only signed on for four at first. And so, while I'll be fulfilling my four book contract (happily) I don't know that I'll have time to write an Alcatraz book in 2010 (for 2011 release). I may have to let it stop at four for now, as to not take time away from the Wheel of Time. We'll see how I feel once I've finished all three of those, and we'll see how interested readers are in the books. But there's certainly a possibility.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#36 Copy


Any new Alcatraz books coming up?

Brandon Sanderson

Any new Alcatraz books coming up? So, for those who haven't read my really goofy middle-grade series, if you like it in this speech when I've been goofy, that's what's in-- what those books are basically all. *laughter* It's basically Professor Sanderson riffing for a bunch of pages. I write them as escapes from things in the Cosmere which are-- I take very seriously, right? They-- To the point that I try not to make them self-important but they got to take themselves seriously. Even if the characters can laugh at situations, the situation itself must not be ridiculous. And so to blow off steam I write these books about people who have really dumb magic talents. Like "arriving late to appointments" is a superpower. Which I chose because I do it all the time.

And I had this evil plan with the Alcatraz books. That I was going to tell everyone it was a five book series. And then end the fifth book on a huge, huge down note, and then be like "It's the end!" Except have in the back-- It was supposed to be a card, a little, printed card, but we realized that would get lost when you check it out from libraries and things. So we just made it a folded-up page [marked] "Don't read it first". There's a character who says "Okay since the main character, this Alcatraz, is not going to write the last book and show that he's actually a hero, I will write it." So we're going to change character voices, dramatically, to someone else and write one last book, that is not a big downer.

This is because when I wrote the first book-- You know how I did that outline thing I talked about? I wrote the first book of Alcatraz and it was this whole-- this story about this hero who claims he's not a hero, he's actually a big failure and he's writing an expose on himself to get people to stop worshipping him for all the cool things he supposedly did. And it's very ridiculous and funny, but I wrote this book and I'm like "Okay great. Either we have to have the ending everyone's expecting, which is 'He's really not that bad a guy, he's just been playing with you the whole time.' which feels like too cheap and easy or it has to be a really downer of an ending like he promised." The first paragraph starts with him about to be sacrificed. And that scene is on the cover of the fifth book, 'cause it's a flashback when he talks about it. So I came up with this dual-nature. The editors were kind of baffled by it, "We tell them it's a five book series but then we have one more book. So we can have both, a real downer of an ending and not a real downer of an ending?" And so the sixth book I will write some time this year.

Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide ()
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Brandon Sanderson


This essay I just posted:

Started as a blog post for this thread, talking about the old books I wrote to give context to my previous post. It outgrew the length of a proper forum post, so I put it on the site instead. But this might help you understand some of my history as a writer, not to mention explain the origin of all these old books Ookla that references all the time.

Lightning Eater

I remembered a thread from ages ago in which Brandon posted a list of the books he'd written, I looked it up when I realised it wasn't in the article, and I figured you guys might be interested too, so here it is.

1) White Sand Prime (My first Fantasy Novel)

2) Star's End (Short, alien-relations sf novel.)

3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime)

4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy.)

5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Far future sf involving immortal warriors)

6) Elantris (You have to buy this one!)

7) Dragonsteel (My most standard epic fantasy)

8) White Sand (Complete rewrite of the first attempt)

9) Mythwalker (Unfinished at about 600 pages. Another more standard epic fantasy.)

10) Aether of Night (Stand-Alone fantasy. A little like Elantris.)

11) Mistborn Prime (Eventually stole this world.)

12) Final Empire Prime (Cannibalized for book 14 as well.)

13) The Way of Kings(Fantasy War epic. Coming in 2008 or 2009)

14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (Coming June 2006)

15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (Early 2007)

16) Alcatraz Initiated (YA Fantasy. Being shopped to publishers)

17) Mistborn: Hero of Ages(Unfinished. Coming late 2007)

18) Dark One (Unfinished. YA fantasy)

19) Untitled Aether Project (Two sample chapters only.)

Brandon Sanderson

Thanks for posting that. Note that I can never quite remember which was first, Aether or Mistborn Prime. I always feel that Aether should be first, since it wasn't as bad as the two primes, but thinking back I think that the essay is more accurate and I wrote it between them.

This would be the new list:

1) White Sand Prime (My first Fantasy Novel)

2) Star's End (Short, alien-relations sf novel.)

3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime)

4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy.)

5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Far future sf involving immortal warriors)

6) Elantris (First Published)

7) Dragonsteel (My most standard epic, other than the not-very-good Final Empireprime.)

8 ) White Sand (Complete rewrite of the first attempt, turned out much better.)

9) Mythwalker (Unfinished at about 600 pages. Another more standard epic fantasy.)

10) Aether of Night (Stand-Alone fantasy. A little like Elantris.)

11) Mistborn Prime (Shorter fantasy, didn't turn out so well.)

12) Final Empire Prime (Shorter fantasy, didn't turn out so well.)

13) The Way of Kings Prime (Fantasy War epic.)

