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

Questioner 1

What's your stance on fanfiction?

Brandon Sanderson

I approve of fanfiction. *brief interruption* I think that there are many pros in the field who started in fanfiction, so it can be a springboard to professional writing. Most painters don't start by-- with their own style. They start by imitating a style. I also take the oppos-- the other stance of, if you just do it because it's fun, there's nothing wrong with that either. I'm unlikely to read the fanfiction set in my worlds, but it is also perfectly okay to do.

Shadows of Self Newcastle UK signing ()
#2 Copy

Bort

Did Wayne really steal a Returned horse?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs* Did Wayne really steal a Returned horse is what you guys are asking? Aaaahhh I did not have Wayne stealing a Returned horse--

Bort

Or otherwise invested?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not going to say whether or not-- there could have been things going on, but no, there is no stealing a Returned horse-- Is there a theory that the horse was Returned and that, from like, the prologue?

Bort

Oh no, that's just from me.

Brandon Sanderson

OK, OK, sometimes people ask these questions and there's like this huge forum thread where they think they've figured something out and I'm like "Returned horse?? What??"

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

How do you think about reddit or the 17th shard and the Coppermind-- All the different theories going around? Do you ever find one that hits your plot line or something?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yes. I don't change it. I'm just like "There's a smart person.' But what I learned in Wheel of Time fandom was that you can't-- There is madness that lies in trying to change things once someone figures it out. Like particularly with the way that I do my plots, there's foreshadowing so there's someone who's going to be able to figure it out. If they can't figure it out I haven't put in the foreshadowing properly. So almost everything that I've put into the books, somebody knows. Some of them are really obvious and everybody's got it, and I'm okay with that because the people who don't read the forums, a few of them will be surprised, but mostly it will be like "Yeah of course we know this Brandon. Of course we know yada yada yada" I don't--

Argent

Go on, go on.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't... *mutters* I think you've figured it out-- But there are things like that. But there are other little things that there are a dozen theories on, and one of them's right.

Questioner

You are probably going to get that when there's large populations...

Brandon Sanderson

There's large populations and there's proper foreshadowing, somebody is going to get it, and I think that's appropriate.

Daily Dragon interview ()
#4 Copy

Daily Dragon

With all the focus on social media these days, what impact do you think fans might have on story development in the future?

Brandon Sanderson

Boy, I think that they will have some impact. What, I'm not sure. With Warbreaker I was able to read perspectives on the book online as I was working on it, and that certainly did inform how I did my revisions. Maybe you'll see more crowdsourcing on editing and that sort of thing. I do think that the ability to directly connect with fans helps me understand the way a reader's mind works. Usually that doesn't translate one-to-one to changes in a novel, because there are a few steps in between in deciding what the reader really actually wants and what they say they want—working on The Wheel of Time as both a fan and a writer has helped me figure that out, because there are things that as a fan I would have said I wanted, but looking at it as a writer I can say, "Oh, if I gave that to the fans, it would actually in the long run make the story less satisfying." So there is some work to be done there, but I think social media is a great resource.

Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
#5 Copy

_i_am_root

Mr Sanderson, you have been a very active member in the communities about your books, and still manage to create such quality stories.

My question is, what has been the most memorable interaction you have had with a fan?

PS. Back when I first started reading your books, I sent you an email, and I got a reply. I just want to tell you how much that meant to me 5 years ago, no other author had ever responded to my emails, and I just want to say thank you.

Brandon Sanderson

Actually, the most memorable is probably when I saw someone on Reddit wishing they could be in the Stormlight Archive. (I believe it's /u/Kaladin_Stormblessed.) Well, I found her a spot in the books, and it turns out she is very involved in fandom and is a writer herself, so the two of us have become friends over the years. To the point that I forget we first met over a random thread on the internet.

You might also count the fact that a pair of fans, who met at one of my signings, eventually got engaged via a proposal that happened at one of my lectures. (With my involvement.)

Anyway, I'm glad I was able to answer that email! I don't get to do much of that any more, and a lot of people get form mail or responses from Adam instead. (It just got to be too much for me.)

