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Steelheart Portland signing ()
#4 Copy

Kogiopsis

Kind of along the same lines, I just want to confirm something. If someone from Earth saw an Alethi, what ethnicity would they assume they were?

Brandon Sanderson

It would-- The model I use are actually for the half-Hawaiian, half-Asians that are kind of common in Hawaii. That's the model I've used; I actually have one of their faces for Kaladin. So it would depend on what your perspective is, you might say-- some people might say Arab, but the model I'm using is kind of more Hawaiian/Asian mix is what you'd get. The only ones that would look Caucasian to you straight-up would probably be the Shin, though if you get someone who has Horneater blood-- The Horneaters might look-- they just-- they're gonna look like bizarre… redhead… things, but they might look Caucasian to you.

swamp-spirit

So would Shallan also be more towards that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, Shallan has lighter skin. But she still has the epicanthic fold, and so she maybe would look to you like a Caucasian/Asian mix? With red hair? So… Anyway, she would look fairly Caucasian.

swamp-spirit

I will attempt to send you excited fanart.

Kogiopsis

I've been picturing the Alethi as Indian, myself.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, yeah. Yeah, yeah, like East India? That’s a pretty good picture on them. That would work very well.

YouTube Livestream 13 ()
#5 Copy

Vivasher Club Emo Teen (@skywardflights)

I know people who relate a lot to Shallan's arc due to how similar her personalities are to Dissociative Identity Disorder. Did you intentionally write her to be recognizable DID?

Brandon Sanderson

I did, but I shied away from it in the earlier books, because I knew I was going to be doing fantastical things, and I didn't want to be offering too much commentary on DID. That was kind of my worry. With Kaladin, I knew depression well enough from family members and things that I felt like I could be a very strong contributor to the conversation. But, I started with Shallan saying, "I don't know if I'm gonna go this route." But then, the further I went, the more I felt it would be irresponsible to not do this. And so, in the last books, I just bit the bullet, dug really far into the DSM-5 and into reading firsthand, primary accounts from people. We got a very helpful person with DID to be one of our beta readers for this last book. And I just did my best to present it accurately and to present the non-Hollywood version of it. And so, basically, Oathbringer and Rhythm of War lean into it a little more than the first two books do, though that was where I was going. And I do have a working knowledge of Dissociative Identity Disorder, and did even back then. I don't think I did a terrible job, but I think it would have been irresponsible for me to go forward without digging in a little further.

Supanova 2017 - Sydney ()
#7 Copy

Darkness (paraphrased)

Is there any Spiritual or Cognitive effect on the subject of Shallan's memory collecting?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Well… …

Darkness (paraphrased)

Simply from taking the memory, not from the consequences of seeing the pictures or anything.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Right… no, I would say no, but there is a sliiiiight Spiritual Connection happening. So, so… but it doesn't really have an effect on the person.  I mean, you could say, you could make the argument that any slight Connection like that does have one. But I don't want you to read that much into it. So the answer is yes, with an asterisk of no.

FanX 2021 ()
#9 Copy

Questioner

Shallan has two spren. I assume the Shardblade she is using in Words of Radiance is Pattern. But had she sworn the Third Ideal at that point?

Brandon Sanderson

I will get this whole timeline explained for you. It's really intricate, though.

Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
#10 Copy

Questioner

My first question is about Shallan and whether what she does with her drawings and the deserters in Words of Radiance, kind of changing them, is at all similar to what Shai does in The Emperor's Soul?

Brandon Sanderson

Umm, that's a good question. There are similarities, but only so much that The Emperor's Soul is cosmere and is relying on the same foundation of magic. But good question. Are you getting at me saying you've seen somebody do it before?

Questioner

I talked to Alice.

Brandon Sanderson

So you have seen what she does before, but that is not what I was pointing at. It's someth-- No one is going to expect it.

FanX Spring 2019 ()
#12 Copy

Stormlightning

So about the Girl Who Looked Up, when her hair turns white, I'm just wondering, was that a Shallan-caused thing, or was that external?

Brandon Sanderson

External.

Stormlightning

It was nothing to do with her?

Brandon Sanderson

Everything in that had something to do with her.

Stormlightning

But she didn't cause it? Subconsciously or otherwise?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, she was involved, but the original source of that-- Yes, she is involved in that--

Stormlightning

But she didn't know something that caused it, even way back in her memory?

