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The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighteen

Vindication

I didn't really intend Ranette to become a kind of "Q" figure, providing Wax with a cool gun. I had written into the outline (once I added her) that he got a new Sterrion from her.

However, I wanted some more quirk to her character. Beyond that, I felt that one of the things this book should do is show the ways that Allomancy—and dealing with Allomancers—has entered the common consciousness of the world. It makes sense to build guns to deal with them, just as now we build guns specifically to deal with armor, or specific situations a combatant might find themselves in.

I felt that I wanted to integrate the Metallic Arts more into real society. You may notice, for instance, that I worked hard in this book to work Allomancy and metallurgy into the way that people speak. The metaphors they use, the way they see the world. A person who is up to no good is a "bad alloy." That sort of thing.

It would be possible to overdo this, of course, but I feel—looking back objectively at the original trilogy—that I didn't do enough of it. That's okay, because in the original trilogy Allomancy was something that you kept hidden, and the common people didn't know much about it. Feruchemy was an underground art, and only the Inquisitors knew of Hemalurgy.

Now however, at least two of the three are very common in society. I wanted to account for that. Building Vindication, the special Allomancer's gun, was a way to integrate the two halves of this book—the historical western and the fantasy.

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
#5 Copy

Questioner

How come you don't have any gay, lesbian, or transgender characters in your books?

Brandon Sanderson

I do! This one [Shadows of Self] actually has one. Ranette is lesbian. Let's see, transgender is awkward because I have the kandra who are kind of no-gender and both, that doesn't really count, but it's kind of me testing the waters and seeing whether I can write someone who has fluid gender and not be offensive with it, does that make sense? So keep an eye on what I do with the kandra through the books. The other gay person is Drehy from Bridge 4, he's based on my good friend Ryan Dreher who is gay, and so you will see his husband appear in the series eventually as well, but we really haven't talked about that one yet, there really hasn't been an opportunity, but Ranette we've talked about and it becomes more and more obvious as we talk about it in the books.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
#6 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fourteen

They Visit Ranette

Ranette was a late addition to the story. I didn't start building her until I was working on chapter ten or so. (All earlier references to her were added in during revisions.)

I was feeling there was a hole in the story, that it needed one more character, probably a woman. I also wanted to add a gunsmith to the book, and so I started working on who she would be. Some hints of her personality came from the other character from the original short story. (Remember, the person who became Wayne was riding into town on a kandra with a horse's body. That kandra was female.) The personality I'd been developing there eventually jumped rails to become Ranette.

She's not kandra any longer, and I shifted some pieces of who she was to make her a more complete person. If you didn't catch the hint from Wax, she is indeed a lesbian, though it's not much of a big deal for the book. I try to find places for LGBT characters in the novels. (There's another one in The Way of Kings.) However, I back off from making much of an issue about it.

I guess I could be accused of not giving them full representation because of the fact that they usually have minor roles. The truth is that I'm worried I'd just do a poor job of it if I tried to write from their viewpoint; being gay is one of those things that tends to be very dominant in a person's way of seeing the world. It seems that there are a lot of pitfalls that I could saunter right into. I've think I've learned, after a lot of work, how to write female characters who (hopefully) don't feel wrong. However, I haven't taken the dive in trying to figure out how to write a gay or lesbian character.

But that's only one reason. There's a deeper one for me. Ranette will likely get viewpoints in the series, when I do more Wax and Wayne books. However, the books aren't about sexual identity, so I'll probably steer clear of that topic. In a way, I think that making a big deal of it could be more harmful. One of the reasons I put LGBT characters in my books is because they are a part of our world, and deserve representation in fiction. It's strange to think that in our world, LGBT people make up a significant minority of the population, yet in fiction (particularly fantasy fiction) they tend to either vanish completely or the story has to be all about who they are and their sexuality.

This strikes me as a bad way to do things. Just like not every book including women characters should be about feminism, not every book including LGBT characters should be about sexual orientation or gender identity issues. If they are, then that just highlights the supposition that they're out of the ordinary—it draws attention to that idea, rather than simply letting them be characters with a larger role in the story. We don't care about Lord Harms's sexuality, or Mister Suit's, or that of Miles. Why shine a big spotlight on Ranette's? It just seems divisive to me.

Anyway, those are just a few of my thoughts on the topic. Perhaps they will change as I ponder on it more.