Manchester signing

Event details
Name
Name Manchester signing
Date
Date Aug. 6, 2014
Location
Location Manchester, UK
Bookstore
Bookstore Waterstones Manchester Deansgate
Entries
Entries 26
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#1 Copy

BlackYeti

How did you get the temperature differential between the two halves of the planet such that life could survive on both sides and travel between them?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, yeah. We've got a couple things going on here that are helping with it. The thing about Darkside is-- And I've had to run this through my physicists, and they're all kind of "Ehhh", so we're still working on the physics-- But the idea is there is a light source over there, but it works like a black light. And so, there's warmth, and there's radiation, and that's why people over there are dark-skinned. They've actually adapted to this radiation, there's a lot of UV and things like that. But there is-- It works like a black light. So for a Daysider going over, it's all-- it feels dark and dim, but it's more twilight-ish than it is completely dark, if that makes sense. And with that and with... jet-streams and stuff we were able to kind of justify it mostly. I mean, it's still going to be colder on the other side and things. But I didn't want it to be like snowing and things like that, all the time over there. And so we kind of had to do some jumping through hoops astrologically to make it work.

#2 Copy

BlackYeti

The other thing is about the atmospheric composition, since-- Well on Earth we've got plants which supplies us with oxygen, which can't really exist on a planet like that.

Brandon Sanderson

Right. They can-- The plants on the other side grow really well, they're just adapted to UV. And they grow with the UV. And so a lot of the oxygen is happening there, and, of course, in the oceans.

BlackYeti

*audio obscured*

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, a lot of algae from the oceans, which is helping out. Oxygen content is pretty solid there. I mean, it's not Roshar which is high-oxygen.

#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

White Sand, being my first book, even though I re-wrote it... doesn't sometimes follow as much rigor with the worldbuilding scientifically as things like Roshar. When we-- If I were to ever write books in it, I would beef that up. But for right now, since the actual y'know-- I haven't actually released any of the books, I don't feel bad that some of it is a little more vague.

#4 Copy

BlackYeti

In Words of Radiance, we have Vasher showing up... One of his aliases on Nalthis is Kalad, which is very similar to the name of one of the Heralds on Roshar. So I was wondering how far back this connection between him and Roshar goes.

Brandon Sanderson

It goes pretty far back, in fact when I wrote Way of Kings, the 2002 version; he was a main character and was Kaladin's swordmaster. I wrote Warbreaker to jump back and write out his backstory, Vasher's. So to me Warbreaker actually came after Way of Kings. But the connection goes back pretty far, further than you would first guess.

BlackYeti

Did he actually come from Nalthis and not Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not going to actually answer that one-- Well I can answer that: yes he does come from Nalthis. It's pretty obvious that the way that the Breath's working, the reason he moved is because it's easier to get Stormlight than Breaths, and Stormlight can fuel being a Returned like him. And so yes, he was born on Nalthis. Becoming Returned without being born on Nalthis would be really hard.

#5 Copy

BlackYeti

Can I ask you about the body of a Shard in the Physical Realm? About the different states of matter.. What determines the state of matter that they are in? Because I've read the bits very carefully, and I haven't noticed much in terms of temperature difference.

Brandon Sanderson

The idea for me working on this was that they transcend-- They permeate everything, right? They permeate all life on all the Realms. And that there are manifestations of them that leak out, and it's kind of like they make-- they appear there in the various states but-- When you say that you've got the gas, you've got the liquid, you've got the solid: but you've also got inside of you, and inside of that plant, and like-- they're everywhere. And so what determines it? In my head it's just like when some of that power permeates, some of it distills, just like water. There's some water in the air, there's some that freezes: that's temperature. But it's not always temperature whether it's in the air, or whether it's falling. Imagine a Spiritual version of humidity, that is influenced by what's happening on the Spiritual Realm and the Cognitive, and that's what you'll get.

#6 Copy

BlackYeti

Because you've talked about alloying the god metals with other ones-- I was wondering whether you would be able to melt them down as you would with normal metals.

Brandon Sanderson

If you could distill the god metal: you could distill it out of the mist, that's theoretically possible.