14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (Came out 2006)

15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (Came out 2007)

16) Alcatraz Verus the Evil Librarians (Came out 2007)

17) Mistborn: Hero of Ages(Came out 2008)

18) Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones (Came out 2008)

19) Warbreaker (Comes out June 2009)

20) Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia(November 2009ish)

21) A Memory of Light(November 2009ish. Working on it now. Might be split into two.)

22) The Way of Kings Book One (2010ish. Not started yet.)

23) Alcatraz Four (2010. Not started yet)

Peter Ahlstrom

Will elements of your untitled Aether project be worked into the Dragonsteel series?

The Silence Divine(Working title. Stand alone Epic Fantasy. Unwritten.), Steelheart (YA Science Fiction. Unwritten), I Hate Dragons (Middle Grade fantasy. Maybe an Alcatraz follow up. Unwritten.), Zek Harbringer, Destroyer of Worlds (Middle Grade Sf. Maybe an Alcatraz follow up. Unwritten.)

These titles are news to me. You described two potential YA or middle-grade books to me and Karen when you came out to Book Expo, plus Dark One, but now I can't remember the plots except they were cool (and that one of them involved superheroes). Are they among this list? Also, is that really Harbringer or is it supposed to be Harbinger?

Brandon Sanderson

Bah! That's what I get for typing so quickly. Yes, Harbinger. It should be "Zeek" too. Short for Ezekiel.

Steelheart would be the superhero one, though that's a working title, since I'm not sure if it's trademarked or not. Haven't had much time for thinking about any of these books lately.

Peter Ahlstrom

Brandon, here you said Alcatraz 4 is called Alcatraz vs. The Dark Talent; is that still the working title? Also, you mentioned Dragonsteel: The Lightweaver of Rens, but now you say The Liar of Partinel is a standalone. Change of plans? (I know you can't get back to Dragonsteel for a while.)

Brandon Sanderson

The Alcatraz titles are in flux because I need to know if Scholastic wants the fifth one or not. (They only bought four.) Dark Talent will be one of them for certain.

The Liar of Partinel was part of a two-part story told hundreds of years before the Dragonsteel epic. However, since I've dropped plans to go with Liar anytime soon—A Memory of Light has priority, followed by Way of Kings—I don't know what I'll end up doing with the second book, or if I'll ever even write it. I was planning on not calling either of these "Dragonsteel" in print, actually, and just letting people connect the two series on their own. It wouldn't be hard to do, but I didn't want the first actual book in the main storyline to be launched by Tor as "Book Three" since there would be such a large gap of time.

JordanCon 2014 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz 5. When am I going to write Alcatraz 5? I have a few things on my plate but I do want to finish it. I have re-releases of the series coming out next year probably. We sold the series to Tor, I bought it back from Scholastic. We are repackaging them with new covers and we are hiring an illustrator to illustrate them, to have cool illustrations all through the book. It looks like we'll do 25-30, little half-pagers and things like that through the book. We're doing a map, Isaac is commissioning a very nice map. And then we are going to re-release them and so I will try to have Book 5 come out when we have that going.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
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When Quentin says "wasing not as wasing is", is that just a reference?

Brandon Sanderson

That’s just a reference. So I in Alcatraz make occasional weird references to the Mistborn books and to The Wheel of Time. I think he at one point claims his mother killed Asmodean *laughter* And this is because the Alcatraz books break the fourth wall, they’re self-referential. It’s not implying that they’re connected to the other books. They’re just done for pure silliness’ sake. And so I let myself just do things like that.

If you are a fan of those, we are re-releasing those starting in January with new art and new covers and interior art. And one of the fun things we’re doing is-- we’re testing this out, I’d like to do it for some of my epics-- we’re actually making the dust jacket, inside, have the world map. In full color. And so you take off the dust jacket while you’re reading your book, you spread it out there’s the world map there and you put it back on to keep your place and put back on the shelf. And so this is something we’re testing out to see if we can get it to work for the Stormlight books or something like that. And then the fifth book of Alcatraz, previously unreleased is coming out in June is what they’re planning right now. Publication schedules always vary a little bit. But it’s going to be right around then.

Skyward Atlanta signing ()
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In Alcatraz, he mentions a souvenir about a bullet that can pierce steel. Was that nod to Reckoners?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that's a nod to Reckoners. There's lots of them. If you read the Alcatraz books, there's an Asomedean joke, there's a Spook's street slang joke. The Alcatraz books, if you haven't read them, are kind of me practicing my improv skills as a writer. Every writer, I think, needs to have some measure of ability to outline, and some measure of ability to just "pants it," as we say. And the Alcatraz books, I write completely pantsed. I give myself a list of things that need to be in the book, and I try to work those in as I go. And that ends up with a lot of me making jokes about myself and my process.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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When is the next Alcatraz book coming out?

Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia is in stores October 1st (though Scholastic often ships early, so you might find it as early as September 1st.) Book four—Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens—is being written now and will come out the following October. Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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In the Alcatraz series, Alcatraz is very worried about letting down so many people. Is this semi-autobiographical and perhaps speak to your fears of letting down the WoT fans? (maybe it's subconscious!)

