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Starsight Release Party ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

I was just going to ask if we're going to hear any more from First of the Sun.

Brandon Sanderson

I actually started writing a sequel story but it gives a lot away about Era 4 of Mistborn. I'm like, "I don't know if I can do this."

Questioner

So we'll just wait a little bit.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. We'll see if Peter thinks I'm giving away too many things. Like I don't want to give away endings of like the Stormlight Archive in the short story and so I have to be careful about those things.

General Reddit 2020 ()
#2 Copy

entreri22

Is it bad that I don't want to start reading stormlight until after you've finished it all. I hover over the buy button all the time, but can never bring myself to do it. Do you ever have the same problem reading a new series?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I do--and I understand how you feel. As someone who spent years always waiting on the next book of the Wheel of Time, I certainly can't complain if you decide to wait.

My goal is for book five to come to a kind of "mid-series climax" wrapping up several of the main plot arcs, so you could read there. But there WILL be things after that book, still dangling, that I won't get to until the back five books. So I could see someone wanting to wait until they're all done.

Until then, there are plenty of finished series worth a read. Malazan book of the Fallen is done, for example, and is really well done.

Chris5176

For the back 5, is it gonna be the same structure as the originals? Example being, interludes, 3 primary POVs, Keteks, etc.

Brandon Sanderson

Mostly the same. Prologues should all be on the same day, but a different day from the first five. Will included flashbacks, in the same style, but will probably have more than three primary POVs. Not sure on Keteks yet.

Starsight Release Party ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

What's the inspiration for Lift? Because she's super crazy and unique.

Brandon Sanderson

The absolute first was when I was designing the Knights Radiant, I said: I need to have a variety - I need to have older Knights Radiant and I need to have younger Knights Radiant. She grew - like a lot of my characters - out of me naturally trying some viewpoints, practicing different characters, and seeing where it goes, eventually landing on what I thought worked. And I really wanted her to be different, so. 

Questioner

So, you wanted her to be a gremlin?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
#4 Copy

Questioner

What are the other books in The Stormlight Archive going to be about?

Brandon Sanderson

Well each one is going to cover a flashback sequence for one of the characters and each one will focus on a different order of the Knights Radiant. And that's not always the same, like the flashbacks for the first one were Kaladin and it was also Windrunners, but we won't always have them be the exact same.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#5 Copy

Questioner

So, one of the things I know, you have your own universe that you've produced, and it's fantastic. what's the series you're gonna create or have created that's the cornerstone, that will have the largest impact on the universe.

Brandon Sanderson

I would say Mistborn going all the way through is probably the most impact. Stormlight is gonna have a decent one, so is the Elantris world.

Questioner

Is there gonna be a union book or series?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the final Mistborn series.

Arched Doorway Interview ()
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Rebecca Lovatt

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?

Brandon Sanderson

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."

Rebecca Lovatt

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.

Brandon Sanderson

With something like The Stormlight Archive, it was a matter of months or years of working on the magic systems. It really varies.

WorldCon 76 ()
#7 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

One of the things I read when I was researching for Stormlight that was really interesting, I kind of dug into, was this idea that practical medicine, particularly through the Middle Ages up approaching the Renaissance, was actually the one that was regarded with fear, superstition, and dislike. Which is why it fell to the barbers. And what we would call the "superstitious physician" was a well-respected position, depending on where you were looking. And it was this weird area where people who were approaching things practically and actually doing what you needed to do, were being ostracized and vilified. It wasn't as bad as being an executioner; that was the worst deal. But there was this sort of thing, that those people stayed-- You did not want your son or daughter marrying into that family, and these sorts of things. It was really interesting.

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Goron

You've mentioned before that all your books so far are in chronological order (Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, Stormlight Archive). Alloy of Law takes place about 200 years after The Hero of Ages. (Right?) Does this put it chronologically before or after Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

The Alloy of Law takes place around 300 years after The Hero of Ages and several hundred years before the events in The Way of Kings. That does put it around the same time as Warbreaker.

