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White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

I've also heard rumor that there's a chronology? <On the cosmere?>

Brandon Sanderson

On my computer, yes.

Questioner

No, that was going to be in [Arcanum Unbounded] or *inaudible*.

Brandon Sanderson

No, not a chronology. Not a timeline. I've been preparing one that eventually I'm going to release. But I don't think I'm *inaudible*. I did consider it, but...

Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
#2 Copy

Questioner

So with the cosmere, do you come up with stories and see if they fit? Or does the cosmere  kind of lend itself to stories already?

Brandon Sanderson

It's mostly the first. *audio obscured* When I come up with a story I'll ask, "Does this fit the cosmere?" and if not-- Like, for instance,  this one, that I read tonight [Perfect State], just doesn't fit the cosmere. I don’t want to be doing far-future science fiction stuff yet in the cosmere, and when I do, virtual reality is not a cosmere thing. So I can't write that as cosmere. Or the Rithmatist which I bounced back and forth. Would have been, could have not been. I just eventually decided it didn't fit the story. When things do fit, I put them in.

Questioner

Is that a really exciting moment? Or just sort of "Ohhh that's nice"

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it's just like that. I like all my stories.  The Cosmere-- One of my rules for myself is "The Cosmere is not my entire body of work" because then I would just be shoehorning  things in and I've found sometimes when authors create a multiverse they shoehorn everything in. Stephen King did this, Asimov did this. It doesn't work. I think if it is an intentional thing I'm deliberately doing, then it gains more power, it's cooler than if I were trying to make everything connected.

Hal-Con 2012 ()
#3 Copy

Lance Alvein

To get us started, Brandon, do you want to give everyone a quick idea of what the cosmere is?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs* Okay. So, here's what's going on: When I first was trying to break in—this was over ten years ago now, like fifteen—someone told me that your first five books were generally unpublishable. That was fairly good advice; I found that for most people it's really just your first novel; your second novel tends to get really good. For me, I did end up writing five experimental books that I never published; Elantris was my sixth book. Another piece of advice I got while I was working on it, however, was: you don't want to start with a big epic, the reason for that being is that you want to give a chance for readers to read something, you know, a single volume, or maybe one or two books before—so they can see, so they can trust you to finish a story before you jump into a big epic. It actually seemed like pretty good advice to me; it also works very well with publishing because approaching editors and things like that, you want to be able to send them a book, and if they reject it, but say, "Hey, I'd like to see something else by you; this wasn't the right project for me, but I like your writing." You can't really send them book two of that series, right? Because, you know, they want to see something new, and so I sat down to write a sequence of three or four standalone epic fantasy novels that potentially could have sequels maybe, but the idea was to make them standalone. But, kind of in my heart, I've always loved the big epic. You don't grow up reading Robert Jordan and Tad Williams and Melanie Rawn and people like this, without saying, "I want to do that." And so, what I started doing was actually building a hidden epic behind the scenes with all of these books, the idea being that there were characters who were crossing between the worlds that would have a story that someday I would tell that wouldn't be directly important to the book itself, but would lay the groundwork and give foreshadowing to something very large coming.

And so I designed this thing—you know, I'm a worldbuilder—I designed this thing with a sequence of planets and a story behind the story, and people crossing between them. And so, when I wrote Elantris, I embedded all of this in there, and then my next books were in that sequence jumping around—some were before, some were after—and things like this, so there are these continuing characters. Well, years and years later, I decided I would finally start writing something big and epic; I was tired of not getting published; I was tired of all the advice people were giving me; I had written a couple of books that were not very good based on the advice that people had given me. I said, "I just want to write my big epic," and that's when I started Way of Kings, and wrote that. And I'm like "I'll the launch into the big epic, some of these things are going to be more important to the series" It was kind of me honestly giving figuratively the bird to all of publishing, saying, you know, "You've told me that my books are too long, that two hundred thousand words is too long; I'm gonna write one that's four hundred thousand," so, you know: "I don't care; it's gonna be big and awesome and it's the book for me." I spent eighteen months working on this book, and right after I finished it, I sold Elantris. It sat on an editor's desk for a year and a half. He finally picked it up and read it, and tried to get a hold of me the next day wanting to buy it.

And so, suddenly I sell Elantris which I had written like five years before, which had all these things embedded in it, and I sent that editor The Way of Kings, because you know he wanted to buy two books from me. He's like, "Alright, the standalone is great; what else do you have?" so I sent him Way of Kings, and he panicked. *laughter* He was like, "Ahhhhh, this is huge, and what are all these illustrations that you're talking about, and I don't know if we can-- can we break this into like four books?" And I'm like, "No no, it's gotta be one book." And he's like, "Ahhh...." But fortunately for him, I didn't feel the book was ready at that point, otherwise I might have forced him to publish it. I felt my skill wasn't up to the task of doing that since I'd practiced only doing standalones up to that point, and so I said, "I want to do a trilogy so I can practice the series format; I've got a pitch on this book called Mistborn that I want to write for you." And Mistborn was the first book that I ever wrote knowing it would get published. So when I sat down to write Mistborn, I had already sold Elantris, and Elantris was coming out, and it all of this stuff embedded in it, and I'm like, "Do I keep going with that or not? Do I just go all in?" And so I decided to go ahead and do it, and so Mistborn has all of this behind-the-scenes sort of story things built into it, and there's a character from Elantris—it's the beggar that Sarene meets near the end—who is also in Mistborn, who is the beggar that Kelsier talks to, that they wanted-- pretending to be blind, that he gets information from, and then this character keeps appearing in all of the books as kind of a little Easter egg that was not so Easter-eggery because the fans found it right away. *laughter*

