SpoCon 2013

Event details
Name
Name SpoCon 2013
Date
Date July 10, 2013
Location
Location Spokane, WA
Entries
Entries 40
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#1 Copy

Questioner

How much are you willing to reveal about Hoid and worldhoppers?

Brandon Sanderson

So, for those who aren't aware, there is a... People noticed really early on, it did not take them long, that a character from Elantris actually showed up in Mistborn. And they assumed it was just me reusing the name, until this character kept showing up and kept being involved in things tangentially. If you've read The Way of Kings, it's the King's Wit. It is the guy named Dust, who... did I name him Dust? I just changed his name to Hoid. He's the storyteller in Warbreaker who tells stories with dust. He's the old beggar that has the shadowed that Sarene talks to in Elantris, that she sends in with supplies into the city. So, this same character kept showing up. And then other characters kept showing up. Like Galladon's in The Way of Kings, if you missed that. He's a character from Elantris.

So, the question is, how much am I willing to reveal? What I'm willing to reveal is what goes in the books. People like yourself, and these indivdiuals, have made a profession out of teasing extra hints out of me. Because I write the books too slowly, apparently. How much am I willing to reveal? Well, what I want to reveal, I've put in the books. But I will say other things when people ask questions, and they can tease them out of me.

#3 Copy

Questioner

You have books that contain three completely different magic systems, that they're little or no resemblance to anything I've seen before. Where do they come from?

Brandon Sanderson

This comes from my personal philosophy on the fantasy genre. I've been reading it for 20+ years now. I love the fantasy genre. But I personally feel that the genre hit some points in its career where it stagnated a little bit. It was not branching out as much as it should. And that was part of the drive behind me writing what I write. Now, I'm not pointing any fingers, it was just on us of the new generation to say, "All right, where can we take this genre?"

That's what happened in science fiction. If you go back, science fiction was one thing. And then the next generation made it something else. And then the next generation made it something else. It's why science fiction has such depth to it. And you can still find all the original stuff, and people are writing things like that right now, but you can also find this whole wide variety. And so the genre is extremely varied. And fantasy is a newer genre. It really is epic fantasy, really though. Fantasy goes all the way back. But epic fantasy was a genre that did not have enough of this variation to it, in my opinion.

The trick is that being really varied with your plots, you can do it, it just makes generally bad plot. You can do completely unexpected or completely depressing, you can do weird things with plot, but they're either confusing, or they aren't very fun to read. That's not to say nobody has ever done it, people do, but I really felt that fantasy, rather than plot, the place that it needed to innovate was in setting, and maybe in style. I really like how fantasy is kind of inching toward this... you see more gunpowder fantasies nowadays, you see more fantasies set in an African culture or an Asian culture, things like this. And this sort of expansion has really helped the genre quite a bit.

So, the magic systems, where do they come from? They're what I'm most excited about in the genre, so it's what I do naturally. Mostly, when I buy books and I read them, I'm like, "Come on. This same magic. Again? Can't we do something new?" So, it just happens naturally. I do want to say, at the end of the day, a generic magic system and a generic setting plus fantastic writing and characters is still better than the best setting you can imagine with boring characters. So, as writers, I would say to you, keep that in mind. You really need to learn to write killer characters and an engaging plot. But then, I suggest a lot of variety with the setting or the style, and ways that you can approach your writing.

#4 Copy

Questioner

How do you write and not subconsciously incorporate other elements from other authors? Do you have a plan to avoid that?

Brandon Sanderson

That's an excellent question. We did a whole podcast on that in Writing Excuses. And you may want to go listen to that one, because we talk about it in length.

It is something to be aware of. Oftentimes, when I'm working on something, I'll try to read something very different. Like, it's why I love Terry Prachett novels, they are so different from what I do that I can read them and love them and enjoy them, but not worry about unconscious influence. In other cases, I would read something, and be like... I can kind of tell what is influencing me in what way, and I'll try to be aware of it and conscious of it. The trick is, I don't feel like I should stop reading, because that would be like a doctor not keeping up on what the current medical practices are. If you do that, I think you're gonna have a bad time as a doctor. So I feel like as a writer, I need to be aware of what the new writers are doing, what the established writers are doing, where the genre is moving. I can't talk with expertise about a lot of genres. I don't know science fiction; I love reading it, but I don't know it so well that I can do that. Same thing with paranormal. But with fantasy, for epic fantasy, I want to be on top of the game, and know exactly what other authors are doing, so I can be aware of it.

