Ad Astra 2017

Event details
Name
Name Ad Astra 2017
Date
Date May 5, 2017
Location
Location Toronto, ON
Entries
Entries 67
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#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I'll be reading to you from one of the interludes, which are interesting things to write.

So if you haven't read Stormlight-- Epic fantasy has this sort of problem, right? I love epic fantasy. I grew up reading epic fantasy. It's my first love of genres. And I have an advantage over some of the people writing epic fantasy in that, like you know, [George R. R. Martin and Robert Jordan], in that I've read [George Martin and Robert Jordan], and they don't have that advantage... Robert Jordan couldn't read Robert Jordan and necessarily had to write the stories, and I feel like at-- when I sat down to approach Stormlight Archive, which I kind of want to be my big epic, right? Hopefully I don't do anything bigger than this... *laughter* 520,000 words long. The writers in the crowd-- Yeah, 520 is pretty long. It's a quarter longer than Words of Radiance was. I am trimming it in my fifth revision. That's where I normally trim. So maybe we'll get it down to like 470 or 450 or something. But at 540... *inaudible* wants to go up. So I looked at these epic fantasy books that had come out before it-- series-- and I said, "What can I learn from them? How can I prevent myself from following in some of the same problems?" And I noticed that a lot of these big epic fantasies have this issue, kind of mid-series, where the side characters kind of take over the story, and the story deviates from its focus on to a side character focus for a while. It seems to happen very commonly. And as a writer my instincts said what's happening is the writer is wanting to show the expansiveness of the world, which is one of the big things we try to do in epic fantasy, right? They're trying to show the breadth of it, and they do this by adding characters from lots of different walks of life and different parts of the world. Which is a good instinct, right? It's gonna give you that sense of size and scale to the epic fantasy. But what happens is you kind of promise them these side stories will have their resolutions, and as you're pushing kind of towards the ending of your series you realize, "I need to tie in all these side characters." And so you end up with these books that are really focused on side characters, wrapping up their stories, and it feels like it creates a speed bump in the series. And so I said, "Well what can I do with like the format of my books that will mitigate this? Is there something I can do?" So I was kind of-- I'm a big fan of...

My thought was, I would write the books and I would find natural breakpoints inside of each book where it wouldn't feel like as much of a speed bump to kind of go off to somewhere else. Like, one of the problems with like some of these side stories would be like you're really into one of the main characters' stories and then it's like, "And then here's viewpoint from random person that you don't care about," right? Which you do care about! Some of the side characters in Wheel of Time were some of my favorite. But it's just that momentum you've got on the main characters, and then it feels like it's a break, we don't see them forever. So I try to find natural break points, that I would then insert completely random things from around the world, but I would only give myself, like, two of those per break and then I have to be done. And you know-- this forcing myself in this format with the interludes I felt like allowed-- would allow the reader to be able to know what's coming, so that, you know, if you can anticipate-- if you're like, "Alright, we have our break now. We can go to the side characters. Really enjoy them. Get to see the breadth of the world," And then we can come back to the main story and know that it's coming back very quickly. And also know that these side characters aren't going to take over the story. That there's only going to be this space for them. And you also kind of know-- for those -- I do know some people who read an entire Stormlight Archive book and then go back and read the interludes, as if they-- They're basically a short story collection in the world of Roshar. Now, skipping them is dangerous because I usually use the interludes for one important character. And each interlude has one really relevant character for each book. So in the first one, Szeth has interludes, right? And he's a very relevant character. And in this one-- well you'll see who it is in this one.

But I also like doing readings from the interludes because reading the interludes don't spoil the book nearly as much for those who haven't read the first ones, or things like that.

#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Somebody asked me if there's any Lovecraftian influences in my books, because I do enjoy Lovecraft. And so I thought, "Well this would be a good interlude to read," for that reason.

#3 Copy

Questioner

What's the etymology of "slontze"?

Brandon Sanderson

...This is from the Reckoners series, Steelheart. I wanted a fake Yiddish word. So I, you know, mention things like this, and it's not actually-- I-- It doesn't quite fit, but I wanted something that had the right feel, like that. I don't know why I wanted a fake Yiddish word. That just felt-- So I went through a bunch of Yiddish slang, and that's the word I came up with. So, that's what I do a lot, like "I want the feel of this."

#4 Copy

Questioner

So at the end of Words of Radiance Szeth gets Nightblood. But Nightblood on Nalthis will suck your Breath until you die.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

So how can Szeth-- like presumably it takes whatever Roshar's form of Investiture is.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

So how-- but wouldn't it kill Szeth?

Brandon Sanderson

So that's-- First off let's make-- let's mention this: no spoiler questions. That spoils the end of Words of Radiance.

Questioner

Oh, I'm sorry.

Brandon Sanderson

You're okay, but let's avoid spoiler questions. That one will specifically be answered in the next book. So you don't have to worry about that as much. That is a read and find out. That one-- but it's a read and find out that's very obviously the answer is coming.

#5 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.

