What kind of Epic is Mizzy, what are her powers?
That is another thing I’m going to save. IF I do a sequel trilogy, which I may or may not actually do after I do the next thing, Mizzy would be the protagonist.
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What kind of Epic is Mizzy, what are her powers?
That is another thing I’m going to save. IF I do a sequel trilogy, which I may or may not actually do after I do the next thing, Mizzy would be the protagonist.
In Calamity, Calamity's part of a mysterious group or civilization, really weird motives, we don't find out much about them. Was that <pointed, in any way,> part of the plot from the start?
Do you have a plan to explain that civilization?
I will someday explain that. At the very least, if I just have to sit down and write an essay on it, to give the closure. Yes, I will. And I do apologize for that. Apocalypse Guard was going to delve into this, but then the book got cancelled. By me.
Megan and Steelheart, what was the nature of their relationship? How did they know each other, meet each other?
Employer and an employee. More like high-level employer and very competent contractor.
What about The Apocalypse Guard?
- It's set in the Reckoners era
- Basically the coffee girl intern of the Apocalypse Guard gets sucked into a different dimension or something and they have to go retrieve her.
- You can read more here: http://brandonsanderson.com/the-apocalypse-guard/
Do you plan to write any more books in the Steelheart universe?
...There's a big story here. So, the book that I started writing right after finishing Oathbringer in June was called The Apocalypse Guard. This is in the same universe as the Reckoners. And I wrote the whole book, and there were some things wrong with it, as happens sometimes with books. And so I thought, "Eh, I'll send it to my editor, and see what my editor at Random House thinks." She read it, she got back, she's like, "I like some things about it, but it's got these problems." I'm like, "Oh, those are the same problems I thought it had; that's not a good sign." So I got on and I brainstormed, and said "What do you think we should do?" She's like, "Well, maybe this or this." I spent, like, two weeks working on a really in-depth revision document. And I revised about 20% of the book following this document and it was worse. It didn't fix the problem. And so I'm like, "I need more time on this book. This book is not working. I'm sure I can fix it eventually." Like I told you, I stopped writing The Stormlight Archive in 2002. So, I pulled that book and set it aside. And I actually, I sent it to Dan Wells, actually, 'cause he's one of the best writers I know. And I'm like, "Dan! Something's broken. Can you tell me what's broken?" I'm waiting to see what Dan has to say on that, but for now, that's where Secret Project [Skyward] came from, 'cause I'm like, "Well, I don't feel good releasing Apocalypse Guard next year, I have to fix it first, it's just not good enough." So, I pulled out an outline for something else... and I said, "Well, I'm gonna write this right now, 'cause I feel like I can write this, and it's gonna work." So, I started writing this.
The answer is, yes, there will be more books, and there will even be, if I get around to it, a book about Mizzy as a protagonist, if I can find-- Like, I have to get The Apocalypse Guard working first.
The alternate world we see at times with Megan, did David and Firefight know each other before he died? And how did David die?
Firefight knows of him.
So, in Steelheart, if you were going to have an Epic be good, who would it be?
If I were going to have an Epic be good in Steelheart, which one would it be? That it as big ol' R-A-F-O, which stands for Read And Find Out because I will talk about that through the course of the books. So you need to read Firefight, okay?
I've noticed that there are a lot of different categories of Epics. Did you think about any categories that you didn't put into the books?
Did I think about any categories of Epics that I didn't put into the books? Yes, I did. You know, as a comic book nerd I have lots of categories of superheroes that, as I saw them in my head, and this is kind of like my-- reaching back to my teenage years, looking at "Oh, these kind of share a similar power type" and things like that. That's what you are getting from these books, kind of my nerdy stuff. There are categories that I didn't deal with. I tried to theme a lot of powers either toward matter transformation, matter manipulation, or alternate universe stuff. Just that kind of has some things. And so, I am actually doing a series, takes place in the same universe, different characters, that takes place-- all of the powers and that will be alternate dimension things, it's gonna be really cool.
