Oathbringer San Diego signing

Event details
Name
Name Oathbringer San Diego signing
Date
Date Nov. 14, 2017
Location
Location San Diego, CA
Tour
Tour Oathbringer
Bookstore
Bookstore Mysterious Galaxy
Entries
Entries 34
Upload sources
#1 Copy

jdilts

How do spren get to the place where they're supposed to be, where an emotion being expressed? Are there just so many of them that they just happen to have enough density that they're there or they travel really fast? 

Brandon Sanderson

Most of the time what's happening is they are congregating around human population centers anyway. And so it's like birds. Like you walk out there are birds around, right? It's kind of the same thing as spren. So it's more the density thing.

#2 Copy

Questioner

Can you give us some of the magic systems that you've rejected?

Brandon Sanderson

Magic systems I've rejected. Rejects for me are kind of a weird thing in that they stick in the back of my brain, and when I reject something, it's more along the lines of "this isn't ready yet." And I'm constantly thinking, do I want to do this, do I not want to do this. I've wanted to do one with sound waves forever, visualizing sound waves and things, and I have not been able to write it in a way that either felt different enough from other magic systems that approached this, or that just worked on the page. It's very hard to take something auditory and make it-- put it into a book for some reason. Some things work, I mean, Pat [Rothfuss] has made an entire career of having music to his language... so it can work, but I've never been able to get a really solidly sound-wave-focused magic to work, but I think of and discard tons of these things everyday. Sometimes, I discard them, because I'm like, "No, that's too Brandon." It's like, it's too much, a challenge. "Can I make peanuts into a magic system?" That's one I haven't done.

By the way, I wanted to do a story about a leekromancer, who had power over legumes. Yeah? Uh-huh. See. That's just too Brandon. You can read that, and say, "He wrote this entire story just to make the leekromancer pun!"

Footnote: Brandon has mentioned a leekromancer character in relation to the potential story Mullholland Homebrew's Sinister Shop for Secret Pets.
#3 Copy

Questioner

How much did the alpha, beta, and gamma readers in your opinion influence the end product [of Oathbringer] here today?

Brandon Sanderson

...I find them invaluable. Let me define them for you first.

Alpha readers are a very select group. My editor, my agent, my wife, and, like, my assistant-- like Peter. These are alpha readers, people who are reading it in a very raw form.

Beta readers are more like a test audience. The difference between alpha reader and beta reader is that the alpha is somebody who's an industry professional, for me, who can say-- can look at the structure and say "here's some advice on structure" and things like this. A beta reader is just a person who likes books, whose job is just to say "I like this, I don't like this, this is why." Right?

Gamma readers are proofreaders. So, usually, Peter handles all the gamma readers. I don't even see what they say, because that's all to fix proofreading.

I am a very big believer in test audience. I know some writers don't use them at all, but I find it really, really helpful to see how people are responding to the text and the fiction, and then looking and saying, "What is it that is making them feel this way? Do I want that? Do I not want that?" It is just a huge piece of the toolbox for me, a huge tool in the toolbox. (That metaphor doesn't work, because a larger tool in your toolbox is not necessarily more useful, but go with me on it.) I would say, they had all kinds of effects. And we might have Peter do some blog posts on things that I changed because of the beta readers while I'm online. And once you've read the book, you can ask me, we'll try to post about some of this stuff. Usually, they're not making suggestions, they're just giving their feelings, and I'm looking for the places where I've misfired. Where I'm like, "I thought this scene would be super dramatic," but everyone is confused. That's the sort of scene you want to find, and then ask yourself, "How can I make it work instead."

Questioner

You had 70, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I had 70 beta readers on this. They wrote around 600,000 or 700,000 words. So, more than was in the book, about the book. Yeah. It's crazy.

#4 Copy

Questioner

Which character in The Stormlight Archive do you most relate to?

