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General Twitter 2015 ()
#2 Copy

iBooks

Your book, Shadows of Self, just released today. What do you think will shock fans the most?

Brandon Sanderson

I have a feeling that the ending will be the most shocking part, followed closely by how magnificently Wayne butchers our language.

iBooks

No spoilers now! Why did you decide to focus on Waxillium Ladrian in this book?

Brandon Sanderson

Wax is the heart of these books, though it has been tough to get past his rough exterior. I wanted to really dig into who he is.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#3 Copy

Questioner 1

In Shadows of Self Paalm tells Wax she hasn't killed his father-- she hasn't killed his father yet. Is Wax's father still alive?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, that was not who she was referencing.

Questioner 1

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

Questioner 1

Was it Marasi's father?

Brandon Sanderson

Um--

Questioner 1

Because that's who Wax assumed.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, um--

Questioner 1

It was what he assumed?

Brandon Sanderson

It is what he assumed, yeah-- No no no no no! It's not what he assumed, sorry.

Questioner 1

Then she tells him she's not talking to him, so--

Brandon Sanderson

Nope, no, no. She is not talking-- she was talking about something else completely. Not Wax's father and not Marasi's father.

Questioner 1

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, sorry. I had to work through that scene, that's why-- yes. There is a different reference there.

Questioner 2

Is it the one that it turns out to be? Is that what she was talking about, or is there more trick there that we don't know yet?

Brandon Sanderson

Um-- It's-- No, don't work to hard on this one.

Brandon's Blog 2015 ()
#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

As I was developing the Cosmere, I knew I wanted a few threads to span the entire mega-sequence, which was going to cover thousands of years. For this reason, I built into the outline a couple of "core" series.

One of these is the Stormlight Archive, where we have the Heralds who span ages, and which I eventually decided to break into two distinct arcs. Other series touch on the idea of long-standing characters. Dragonsteel, for example, will be kind of a bookend series. We'll get novels on Hoid's origins, then jump all the way to the end and get novels from his viewpoint late in the entire Cosmere sequence.

With Mistborn, I wanted to do something different. For aesthetic reasons, I wanted a fantasy world that changed, that grew updated and modernized. One of my personal mandates as a lover of the epic fantasy genre is to try to take what has been done before and push the stories in directions I think the genre hasn't looked at often enough.

I pitched Mistorn as a series of trilogies, which many of you probably already know. Each series was to cover a different era in the world (Scadrial), and each was to be about different characters—starting with an epic fantasy trilogy, expanding eventually into a space opera science fiction series. The magic would be the common thread here, rather than specific characters.

There was a greater purpose to this, more than just wanting a fantasy world that modernized. The point was to actually show the passage of time in the universe, and to make you, the reader, feel the weight of that passage.

Some of the Cosmere characters, like Hoid, are functionally immortal—in that, at least, they don't age and are rather difficult to kill. I felt that when readers approached a grand epic where none of the characters changed, the experience would be lacking something. I could tell you things were changing, but if there were always the same characters, it wouldn't feel like the universe was aging.

I think you get this problem already in some big epic series. (More on that below.) Here, I wanted the Cosmere to evoke a sense of moving through eras. There will be some continuing threads. (A few characters from Mistborn will be weaved through the entire thing.) However, to make this all work, I decided I needed to do something daring—I needed to reboot the Mistborn world periodically with new characters and new settings.

So how does Shadows of Self fit into this entire framework? Well, The Alloy of Law was (kind of) an accident. It wasn't planned to be part of the original sequence of Mistborn sub-series, but it's also an excellent example of why you shouldn't feel too married to an outline.

As I was working on Stormlight, I realized that it was going to be a long time (perhaps ten years) between The Hero of Ages and my ability to get back to the Mistborn world to do the first of the "second" series. I sat down to write a short story as a means of offering a stop-gap, but was disappointed with it.

That's when I took a step back and asked myself how I really wanted to approach all of this. What I decided upon was that I wanted a new Mistborn series that acted as a counterpoint to Stormlight. Something for Mistborn fans that pulled out some of the core concepts of the series (Allomantic action, heist stories) and mashed them with another genre—as opposed to epic fantasy—to produce something that would be faster-paced than Stormlight, and also tighter in focus.

That way, I could alternate big epics and tight, action character stories. I could keep Mistborn alive in people's minds while I labored on Stormlight.

The Alloy of Law was the result, an experiment in a second-era Mistborn series between the first two planned trilogies. The first book wasn't truly accidental, then, nor did it come from a short story. (I've seen both reported, and have tacitly perpetuated the idea, as it's easier than explaining the entire process.) I chose early 20th century because it's a time period I find fascinating, and was intrigued by the idea of the little-city lawman pulled into big-city politics.

Alloy wasn't an accident, but it was an experiment. I wasn't certain how readers would respond to not only a soft reboot like this, but also one that changed tone (from epic to focused). Was it too much?

The results have been fantastic, I'm happy to report. The Alloy of Law is consistently the bestselling book in my backlists, barring the original trilogy or Stormlight books. Fan reaction in person was enthusiastic.