He was asked a question about creating Steelheart and it boiled down to being unique with names and powers is hard, he had a hard time finding things that Marvel and DC haven't done already.
With your upcoming series, Apocalypse Guard, would there be any chance for crossover with Rithmatist?
No, but it is crossover with Reckoners. But no... Rithmatist occupies a very weird space in my writing, because it was originally in the cosmere and I popped it out. And so it's not in any of the continuities I have devised.
Where did you get the idea for the Reckoners series?
Where did I get the idea for writing the Reckoners series? I almost got in a car wreck. I was driving to a book signing and I was late and somebody cut me off in traffic. And it was like-- I had to slam on the brakes and things like that and I thought-- At that moment I'm like "You, person in front of me, are so lucky I don't have superpowers, 'cause if I did I would blow your car up right now. BOOM" It's a great Michael Bay effect, like it explodes and I drive through the smoke. It was really awesome; I remember it. And then I was immediately horrified, right? I'm like "Here I write all these books about people protecting the world with their powers and what would I do if I had them? I'd be blowing up people because they inconvenience me." *laughter* And this is where the series came from, I thought about that the entire rest of the drive, which was about another hour. And I thought "What if-- What could we do if people just started manifesting superpowers and-- You couldn't throw them in prison, or if you did they'd just break out. You couldn't defeat them with the armies. What would the society do if there were legitimately super-powered individuals?" It's kind of the same tactic that Watchmen took, if you've ever read that, but it kind of goes the other direction with "They are all evil, what do we do?" That was the origin and I wrote a whole book series about it.
Finally, can you tell us what Regalia's weakness is? We never did find that out.
Not ready to talk about this one yet, as I haven't finished the third book yet. It's likely irrelevant, but I'll RAFO in case I decide to reference it.
Are you gonna-- So you had the Reckoners series, right?
Are you gonna do another series, like, another trilogy after that? Kind of like what you did with Mistborn?
Um, maybe. The next series will be related to the Reckoners, but not directly tied to it. I might come back to the Reckoners, but I'm not one 100% sure.
You mentioned the other ruined cities... Are there any other cities that you were thinking of putting into the book, but ended up not?
Yeah, I had-- I brainstormed a few with the team. Cities I was thinking of-- Toronto we-- Toronto was the big one.
What was the funny, weird thing about the city?
Um... I wanted to do a mushroom city, and I didn't do that. I dunno, I had a bunch of them that I bounced off of Isaac and Peter. This is the one we decided on just because the salt thing is so *unintelligible*, you know?
Yeah, we did a lot of Canadian cities, is what we were thinking at first.
And then Random House came in and said, "Can it be an American city? Please?" I'm like, "Okay, but you'll have to fight off the Canucks."
[The sunrise metaphor] is one of my favorite quotes. Did you spend much time rewriting it?
This one took a fair bit of time to craft.
Going into Calamity, one of the things I knew I wanted to show was that David could--on occasion--really NAIL a metaphor. That he wasn't completely hopeless; he just often spoke without thinking or finding the right setting.
Here, I needed the metaphor to be more than just silly--or even more than just "This is really sweet, once he explains it." It needed to work in a way one hadn't before. So I spent a great deal of time pivoting on this scene in my head, trying to determine the way to go.
If you were an Epic what would your powers be?
Truthfully it would be something like summoning books out of the air. But if I wanted one I would pick flying.
Why would you choose Chicago as a setting?
I grew up in Nebraska, Lincoln, and Chicago was the big city we would travel to. I liked that it was-- This is kind of going to sound weird but it was a big city full of mid-westerners. Like when I went to LA everyone talked and acted different, when I went to New York everyone talked and acted different, but in Chicago it-- they were kind of like a bunch of hokey mid-westerners had somehow built a big city? *laughter* If that makes any sense. So I have always had a fondness for Chicago. It's like the big city of farmers or whatnot. I don't know there's just something about it, the being on the lake and the profile of it and things like that. And I'm a Batman fan and Gotham is Chicago. Chicago was my go-to when I was going to destroy a city in our world; I picked Chicago.