Brandon Sanderson

If it is, it's subconscious. Remember, I wrote the first Alcatraz book in 2005, before even Mistborn was published. The only one that I wrote after the Wheel of Time decision was made was book four. The previous ones had been written already. So there probably is a subconscious fear of letting down my readers, but it wouldn't be specifically related to the Wheel of Time in those books. Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Rose Greene

We are all fans of all of Brandon's stuff in our house, but we are particularly taken with Alcatraz. And I'm very alarmed by the publisher description that Shattered Lens is the "fourth and final book." Because the story isn't over yet! End of comas? Altar of encyclopedias? Attica?? Please, PLEASE reassure us that there is indeed another book coming out. Because otherwise we might have to picket Scholastic's offices or something!

Brandon Sanderson

I'd be happy if you would picket—though I say that mostly jokingly. I didn't want them to put that on the book. It's not the last book. But those who know what's happened behind the scenes know that Scholastic and I have not seen eye to eye on how the Alcatraz books have been packaged and distributed.

Shadows of Self Houston signing ()
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Why did it take you so long to write the fifth Alcatraz book?

Brandon Sanderson

Why did it take me so long to write the fifth Alcatraz book... So, the Alcatraz books, the problem was I had this weird relationship with Scholastic, who was publishing them, where they didn't want to keep publishing them, but they didn't want to sell them back to me either. And it was really weird, because I was like "If you don't want to keep publishing them, why not like let us take them back and sell them to someone else?", and they were like "ehhh", so we had to convince them to sell them back to me, and I actually had to pay them a bunch of money to get the rights back, to bring them to another publisher, and that deal required that we couldn't sell any Alcatraz books until January of this upcoming year [2016]. And so the reason I couldn't do that fifth book is because of that contract. I let them sell off the remaining books that they had so that we're rereleasing them starting in January, the first four again, and then the fifth one. We didn't want to do the fifth one until the first four could come out, so people could buy them. So that's the reason!

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

So, here’s my official future status, as I sometimes post.


  • Towers of Midnight (November 2.)
  • Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens (December 2010.)—A note on Alcatraz. This is the fourth and final of the Alcatraz books in my contract. I do plan there to be more in this series, but I don’t have time for them right now. And so, for now, this is going to stand as the ending of the series. I’ll do Alcatraz Five eventually, I promise.
  • Scribbler (Early 2012)—A note on Scribbler. This is a shorter steampunk book I wrote in 2007, just before I got the call about The Wheel of Time. It’s quite good, and Tor has decided to purchase it. It involves chalk-based magic and a boy who is the son of the cleaning lady at a school for people who learn the chalk magic. I haven’t had time to give it a revision, but will likely use some of the time in my free months between now and January to do a draft of it. If I turn it in January or February, you won’t see it until a year after that, due to scheduling.


  • A Memory of Light (March 2012.)
  • Stormlight Archive Book Two (Late 2012 or early 2013.)
  • Stormlight Archive Book Three (One year after Book Two.)


  • Alcatraz Five (Indefinite hiatus.)
  • Elantris Two (Planned to be written after Stormlight Three.)
  • Second Mistborn trilogy (It’s coming someday, I promise.)
  • Nightblood: Book two of Warbreaker (Coming someday.)—Some notes here. Elantris has three books in the series, but they are loose sequels of each other. This means that side characters in one become main characters in the next. So while you’ll see Raoden and Sarene in the second book, they won’t be main characters. (Kiin’s children will be.) Warbreaker is two books. Mistborn is a trilogy of trilogies, with the second trilogy in an urban (20th-century-level technology) setting. For Stormlight, I’m planning a pattern of two every three years, with a different epic—a standalone, or one of the sequels mentioned above—in between. Thus the Elantris sequel is next in line after Stormlight Three, which would be followed by Stormlight Four and Five.


  • Dark One (YA dark fantasy.)
  • Steelheart (Superhero apocalypse.)
  • The King’s Necromancer
  • The Silence Divine (Shardworld novel, standalone.)
  • White Sand (Shardworld trilogy.)
  • The Liar of Partinel (Shardworld novel, one of two.)
  • Dragonsteel (Major Shardworld epic. Won’t be written until Stormlight is done.)


  • Mistborn short story (Looking likely.)
  • Unnamed urban fantasy (This is what I’m working on right now. Watch Twitter/Facebook for updates on this story. It involves a necromancer pizza deliveryman as a protagonist.)
  • Scribbler revisions (Will almost certainly be done.)
  • Finishing one of the unfinished novels mentioned above (Not likely, but you never know.)

Who knows when/if anything written during my side-project time will get published. Sometimes, these stories are too unformed (as I like to be very free and loose when I write them) to make it. On other occasions, there isn’t time to do revisions on them. (I write initial books very quickly, but spend many months in revision.) For instance, Alcatraz books were my deviations for 2005 and 2006, and the first of those came out very quickly. Scribbler was the one for 2007, and it won’t be published for a year or so yet. I didn’t have time for much in the way of deviations in 2008 or 2009, just the unfinished projects I mentioned above.

We shall see. As always, thank you for reading and supporting me in this compulsive writing addiction of mine.