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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.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#3 Copy

damenleeturks

Was anyone else completely surprised in Bands of Mourning when Wax offhandedly mentions that he and Lessie had been married?

I don't remember any mention of Wax and Lessie being married before that point in the series. Together, yes. But married, not at all.

Did I just miss it? Or did /u/mistborn forget to mention it in earlier books? (Or did he slip in some hand wavy retconning and hope no one noticed)?

Brandon Sanderson

This is one of those things that editors kept trying to change back, but which I insisted stay as it's not a contradiction to the earlier book. Wax's thinking of her in this way is a kind of unconscious defense against what his mind perceives as an attempt by society to wipe her out of existence and force him to move on.

damenleeturks

I appreciate that the intention here was for Wax's state of mind to feel a little off.

Still, with the concrete way he thinks of the relationship as a marriage, with how he remembers the specifics of a ceremony, it's hard for me to resolve your statement that "Wax and Lessie never had a real ceremony" with the conflicting statements in the text (emphasis mine)—

At the very beginning of chapter 1, Wax and Wayne are talking, Wax casually mentions that it's his second marriage and Wayne doesn't bat an eye:

“You gonna be all right?” Wayne asked.

“Of course I am,” Wax said. “This is my second marriage. I’m an old hand at the practice by now.”

Then, after Wax gets to the church and is getting dressed, he muses further on his previous wedding:

Then, after a moment’s hesitation, he strapped on his gunbelt and slid Vindication into her holster. He’d worn a gun to his last wedding, so why not this one?

And finally, Wax contemplates the actual ceremony as he and Steris are walking "down the aisle":

Wax found himself smiling. This was what Lessie had wanted. They’d joked time and time again about their simple Pathian ceremony, finalized on horseback to escape a mob. She said that someday, she’d make him do it proper.

With all three of these in short succession, Wax clearly establishes that 1. he was married before to Lessie (at least in his head), and 2. there was some kind of wedding ceremony (was this in his head, too?).

Brandon Sanderson

So, the following is how I explained it to Peter, I believe, back when he raised these objections during the editing stage. Wax and Lessie had no official marriage, though they did exchange some vows (as Wax notes, on horseback, fleeing a mob.)

Lessie gave him grief, claiming that it didn't count--that she wanted more. She wanted an actual wedding, and a piece of paper to say they were married. Wax figured this was good enough, and resisted wanting to do something more formal. It was his whole, "I am the law" thing he had out in the roughs. Focus on what matters, not what paper-pushers might claim he should do.

Over the years, they talked about getting married for real, and he started to think of the day they would. (Shifting his focus away from thinking of "my wife" but instead of kind of a long-term betrothed/common law wife.) When he lost her, and moved to Elendel, his viewpoint shifted. He wanted more and more to treat what they'd had as a legitimate marriage, for fear that what he and Lessie had would be wiped awaystamped out, by something more grand that society was demanding of him.

So while the event never changed, his perception of it certainly did. I intended for it to be contradictory, but only subtly so, and this is one of those things that I didn't feel like it was right to do in the text. (Much like Wayne's dislike of Steris for stealing Wax away from him and from the memory of Lessie--but this sentiment slowly shifting into a protectiveness of her as she reached the "inside" circle and gained legitimacy by making Wax happy.)

These are things that the characters themselves don't realize, and while I'll occasionally hang a lantern on them, sometimes I just leave it unspoken and subject to interpretation. If every little thing gets spelled out in the text, then I am left feeling that we're being too on the nose.

That said, once in a while, things like this DO annoy Peter. He'd prefer I pin the text down on things that seem to contradict one another.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Nine

Wax and Marasi talk philosophy and his past

This sort of thing is another hallmark of the Mistborn books. (And, well, perhaps my writing in general.) I intended this book to be faster paced than what I term an "epic" like any of the books in the original trilogy. I wanted to move at a fair clip and not get slowed too often by conversations like this one. However, conversations like these are what add depth to characters for me, so I didn't feel it right to cut them completely.

Here, we get to see Waxillium's and Marasi's different views on life, the ways that who they are ground what they do. Waxillium is a realist. He sees things as they are. (Or how he thinks they are, at least.) He has a touch of a philosopher inside of him, as he wonders about what the truth is—but he wants to find that truth, prove it. He's not unaccommodating or harsh, but he does believe in absolutes and wants to find them.

Marasi is more interested in extremes because they're interesting, not because she is seeking for truth or reality. She's like a moth drawn to flame, fascinated by outliers. She's good with numbers and statistics, and can find those outliers; then she reads as much as she can about them. She could name for you every serial killer in Elendel's history, and talk about their lives and what led them to do what they did. She wouldn't consider it morbid, just fascinating. Wax, reading the same thing, would find his eye twitching. He'd get through a part of the reading, then find himself out on patrol, trying to run across someone doing something wrong that he could stop.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#7 Copy

NotOJebus

If Wax/Marasi had worked out, he'd probably have been okay with it, for example.

Was there ever a chance this was going to be the case?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there was a slight chance. It wasn't what I had planned, but even an outline writer like myself must be willing to change plans as a story adapts. So until a book is published, there's a chance things will change.