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
#6 Copy

Questioner

Where do you lie on the "BrandoSando" versus "Branderson"?

Brandon Sanderson

I would probably go "Branderson", but I don't mind either of them.

Questioner

Because I'm firmly in the BrandoSando camp.

Brandon Sanderson

BrandoSando? What about "BrandySandy"? I get that one too... No one goes with the cool ones. "Oh, the Sandman". I'm not cool enough.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#8 Copy

Argent

These recent AMAs have made me wonder about something. With the kind of public presence and interaction you have with your fans, you create a imbalanced sense of familiarity between yourself and us, your fans - we often feel like we know you well (or at least know much about you), while you, for the most part, don't know us beyond the few words we exchange at events. With this in mind, have you had to change the way you interact with people, online and off - and if so, how?

Brandon Sanderson

I recently watched a video essay on the idea of parasocial relationships, which is a topic getting some attention on things like Youtube right now. And, while I thought the essay was interesting, I have to say...I kind of disagreed with everything they were saying. (Not the data, but the conclusions--which generally centered around the idea that these relationships were somehow false or dangerous.)

Yes, the relationship is imbalanced like you say. But the video essay was making these relationships as some kind of scary or false thing--and I just don't see it. I do think you know me by reading my work and by interacting with me here. I don't think you see a false version of me, and I think you probably do know me pretty well, all things considered. And part of the reason I read book (and why I write them) is because it lets us get inside of the mind of someone different from ourselves.

If there were big things I wanted to change, I'd talk about them. Honestly, most of what I see from the fans seems pretty healthy to me. We in sf/f can take things pretty seriously, but we do it because it's fun and we like to obsess about things--but most everyone can step back when we need to and deal with real life too.

So...don't know if that answers your question or not, Argent. But I think you're used to that kind of thing from me by now... :)

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#9 Copy

NotOJebus

We've spoken before about how you don't usually read Cosmere fan fiction, and I was wondering, what about other things people create? Like artwork or podcasts and such.

Brandon Sanderson

I barely have time to get to the books written by my friends, or the ones in the industry I feel I should be reading to keep an eye on it. I look at fanart, certainly, and post a lot of it--but I don't listen to any of the podcasts.

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

Questioner

Are there times when you regret saying too much?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, there are times when I regret saying too much. What I regret more is when I say something that I know came off wrong and is going to send the fan base down the wrong paths. I don't like to do things like that. Robert Jordan liked that, I don't like that. I want to give truthful answers, I want to leave mystery where there is mystery. Like the Lord Ruler's kids where everyone is searching like "where are they". Anyways, there was one at the latest release we did where I knew I was wiggling around it and was gonna send them in the wrong direction. Afterwards I felt bad.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#12 Copy

Questioner

So with your Cosmere books. I started reading with Mistborn, and I got through the trilogy, all three books-- I read really fast, so I was done with all three of them in under a week. And so I went looking for some of your other books, and I think I came on The Way of Kings and I started noticing there were little bits of connections because it's not really apparent--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

--that they're connected until you start looking into it. And of course then I go online and figure out there's this whole wikipedia--

Brandon Sanderson

Then you went down the rabbit hole. *laughter*

Questioner

Then I went down the rabbit hole and then I go "Oh look, all of these worlds are interconnected. And there are these characters who are supposed to be Worldhoppers or something." I could not figure out where the origin of where you learn these people are actually from the other series.

Brandon Sanderson

So where did people learn this. So first I'm going to give the caveat, if this daunts you, don't worry it's all cameos right now. You don't have to read the books in a certain order-- Well you should read the series in order, but you don't have to read the series in a certain order. You're not missing out on something, you can read the books and if you don't see it, it's okay. It's meant to be cameos... It's supposed to be very subtle.

However, where they're getting it is Hoid is almost always mentioned by name. That was the first clue to people. Once in a while he doesn't use his name, in each series at least he's mentioned his name. And people started connecting that name. And I will usually give little tells where they Galladon in The Way of Kings because he spoke in Dula, and so they caught the same words that he used, even though he spoke another language. Some of the words were words he used in Elantris. They were like "Oh." So there's always going to be some connection there.