#7 Copy

Questioner

I wanted to ask, at the beginning you mentioned that you had twelve books written before your first book was published, can you tell us, or are you allowed to tell us how many have actually been published?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I can actually go down the list for you. It is somewhat interesting, I think, for people. My very first book was a book called White Sand, and it was basically kind of a Dune rip-off. Your first book is always  a rip-off, right, of somebody, as a new writer? And that doesn't count the one in high school, which was a SUPER rip-off, like a major rip-off, it was basically a Tad Williams meets Dragonlance. Full blown with elves and things-- Yeah it was totally--

White Sand is the first one I finished, and I actually then went and wrote a science fiction book called Star's End.  And then I wrote the second half of White Sand, because I just stopped and said "This is long enough to be a novel" and then I wrote the rest of it and called that book two, that's actually the only sequel in there I wrote. And then I wrote a comedy, where a lot of the thesis of that comedy came out in Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians ten years later, so that one's kind of half been published. White Sand and Star's End are not any good, they have not been published. And then I wrote something called The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora, which was really weird and sci-fi-y and stuff, and that one hasn't been published because it's really bad too. And then book number six was Elantris which was pretty good. Book number 7 was Dragonsteel, which became my honor's thesis as an undergraduate and half of that book ended up in the contemporary Way of Kings, the Bridge Four sequence was all from Dragonsteel and I ripped that out when I re-did Way of Kings.

After that was a re-write of White Sand, with better writing nowadays, and that one we're turning into a graphic novel, that one's good enough to read-- The biggest problem it has is its a little too bloated.  The story-- It's like 300,000 words with 150,000 words of story. And so we are going to condense it-- into a graphic novel, so you will eventually see that one. The next one was called Aether of Night, that one didn't get published, it's really two decent books that don't work well together, like one half is a Shakespearean farce about a guy who takes his brother's place on the throne, they're twins, it's mistaken identify, yadda yadda; the other half is this dark brutal war book with an invasion going on, and the two halves never really translate well. People read this and they're like, that chapter is hilarious and fun, and OH MY GOODNESS, and yeah, so-- Maybe someday I'll do something with that.

After that I wrote a book named Mythwalker which became Warbreaker. I ripped out the good parts of that and wrote Warbreaker later on. Then I wrote a book called Final Empire, which is not Mistborn: The Final Empire, because then I wrote a book called Mistborn, and neither of those books were working very well. And then I wrote a book called Way of Kings and then I sold Elantris and I said "I want to take these two books that weren't working very well, and I think if I combine them--" because Mistborn had a cool magic system and the Final Empire had this whole thing about the Hero who failed and the Dark Lord took over and mixing these too ideas turned into a great book and that became Mistborn: The Final Empire.

And basically everything from then I've published, Warbreaker came next which was a re-write of Mythwalker. The Way of Kings, the one you hold, is a complete rebuild, I started from scratch, and added the Bridge Four sequence from Dragonsteel and some of these things... The only good one in there, that wasn't published, is White Sand I think, and I think it is going to make a really nice graphic novel because the story is really solid, the characters are really solid. I just wasn't a good enough writer to know how to condense where I needed to.

#8 Copy

Questioner

My question was about your writing process... When you are writing do you become emotionally attached to the characters you are writing about? Does it become hard to distinguish between what you think the characters should be doing and what you actually have planned out for them? And how did that affect your Wheel of Time writing? You didn’t create them, but you took over their story arcs and did you become attached to any of those?

Brandon Sanderson

What an excellent question. I do grow attached to all of my characters, however character is the weird one for me. Character is very hard for me to define how I do it. With my plot I can talk about outlining the plot and these sorts of things. And my worldbuilding, I've written lots of essays about worldbuilding, and building magic systems and things like this. But with character I really sit down with this plot, this world, together and I start writing somebody in a role and I write a chapter and I see how they feel. It's almost like casting someone in the role. If that doesn't work, then I get rid of them, I get rid of that and I write a new chapter using a different character's personality but who feels very much the same in some ways. For instance, Mistborn,  I did this quite famously, Vin started with a guy, I tried Vin as a guy and then I tried Vin as a woman, but a different, a very different person from what you read, who was very confident and more Artful Dodger type person, and then I tried the Vin that ended up in the book. I can't really explain to you why I knew those first two were wrong, they just were. So I ditched them and tried again. I do that until I've hit the right character and then I let them start growing and developing as I write the book and if the person they turn into is not the person who would do the sort of things that are in my outline I either have to change my outline, which I will sit down and do, or I'll say "this character is awesome but they don't belong in this role. I will write a book around them later, and find a place for them." And that's-- Usually I just re-write the outline, once in a while I pull out the character and put someone else in that place. If a book is going wrong for me, it almost always because of one of the characters, something is wrong with them, and I wish that I could explain it better. It's actually really thrilling for me, when a character is alive and working well enough that I know they wouldn't do what is in the outline. That's not a sad moment that's a "Aha! I've got something good here. This character is working, they are strong enough on the page that they can balk these constraints that were placed upon them." Because an outline, while it is a great tool, the danger is that the outline constricts your story and it doesn't allow it to actually feel alive. This is when you get these wooden characters that just kind of cardboard cut-out through a book. That's when often the outline just takes too much-- takes over too much of the characters. So it's exciting, but it can be very frustrating when it's not working.