#6 Copy

Questioner

So is this [interludes] your way of kind of introducing more world details, worldbuilding--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. This is a way of me introducing more worldbuilding. Because-- See, one of the differences between myself and the previous generation of epic fantasy writers is I tend to be very-- I tend to stick with one location, alright? The generation before me-- and I love these books, but the generation before me-- the Tad Williams, the Robert Jordan, and things like this-- tended to be quest epic fantasy. You'd go one place-- It's kind of following the grand Tolkien tradition. "We gotta get over there. We're either chasing somebody or being chased by somebody." Right? And you then travel across a varied landscape, meet lots of interesting people on your way to the place. Well I don't like to do that. I think it's partially because I grew up reading those. I'm like-- Those authors covered that really well. Or maybe it's just my natural inclinations. I write a little more Anne McCaffrey style, right? She would pick a really interesting location and spend a lot of time on it. And that's what I like to do as well. So you don't get to travel as much in my books. A lot of times in my books it's like, "We're traveling!" Chapter 1: "We're going to go on this trip!" Chapter 2: "Hey, we're there!" We cut out the, you know, the boring stuff in the middle, and we go to an interesting location. And I really like to dig into this interesting location. It let's me as an author really explore various parts of the setting. But what that does is it means you don't get as much of the breadth. Like when you have to traipse with Frodo and Sam all the way across Middle-earth, you feel how big Middle-earth is. And you don't get that in Mistborn, where it's like, "We're going to stay in the city!" and things like this. And so, in Roshar, being able to say, "Here's what's happening across the world in a different culture," is really valuable to me in the interludes. But I also know that some people just don't want to read that, and I wanted to give them a clue that this is the scene that you can skip and read later if you just want to get back to the main character.

#7 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

So my method of plotting-- I've been asked about, "Do I use seven-point story structure? Do I use three act format?" I actually don't use any of these things. So they're tools that I think are good to study. For me I use just a very simple: Promise, Progress, Payoff. This is what I focus on for plot,and I subdivide my stories into subplots and things and say, "What's the promise? How do I early on promise what type of plot this is. What's the progress? What's the payoff?" And you're asking how do you make sure that the hype lives up to the promise, and that is dangerous. The longer you go between books, the more that hype almost like-- I feel part of the-- If you're looking at The Wheel of Time, there were books when we fans were waiting for them to come out, that we were super frustrated by when they came out, that when I reread them in the whole series I didn't-- were less bothered by. It felt like, when I waited three years for something, the hype of what that needed to deliver was way different than when it was book ten bridging between book nine and eleven. And so that is a consideration.

My job-- I think that if your progress is right, if you can kind of-- like if you say, "We're moving towards something here," this is the sort of emotional reaction you're going to get from it by showing-- for instance, an easy way to talk about this is a mystery, right? If you want the mystery to be really cool, then it's your progress toward the mystery that's going to indicate what kind of reveal and surprise that's going to be. If, you know, the characters discovering clues and getting more and more horrified, then the payoff at the end has to be something horrific, right? But if they're like, "Ooo! This connection and this connection together are making something really interesting. If I can just figure this out then it'll click together." Then the payoff is, instead of discovering horror, the payoff is then, "Oh, this comes together and I understand now." So you need the reader to understand that's their kind of payoff, is it clicks for them like it does for the character. And it's really-- that progress is the most important of those three in a lot of ways. If you can indicate to the reader, "This is just going to be satisfying. This character is finally going to let down this burden. That's the progress we're working toward. It's not going to be a surprise, it's just going to be satisfying. That's how you do that.

There are certain things that there's just no avoiding the hype on. In fact, the further the series gets the more I'm worried about that, because-- in part because I'm such a believer in this kind of progress and things like this-- there are very few things, like in the Stormlight for example, that you'll get to that you will be super surprised by if you've been reading the fan forums, because the clues are all there in previous books. And so you just, I think, as a writer have to be okay with, if you're going to lay the foreshadowing, people will figure it out. And I can talk more about like, the third book has some big reveals about the world that I think the casual reader's going to be like, "Woah, mind blown!" where the people who have been on forums are like, "That's it? We've know that for years Sanderson!" But, you know, if you don't-- the only way to really surprise people is to do something completely unexpected. Which is, sometimes can be really nice, but a lot of times it just makes for a twist just to twist for twist's sake, so. I don't know that I've figured this one out a hundred percent across a series, but within a given book, yeah.

#8 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.

#9 Copy

Questioner

Will we see more about the Scouring of Aimia...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, Aimia-- you will learn more about the Scouring of Aimia. Unfortunately for Aimia fans, that's basically all that's in this book. But we will work-- we will find out more about what happened there.

#10 Copy

Questioner

I enjoy the audiobooks. Michael Kramer is awesome.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, he's great.

Questioner

Ramon De Ocampo is awesome. So I have two questions. One, when you give the books to the readers.

Brandon Sanderson

Uh-huh.

Questioner

Do you also, like, record for them the actual names so they know to speak... *inaudible*?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah, so naming-- names in the audiobooks. So I get-- I send them a recorded-- recording of all the names. It doesn't always get to them in time. Because the production-- You can imagine, like, I'm not turning the final book in to Tor for probably another month. And then they have to get that thing recorded, and produced, and out by the-- simultaneous with the book that we are recording. So, sometimes they get them wrong. But I don't really mind too much, because I figure-- this is kind of my philosophy-- there are no really right ways to say the names. The right way is how you say it in your version of the book when you are reading it. You're the director; I provide the script. I could tell you how I pronounce the names, but I pronounce names wrong. Like, I say "KEL-see-er", right? And in world they'd say something more like "Kel-see-AY". And stuff like this. Like I say "KAL-uh-din"; they would probably say "kuh-LA-din" in Alethi. And so, I mean, I'm American. We-- I say things like Americans.

#11 Copy

Questioner

In the fifth book of the Alcatraz series, you wrote a whole section where there's mixed-in punctuation and capitalization.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Do you do that specifically to annoy the reader?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah! Oh yeah! In the Alcatraz books every book I try to do specific things to annoy the reader just because it's so much fun. So, yeah, there's in-- the fourth book has chapters all quotes from Shakespeare.

TheHunter

That wasn't annoying!