Brandon Sanderson

No, no. You're going the wrong direction for that.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
#15 Copy

Rachael

When she [Shallan] Soulcasts, does she physically go?  Or does she just think?

Brandon Sanderson

She transitions into the Cognitive Realm… Yeah she transitions but she’s not a hundred percent there…

Rachael

Then does Jasnah’s… does she work the same way?

Brandon Sanderson

She goes completely over.  That’s one of the differences between their magics. Shallan could get there if she wanted to, she hasn’t so far completely transitioned.

Argent

Even during regular Soulcasting, for both of them?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh for regular Soulcasting Jasnah doesn’t either.

Argent

‘Cause we were talking about the scene with the ship and Shallan. So would an outside observer see her shift over or—

Brandon Sanderson

The outside observer would see weirdness happening for sure.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#16 Copy

Kabsal

Huh. It seems a proto-Shallan did already exist as of this version [Way of Kings Prime]. I thought with the prologue's discussions of House Davar that Shallan would have been a more recent development.

Peter Ahlstrom

Brandon sees Shinri and Shallan as entirely different people who have the same last name and are both Jasnah's ward. However, most of the other characters are the same people as they are in the published novel.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
#17 Copy

Questioner

How was Shallan able to bond with Pattern before she was broken?

Brandon Sanderson

She was open to him even before she went through a lot of that turmoil

Questioner

I thought everybody had to be broken in order to--

Brandon Sanderson

Well, that's their philosophy in-world. But I'm not going to say whether it's correct or wrong. I will imply that there are other means as well.

Shardcast Interview ()
#18 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

But now since Veil has been incorporated, so Veil is Shallan now, again. Which is one of those things that as I was doing it, I recognized could be controversial in the D.I.D. community, because there are various different opinions about whether incorporating alters is good for the individual, or not. The decision I made on this is, it was good for Shallan in that circumstance. Using my best understanding of the psychology, and the treatment recommendations, and knowing both sides of that argument. It was the right thing for Shallan right then. That doesn't mean necessarily that she has to incorporate Radiant in order to be healthy. I will just point that out.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
#21 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering if there's any correlation between the spren in the Axies interlude in the Way of Kings with his faces, and what Shallan does in Oathbringer when she's going through the faces telling them it doesn't hurt? 'Cause it said the refugees saw her nature as a spren, and I made a connection there. Is it a coincidence?

Brandon Sanderson

I will call that mostly coincidence.

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

JoyBlu

Do you have a pronunciation guide anywhere?

Brandon Sanderson

So, we need to put one of these up. I put one up for Elantris. The trick with pronunciation guides is that, personally, I am kind of a believer in that I write a script where you are the director. You get the script I've provided, and then as you read the story, you are creating the actual final detail of how everything looks and osunds and stuff. And so, in your head, your version of the character names are canon to you, and there is no right pronunciation, really. I can give you the one that I thin is closest to how they would say it in-world, but I don't even always say them right. For instance, I just said Tashikk for the country in the Makabaki region when I was reading the Lift thing. But that's actually the Arab ق (IPA: /q/) sound, I can't even do it, it's the double-q. I can't say that. *Brandon tries to say taʃiq* Peter can do it, my editorial assistant, he's not here, but he can do it. I can't. I say them like an American. I say "KELsier" (ˈkɛlsiər). They say "kelsiEY" (ˈkɛlsiˌei). So, is my version right? My version is wrong, but it's right to me? So, yeah. But if there's a character name you want to know how I say it, I can tell you. Is there one specifically?

Questioner

Shallan?

Brandon Sanderson

I say shuLAWN (ʃəˈlɔn). But, again, none of us are actually Veden like her, so who knows how they say it? They would have some accent that would be something that I can't even do.

Questioner

What's Sazed? How do you say that?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, Saze? So, I say say-zed (seizɜd). But I say that, and that's how Kelsier says it. Sazed himself is from the Terris region, he's gonna have a slightly different pronunciation. I would say that say-zed is not how he says it. It's gonna be either sawzd (sɔzd) or, it's gonna be something softer like that. I just say it like Kelsier does. But he says it wrong, depending on your definition of wrong.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#24 Copy

Questioner

Why don't you have to say the words if you're just bonding a Cryptic?