So, I have to just try and manage it. It is a concern, though, a very big concern.

#5 Copy

Questioner

What are you willing to reveal about the Seventeenth Shard?

Questioner

The three guys that you meet in Ishikk's interlude are all from teh Seventeenth Shard. And it is an organization of people who about... They aren't convinced that what Hoid is doing is what he should be doing.

#6 Copy

Questioner

When you optioned out the game for Mistborn, what happened to the tabletop RPG?

Brandon Sanderson

It is still in print, and it's been made. They came to me and pitched, and I said, "This sounds awesome. I like gaming. This is the sort of game that I would like." And we sat and we chatted about game mechanics and things. They designed it all, but I was involved in saying, "This is what I love, this is what I do, and this is the kind of game that I enjoy." So they built it kind of based on the type of gaming I like. And then I kind of annotated the sourcebook. I think they are going to be releasing soon an Alloy of Law supplement. The thing about the Alloy of Law supplement is, because I haven't written the books yet, and I haven't nailed down a bunch of things, I'm allowing them some extrapolation that may not become canon as I write the books. So, keep that in mind, particularly the Alloy of Law one. It's easier when they had a complete series. And even then, I let them extrapolate a bit on magic to make the mechanics of the game work. But when you get the Alloy of Law supplement, if you do, realize that they may be going places that aren't 100% canon.

#8 Copy

Questioner

Other than finishing the Wheel of Time, with established work than you started with. Did you have any particular target audience or imaginary perfect reader in mind?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, myself. I'm basically the only person I can imagine 100% and say "This is the person this book is for." And I think that's what a lot of writers do. I'm fortunate in that what I write seems to have a lot of broad market implications. That's not what happens for a lot of writers. Like my friend Dan [Wells], the original things he loved to write did not have broad market implications, and they were really weird and fascination but not very marketable. He has since found some things that he loves that are. But I really feel like you should write what you love, and then explore finding a place to put that, as opposed to saying "What sells? What person am I writing for?"

So, my children's books will be for me at that age. My epic fantasies are basically, "What would I, as a reader of this genre, love to see right now?" Which is why we end up with something like Way of Kings which has a very steep learning curve, intended for the person who loves epic fantasy. This is the book for you, that's the book for me, if you've read a lot in the genre. If you haven't, I still hope you'll pick it up, but do realize that at the beginning, it's gonna take a lot more work to get into than you might expect because of who the target audience is.

#9 Copy

Questioner

You recently announced in your blog post a new Cosmere short story called Skyward. I was wondering if you could talk about that a little bit?

Brandon Sanderson

Skyward is the working title. I've talked a little about it before in my class, so if you watch my videos, I talk about it a little bit in there. It will be a teen novel in the cosmere. It is science fiction era.

#10 Copy

Questioner

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

That scene you're talking about, Robert Jordan wrote that scene himself. He did not tell us what the scene means. If you've read the last scene of the Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan wrote that. It's what became the epilogue. And he wrote it and left it, and Harriet said, he left it and he laughed. He laughed and smiled. She doesn't even know what it means. I don't know what it means. You can ask me when you come through the line, I'll tell you her interpretation and mine. But we don't know for sure what it means.

#11 Copy

Questioner

One of the big things in The Way of Kings was a frustration between me and my wife of trying to explain spren. Is that going to be addressed? A lot of the mysteries will be unfolded, or is this gonna be continually progressive throughout the books?