Still don't see why The Reckoners can't be a part of the Cosmere. Especially with all that why down in the last book. Sooooooo shard like
I'll dig into it eventually, but there are good reasons why the powers don't fit the magic of the cosmere.
It's important to me that I don't go stuffing things into the cosmere willy-nilly. The stories that fit should go there, and contribute to the lore of the cosmere. The ones that don't should be able to have their own lore and mechanics.
How much time do you spend during the initial planning stages of writing your novel, developing your magic systems and going through the laws and such?
It really depends on the book. For Steelheart, I didn't need very much. On that I'm using a superhero-themed story, and all I really needed to know was: How did people start getting their powers? How are their weaknesses developed? How are these things interrelated? From there I can just look at each power set and say, "Okay, this person has this power set."
You don't have to extrapolate quite as far with superheroes. At the same time, they are very limited magics that only work within a certain small realm, so the reason you don't have to do as much extrapolation is because there isn't as much to do. In that case, it was the matter of a week.
With something like The Stormlight Archive, it was a matter of months or years of working on the magic systems. It really varies.
Did you have the ending planned out for the Reckoners series when you started writing?
Then I build a series around the ideas and themes that worked in the first book.
I had the ending of the first book well in mind. Once I finished it, I sat down and plotted the next two books.
This is very common for me in a series. Writing the first book, making sure I have the characters and ideas down first.
I know they are not a part of the Cosmere, but does the Reckonersverse follow the rules of Realmatic theory?
No. Instead, it follows quantum multiverse theory.
Can you tell us the name of factory from which Tia gets her Cola pouches? And perhaps the city?
Factory is one that doesn't exist in our world, but I believe I have it in Chattanooga.
Nightwielder's weakness is UV light. When David shines the UV flashlight on his shadows/mist, they disappear. So how does he block out the sun, since the sun is a giant UV light. Wouldn't the UV rays from the sun just destroy his shadows that he covers Chicago with.
Does that mean the shadow he uses to cover Newcago, is different from the shadows he uses to attack David. I think I remember the shadows he used to attack being dissolved by the UV light.
Some of the Epics' powers have macroeffects and microeffects. What is effective against the micro may not be effective against the [macro].
With Steelheart every superhero I've worshiped as a kid, was pretty much blown to bits and replaced with the scariest bunch of "supers" I've ever seen. How did you come up with the idea to take superheroes (and even today's, not even close to epic level, villains) and make them so amazingly evil?
I was on book tour, driving a rental car up through West Virginia when someone aggressively cut me off in traffic. I got very annoyed at this person, which is not something I normally do. I'm usually pretty easygoing, but this time I thought to myself, "Well, random person, it's a good thing I don't have super powers—because if I did, I'd totally blow your car off the road." Then I thought: "That's horrifying that I would even think of doing that to a random stranger!"
Any time that I get horrified like that makes me realize that there's a story there somewhere. So I spent the rest of the drive thinking about what would really happen if I had super powers. Would I go out and be a hero, or would I just start doing whatever I wanted to? Would it be a good thing or a bad thing?
I'm absolutely obsessed with this Faultline character in Steelheart is there anyway there might be a spin off about her?
I've toyed with doing something about her. We shall see. It's not outside the realm of possibility.
In the original outline there was a part where they take down Faultline. Brandon took it out before he wrote up to that far in.
How did you think of the idea for some who could, like, pull alternate realities through?
I was looking for a different type of illusionist, because in the Stormlight Archive I did illusionists straight-up. So I wanted to do somebody who did something similar, but had a different origin for those powers.
So, you've mentioned-- you have an idea of how the Cosmere's going to go. The ending of the Cosmere, considering you have seven more Stormlight books to write and years to go, does the ending of the Cosmere hang over your head?
