Words of Radiance Los Angeles signing

Event details
Name
Name Words of Radiance Los Angeles signing
Date
Date March 5, 2014
Location
Location Huntington Beach, CA
Tour
Tour Words of Radiance
Bookstore
Bookstore Barnes & Noble
Entries
Entries 9
Upload sources
#5 Copy

Dawnshard

So I asked Brandon at the LA signing if he could tell us about a shard that we don't know anything about (including the survival shard) and he said that there was a shard that isn't on a planet. Now I think this means that the shard is either on an asteroid, or a star. It could also be floating in space or on a moon and influencing from a distance. I will repeat it is not any shard we already know about.

#6 Copy

Questioner

Will Lift become a recurring character in future novels?

Brandon Sanderson

Lift is one of the characters which I have seeded to be a main character in future novels. For those who don't know, the Stormlight Archive is two arcs of five. The first five book arc is basically about the characters we're dealing [with] now, and it's almost like its own series. But I really like the idea of the form of the novel. (Sorry if this gets boring to you... I'm a professor.) But I love the form of the novel, and I llike ove doing things with it, which is why I've got that big essay on tor.com, if your read that one, the idea that I plotted Words of Radiance as a series of three books, that I put together in one volume, to force you to read a trilogy bound together. I plotted exactly the same way as I would plot a trilogy. So when you read this book, you're getting a trilogy. But it goes beyond that, 'cause as you're a writer, what you're doing is, you take this... first, you start with a sentence. And you want the sentence to have some sort of contrast in the sentence. You want it to be doing multiple things and have a contrast with itself. And then you build a paragraph. And a really good paragraph has a bit of a rise and fall to itself. You begin with something, and then you go, you dig into an idea, and then you come out of that idea. And you combine those paragraphs into scenes, and the scenes have a beginning, middle, and end of their own arc. And then you combine those scenes into chapters. And each chapter, when it works really well, has its own sculpted feel. And then the chapters come together for character arcs. And the character arcs come together for books. And then those books came together to be bound into what we call Words of Radiance, which is really three books bound as one. And then these become part of a five-book arc, and then those two five-book arcs become a mega arc for what I'm trying to do. This is just me playing with this idea of, "How many brackets can I put in here? How can I make this scope work the way I want it to?"

And so, what you end up with is, hopefully, something that feels very cool, even though you have to wait a long time between them because of this. It takes a long time to write a trilogy. I really mean that... I don't know if you know how long this book is. But each of those pieces in there is longer than most novels, each of the three. And then there's a short story collection stapled in there, as well. In the interludes.

The back five will have different characters, though some of the characters from the first five will still show up. And I'm seeding characters who will be important in the back five, in the front five. And Lift is important. Lift is... In my outline, she's one of those things, I had her in my wiki. (I have an internal wiki. You can't find it. It's on my computers only.) There's entries for characters that my assistants get to, and they're like "Who is this? You have this character being a main character, and they haven't even shown up yet." And I'm like, "Oh, let me tell you about them!"

#7 Copy

Questioner

Does it mean anything different for you now that this is your own stuff, rather than the Wheel of Time?

Brandon Sanderson

Here's the weird thing. The Wheel of Time feels as much my own, even though probably, it shouldn't. The Wheel of Time is Robert Jordan's, let's be very frank on that. But the characters feel as much my own as Dalinar does. And the truth is, I knew Rand and Mat before I knew Dalinar, because I picked up the Wheel of Time in 1990, and I started writing Dragonsteel in '91. And so, I've known those characters longer than I've known any of my own characters. Even Hoid, who was there in that first one. He came after the Wheel of Time. And so, when I said yes to Harriet on the Wheel of Time, I did it... I mean, it was a fantastic opportunity. But I did it because this is something I would legitimately want to be part of. And I've talked before about some of the exciting things. Like, for years I'd been playing with a teleportation-based magic system, like gateways, because I had been reading Wheel of Time books and I'm like, "This is where that magic could go!" And I had it all sketched out in my notes. And then I had written, "I can't ever do this. It is too similar to the Wheel of Time."

And then the Wheel of Time... I was writing it. And I'd be like, "Well, here are my notes on how to manipulate this magic system," because I'd spent years wanting to do this. And Perrin is, like, my high school friend. I was one of these nerdy, bookish people, who my friends were my characters in the books. (And, yes, I wasn't that lonely. I did have real friends.)

So, does it feel different to me? No, it really doesn't. I mean, I'm really proud of this. I've been planning forever for this. So, this is my baby. But... When I was offered the Wheel of Time, one thing about it was, when Harriet gave it to me... Finding somebody to finish the Wheel of Time had been a dying request from Robert Jordan for her. She didn't grieve until she found someone to do it, and then she went and grieved for a year, and left me basically on my own. Now, when it came to editing, she then came in as an editor and had a very strong hand and was very important that she do that. But in the process of outlining the three books, writing the first one, and deciding on the plot archetypes and all these things, I did that basically just me and Robert Jordan's notes. And there was a large amount of ownership that Harriet allowed me to take, even though it's made very clear, "The Wheel of Time is not mine." But the characters kind of are mine, in the same way they're all of yours, if that makes any sense.