It did happen with the Wheel of Time but in a different way. The Wheel of Time characters were like my high school friends growing up, these were my buddies. I was a nerdy kid who sat in my bedroom and read books, and these were my friends. So writing them I was really worried that it would be difficult to write them. But it was actually very easy, their voices snapped for me quite quickly, I knew what they would do. So much in fact that Mat was a little off in Gathering Storm, I didn't notice it because I was so used to characters coming very easily to me. And yes I feel very much in love with writing them and these sorts of things because of these sort of things but it was because of my past familiarity with them that allowed me to do that.

#9 Copy

Questioner

Hi, I was wondering, in your books you have a lot of mentions of gods, and spirits and I was just wondering what your opinion on religion is?

Brandon Sanderson

Excellent question, excellent question. And oh sure the microphone works for you. So I'm religious, I'm Mormon. Yes, I am.  And I've grown up religious, I'm a religious person and I'm fascinated by religion in all its different aspects. One of the things I love about being a writer is the ability that you have to jump into the heads of various different people who are very different from yourself and explore. Like that character coming alive thing, it's really a fun aspect. I feel that, since I am a fascinated by religion, my passion-- and if you are writers you will know this yourself-- whatever you are passionate about translates usually to good fiction, as long as you are willing to approach it from all directions. Where fiction goes wrong is when you allow your perspective to color everything too much and you end up with a story where everybody thinks the same. However if you can allow something you are really interested in to have five or six different characters on different sides of an argument. Because there aren't two sides, there are as many sides as there are people in the world on these sorts of issues. You can show a lot of those different sides and show the way they kind of-- the rough edges bump into one another, then what you are going to be doing is you are going to start exploring what it means to be human and what it means to have faith, or whatever it is you are fascinated by. I find that this is where I find your fiction can get really good.

I love reading fiction, I love science fiction and fantasy I think sometimes-- I do love the escapist aspect of it, getting out of the world and going someplace imaginative, but I think sometimes because we have this escapism-- which is a lot of fun and there are a lot of fun aspects to this-- we miss out on the importance of what fiction does. I think fiction allows you to see through the eyes of someone very different from yourself and experience their life and their role. And when you get done with fiction-- A good piece of fiction I feel it's harder to hate the people because you've lived in someone else's shoes for a while. Maybe that's a very lofty opinion that I have of what my job is where really it is telling stories about magic and knights hitting each other with swords. But that's the soul of what I think is very noble about fiction and I think it was very Tolkien. You get done reading Tolkien and you're like "I can see how these different races in this world, the hobbits and the kings, and dwarves and the elves and I can see how they all view the world differently." I think that does something for us, something wonderful.

One of my favorite books of all time is Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly this is the book that got me into reading. I was a 14-year-old boy, who was not a reader and my teacher handed me this book. This book should not have worked, this book is about a middle-aged woman who is trying to choose between her career and her family, that's basically what the book is because she's been told she could be the greatest magic-user ever by her teacher if she would just focus but she the reason she can't focus because she's got these two crazy little boys who distract her and a husband and things like this. And I read this book and its about the last living dragonslayer who has to go and kill a dragon, except he goes and does it with crossbows ballista instead of a noble ride up with a sword because who does that its stupid. It's great, its from her perspective. I get done with this and I'm like "this was amazing.  I loved this book, why did I love it so much?" At the same time my mother had graduated first in her class in accounting in a year where she was the only woman in the accounting program and had been offered a really prestigious scholarship to go along with her education, instead she had me. She felt it was important to stay home with me while I was young. She took care of me and as a teenage boy knowing this I was like "Of course she did, I'm awesome of course that's the right thing to do". And I was reading this book about dragons and I understand my mother better. That's what we can do with this, and I'm kind of going off in weird directions. That's what I love about fiction, that's what I love about science fiction and fantasy.

#10 Copy

Questioner

Your magic systems, they're genius.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh thank you very much.