And so the cosmere is my name for this big universe, which is actually, you know, just a play on "cosmos"—it's not the most original word—but it's something I had actually come up with when I was a teenager, so, it's one of those relics that's in there that if I were to do it now, I might name it something a little less obvious. I don't know; it does work, and it is a fun name, so that's there. The character's name is Hoid, and there are other characters moving between the planets, and so there is a buried, deeper story to all of my big fantasies. The thing that I want to tell people, though, is that you don't need to read them in order because these are just Easter eggs; there's not a story there that you can really piece together yet. I don't want people to feel they have to read Elantris before Mistborn, or they can't, you know-- If you read them all, at some point you will have some little extra tidbits of information, but there's not something there that's going on that's chronological that you need to know about right now, but that's in a nutshell what's going on there; there is an underlying theory of magic for all of the epic fantasies that they all follow. I love the concept in science of the unifying law, right? If you guys have studied physics, there's this belief that somewhere out there there's a unifying theory that will unite all of physics, and because right now, you know, the things that happen on the macro scale don't really match what happen on the quantum scale, and you kind of have to have two sets of equations, and people believe that someday we'll find that link that'll put them all together, and that's fascinating to me, science is, and so I have a unifying theory of magic for all of my worlds that people in-world on various planets are figuring out with regards to theirs, but if they had all of the pieces they could kind of put it all together.

Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
#4 Copy

Questioner

I was actually wondering if you'd do space opera? *audio obscured*

Brandon Sanderson

There will be space opera in the cosmere. There'll be quite a bit of it actually. The only space opera I've written currently has not been true space opera. I don't know if you've read my two science fiction stories. They're both free on my website. And they're a little more social science fiction, though they take place far future, kind of space opera-y. They're not cosmere right now-- Err they are not cosmere. But I will eventually write full-blown space operas. They're going to be awesome.

DrogaKrolow.pl interview ()
#5 Copy

DrogaKrolow

When was the concept of cosmere, one big Universe that connects all your stories was born? Do you remember the very beginning, the first thought of it?

Brandon Sanderson

I can start to talk about this because there's a couple of things. I remember being a teenager and reading books, and I would always insert my own characters into other writers' books. This is the beginnings of Brandon the Writer. So I would read, like, a-- an Anne McCaffrey book and I would insert my own characters and eventually Hoid started jumping between all the books I was reading. And so when I started writing my own books, I started inserting him myself. I blame that. I also blame how Asimov connected Foundation and the Robots series. When I read that it kinda blew my mind, and I wanted to do something like that.

I knew when I started writing Elantris I was going to do something like this, I wanted to start connecting everything together. I put Hoid into it and stuff like that, but as I've gone back through my notes, it was really during the years following that I really designed the cosmere. Like when I first wrote Elantris, I had no idea how I was going connect it all, I just knew I was going to. But like-- You know Shardpools. I put the pool in and then I'm like "I don't know what it is". By the time I got to Mistborn I knew all this stuff and fortunately Mistborn was the first one-- Mistborn I was working on when Elantris sold, right? And so I was able to go back and revise Elantris to make sure it matched everything that was coming for the future.

Though I do have to admit, when I first wrote Elantris, a lot of things I'm like "Ah this'll connect somehow. I'll put this in. Sure”.

DrogaKrolow

And by now, can you say that you already know how Cosmere will end?

Brandon Sanderson

I do know how The Cosmere will end, yes. I'm an outliner. It could always change. But I have-- So you know the core series, Stormlight and Mistborn, and the last book of The Cosmere is the last Mistborn book, which I have an outline for. So, we shall see. At least chronologically it's the last. I don’t know, I write a lot and so who knows. Yeah, you know, keeping track of it all, I’m sorry.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#6 Copy

Questioner

Before you started on all of your books, did you already have an idea of how they all came together or was it a sort of--

Brandon Sanderson

I did by the time I was writing Mistborn. But the thing you have to know about my career is that I wrote thirteen novels before I sold one. So, in a lot of those early novels I had no idea what I was doing, that's how authors are. By the time I wrote Mistborn, which was book number fourteen--it was the second book published--but I really had an idea of what I was doing then. Elantris had to be retrofitted a bit to fit into it, because Elantris had been written when I was still figuring things out, but by Mistborn the whole thing was coming together and I had quite a good idea of what I wanted to do.

