Phoenix Comicon 2013

Event details
Name
Name Phoenix Comicon 2013
Date
Date May 24, 2013
Location
Location Phoenix, AZ
Entries
Entries 7
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#1 Copy

Questioner

So I’ve heard you talk about a book and as a nurse is really interesting to me, or the idea of the book. It’s the one where viruses not only make you sick but they also give you a super power. So I was kind of wondering on the list of when projects are being...

Brandon Sanderson

I originally called this book Silence Divine and the idea behind this book is—I’m always looking for interesting interesting Magic systems and I came up with an idea of “what if viruses and bacteria evolved in line with the magic on the world so that when you caught the disease you got a power” Like if you catch the common cold you could fly, as long as you have it. But when you get over the cold, you can no longer fly. So they keep you alive to help spread themselves and things like that. So when your immune system beats them you lose the power. The book will be about someone who’s basically like half-counter-terrorism, half-police force, where they keep track of these things because what happens when it moves through the city. Like half-CDC, half-counter-terrorism, half-police force. Where suddenly everyone in the city can walk through walls. What do you do, as the police force, when that happens? And things like that. And they keep special people incubating diseases that have come through before and they keep their immune systems low so in an emergency they can go in and catch a bunch of diseases and stuff like that. It’s going to be really awesome.

And the answer is, I have no idea when I can write this book. It is in the Cosmere, so it’s part of all that, but I have no idea because I really feel, coming off the Wheel of Time, the people who are fans of my work, everyone understands, at least I hope they understand, that the Wheel of Time was something I needed to do. But it did delay people getting things like Stormlight Archive and stuff like that. And I feel like right now I really need to dedicate myself to getting a few books out in the Stormlight Archive before I get too distracted by anything else, such as this, and I write books that are really cool but no one’s asking for, really, at this point. (Except for you so thank you.) So I will eventually write that book. I have toyed several times doing a novella in the world just to get that out of my system. So maybe eventually we’ll do that.

#2 Copy

Questioner

So this morning I just finished reading The Rithmatist. I was wondering if you could talk about your process of creating that magic system. Specifically about how it dealt with mathematics. And also if it is going to have a sequel.

Brandon Sanderson

This has a fun history in that it is the last book I completed before the Wheel of Time hit me like a freight train. I was working on a different book, you can find the sample chapters of that one on my website, its called the Liar of Partinel and it really was not going well. I have talked about this before, I talked about it in my essay that I posted on my blog when I released the Rithmatist. But things were just going poorly and I actually stopped writing that book and wrote the Rithmatist instead. This book that I didn’t have a contract for, that no one was expecting. Sometimes it is very liberating to do that. When you see these side projects, like last year, Emperor’s Soul and Legion and things like the Rithmatist, it’s me saying “Okay, I really love the big epic fantasies, it’s what I came in to do. But sometimes how complex they are and how much work they are, between them you need a break.”

The Rithmatist was a break and I had been toying with this magic system where—And I don’t even really know what started it but I wanted to do a magic where you dueled with chalk. Where you would take chalk and you would draw things and you would have a duel with someone else using chalk. I wanted two-dimensional things playing out. I guess it maybe comes from me being a gamer and me wanting to- There’s so many things that we take from the modern day and we twist them and make a fantasy world out of them. Its where Steampunk came from. Let’s take modern technology but let’s build it with an ancient- or an older technology and see what cool stuff we can do. Airships with steam, and robots with clockwork. Gearpunk and things like that. And so I was like, let’s build video games with magical chalk.

Really the magic system is, you draw a circle around yourself and you basically then play Starcraft. You draw little units and you send them over to try and break their defense—it’s more like Tower Defense honestly, like versus Tower Defense. Where you try to break through your opponent’s circle, when one of your beasties gets through the circle you have won the duel; and you can shoot off different lines of chalk that do things and stuff like that. Where this came from was just that sort of thing, all of my- One of the things that drive me to write is that “one foot in science and one foot in magic” and you can see that. When I described this magic system here I’m taking all these sort of disease concepts and the modern germ theory and all this stuff and I’m saying “let’s mix that with magic and see what we can come up with.” Mistborn was like “one foot in alchemy and one foot in vector physics” and things like that. This just gets me excited.