Oathbringer Newcastle signing ()
#10 Copy

Questioner

Time-wise, where do the events of Bands of Mourning happen with respect to Words of Radiance?

Brandon Sanderson

...So, Bands of Mourning, all the Wax & Wayne books take place after Stormlight 5, but I'm not sure if it happens after or before Stormlight 6, It'll have to wait, because there's a time jump between Stormlight 5 and 6 that I haven't exactly defined in the timeline yet.

GollanczFest London ()
#11 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

*inaudible* [Presumably about the interval between Stormlight 5 and 6]

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I can't tell you too much without giving you spoilers. It's not a jump like Mistborn. It's more like ten or fifteen years. It will be the same characters, but some of the main characters will fade to be more minor characters, and some of the minor characters will fade to be more major characters. For example, Lift is one of the main characters for the second part, and Jasnah, and Renarin, and such.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
#13 Copy

Questioner

So do you know quite a bit about what the end of the <Stormlight series> is going to be?

Brandon Sanderson

I do.  I do indeed.  I've actually written the epilogue of Book 5.  

Questioner

Oh yeah?

Brandon Sanderson

Just to get into my head.  I wrote it out.  Peter, my assistant, sent an explanation point after he saw that appear in the Wiki and stuff.  So yes.  And actually the ending of the entire series of the ten books is somewhere in those two books, just like with Mistborn it was in the first page.  It's not on the first page but it is in those two books.  

A Memory of Light Portland signing ()
#17 Copy

Brent Weeks

So I hear the Stormlight Archive is supposed to be ten books. So does that mean 15 or 20? *audience laughs*

Brandon Sanderson

Stormlight Archive is supposed to be ten books. I'm hoping it will be ten books. It is two sequences of five, so you can ask me after the first five-book sequence where I am in my original outline. It should stay pretty close to that, I hope. I don't know. I used to be able to say everything stayed the same length I wanted it to be, but then my Wheel of Time book got split into three, so I can't say that any more.

Brent Weeks

Two years between books?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, two years between books. They're very thick and involved, and I want to be doing other things as well. I like to jump projects--it's what keeps me fresh. It's what allows me to keep on doing this productively, and if I get stuck in one thing, no matter how much I love it, I find that I get less and less excited about it as time passes. But if I finish one book and skip to something else--like an Alcatraz book--for a little while and then jump back, I find my enthusiasm has come back to the beginning, where it was. And so I do a lot of jumping between projects.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#21 Copy

Questioner

I'm 66 in a couple months and I want to make sure I live long enough to read the whole Stormlight--

Brandon Sanderson

Alright.

Questioner

Am I going to?

Brandon Sanderson

You'll definitely make it through the first five. The thing about it is I'll break in the middle, but the first five come to a natural climax, and then there's an in-world break of 15 years. Not 15 years away for us but an in-world break. And then I'll do another trilogy. I think you'll make it through them all. I think you'll easily make it, you look very hale and healthy.

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
#25 Copy

Questioner

What’s the hardest power you've created to find a balance for?

Brandon Sanderson

Hardest power to create a balance for? I'd say first is Wheel of Time, but I didn't create that... Hardest to balance… They've all been fairly easy so far. My guess is that it will end up being Stormlight just because I am doing so many books in that world, and I'm not resetting characters as much as I am in Mistborn, that I'm going to have to be careful about power creep... That's an excellent question.

Towers of Midnight Cambridge signing ()
#26 Copy

Quantumplation (paraphrased)

I haven't read Way of Kings yet, but I've read Warbreaker and Mistborn, and the thing I like most about them is the Magic systems.  Will Way of Kings have multiple magic systems?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Depending on how you count it, Stormlight Archive will have 3 or 30 different magic systems.

Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
#28 Copy

Questioner

So, I was gonna ask about which character the next book would focus on?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, no, that's not spoilery... I said from the get-go I am perfectly all right writing a flashback sequence for a character who has already died in the books. So it's not telling you any spoilers to tell you who the various characters are. So, the front five are Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar, Eshonai, and Szeth. Those are our front five. And our back five are Lift, Jasnah, Ash, Taln, and Renarin. And, not in that order. I've flipped the order quite a bit as I've been going. 'Cause Dalinar was gonna be book five, and now he's book three. So now Szeth is book five, and Eshonai is book four. Right now, Lift is book six. But the back five, I'm not concerned about, other than making sure I'm setting up the right things, and it's gonna come together.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#32 Copy

Questioner

Why do you do interludes? What possessed you to go that direction instead of just including it as another chapter?

Brandon Sanderson

I felt that one of the foibles of the large series epic fantasy genre is the tendency of authors to go afield down paths of side characters. It happened to Robert Jordan, it happened to George R.R. Martin. And so reading theirs I hoped to learn from them and say "I'm going to do this thing that gives me a pressure valve to tell these stories that are outside the main line but I'm not going to give myself enough room that I can just turn this into a full character, yet." That allows me to do goofy stuff around the world but have a form for it built into the book.

DragonCon 2019 ()
#33 Copy

DoritoJH

We know that there are spren that are partially of Honor, partially of Cultivation, and Odium. Can there be spren made of any combination of Shards?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Well, you would have to call them... Under that definition if you call a seon a spren, then yes. If you don't call a seon a spren, if you define a spren as, "On Roshar, related to the natural world of Roshar," then no. Theoretically yes, but it wouldn't really work. But it depends on how you define spren. If a Shard were to come and reside on Roshar like the other ones have, then you could theoretically see other new spren appearing out of them.

DoritoJH

Could there be a spren of all 16 Shards combined all at once?

Brandon Sanderson

*hands out RAFO card*

Oathbringer London signing ()
#34 Copy

Questioner

When Kaladin runs out of Stormlight, is that something you've worked out, how much Stormlight should have, and how much each move takes?

Brandon Sanderson

So, what I do is, I actually write the thing first, and then I tell my assistant, "Work out how much he needs," and then I give him that much. I work backward. Yeah, I do that a lot in books, but that's a little bit seeing how the sausage is made, there.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#35 Copy

Questioner

So I know the last Alloy of Law was a standalone book, not part of the next trilogy. Is this book [Shadows of Self] the start of the next trilogy?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. This is not the start of the actual, official next-- Like-- So, I'm calling these books all Era 2, I moved the next books to Era 3, but this is the start of a trilogy about Wax and Wayne.

Questioner

Is that why they're kind of shorter?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Well they're kind of shorter because I wanted something to balance Stormlight that was-- So like Stormlight you have to keep track of all these characters and they have this continuing storyline that is so deep that it's-- you kind of have to re-read each in the series each time. I did not want you to have track that in another series, any of my other series. That's why both Steelheart and Mistborn now you will see the self-contained stories, where certain things-- it's a trilogy, but it's keep track of one, or two, characters, not keep track of an entire thing. And then there's an arc and done, an arc and done, an arc and done. That is intentional. So, you might see Stormlight stories more that length when I go back to... Scadrial for longer stories.

Questioner

So there's still going to be another trilogy that's more modern and then a sci-fi one?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes there's still going to be a modern trilogy and a sci-fi trilogy.

BookCon 2018 ()
#36 Copy

Questioner

How did you know that Stormlight and Mistborn were going to be the focus [of the cosmere]?

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of writers figured out the *inaudible* exploration. And I had the advantage when I broke-in that I had written all these books before, and I was able to go back and say, "The Way of Kings, there's something special about--" right from the beginning, there's something special about that.

I was able to look back at say, Mistborn, which had I had tried the magic system. The magic system really worked, my best magic system. I know this has the best magic magic system, if I can match a plot to it that makes it a good book, I can make that magic system kind of the spine of what I'm doing.

...So I got lucky on that. In some ways, not publishing for a long time was the luckiest thing that could have happened to me.

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
#38 Copy

Questioner

In the second series of Stormlight Archive, are they going to be about the same characters?