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#7 Copy

Questioner

I heard a rumor that the universes of all your books are interconnected?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Most of my books, not all of them. If a book mentions Earth, it is not connected to what I call the cosmere, I kind of made this decision early on. So for those of you who don't know, my epic fantasies are indeed all connected. There are characters who cross over between them. I've been planning this for twenty years so I've got this intricate thing going on. There will eventually be big crossover books but for right now I don't want people to feel like they have to read everything in order to understand what's going on, and so for right now each of the books are only cameos. But you will be able to notice characters crossing between and there will be big crossover books eventually.

Shadows of Self Edinburgh UK signing ()
#8 Copy

Questioner

In the first three Mistborn books, and Elantris and Warbreaker, you focus a lot on sort of gods and religion, is there a particular reason for that?

Brandon Sanderson

Why do I focus on gods and religion in my books. Well there's a couple of reasons. The main one is the kind of overarching story of the cosmere, which all my books are connected, there is some divine force named Adonalsium that was broken apart long ago and the scions of that-- people who have that power are showing up and causing problems and things on planets. So that's kind of the hidden epic behind the scenes, and so because of that religion is a very big part of what happens there.

I'm also a religious person. For those who don't know, I'm Mormon, I'm LDS. And so religion is important to me and whatever I'm fascinated by works it's way into my books. Now I'm generally the type of writer who doesn't feel like I should go into a book with a theme, I should explore what the characters are passionate and let the theme manifest naturally. And so I do that a lot, I don't go in saying "Oh I'm going to teach people this" I say "Who is this character, what are they passionate about" But the things I'm interested in you see. That's why you end up with stories about a god who doesn't believe in his own religion, from Warbreaker. Or you end up with these different things, with Kelsier founding a religion to use it, or having people with different types of faith. And I really think that part of the point of fiction is to, for me, to explore different ideas from different angles and try to just tackle them. And so you'll see me coming back to some of the same concepts again and again, because I want to try them from a new angle, see how this person thinks, see how this character deals with it. Because that's just really interesting to me.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#9 Copy

Questioner

From the very beginning did you already know-- like cosmere? Like was that your goal setting out?

Brandon Sanderson

It was my goal very early on. In fact, before I wrote any books I wrote a short story about Hoid. So he goes back to before the very first book that I wrote. So yeah it goes back pretty far. I can trace inspirations back to Asimov tying Foundation and Robots together and feeling like that was really cool and wanting to do something like that, if it makes sense. And so I would say that’s probably like the first seed was when I read the later Foundation books and they tied them together.

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

Questioner

Secret history gave a lot of answers but a lot more questions. Will we get more answers in the next Mistborn book?

Brandon Sanderson

The next Mistborn book will have some answers but not Secret History level answers. It is still mostly focused on Wax and Wayne, Steris and Marasi, and finishing up their stories. By the time we get to third era Mistborn we are gonna start seeing a lot more creep in of some of this stuff. Its really fourth era were gonna see the most. The further we go in the Cosmere the more things will creep in. Mistborn; there be a lot more creeping in than in Way of Kings.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#11 Copy

Questioner

So, one of the things I know, you have your own universe that you've produced, and it's fantastic. what's the series you're gonna create or have created that's the cornerstone, that will have the largest impact on the universe.

Brandon Sanderson

I would say Mistborn going all the way through is probably the most impact. Stormlight is gonna have a decent one, so is the Elantris world.

Questioner

Is there gonna be a union book or series?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the final Mistborn series.

Chris King interview ()
#12 Copy

Chris King

We've seen some hints of the over-arching cosmere story arc, what was the inspiration behind that story originally?

Brandon Sanderson

I had an idea for a book when I was fifteen and just getting into fantasy novels—just getting into meaning, reading everything I could get my hands on and diving in face first—and I developed that idea over the next few years. I started writing and realized I was just no good as a writer yet. Which was okay, it wasn't a big deal to me. I realized this story was beyond my ability to approach, it was a vast, enormous story. And so, years later when I was writing Elantris I thought "Well let's just pretend I wrote that book and it was awesome and it's the prelude to what's going on here." That expanded into something much larger and much greater.

I've mentioned before, part of my inspiration for this was the fact that one of my favorite writers, Asimov, later decided to connect two of his main story universes, the Robot books and the Foundation books. It was really cool when he did it and I felt what would happen if I started doing something like this from the get go. I've known several authors who do it at the end of their careers—well I guess Stephen King's not even at the end of his career, in the middle of his career—saying let me tie a bunch of these things together. What if I seeded all of this from the get go and use this story, this awesome story, that I wasn't able to write when I was younger as a foundation for it.

Chris King interview ()
#13 Copy

Chris King

When you reach the end of the Cosmere will there be something else? Or do you feel this will take most of your writing career to achieve?

Brandon Sanderson

Yah, I think this kind of the Story of my writing career. Now, who knows. As I plotted it, right around mid-Mistborn series time, I came out with thirty-six books, of which I've done what five or six? More than that--

Chris King

Three, four, five, six, seven?

Brandon Sanderson

Seven. I think there is plenty of time so ask me in thirty years.