There was an era in our world where science was this awesome, almost magical thing. If you read back about the turn of the century, 1800’s to 1900’s you’ll find essays where people were researching- new scientific discoveries were happening all the time and everyone was so excited about them. I remember reading this essay, I’ve told this story before, someone wrote an essay in like 1910 where they went and they interviewed a bunch of ditch-diggers and they studied the Science of Ditch-Digging and they went and they told all these ditch-diggers what they learned and helped them be more efficient in digging ditches and suddenly science was for everyone. It was for the ditch-diggers- Who knew what else we could discover. And then we basically blew ourselves up and ever since then we’ve been scared of it and that’s when we got the science as an antagonist sort of thing that happened in the 50’s and 60’s in science fiction. It’s a wonderful era, and things like that. In my writing I always find that time when science was something that was for the common man that we were discovering, that there was this sense of wonder to science, it’s really fascinating to me. And I find myself returning to that time and time again, and that’s where you see this. In this one, with The Rithmatist, it’s honestly a little more lighthearted even though the prologue is someone getting attacked by these chalk monsters. The concept is more lighthearted, it’s blending teenagers playing games with magic and where would that go and what could I do with it. I did go to mathematics because I wanted the idea around all of this to have structure and rules; and I liked the idea of using “the more perfect your circle is the stronger it is, the more stable it is against someone trying to break through it.” So I started looking into the interesting properties, mathematically, of circles, and what creates-. What they do with arithmetic. And that sent me off on this whole thing where I drew all these cool whatchamadinkies and stuff like that. That’s where it came from, that’s a long explanation for a simple question.

#3 Copy

Questioner

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, that’s a good quesiton. The question is am I going to be expanding Elantris, what am I going to do? The history of Elantris is that it was my sixth book, I sold it while I writing 13, which was the Way of Kings, the first draft of it. When I sold [Elantris], my editor said “Elantris, looks like you may be planning more for this world, you want to do a sequel?” and I said “Yes I do, but not right now. I would like to release something that people can read that’s just a standalone, for now, just to introduce myself to the community” I didn’t like the idea that everything by every new author had to be a big massive series. As much as I love those, I kind of like it as a reader when I be like “Alright here’s a standalone I can read by this author, let me get to know this author before I delve into something that may take five or six years to finish. And so we did Elantris on its own, but I always had, in the back of my mind, what I would do for sequels. I actually imagined the Elantris world, the sequels being kind of Pern-style sequels, in that each sequel is kind of about a different person, different characters but the other characters are still a big part of the plot. And so the sequel will take place ten years after the first book and I hope to release it 2015 which will be ten years after the book came out. And the star of it will be Sarene’s uncle and his family, so Kiin and his children, they’ll be the main viewpoint characters, though Sarene and Raoden would appear, but it will be about them. The plot of it is actually, they go and visit Fjorden as the ambassadors to Fjorden and things start to go kind of creepy. I will eventually write that book but I’m not sure when I will get to it.

#4 Copy

Questioner

When one of the shards, like Odium, move from world to world in the cosmere, does their presence, like the metals they leave behind and their magic, leave with them?

Brandon Sanderson

Odium never really settled on a planet.  He is now settled on Roshar and his magic has permeated things.  Leaving would be very difficult for him. It would either involve leaving behind some of his power or ripping that out, which would be a difficult process.  So yes it is very tough to leave.

#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

For those of you who don’t know, when I was writing these thirteen books.  I started working on them and I loved the big epics but when I sat down to write Elantris a lot of the advice I had heard from editors said “Don’t write a big series in the beginning.  You want to write a standalone book with sequel potential. So when you sell that you can then write the sequels to it, but if you don’t sell it you’re not locked into spending all of your time writing these.”  The idea was if you’re going to write five novels, write five first novels as opposed to one book and four more so if you can’t sell the first one the others you can sell somewhere. And that’s decent advice, it’s not the only advice. Naomi Novik who writes the Temeraire books, if you’ve read them they’re quite good, she wrote the whole trilogy right off.  She ignored that advice and when she sold the first one she had the other two ready and they bought those too and they released her books one at a time one month after another. I think the Iron Druid guy did that too. It can allow for a really explosive start where you’ve already got shelf space, you’ve got three books there. Instead of being a nobody with one book, you’re a nobody with three and suddenly you look more important.  