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah. And every line of dialogue is a Shakespeare quote. And so-- And there's one in the fifth book that's all onomatopoeia. Like they only-- it only speaks-- yeah. And they are weird books. I don't know why I wrote books for twelve year olds that use Shakespeare quotes, but I-- they just had to be written.

#12 Copy

Questioner

You already said names. Is it "SAYzd" or "SAY-zed"?

Brandon Sanderson

Both are said by various characters in the book. Sazed, he would say it "SAYzd" a little bit more, but Kelsier says "SAY-zed".

#13 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering with Emperor's Soul-- it's in the same world as Elantris.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

But it's a completely different magic system.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Questioner

Do you ever see The Emperor's Soul, like, that magic system in further Elantris books?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you will see more of that. Elantris-- So what Elantris is very-- is interesting-- is Sel, the planet that is, that each region has basically a way of accessing the magic, and they're all, in my mind, programming languages. And you use different things to program, and call functions basically. And some people etch into bone, some people draw in runes, some people make the soulstamps. You can do it through a tai chi-like thing in one of world-- in one of the lands. So it's like a-- region-based for reasons that cosmere magic experts I think have figured out by now.

Questioner

Well it's like there were two deities, I think, Invested in that planet?

Brandon Sanderson

Yep... The reason is-- and we have announced it-- the reason it is is, so on Sel-- somebody killed the two deities there, right? And then stuffed their corpses, which are just huge magic reservoirs, just *inaudible*. So all their power stuffed up into what we call the Cognitive Realm, the realm of the mind, which is location dependent. So all the magic is getting filtered through that, it does weird things to it, it makes it region-locked. So yeah.

Questioner

Is it the only world that has many different ways that magic is--

Brandon Sanderson

Well a lot of them have different ways. For instance, for-- on Scadrial we've got Feruchemy, and Allomancy, and things like that. So most worlds have different interpretations, and things like that. Sel's the only one you've seen where it's region dependent.

#14 Copy

Questioner

Does the Cognitive Realm change based on the form of Investiture on the Shardworld... *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. It changes based on perception, is one big part of it. There are other reasons. Yes. I would say yes to your question, but perception is a big part.

#16 Copy

Questioner

I just noticed stylistically the cover for Oathbringer is a little bit different. Is that still Michael Whelan?

Brandon Sanderson

That's still Michael Whelan. Yeah, Michael is really-- Michael is my favorite illustrator. I don't know if you guys know-- have read what I've written-- but I got into fantasy and science fiction because of Dragonsbane-- the cover of that. They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but it was Dragonsbane and then I went to the card catalog and found the next book closest to it that looked-- that was a dragon book. So I didn't know dragon books, and I found Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, which also had a Whelan cover at that point. And I just kind of-- Whelan became my go to. He's gone through various art stages, you can go look. For a while he was doing these really sweeping landscapes, as you see some of the Dark Tower covers have that, and Way of Kings-- the original-- has that. And he's occasionally done figure studies, through his career. And then with this one we're getting like a color study really, it feels like to me, which is another thing that he's done. So I kind of feel like I've gotten three different styles of covers from Michael, which I really like. I actually think his Shallan painting from the inside cover of Words of Radiance is my favorite. But that one came about because he's like, "I felt like painting Shallan," and he just did. *laughter* "Do you guys want this? I just painted it." It's really funny because Michael Whelan, like, it's really hard to get him for a cover. I mean, you know his prices are way higher. And then when he just accidentally does another cover for you. It was very cool but kind of weird. I own The Way of Kings, like the actual original. I'm so happy, like I-- after all these years of admiring Michael Whelan I had to buy that one. So it hangs in my office above the fireplace.

#17 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering what made you so interested in the super rules-based magic system. Because you're probably one of the best at that, and in every different universe you manage to create a complete unique set of rules-based magic and they're all completely unique.

Brandon Sanderson

So there's a panel on magic tomorrow, so I hope I don't repeat myself too much. But the whole rule-based magic thing came about mostly because I was looking for holes in the market, right? Like, things people weren't doing that I wish they were doing. I often say to new writers, "Find the books that nobody's writing, that you want to read, and try to write those." That sounds-- I mean, that's just very vague. I don't know how useful that is, but that's kind of what I was doing.

But at the same time I like-- there are lots of soft magic systems I like. Uprooted which came out a couple years ago. It's a really great book with a very soft magic system. So it's not like I feel like magic has to be done this way. But I found something I was good at, that I didn't think people were doing enough of, that I felt like people would want to read, and so that kind of became my thing even before I published. Like when I was writing my books only for my fri-- I wrote thirteen before I sold one, if you guys know about that-- And so when I was writing those books it was, "What weird setting is Brandon going to do?" Because fantasy through the 80s and 90s-- I mean, there's lots of great writers. I love them. But I felt like they were really safe with their settings, and they didn't-- they explored other directions really well. But it-- we had a lot of these kind of faux-Medieval, elemental-base magic systems, and cultures that were very "England, but not England." And I'm like, "Well, fantasy should be the most imaginative genre. Where can we push it? Where-- what different things can we do?" And so I tried that during those years. The magic systems kind of grew out of that. Like, "What are people not doing?"

I will say there are some people who have done it even in the past. Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner books. I've really liked those. Those kind of have-- it's not scientific, but it's rule-based, which is kind of-- are two different things. Being consistent is one thing, and then trying-- like I try to play off of physics and make it feel like it's playing off of physics when it's really not, because I'm a fantasy writer, right? Like.--

Questioner

In Mistborn it's pretty physics.