Brandon Sanderson

...This is a good question, but it's a hard question. Because all of my characters are partially me, and partially not me. Every character... So, in some ways, Jasnah is the most "me" you're gonna get in one of these books, because you've got the very analytical, somewhat ambitious, gregarious person who ignores what everyone tells them is the smart thing to do and does their own thing, and then proves everyone wrong. On the other hand, a fundamental pillar of Jasnah is her atheism, where I am a theist. And so it's like, every character, I can probably go on like that about. Every character's got a chunk of me and a chunk that's deliberately not me.

#5 Copy

Questioner

What do you think a world without non-consensual death would look like?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, a lot of science fiction writers have done some really good jobs with this. And I don't know what it would actually look like, it's a good question... So, you can choose. It's gonna look something like...

Have you read (this thing was really brilliant) Football in the Future? Oh my goodness, you guys probably haven't read it because (it's brilliant, it's super brilliant) but it's a new media story, and it's written-- Look up Football in the Future, it's not actually about football. And telling you anything more than that is, like, a super-big spoiler. But I read it last summer, and it blew my mind. New media meaning it's, like, hypertext and videos and music and things like this, and, I don't want to spoil it for you, really, but go read Football in the Future. You will love it. That was a really cool take out, but it's obviously exaggerated, like, that one's done for sarcastic effect. Maybe something more along the lines of a post-scarcity society, like the culture. I think the culture really has a lot of good science fiction.

The thing for me, the difference between science fiction and fantasy for me is, really good science fiction makes me say "I can see how you take something we have now, and you extrapolate to the plausible, even though it can be very far from what we are." And fantasy, I believe, takes what's impossible, and then tries to make it plausible, and we kinda meet in the middle.

So, yeah. I'm not sure, but there's an answer.

#6 Copy

Questioner

How many countries have you visited in the last year to sign, and which was your favorite? And why?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not going to pick favorites, because I'm being recorded. *laughter* But, let's see, in the last year-- In the last year, I've been to Italy, Spain, France, Poland, Germany, Bulgaria, Australia, England on tour. And they're all awesome. They all treat me really, really well. I will highlight just in this-- I'm not gonna pick a favorite, but I'll highlight my Bulgarian publisher, because in Bulgaria, it's like, this one gregarious guy who's publishing science fiction. It's kind of like how in the olden days in the States you had *inaudible* and people like this, this guy is just like-- there aren't as many readers of science fiction and fantasy there, but if you're reading stuff, you're reading what he has decided you're reading. It's like, this is cool! And he prints them in his house. He has a big press, and he prints every copy in his house, and he has a store that he sells them out of, it's his store, and he distributes them to other bookstores, too, but mostly you go to the Bulgarian Mysterious Galaxy. And buy the books from him, that he has decided, and it's a really eclectic bunch, 'cause he also does the Smurfs, and me. Whatever he likes, he does some Bulgarian fiction, whatever he likes he publishes. And he picked me up in his sports car blasting techno music. And then at my signing that night, played DJ, with the entire crowd who came to see me, playing music, and it was just the most surreal and awesome experience. Contrast that to Germany, which I love, but I went to, and they were all on-time and by the book, and it sounds like a cliche, but it was, like, they had everything planned out. There was no loud techno music during my signing. Lots of wonderful people came. It was a very interesting contrast.

#7 Copy

Questioner

You were talking about change. Do you-- A lot of fantasy has this cyclic nature to it, as to the linear nature that a lot of times we think about. How do you think that plays with the idea of change, if you're just doing the same thing over again?

Brandon Sanderson

No, that's a great question... What I love about fantasy is the ability to play with theme. Obviously, with The Wheel of Time, this was one of the themes, that history repeats itself, which is a theme of our world as well, and things like this. I like how they're able to play with that. One of the things we do in fantasy is, we take a few concepts, and we'll often just kind of throw realism out the window, in order to try and do something. And that's the whole point of fantasy, right? Realism's out the window. We'll make you feel like it's plausible, but realism's out the window. We're gonna have a society that doesn't change very much across 2000 years of time, and then we're gonna have them change dramatically in a year and a half. And this concept allows you to exaggerate the things that we've all kind of felt in our life, that change is outpacing our ability to keep track of it, and play with that concept of nostalgia vs keeping up with change, and I think Robert Jordan did a really good job with that. And I wouldn't look at the genre and say "The genre is backward-thinking" because of that-- And some people do. Because I feel that fantasy, like science fiction, is fundamentally about the now, that's what we write about. Science fiction and fantasy approach it differently, but Stormlight Archive is not about what it's like to live a long time ago. I don't know what that's like. I'm not a historian. I'm writing about the now through the lens of everything I'm kind of interested and passionate about... The idea of what I'm interested and passionate about ends up in the books, even if I don't think about putting it in directly. This is how I explore the world.