Questioner

There's a certain subtlety to them that doesn't overtake the story which in some books could easily happen. How early on in your process do the magic systems have to be looked at an really put into place?

Brandon Sanderson

Every book is different. For some books the idea is a plot idea that starts me and for some books it is a setting idea--and magic systems are setting ideas in my head--and some its a character idea. With a character idea its usually a conflict, "that's an interesting conflict, what can I do with that" With magic systems it's usually "this will allow me, as a writer-- it will force me to stretch. It will have interesting limitations, it will do interesting things visually on the page, it will change the world in a very subtle yet important way that then I can explore" If we change one little piece of physics what does it do to the world, this sort of thing. I'm usually getting a lot of my ideas from reading science articles and things like this. Stormlight Archive is based off the fundamental forces, Mistborn is based off of vector physics and metabolism and things like this. These ideas-- I like having one foot in science and one foot in superstition for these magic systems. I usually don't start a book until I've fleshed out the magic system pretty well. That said when I was doing Stormlight Archive, the version that you have read I didn't have the terminology and how it was going to feel for the lashings until I wrote Szeth's opening scene, and that was where I really nailed down how this would look on the page and how it would feel. Sometimes you just need to write, you can't just plan endlessly and not write anything. But most of the time I have that nailed down. If people are interested in this you can look up my essays on writing magic systems, I think they are fun, but I humbly titled them Sanderson's first law, second law, and third law. So I think highly of them. You might find them interesting. They talk about my philosophy on writing and on magic systems.

#11 Copy

Questioner

Do you ever find it difficult writing for two kinds who read your books, the kind that only want to read it and have a lot of fun and take nothing away from it, and the people who obsess over every sentence for hidden cosmere-ic meaning?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, right, right. For those of you who don't know, though I'm not sure there are many who don't know still, all of my epic fantasies are in the same universe and there are characters in each book who are interfering with each other's stories. There are characters from Mistborn in Way of Kings, and there are characters from Elantris in Mistborn.

This was done, for a little bit of backstory, I love big epic fantasy works, if you can't tell Wheel of Time is one of my favorites ever, I like the big things. Breaking in I felt that it was a lot to ask new readers to take a chance on me as a writer by saying "it's book one of 25" I felt it was better to say "here is a standalone novel, self-contained that you can enjoy reading and kind of figure out who I am as a writer." That's kind of my purpose for Elantris and Warbreaker, and lately Emperor's Soul. "Here's how to try out my writing style to see if you like it." But loving these epics I couldn't help connecting them and hiding an epic behind the scenes. This was partially inspired by Asimov, who later in life joined his two main series, the Robot books and the Foundation books in what I felt was a clever way. But it had some problems in that he had to juryrig it after the fact. He'd been writing these books for decades and then he brought them together and I thought "wouldn't it be cool if someone were to take that idea and start it from the get go." It's this whole shoulders of giants thing, people try something out and you go "that was awesome, can I improve upon it?" or "whoah I'm not ever going to try that because that had certain issues" Book 10, the Wheel of Time fans know--

Robert Jordan actually talked about that book about how he wish he hadn't written it the way he did.  I have the advantage of having read Robert Jordan, so I can see how that book went wrong and I can avoid making that pitfall. I went ahead and did this hidden epic because I thought it was really interesting, I did not expect it to come to the forefront as much as it has. Which is awesome, people started peeking these things out. Secrets that I embedded in Elantris, That I didn't expect to come out for another ten fifteen books people are already asking me about. Which means I kind of need to step up my game to make sure that all this stuff is very subtle. The whole idea is that you don't have to have read Elantris to read Mistborn, you don't have to have read Mistborn to read Way of Kings, they are all easter eggs right now. Eventually I will write a series that ties them all together in a direct way, that's many years off, and I will be very upfront with "You have to read all the others, you will be very lost if you aren't familiar, at least go read the summaries of the books before you start this one." We are far away from that.

#12 Copy

Questioner

Basically Bridge Four, the starting sequence was one of the most intense things I have ever read in my life. I was in tears, I couldn't stop it, to the point I kept flipping through to the next Bridge Four part. I was just wondering where you got the inspiration to go so dark with Kaladin and what he went through.