Brandon Sanderson

Every Order's First Oath is the same. Then the Second Oaths for the Cryptics go into truths, but everybody says the First Oath the same regardless of Order. Which should raise the question of--

Questioner

Did Shallan say it when she was a teeny-weeny, like in the cradle?

Brandon Sanderson

That should raise a question. She wasn't teeny-weeny, but it should raise a question there.

Supanova 2017 - Sydney ()
#25 Copy

Darkness (paraphrased)

Further on in that… do different gemstones hold a different flavor, or different "frequency" of Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Umm…. Nnnnnnnnooooooo… But kind of? Here's the thing: So with the gemstones on Roshar… scientifically some of these gemstones are just really close to one another. Like chemical formula and whatever. But, their cognitive selves and their spiritual selves are gonna be very different because of human perception, right? (sure) And so, the answer is both a no and a yes because of that. So people's perception has sort of changed how the magic works, to an extent… but it's the same amount of investiture, just with slightly different flavorings.

Darkness (paraphrased)

Right, so… is it easier for a Soulcaster to turn rock into smoke with a smokestone as opposed to a ruby?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

So… Soulcasting… is gonna really depend on whether you're using a soulcaster.

Darkness (paraphrased)

First is for a Soulcaster, second is for a Surgebinder.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

A Surgebinder is far less constrained than someone using a device accessing surges, right? A Knight Radiant is far less constrained than somebody using a mechanical means of accessing magic, and I would include Honorblades as a mechanical means of accessing a surge.

Darkness (paraphrased)

Cool! So with the whole Jasnah scene, she inhales Stormlight, for using Soulcasting. So how is it the Soulcaster appears to glow more fiercely instead of growing dimmer in that scene?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Um… heh heh heh… So… this is perception on Shallan's part, watching and kind of resonating with the Soulcasting, and some weird things are happening that she sees, and not necessarily anyone else is seeing.

Darkness (paraphrased)

I love that! Alright… Also, did Taravangian recognize that Jasnah was not Soulcasting traditionally? Like was it the hand sinking into the rock that gave it away?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Taravangian knew and already suspected.

English Reading Series at BYU 2018 ()
#26 Copy

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He told me he consults with several people who are well versed in psychology when he tries to portray anything along these lines. He did say (and this goes along with other statements already made) that his intention was not to have Shallan diagnosed with DID like Kaladin is with Depression. He did take some ideas from the disorder to use in the story, but he didn't intend for her to be set into a specific mental illness category. Like we said before, Brandon's focus was mainly on the magical consequences, which makes her case weird anyways.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
#27 Copy

Questioner

Is Shallan's truth, "I am hap-- It's okay that I can be happy?"

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to dig into that, but this is a big part of it. Let me RAFO that because I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to express it as it goes along, but that sentiment is a huge part of what's going on with Shallan.

Questioner

I was expecting her to manifest Shardplate in the middle of her wedding because she had spoken such a core truth of her identity.

Brandon Sanderson

Let's just say that I'm being very careful about how I show off the first manifestations of Shardplate for narrative reasons.

Oathbringer London signing ()
#29 Copy

kari-no-sugata

Shallan... in Oathbringer... she meets Adolin, and he's staring into her eyes. And she thinks that he can see that when she's Shallan again. So, my question is, is she correct? And if so, how did Adolin see that?

Brandon Sanderson

So, it's not a magical thing. She shifts even when she's kind of being herself-- When she becomes different people, even if she's not completely Lightweaving herself, she shifts.

kari-no-sugata

Is it visible?

Brandon Sanderson

It is visible.

kari-no-sugata

So he's looking very closely.

Brandon Sanderson

And he wouldn't be able to point out that he had seen that. But it's intuitive, and he's learned to recognize that.

kari-no-sugata

...In her final scene, she seems like she kind of summons her personas-- as if she's fully in control, and they're not coming by themselves anymore, is that correct?

Brandon Sanderson

No.

kari-no-sugata

So, they still come and go as they want?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, she's much more in control, but still has a way to go.

kari-no-sugata

Would Wit basically approve of what she's done?

Brandon Sanderson

He would give her a "that's a step forward, but you're not there yet."

