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Jory Michael Phillips
You feel as strongly about Dawnshard's relevance to the series as you did about Edgedancer?
It's a little of an odd duck, in that it's super relevant to the cosmere, but less so in relation to Stormlight. Unlike Lift, Rysn's story isn't directly intertwined with that of the main Stormlight characters.
What happened to Plamry in Dawnshard? When he and Nikli were stranded to keep them from interfering.
He was not involved in any of it. He got left when his friend and superior melted into bugs. He's probably having a hard time with that. He was left there and then recovered at the end of the book, after the last chapter. I believe that's what your asking. Plamry is okay physically. What it does to various people to watch people you have known melt into bugs... depends on the individual.
I've been waiting so long to do more stuff with the hordes. They are one of the very first science fiction races that I developed long ago. They actually appeared in Star's End (which is my second novel, which is terrible). I quickly moved them to the cosmere once I developed the cosmere, because I love them. I think they are lots of fun. They do all kinds of cool things. I really like that there's a really legit species that you refer to as "it," because that's what they are. That's how they see themselves; the swarms. They're one of my favorites, but they did not match being part of the main narrative of The Stormlight Archive for lots of reasons. There is already lots of weird stuff in The Stormlight Archive. They're mostly around because I want to use them later. I was really happy to be able to write a book where I inserted a viewpoint.
How are you feeling about Dawnshard?
Dawnshard is just a lot of fun to write. How am I feeling about it? The structure's a little odd, so I'm not sure what alphas and betas will think of that. "Little odd" meaning it's about a trip to Aimia, but about half of it is the trip there, and half of it... it's kind of like what happened with, actually, the King Kong movie that Peter Jackson made, where there's as much stuff happening before you get to the place as actually on the place. So that's one thing that I'm... I'm not concerned about, but I'm wondering how people respond to.
I have to say, it's been a real pleasure to write it because Rysn and Lopen are not characters that I get to do a lot of viewpoints from. And if I had to do this from one of the main-line Stormlight characters, I think it wouldn't be nearly as fun, because I basically exhaust my excitement for writing about them during the books, where they are very involved, and it takes me eighteen months to recuperate and then to get back to it excited again. But I almost never get to write Lopen scenes, and we only get one Rysn scene per book, and they both have really interesting ways of seeing the world. (Lopen in particular. And he's a blast to write. Always keeps things fun and interesting.)
You once told us that one of the Dawnshards was different from the others. As of the events of this novella, is that still true?
I'm particularly loving Cord and hope we see more of her in the future.
You will, but I warn you, her appearances in RoW are brief because I hadn't finished Dawnshard yet, and wanted the room to grow her as it felt natural in the novella, so I barely have her appear in the novel.
Have you decided it'll be Rysn or Rock for the novella [between Oathbringer and Rhythm of War]?
Rysn for this one, Rock for the one between four and five.
Obviously not anytime soon since you have a busy schedule, but do you ever see yourself looping back to do a novella/short story between The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance? Maybe the Lopen story you mentioned? Or is it something that's not valuable now?
I do want to do this some day, for cohesion's sake. So I can see myself doing this. (Maybe in the stretch between Books Five and Six when I'm working on Mistborn Era Three?)
Do you imagine that this possible Lopen novella would be an evolution of the King Lopen the First of Alethkar short story you've mentioned? Or would they be completely distinct? Or do you just not plan on writing that short story anymore?
That's what I have in the back of mind, but I would have to seriously consider what I'm going to do once the time arrives.
Do you need to read it [Dawnshard]? Like, I went back and read Edgedancer, but it definitely wasn’t required to read the main books. Is this the same, or do you def need to read this to understand ROW?
If I write something as a novella, I consider it non-required reading. It will expand, add context, and will usually give more backstory to a side character or two. Consider them extended interludes.
Will it be coming to audible?
Yes, eventually--probably not for a year or so.
Huh, I had assumed Rock's or Rysn's novella would be your airplane project. I guess taking a break from Stormlight by doing more Stormlight doesn't really work. Can you share your current plan for these two too?
Still hoping to do both of them sometime this year, but we'll see. I would hate for Edgedancer to be the only X.5 novella for Stormlight. Feels more right if I can get those, and the Lopen one happening between books one and two, done some day soon.
The Rock one kind of needs to happen, so we'll see. I need to get back on schedule with the main book first, though. That takes precedence over all of these smaller projects.
This may be too much to ask.
For Rock's, is this a prequel in his homeland? Post-Oathbringer, coming to terms with his actions? Something different all together maybe..
I find either very exciting.
It is post-Oathbringer, involving him returning to his homeland.