Brandon Sanderson

That's an excellent question. Bridge Four in the original Dragonsteel was a happy accident, back then I wasn't as good at outlining as I am now. I kind of got to this place and went "Huh, I want to do something interesting here" and I kind of discovery wrote myself into it. It didn't work nearly as well as it did in Way of Kings, but that's because I was still figuring it out. I think the original inspiration was-- Something that I like to do with Fantasy is take the geography and see how the unique geography of the area influences the culture of the people who are living there, in this case the warfare, a subset of the culture interaction. This happens with the weather on Roshar as well. I think this is something Fantasy allows us to do, to explore what is fantastical, yet keep it very grounded in the human experience because I find books interesting when I'm interested in the characters. Having this cool place, the Shattered Plains, is not nearly as awesome as having this cool place and "oh no the people I like are dying here". This idea was one of the ideas, I think the inspiration was medieval siege warfare and just how awful that sounds to me. Having to be one of these people running a ladder to climb up the wall. Just "Okay, here's your ladder, good luck". This idea of just having to run into the face of something terrible, to know you are probably going to lose your own life or your friends are going to lose theirs was just so awful to consider. And when that happens, as a writer you are like "Oh I got something. That sounds awful, I'm going to write about it" That's just what we do. Anything that inspires powerful and profound emotion in myself is something I look to use in my books because I figure if it inspires profound emotion in myself it will work on the page to do the same thing with my characters.

#13 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

So what you've got there is the beginnings of me exploring an idea I had many years ago, about a world where bacteria and viruses would grant magical abilities in order to keep you alive long enough to spread the disease. It's this basic survival instinct, if they were somehow able to grant this. So you catch the common cold and you can fly, until you get over it and you can't anymore. I thought "Wow, you would need some super CDC soldiers--right? Center for Disease Control--to keep this from getting out of control."  his is kind of a cross between counter-terrorism and the CDC, in a fantasy world where when you catch a disease you get a magic power. Pretty weird.

#14 Copy

Questioner

So in Words of Radiance you've got a character called Wit, who has a conversation with Kaladin in which he uses the phrase "bunny rabbit" which obviously doesn't exist in the language that Kaladin speaks. So my question is where and when did the language that he used come from?

Brandon Sanderson

So Hoid, or Wit, is actually try-- using magical means to communicate and so when he says a word it just transliterates it or just doesn't translate it into anything in that language. So you'll notice him slipping up on a number of occasions-- he is the only one who uses certain words in the course of-- That's not the only one in The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, because he's just speaking normally and allowing his other means to translate for him. And that's a sign, a symbol, of that happening.

#15 Copy

Questioner

Where do you get your people from? Do you take inspiration from people you know in real life?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes I do. Sometimes, sometimes not. As I said, usually the seed that starts a character for me as I grow them is a conflict. For Kaladin it's the conflict between being trained as a surgeon and finding out you are really good at killing people, and how do you deal with that. For some it can be very simple, for Sarene I had a friend who is a woman that is 6 foot 2, or whatever she is, *to the side* How tall is Annie? She's tall. Anway, Annie's tall, and she always complains about how tough it is to be a tall woman. Which is something I never thought of, I'm like "I'm going to use that. I'm going to make use of that in a story," Of course that isn't her whole personality, but that little seed, you drop down and I grow a personality around it as I try someone out... That person I knew, a piece of her turned into a character. For other things, it's just trying and trying and trying untill something works, as I explained before. It is "What has their life done to them", often times it's "What are the passionate about? What do they want? Why can't they have what they want?" Those sorts of things lead me into creating a character

#16 Copy

Questioner

I was reading the first book-- The Way of Kings, there is a scene-- no a Letter. Is that scene-- the person who is sending the Letter says that the Shards in Elantris are broken-- sorry they're, like, [Splintered], and they can’t be used again. How is that so, because if there was Adonalsium which Shattered and people took the Shards.

Brandon Sanderson

There are those who believe you could put the pieces back together and their are those who believe you can't, and shouldn't.

Questioner

You shouldn't put them back--

Brandon Sanderson

There are some who believe that.

Questioner

So will they be able to put it back together?