Anyways I heard this, and I really do like jumping to a lot of different projects so this is what I tried but in the back of my mind I did love the idea of the big epic.  It is what got me into this, I love the Wheel of Time and things like this. So I started writing a hidden epic so I embedded into Elantris hints of a character I had been developing for years which was a guy who went from world to world in a fantasy universe investigating the different magic systems.  I started embedding this story behind the story using an outline I had used for my very first book that I had never actually finished as a background for all of this. So I was basically writing a sequel to that book but on a different planet, with different characters. I started writing my next book each had these same hints and allusions hidden behind with different characters crossing between the worlds and sharing.

I eventually published Elantris and decided this is something that I thought was cool and wanted to do and I’ve seen people do it.  Stephen King connected all of his worlds. And other authors, Terry Brooks eventually combined a bunch of his worlds together and I thought that what they did was really interesting and I had never seen anyone do it from the get go though right?  Like when Asimov linked the Robot books and the Foundation books it was something he did later in his life where he’s like “I’m going to blend these two together and make one universe out of them.” I hadn’t seen anyone do it from the start, and again I have an advantage on Isaac Asimov and Terry Brooks and people because I’ve read them.  I’ve been able to see what they did and say “Well I’m going to do this from the get go, to see if I can tell this cool hidden epic behind the stories.” So that’s called-- I called that the cosmere, it was my name for it when I was sixteen. It now seems almost a little silly to me but I’ve kept with it because, you know, it is one of those old remnants that I have from my teenage days.  There are characters-- There is a character that has shown up in all of my epic fantasies, things like the Rithmatist are not part of the cosmere, Earth isn’t so if it references Earth you know it’s not. But they show up, and there’s like an underlying, fundamental laws of magic. And there’s a story that happened long in the past and a lot of these people are reacting to this and things like that.  The thing that I want you to know though is I do it in such a way that you don’t feel like you have to have read my whole body of work to read one. Like you don’t have to have read Elantris to read Mistborn. You don’t have to read Mistborn to read Way of Kings even though there is a character from Mistborn in Way of Kings. You don’t have to do that, it’s all behind the scenes and it will never take over a series.  You will never get to like book 8 of the Stormlight Archive and be like “Wow, now its all about the cosmere, its not about--” It’s not going to happen happen like that. I will write books about the cosmere but I will be upfront from the beginning about this is going to be the cosmere series. If you don’t know the different magic systems you’re going to kind of be confused because they are going to interact with each other and things like that.  Eventually that will happen but for right now, you don’t need to worry about it. They are all easter eggs, you can read them in any order and you can piece them together and stuff like that.

#6 Copy

Questioner

On that note, the book that you were just talking about earlier I read that it was supposed to be Hoid’s origin story?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it was Hoid’s origin story, yeah.  I will re-write it eventually. One of the problems with it, about halfway through I felt this should really have been a first person book all along and it wasn’t.  So that was part of the big reason it wasn’t working. It needs to be his voice telling a story as opposed to the way I was doing it and that is going to involve a major re-write.

#7 Copy

Questioner

What are your feelings on fanfiction?

Brandon Sanderson

I am perfectly fine with fanfiction.  I think fanfiction is cool. I don’t read a ton of fanfiction, I probably won’t specifically read fanfiction based on my works just for the idea contamination potential and things like that, but I think fanfiction is awesome and you should feel free to write fanfiction in my worlds, as long as its not for profit.  I don’t know if I will buy into this Amazon Fanfiction for profit thing or not, I'm not sure what I think about it yet. But at the end of the day I think it’s cool and it’s good practice for a lot of writers. So go for it.

Event details
Name
Name Phoenix Comicon 2013
Date
Date May 24, 2013
Location
Location Phoenix, AZ
Entries
Entries 7
Upload sources