Brandon Sanderson

Pretty physics-- But even in Mistborn, right like if you-- the time bubbles-- speed bubbles. Like I have to fudge some things. Like I spoke with my assistants, like, "Alright, what would happen if we build these?" And we're like, "Well first thing would happen is that it would change the wavelengths of light and irradiate people." You know, like this sort of thing. We're like-- we just have to make a rule that it doesn't irradiate people. You can't just take a flashlight and melt people. Yes, you just have to come up with some-- And so for me, a lot of the big difference, I say, between a fantasy writer and a science fiction writer is, the science fiction writer is forward-- each step trying to be plausible-- and the fantasy writer a lot of times drafts it backward. "Here's a cool effect. Can I explain this in a way that makes it feel like it's real and logical?" But I'm working backward from the fact, not forward from what's happening here.

#19 Copy

Questioner

In Way of Kings, one of the interludes we see the Purelake--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

--and I've thought a lot about the fish. 

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

He mentions that one of them has healing effects and potentially that's--

Brandon Sanderson

The lore of the area states that fish have healing-- some of them--

Questioner

I was wondering of your thoughts. Is that Investiture in the fish or just local superstition?

Brandon Sanderson

Well that is the question of the scene, so that's also a RAFO. I will say that there is still superstition, Roshar in particular. And it doesn't necessarily mean that everything they say is magic is. But there is a good chance.

#20 Copy

Questioner

About when will the sixth book of Alcatraz--

Brandon Sanderson

Sixth book of Alactraz draft? My goal is to write it this year. For those who don't know of Alcatraz, I did something really mean. And I actually did this-- I pitched this to my editor when I first sold the series. I planned a six book series, but I told everyone it was five books. And we played along the whole time, and then ended the fifth book on a major downer cliffhanger. And the only way you know is at the end there-- you like fold over like an extra page in the back with a note from one of the other characters. *audio skips* "...and he refuses to continue writing the series, I will have to finish it myself." So told from her viewpoint in the last book, because he refuses to write the last book. So yeah, we're working on that. One of the-- I'm working on the outline and writing the little blurbs at the beginning of each chapter. One of the things I'm trying to decide is, do I-- so that it has a completely different feel-- do I want to go to one of my friends and, like you know, swap with them and have them write my book for me and I write their book for them, or something like that. So that this book has a completely different tone, or something like that. That's the big question I'm asking myself right now.

#21 Copy

Questioner

He would like to know what is your most favorite book that you have written?

Brandon Sanderson

Most favorite book that I have written? I can't choose. Cause they're all like my children, right? I can't tell you who my favorite child is. In the same way, I can't tell you what my favorite book is, that I've written. I can say that I'm probably most proud of, either The Way of Kings or the last of The Wheel of Time. But some books are more fun, right? Some books are more fun. Some books are more satisfying. Some books are more frustrating. The most frustrating book I've ever written was probably the third Mistborn novel. And so, it's different for-- each book has their own *inaudible*. Good question.

#22 Copy

Questioner

With the strength of The Stormlight Archives, the strength of the Mistborn series and Alcatraz, I find that Legion often gets overlooked, and it's a-- such a fantastic collection. And they just combined the two novellas into one actual novel, which is great cause the first novella ended and it's like, "Well that's like halfway through a book. Still going." Is there gonna be any continuation--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I will write a third Legion story. The plan is to write that next year and to release a collection of all my non-cosmere stories. This year I released a collection of all my cosmere stories. So the plan is to do a collection of non and to write the third and final of the Legion stories. Chances are good I will have to rebrand them, because of the Legion TV show. Not that I couldn't release it, because they're different enough. But, like, when I first wrote Legion-- For those who don't know, Legion is about a guy who has maybe schizophrenia, except all the hallucinations help him. And they're very very helpful, useful people. And it's like-- they're like detective science fiction stories. And when I first wrote it, everybody in Hollywood wanted it. And then the project dried up like that. And it was right the moment that Marvel announced they were doing their Legion. So I'll probably rebrand them as just "The Stephen Leeds Stories", and do the third one. So that's the plan right now.

#23 Copy

Questioner

Who's your favorite character to write?

Brandon Sanderson

Usually the characters I look more-- forward to the most are the ones that are goofy.

Questioner

Wayne?

Brandon Sanderson

So like Wayne and Lift. Like, but not up to like-- Wit I-- is hard to write, right? It's the kind of wacky but don't have to be too clever characters that are most fun to write.

#24 Copy

Questioner

Do you have another magic system that you haven't written about yet?

Brandon Sanderson

I have a ton. And, yeah, so there's some that are in the cosmere that I haven't yet gotten to, that I've got planned out. And there's some that I started writing a story on and didn't have time to finish. And I've got some weird settings. And-- yeah. So yes, there are a ton.

Questioner

Wow, that's so cool. Would you be able to share a little bit?

Brandon Sanderson

Well the most famous one that I've talked about before, so fans already know about it, is the one where people-- you gain magical talents based on diseases you catch. Like you get the common cold, you can fly while you have it, when you get over it-- it's the bacteria and viruses have evolved to give-- to interface with the magic to try and, you know, they want to keep you alive to let you spread the disease so they-- you get these powers. And that one's going to be very cool when I can write it.

#25 Copy

Questioner 1

In Shadows of Self Paalm tells Wax she hasn't killed his father-- she hasn't killed his father yet. Is Wax's father still alive?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, that was not who she was referencing.

Questioner 1

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

Questioner 1

Was it Marasi's father?

Brandon Sanderson

Um--

Questioner 1

Because that's who Wax assumed.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, um--

Questioner 1

It was what he assumed?

Brandon Sanderson

It is what he assumed, yeah-- No no no no no! It's not what he assumed, sorry.