Watch for people who use the wrong words. For instance if someone says in The Stormlight Archive, if someone uses the word "coin", they're probably using magical means to translate and they're thinking "coin" when they mean "money" or "sphere" and they don't use coins on Roshar. And so you'll have people make mistakes like that in-world, and they'll talk about things the wrong way. And that'll be part of the way you can connect who doesn't belong there. I intend it to be very subtle however. I think in The Way of Kings Hoid is the only one who uses "coin" and things like that. If you watch out for stuff like that--

But here's the thing about it, at the same time I learned from Robert Jordan fandom that fans will theorize about everything. *laughter* And I realized-- I had to make a decision pretty early on. And this decision-- Some authors do it one way, others do it another, I decided I had to be okay if the fans guessed what I was doing. Because if I put the foreshadowing in then it's going to be a mark of respect if people figure it out. And so if you're one of these people who dig in deeply, you will figure out some of things that are going on and they won't be surprises when the book comes along. And I think that's okay for the fans that are doing that. I will warn you, I'm not going to change what's happening, just 'cause you figure it out. So if you don't want massive spoilers you shouldn't necessarily hang out to much, because they are going to get it right. I will put in the foreshadowing so that it is possible to guess what's going to be happening and things like that. Because if I don't it won't feel like the book is fulfilling, if that makes any sense.

That's just a little warning to you guys. But so far there are some things they haven't figured out yet that I think they're going to soon, but they haven't quite yet.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#13 Copy

thegatorgirl00

You've changed so many lives, including mine, with your stories, and so is there anything we as a community can do for you in return?

Brandon Sanderson

As for what you can do for me in return, I'm not sure. I mean...I already get to write books for a living, which is the thing I wanted most in life.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#14 Copy

Questioner

Who is the fans favorite character, from your perspective, everybody that says it to you?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that Kaladin tends to be the fan favorite viewpoint character in that he is the least controversial. Meaning most people just like Kaladin even when they are annoyed with him, it's just like "I get Kaladin." Shallan is the most divisive. The people who like Shallan scenes love Shallan scenes. The people who don't like Shallan scenes, she is their least favorite character. And that's a sign that I'm doing a character right. I really like-- I ran into this too, like, in any book where you have a wide cast you are going to have this sort of thing. But yeah, I would say, if you're just going ask, "Who's your favorite character?" it's probably The Lopen. Everybody should say that. But if it's not The Lopen then it's probably usually Kaladin.

MisCon 2018 ()
#16 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The fandom found out about The Way of Kings pretty early on. I don't know how this happened, but Amazon put up a listing for it in like, 2006. The book was eventually published four years later. I hadn't written it in 2006. I'd written a version of it that I sent to my editor at Tor when he wanted to buy Elantris. I said, "Here's the other thing I'm working on."

And he read Way of Kings and he called me back, terrified. Because it's 400,000 words long. Well, the print version is 300,000 words. And they say, you should shoot for maybe 120,000 for your first novel. So it's big, and I had all these notes for this art I wanted to put into it. So it was going to be really expensive to print, really expensive to edit. And he called and he was like, "Uhhh can we cut this? This is enormous!"

And I'm like, "No we can't cut it but it's not right yet." So we did a contract for Elantris and Mistborn. We never had a contract for Way of Kings. I don't know how anyone found out about it, but Amazon put up a listing for it anyway...

So the fandom started putting up fake reviews for this book. And they also devised fake pictures of it. Amazon has this Show Your Version. So they printed off fake covers and put them around books and took pictures and sent them in. So eventually, Amazon just put one of their covers up as the cover. And it had a picture of Elvis on the front. It was called The Way of Kings. And it had a quote from Terry Goodkind that said "A hunka hunka burning good book!"

This is what happens when you give fans a blank space on the internet and say "Fill this!" I didn't ask them to do this by the way. They just did this. I just started looking and people were like, "This book cured my dog's cancer!" Stuff like that! You know how they are.