Brandon Sanderson

The spren are gonna be a continually progressive thing that if you... They are deeply related to the shared sort of physics to the worlds that I am doing. But you will find out more about them, quite a bit more. But there are also things you will not find out for a while. Yes, the spren are one of the most fun parts about the series for me. And the thing you have to realize is that, to them, spren are normal. So, going in and having them explaining exactly what spren are would feel unnatural, because they've lived their lives in a certain way where, when you have a powerful emotion, these little things appear around you. And that's just how it is. Very convenient for being able to say, "I know how you feel."

#12 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering about Alcatraz. Is the last book coming out?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, ish. So, the progress on Alcatraz has been... This is my middle-grade series, Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians. They're very fun, if you haven't read them, but they're goofy. They're just completely different from anything I've done before. So go into it knowing you're getting pure, unadulterated craziness. And I wrote these to blow off steam between the Mistborn books. I need to do something different between projects, that is very different often, in order to get me... just to refresh myself. I pitched the series to them as five books, they bought four, and then they only published four, they didn't want the fifth one. So, in annoyance, I bought the entire series back from them, and we're now in the process of reselling them to Tor to repackage and rerelease them. If you can't find them, that's because I bought them back. But as a stopgap until the Tor editions get going, I told my UK publisher they can start distribution of their omnibus, which is the first four books collected, and that should be appearing in stories late August, early September. Or at least ordering it, you can go to the Barnes & Noble and say "Hey can you get this?" At that point, it should be in their system, they should have them in the warehouses over here. So you should be able to get that. Eventually, I will do the fifth book. But I've gotta have distribution for the series first. Eventually it's gonna happen. It will, I promise, happen. I've already written part of it. But I don't know exactly when, because it's gonna depend on when the Tor editions come out.

#13 Copy

Questioner

Lines of Protection. Is the field generated once the line is completed? Or is it a progressive thing?

Almost everything that's going with this takes effect as the person's thinking of it taking effect. There is a mental connection. So, as you are drawing, until you are finished, there is nothing there;  unless, sometimes, you want it to be. There is a direct link. The Rithmatist does have a magic that is consistent with cosmere rules. I decided not to set it in the cosmere primarily because I did not want Earth to be in the cosmere.

Questioner

So how strongly consistent is it with <realmatic theory>?

Brandon Sanderson

I didn't keep myself completely to the rules. It could fit, but... don't take anything The Rithmatist does and apply it to the other books.

#14 Copy

Questioner

How much influence... I know Harriet was very involved in the organization of the Wheel of Time. But she was also involved in The Way of Kings, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Harriet did a guest edit. Just a line edit, primarily.

Questioner

Will she be doing more?

Brandon Sanderson

No, that was a gift she gave to me as a thank-you for working on the Wheel of Time books. She's a fantastic editor. If you're not aware of Harriet, Robert Jordan's wife, she discovered him and then married him. She's edited a few other books you might have heard of, such as Ender's Game, little tiny books. But she is retired, and has been for many years. So, she did a guest edit on Way of Kings, but she's not editing anything anymore.

#15 Copy

Questioner

Are Selish magics their own distinct systems, or are they different manifestations of one system?

Brandon Sanderson

Different manifestations of one system, which is in turn a manifestation of the common laws between the worlds.

#16 Copy

Questioner

Is all magic on Sel influenced by both Dominion and Devotion?

Brandon Sanderson

Technically, yes. But they definitely have their themes and their focuses. Influence is such a tricky word, I will warn you...

#17 Copy

Questioner

Before Sel's Shards were Splintered, were the Investitures there still form-based?

Brandon Sanderson

Umm... yes.

Questioner

Is "form-based" the right word we should use for that?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it's not really. The are all, in my head, programming-based. They are sequences. But of course, the difference being, with the true programming, the form doesn't matter, it's the numbers. And in this case the form does. The actual depictions aver very influential. So, it is not just a magical programming.

#18 Copy

Questioner

Are gemstones the focus of Surgebinding?

Brandon Sanderson

Define how you mean focus in this conversation.

Questioner

The definition you gave me of focus a few years ago was... You said that the Commands were the focus for Awakening, you said and Aons were focuss for AonDor, and metals are the focus for the Metallic Arts... and you haven't given us a proper definition.