Questioner 1

Then she tells him she's not talking to him, so--

Brandon Sanderson

Nope, no, no. She is not talking-- she was talking about something else completely. Not Wax's father and not Marasi's father.

Questioner 1

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, sorry. I had to work through that scene, that's why-- yes. There is a different reference there.

Questioner 2

Is it the one that it turns out to be? Is that what she was talking about, or is there more trick there that we don't know yet?

Brandon Sanderson

Um-- It's-- No, don't work to hard on this one.

#26 Copy

Questioner

So how tough a decision is taking on Wheel of Time?

Brandon Sanderson

It was very tough. It uhh-- Man, I was-- I was scared. But I realized, after being offered it, if I said no and somebody else screwed it up, it would be partially my fault for being too cowardly to take it, right? Or too frightened or whatever. I don't know if it would be cowardly, but too timid? So I had to-- I eventually said yes because I figured, if someone is going to write it I want it to be me. Because at least I knew then a fan was in control.

#27 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering, how do you feel about people using, like, the word "Allomancer" in their own stories?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, I would s-- Depends on how it's used. If you're saying, it's for-- if it's the same magic system, I would recommend against that. If you are referencing-- like there's an-- actually a word called alomancy, spelled slightly differently, that is using sand to foretell the future. It's not like I have the thing trademarked or anything like that. So--

Questioner

Right, like, I was unsure, so--

Brandon Sanderson

But I would suggest coming up with your own magic system in your own terms. It'd just be a stronger story. But it's not like-- yeah, I don't have it trademarked or anything.

#28 Copy

Questioner

How do you handle names, because it's like the hardest thing to do properly

Brandon Sanderson

So, easy mode is to pick a culture, a real world analog to your-- to one of your-- each culture in your book. Go get a list of baby names from that culture in our world. Play with those names. Don't steal them; play with them until you-- try to find something that works for you. That sounds right, and things like that. Hard mode is to come up with kind of some-- learn some linguistics, and build the names based on--

Questioner

From the ground up, kind of thing?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, don't build the whole language, but kind of build sounds, the morphemes, this sort of stuff. And then build names around that.

#29 Copy

Questioner

This is a question I was wondering when you did Steelheart. When you were developing the story did you ever think of what kind of Epic you would be?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs* Uh, no, I didn't really. My-- The Alcatraz books were kind of focused on dumb things I do. Steelheart I was really just kind of looking at comic book lore, and dealing with, you know, tropes from comic books.

Questioner

Thank you.

Brandon Sanderson

Uh-huh.

TheHunter

But in that car, where you thought, "If I had super powers..."

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah, that's true!

TheHunter

What were you going to do to that car?

Brandon Sanderson

I was gonna blow up the car.

TheHunter

So there's your answer.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, blow up the car, yeah.

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Questioner

Did serving your mission in Korea help you in, like, worldbuilding? Kind of give you-- get you out of your own mindset?

Brandon Sanderson

Getting out of an-- into another culture is the number one thing for helping me world build. And I still-- the linguistics of things I create are often influenced by Korea.

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Questioner

I asked you the Legion question, so I've been reading. I've been working my way through that series, so I'm excited to hear there's a third one coming up.

Brandon Sanderson

Yep. The goal is to write it for that anthology, so that I at least can start wrapping some things up.

Questioner

Well there's a lot to wrap up, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Questioner

There's a pretty high demand, for sure, right? But it's cool, it was interesting to see, "Oh, maybe this is your break, a little bit, of trying to get away from it." A little bit.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, right. Most of those- the short fiction I write, is to take a break.

Questioner

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

Just to do something different.

Questioner

And get the creative juices flowing in a little different area.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

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Questioner

So, pre-collapse Final Empire. The random Allomancer house guards. Were-- are they house members, or--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah usually it's uh-- So if you've got an Allomancer it's because the family's gotten large and there are lots of cousins, and distant cousins, and things like that. And the Allomancy shows up in some of them, and they kind of get brought up in getting a retainer. They're kind of like knights, right? Like, you get money from the house and things like that, but in return you have to protect the -- use your Allomancy for them.

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Questioner

I'm not sure if you're allowed to answer, or you've probably been asked a million times-- the idea of channeling-- the fact-- in the last book of The Wheel of Time--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

You know what I'm talking about.

Brandon Sanderson

The One Power?

Questioner

The One Power, yeah. So Rand loses his ability to channel the One Power. But then--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh the True Power. Er, yeah yeah, the One Power, yeah yeah.

Questioner

Yeah, yeah. But he can channel-- Um, basically when he, you know, when he takes over Ishamael's body he can--Where did that idea come from?

Brandon Sanderson

That's Robert Jordan. He wrote the whole epilogue except for Perrin scenes.

Questioner

Oh, really?

Brandon Sanderson

And he wrote them as is and just left them and didn't explain to us.

Questioner

So the Perrin scenes were from you.

Brandon Sanderson

The Perrin scenes were from me. He didn't leave very much on Perrin--

Questioner

Oh that's amazing. Well done, cause I think the Perrin picked up right at the end too, so--

Brandon Sanderson

But the epilogue. He wrote that whole epilogue, from where Rand stumbles out of the... But when Rand stumbles out of the cavern, that's all Robert Jordan and--

Questioner

Wow, that's amazing.

Brandon Sanderson

He did not explain to us, how it... We just left it as is.

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Spoolofwhool

What does it mean for an object to be considered "Invested"?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, that is a matter of some discussion among scientists. Usually it means, to most of them, like a-- so, let me see if I can explain this-- So all things are built from Investiture.

Spoolofwhool

Right.