I will feel bad if the [Dawnshard] ebook isn't out by the time that Stormlight Four is. You don't have to have read that before this one; it's not hugely integrated, because it's about Rysn. But there are some things that happen, that you'll get to Book Four and be like, "Wait a minute, wait a minute. They're mentioning a trip to Aimia. What happened there?" That the novella would help you with. And then, when you get to the Rysn interlude in this book (which is a little different from previous Rysn interludes), I wrote it in such a way as to not spoil the novella, in case people hadn't read it yet. And so it's a very different sort of interlude. But you would appreciate having read the novella when you get to it, I suspect.
Updates on Main Projects
It's time to take a little breather. I've begun working on the outline for book four, which is kind of a mess right now because of things I've been moving around between books as I write. My goal this year for Stormlight will be to have rock-solid outlines for books four and five done by December 2018.
My current projection is that I'll spend half of my time writing Stormlight, and half of it doing other things. (I spoke last year about just how big an undertaking a Stormlight book is–and why I can't write them back to back.) I realize that many of you would prefer to have only Stormlight, but that would drive me insane–and drive the series into the ground.
I think this is a realistic schedule. So, I'm giving myself 2018 to work on Skyward (hopefully a trilogy) and other projects. Then on January 1st, 2019, I go back to Stormlight refreshed and excited to be back in Roshar, and I write on book four until it's done. (With a 2020 or 2021 release, depending on how the writing goes.) I do hope to find time for a novella, like Edgedancer, that we can put out between books. This one is tentatively called Wandersail.
For those who don't know, The Stormlight Archive is a ten-book series composed of two five-book arcs.
Status: Writing outline for book four.
Silverlight and Wandersail novellas...When?
Silverlight and Wandersail novellas. Silverlight...not soon. Wandersail, potentially while I'm working on Stormlight 4.
A Wandersail novella! I guess that means there may be more truth to that story than first thought!
Well...it would be about current characters, not the story that may or may not have happened in the past.
I couldn't help but think about the logo for the Cosmere when I read the description of the mural [in Dawnshard]. Is the Cosmere logo related to it?
More that the Cosmere logo was built using some same fundamental principles. But yes, they are related.
I will finish Stormlight Four this week, is the goal. At the very latest, over the weekend. The last draft, sending it on to production.
And then from there, I think my next job is to spend one week doing a revision on Songs of the Dead, is what we put in the schedule next. This is the new name of Death By Pizza. Heavy metal music influenced necromancer urban fantasy that I'm coauthoring with Peter Orullian who is a heavy metal singer. I'm gonna do a draft on that.
And then it is writing the [Stormlight] novella for about the next month. So we'll start posting updates on that as I do that. And I think I know what the title's going to be. So we might announce that in the upcoming days. You'll be very excited by the title, I suspect.
Will [Dawnshard] be available to buy in hardcover later?
Yeah, it should be. We are probably only going to print for the Kickstarter, starting. As part of the Kickstarter, you get the ebook; everybody gets that. And then those who have ordered it will get the print book. I assume we'll have hardcovers on our store for sale. I assume we'll print enough that we can have some for sale.
One warning I'll make to you is that if I do an Arcanum Unbounded 2, we would put this as one of the anchor stories in that. So if you prefer to collect them in physical form in the collections, you can get the ebook now as part of the Kickstarter, and then you could wait for the physical form until later to get it in the collection. But we do have these nice ones that'll match the Edgedancer hardcover, if you'd rather have nice little hardcovers on your shelf. And my guess is that we'll do a printing with Tor as well to have bookstore distribution.
There probably will be an audiobook of it. My guess is that we would do an audiobook first, just of it, and then we would eventually do an audiobook of the full Arcanum Unbounded 2. If and when I end up writing that. The thing about Arcanum Unbounded 1, I had a bunch of stories waiting to be published in that. This would be the first, I think, new Cosmere story since Arcanum Unbounded. So it's probably a number of years away before we would get to a number 2. There will be a collection someday, I would bet; but I have to write a bunch more stories to go in it, first.
With Dawnshard, what was going on [with revisions], there was some big things that I needed to do, and some of them I was aware of. And because the book... basically, it was written in July, and we did the beta read in August, and I'm doing the revisions in September/October; it has a really accelerated timeline. Which means that the beta read wasn't as clean as I normally like a beta read to do. I really like a beta read to have seen a book after I've done revisions that the alpha read has caught all the big problems. Or that I've had time to layer things in. Like, there is a whole aspect of this book that I knew needed to be in the book, but I just didn't have the time, the brain focus, in the first two drafts to put in. So they all had to read and complain about this thing that I knew I was going to put into the book, but they thought I'd just completely missed. In that case, I had this thing to add in; but, still, giving their feedback helped me decide how to add it in. In other cases, there were characters that just needed some expanded screentime and stuff. I can talk about it better during the spoiler stream.
