I've always wondered, how do you determine where the line between "Word of Brandon" and "Read and Find Out" is? Has it ever caused issues where you've said something, but later that thing changed when it went into a book making your first statement now false?
Thanks so much for writing as much as you do, I'm looking forward to all your upcoming books, keep up the great work!
Boy, this one is an art, not a science.
I've several times said something that I later decided to change in a book. I've always got this idea in the back of my head that the books are canon, and things I say at signing aren't 100% canon. This is part because of a habit I have of falling back on things I decided years ago, then revised in notes after I realized they didn't work. My off-the-cuff instinct is still to go with what I had in my head for years, even when it's no longer canon.
An example of this are Shardblades. In the first draft of TWoK in 2002, I had the mechanics of the weapons work in a specific way. (If you wanted to steal one from someone, you knock off the bonding gemstone, and it breaks the bond.) I later decided it was more dramatic if you couldn't steal a Shardblade that way--you had to kill the person or force them to relinquish the bond. It worked far better.
But in Oathbringer, Peter had to remind me of that change, as I just kind of nonchalantly wrote into a scene a comment about knocking off a gemstone to steal a Shardblade. These things leak back in, as you might expect for a series I've been working on for some twenty years now--with lore being revised all along.
So...short answer...yes, I've contradicted myself a number of times. I try very, very hard to let the books be the canon however. So you can default to them.
As for what I answer and what I RAFO...it depends on how much I want to reveal at the moment, if I'm trying to preserve specific surprises, or if I just want people to focus on other things at the moment. Like I said, art and not science.
In WoR, Navani muses to Dalinar about how the gemstones in the Blades could be the focus that allows the bond with the Blade to exist. If this theory is correct, it would follow that someone could damage that gemstone and thus be able to steal the Blade with it then having no intact bonding mechanism, right?
I guess I'm having trouble seeing how the example you describe isn't possible.
The gemstone is needed to create the bond and operate the bond's functions. If you remove the gemstone, the person the sword is bonded to can't summon it or dismiss it to mist. But neither can anyone else. If they eventually pop another gemstone in and try to bond it themselves, they will fail, and the original person can then resummon their Blade. The bond is with the dead spren of the Blade, not with the gemstone. The stone facilitates the bond.
So, you can haul around a de-gemstoned Blade with you all the time and successfully steal it that way. But this makes it very easy to steal back. You'd have to kill the holder of the bond in order to rebond it. Which is no different from usual.
And in general, if you can get close enough to a Shardbearer to steal their Blade, you are also close enough to kill them anyway.
So that scene where Dalinar crushes the gemstone and hands the Shardblade over, he's also doing some sort of mystical de-bonding?
Or is it just 'if you WANT to give it up, you gave it up'?
Yes, if you want to give it up, you gave it up.
If nobody is currently bonded to it, does the attuning still take a week?
Otherwise it seems weird people would figure out putting a gemstone in hilt lets you summon it, since nothing would happen without a week of bonding time.
Not that weird. One of the books (WoK, I think) mentions that many years passed before the gemstone bonding was discovered. Shardblades were still really valuable, though, and even more vulnerable to theft, so it makes sense that people would have kept them close at hand long enough for the bonding process.
Other than that, all you need is someone to accidentally decorate the blade correctly, which is something that took a long time to happen, but was probably bound to happen eventually considering how key infused gemstones are to the world.