However, in this case, the more I wrote, the more confident I was that this path was the right one.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Book's Title

It's from this chapter that we get the title of the book. The Alloy of Law. I realize it's an odd title. However, something about it strikes me. I don't think everyone is going to like it; it's certainly not as immediately powerful as something like The Way of Kings. But then, it's also a little more unique. It does, in my mind, encapsulate the theme of the novel. The idea is that these two men—Wax and Miles—are both taking their own interpretations of what it means to follow the law, and mixing it up and making something new of it. This book is a confrontation between their two different ideals.

The working book title was simply Wax and Wayne. (As I was writing the early chapters, that was how they were titled.) I knew this title wouldn't stick, however, as it's a pretty lame pun. Now, I happen to be fond of lame puns. But they don't belong in book titles unless you happen to be writing Xanth or Bob Asprin-type novels.

I can't honestly remember which name—Wax or Wayne—I came up with first. I had Wayne as a character first, but he had a different name. Wax's name came from the Mistborn ideal, where the characters frequently had strange fantasy names that abbreviated to fun terms. (Like Hammond becoming Ham or Dockson becoming Dox.) Wax just fit well with those. Wayne, on the other hand, is a name that feels Western to me, for obvious reasons. As soon as I began thinking of the character by that name, he started to become complete to me—and so I had to keep it, even though the "Wax and Wayne" pun will probably make people groan.

/r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A ()
#10 Copy

Questioner

I just wanted to say ... I like how the main characters are named Wax and Wayne.

Brandon Sanderson

Thanks. In all honesty, I was hesitant about the pun. I liked it, on one hand, but also worried that it was too goofy. By the time I tried changing the character names, however, they were too strongly cemented in my head, so changing them proved too difficult and I just left them as-is.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Two

Wax Ties a Cravat

In the original draft, I conceived this scene specifically because of how strong a contrast it would provide to jumping around in the mists in the previous scene. This has always been a theme of the Mistborn books, and I hoped that some familiarity in that regard would provide a connecting tie between this book and the previous trilogy.

Mistborn was about balance—balancing the life of a thief (and then assassin) in Vin's case with the life of a noblewoman. I wanted Wax to be dealing with some of the same concepts, but from another direction. Instead of a young person discovering high society, Wax is returning to it after abandoning it. But, as Vin never truly abandoned her street-thief roots, Wax never abandoned his gentleman's ways.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#12 Copy

Questioner

In Alloy of Law, Marasi goes to see Wax in his house and he was doing experiments, she describes him as being oddly-- looking oddly younger than he had before. Is that relevant or is that just because he’s excited about--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah it's more that, and more she had this picture in her head of him and things like that. There's no actual magical thing going on there. It's an excellent question.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
#13 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Marasi is an Allomancer

One of my big goals in these post-epic Mistborn books is to give a chance for more limited-power people (Mistings and their Feruchemical cousins, Ferrings) a chance to shine. In the previous trilogy, the focus really was on the Mistborn. Vin and Kelsier fit the epic fantasy mindset I wanted, powerful in an epic sort of way, broadly capable with abilities in a lot of areas.

For these books, I wanted to show people who had one or two powers, instead of sixteen, and show how specialization can achieve some incredible results. Because of that, I intentionally held back in the first trilogy in letting Vin do a few things. (Note how much better Zane was with minute steelpushes and ironpulls than she was.) Vin was incredibly skilled, but because she had so many powers to work with, she didn't home in as much on any one of them. Things like Wax's steel bubble are tricks I wanted to save for people like Wax. (He's what we’d call in the Mistborn world a steel savant, so capable with his metal—and having burned it so long, for so many years—that he's got an instinctive ability with it that lets him be very precise.)

And so we come to Marasi, who has the power opposite—but paired with—Wayne's ability. Both she and Wayne have powers I wanted to delve into. Indeed, I kind of promised that the last metals would get highlighted in these newer books. Matching that, I've given Miles the same power the Lord Ruler used to heal himself from so many incredible wounds. I wanted to explore more of what this skill was capable of when not overshadowed by so many other powers and abilities.

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
#14 Copy

Questioner

Would you rather be a misting or a Twinborn, and then which power would you choose?

Brandon Sanderson

What powers would I have? ...I would probably pick Twinborn because "Hey extra power" right? I would probably have Wax's powers from Alloy of Law, those are the ones I find the most interesting. Which is why I started with them there. I think I will be able to do cool things with them. Others are cool as well but-- With all this metal around, jumping on it would be so much fun.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seven

Marasi finds Waxillium experimenting with metals

I was very amused to find that the cover of this book had been steampunkified a little bit, with Waxillium having a pair of extraneous goggles on his head. But, to be fair, I did put some goggles in the book, so I guess I can't complain too much.

One thing I was aware of when writing this book was that I didn't want it to feel too much like Sherlock Holmes. There are a lot of parallels, as I mentioned in an earlier annotation. It was important to me to acknowledge the obvious influence to myself, but try to keep myself from falling too much into the same mold.