Brandon Sanderson

Well there are some who believe it is possible. *laughter*

Congratulations, you win a RAFO card!  RAFO is something Robert Jordan would say, that means Read And Find Out and I print out little cards so at least you get something. That means "I'm sorry I can't answer your question but I'm really not that sorry otherwise I would answer it"

#17 Copy

Questioner

Again in Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, there are characters from different books. Some of these books have sequels, like the people from Elantris. So when are the sequels coming out? Are they going to come out before the big book? Or…

Brandon Sanderson

It's going to be a while before we do them. The sequels, I want to do them. Part of the thing that is holding me back with Elantris and Warbreaker is that I like having them as standalones right now, because so much of the rest of my work is so involved, I want to have these introductory books. Eventually I probably will do them, but it is going to take me a little while. I want to number one get further in The Stormlight Archive, I feel that we've had too much delay. Book One and Book Two there was a four year delay.  Which is-- That's like George R.R. Martin level delay, and granted I did two Wheel of Time books in-between. I should be cut some slack there but that's too long, I want to be consistently doing them every 18 months to two years. Then I can stop and say, "Okay do I have time to write an Elantris sequel or a Warbreaker sequel?"

#18 Copy

ChocolateRob

There’s a character again that you've talked about in other signings-- That character has more information than Hoid about the cosmere. How does she have more information than Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, she is a very detail oriented person and takes the time to research very deeply into things. Where Hoid will often research enough as he needs to know to sound really smart and get what he wants. It is a matter of depth, if that makes sense.

ChocolateRob

Have we seen her?

Brandon Sanderson

Uhh, I don't know if you've seen her or not. I'm sure I slipped her in somewhere but I'm not sure... I think I may have, but I can't guarantee it.

#19 Copy

Questioner

..One of things I had difficulty with was coming up with names for the characters and seeing how your names are more than just random collections of letters, a lot of them actually have meanings behind them. I was wondering how you were able to do that.

Brandon Sanderson

That's actually a very good question and number one you should keep writing, even if you feel like what you are writing is a rip-off, it is better to finish that first book and be acknowledging your influences because you want to be practicing. And sometimes it is very useful to lean on something else while you do it. In fact this is how Great Masters did artwork, you can find-- I don't know if you guys know this-- various different versions of the Mona Lisa, we saw one in Spain, my wife and I, that was done by DaVinci's student while DaVinci was painting the Mona Lisa. "Here's what I painted now you do it too"  That was the means by which the Great Masters would train their students, so leaning on someone is just fine. You just can't publish it like that, but it can teach you a whole lot. Don't feel bad about that.

Names, I use two general methods, and this is not going to give it the justice it deserves, I'm giving you the five minute version. One version is I look for the linguistic attribute that is interesting to me that will visually distinguish these people on the page. So when you are coming across them and you see that name, I want you to say "I bet that they're from this country". That is really tough because that means they all have to feel similar but you can't let everyone get confused over who's who and that's the real challenge, it's the getting confused. For instance in Warbreaker I tried using some different things like we don't in our world. In Warbreaker I used repeated consonant sounds, so you get someone like Vivenna, when you see that double v, you are like she must be-- Llarimar, there's a double L, you pronounce them both out. T'telir. And when you get double repeated consonants you are like "Oh they are from this region, that makes sense to me even though they start with different letter there is something to them" The same sort of thing is supposed to happen in The Way of Kings, you see names that are mostly symmetrical. When you see something like Shallan and her name is a derivation of Shalash, who was one of the Heralds and its a symmetrical name. When you see something that reads almost, or does read, forward and backward the same way you are like "They must be either Alethi or they must be-- They've got to be Vorin because that is the Vorin religion influencing this". And hopefully it will give you some subconscious cue when you run across those names and you'll get it.

Now a way to do this that is easier is than doing all of that is going to take a lot of work linguistically is to go get yourself a nice atlas and say everyone from this country is going to have names that are analogous to this region in our world and I am then going to take this atlas and look for these names and use baby names from that culture... I did this in Emperor's Soul, I just picked ancient Persia, I picked people who lived there in this era and what they named their cities there and I'm going to take those words and I'm going to screw with them until it is not actually a word but it feels like it might be one. That way everyone from this region is going to feel like they've got a similar name. Or I can just-- For that book it was much easier because the linguistics were not as big a deal.  I could basically just crib off the bat. And that works very well also.

Sometimes I do it intentionally, Mistborn was supposed to evoke a sense of 1820's Paris, or London, that was what I was shooting for with the grime and the dirt, the ash falling. So I used French names and Germanic names and Spanish names and things like this, so when you run into Vin, Vin is just wine in French and Kelsier [Kelsi-ay] is how they would say-- you can say Kelsier [Kelsi-er] if you want-- and they have Kelsier and Demoux so you can go "Oh this is a French sounding region" so when you get some like Elend and Straff you are like "They are from a different region. They sound like the eat meat and potatoes and they try to conquer Europe periodically, those guys" *laughter* That helps you distinguish the regions very easily.