#8 Copy

Questioner

If there is universal truth and it changes, does it make it not true anymore?

Brandon Sanderson

That depends on your personal philosophy. My personal philosophy is that there are capital-T Truths, and those don't change, though a lot of the things around them do change. And it is through discussion, conflict, and approaching the spiritual that we step closer and closer to. It's a very Platonic sort of concept, that we are approaching perfection through our imperfections mashing together. And so, Truth hasn't changed, but our understanding and our capacity to get closer to it does change. And that's a personal philosophy of mine. I bet I can talk to people who have a different personal philosophy, that I would find very interesting. But for me, I think that's an excellent question to ask. If it's capital-T Truth, it shouldn't change over time. But we do, and we're not always the best at determining what it is.

#9 Copy

Questioner

Is there any magic system you consider softer? And any magic system you consider harder than most of the general audience would think they are?

Brandon Sanderson

...So, this is gonna dig into definitions of what you consider a soft and a hard magic system. And I don't know that we can come to an agreement on this in such a large crowd. I do think that sometimes Harry Potter gets a bad reputation for being a soft magic system where I feel like Harry Potter's a really good study in how you can have a very rule-based magic system for one book. Though she tends to ignore her own rules book-to-book, but that's okay, because that's what the story is. It's a hybrid, where it's really hard for one book, and the rules set up in that book are then used to great effect, and in the next book we get a new set of rules. Which is, you know, the same way that James Bond does it and things like this. Kind of resetting her magic a little bit between books. Not completely, Harry-Potter-philes, I'm not trying to trash on it. I think it's interesting to look at, because I think people don't understand what she's doing, some of the times, with that magic. But whether something is hard or soft doesn't really matter to me in general. It's the sort of thing I think people expect me to think about a lot. I just want the story to work, right? I don't care if it's a hard magic or a soft magic, if it's low magic, if it's high magic. If the story works, and the magic is in service of the story, I'm gonna like it, regardless of what it is. Even if it's-- like, people will be like, "I bet you hate those elemental magic system, where it's just the same old magic system." I'm like, no! My favorite magic system is probably The Wheel of Time, which is an elemental magic system. Even a step away from that, Jim Butcher's Codex Alera did an elemental magic system really well. It doesn't-- There's nothing that's just, like, "You shouldn't do this, you shouldn't do that." Tell a good story.

#10 Copy

Questioner

Going back to when you first started writing books, how did you go about figuring out how to revise them?

Brandon Sanderson

...Through lots of pain. *laughter* I am not a natural reviser. I still don't like it. I spent six months of this year in revisions on Oathbringer, and every minute of it was pain! No, I'm joking. I mean, I still have the best job in the world, right? I get to sit in my chair and tell stories. And then, for some reason, people throw money at me. Revision was hard, and for me, part of the breakthrough was to treat a revision like I treat a first draft, in that I create an outline for the revision. I create a bunch of goals, I create a bunch of bullet points and things I want to work on. And I come up with a strategy, because I am naturally an outliner, for making the revision work. And when I started doing that, revision got a lot better for me, but it was also just a lot of practice.

#11 Copy

Questioner

...There are sometimes that you'll have a line of dialogue or a description, and I'm just in awe of how either hilarious or amazing it is. Have you ever written a line of dialogue or a description where you're like, "Wow, I am hilarious"? *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

...All the time! No, I mean, this gets to a larger question of, when the creative process is working... you get surprised by how well the connections start working, and how things start coming together. Sometimes they don't, and you bash your head against the wall. But I think in every writing situation, at some point, you're gonna say "Wow, did that come out of my brain?" Because I got into it so much, I didn't realize all these connections were coming together in the back of my brain, and boom, it happens. And, again, sometimes it doesn't. In fact, I'll get into that in a moment, as we go to the reading. Because I... pulled a book from the publisher and decided not to publish it just recently, like last month.

