I love Marasi with Wax! But Steris looks like she is winning so I'm gonna stop reading cuz it made me cry. It's been fun.
I'm sorry. He just didn't feel about her the way she did about him. (Plus, her path leads other directions.)
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In Alloy of Law, Marasi goes to see Wax in his house and he was doing experiments, she describes him as being oddly-- looking oddly younger than he had before. Is that relevant or is that just because he’s excited about--
Yeah it's more that, and more she had this picture in her head of him and things like that. There's no actual magical thing going on there. It's an excellent question.
It seemed like in Alloy of Law you made us like Marasi better than Steris, and then kind of switched it. Was your intention the whole time for them to end up with Steris, or...?
Okay, it was.
In fact, I like Steris a lot in the first book. But you are seeing things through the eyes of other characters. And Steris takes a little bit of time to warm up to. Like, many people like her. And once you get to know here--which, I always knew her--then there's a level of <thoughtfulness> there.
Dinner conversation with Marasi
This is probably a good point to talk about Marasi too. She's a little more simple than Steris, but also more innately likable.
Marasi represents me playing with concepts of how to make strong female characters. I'm well aware that in fiction, one of the most simple ways to make someone strong—male or female—is to make them capable in combat. Whether it's Vin or Kaladin, being able to kick butt and take names on a battlefield leads to a powerful sense of competence and self-confidence. It's only one side to those characters, of course, but it's an important side.
It shouldn't be the only way to be strong, however. Though I'm very pleased with Vin's ability to be both feminine and combat-savvy, I don't want to fall into the trap of implying that only those who can lay waste to their enemies are strong. I have conversations about this in The Way of Kings, but this story felt like a place to put some of it into practice.
I'm curious to see what people think of Marasi. I gave myself a challenge with her—create a female lead who is also very young and inexperienced, prone to blushing, and has no interest whatsoever in picking up a gun. I hope that she ends up interesting in her own right.
What gender is Marasi?
Marasi identifies as a cisgendered woman.
A little safer question- Why did you not have Waxillium fall for Marasi? Why stick with the contract with Steris?
Marasi, as she was in Alloy of Law, was just plain wrong for Wax. As I write books, I allow my characters to grow more free-form (while my setting and plot are outlined in detail.) In writing the book, I felt that a Marasi hook-up at the end would not only be wrong for the character, but wrong for the story. If I do direct sequels (which I probably will) perhaps things will change.
As a women, I loved reading about Vin who was a strong female leading character in Mistborn. It's not something easily found in the fantasy world unfortunately. While I loved Vin, I felt pretty sad after reading about the swooning-over-an-older-man tripe that was Marasi in The Alloy of Law. It felt like kind of a 360 for me after reading about Vin.
I really loved Mistborn and The Way of Kings was great, but I am just wondering if you are planning any more work with strong female leads?
Marasi was designed specifically to be a contrast to Vin, and to put her in a place where she really had some growth to do. I spent periods of time as a Marasi (though, in my case, swooning over women) when I was younger. I think most of us are like that at some point in our lives, and I like trying characters with different types of arcs and personalities, so I suggest giving her a little time.
I have several stories in the works I think will fit this conversation, though when they come out will really depend on timing. The 1980's era Mistborn series also has a female lead, as does one of my YA projects.
If Wax/Marasi had worked out, he'd probably have been okay with it, for example.
Was there ever a chance this was going to be the case?
Yes, there was a slight chance. It wasn't what I had planned, but even an outline writer like myself must be willing to change plans as a story adapts. So until a book is published, there's a chance things will change.
However, in this case, the more I wrote, the more confident I was that this path was the right one.
Wax and Marasi talk philosophy and his past
This sort of thing is another hallmark of the Mistborn books. (And, well, perhaps my writing in general.) I intended this book to be faster paced than what I term an "epic" like any of the books in the original trilogy. I wanted to move at a fair clip and not get slowed too often by conversations like this one. However, conversations like these are what add depth to characters for me, so I didn't feel it right to cut them completely.
Here, we get to see Waxillium's and Marasi's different views on life, the ways that who they are ground what they do. Waxillium is a realist. He sees things as they are. (Or how he thinks they are, at least.) He has a touch of a philosopher inside of him, as he wonders about what the truth is—but he wants to find that truth, prove it. He's not unaccommodating or harsh, but he does believe in absolutes and wants to find them.
Marasi is more interested in extremes because they're interesting, not because she is seeking for truth or reality. She's like a moth drawn to flame, fascinated by outliers. She's good with numbers and statistics, and can find those outliers; then she reads as much as she can about them. She could name for you every serial killer in Elendel's history, and talk about their lives and what led them to do what they did. She wouldn't consider it morbid, just fascinating. Wax, reading the same thing, would find his eye twitching. He'd get through a part of the reading, then find himself out on patrol, trying to run across someone doing something wrong that he could stop.
So you initially said that you had started the first third [of Shadows of Self] and then you took a break for two years.
I kind of get the feeling that in the first third The Set was supposed to be the Big Bad villain of the second book and then you massaged it into the kandra. Is that the case or--
No the kandra was always planned as the second book villain. When I sat down to do the outline of the three, that is when I decided-- So yeah it was the kandra. The big change is that Marasi wasn't working at all, that's probably one of the reasons I stopped it. I had to rebuild her from the get go in that one, and she works much better in the revision. I was pushing her in the first draft more toward lawyer/attorney stuff and it just wasn't working, it's not where she wanted to go.
Wax and Marasi talk in Ranette's house
There's a tiny bit of sexual tension between the two of them. It's not supposed to be very strong, as Lessie's death hovers over Wax like a shadow. He's not really looking for romance, and I didn't want to push the book too much in that direction.
I'm assuming that people will pick up on Marasi as a romantic interest from the get-go. And, of course, I therefore hope that they find themselves a little bit upended when Wax stubbornly ignores, or resists, the story cues that he's supposed to be falling for Marasi. Because so far, he's really not. Though who she is looks good on paper for him, it's just not right, and he knows it. Sometimes in real life, you put two people together and they start dating. They seem perfect for one another, but for some reason there's nothing there.
Part of it is the hero worship that Marasi has. He can sense it, and that makes him uncomfortable. He worries that she's interested in him merely because she has read so much about Wax the lawkeeper. Unfortunately, he's right. She doesn't know him. She could fall for the real him—and she's in the process of doing that—but from his perspective there's still something wrong with this relationship. Too many things wrong, I should say.
An interesting note here is that my editor took great effort in this scene (for some reason) to shorten "Waxillium" each time it was mentioned to simply "Wax." I didn't catch what he'd done until the copyedit. That was utterly wrong, because this is Wax's viewpoint. And in his head, he now sees himself as Waxillium, and not just Wax. If you never noticed it, read through the book again and pay attention to when he calls himself Waxillium and when he calls himself Wax. It's done very deliberately.
What name other characters use for Wax when talking to or thinking about him is something to pay attention to throughout this series.