Brandon Sanderson

That's an excellent question. So when I sat down to build The Stormlight Archive, there were a couple of things that I learned from The Wheel of Time. One was that the further an epic fantasy series goes, the more important it is that you have a structure to the series. It's very easy for the books to start blending into one another, and it's also very easy to let side characters take over books. This is very natural for us as writers, particularly in a big epic fantasy, and I felt that when I approached The Stormlight Archive there are a couple of things I did. One is that I said "All right, I'm going to confine all my side characters to these things called interludes, where I can just go crazy and do whatever I want, but they have to be like, isolated in their own containment unit called the interludes to prevent me from turning from the books just going in all directions at once."

The other thing I said is, "Each book is going to be about an order of Knights Radiant, and it's going to have a flashback sequence directly tied to that order." So that when you say "All right, which book is book three," you're like, "Oh, that's Dalinar's book, that's the Bondsmith book." All of the characters are in all of the books, but each book has kind of its own soul and theme that helps me as a writer structure where I'm going to release information, and what it's going to be about. And so when I set down this, I said said "I'm going to pick 10 characters, 10 orders (and they are not always going to be exactly what you expect), but I'm going to build each book to have a theme based around those things."

The first five were Dalinar, Kaladin, Shallan, Eshonai and Szeth. So those are the five books you are going to get in the first arc. And the second arc is Lift, Renarin, Ash, Taln and Jasnah, right. Now, all the characters from the first five will be in all those books, and some of them will still be main characters. You can expect it, like it is one series. All the ones that survive *crowd groans* no spoilers. But you can expect in the back five, people that you are expecting that are main characters now will still be main characters, and you will have a lot of space dedicated to them still, but the flashback sequences, and the themes of the book, will focus on those five. And so it hopefully will help it all have a structure and a feeling. 

Between book 5 and book 6, in-world, there will be a time jump of about 10 years, so just be expecting that. But I can't say anything more without getting into spoilers, so I won't. But that's what you can expect.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#39 Copy

Questioner

So the first one is Kaladin's backstory, the second is Shallan's backstory, who's next?

Brandon Sanderson

I actually haven't been able to decide yet. It's going to be one of the five for the first five books are Kaladin and Shallan and then Dalinar, Szeth, and Eshonai and I can't decide which one matches the next book best. And I'm going to have to write it...

Argent

What's the current list for the back five?

Brandon Sanderson

Current list for the back five... Jasnah, Lift, Ash, Renarin, and Taln.

Footnote: Brandon eventually decided to go with Dalinar for Stormlight 3.
Pocatello signing ()
#40 Copy

LairdDuncan (paraphrased)

You mention the phases of the moon fairly often in [The Way of Kings]--is this significant or something that we should be paying attention to?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

After working with the Wheel of Time community and dealing a lot with fans wanting to know when certain events happened in regards to some other event, Brandon added in [details about the moons] in order to give dedicated fans a way of determining the chronology of the events of the Stormlight Archive.

Footnote: When initially reported Peter questioned the accuracy of this exchange as "the way the moons are used in Words of Radiance really has nothing to do with phases", LairdDuncan then explained that Brandon didn't actually use the word "phase" but did indicate the moons could be used to determine chronology.
Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#41 Copy

Questioner

You know the artwork... the arches with the faces? What are those?

Brandon Sanderson

Those are each of the Heralds. And those archways, Isaac picks based on what he thinks the themes of the chapter are. I don't pick which faces go on there. He reads the chapter... he tries to align what's happening with the emotions represented by the various characters. 

Questioner

And the thing underneath it is?

Brandon Sanderson

Generally the symbol of the viewpoint character. But those shift. Like for instance we sometimes start with a general one, and as the characters get more individual we add ones specifically for them. Usually you'll have one that's the viewpoint character, and then like for instance the ones for Jasnah and Shallan split apart when originally they just had one, and stuff like that.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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TopRamen713

I think it's probably the remnants of the first agreement between the singers and humans. They were allowed to terraform Shinovar, and rule that area, but anywhere else, they were forbidden from. Eventually, it morphed into the "soil lands are for humans, everywhere else is for singers." Then, over the millennia, it became a religious teaching, "don't walk on stones."