#20 Copy

Questioner

With the Vorin religion split between men and women... do you tend to get women sneaking into the army-- *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

This does not happen as much on Roshar as it apparently happens in Terry Pratchett novels. I'm sure that on Roshar they have their legends, 'cause basically every culture has their legends and one thing you have to remember is that whole thing is specifically Vorin. That's Alethkar, that's Jah Keved, that's Kharbranth, and Herdaz to a lesser extent and in there they probably have some of those myths and things like that but I don't think it actually happens that much in Roshar. That's my take on it, but I'm sure that they have their mythology.

Questioner

I was suspecting that the girl Kaladin mentions a few times may have snuck in.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh right, you've got some-- I've left her intentionally vague.

#21 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

This Jasnah sequence I might release in-between books as just a short little thing, like we did with Mitosis and Emperor's Soul, just to tide people over. It is something that I felt I needed to write so that I knew what Jasnah was doing, because these kinds of events are important to character development and things like this. It didn't belong in Book Two, for obvious reasons. There had to be that question. So I have this, and it's not 100% complete, in fact it's a pretty rough draft. But I feel I can't write Book Three until I know exactly what Jasnah went through.

#26 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

A WARNING FROM BRANDON: This scene gives major spoilers for Words of Radiance. Please don’t continue unless you’ve finished that book. This is a very short sequence of Jasnah’s backstory I’ve been reading at signings. It’s not a polished draft. I often read very rough (and potentially continuity-error filled) sequences at signings as a special treat to people who attend. This scene is even rougher than most—first draft, and shouldn’t be taken as canon quite yet, as I haven’t firmed up or fixed all the terminology or Shadesmar interactions.

Brandon Sanderson

Jasnah Kholin opened her eyes and gasped, fingers rigid, clawing at the obsidian ground. A knife in her chest! She could feel it grinding on her bones as it slipped between two ribs, glancing off her sternum. She spasmed, rolling into a ball, quivering.

“Jasnah.”

No. She could not lay prone. She fought to her knees, but then found herself raking her fingers across the ground, trembling, heaving breaths in and out. Moving—even breathing—was perversely difficult, not because of pain or incapacity, but because of the overwhelming sense of tension. It made her shake, made her made her want to run, fight, do anything she could to not die.

She shouted, stumbling to her feet, and spun about, hand on her chest.

Wet blood. Her blood. A dress cut with a single knife hole.

“Jasnah.” A figure all in black. A landscape of obsidian ground reflecting a bizarre sky and a sun that did not change locations.

She darted her head from side to side, taking in everything but registering very little of it.

Storms. She could sense that knife again, sliding into her flesh. She felt that same helplessness, that same panic—emotions which had accompanied the knife’s fall. She remembered the darkness consuming her, her hearing fading, the end.

She closed her eyes and shivered, trying to banish the memories. Yet the effort of trying to do so only seemed to solidify them.

She knew that she would remember dying for as long as it took the darkness to claim her again.

“You did well,” Ivory said. “Well, Jasnah.”

“The knife,” she whispered, opening her eyes, angry at how her voice trembled, “the knife was unexpected.” She breathed in and out, trying to calm herself. That puffed out the last of her Stormlight, which she had drawn in at the last possible moment, then used like a lash to pull herself into this place. It had kept her alive, healed her.

Ivory said that while a person held enough Stormlight, only a crushing blow to the head itself would kill. She’d believed him, but storms that hadn’t made it any easier to lay there before the knife. Who would have expected them to stab her? Shouldn’t they have assumed that a blow to the head would be enough to—

Wait. Shallan!

“We have to go back,” Jasnah said, spinning. “Ivory, where is the junction?”

“It is not.”

She was able to locate the ship with ease. In Shadesmar, land and sea were reversed, so she stood on solid ground—but in the Physical Realm, Shallan and the sailors would still be in their ship. They manifest here as lights, similar to candle flames, and Jasnah thought of them as the representation of the person’s soul—despite Ivory telling her that was an extreme simplification.

They spotted the air around her, standing up on deck. That solitary flame would be Shallan herself. Many smaller lights darted beneath the ground—faintly visible through the obsidian. Fish and other sea life.

Nerves still taut, Jasnah searched around for the junction: a faint warping of the air that marked the place of her passage into Shadesmar. She could use it return to the ship, to…

One of the lights up above winked out.

Jasnah froze. “They’re being executed. Ivory! The junction.”

