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Skyward Houston signing ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

What made you decide to take the Dark One out of the Cosmere series? You couldn't get the magic to work?

Brandon Sanderson

It work a lot better once I pulled him into our world, and had the people coming to our world to assassinate him. And once I pulled something into our world, I boot it out of the cosmere. That did free up the magic to work in a different way from cosmere magic, which it is doing. It's kind of based on this idea of the narrative, that stories that people tell become real in the other world. Which could have worked in the cosmere with some Cognitive Realm things, but its working much better outside.

State of the Sanderson 2015 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Projects in Development

Dark One

A perennial favorite on the State of the Sanderson is this YA series about a boy who discovers he's the Dark One, a figure from prophecy fated to destroy the world. My outlines are looking okay for this one, but it doesn't feel like the right time to do it. I pitched it to my editors at Random House along with the new YA series above, and we all agreed the other project was a better follow-up to the Reckoners.

Dark One is bound to get done someday. That day isn't now.

d No Projected Start Date

General Twitter 2018 ()
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Cady McKinnon

[Dark One], IMHO, has "secret project" written all over it. Anyone care to confirm?

Peter Ahlstrom

It’s not the secret project. Brandon talked about this with Dark One in his State of the Sanderson in December, but not with specifics.

Secret project is a lot less exciting, for me.

Skyward release party ()
#4 Copy

Questioner

Do you have any updates on the Dark One TV series?

Brandon Sanderson

It's got an interesting history. Dark One is one I've been working on for a long time, and I actually wrote out a big pitch for it when I pitched Apocalypse Guard to Random House, and I said, "Here's one of the other ideas I'm gonna write someday." They're like, "Woo. We'll keep this in our binder." And that binder made its way to their TV department, who read the pitch and was like, "We have to have this!" and came to me and said "Can we buy this?" I'm like, "Well, I haven't written the books yet." They're like, "We don't care. We want this pitch." And the pitch, the idea is that a young man in our world, a knight shows up to assassinate him, and he finds out that there's kind of a Narnia-esque fantasy world that his father visited when he was a kid and screwed up, and they are super mad. And they have prophecies that this kid is gonna be the next Dark One, and so they're gonna assassinate him before the whole epic-fantasy-thing can happen, and the Dark One tries to conquer the world. They're just gonna take him out first. And so it's kind of this twisting the story on its head idea. And it's a really fun pitch.

So they bought it from me. I expanded it to a 30-page outline, sent it to them. I can't tell you who they got, but they've got somebody very big attached to it, which I'm very excited about, someone who I was excited about that my assistant Peter just about fell over dead when he heard the person attached. And we should be flying out to do pitches to studios and places early part of next year. We wanted to be doing it now, but I have a book launch, and they want me there with them.

It's going really well. It's been a wonderful experience. I'm very hopeful with that, I think it will be a very interesting story if it happens.

TWG Posts ()
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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.)

Words of Radiance San Francisco signing ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The next thing I'll probably write is: I've been developing the world for awhile now, where... are you familiar with Tesla, Nikola Tesla? He wanted this whole wireless electricity thing to work, he was trying to make it work. It was kind of like electrifying the air and having the current run into the ground.

I want to build a world where that happens naturally, where your ground is positive and your air is negative and electrons will move through it and you can like-- animals adapted to use this and you can use fantasy-T technology, like you set a lamp on the ground and it'll just glow because a current is running through it; and stuff like that.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Updates on Minor Projects

Dark One

My eternal "like Harry Potter from Voldemort's viewpoint" fantasy sequence is still hanging out, buzzing at the sides of my brain. I wrote a really spectacular outline for it this summer, one I love quite a bit, and it got both television graphic novel interest—but these are deals still very much in the works, so I can't talk about them yet.

I'm pleased with what I have though, and feel this series has moved for the first time in a long while. Note that I did end up pulling it out of the cosmere, as it ended up working better as a dark secondary world fantasy than it did as a Cosmere YA series. It went both older, and more twisted, in the current outline. Hopefully, by next year's State of the Sanderson we'll have something more solid to announce.

Status: Exciting developments in the works!

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Flack17

Is there any new information on Dark One? As a lover of your books, graphic novels, and podcasts, I'm very excited for this!

Brandon Sanderson

Dark One is proceeding nicely behind the scenes, and we're about ready to go take it around the town for pitches. I'd be doing that this week, actually, if I didn't have a book release coming up that I have to prepare for.

Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

Twenty-first - any future children's books?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, really enjoys it. Nothing until after Steelheart/Rithmatist/Alcatraz, but wants to write about a world where wireless energy happens naturally and everything is electrified. That'll be the next kids' book, but it'll take a bit to get the science right. Also discusses plot from POV of the "Dark One" who is fated to be killed by the Chosen Hero - this might be the plot for the electrified planet but maybe not, as it's definitely Cosmere.

DragonCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

I wanted to ask-- So you--I think more than almost any other fantasy author--you create universes and then you leave them behind. Entire uni-- I almost feel like you could sit down-- you could have like pages of a physics lecture in each of your universes and you would have equations for how it works. Do you have-- Have you always had these ideas for these various universes with gods and magic systems and things like that, or are you always creating them, sort of as you go? 

Brandon Sanderson

It's yes and no. A lot of the ones you're seeing in the cosmere are things I created at the beginning to be kind of what the cosmere was. But I left some holes intentionally cause I knew I would come up with cool things that I wanted to add, and so I built in that wiggle room, and I'm always coming up with new ones. And there are way more that I want to do than I can write, like the one I keep wanting to find a chance for is--

Do you guys know how Nikola Tesla tried to create wireless energy? I think I've talked about this one. Like, he tried to create wireless energy, and I'm like "What if there were a world where that happened naturally?" Where you had a natural current going, and you could like set your lantern on the ground and it would create a current from the sky to the ground and your light bulb would just turn on. You don't need electricity. And how would-- What if we have giant toads that could shoot out their tongues that would create a current,  and they're like taser tongues? *makes zapping noises* Stuff like this. And so, I started jumping in to looking at electricity and things like this, and current and whatnot, and that's just all back there and I'm like "Aww, someday I need to be able to write this." But there are so many things that I want to write that I just don't have the time for, so it's a yes and no.

Questioner

So do you have, like, "what if" questions and then you build a universe from there?

Brandon Sanderson

Usually they're "what if" questions, but Sanderson's Zeroth Law--I've got these laws on magic you can look up,  they're named humbly after myself--so Sanderson's Zeroth Law is "Always err on the side of what's awesome". And usually it's less even a "what if?" and it's a "That's so cool, taser toads!" Like if you really want to know the truth of where The Stormlight Archive started, there's all this cool stuff, like part of it was like "What if there was a storm like the storm on Jupiter". And then I eventually changed it to a storm that goes around the planet, something like that, but the real truth was "Magical power armor. YEAH! Magical power armor is cool! Plate mail power armor! Why would you need plate mail power armor?" Y'know, and it starts with the really cool idea. Mistborn started by me drifting in a fog bank at eighty miles per hour in my car and loving how it looked as it drove past and saying "Is there a world where I can imitate this feel, where you look out and it streams by." It's those early visuals or concepts that make me say "Oh yeah, I wanna do that!". That is where my books really come from, and then I layer on top of them the "what ifs?" and trying to build a realistic ecology based around these ideas.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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mathota123

Do you have a rough idea of when we will be hearing more about "Dark One"?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, I decided to do Apocalypse Guard as my next YA project, so we won't see Dark One AT LEAST until that trilogy is done, Alcatraz 6 is done, and Rithmatist has another book in it. (Sorry.)

Idaho Falls signing ()
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Questioner

In White Sand 2, you changed the artist. 

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that was-- we didn't want to do that, I actually hate doing that, but it was with-- keeping-- meeting deadlines and things we were having trouble with the old artist, and so we just needed to make the switch so that we could get the books out. And that's the thing I like the least about the comics industry, artists changing, it's really-- yeah. But it is something that had to happen, so we made the call. We do intend that the sec- now this artist will do the book three, so we shouldn't change again, but, yeah.

With the Dark One comic, which we're working on right now, one of the things I've said up front is we need an artist to make sure that we don't ever change, because I really don't like doing that, I like the same visual style. 

Questioner

Yeah, it's like an actor doing this huge thing--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah, and then you get a new actor, it's like-- who?

Arched Doorway Interview ()
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Rebecca Lovatt

The electricity-based one, is that relating at all to the novella you just put out [Perfect State]?

Brandon Sanderson

No. The electricity one is Dark One. The original idea for the setting for that book is how Nikola Tesla wanted to provide wireless energy to the world, and the experiments he did. I want to have a planet where that is just the natural state of the world. The ground there has an electric current you can harvest; you can set down a lantern on the ground and it will glow, drawing a current up through it into the air or down from the air into the ground. I haven't decided which way it's going to go yet.