So, no. It's a long answer, isn't it? One question I get a lot, people ask me, "Does it hurt to kill off characters? Does it hurt to have characters that you don't get to write about anymore?" And usually, my answer is "No." Because I have built a plot arc for years when I'm writing a book, where I know what risks that character's going to take, and I build into it then the consequences of those actions. And it's like, they demand to be allowed to do this, and then there is a ramification. And when I actually write it, yes, there's a sorrow to it, but at the same time, it's fulfilling what that character wanted to do for years and who they are, if that makes any sense. So, they are then done, and I don't feel a need to write any more about them. I'm not gonna mention any names, not give spoilers, but for a lot of these characters, I'm like, "No, I don't feel a need to write any more stories, because I told the story that they needed to have told, and that feels awesome."

The exception is the Wheel of Time. Because, in some ways, the Wheel of Time is the only one... Now, I made the decision that no more Wheel of Time books should be written. It really belongs to Harriet, but when Harriet... She actually asked me what I thought we should do, and I was very up front with "No more Wheel of Time should be done." Because Robert Jordan didn't want it to be done. But the only ones that hurt are not being able to write more stories about some of those characters, because I don't feel their stories are completely told, and I don't feel that I can. So, that is painful. I feel it's good. It's the pain of having lost Robert Jordan. So, it's not a good pain, but it's a necessary pain. And it's a pain that I shouldn't relinquish by simply going and writing all these books, but that is a pain. Not being able to tell the stories of these characters that I really feel didn't quite get told. So you'll have to tell them all in your own head.

#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I did start writing on a new novella, just right after I finished Firefight. (Which is the sequel to Steelheart, which is done.) After I finished that, I started writing a little novella. I didn't finish it, but I got a few pages in. Just to try out something I've been thinking about doing for a while.

So, this is based off of one of the very cool ideas I've had for a magic system for a long time, in which magic is granted by bacteria and viruses. You catch a disease, and the disease has evolved to give you a magical talent for a short time while you have the disease. In order to keep you alive and encourage you to spread the disease. And then when you get over the cold or whatever you've gotten, you lose that power. Which is a really cool idea to me, and the idea of what you would do with that and what culture and society would do with that.

#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

<Eelyell> was awakened by the whispering of the dead child who followed him.

“Death and die. Death and die.” The girl’s words were often gibberish, though usually he could make out a few of them. Tonight, what she said felt eerie. It made the whispering in the darkness send a shiver up his spine.

<Eelyell> sat up in his cot, realizing that he had fallen asleep in his uniform again, and looked across the darkened room, seeking out the child. There, she hid in the shadows beside the wooden bin that held his canes. Small, maybe four years old, she had long straight blonde hair that hung down by her face, ears peeking out like rocks in the sand.

She met his eyes, “Death and die,” she whispered. It would be nice when that particular Echo passed.

<Eelyell> rose, tugging at his crumpled jacket, still enough of a soldier to feel ashamed at its state. His father would have had <Eelyell>’s head if he’d seen such a uniform. Climbing from bed <Eelyell> took the cane beside it for support, then walked out onto the balcony. He put his back to the dead child; she was a figment, an Echo, or a side-effect from an Incubation he’d done a few years back. It was so long ago that he was losing hope that the Echo would ever fade. He might be stuck with this hallucination, for good.

He stepped out onto the balcony, using the cane by habit though he was currently strong enough that he didn’t need it to walk. He was recovering from his Incubation two months back. The grind from that one had finally worn off. In fact he was probably too strong; he’d been getting too much sleep lately, he'd been eating too well. He needed to maintain a certain level of physical weakness so he could be open to Incubations, assuming he wanted to remain effective in his duties. And he did want to remain effective, for his own reasons, if not for the Corps themselves.

Outside on the balcony, the sky burned. It smoldered high above, deep red lines, the color of a serpent’s tongue, glowing like rips in the air. The magma cast a warm red light across the city of <Suigmaat>. As always the air smelled faintly of smoke, though he only noticed it when he was first stepping out of the building into the open air. He knew logically that the burning place he saw above was actually the ground. He knew <Suigmaat> flew in the air, a city reversed, one of the few bastions of life left in the burning land. <Eelyell> was the one who was upside-down, as were all of the city’s inhabitants. It didn’t feel that way to him; he’d lived here too long. Upward was towards the burning ground and the land, downward was toward the sky and the sun. Things he never saw except on the rare occasion when he was called upon to visit the farms and orchards on the city’s sunward side.

<Eelyell> stood for a time, holding to the cast-iron railing, staring up at swathes of burning ground high above. Molten rivers, a land destroyed. A warning flag, raised to them all. Omnipresent. Undeniable. The city itself slept beneath that scarlet glare, bathed in red. Sleeping.

“Death and die,” The girl whispered from behind. She’d crawled out onto the balcony and now crouched there, looking up at the air.

