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Legion Release Party ()
#3 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#4 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.

Firefight Houston signing ()
#5 Copy

Questioner

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.

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
#6 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.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#8 Copy

Questioner

Alcatraz.

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 ()
#9 Copy

Questioner

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.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#12 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Why are you a plant in the back of the book?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Well, here's the thing. When I wanted to do a picture in the back of the books, the original versions that the other publisher did, I said I wanted a silly picture. And they wouldn't let me put a silly picture. So I wrote that I was a potted plant, and then put my own picture. But when we did the reissues, the new publisher's like, "Eh, I guess we gotta use a potted plant," and then they went and got one and put it there instead. And I was totally fine with it. The joke was that it was just me but it said it was a potted plant, but now it is a potted plant.

Firefight release party ()
#13 Copy

Questioner

On one of your older Writing Excuses you guys talked about doing retellings or reimagining stories. I was curious if any of your--even your short stories-- are either in full or in part retellings?

Brandon Sanderson

I use the bits-- You ever read the Alcatraz books?

Questioner

Actually those are the only ones of yours I haven't.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so those I actually--don't get weirded out-- but I used the Oedipus myth.  A little bit. Not the weirdest parts. But the y'know--

Questioner

Fate...

Brandon Sanderson

Fate, and being blind but not blind, and prophecy, and things like like that because the character tells you the end of the last book in the first paragraph of the first book and then it's all like it's almost fated to be. And so there is metaphorical blindness, and there's-- things like that. So that's the only one I used any-- and even that's really loosely structured. I wouldn't say I used any specifics, yet, for any of my books.

Unless you count archetypes. Like I like taking certain archetypes and mixing them in. Like Bridge Four is an underdogs sports story. So I use the archetype of something like losers but I made it being killed on a field of battle instead, and things like that. But those are more general, it's a more different sort of thing.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#14 Copy

Questioner

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.

Phoenix Comic-Con 2016 ()
#15 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)

Brandon's Blog 2016 ()
#16 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. 

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#18 Copy

Sunbird

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.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#19 Copy

Questioner

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.

Questioner

Thank you.

Brandon Sanderson

Uh-huh.

TheHunter

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

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah, that's true!

TheHunter

What were you going to do to that car?

Brandon Sanderson

I was gonna blow up the car.

TheHunter

So there's your answer.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, blow up the car, yeah.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#20 Copy

Questioner 1

What's the title of the sixth book gonna be?

Brandon Sanderson

Right now it is named-- it says "Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians" with the "Alcatraz" crossed out, and says "Bastille". And it says, underneath, "Versus His Own Dumb Self"-- is the title I'm going with right now, but it might change. But it's called Alcatraz Versus His Own Dumb Self.

Questioner 2

...How long does it take to do the first run?

Brandon Sanderson

How long does it take to do what?

Questioner 2

The first run.

Brandon Sanderson

The first draft, of an Alcatraz book, usually takes about two months. They can be a lot faster than my other books, but yeah.

JordanCon 2014 ()
#21 Copy

Questioner

Alcatraz?

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.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#23 Copy

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

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.

TheHunter

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.

Legion Release Party ()
#24 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

What inspired the idea of the lenses from Alcatraz?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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."

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
#26 Copy

Questioner

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.

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
#29 Copy

Questioner

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.

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

chocolatebar

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.

Shadows of Self Houston signing ()
#32 Copy

Questioner

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!

Legion Release Party ()
#33 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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.

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

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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.

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
#37 Copy

Joeh42

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.

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

luminos

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.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#39 Copy

Questioner

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.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
#40 Copy

Questioner

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.

Orem signing ()
#41 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Is the sequel to The Rithmatist still in the works?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

It's still in the work. The Rithmatist is this strange doc in my writing in that it's the last book I wrote before the Wheel of Time hit me like a freight train. All future plans got trampled and balefired, right? And things I'd been planning to do, I no longer knew what was going to happen. So  Rithmatist I didn't release right then. I let it sit for a while. Eventually the publisher is like, "we should release this, it's a good book." And I think it is a really strong book.

So a couple of years back, I sat down and tried to write the sequel. And it's another one of these books that didn't work. There are a variety of reasons it didn't work. But it didn't work. I got like four or five chapters in. I shelved it and wrote an Alcatraz book instead--it's another series I've had looming over me. Now that I've learned to do novellas and things like this, you find me making open-ended series less often. Like with Skyward, it's going to be a trilogy and I'm going to write two of them this year--maybe all three if I can--and then it's done and turned in. And with the novellas, there's not necessarily sequels that I'm planning. So I'm getting better at managing that, but I've gotten these kind of "open" series. I really want to write Rithmatist 2. I think it's very deserving of a sequel. I think it's a good book. I don't know how to do it yet, which is rare for me, but I don't.

So, maybe this thing will work with Dan, and I'll go, well maybe there's someone who can help me fix this, one of my friends. Maybe I will just carve out the time to do this, let's do it. But right now, it is one of those things I don't just have a date for, and I feel bad about that. The good news is I'm doing this less and less. I'm figuring out how to make this happen. Legion is now done and turned in. Alcatraz is very close. I finished half of Alcatraz 6. Well, Bastille 1, but there's only one Bastille. If you guys don't know, the first five Alcatraz books are written by a guy named Alcatraz and then he leaves the ending in a terrible cliffhanger at the fifth book, and says, "I'm done!" But the joke has always been his friend Bastille thinks that's stupid, so she's going to write the ending he refuses to write. So I wrote half of her book and it looked good. I'm pleased with where Bastille Vs. The Evil Librarians is going. So that'll be wrapped up before too long, and then that series is done. So Legion and Alcatraz are very close to being done. That leaves The Rithmatist. And so it would be next on my, "let's figure out how to get this done."

That's a long answer that just basically says, "it's coming but I don't know when."

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#42 Copy

Questioner

About when will the sixth book of Alcatraz--

Brandon Sanderson

Sixth book of Alactraz draft? My goal is to write it this year. For those who don't know of Alcatraz, I did something really mean. And I actually did this-- I pitched this to my editor when I first sold the series. I planned a six book series, but I told everyone it was five books. And we played along the whole time, and then ended the fifth book on a major downer cliffhanger. And the only way you know is at the end there-- you like fold over like an extra page in the back with a note from one of the other characters. *audio skips* "...and he refuses to continue writing the series, I will have to finish it myself." So told from her viewpoint in the last book, because he refuses to write the last book. So yeah, we're working on that. One of the-- I'm working on the outline and writing the little blurbs at the beginning of each chapter. One of the things I'm trying to decide is, do I-- so that it has a completely different feel-- do I want to go to one of my friends and, like you know, swap with them and have them write my book for me and I write their book for them, or something like that. So that this book has a completely different tone, or something like that. That's the big question I'm asking myself right now.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#44 Copy

Questioner

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.

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

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

What if you mixed, like in Alcatraz, what if you mixed like a Windbringer's Lens with like a Fire--forgot the name.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Oh man that would be terrible. You'd have a big black firestorm. It'd be awesome. Someone should do that.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So they are allowed to mix?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

They can. It's very hard.

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
#46 Copy

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.