Along with that I want to have interesting ecological features. Big toad monsters shoot out a taser tongue, they use spittle that somehow conducts electricity back and forth. Stuff like this. I want to have electricity be my fun theme. The problem with that again is that is very science-based. When I make a big change to the world, like that you can draw an electric current from the ground, then I have to try and figure out the science of how that works.

Rebecca Lovatt

Yeah, especially because you have bodies of water. That seems like it would be fun. You'd suddenly become 10 times more scared of rain.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, if it rains, lightning is going to happen constantly. So how do we deal with this? I'm tempted to make it not rain, -but then making it not rain is yet another big change, so where do we go there? So that one's got lots of extrapolation to do, but I have some friends who are much better at these physics questions then I am. So I'm going to them, and they are pointing me in the right direction.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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Torrieltar

For those who haven't seen this before, Brandon recently updated his website to show that he's started working on a new "Mystery Project".

Anyways, Brandon mentioned in his interview with Crendor that, over the summer, he finally managed to craft a really solid outline for "The Dark One", and I'm almost certain this is his mystery project.

"The Dark One" is a Cosmere YA story that has stymied Brandon for years on end, so it'd be no surprise that he'd want to write it as soon as possible now that he's "finally cracked it" and has a storyline he's confident with. I can just see him cackling at the idea of springing this on us out of the blue after all these years. We're on to you, Brandon!

Brandon Sanderson

It was almost Dark One...but I have other plans for that right now.

This is a different book that has been brewing for many years that I finally decided to work on. I probably won't talk about this until State of the Sanderson, though, because it will take some explaining.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Movie/Television Updates

Other Properties

Legion and Dark One are currently in negotiations. The rest of the Cosmere is covered by the DMG deal, as we want one company working on that at a time. We have a small deal for Defending Elysium that has it under option with a screenwriter, and the first draft screenplay is good. That leaves AlcatrazThe Rithmatist, and a couple of shorts (DreamerPerfect StateFirstborn) with no options right now.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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HiuGregg

I came across something about your planned "Dark One" series, and was wondering if you could tell us anything about the planned world or magic system for that book? Me and my friends are electric/electronic engineers, and we've wasted far too much time debating how people could theoretically channel electricity from a planet (I've even dragged some professors into the discussion), so I'm very interested to see what you've came up with!

Brandon Sanderson

The honest truth is that I haven't gotten past the, "Okay, here's the concept" stage. For Roshar, that was the storm--and then it took research and work (which I haven't done yet) to get the science to work. I haven't had the time to do that for Dark One yet.

I'd love to hear what you have to say on the topic, maybe use you and your friends as consultants. I'd say DM me, but that will get lost in the replies to this thread. So maybe DM me in a month? Or, better yet, drop me an email through my website with your suggestions?

Oathbringer Newcastle signing ()
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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.

Figment chat ()
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Jason

What can we expect from Dark One, specifically what kind of magic system?

Brandon Sanderson

the magic systems in Dark One, focus on, right now, on a person who can steal people’s souls and use them to make magic objects, mixed with an electricity type world, where the ground is electrified, and animals, plants and animals, have an, a symbiosis with electricity, like you’ll see a tree that has a Jacob’s ladder going up it, or you’ll see ah, a beast that uses spittle like a taser, that should be the next book that I work on for Random House after the Steelheart trilogy, so we will see.

State of the Sanderson 2016 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Tertiary Projects

Dark One

Ah, the eternal Dark One update. If you've been reading State of the Sanderson posts for a while now, you might be looking forward to this one (still) making no progress.

My anti-Harry Potter story told from the viewpoint of a boy who discovers he is prophesied to be the Dark One…has made no progress this year. I've had a ton of trouble writing this one. I did set aside three different versions of the first chapter of this, each of which have a very different tone from one another, to be Patreon Random Hat Rewards for January, February, and March. If you want to read "The Eyes" and these three chapters, you could sign up for those months only.

Be warned, though, the Patreon is primarily intended for people who want to support Writing Excuses. The rewards are mostly afterthoughts as a thank you, rather than true incentives to coax you into spending money. The tidbits you'll get probably aren't going to be worth the $10 you give for them. (For example, each of the ones I've mentioned are a few thousand words at most.)

The real reward is supposed to be Writing Excuses going ad-free, so don't sign up just to get the fiction.

Status: Nope.

Stuttgart signing ()
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Paleo (paraphrased)

How is Dark One coming along?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It's coming along very well. It's like Harry Potter from the perspective of Voldemort, where the good guys want to get the bad guy. It's like Narnia was trying to assassinate those who come over to their world to destroy it.