Chris King

This one's kind of similar here: When or if you reach the end of that, were you planning on expanding more or were you going to get done with what you had planned and be done with it, or--

Brandon Sanderson

That's really a "ask me in thirty years" sort of thing. I want to see if I can get this whole thing done. I want to do it in— There's this sort of tension to it, in that I view this as— The arc is my life's work. But at the same time I don't want to be belaboring it. There are cool things going on that I want to get to and I want to tell people about. And so there's this push and pull inside of me, wanting to do this. We will see.

Shadows of Self Portland signing ()
#14 Copy

Questioner

In a lot of your books there are, like, things that make them seem like they might be connected...

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, "in a lot of my books there are things that make them seem like they might be connected." *crowd laughs* What's that?

Questioner

Is there going to be a crossover?

Brandon Sanderson

"Is there gonna be a crossover?" So for those who don't know, my books-- my epic fantasies are all connected. There's a hidden epic happening behind the scenes. There will be someday that I will do crossovers, but I am not doing it right now. The focus right now-- I don't want people to like read the books and be like, "I am so lost." I don't you to feel like you have to read my whole body of work to appreciate what's going on in one of them. So while there will be cameos, and sometimes they will be moderately relevant to the plot, it's only gonna remain mostly cameos for the moment, until I do a series which is upfront going to be, "Here's the big crossover. You have to know all eight magic systems or you're gonna go crazy."

A Memory of Light Dayton Signing ()
#16 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

The Cosmere—How?:

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

"I don't know if it's something I can answer, simply because I don't know how." He went on to relate his feelings when reading Asimov's Foundation, and how cool it would have been if Asimov had known from the beginning that he was going to be tying all these things in, and the subtle hints he could have left in the earlier stories.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#17 Copy

Mondoodle

Do you have future intentions of grouping characters or descendants from across the Cosmere together against a common foe?

Brandon Sanderson

The future of the cosmere does involve much more crossover between the worlds, but don't think of it like the Avengers--the goal isn't to bring together a group of heroes, but to show the intersection of cultures and ideals, told through the eyes of those who live them.

Shadows of Self Houston signing ()
#18 Copy

Questioner

How many scripts did you write and submit before you got Elantris picked up?

Brandon Sanderson

How many scripts did I write and send out before I got Elantris picked up? So novel-length things, Elantris was my sixth. It sold while I was writing my thirteenth, which was The Way of Kings. You shouldn't have to do that, I was really bad when I started. The other thing is I was not good at revising, and I sometimes wouldn't even send books out, because I was like "I can learn do that better, I'll just write another book", which was the wrong attitude to have but it ended up working out for me so I don't know that I'd change anything! I did collect rejections but really-- My first five books were very experimental. Someone told me your first five books are usually terrible, which is not necessarily true but it was the right advice for me. I sat down and I wrote five.

My first one was an epic fantasy, because I was pretty sure that's what I love. My second one was a space opera. My third one was a sequel to that epic fantasy. Then my fourth one was a comedy, like a Bob Asprin-style fantasy farce. And then there was a cyberpunk. And then there was Elantris. I wrote those five, and after I sat down and wrote those five and said, "ok, epic fantasy's what I love, I'm gonna go with that." That's when the idea of the Cosmere started going for me, and I sat down and I wrote Elantris, a book called Dragonsteel which is kind of Hoid's origin story, and a book called White Sand which we're currently making into a graphic novel. Those three books I got the best feedback on when I was submitting them and that's when I really started to push it, in getting it published. So you can imagine that what I did is I practiced for a while, I wrote a book that I thought was pretty good and during the three years it took to sell that, I ended up writing some more, because I do that. 

Oathbringer Newcastle signing ()
#20 Copy

Questioner

Is Obrodai going to be the setting of Dark One?

Brandon Sanderson

Excellent question. That is also a RAFO. Sorry, sorry! This is partially because Dark One pops in and out of the cosmere a lot, depending on which version I'm doing. It's been the hardest book. For those who don't know anything about, this is a book I talk about in my blog once in a while... It's like the Harry Potter story, except you get told "By the way, you're the Dark One who's gonna destroy the world, so we're gonna assassinate you while you're a teenager, so that never happens." It's a really cool story that I have never been able to get to work.

Questioner

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, and Obrodai is one of the Shardworlds, but I keep popping Dark One in and out of the cosmere. Sometimes it feels too self-referential to the fantasy genre to actually be in the cosmere. Because I don't want the cosmere to be self-referential, right? Whenever something gets even a little too silly, I'm like, "Nah, this can't be in the cosmere anymore." So, we'll see what happens.

Firefight release party ()
#22 Copy

Questioner

So are you going to write a Sixth of the Dusk novel?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably not. A lot of the little cosmere novellas that I'm doing, they are less important to the overarching plot of the cosmere that I designed. And so I want to visit them, show different places in the cosmere and how the magic is affecting different worlds, but the goal is not to incorporate them into the mainline story. I mean the main story takes place mostly on the planets you've seen, with a couple of other ones, and I'm sticking to that.

