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Skyward Seattle signing ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

Do you have a single name that you use to refer to all the singers, and the listeners, and the Parshmen: that entire species?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I usually use listener, but that's a cultural thing. So, I don't right now.

Questioner

I keep struggling with what to call them as a species, and eeehhh are they all singers? I mean they aren't really all singers.

Brandon Sanderson

We'll settle on something eventually.

Questioner

Okay, but we don't have anything right now.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
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Questioner

If a kandra were a Parshendi, would he be able to take the forms?

Brandon Sanderson

The Forms? The actual-- To an extent, yes. To an extent, yes, but part of that is the spren bond. You're not gonna get everything. You could look like one, but there'll be certain things you won't be able to do, even with the Form. You couldn't take a form of power... You could pass.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

I was wondering, in Stormlight, what kind of gem the [singer] gemhearts were, or do they just, do they hold Stormlight well?

Brandon Sanderson

So, this is a good question. This is one that people have been asking me since the first book, if they had one, and I've finally kind of confirmed it in book three. So the reason people don't think [singers] have a gemheart is it is milky white, and looks like bone.

Questioner

But aren't their bones red?

Brandon Sanderson

Their bones, well-- Their bones are red-- not completely. If you're going to pull out the bone, what you're going to see-- I'll explain it in the next book. So what you're going to do is, if you break open the bone, you're going to find this white-- It's not marrow but it is, yeah I guess it's marrow. Anyway at the center kind of in their sternum there is a gemheart there, but it is fused to the bone and it is grown into the bone, and you have to kind of snap it open and find it inside, and it kind of just looks like marrow, but there's a gemheart in there. And it kind of relates to some stuff in Dragonsteel that I'm not gonna get into. But you'll see in the next books. But there's a good reason people just don't think that [singers] have a gemheart. 

Questioner

So they must not glow much then, I'm assuming.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, well, it's surrounded by bone. So it's a different special thing. We'll bring it out in the following books. It might not be the next one.

BookCon 2018 ()
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WeiryWriter

At Emerald City Comic Con earlier this year, you stated that Singer gemhearts are a "milky white" color, and looked like bone/bone marrow. You also said they were related to something in Dragonsteel. Having read the sample chapters of The Liar of Partinel a while back, I couldn't help but be reminded of the skullmoss, which is a bone-white color. Are the singer gemhearts related to the fainlife in any meaningful or important way?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah they are very similar to Tamu Keks.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

For the creatures on Roshar... where do you start in your worldbuilding for that kind of hting?

Brandon Sanderson

So where I started for Roshar was the highstorm. So I knew I had the highstorm and I was going to want to build out from that, and I would want an ecology that incorporated the magic. Those were kind of the two things I was looking for. I wanted everything to deal with the storms in some way and be affected by them, and I wanted Stormlight and spren to be integrated into the way that the worldbuilding happened because this was my big worldbuilding epic. So I started along those two lines, and that's where gemhearts came from. That is where-- The [singers] grew naturally out of that. A lot of the creatures and things I looked toward tidal pools because I figured this was kind of a similar sort of thing, an environment that has to deal with a drastic change, a biome that deals with this repeatedly every day.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

What is the inspiration for the Parshendi?

Brandon Sanderson

There are a lot of different inspirations. One is wanting to build out of the setting a species that interacted with the setting and had a symbiotic relationship with the setting. The other was the idea of a people whose caste system, you could change castes and physically change into other castes of the system. So something like the hives you see, where you can switch from worker to various different tasks. I liked the cultural aspects of what that did.

Skyward Houston signing ()
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Questioner

How close is the enslavement of the parshmen to the Recreance, timeline-wise? 

Brandon Sanderson

Um, fairly close, as timeline issues go, but still many decades.

Questioner

Did it play any kind of factor in the decision?

Brandon Sanderson

Absolutely. But we're not talking about it happening next year. But it was a factor, how about that?