So I sat down and plotted a proper trilogy with Wax and Wayne. That trilogy starts with Shadows of Self. It connects to The Alloy of Law directly, but is more intentional in where it is taking the characters, pointed toward a three-book arc.

You can see why this is sometimes hard to explain. What is Shadows of Self? It's the start of a trilogy within a series that comes after a one-off with the same characters that was in turn a sequel to an original trilogy with different characters.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
#6 Copy

Questioner

I was one of your beta readers. So, I wanted to know whether Lord Harms ever got off the roof?

Brandon Sanderson

Lord Harms. Yes, I did because people were so--*grumbling* 'Lords Harms Lord Harms'. Alright. Fine. So, I mentioned Wax saying, "go get Lord Harms back," or something like that. I did put it in at some point.

Holiday signing ()
#7 Copy

Questioner

So you initially said that you had started the first third [of Shadows of Self] and then you took a break for two years.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, mmhmm

Questioner

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--

Brandon Sanderson

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.

State of the Sanderson 2014 ()
#10 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

What I spent 2014 doing

January–March 2014: Firefight

Though I had hoped to have Firefight (The Reckoners 2) done long before January, the touring last year made that impossible. It snuck over into 2014, which is why you’re getting the book in January 2015 instead of the originally scheduled fall of this year. In March, I also did the Words of Radiance tour, which really cut into my writing time.

April 2014: Legion: Skin Deep

In April, once all the chaos was done, I took the time to finish up Legion: Skin Deep (sequel to Legion from a few years back), which I’d been working on during plane flights the year before. If you haven’t checked these two novellas out, you might want to consider it! They’re very fun, though the second book is not yet out in the UK and associated territories such as Australia and New Zealand. (Note that in those territories, Legion 1 and The Emperor’s Soul were released together in a very handsome paperback.)

We will eventually have regular hardcover copies of Legion 2 available. That will probably come sometime in the first half of next year. Our contract with Subterranean Press, who produced the very attractive limited edition hardcovers of Legion 2, says that we’ll wait until their edition sells out before we release a competing one.

May 2014: The Aztlanian (Rithmatist 2)

Next, I dove into research for a sequel to The Rithmatist. This is going to be a tough book to write, as it takes place in a fantastical version of Central and South America, and deals with things from Aztec (Mexica) mythology. (In The Rithmatist, a lot of the geography is shifted around in bizarre ways.)

Dealing with another group’s culture in this way is rife with opportunities for stuffing my foot in my mouth, and so I wanted to be very careful and respectful. This meant spending time devoted exclusively to doing extensive research. I didn’t actually get any writing on the book done, though I read some very excellent history books.

(As an aside, if anyone out there is an expert in the Aztec/Mexica culture—particularly if you yourself are a Native American—I’d love to have your help on this book.)

At the end of the month, I decided I needed to do way more research than a month afforded, so I put the book off for now. I still intend to write it, but I need more time to do it right.

June 2014: Alcatraz

Having spent a month with no writing, I wanted to jump into something fun and quick to refresh me before moving on to my next book. So, I dug out my outline for the Alcatraz series and at long last did a rough draft of the fifth book. These are fast, fast books to write—as I improvise them—but they are very slow to edit.

I finished the book, and am pleased with it, but I have no firm date yet for when I’ll be publishing it. Tor is rereleasing the series starting next year with new covers and extensive interior art. I believe these launch starting about a year from now. (If you want them before then, your best bet for getting them is the UK omnibus of the first four.)

I’ll want to release the fifth one once the series has been rereleased, so maybe summer 2016. If you’ve never read these, they are very different from my other work. They’re bizarre and sarcastic comedies that are self-referential and offer commentary on fantasy as a genre along the way. Those who love them absolutely love them. Those who don’t tend to find them insulting. That dichotomy alone is part of what endears them to me.

July–December 2014: Mistborn

The last half of the year was dedicated to Shadows of Self, the new Mistborn novel. And I have a confession to make.

I also wrote the sequel.

Now, before you start wagging your finger at me for being a robot, there was a really good reason I did what I did. You see, I was having real trouble getting back into Shadows of Self. I had written the first third of it in 2012 between revisions of A Memory of Light. (I was feeling Wheel of Time overload.) However, it can be very hard for me to get back into a book or series after a long time away from it. (This is another issue with the Rithmatist sequel.)

So, jumping into Shadows of Self was slow going, and I found it much easier to go write the sequel to refresh myself on the world and characters. That done, I was able to move back to Shadows of Self and finish it up.

So a week or two back, I turned in two new Wax and Wayne Mistborn novels. They’re titled Shadows of Self and Bands of Mourning, and Tor decided to publish them in quick succession: the first in October 2015, the second in January 2016. So, if you have read the original trilogy but haven’t tried The Alloy of Law yet, you might want to give it a look! From the beginning, I’ve planned Mistborn to be a continuum series, showing off Allomancy in different time periods. I think you’ll find the Wax and Wayne books to be fun, quick reads—and they introduce some very, very big things coming in the Mistborn world.