Firefight Miami signing ()
#30 Copy

Questioner

I can't really remember very well, but I think only Kaladin really says Radiant Oaths in the books, at least. So, for Shallan to have as many powers as she does, has she already said one of the ideals, and we just don't know?

Brandon Sanderson

...You have her glyph whisper one. And you have seen Dalinar say one. So, most of them say them. Shallan's Order, they admit truths. Their Oaths are a very different sort of thing.

Questioner

'Cause I know, I did read that, but I was wondering-- it said somewhere else that all the Knights Radiant have to say the First Ideal.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they do have to do that.

Questioner

So, she has said that.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, she has said that. That is somewhere in her past.

Questioner

Which, presumably, we'll find out about some other point in time?

Brandon Sanderson

Possibly. I think that can be inferred.

ConQuest 46 ()
#31 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The question is: Shallan from The Stormlight Archive being an illustrator herself, an artist, gave me an interesting opportunity to show the world through sketches and illustrations, is that something I thought about ahead of time?

In fact that was one of my big goals with The Stormlight Archive, I wanted to-- So I have this feeling on epic fantasy, one of the cool things about it is this sense of immersion, and then the epic fantasies that I have loved the most, things like Dune, if you count that as fantasy it's one of those hybrids, or The Wheel of Time, what they do is they really make this world real to you and that helps these characters, you know I will say that characters are most important but if characters are caring about things you think are silly or interacting in a world you think is not real, you aren't going to believe those characters. And so for me I am always looking for how I can enhance that sense of immersion, and how can I do that without burdening the reader with huge long paragraphs of descriptions of the world around them. And very early in the process of doing The Stormlight Archive I decided I wanted to base a character on Pliny the Elder, which is one of the early scholars in Western thought who did all these sketches and writings-- Back in those days a scientist was everything, right? Darwin did sketches and things like this. You are going to be drawing and writing and approaching all of the sciences and arts as one. Instead of being a person who makes food or stabs other people you are going to do all the other stuff. And that was a really interesting character for me because I was able to develop this idea of "We are going to put sketches in the books". Now The Stormlight Archive, one of the rules with myself is that these all, all the art and there's some thirty pieces of art plus in each book, all have to be in-world artifacts. That's the sense of immersion, right? I don't think we've lost it but it's become a cliche that every fantasy novel has a map in front of it. And that stretches back to Tolkien, but Tolkien's map was the map they used in the book to travel, right? It's the actual map. And I like that, it says "Here's this artifact from the world" rather than "Here is an illustrator from our world giving you this extra information". And so I've taken great pains to say what kind of art they would have, how can I get this into the books, why is it relevant, and how does it help? I found that this helps, particularly with Shallan being a natural historian, sketching out creatures that I don't have to maybe spend quite as long describing-- I still have to because a lot of people listen to the audiobook and I still want them to get the picture, but it just helps cement those things. Anyway, that was one of my big excitements about the world for years and years and it's one of the things propelling me to write it.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#33 Copy

Questioner

We've got Kaladin's name meaning, do we have Shallan's?

Brandon Sanderson

Shallan is-- Her name comes from Shalash, the herald, so it's kind of like naming somebody Christian in a lot of ways. Or naming someone Michael, though Michael has a meaning. Shalash does too but it's so old-- Like-- Yes, it will have a meaning but really what you need to know is "she is named after the Herald Shalash", right? But I'm sure we can dig out what the meaning is because it does have a meaning... I mean Kaladin's has a meaning even though he's named after Kalak.

Fantasy Faction interview ()
#34 Copy

Fantasy Faction

In The Way of Kings, when Shallan zones out and draws a picture of a dead noble at a dinner table, was she drawing her own father after she killed him with her Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

Ooh, good question! You will want to read Words of Radiance, where her flashbacks may indeed involve this scene that she drew.

Paris signing ()
#38 Copy

Demiandre (paraphrased)

I wondered about Shallan's eidetic memory, and about the possibility of trapping a spren. Could a bonded spren be trapped inside a gemstone and trapped in a safe? If so, would something else - not Investiture related - fill the "crack in the soul"? Could that be linked to her memory or her need to draw before Lightweaving?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

In and about, he answered that what Shallan does isn't out of the ordinary, and it is possible to trap a bonded spren inside a gemstone.