English Reading Series at BYU 2018 ()
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Finallity (paraphrased)

We've seen a number of human/singer hybrids (Unkalaki and Herdazians) and even human/Aimian hybrids (Natans). How is such a thing possible biologically or is there some outside influence there?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He said that they (humans and parshendi/aimians) can interbreed because they were made by the same person, or rather that they were made with the same intent, that they were made that way on purpose. They don't have a common heritage or anything though.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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wiresegal

In OB, you explained that the Singers have four sexes. I was wondering... Can the Singers have genders other than those four, like humans? Even as simple as just not going with male, female, or malen/femalen. Could a transgender Singer use their ability to shift forms to change their biological reality? And, finally, could a Spren be non-binary, if it wasn't personified in a typical male/female way?

Brandon Sanderson

In the cosmere as a whole, a person's perception of themselves has a lot of power over both their Spiritual and Physical forms. It is possible, with Investiture, to change their biology to match Cognitive perceptions--and while this could be easier for some races (like the Singers) it's not outside plausibility for any race.

There are non-binary spren, actually--and you should be meeting one important one quite soon in the books.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Argent

Was the reason the Listeners or the parsh people turned into parshmen, was that because Ba-Ado-Mishram was imprisoned by the Radiants? That she was Connected to all of them?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, yeah. That plays into what happened there.

Skype Q&A ()
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RenegadeShroom

Have any groups of singers ever had any nonbinary genders? That is to say, a fifth gender recognized by their culture, rather than malen and femalen, which seem to function as more of an extension of the gender binary than anything our culture would recognize as nonbinary.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Blightsong

Nightform seems to be a form capable of powers but doesnt seem like it destroys the original [singer] and replaces it with a Fused like other forms of power, at least based on what they have said in the Listener songs and its surrounding historical context. Am I right here?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

I know you have gay and lesbian, and you are planning on trans characters and have trans-ish characters. Do you have any asexual characters?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, though I'm cheating. All the [singers] are asexual in certain-- I do have a non-[singer] asexual character, but I cheated and made an entire race of asexual characters.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

Music on Roshar... How, why is it important, I mean more a why--

Brandon Sanderson

Why music? Music, the Rhythms you are speaking about specifically, or what?

Questioner

...There seems to be a lot that connects to music, with like the Dawnsingers, there's lots of people hearing the Rhythms--

Brandon Sanderson

It all comes from the Rhythms. That's all kind of interconnected.

Questioner

So they kind of hear where the Rhythms are originally coming from?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not saying that.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
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Pagerunner

Were there always slaveform parshmen between Desolations, or did that only happen after the False Desolation?

Brandon Sanderson

That, I believe only happened after the False Desolation. I have gone back and forth on that, but I think I can canonize it there. You do have to check with Peter. We had a big conversation about this a few years ago. But I'm pretty sure slaveform is a creation of the Last Desolation.

Pagerunner

Of the Last? Or the False one? ...Because, in the epigraphs, they're talking about how that one Unmade was getting in on them--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Oh, the False? No no no...

Pagerunner

So, it was done in the Last Desolation, but it was undone somewhat in the False Desolation, and that's what we saw in the...?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, no no no-- yeah, it is False. It is False Desolation.

Peter Ahlstrom

Slaveform happened at the False Desolation.

Stuttgart signing ()
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Krios (paraphrased)

If you have a form of manipulating your Identity and a form of healing, are you able to shapeshift or even evolve your body like growing wings?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

You'd have to do some real work on your Spiritweb to make that work. It'd take more work than you're implying, but the [singers] for instance are doing this. It'll take a little more work, it's not just blanking your Identity. Hemalurgy would make it very easy, but also very evil. But what you want to achieve is possible.

Skyward Denver signing ()
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Questioner

Can you turn a parshman into a Parshendi by giving them breath?

Brandon Sanderson

Parshendi is a nationality. So, no. No more than you could make someone an American by teaching them to speak with an American accent. But also, how do you define being a Parshendi when the culture is basically collapsed at this point? Basically, no.

Berlin signing ()
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Questioner

What happens in cosmere terms with Parshendi? Like, they Connect to a spren. And then, by it do they change their Identity, or what?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Basically what's happening is, that symbiosis has a similar effect to Hemalurgy, but not so nasty. And it's being reflected there in the Physical Realm.