Does the ending of the Cosmere hang over my head 'cause I've got a ways to go-- Yeah, it's starting to loom a bit! You know, when I was in my twenties and thirties doing this, "Ah! I can write every story, I've got plenty of time!", but now that I'm in my forties I'm-- let's make sure we focus and keep going on this. So one of my goals has been to try to learn to write novellas so that the random ideas that pop in my head became novellas and not novels, because the way I work, I can't stay on one thing between books I find that it burns me out really fast if I don't have something new to work on, but if that new thing to work on can be a novella like one of the Legion books, or like Perfect State, or Snapshot or something like that and then I can jump back on the kind of mainline book I can reset myself quickly. And that why you see me practice that and things like that.
My goal is kind of closing things off faster than I open them. This is why Legion got finished this year, why Alcatraz will probably get finished next year. Those of you waiting for a Rithmatist sequel *sighs* eventually. I need to get those other two closed off first. For those of you waiting for Reckoners, I consider Reckoners to be done. If I eventually fix and release Apocalypse Guard, that might answer some of the questions you have about the end of that series. Elantris and Warbreaker are both part of the Cosmere arc, what I'll probably do is I'll write Stormlight 4 and 5 and the last Wax & Wayne book over the next few years-- five years, next five years probably. *laughter* And then I'll probably stop and do Mistborn Era 3, which is the 1980s Mistborn, and maybe some Elantris sequels. And then I'll come back and do Stormlight 6-10 which take place about 10 years in-world after Stormlight 5. Same characters, at least the ones that survive. *eruption of laughter* That might be all of them! No spoilers there. But Stormlight is ten books. The way Stormlight will go is Book 4 is Eshonai, Book 5 is Szeth, 6 is Lift, 7 is Renarin, 8 is Ash, 9 is Taln and 10 is Jasnah. That doesn't mean that the person survives, it means that it's a flashback sequence. *nervous laughter* Just keep that in mind. So if your sequel wasn't on that list then don't hold your breath.
Is this book part of the Cosmere? Since it's based in Chicago I'm wondering if that maybe isn't the case?
No, most of my "breather novels" are not Cosmere. The Cosmere requires meticulous planning and continuity. That's not usually good for what I'm looking to do when I take a break from a big project for a small one, though occasionally I can fit in a novella or such.
What powers does Mizzy have?
I’m not telling people that yet, mostly because I haven’t decided 100% how I want it to work yet. I know basically what I want to do, but I haven’t decided how I’m going to play it out. I’m not telling people until I get the book actually written.
Does that mean there’s another book?
Yes, if I write another book, it will be a Mizzy book.
Can you tell me anything about the destruction of Oregon in Reckoners? Anything at all?
Anything at all? I think I put Night's Sorrow there, and she was the cause of the destruction? I'm pretty sure? I don't have my notes handy, but that's what I think.
I've read and reread Calamity looking for clues but I can't figure out what Mizzy's powers are! Why did you not reveal them?
I wanted to be vague because I need to have freedom to tweak them when I write a follow-up.
I have plans, but can't lock myself in too much until the outline for Mizzy's book is done.
What was your decision not to make The Reckoners series part of the cosmere? Because, without giving away too many things, I can see a Shard affecting that world.
Yeah, I made the decision based on two things. Number one, the fact that I don't want Earth to be in the cosmere. And so all the books that are referencing Earth, I don't put in the cosmere. Number two, the mythological source I was using as the--I can't give away spoilers--foundation for all of this, is a very "our-world" mythology, not a very "cosmere" mythology.
From context and usage, it's fairly clear, sort of, what the word "slontz" means, but what exactly does it mean? Where does it come from?