Brandon Sanderson

Right? Um, when they're using "Invested" they're talking about kind of like saturating a solution, in that-- yes, it's built out of this material, but you are-- there is more in it than-- like, it's a little bit like supersaturation, but not quite. Because it can s-- yeah, anyway.

Spoolofwhool

So getting, like, more Investiture in the spiritweb or in Cognitive than normal?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, more than just the creation of it. Like there is lingering Investiture that could be drawn out. Or more stuffed in. It's--

Spoolofwhool

But there are limits, right?

Brandon Sanderson

There are limits. We kind of run into that in Feruchemy a little bit, and things like that. But yes.

#35 Copy

Questioner

When you compound copper? What does that do?

Brandon Sanderson

That is-- *hands RAFO card* --the first one tonight. The first one I brought. I'm leaving a lot of the compounding questions for me to explore in later books and show you. And part of the reason is because I like the-- I like letting the readers discover new things and saving things back. And partially it's because I do change it as I go. Once in a while I'll write the book and be like, "No, this thing just doesn't work." Or, "Oh this other thing worked way better." So... That's kind of a double RAFO for those reasons.

#36 Copy

Questioner

So I know that you read The Wheel of Time.

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

Questioner

How was it-- the process of this when you found out that you were going to be part of the series?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, so I would-- did not apply. It just-- they called me on the phone one day. Harriet did...

So, yeah, they just called me on the phone and said, "We know you're a fan. Would you be willing to do this?" And I was just dumbfounded. I hadn't planned on it. I hadn't applied for it. So what I did is, I went and reread the whole series again, because I had read it before. But I had his notes in hand when I did it, and I built an outline out of notes he'd left and scenes that he'd finished, and built a massive outline. I presented that to Harriet and her assistants, and they said go for it. And I just started writing.

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Questioner

Jasnah's name. What was the origin for it?

Brandon Sanderson

Jasnah's name predates most of the language work that I did. It comes from ancient, kind of Semetic languages-- playing around with those. And then her name became one of the ones that I built the language around. Because after I had named her, and written the whole book, I had named her and Dalinar. Kaladin's name changed once I had rebuilt the linguistics. Shallan's name changed once I rebuilt the linguistics. But Dalinar and Jasnah kind of became the origins. But it's ancient-- you know, a blend of Arabic and Hebrew. It's kind of-- yeah.

Questioner

Because I have an interesting tidbit--

Brandon Sanderson

Uh-huh

Questioner

"Jasna" in Polish actually means "bright."

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I've been told that! Just-- I went to Poland, like, last-- like a couple of months ago, and they're like, "Did you know this?" I had no idea.

#38 Copy

Questioner

Rysn has come up a lot in interludes in both books.

Brandon Sanderson

Yep.

Questioner

Will she continue to be in the--

Brandon Sanderson

She does have an interlude in the third book. She is kind of, like-- so far I have wanted to use one of my interludes on her each time. I only get, you know, I get like only like eight or so per book, but I've used one of those on her every book. And I probably will going forward, but I can't promise.

#39 Copy

Questioner

Question for you, regarding Nalthis.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Do priests use-- to extract the divine Breath and hoard.. Do they use a sharp object to get the divine Breath and hoard from the God King?

Brandon Sanderson

The divine Breath what?

Questioner

Divine Breath and hoard. Can you get it away from him by using a sharp pointy object?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, the-- like you're asking like--

Questioner

Hemalurgy as an option.

Brandon Sanderson

It is not, but that's a good question. That is a really good question. I'm surprised no one's asked me that before.

#40 Copy

Questioner

 Is anyone gonna use a wormhole to worldhop?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, there you go, there's a RAFO. Yeah, yeah, okay, we got one for you right there.

#41 Copy

Questioner

What's your favorite word?

Brandon Sanderson

My favorite word? Rutabaga.

Questioner

Mega? Mega?

Brandon Sanderson

Rutabaga.

Questioner

Rutabaga?

Brandon Sanderson

Yep. It's in the Alcatraz books, so...

Questioner

Okay, yeah. I haven't gotten to those yet, but I will.

Brandon Sanderson

I just like the way rutabaga sounds.

#42 Copy

Questioner

What do you do when you have writer's block?

Brandon Sanderson

So, the easiest way I've found to get rid of writer's block is to write anyway, and have it turn out badly. And then my brain will work on the scene, having written it poorly, the next day my brain almost always figures out how to just fix it. And so, I have to write the scene badly, and often I just have whatever happen. You know, just crazy things. And then set it aside knowing it's not going to go in the book... It's a little bit hard to write something you know isn't going to end up in the book and is wrong. But training yourself to do that so your subconscious can fix the problem is really handy.

#43 Copy

Questioner

And question: what is your favorite and least favorite thing about Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

My favorite thing about him is that he just doesn't care about, you know, like-- what-- he is able to have the right amount of caring what people think about him, right? He's able to kind of control perception. My least favorite thing about him is he can be a very not nice person.

#44 Copy

Questioner

Is there any other magic types on the Warbreaker world?

Brandon Sanderson

There are different manipulations and manifestations of Breath.

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

They are gonna be much closer than, like, the Selish magic systems and things like that.

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

So, the deviation is much smaller, but it does manifest in slightly different ways-- Kind of a thing.

TheHunter

Have we seen any?

Brandon Sanderson

Ahh! RAFO!

#45 Copy

Questioner

What does your writing desk look like?

Brandon Sanderson

I don't have a desk. I set in an easy chair. I sit, lean back, and relax.

Questioner

So maybe it's comfy when you're leaning back and relaxed.