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
#39 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seven

I've taken some visual art classes. I'm terrible at drawing—as you would expect from someone without a lot of experience—but I felt it would be important to know how visual art works and how artists think. Listening to the professors talk was in many ways more useful than the practice itself, though I did enjoy the drawing as well.

(As a side note, my final project for an art class in 2002—a basic drawing class—was a landscape of Roshar with rockbuds and the like. I took a stab at doing my own concept art, and bad though it was, it did help me start to visualize the world.)

How Shallan thinks here is really a blend of how I think as a writer and how I've heard visual artists think of their process. I'm drawing heavily on my own experience, and because of that blend, I suspect that to many artists her process will sound odd.

Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
#44 Copy

Swamp-Spirit

Shallan's Memory ability to capture an image doesn't seem to be working exactly like an eidetic memory...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Swamp-Spirit

...because she can erase it by drawing. Is that tied directly to the magic of Lightweaving? And if so would other creative Lightweavers have similar abilities.

Brandon Sanderson

If you look at the epigraphs there is a big hint on this, where it talks about it and yes... I have problems with eidetic memory, just because scientifically most scientists say this is not a real thing. So I would say that whenever-- Because of my knowledge of the science of it understand that you would need some sort of magical enhancement to be able to do what she does.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#45 Copy

vanahian

And for a friend of mine and her sanity... The Shalladin thing will be something or is all in her head? Stop her pain please :D.

Brandon Sanderson

Shallan has made her choice. I wouldn't expect that to change.

vanahian

And thanks for the answer in 11. My friend is crying but now she can go ahead with her life :)

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah...I do feel bad about that. If it's any comfort, tell her I think she'll eventually be very pleased it went this way. It might take a few more books, though.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#46 Copy

Botanica

Will Shallan undergo more apprenticeships in future SA books?

Brandon Sanderson

I think you'd find that she considers herself beyond that. Not because she's full of herself (though she is a little) but because she has started to resist boundaries placed on her by others.

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
#47 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eight

Shallan Rejected Again

I do wonder at reader reaction to these Shallan sequences. Some in the writing group found these scenes too long. They figured it was inevitable that Shallan would end up as Jasnah's ward, and so spending several chapters with Shallan working overtime to secure the position wasn't interesting to them.

I admit this is a potential problem with the sequence. However, I felt it important to show both Shallan's determination and Jasnah's character with these sequences. I needed to show Shallan working very hard for what she wanted. It also gave me several opportunities to show the contrasting timidity/insolence that makes up how I view Shallan as a character.

Stormlight Three Update #3 ()
#48 Copy

Moosehead

I'm pretty sure it's a case of me just forgetting that I read such a part, but where in the book does Shallan find out about Kaladin's abilities? I know once Adolin confronts Shallan for the first time about her powers, he then asks if she can fly like 'him (Kaladin)', and she just goes yeah, as if she knew for some time now about Kaladin's abilities.

It's such a small thing but it's been grinding away at me. I know Shallan revealed to Kaladin by summoning her Shardblade over his shoulder in the chasm, but how did Kaladin reveal himself to Shallan?

Brandon Sanderson

If you re-read that scene, I believe she's confused by the question about her being able to fly, as so far as she knows, Radiants don't fly. (She only knows about herself and Jasnah.) She finds out about Kaladin sometime around when most everyone else finds out about him, I believe. I'd have to look back specifically to see if I noted it, but by the end of that battle, everyone will be talking about it and so she will know.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
#50 Copy

Questioner

There's a lot of situations where people hear voices or see visions, stuff like that. What would be the effect, if somebody had something like mental condition like schizophrenia or multiple personality? Because you talk about-- Because a lot of the magic is about their will, you know?

Brandon Sanderson

Schizophrenia in the cosmere is going to-- So, anytime you're seeing the future, and things like that, you're kinda glimpsing into the Spiritual Realm. That's why it happens so often, because the magic systems are the way they work, are coming down from the Spiritual Realm. Schizophrenia will make you more open to that, so you are more likely to actually see the future. But you won't be able to tell it from the things your mind is making up, which is gonna be really dangerous.

Questioner

So, what if you had, like, one personality wanna do one thing, and another one trying to do something else, would it cancel each other out?

Brandon Sanderson

Not necessarily. I mean, we're going a little that direction with Shallan, anyway. You'll see.