Where does the word "slontz" come from? Alright, alright. Um-- *long pause* Boy, can I even dredge up where that came from? I like to use, particularly in certain worlds where it seems like it fits, I like the made-up swear words. And the made up names, just because I think slang evolves, and slang being individual to the world feels much-- And I know some people find them goofy, but it feels more realistic to me than them using our curse words. It just doesn't seem right. Now there are worlds where it was right, like in Mistborn I used our curse words because I was like, "These are a bunch of thieves living on the street," I wanted it to feel a little harder. Though, you know, it's me, so it's never gonna be that hard. But "slontz," I think I was like, "I wanna come up with some fake Yiddish word that sounds cool," honestly. I like the Yiddish. I hang out with my editor and my agent in New York, and they're both Jewish, and they use all these words that are so much fun. I'm like, "I want a word that sounds like that." I didn't spend too much time on the linguistics of that one, I'll be honest, it was just a fun word that I came up with.
Main Book Projects
The last book of the trilogy is complete, revised, and turned in. It's coming out in February, and is—indeed—the ending.
I have not closed the door on doing more in the world, but it will not be for a while. If I do return, it will be like a Mistborn return, where the focus of the books shifts in some way and I create a new series. I like leaving endings as endings, even if the world and some of the characters do progress.
I'm extremely pleased with the last book. I look forward to having you all read it, and I am grateful to you all for supporting this series. There were voices that told me something outside the Cosmere would never sell as well as something inside—but this series is neck-and-neck in popularity with Stormlight and Mistborn. It's a relief, and very gratifying, to see that people are willing to follow me on different kinds of journeys.
What inspired the Epics?
I got cut off in traffic and thought, "you're so lucky I don't have superpowers because I would totally blow up your car!" And then I started to think about how I couldn't be trusted with superpowers and what the world would be like if no one with superpowers could be trusted.
How do you come up with the David analogies and the metaphors?
Oh, man, this is so much harder than you think it is. For those who haven't read them, the main character is really, really bad at similes. And where it came from is, there's actually a contest every year, where people intentionally try to write bad similes, and submit them. And every year it comes out and makes me laugh. Just-- I love it. And I started writing Reckoners, and-- Normally, you read this things as an author, to watch out for things to not accidentally do. If you read the bad metaphors, you can be like, "Oh, this is why you don't want to do this. You don't want people laughing." You get aware of this sort of thing. It's very good for you as a writer to watch. And, lo and behold, I'm writing a book series, and I wrote a metaphor, and I looked at it, and I'm like "That is really bad." And you do this as an author sometimes, and sometimes they slip in the books, you just write it and they're really bad. And I went to delete it and I'm like, "What if I ran with that?" This is because I tend to discovery-write my characters. So, I outline a lot for my settings, and I outline a lot of my plots, and then I go freewrite who these characters are, and then usually I have to do a lot of rebuilding of my plot after I figure out who's who. And in the Reckoners, I just ran with that, I did the whole sequence, I did the whole first chapter like that, and I'm like, "This is really fun." And then I locked myself into it, and it got so hard. Being bad on purpose is, like, ridiculously difficult. But it was also part of the fun. I would save them up, I'd be walking on the street, I'd think of something, and I'd be like "Ooh, how do I make that bad?" And I'd spend the next fifteen to twenty minutes writing a really bad metaphor. And sticking it in my pocket, because they all have to be bad in different ways. If they're all bad in the same way, then that's not any fun, you get used to it. So they all have to be bad in different ways, too. So, yeah, it was harder than I thought, but it was a blast.
Was all of your work on Firefight, is that based on the Butterfly effect?
It is a little bit, definitely.
Updates on Minor Projects
The Reckoners, Legion
These are both finished, and I don't foresee any future updates anytime soon. Do note, however, that the Reckoners board game has been shipping, and it turned out great. You should soon have a chance to buy copies if you missed the Kickstarter, and I suspect there will be expansions in the future.
Concerning the terminology for Epics, the definitions given for High Epics and a prime invincibility are effectively the same, meaning every High Epic should have one. However, in Steelheart David says that only a couple of the hundredths of High Epics in Newcago have one. Did David change his terminology between books or is there another reason. (I would also appreciate definitions for what differentiates a minor from a lesser Epic.)