There will be one more Wax and Wayne (early 1900s-era) Mistborn book. Back after I finished The Alloy of Law, I sat down and plotted out a trilogy with the same characters. The Alloy of Law was more of a happy, improvised accident. The follow-up trilogy is meant to be more intentional. So in the end, we’ll have four total. (The final one is tentatively called The Lost Metal.) From there, I might jump to the second “big” trilogy, which is 1980s tech. Or I might dally a little more in something 1940s-era instead. We’ll see.

Amusingly, doing these two Mistborn books together totaled only about half as much writing as a Stormlight book. Perhaps you can see why it takes even me quite a long time to finish Stormlight novels. (And it’s why you might want to lay off Pat Rothfuss a little. I believe The Wise Man’s Fear was even longer than Words of Radiance.)

Tor did their announcement about these books earlier today. You may now commence wisecracks about me secretly writing extra novels when nobody is looking.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#12 Copy

Questioner

 How sweet was it to taste the tears of everybody who read Shadows of Self?

Brandon Sanderson

Ahhhhh, uhhhhh-- It was kind of a painful book to write, so I--I sympathize.

Questioner

It was gorgeous.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't-- I'm not George Martin. I don't bathe in the tears of my fans.

Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
#13 Copy

Questioner

My other question is about the phrase "Shadows of Self".  It's mentioned in the last Mistborn book *audio obscured* so are we ever going to see the shadows in Shadows of Self?

Brandon Sanderson

We are not going-- Well yes and no. What it is referencing in this book is the different roles that each person plays in their life. That is the core meaning of Shadows of Self. But then, there is also, there is a kandra involved, which they change shape and become different people, so "who are you?" and identity is a big thing.

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
#15 Copy

Questioner

What's the most cosmere-icly-significant in Shadows of Self?  

Brandon Sanderson

In the latest book Shadows of Self? Shadows of Self is not terribly cosmere-significant, the next book has a lot more.  

Questioner

So the middle series?  

Brandon Sanderson

No, no, no, The Bands of Mourning, the actual next one has some relevant stuff. Oh, what's the most relevant in this? The fact that Hoid is eavesdropping--

Questioner

On the carriage?

Brandon Sanderson

In the carriage. That's pretty cosmere relevant, but there's not a ton in this one. I wanted this one to stay really focused on Wax. You'll see some more worldhoppers in the next one and stuff, so keep your eyes open. They're hard to miss, honestly, in the next one.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#16 Copy

Questioner

Is there a relationship between the Parshendi and the airships?

Brandon Sanderson

The Parshendi and the oh-- Okay. So the relationship is that I assumed when people saw the picture they would think Parshendi, and that was an intentional red herring.

Moderator

Or red and black herring.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, red and black herring. *laughter* We spent a lot of time on that picture, Where I'm like "It has to actually look like the people, but it can't be straight up where people are like 'Oh! This is like what we've seen before here!' " And so we went back and forth on it a lot. That picture took a lot of revision to get right.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
#17 Copy

Questioner

The Soonie dog, this mentions. You definitely need to make one of those: whatever you want to make us pay for it, we'll buy it. No problem.

Brandon Sanderson

So what I've got is that we make a Soonie pup as one of those stuffed animals that you can turn inside out, and when you turn it inside out it's a mistwraith, *people all around who heard flip out * and then you twist it back.

JordanCon 2014 ()
#18 Copy

Questioner

When are you going to work on the next Mistborn book?

Brandon Sanderson

Right now I am going to write Rithmatist 2, followed by Stormlight 3, and the next Mistborn book [Shadows of Self] is going to come after that. Tor has asked that I write the next Stormlight book before I write the next Mistborn books, so I will be doing that. I do have a chunk of the sequel written, but I had to put off writing it until later.

Firefight Houston signing ()
#19 Copy

Questioner

How do you write a sequel first?

Brandon Sanderson

So, it makes a lot of sense to me. ...I'd written about a quarter of the next Mistborn novel while I was doing revisions for A Memory of Light. I'd send off A Memory of Light, I'd have, like, a month until Harriet got back, so I wrote a little bit of this. It'd come back, I'd stop, I would do the revision, and then I'd go back and have about a month so I'd work on this. The problem is, picking up a book mid-stride, that I had worked on years ago, because then I put it aside and I wrote other things, I wrote Words of Radiance. Coming back to it was really hard. You can imagine that starting mid-stride something that was half-done, might actually be harder than starting something new. When I finished Alloy of Law originally, I plotted a trilogy of books to follow it. Alloy of Law was more freeform; the trilogy, I did my normal build-a-trilogy. So, I had the second book all outlined, I could jump into this a lot easier, there's a break between books two and three, so the characters have reset a little bit, not gone backward, but, you know. Anyway, it was so much easier to go write that book, to get myself back in the world and the mood, then jump back and finish the book before. So that's why you're getting two Mistborn books, rather than one in the next few months.

Which was really fun, by the way, to send to my editor and my publisher and my agent. None of them knew. I sent them an email, I'm like, "Great! The book's done!" And attached were two books. *laughter* And then I went to bed, because I was doing this at, like, 5:00 AM. So, I went to bed, and I got up to a flurry of emails. "Um, Brandon? Do you know? What'd you just do? Where'd that other book come from?"