Questioner

So are you going to write a series that ties all the major ones together?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

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

Questioner

Can we expect a Cosmere Avengers?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes and no. You can expect crossovers between the planets. My goal is not an Avengers-style, one character that you... like, if it were a true Cosmere Avengers it would be like, "Oh, we're going to have this character from this series, this character from this series," that's not what I'm going for. I'm going for more of a clash between the cultures and worlds. There will definitely be characters that you know that end up involved in that. But it's not, I'm not shooting for an Avengers-style thing, I'm shooting for more... It's more like imagine Star Trek, and retrograde back to all of the stories you're telling on the separate planets before they meet each other. Less Avengers, more "We're going to have an intergalactic... thing, going on." These are all of the origins of the cultures and peoples that are going to be involved in that. And since there are some immortals around, you will see people.

Stormlight Three Update #6 ()
#27 Copy

Talbertross

Do you have the "end state" of the Cosmere in your mind? Do you know where, thirty years or so from now, where the main characters will be once all major Cosmere series are finished? Or do you plan on having them end at all?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I have a plan--but remember, we'll be dealing with a lot of new characters by then. The goal is not to take everyone you're reading about now, and have them appear in the final books. Some will persist, but my end game is more focused on events.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#28 Copy

Questioner

How are you going to finish the cosmere stuff? Like when you get to book 35, how are you gonna resist like book 36, we're gonna say "Courage is held by dude named Steve and according to Hoid he's pretty cool." Just extend it another ... how are you going to finish?

Brandon Sanderson

We'll see. We will see. The thing is there's a beginning, middle, and end to the Shattering of Adonalsium and the involvement there. More stories can be told in the cosmere, but there's a beginning, middle, and end to that. When I finish that, that is the sequence that I wanted to tell.

Questioner

And you have that outlined out?

Brandon Sanderson

I do.

JordanCon 2014 ()
#31 Copy

Questioner

Concerning everything on Roshar, is it safe to say The Stormlight Archive will become the backbone series of the story of the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

There are three backbone series: Dragonsteel, Mistborn, and The Stormlight Archive. And Mistborn is past, present, future, Stormlight is the center, and Dragonsteel is the beginning. So really it goes: Dragonsteel, Mistborn, Stormlight, Mistborn, Stormlight, Mistborn is basically how this backbone sequence goes.

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

Aethling

Is there a chance that any dead protagonists will miraculously come back (IE Vin, Elend, Lightsong) to help fight later battles? You have shown Kelsier having influence after he died, and Sazed makes a statement about keeping in touch with Vin and Elend.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't want to be unsympathetic to people's love for these characters, but I feel that as a writer I must resist the urge to bring back characters in this manner. I feel it would undermine my storytelling. I never want to get to the point where people read and the tension of a character being in danger is ruined by the thought, "Well, even if they die, they'll probably just be brought back in the future."

I'm not saying I won't ever do it, but I want to be very sparing. I like how Robert Jordan did it with a certain character's return in [Towers of Midnight]. It was foreshadowed, built into the story itself, and relevant.

There are characters--in the 36-book-cosmere-superoutline--who return when thought dead. Some have not met their perceived end yet, while others have. So it's going to happen, but I want it to be very rare.

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

Arcanist

When will be see the whole Cosmere-concept (Shards, the plans of Hoid) at the level of the books? In the third Mistborn trilogy or earlier? In which books do you plan to finish the "hidden story" which connects all your earlier books?

Brandon Sanderson

Third Mistborn Trilogy will certainly include some of this. We shall see if I do any of Hoid's stories before then.

DragonCon 2019 ()
#35 Copy

Questioner

Is Khriss planned to be a major character in the future of the Cosmere, or will she be more of a behind-the-scenes source of knowledge?

Brandon Sanderson

I do plan some more--some actual Khriss stories. I mentioned I had a Silverlight story in the back of my head--she would have been one of the viewpoint characters of that if I ever get to write it. She will be in the background of most everything, but I do plan a few stories, that will have her. She will come the forefront the more the cosmere comes to the forefront, and more interaction between them.

For those who were curious, my plan for the Cosmere all along has been - now that I have something to point to, people say is it like the MCU? And, yes and no. I'm not developing specific characters to bring forward, some of them will of course will still be be around. My whole goal with the Cosmere is to push toward something a little bit more like Star Trek or Star Wars, in that lots of different cultures, lots of different things--more Star Trek I guess - interspace situation, the conflicts that come between cultures and ideals and things like that, is what I'm pushing for. Rather than taking like the champions of each book and having them. So the characters are important, certainly, but when you're reading a given book series, that's where your characters are important. If you're thinking about the future of the Cosmere, think more about the clash of cultures, is where I'm pushing that.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#36 Copy

Questioner

Do you have a plan for the entire concept of the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes I do.

Questioner

Do you have an Allomancy dude fighting a Surgebinding dude?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah it's going to be cool. It's going to be super awesome. The Allomantic space battles are really great. It's going to be like 15 years, sorry. But they are really cool.