Peter Ahlstrom

Brandon wrote a ton of worldbuilding down before starting to write the first book, and this particular thing is definitely something he planned from the start. He does keep a lot of stuff in his head, but sometimes that shifts over time. Part of our job is to make sure what's in his head now doesn't conflict with what has previously been published.

If the outline doesn't work for something, Brandon will change it while writing. As long as it doesn't conflict with published canon, it's always more awesome than his earlier plans.

Starsight Release Party ()
#44 Copy

Questioner

Will we see more of Rysn in the Stormlight Archive books?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. I plan to... She never becomes a main character. I plan to have an interlude with Rysn every time.

Questioner

She won't be out of the interludes?

Brandon Sanderson

No, she won't be, but I might write a novella with her. Like I did with Lift.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#46 Copy

Questioner

You mentioned you like the interludes-- that the assigned characters don't take over the story. Is that to say that we will never really see those characters again or do--

Brandon Sanderson

You will see them on occasion. For instance, in the first book there's a guy named Axies the Collector, right? And in the second book in one of the interludes somebody walks by him, right? But the idea is that the interlude characters, for the most part are-- I'm not promising you an entire story about them. They-- you're getting a glimpse of the world and most of them will not return. A few of them will, on occasion. You'll see references to them and things like that. Their main point-- the main point of them is so that we can-- I can just have a pressure valve to just tell stories about Roshar that don't have to necessarily be in the main plot. Though I always choose one-- I choose them very specifically, right? I do them knowing that there's something-- some part of the world that you need as a clue for later on. If you like foreshadowing and stuff, a lot of these have foreshadowing.

Stormlight Three Update #1 ()
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SageOfTheWise

Aww, was really hoping to get a Rysn book. Hopefully we still get a lot more of her anyway.

She can team up with Adolin and make their own club for people too cool for books.

Brandon Sanderson

Rysn will appear again. Not getting a book does not mean someone isn't an important character, just that I don't consider them as having a flashback sequence worthy of structuring a book around.

Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
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HellaSober

(Until the second five books, where our primary characters will shuffle. So you Renarin fans will have to be patient.)

Do you worry that assuring us that a character will likely survive the first arc of the series removes some of the tension in their scenes?

(While you've discussed the idea that a main character can have a book about them while they are dead when Dalinar was expected to be central to book 5, this seems different)

Brandon Sanderson

I have said many times before that Renarin and Lift are main characters for the next five, but--as you point out--I've also said that I have no problem having a main character who is actually dead, and their story told through flashbacks and the stories of the other characters. Renarin is not safe, but you will see a lot more from him in the future, even if he does die.

To say more would be to give too many spoilers about the nature of the back five books.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#49 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

For those who don't know it is Dalinar's book. Each story, each novel in The Stormlight Archive delves into one of the main characters' backstories and catches you up how they got to their first chapters in the first book. So the first book was Kaladin, second book's Shallan, third book's Dalinar. Right now, fourth book is Eshonai, fifth book is Szeth. I could end up switching those two. But that's kind of how that works. And then, for those who don't know, The Stormlight Archive-- at the end of book five there will come to a conclusion, though it's not the main conclusion, it's the end of the arc. We will leave Roshar for a while while I write a few more books, and when we come back Roshar in-world will have passed about fifteen years. And then we will do the back five characters as I call them-- their backstories. So that's Lift, Jasnah, Taln, Renarin, and Ash-- yeah, Ash. There's two Heralds among that group, so you can kind of guess what those flashbacks will deal with, in the back five. The main characters of the first five, who survive, will still be a big part of those back five. So it's not a separate series, but I do consider it two separate arcs. We need to pass some time for some various reasons.

Kraków signing ()
#50 Copy

Questioner

Do you have any idea when you’ll finish this series?

Brandon Sanderson

So there’ll be two five-book groups, first five should finish fairly soon. But then there’ll be a break while I write something else and then I’ll come back to the back five, so i’m not sure, but the first five will have their own arc.