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Ben McSweeney AMA ()
#1 Copy


Are there any creature sketches of Shallan that didn't get included in the Stormlight Archive books?

... because I would pay for a copy Shallan's sketchbook, especially the wildlife detail. take note Brandon

Ben McSweeney

There's a few. We hope to collect all the ancillary material into it's own book at some point, but not for a while... the novels are the main focus for the immediate future. The more novels Brandon writes, the more ancillary material we can create and collect. It'll pay off in the long run.

Ben McSweeney AMA ()
#2 Copy


Are there any plans to create and release a collection of drawings as a separate book? While some of your gorgeous gorgeous arts makes its way into Brandon's novels, the focus is naturally not on them - but I am sure some of us would like to get our grubby grabby hands on a book that's only, for example, Shallan's drawings. One of her in-world sketchbooks, in a way.

If there are no such plans, is this something you would consider?

Ben McSweeney

There's plans, but they are waaay down the road. With Stormlight we're looking at a ten-book series, and we're only now on book 3.

That being said, we create and collect a lot of ancillary material during production. Failed ideas, wrong turns, and even just construction material. I don't see us leaving all that in a drawer forever. :)

Boskone 54 ()
#6 Copy


How do you do it? (after saying he likes the characters and societies that Brandon writes)

Brandon Sanderson

Lots of practice. Lots of reading in the genre and loving the genre. A little bit of talent, a lot of loving the genre, and a lot of practice for a long time.


I haven’t read Mistborn, but I’ve read this one [Stormlight]. How do you come up with the culture, the society?

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on the book. Stormlight is my best series. If you haven’t tried Emperor’s Soul, it’s the other thing that I think is on Stormlight’s level, but it’s a short. What I’m looking to do with something like Stormlight is to say that the fantasy genre should be the most magical genre, right? Classically, science fiction has done a better job with the worldbuilding, and fantasy has tended to do a better job with things like characters and story. Not that there’s not science fiction that has great, you know, but usually science fiction’s been about the ideas and the interesting settings, but in fantasy we play it safe with the settings and try to do interesting characters. Which I’ve always thought, “Why do we do that? Why do we play it safe with our settings? Why don’t we have really bizarre, fantastical settings?”. So for years, even before I became a published author, I was searching for ones that would have one foot in science fiction. I want to do something magical as an origin, like the highstorm, you know, the physics of the highstorm don’t actually work, but we take it for assumed and then we try to extrapolate a realistic extrapolation of the world from that. That’s just what I’m doing, I’m trying to set up some sort fantastical setting or environment and then let science fiction take over and try and build how it would grow. On the cultures, usually I’m taking things I’ve learned about our culture and I am just trying to [...] a fantastical version. Sometimes when you do that you can say something interesting about human society, removed from the baggage of human society. There was a brief time in the pre-Victorian era where, for women, showing your ankle was more taboo than showing your chest. In fact, they would have pictures painted of them, noblewomen, in a state of what you’d call topless. Not a problem; a little risque, like what wearing a low-cut shirt is now, but no big deal. That’s bizarre to us, because, our society that’s not how it is. But if I put that in, in a fantasy book as a safehand, I can say, look, human beings do bizarre things as far as gender roles, socialization of gender, and what we find attractive. This should be very bizarre to you, but the reactions are normal. That disconnect is what helps build a fantastical society and lets me say a few things about our society, I hope in interesting ways.

YouTube Livestream 21 ()
#8 Copy


What is your favorite part about worldbuilding?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably the magic system. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

That, or finding connections between different stories I'm working on. I really enjoy when I can make the worldbuilding for one book be foreshadowing for the worldbuilding of another book, and things like that. And where I can sneak in combinations between things in the cosmere, and stuff like that. That's really satisfying for me. I don't know why, but it's one thing that really excites me.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#9 Copy


Also I wondered whether you will ever publish an encyclopedia of your interlocking worlds and their relationship to each other within their cosmos?

Brandon Sanderson

I plan to do something like this, as things progress. It won't happen until the future, however, and will likely happen only on-line. There will eventually be short stories showing some of what is going on behind the main stories of the novels. I do have some novels planned which would deal with all of this in a more direct way, but they are decades away from being written.