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The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Four

Waxillium enters the party with Steris

Alpha and beta readers had an interesting response to Steris. It was almost always passionate, many hated her immediately, some thought she was terribly flat, and others found her to be the most interesting character in the book.

I wasn't intending her to be so divisive, honestly. I'm very fond of her myself, and so I wanted to embed some strong personality quirks to perhaps make use of some day. Now, that's not to say that I will make use of them. I like to give some depth to side characters (such as Spook and Breeze from the original trilogy) so that, if the opportunity presents itself, I'll have something to work with in new viewpoint characters. It's kind of done by instinct these days, and it being there is no promise (unfortunately) that Steris won't end up dead.

However, I very much like that as you learn more about the situation, the way Steris acts becomes more and more understandable. Perhaps not rational, as she’s really only rational in her own head. But she is who she is.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
#2 Copy

Questioner

I want to know more about the character Steris, like what was the inspiration for her, because watching her evolve has been one of my favorite things in the Mistborn series.

Brandon Sanderson

A couple things. One was I’d never written anyone as directly on the autism spectrum as she was, or she is, and I wanted to see if I could get this right. She also, I wanted to have a contrast between her and her sister. And that’s part of what I wanted to have, these two things. And I want to kind of pull the reversal on the reader, where this assumption when you go into a book is these two main protagonists are meant to hook-up, and I wanted to kind of twist that on its head because I didn’t think they should *audio cut off*.

BookCon 2018 ()
#3 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

*Inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

I loved writing Steris. Part of the fun was, I wrote her in Alloy of Law knowing that a lot of people were going to have an opinion of Steris they would have to change over time, and I liked watching fans come to that realization.

Calamity release party ()
#7 Copy

Questioner

It seemed like in Alloy of Law you made us like Marasi better than Steris, and then kind of switched it. Was your intention the whole time for them to end up with Steris, or...?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes.

Questioner

Okay, it was.

Brandon Sanderson

In fact, I like Steris a lot in the first book. But you are seeing things through the eyes of other characters. And Steris takes a little bit of time to warm up to. Like, many people like her. And once you get to know here--which, I always knew her--then there's a level of <thoughtfulness> there.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
#9 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Steris and Marasi. Did you plan the love interest to be [Steris] from the beginning?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

I did. Very beginning is a weird thing as an author to explain. Because the very beginning of that story, Wax didn't exist, it was only Wayne. Then I built Wax in, then I started building Wax's back history. Then I started building Marasi. Then I started building [right?] By the time that the outline for the four books was done, but even before that when I was just writing the first one, I knew what I was doing, there.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#11 Copy

Questioner

neuroatypicals

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, my pleasure. She says that she has Asperger's and when she read the book The Bands of Mourning, and the other ones that have Steris in them, she identified a lot with Steris. I appreciate that.

Questioner

Brandon Sanderson

What research did I do, did I talk to autistic people. I have several people in my life who actually have Asperger's specifically, and they were a huge resource, as you might imagine. One of the things that I like to do, kind of a mandate I have in my fiction, is to try to get people who are heroic who have different types of psychology than we usually see in heroes. Because the more I've lived in life, the more I've realized that we all are really distinctive in our own way, and our psychology all works differently. And yet we see a lot of heroes that all kind of have the same brain chemistry, it seems. Which has always felt really weird to me. And so it's kind of one my mandates to do that.

What research did I do? When I was in college, one of my favorite things to do was sneak into classes I wasn't signed up for, and the psychology classes were my favorite. This friend, who coincidentally was the one who wanted to be a chef, actually got a psychology major. His parents were "You should do something useful with your life." and so he got a psychology major, which he ended up going to med school. He didn't become a chef, he went to med school. He likes that too. But I would sneak into his classes and they were so useful as a writer, just listening to the different types, and to start to see personality not as-- We like to look at a lot of things as being normal or abnormal, but that's not the way it is. Everyone's personality is on this interesting spectrum and what is normal and what is abnormal is completely a matter of perspective. Where you stand on this line as opposed to-- It's like trying to make a value judgement that shouldn't really exist. And to come to see these personalities as great swathes of interesting color is what the psychology classes taught me. And so there was that and I did do some specific research for Steris and then I interviewed people as well.

I'm glad that you picked up on it without me ever having to say what she was, and things like that. That's when I really feel like I've nailed something, when you can read something and say "Yeah that's who this person is" instead of someone outside pointing and saying "this is who this person is, who they are"