But also, I had multiple people who are themselves paraplegic read the book that I had written primarily from the viewpoint of a paraplegic woman. And they had just a ton of really great information on how to be more authentic to the life experience of someone like themselves, and also some of the pitfalls that authors often fall into that I hadn't known about. Really handy stuff.
And we will be releasing, with the Kickstarter (because we hit the stretch goal), all the different drafts of Dawnshard, along with the beta reader document, that you'll be able to just read what everyone said and see what I took from that. You can go read, like, the 3.0 and be like, "All right, I read the 2.0; I read the beta read document. Now I can read the 3.0 and see how Brandon changed things based on what the beta readers said."
And I do have a little document of the main things I'm changing and why that will go along with it. Hopefully, that sort of thing will be very helpful to you because this is the sort of thing that's really hard to explain because it's an instinct you pick up as a writer over time.
Will radient spren avoid a bond with anyone who is holding or becomes a dawnshard.
Why didn't the Sleepless have a guard watching the Dawnshard?
They did--but only a couple of hordelings to give warning. They never thought, in a million years, the intruders would absorb the Dawnshard. It wasn't seen as possible for a variety of reasons that, some day, might be clear.
Up until the moment realizing what had happened, they assumed they were in complete control, as the humans were locked into a place with no other exit and there were swarms blocking the way back out through the water.
Where does Dawnshard fit, time-frame wise?
Three months after Oathbringer, which puts it in Rosharan terms seven months-ish before Rhythm of War. (Ten-month years.)
But we should probably mention that you don't have to read this one to read Rhythm of War.
You do not. I have written Rhythm of War in such a way that, if you haven't read this, you will not really be confused. There will be a few things where you're like, "Oh, that's probably what that's referencing." And if you read this after, it's not going to ruin either story.
I did something very specific with the Rysn interlude in Rhythm of War that allows us to preserve most of what happened in Dawnshard, so far, so that you will not have it spoiled when you get to that interlude. I've done something very different for that interlude, let's just say. And I did that because I hadn't written Dawnshard yet, when I wrote the Rysn interlude. In fact, it's the last thing I wrote for the book, was that interlude. And let's just say that interlude is from a different viewpoint. We'll just say that.
And references to what happened are in the story, but they're mostly kind of vague, because even most of the people in the main storyline don't know the specifics of what happened in the novella. It's kind of like what happened in Edgedancer, where what happened to Lift is not really generally understood and known by everyone else, because she was off on her own.
It is done. First draft is finished. It is The Lopen and Rysn.
Do you plan to do something like Arcanum Unbounded again?
Yes, eventually there will be AU2. I need to write more short stories before that. I'm hoping my novella this year will be about Rysn. Theoretically I will continue doing that, showing little glimpses of places around the cosmere.
I will start writing [Dawnshard] on Monday. I'm almost through with my revision of Songs of the Dead. Takes a lot less time for me to do a revision on that, because basically instead of fixing problems, because I'm co-authoring with Peter Orullian, I get to say, "This is working. Maybe change this to be like this." And give Peter the chance to make the changes. The book is looking really good, this last revision.
I thought a lot about the title for this one, because I wanted to fit with the other two: Edgedancer, and Horneater (which I will write). So I was thinking I need some sort of classic Brandon mashup word. For a while, I was thinking of calling it Wandersail, because Rysn's ship is the Wandersail, but I thought that would be duplicitous because the story has nothing to do with the story Wandersail, from Hoid's stories. And in fact, I'm more and more thinking that I want to do some picture book versions of Hoid's stories that would make nice read-alouds, and I would call one of those Wandersail. So I'm like, this is just a bad title for this book.
So, I thought I would dig into instead one of the things that we were talking about in the book, which is the Dawnshards. So, it is named Dawnshard. For those who are deep lore cosmerenauts and are wondering about the Dawnshards, we are going to talk about them in this novella. So, yes, we will be going to Aimia.
Right now, Rysn, probably Lopen as a secondary viewpoint character is my guess. But I haven't written it yet, so I have to see how the viewpoints work out.
As Brandon has mentioned, we have some scenes from The Lopen viewpoint [in Dawnshard], and I'm going to show you The Lopen chapter icon.
I don't know if this will wind up in the actual main books, but if we have a Lopen chapter, we might.
So far, for Lopen, we've been using the generic Bridge Four icon, because usually what's happening is I have a whole section where we get a bunch of different Bridge Four viewpoints, and it makes more sense. But we needed one for The Lopen.
Dawnshard is about Rysn. But there's a small plot arc for multiple other characters. Lopen's got one. Even Huio's got one. Because I'm a novel writer, and even when I write in shorter form, I'm doing novel writer sort of things.