Orem signing 2014 ()
#37 Copy

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Another thing he talked about was some common themes that appear in fantasy. One of them is that Rennassaince air of the Rise of the Common man. You see that in Mistborn for example. The great writing question of the Cosmere, the underlying theme is, What do men do when given the Power of the Gods? How do they act? What do they do?

BookCon 2018 ()
#38 Copy

Questioner

How did you know that Stormlight and Mistborn were going to be the focus [of the cosmere]?

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of writers figured out the *inaudible* exploration. And I had the advantage when I broke-in that I had written all these books before, and I was able to go back and say, "The Way of Kings, there's something special about--" right from the beginning, there's something special about that.

I was able to look back at say, Mistborn, which had I had tried the magic system. The magic system really worked, my best magic system. I know this has the best magic magic system, if I can match a plot to it that makes it a good book, I can make that magic system kind of the spine of what I'm doing.

...So I got lucky on that. In some ways, not publishing for a long time was the luckiest thing that could have happened to me.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

How does time work in the Cosmere? Or a better question to ask: are any of the books happening at the same time in the Cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm gonna have to look at the timeline. Most of them do not happen concurrently. Mostly they have been at distinct points. But the closer we get to modern and future era Mistborn world, the more overlap there is between them, just kind of by necessity 'cause they eventually start ramming together. So, the further we get in the Cosmere, the more likely things are overlapping.

So, I don't know that we've had anything actually overlap yet, in fact I'm pretty sure that we haven't, unless you count some of the short fiction might overlap. But even then, I don't think anything big overlaps, but it will start happening soon.

Manchester signing ()
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Questioner

Do you ever find it difficult writing for two kinds who read your books, the kind that only want to read it and have a lot of fun and take nothing away from it, and the people who obsess over every sentence for hidden cosmere-ic meaning?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, right, right. For those of you who don't know, though I'm not sure there are many who don't know still, all of my epic fantasies are in the same universe and there are characters in each book who are interfering with each other's stories. There are characters from Mistborn in Way of Kings, and there are characters from Elantris in Mistborn.

This was done, for a little bit of backstory, I love big epic fantasy works, if you can't tell Wheel of Time is one of my favorites ever, I like the big things. Breaking in I felt that it was a lot to ask new readers to take a chance on me as a writer by saying "it's book one of 25" I felt it was better to say "here is a standalone novel, self-contained that you can enjoy reading and kind of figure out who I am as a writer." That's kind of my purpose for Elantris and Warbreaker, and lately Emperor's Soul. "Here's how to try out my writing style to see if you like it." But loving these epics I couldn't help connecting them and hiding an epic behind the scenes. This was partially inspired by Asimov, who later in life joined his two main series, the Robot books and the Foundation books in what I felt was a clever way. But it had some problems in that he had to juryrig it after the fact. He'd been writing these books for decades and then he brought them together and I thought "wouldn't it be cool if someone were to take that idea and start it from the get go." It's this whole shoulders of giants thing, people try something out and you go "that was awesome, can I improve upon it?" or "whoah I'm not ever going to try that because that had certain issues" Book 10, the Wheel of Time fans know--

Robert Jordan actually talked about that book about how he wish he hadn't written it the way he did.  I have the advantage of having read Robert Jordan, so I can see how that book went wrong and I can avoid making that pitfall. I went ahead and did this hidden epic because I thought it was really interesting, I did not expect it to come to the forefront as much as it has. Which is awesome, people started peeking these things out. Secrets that I embedded in Elantris, That I didn't expect to come out for another ten fifteen books people are already asking me about. Which means I kind of need to step up my game to make sure that all this stuff is very subtle. The whole idea is that you don't have to have read Elantris to read Mistborn, you don't have to have read Mistborn to read Way of Kings, they are all easter eggs right now. Eventually I will write a series that ties them all together in a direct way, that's many years off, and I will be very upfront with "You have to read all the others, you will be very lost if you aren't familiar, at least go read the summaries of the books before you start this one." We are far away from that.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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Job601

Your books are unusual for the fantasy genre in that they are interested in exploring traditional Christian values, usually coming down in their favor (especially faith in providence and the willingness to believe in a divine plan for the world and the individual, something which comes up again and again in your work.) At the same time, your characters have reason to be suspicious of the specific forms of religious practice in their worlds, and the cult of the survivor in particular can be read as a conflicted portrayal of religion: it's a kind of religious belief which works in some way for its faithful despite being based on a falsehood, and Kelsier is a kind of dark parody of Christ. The cosmere seems to have an implicit theology which separates the truly divine, which is fundamentally inaccessible even to the most knowledgeable characters, from the apparently divine shards and splinters. I guess my question is, how do you think about integrating religious themes into a fantasy universe, particularly given your systematic style?

Brandon Sanderson

There are a lot of things mixing here--more, probably, than I'm aware of myself. (This is the sort of area where I let reader analysis and criticism do the work, as they're probably going to be able to notice connections more explicitly than I will. Like most writers, I'm working by instinct much of the time.)