Footnote: The book Brandon is referring to is The Apocalypse Guard.
#15 Copy

Questioner

I'm asking why they have chickens.

Brandon Sanderson

...They were carried with them.

Questioner

So is Earth...

Brandon Sanderson

Earth is not. There are several Earth analogues. I go with a default, we're gonna make it easy on myself. Those planets have, kinda, Earth analogue for plants and animals. And then you can assume that they have Earth creatures until I start doing ecology really quite weirdly.

#17 Copy

Questioner

Is Hoid an avatar from Autonomy?

Brandon Sanderson

No. Good question. He is independent.

Questioner

He's human, but he's more than human? He's changed from all the places he's been?

Brandon Sanderson

Even before that he's not exactly one hundred percent human anymore. But he's his own agent. He's not an avatar of somebody.

#18 Copy

Questioner

So, I was actually wondering whether Tanavast constructed the confrontation with Rayse in such a way that *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

That nailed his foot to the floor?

Questioner

He's stuck on Braize - at least for now.

Brandon Sanderson

Ah, yes. That was, in effect, that was an intentional -

Questioner

It was deliberate? Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

It was deliberate. Yup.

Questioner

*Inaudible, possibly 'Rayse'* started to win?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, well...

Questioner

I'll keep it secret until it shows up on Facebook.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it... so, Odium came at him, and he gave - not as good as he got - but he made it cost.

Questioner

Did he sacrifice himself, or is Odium better at that sort of thing?

Brandon Sanderson

I wouldn't say that he sacrificed himself, I'd say he went out swinging.

Questioner

Is Odium just better at that sort of thing?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say, yes.

#26 Copy

Questioner

I'm not very good understanding how the cosmere works. So, any tips on how to get to that? Like, get the little hints that are--

Brandon Sanderson

Just watch out for Hoid and watch out for people who use the wrong words. Like if they use the word "coin" or "dirt" or things like that just aren't on Roshar. That's a pretty big clue that they're not one hundred percent on the up and up.

#27 Copy

Questioner

So we know that spren come about through interactions? Could there be other things that situation could create?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

'Cause a read about the *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Um, same thing, yes.

Questioner

I was wondering if *inaudible* spren were created by *inaudible*?

Brandon Sanderson

This is possible.

#29 Copy

Questioner

Could a Shard like Harmony create new elemental metals, like harmonium, or is that unconscious--

Brandon Sanderson

So, unconscious isn't the right word, but a manifestation of his will being the same as manifestation of the laws of physics in the world, if that makes sense. It's not like a choice, it's not, like, not a choice either, to create others, it is theoretically possible, but what has happened is more in line with the laws of his realm.

#31 Copy

Questioner

*inaudible* find yourself foreshadowing in any of your books.

Brandon Sanderson

All the time. Like, the thing I love to do the most.

Questioner

Anything you found that we haven't found yet?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah. But they can't really find it yet because the foreshadowing is for books way in the future. One thing I've mentioned that you can keep an eye on is the shapes the spren sometimes take, sometimes unconsciously, is related to certain connections that are going on.

#33 Copy

Questioner

Someone told me that after the signing last night you said that Soulcast blood has DNA... The question is who?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a good question. That's a RAFO. So, here's... the premises I'm working on. Soulcast blood can be used for transfusion, alright? I'm not saying much more than that. At least I'm not canonizing much more than that right now. And as my understanding, it has blood type, it has-- things. When someone asked me tonight "does that mean it's human blood?" Well, that depends on the definition.

Event details
Name
Name Oathbringer San Diego signing
Date
Date Nov. 14, 2017
Location
Location San Diego, CA
Tour
Tour Oathbringer
Bookstore
Bookstore Mysterious Galaxy
Entries
Entries 34
Upload sources