Brandon Sanderson

Yep. And I do-- I go, like, walk on the treadmill or run on the elliptical-- I don't know what you call it on an elliptical, half-run or whatever-- and plan out my writing of the day. And then I go sit in my easy chair, and I-- it's by the hearth-- and I just work.

#46 Copy

Questioner

Does the Lord Ruler have children?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I've been dodgy about this before, but the answer is yes, the Lord Ruler did have children. I don't think I've-- I've strongly hinted at it, and so I think people basically know. But yes, he did... But it is children.

#47 Copy

Questioner 1

What's the title of the sixth book gonna be?

Brandon Sanderson

Right now it is named-- it says "Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians" with the "Alcatraz" crossed out, and says "Bastille". And it says, underneath, "Versus His Own Dumb Self"-- is the title I'm going with right now, but it might change. But it's called Alcatraz Versus His Own Dumb Self.

Questioner 2

...How long does it take to do the first run?

Brandon Sanderson

How long does it take to do what?

Questioner 2

The first run.

Brandon Sanderson

The first draft, of an Alcatraz book, usually takes about two months. They can be a lot faster than my other books, but yeah.

#48 Copy

Questioner

Do you make a conscious effort to incorporate *inaudible* morals? Like not...

Brandon Sanderson

Um, yeah...

Questioner

I mean, more sexually.

Brandon Sanderson

Right, so, I personally don't like reading things that kind of are explicit themselves. I feel like I shouldn't force all of my characters to keep the same moral code, because that's not accurately representing the world. It's-- But at the same time, what I think is moral influences things. So it's like very conscious that--

Questioner

More like how you describe it.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. And also, you know, you go to some-- a place like Roshar, where it's based on oaths and things like this. That's playing into part of what I think is moral, right? So, yeah. But the same time we have people like Wayne, whose just like-- you know Wayne is not going to-- yeah, he's got very loose morals-- that's who he is. And if I didn't put people like that in my books there would be something wrong. But I don't feel like I have to be explicit, is the thing.

#49 Copy

Questioner

You said you had thirteen books that you wrote before you got published. Did you ever go back to any of them, or are they all just totally trunkable?

Brandon Sanderson

So, number thirteen was Way of Kings--that first version I talked about. Elantris was number six. So those two got published. I ripped apart number nine and built it into Warbreaker--some of the ideas. White Sand was one of them but became a graphic novel. Some of them, ideas are still waiting to get used. Because some of them got ripped up and turned into Mistborn. I have reused some of the ideas, but some of them just--

Questioner

Yeah, but like-- but you did reuse some of the full book?

Brandon Sanderson

I didn't ever--I didn't take any of the actual words, but yeah.

#50 Copy

Questioner

I really love this book so much. Kaladin is my favorite of like any book character ever, so that's why that. Like he needs to be hurt, but not too much. Don't hurt him too much, please.

Bystander

Now he's going to kill him off, just for you.

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin has some rough--has some rough things to deal with in his life. But he survived Bridge Four, so I don't think anything will ever be as bad as that. That's the thing.

#51 Copy

Questioner

How many more Rithmatist novels are gonna be?

Brandon Sanderson

The original plan was for a trilogy. We'll see if I can make that happen or not. There'll be at least one more.

#52 Copy

Questioner

Is there ever going to be a Rithmatist sequel?

Brandon Sanderson

There will be, eventually. I've had troubles getting it off the ground. Just the outline hasn't worked and things like that. But I'm still trying, so.

#53 Copy

Questioner

 How sweet was it to taste the tears of everybody who read Shadows of Self?

Brandon Sanderson

Ahhhhh, uhhhhh-- It was kind of a painful book to write, so I--I sympathize.

Questioner

It was gorgeous.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't-- I'm not George Martin. I don't bathe in the tears of my fans.

#54 Copy

Questioner

When can we expect more on Mistborn metals?

Brandon Sanderson

You'll probably get more on Mistborn metals a lot more in the next trilogy, once they're starting to get the modern technology and things. They will understand a lot more.

#55 Copy

Questioner

Which one did you make yourself laugh the most?

Brandon Sanderson

Hmmm... I think Wayne. The Mistborn books. He's the one who makes me laugh the most.

#56 Copy

Questioner

Are you a programmer?

Brandon Sanderson

No, but I did take a programming class. One. One programming class. Enough to be dangerous, um, in college. And you know, half the people in my writing group are code monkeys.

#57 Copy

Questioner

How many hours a week do you spend writing? You write more than anybody--

Brandon Sanderson

I do it in normal person's job, I'm... Eight hours a day probably. Two four-hour sessions usually. I'm not that fast, I'm just very consistent. It's just my personality. It's served me really well in writing, just because I can consistently write everyday. I don't go through mood swings and things.

#58 Copy

Questioner

If you could have any power that's in your worlds?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh-huh.

Questioner

What would you be taking?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, probably Allomancy because it's the only one that I could use in this world, right? Because most of them require the magic from the world, this one you can make it happen. So, eh, Allomancy.

#59 Copy

Questioner

So in Reckoners you mention that the three, like, most powerful Epics in North America, pretty much the ones you're afraid of, were Obliteration, Steelheart, and Night's Sorrow.

Brandon Sanderson

Uh-huh.

Questioner

What about Night's Sorrow?

Brandon Sanderson

Night's Sorrow? Is still out there.

Questioner

But it's-- it-- will it ever be shown what Night's Sorrow can do?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah-- I mean, in-- the Pacific Northwest has suffered... uh, yeah--

Questioner

No, but when--is there gonna be a book that has what Night's Sorrow can do in it?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there will be.

Questioner

Good.