One element I can talk about is the need for the cosmere to have questions that will go unanswered. This is most expressly manifest in the "big" questions. Is there a God? What is the actual afterlife like, if there really is one? Is there such a thing as a soul, and are cognitive shadows the actual person, or a manifestation of the magic imitating a person's thought processes?

The reason I don't answer these as myself (though characters certainly have ideas) is because I feel it important the text not undermine the characters who choose not to believe in these things. Though I think I've found answers in life, people rationally disagree with me--and to express only my worldview in the books would severely hamper my ability to have characters who disagree with me, and other characters.

In short, if I were to say, "Yes, there's an all-powerful God" then it would directly undermine characters like Jasnah, who argue otherwise. At the same time, I want characters like Kelsier to develop naturally, and do things that are in line with how sometimes, religions develop on our world, without having it be a statement. (Or, at least one other than, "Hey, this happens some time on our world. It happened here too.")

Fantasy offers some unique opportunities to explore the human condition with religion, and I want to take advantage of that, to see where it takes me and to see what I can learn from the process.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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B-more_freshout

I think [Brandon] would benefit a lot from finding some kind of way in-universe to convey when we can be certain that the character is dead. Something like what we see of Vin and Elend in Secret History after they die. I think that he was trying to prove how definite their death was.. I don't know how he could realistically or smoothly accomplish this, but I think that until we see some proof beyond what is normally expected to see for a death, we can't be 100% sure that anyone is dead.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I've been thinking about this. Spoilers below.

The issue is, resurrection is a major theme of the cosmere. The very first line of the first chapter of the first cosmere book starts with someone dying. The story is about his return to life.

The death of Adonalsium, and the questions surrounding the persistence of his power, is THE single pervasive theme of the works. And so, I've returned to this theme multiple times--from Sazed's more metaphorical rebirth in Mistborn Three to Syl's more literal one in Words of Radiance.

At the same time, the more this theme continues, the more it undermines the reader's ability to believe someone is really dead--and therefore their tension at worrying over the safety of characters. So we need a better "Dead is dead" indication, otherwise every death will turn into Sirius Black, with readers being skeptical for years to come.

So, let's just say it's something I'm aware of. Josh, of the 17th Shard, was the first one to raise the issue with me years ago. We need a balance between narrative drama and cosmere themes of rebirth.

dce42

I figured Nightblood was your answer to dead is dead.

Brandon Sanderson

He's certainly AN answer. But there are way more ways to kill someone in the cosmere--I just need to be more clear on how that works, giving the right indications to readers.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

Is Hoid gonna get his own book?

Brandon Sanderson

So, here's the grand Cosmere timeline as I have it right now... I'm going to write Wax & Wayne 4 this fall. This will be the end of the Wax & Wayne sequence. They have been really fun to write, those books. And I've got some really good Wayne stuff in this one, so be excited. So, I'll finish that, and that is the next Cosmere book I will do. January 1st, my requirement is I-- What I'm trying to do now, is I'm trying to do half my time Stormlight, half my time other stuff. That's the kind of balance I'm looking to do for my sanity. So, January 1st is when it's been 18 months since I turned in Oathbringer, and at that point, I have 18 months to get Book 4 done. So, I will start January 1st writing Stormlight 4, rain or shine. Everything else kinda has to be put aside. And then, we'll go until that book is done.

After Stormlight 4; at this point, the Wax & Wayne books are done, so we finally have opened up room to do either an Elantris sequel or a Warbreaker sequel. I'll do one of the two of those in between. And then we will do Stormlight 5. And then, we have the first sequence of Stormlight books finished. And at that point, my goal is to do Mistborn Era 3. Three of those. 1980s level, spy thriller-ish Mistborn stuff. And then we will come back and start on Stormlight 6. 6-10, different cycle. This is how I make sure this all kind of fits together. So, we will do that.

And at that point, we will do-- plan is, right now, the Dragonsteel sequence. Which is however many books I decide to do about Hoid's backstory. He has shifted to be the main viewpoint character of those. He was a side viewpoint character when I originally wrote them, but now I've kinda stolen all the pieces of that story that were not about him and put them in other books. So what remains is his backstory. I plan those to be first-person stories that he's telling, if I can get them to work.

So, then, we wrap out the Cosmere with the Mistborn science fiction series, the kind of Dune-esque far-future science fiction Cosmere thing. That is my grand timeline. Somewhere in there, I want to get one sequel to Warbreaker, two sequels to Elantris, and one Threnody novel. So, that's my goal. And that, I think, is doable before I die. We're just gonna keep that as our goal moving forward, and try not to add too much more to it, though there will be novellas and things like that as they pop up.

Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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carnivorouspickle

If you hadn't had the opportunity to write for MtG, would any of these characters have made it in one form or another into one of your other books, or would they only fit in this setting? If they would have made it into a different story, which one?

Brandon Sanderson

I've wanted to do this story for a number of years, and it was inspired by me asking myself (after my first visit to WoTC a number of years back) what I would do if I were to write a story for them.