That's kind of hard when the story is set up, basically, to be a mystery with an investigator set in a similar time period to the Holmes stories. In my head, however, I decided this book would be more police procedural and less quirky-genius-does-deduction. I wanted Waxillium to be a cop, through and through, not an eccentric who solves cases out of curiosity. In that regard, Sam Vimes—from Terry Pratchett's books—was almost as much of an inspiration as Holmes was.

Anyway, that's all a side note to what is happening in this chapter. Waxillium is being methodical in the way he tracks down what is happening. He's very much a step-by-step kind of guy in these matters. And now that he's let himself loose and decided to be involved, he's gone a little overboard.

Shadows of Self Boston signing ()
#16 Copy

AndrewStirlingMacDonald (paraphrased)

So Wax, in the prologue of Alloy of Law thinks of himself as Wax, and then as Waxillium for the rest of the book, and then that's reversed in the second one. Is that a thing of cosmere import, or is it just a--

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It kind of indicated how he feels about himself.

AndrewStirlingMacDonald (paraphrased)

Could it have any impact on his ability to use Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Not really. The investiture on Scadrial is not going to care how you're feeling about yourself. On other worlds, that's important, but not on Scadrial.

Calamity release party ()
#17 Copy

Questioner

How much older is Wax than Wayne?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh... 17... 20 years... Something like that. No, no, no, not quite that much. It's more like 10 years isn't it?

Isaac Stewart

Which one?

Brandon Sanderson

Let's see, I'm trying to remember how-- Wax is 40s... Wayne... Yeah, it's about 10 years.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
#19 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Three

Wax investigates

If you've read the book, then you probably won't be surprised to find that a partial inspiration for it was the Sherlock Holmes stories. Of course, you'd have to search pretty far to find any kind of detective story that isn't somehow influenced by good Mister Holmes. This story, however, is more consciously inspired along those lines. I purposely developed a mysterious (almost even magical) series of robberies along the lines of what you see in the Holmes stories. The technological era is similar as well.

Of course, the characters are much different—even down to the character roles and dynamics. I wanted Wax to be a thinker, but more of a lawman than an eccentric. Wayne has enough eccentricity for three characters. I wanted the way that Wax approached solving a problem like this to be more methodical, more like a lawman who has grown accustomed to doing things on his own—but who has procedures he follows.

Beyond that, I wanted Wax to be solid. Many people are going to prefer Wayne for obvious reasons, but I prefer this story to be about Wax. (I'll talk more about Wayne's origins later.) Wax's solidity helps anchor the story, I feel. Perhaps I find him more interesting than others will, but the different parts of him that are warring inside create for a stronger dynamic than some of the other characters, who are more static.

/r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A ()
#20 Copy

zas678

A little safer question- Why did you not have Waxillium fall for Marasi? Why stick with the contract with Steris?

Brandon Sanderson

Marasi, as she was in Alloy of Law, was just plain wrong for Wax. As I write books, I allow my characters to grow more free-form (while my setting and plot are outlined in detail.) In writing the book, I felt that a Marasi hook-up at the end would not only be wrong for the character, but wrong for the story. If I do direct sequels (which I probably will) perhaps things will change.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#21 Copy

Questioner

Has Wax seen the influence of a Shard other than Preservation, Ruin, Harmony--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

--i.e., like Autonomy?

Brandon Sanderson

He has seen the influence of another Shard.

Questioner

Might that Shard be Autonomy?

Brandon Sanderson

It might!

Ben McSweeney

*giggles*

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
#24 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Wax and Marasi talk in Ranette's house

There's a tiny bit of sexual tension between the two of them. It's not supposed to be very strong, as Lessie's death hovers over Wax like a shadow. He's not really looking for romance, and I didn't want to push the book too much in that direction.

I'm assuming that people will pick up on Marasi as a romantic interest from the get-go. And, of course, I therefore hope that they find themselves a little bit upended when Wax stubbornly ignores, or resists, the story cues that he's supposed to be falling for Marasi. Because so far, he's really not. Though who she is looks good on paper for him, it's just not right, and he knows it. Sometimes in real life, you put two people together and they start dating. They seem perfect for one another, but for some reason there's nothing there.

Part of it is the hero worship that Marasi has. He can sense it, and that makes him uncomfortable. He worries that she's interested in him merely because she has read so much about Wax the lawkeeper. Unfortunately, he's right. She doesn't know him. She could fall for the real him—and she's in the process of doing that—but from his perspective there's still something wrong with this relationship. Too many things wrong, I should say.

An interesting note here is that my editor took great effort in this scene (for some reason) to shorten "Waxillium" each time it was mentioned to simply "Wax." I didn't catch what he'd done until the copyedit. That was utterly wrong, because this is Wax's viewpoint. And in his head, he now sees himself as Waxillium, and not just Wax. If you never noticed it, read through the book again and pay attention to when he calls himself Waxillium and when he calls himself Wax. It's done very deliberately.

Peter Ahlstrom

What name other characters use for Wax when talking to or thinking about him is something to pay attention to throughout this series.