“A junction is not, Jasnah,” Ivory repeated. He stood with hands clasped behind his back, wearing a sharp—yet somehow alien—suit, all black. Here in Shadesmar, it was easier to distinguish the mother-of-pearl sheen to his skin, like the colors made by oil on water.

“Not?” Jasnah said, trying to parse his meaning. She’d missed his explanation the first time. Despite their years together, his language constructions still baffled her on occasion. “But there’s always a junction…”

“Only when a piece of you is there,” Ivory said. “Today, that is not. You are here, Jasnah. I am…sorry.”

“You brought me all the way into Shadesmar,” she asked. “Now?

He bowed his head.

For years she’d been trying to get him to bring her into his world. Though she could peek into Shadesmar on her own—and even slip one foot in, so to speak—entering fully required Ivory’s help. How had it happened? The academic wanted to record her experiences and tease out the process, so that perhaps she could replicate it. She’d used Stormlight, hadn’t she? An outpouring of it, thrust into Shadesmar. A lash which had pulling her, like gravitation from a distant place, unseen…

Memories of what happened mixed with the terror of those last minutes. She shoved both emotions and memories aside. How could she help the people on the ship? Jasnah stepped up to the light, hovering before her, lifting a hand to cup one. Shallan, she assumed, though she could not be certain. Ivory said that there wasn’t always a direct correlation between objects their manifestation in Shadesmar.

She couldn’t touch the soul before her, not completely. Its natural power repelled her hand, as if she were trying to push two pieces of magnetized stone against one another.

A sudden screech broke Shadesmar’s silence.

Jasnah jumped, spinning. It sounded a trumping beast, only overlaid by the sounds of glass breaking. The terrible noise drove a shiver up her spine. It sounded like it had come from someplace nearby.

Ivory gasped. He leaped forward, grabbing Jasnah by the arm. “We must go.”

“What is that?” Jasnah asked.

“Grinder,” Ivory said. “You call them painspren.”

“Painspren are harmless.”

“On your side, harmless. Here, harmmore. Very harmmore. Come.” He yanked on her arm.

“Wait.”

The ship’s crew would die because of her. Storms! She had not thought that the Ghostbloods would be so bold. But what to do? She felt like a child here, newborn. Years of study had told her so little. Could she do anything to those souls above her? She couldn’t even distinguish which were the assassins and which were the crew.

The screech sounded again, coming closer. Jasnah looked up, growing tense. This place was so alien, with ridges and mountains of pure black obsidian, a landscape that was perpetually dim. Small beads of glass rolled about her feet—representations of inanimate objects in the physical realm.

Perhaps…

She fished among them, and these she could identify immediately by touch. Three plates from the galley, one bead each. A trunk holding clothing.

Several of her books.

Her hand hesitated. Oh storms, this was a disaster. Why hadn’t she prepared better? Her contingency plan in case of an assassination attempt had been to play dead, using faint amounts of stormlight from gems sewn into her hem to stay alive. But she’d foolishly expected assassins to appear in the night, strike her down, then flee. She’d not prepared for a mutiny, an assassination led by a member of the crew.

They would murder everyone on board.

“Jasnah!” Ivory said, sounding more desperate. “We must not be in this place! Emotions from the ship draw them!”

She dropped the spheres representing her books and ran her fingers through the other spheres, seeking… there. Ropes—the bonds tying the sailors as they were executed. She found a group of them and seized the spheres.

She drew in the last of her Stormlight, a few gemstones’ worth. So little.

The landscape reacted immediately. Beads on the ground nearby shivered and rolled toward her, seeking the stormlight. The calls of the painspren intensified. It was even closer now. Ivory breathed in sharply, and high above, several long ribbons of smoke descended out of the clouds and began to circle about her.

Stormlight was precious here. It was power, currency, even—perhaps—life. Without it, she’d be defenseless.

“Can I use this Light to return?” she asked him.

“Here?” He shook his head. “No. We must find a stable junction. Honor’s Perpendicularity, perhaps, though it is very distant. But Jasnah, the grinders will soon be!”

Jasnah gripped the beads in her hand.

“You,” she command, “will change.”

“I am a rope,” one of them said. “I am—”

You will change.

The ropes shivered, transforming—one by one—into smoke in the physical realm.

Event details
Name
Name Manchester signing
Date
Date Aug. 6, 2014
Location
Location Manchester, UK
Bookstore
Bookstore Waterstones Manchester Deansgate
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Entries 26
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