I didn't seriously consider doing this in another setting, since the concept of demons and contracts isn't really a Cosmere one--and the first ideas were for Davriel and Miss Highwater. That said, spren bonds have some slight similarities, so it's not impossible.

Arcanum Unbounded San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

You have a couple of fantastic running jokes, such as the High Imperial.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

How do you think of those things and when do you decide to commit to a great joke like that?

Brandon Sanderson

When do I decide to commit to a running joke. See Spook doesn't consider that a joke, he thinks it's awesome. So with this, I love-- I'm kind of going to expand this to not just jokes-- Which, definitely-- It's the sort of insider things. I love, in series that i have read a lot of books on, when there is something you will only get if you have been invested in the series. I love this stuff. It is part of the seed of the Cosmere, this idea that if people are reading my books they will start to see and make these connections. It's important to me that it never becomes the forefront, at least until I'm very clear to people that this is-- now you have to have the background of all of the books. That hasn't happened. There will be series that I do that with but I want you to be able to read Stormlight and not feel like you have to know a thousand pages of the wiki behind-the-scenes stuff before you can appreciate it. But I do like these inside references and things like that, and so it comes very natural to me. Some of it's planned out, some of it is something that I think of as I'm working on the story. Some of it's seeded, some of it just works. So you do it as it works. I wouldn't say that I-- With like High Imperial. High Imperial I knew about the time when I decided Spook was going to be a larger character in the series. But if you know Mistborn, my original-- I wrote the first book, did a quick outline of the second two, and then wrote the second two and Spook was the big discovery written surprise. He wasn't intended to be the main character that he became in the later books. And so once he-- I was writing the third book, I'm like "Oh, I know what's going to happen here. I know where this is going." And High Imperial grew out of that.

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

When do we get to officially get to know what's going on in the Cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

All of my epic fantasy books are connected with continuing characters. That's a way off, and that's because I don't want people to feel like they have to have read all my previous books to enjoy the series. It should be about the characters. Eventually I will write one that's a mashup, but we're not there yet. I'll be very upfront about it when I do it. For now it's just easter eggs.

Shadows of Self Newcastle UK signing ()
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Questioner

I know that Mistborn, Stormlight Archive, Elantris are set in the same universe, and they've all kind of got certain Shards and I was reading that, like, you might do a book about that? 

Brandon Sanderson

I will eventually, there's no 'might' about it, but I always try to talk somewhat timidly about it because I don't want the focus to be on that, I want the focus to be on each story that's happening. For instance, The Stormlight Archive will only be about The Stormlight Archive. I will be upfront when I do a crossover, but it is many years in the future. For now, I like it being a behind the scenes thing for fans who really want to get into it. I don't want to scare a reader who'll be like "I can't read Mistborn because I haven't finished all of these other books". You can read Mistborn on its own, and there will be cameos that you will notice as you do more, and the more I write, the more to the forefront some of these things will come, but I will lead you gently into it. But yeah, I will be doing crossovers eventually.

Questioner

And when did you kind of-- was that something you wanted to do from the very beginning, or were you halfway through--

Brandon Sanderson

No, that was something I wanted to do from the beginning. I was inspired by Isaac Asimov combining his Robots books and his Foundation books, and he did it late in his career. It kind of felt a bit hacked together a bit, but it blew my mind when he did it and, as a writer, I always thought, what if somebody did this from the get-go.

The actual origins of the kind of worldhoppers for me was reading books as a teenager and inserting Hoid into them. I really did this.... Do you read books and you like change what is happening in the book, or maybe it's just a me thing? I would have my character interacting with the characters in the books, in my head, as I played the movie of that book in my head, while I was reading it, and there was this character hopping between worlds, with this knowing smirk on his face.

And so, when I was working on Elantris I said, "OK", I knew I had something in that book that was good, that was important, that was relevant, I was very confident in that book. It was my sixth novel, by the way, so I kind of had a handle on these things, and so that's when I decided I'm going to start doing some of this, I'm going to insert Hoid into this and I'm going to start planning this larger epic. It was particularly important to me because I knew I was not going to write a sequel to Elantris immediately, but I wanted to be writing epic stories, and the reason I didn't want to write a sequel to Elantris is because, if an editor rejected Elantris I wanted to be able to send them another book, because when you're getting close to publishing you'll start getting rejections that are like "This is actually a really good book, it doesn't fit our line, you just wrote a great mystical llama book but we just bought one of those, do you have anything else?". I wanted to be able to send them "here's my next thing" rather than "oh, I've got a sequel to the one you just rejected". And so I sat down and wrote the sequel, which was not a sequel, it was called Dragonsteel, which was Hoid's origin story. And then I jumped forward and I wrote White Sand which is another book connected to all these things and it went on, you know, it went crazy from there. And then when I actually sold Elantris it was already going and already in there, and I was able to sit down and write Mistborn, well in hand, knowing what was going to happen. That's why you find Hoid in Elantris and Mistborn and the sneaky, the scary-- well, it's not sneaky and it's not scary-- the moment in the third book when Vin gets creeped out by Hoid is a very important moment, Cosmerologically, but I'm not going to tell you why!