Prime invincibility is the cream of the crop of High Epic, in David's estimation. The hardest of the hard to kill. However, other people define things differently. "High Epic" means "I have a power that, if you stand there and try to shoot me, it doesn't work." That's why in his definition, Regalia doesn't fit the bill--though many others would say her power of keeping herself hidden as she does would totally count. All a matter of semantics, but to him, there's a specific gradation.
While Epics already age slower can their powers protect them from aging completely, be it by simply negating it or for example returning them to a specific age, upon resurrection.
There are no known Epics who don't age at all.
What exactly is needed to make a motivator? In Firefight they operated on Oblivion to build the bomb, yet people still trade with any amount of Epic cells. Does the amount simply relate to power or is there something else?
This is covered in detail in book three. I've been pretty sneaky about some of this setup, on purpose.
Why doesn't Nighwielder's weakness penetrate his blanket over Newcago when it does pierce the shadow tendrils he attacks David with? Could the reason be that his clouds act as some kind of "security blanket" if for example he got his weakness from being stranded in the dessert clouds like his would have protected him from the sun, which keeps the UV-rays of the sun from triggering his weakness, because they can't recreate the situation it originates from.
I've been dodgy about answering this one, as I thought I might get into it in Book Three, but as I work on it I don't know that I am. The answer is actually pretty simple--it's for the same reason that someone manifesting Regalia's weakness in Babilar doesn't make the waters suddenly retreat. Or that Steelheart's powers didn't leave pockets of open material around anybody who hadn't ever heard of him. (Which is where this exception started in my mind, as without it, the first book would never have worked.)
Basically, I had to make the rule that a large scale, general use of the powers had a kind of immunity to the weakness--one of diffusion. But the general spreading of the powers on the large scale were also far less precise. (For example, Nightwielder could cloud the sky with darkness, but not stop rain from falling.)
Otherwise, you could just find the pockets where the Epic's powers on the grand scale were not working, and easily figure out their weakness. Hence, engaging Nightwielder directly ruins his immediate powers, but on the grand scale the darkness remains in place over the city.
It's the only way I could make the powers work on the grand scale I wanted, in turning Newcago to Steel or sinking NYC.
Is Calamity the last book in the series?
I have a plan to do a book about Mizzy. But before I do that, I am writing a book called The Apocalypse Guard, which takes place in the alternate dimension that Megan sees into in these books. So, you should enjoy those. They'll be kinda the same style, but different characters from the alternate dimension. They're a blast, I just finished the first book.
Say an Epic was dying of old age and had reincarnation - like Firefight - would they get stuck in a "death loop" When they died and came back?
No. That Epic would just die.
So in Reckoners you mention that the three, like, most powerful Epics in North America, pretty much the ones you're afraid of, were Obliteration, Steelheart, and Night's Sorrow.
What about Night's Sorrow?
Night's Sorrow? Is still out there.
But it's-- it-- will it ever be shown what Night's Sorrow can do?
Yeah-- I mean, in-- the Pacific Northwest has suffered... uh, yeah--
No, but when--is there gonna be a book that has what Night's Sorrow can do in it?
Yes, there will be.
*pause* Eh, uh... yeah.
Have you ever considered combining Alcatraz and The Reckoners?
Not seriously, but Alcatraz, you can never tell what he'll do.
Where did you get the name for David's crystal grower?
I named it to annoy Peter Ahlstrom since he didn't like the names for Dawnslight and Harmsway.
If using their abilities slowly drives them mad, how can good Epics rise up to help?
That is kind of the point of the novel isn't it?
In Steelheart you mention the Coven, a group of Epics that I've found immensely intriguing ever since hearing their name. Is there anything you can say about their group or one of their members?
A member of the Coven will appear in Calamity, and others will be referenced.
What are the extent of Snowfall's powers and territory?
I have notes on this, but if I come back to the Reckoners world in the future, I don't want to be locked into things I say here. Part of the point of mentioning Epics like this is to foreshadow for future books, but not leave myself too locked in, so I can construct the story I need to.