<Eelyell> glanced at her, “<Kareem’s> gaze, you’re a creepy one,” he whispered, “What must I do to be rid of you?”

“Death and die,” she whispered

He tapped his finger on the railing, then strode back into his quarters, splashed some water on his face, and checked the sword blade of his walking cane. Seconds later, he was out the door.

The offices of the Corps did not look as a police station should. A police station was supposed to be a box-like thing, stable and functional, designed to indicate to all who visited that this was not a place where nonsense was permitted. Those ornamented columns, etched with the silver serpents of <Mokdeelor>, those golden doors, those soldiers with ridiculous feathered helms. Those were not the symbols of efficient law-keeping. They were quite the opposite.

<Eelyell> walked up the steps and approached the guards, who were at least armed with functional halberds and two flintlock pistols at their belts. They saluted him by raising fists to their sides. As an Incubator, he outranked everyone in this building, except of course the ones who actually mattered. <Eelyell> felt a moment of lightheadedness at the top of the steps and was forced to stop, gripping the railing and leaning on his cane. So he wasn’t completely well. Good. Neither guard stepped to help him. Weakness was expected of Incubators, one of the marks of their station. And being near one of them at the wrong time could be dangerous. One need only look upward at the burning land to be reminded of how dangerous.

With his head cleared, he continued up the steps, cane clicking, and passed the men without returning their salute. He stopped just inside the building, however, coming alert. Motion. Lesser watchmen calling to one another in a large room, aides carrying stacks of paper. Reddened eyes and yawns accompanied both groups. Many of these people had been called up unexpectedly, despite the early hour.

“<Eelyell>?” A woman rushed up to him through the bustle. <Cual> wore the yellow and blue uniform of an Incubator, like his own but better fitting and far better kept. “You look like ash, man,” she said, “Are you still on a grind?”

<Eelyell> looked back at the hall, noticing the motion of the bodies. Nobody was going into the weapons locker, though riot gear had been set out at the side. Large metal shields and larg swords cordoned in rubber from trees on the sunward side. They were getting ready for something, but he didn’t know what yet. A prophecy, he guessed.

“I still can’t believe they called you up,” <Cual> said, “You deserve some relaxation after--”

“I will visit <Patseepa>,” <Eelyell> striding, striding through the room, leaving <Cual> behind. He tried not to let himself be carried away in the chaos. The event that he'd been waiting for would come eventually, but this might not be it. <Patseepa> made prophesies with some frequency; that was why the Corps maintained her, and why she carried her terrible burden.

It was difficult not to feel tense, however, in the room's frenzy. Nearby, a scribe turned and accidentally knocked over an hourglass, smashing it to the floor and spraying sand across it. He spared it a glance; sand always drew his attention. But he otherwise ignored it, focusing on a set of doors at the back of the room. This must have been an alarming prophecy indeed to cause such a fuss. The guards at these doors were even more flowery, with feathers on their shields after an old-fashioned style almost no one used any longer. The murals might depict men in simple wraps and women in nothing above the waist but necklaces. Those days had long ago passed, centuries before <Eelyell's> times. The <Moknee> people were as modern a one as he'd ever known. His own brownish-tan skin and dark hair blended in here well enough that he could have passed for <Moknee> himself, assuming he didn’t open his mouth. That was something he'd been better at when he'd been younger.

These guards let him pass too, and no scribes or watchmen beset the hallway beyond. Only Incubators were allowed in here. Unfortunately, while they presented a more solemn group, it was no less unruly in its own right. Some two dozen of them clumped together at the other end of the darkened hallway, like a clot of hair clogging a drain. <Eelyell> strode forward, passing doors on either side set with glass. The small, well-lit rooms showed in the glass that they weren’t exactly cells, just like their occupants weren’t exactly prisoners. They just couldn’t leave. With the hallway dark and the rooms lit, each window glowed, like they looked into other worlds. Other worlds inhabited by the sick.

It was hard to think of it that way anymore, after so long in this land. The people in those rooms weren't simply ill; they were Lay Incubators. Their job was to live in those little rooms, bearing their afflictions until they started to recover. Whereupon another individual could be brought in to catch their malady and take their place, ensuring the Incubation itself didn’t vanish. It was good money, assuming you didn’t mind the discomfort, which could range from the sniffles to deadly fevers, depending on the Incubation you agreed to receive. And of course there were... other benefits. In one room he passed, the occupant, a young man, hovered in the air reading a book; and in another, an elderly woman tapped on a cup, idly changing the color of its liquid inside with each tap. In <Suigmaat>, indeed upon on this entire land, every disease also granted a special capacity. That ability lasted as long as the ailment did. Many of these blessings were minor, while others were grand. Some few were very, very dangerous. And hence the existence of the Incubators themselves.

Event details
Name
Name Words of Radiance Los Angeles signing
Date
Date March 5, 2014
Location
Location Huntington Beach, CA
Tour
Tour Words of Radiance
Bookstore
Bookstore Barnes & Noble
Entries
Entries 9
Upload sources