The outline is really great, we pitched it across Hollywood. We had a really great response, but no contracts are done. We're planning to release it as an audiobook original. We haven't closed the contract on that yet, but we have an offer.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

I've had to hide this news for a long time. It was almost one year ago that the Dark One outline finally snapped together for me at long last. We had interest almost immediately from Fremantle, and I've done multiple flights to LA to chat with them about it. I think this one might finally be the real deal when it comes to a Sanderson adaptation--which is amusing, considering we don't have any books for Dark One yet. But if this goes forward, I'll be sure to write some.

Aurimus_

I'm a big fan of this multimedia approach, but I'm wondering what inspired it. Was it your idea or Fremantle's? Is this an experiment for other properties in the future at all? A lot of us on the 17th Shard discord have discussed the sheer size of Stormlight, for example, and worry about DMG either going the Hobbit route (hours upon hours of content for a single book, which'll really rack up even by the time we reach OB), or missing out on a ton of content. If Dark One pans out well, would you use this multimedia approach for Stormlight? (I'm a big fan of the idea of a Black Mirror style show for the interludes, but straight up separating them from the rest of the books would take a lot away, especially with characters such as Szeth and Venli)

Brandon Sanderson

With Dark One, I've pounded myself against the idea for years. Finally, I sat down with it and said, "What if I were going to design this for a television show or graphic novel first?" Using Stranger Things and the recent Westworld reboot as guides, I dug into a parallel narrative--half in our world, half in another world. A kind of dark "portal fantasy" story.

It came out as an eight episode outline that I really liked, with a solid outline for two prequel novels about the previous generation. (Characters still important in the episode outline.) With this in hand, I took it to Hollywood and said, "If you guys are interested in doing the episodes, I'm interested in writing these books--and we can intertwine them in a (hopefully) very cool way."

Fremantle was on board immediately. (They'd been intrigued by Dark One from a one-page outline they'd seen, back before I did this new treatment.)

Warning: I can't say how much of my original outline will end up in the show; I've never written for a television show before, and the showrunner will know better than I will what will or won't work. But (theoretically) the graphic novels will follow the outline pretty closely.

If this works, will I apply it to the Cosmere? That's the goal. I do like the idea of getting some experience with TV/Film through non-cosmere projects, particularly as we see how things shake out these next few years in regards to TV/film distribution.

cusoman

Brandon, I'm curious how you see the same scenario playing out with Cosmere material considering the material already exists and the opportunity for the same intertwining wouldn't be quite the same. Unless of course you go back and interweave new stories with the already completed books?

Very excited to see what comes of this venture! I've loved the concept from the moment you first mentioned it and I can't think of a better way to see it come alive than how you're doing it here.

Brandon Sanderson

I can't really say at this point. There are just too many variables. There are a lot of ways these things could be approached, however.

State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Updates on Secondary Projects

Dark One

My outline for this drew a lot of buzz around both Hollywood and New York. The story, if you aren't familiar with it, is about a young man in our world who discovers that a fantasy world has declared him to be the Dark One, and starts sending hit squads into our world to assassinate him. Pitched as "Harry Potter from Voldemort's viewpoint," the story follows this young man as he is forced to confront the possibility that he might do what the prophecies say.

We have a graphic novel in the works, and I've been doing pitches in Hollywood for a potential television show. So movement is certainly happening here.

Status: Going well. Might have art to show soon from the graphic novel.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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Eagle206

Congrats [Brandon]

Very happy for him that [Dark One] is getting off the ground but also worries me a bit.

I've been through the waiting game with George R. R. Martin, J.K. Rowling and Robert Jordan. I started reading wot when I was like 13 and finished when I was 34 or so. I'm worried that some of the stuff that sounds awesome will never see the light of day or be 40 years in the future. The second half of the storm light or Warbreaker 2 for example

I also wish that this was in the cosmere cause it could be a great tie-in.

I'm also worried that it fails and kills any chance of his other works being adapted.

Either way hoping that my fears are unfounded and it's awesome. Sounds cool

Brandon Sanderson

I think that we want this to not be cosmere--because that should both give me a chance to dabble in Hollywood, but also not risk the continuity of the cosmere until I have more of a reputation there.

Also, I don't think you need to worry. So far, this hasn't divided my attention too much from other projects. I've spent maybe a day ever few weeks or so on Dark One--and I don't anticipate letting it consume me too much.