Brandon Sanderson

*pause* Eh, uh... yeah.

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Questioner

The soulcasters. They have, like, the effect on people-- like she's turning into smoke, those guys who turn into stone...  So do-- since-- do Shardblades, that are not from Radiants, have an affect on the people?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, like, you're talking like Honorblades?

Questioner

Uh, oh, no no, sorry, sorry. Not held by--okay, because I know the guys who are Radiants--Not, I mean no, sorry. But just I said not from Radiants when I mean not held by Radiants--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, oh, oh, I get what you say. So do they have a similar affect? No, they do not. Good question.

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Questioner

I have a question about Roshar. Um, how big is this exactly?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, I can get you that if you write to me, because I--I just have to go to the maps.

Questioner

There's a lot of like--physical description *audio skips* And the different races and cool descriptions for like the cultures and stuff. I was wonder if there's like a reason for that in the world?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, well there's a couple reasons, for instance-- You know, ask me after you've read the third book, and then I can give you some spoilerific sort of stuff, that's-- that comes out in the third book-- I can stand upon it. Um, but yeah I can also-- we can also give you the distance. I think they have it on the 17th Shard. Isaac-- we didn't put the map of actual scale in it, just because we-- I dunno why, I just decided not. But we have it. I let Isaac and Peter kind of nail that down. I say, "This distance is about this far." So they figure out what the rest of it is. But the planet Roshar is smaller than Earth.

Questioner

That--that's interesting.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. And the continent--I mean, but it's one supercontinent, and so it's fairly big, but--

Questioner

I mean, you can travel across it on a storm.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Uh-huh.

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Questioner

How come Vin doesn't get stomach aches when she takes-- When she ingests iron?

Brandon Sanderson

So it actually, legitimately gets burned away. It's gone.

Questioner

So it's gone too fast to have a--

Brandon Sanderson

It, yeah. I mean if you sit around and just-- I mean, Allomancers are warned-- and Kelsier I think warns her, "Burn away your metals," right? Not good to have these in your system! But yeah, you would end up feeling adverse effects like that if-- yeah.

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Brandon Sanderson

So, any questions?

Questioner

Well, I was kind of wondering, you've got this whole culture of, exactly that: people asking you questions about your stories outside of the stories.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Questioner

I was wondering, is that something you developed or decided on? Or--

Brandon Sanderson

That I inherited from Robert Jordan. It had started happening a little bit, but it was really a thing that Robert Jordan fostered in his fans, that I got very used to doing. And so, I just kept doing it. I do warn my fans: I change my mind. And so, um, the things I say--they call them the Word of Brandon--Word of Brandon is level below what's in the text in hierarchy, because I will change my mind, and I will get things wrong when I don't have my notes and stuff. And so-- But yeah, but you can find collections of things I've said. And most of them are still true. Once in a while I'm writing a book, I'm like, "No, this just doesn't work out." But you know that--that just happens with everything.

Like I'm writing Oathbringer, right? And I've mentioned things in Dalinar's past before that are from my outline of Dalinar's past. I sit down, I write the flashback sequences, I'm like, "Oh no. Continuity error," right? And so we just have to go with fixing it in this book and then say, "First book's got a continuity error, guys." Because once you actually sit down and write out somebody's life across thirty years, you can't get them sometimes into places where you had noted stuff. So, it's--I wish I could be like 100% accurate on all things. It just doesn't work out. Even the books like Mistborn, that I wrote all three in a row, and then we edited them, and then sent them out--still had continuity errors, so. Ehh.

#64 Copy

Questioner

You like dragons very much, right?

Brandon Sanderson

I do like dragons very much.

Questioner

Well then you don't have dragons in any of your books.

Brandon Sanderson

One of my books has dragons. It's the one I wrote but didn't get published and will eventually re-publish, called Dragonsteel. So one of the very first I wrote had dragons, but I don't want to do dragons in every book. So I'm waiting for the book that it is right for.

Questioner

Hmm.

Brandon Sanderson

Good question.

#65 Copy

Questioner

What's your Magic color preference?

Brandon Sanderson

I draft, almost exclusively. So my color preference is whatever is open.

Questioner

Gotcha.

Brandon Sanderson

Umm, I lean more toward control than I do aggro, but what's--whatever is open--whatever I open I will go for.

#66 Copy

Questioner

Kind of an interesting question I guess, and it's mostly, like, Emperor's Soul.

Brandon Sanderson

Uh-huh?

Questioner

It's funny because I was reading that book and I almost, almost thought that you put a twist where, like, her soul was stamped, and actually she was, like, not exactly who she thought she was. Did that ever cross your mind?

Brandon Sanderson

I did, but at some point, um--

Questioner

Maybe it's a bit cheesy, I dunno.

Brandon Sanderson

--sometimes you twist so much. I felt that the more impact thing was the fact that she was planning this whole exit strategy to wipe herself away. I thought that was more telling about her than having her soul stamped. I did consider it, but it just felt like it was one of those over-twists, does that make-- make sense?

Questioner

It might have--yeah, cause that's supposed to be a classic, like, "oh, *inaudible*" But anyway...

Brandon Sanderson

But you know, I mean there's some books where I've done--where I've like--this is the classic twist, and I like it, so I do it anyway.

#67 Copy

TheHunter (paraphrased)

[Brandon Sanderson] said that someone in Poland had figured it out who the Terriswoman in Warbreaker was, and I asked him if it was Lemex's nurse.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He nodded and smiled. He said he had no idea how anyone figured it out, which is interesting.

Event details
Name
Name Ad Astra 2017
Date
Date May 5, 2017
Location
Location Toronto, ON
Entries
Entries 67
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