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

#19 Copy

Questioner

Is there a similar relationship between Endowment and Hallandren's jungle as there is between Harmony and Elendel Basin ?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes and no. The flowers are being fed by something that's very similar to what you might find on other planets. So the ground is saturated with something that is having a similar effect as Elendel Basin. But it's not the same thing. Elendel Basin was just crafted really, really well, and then it was endowed with a little bit of extra oomph. Here [in Hallandren's jungle], we have this extra seeping into the ground from the pool, which is saturated around and causing the flowers and causing what's going on there.

#20 Copy

Questioner

What defines the early, middle, and late eras on Sel?

Brandon Sanderson

My instinct is (and I could be wrong) that... If you were to ask me that right now, what I mean by the early, middle, and late eras... It probably has to do with ancient being pre-Splintering. Not Pre-Shattering. And then the middle era is during Elantris' sort of reign, and then the late era is after the fall. Is probably what I meant. But that's off the top of my head, because I wrote [the Aon pendant descriptions] a long time ago.

#21 Copy

Questioner

Is Forgery completely distinct from Bloodsealing?

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Questioner

Are they distinct magic systems?

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on your definition of a system. For instance, do you call Windrunning its own magic system, or would Surgebinding be the magic system? Or would you break it down further, and say Windrunning is further composed of two different systems...

Questioner

I guess I did just ask earlier if they're all manifestations of the same system.

Questioner

Like, more closely related, to maybe some of the other ones on Sel?

Billy Todd

So yes, they are more closely related than some others.

#23 Copy

Questioner

Was the city beneath the Shattered Plains inhabited when the Plains were broken?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, good question, nicely done! Yes. Words of Radiance deals a lot with that.

#25 Copy

Questioner

Were the Shattered Plains broken before Natanatan fell?

Brandon Sanderson

Let me RAFO that one just because there's enough there that I want to... how it was Shattered and what happened is...

#27 Copy

Shardlet (paraphrased)

You said previously that a slider's bubble is anchored to its position on Scadrial rather than on the slider's position or on the train (if the burner was on a train). If the slider was on a rock in space, would the bubble be anchored to a position relative to Scadrial, the rock or something else?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

RAFO

#28 Copy

Shardlet (paraphrased)

A slider and a pulser are standing near each other and each put up a bubble. Neither is standing close enough to the other to be within the other's bubble, but they are near enough that their bubbles would overlap what effect would you have?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The bubbles would overlap and it would be like a Venn diagram (i.e., outside both bubbles-normal time, in sliders bubble-fast time, in pulser's bubble-slow time, in the overlap-normal time).

#33 Copy

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There are 2 Shards on RosharOdium's presence is felt on Roshar, but he is on Braize, the third planet in the system.

theofficetroll (paraphrased)

Is that Shard on The Silence Divine?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Oh, you mean Ashyn. Ashyn is mostly barren with small fertile patches

There are 2 Shards on Roshar, however Honor is dead.

#35 Copy

Shardlet (paraphrased)

I first asked about Lines of Forbiddance and the timing of the generation of the field particularly in reference to things like a Marks Cross or just general crossing Lines of Forbiddance.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Rithmatics was originally designed as a cosmere magic system and is very cognitively (not the terminology he used, but the essence is the same) based. The line (speaking of all Rithmatic lines) takes effect when the Rithmatist thinks it should. A line could begin to take effect before the drawing of the line is completed.

#37 Copy

Shardlet (paraphrased)

Is the Thrill, with a capital 'T', more than an adrenaline rush or battle rush? (I indicated that it seemed very clear to me that there was a lot more to it.)

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Brandon wrote the answer to this in my book that he was signing by writing "You are a very smart man!"

#40 Copy

Shardlet (paraphrased)

I then pointed out the basis for my theory, beginning with the flashback chapter where Kaladin whales on Jost with the quarterstaff.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

What you didn't ask was whether Kaladin had ever felt the Thrill.

He then went on to say that that was not a confirmation or a denial.

Event details
Name
Name SpoCon 2013
Date
Date July 10, 2013
Location
Location Spokane, WA
Entries
Entries 40
Upload sources