Firefight Chicago signing

Event details
Name
Name Firefight Chicago signing
Date
Date Feb. 20, 2015
Location
Location Naperville, IL
Bookstore
Bookstore Anderson's Bookshop
Entries
Entries 123
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#1 Copy

Questioner

How does it feel to be now known as a mentor to younger writers?

Brandon Sanderson

How does it feel to be a mentor to younger writers? Well I think the fact that I've taught a university course on How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy for ten years, I kind of had to get used to that pretty early. I took over the class because they were going to cancel it because there was no one else to teach it. The teacher who had been teaching it retired. And so I stepped in and took it over and I still teach it to this day. My requirement being that I get to post the lectures online. So if you want to read them-- err watch them, you can watch them at brandonsanderson.com/writing-advice. Or you can ask for one of these little cards that has my url on it when you come through.

How's it feel? It feels pretty cool honestly. I like interacting with new, young writers. I like helping them out. I'm really proud of like Brian [McClellan] and Janci [Patterson] who've gotten published. *aside to the booksellers* You have Brian's book right there? It's really quite good. He's one of those ones I really can't take credit for, because he came through and he was writing awesome stuff and so I told him like the business side. Here's how you go get published. Some of the other ones, I've been able to give them pointers on their actual writing, that I think have helped out. But I think with Brian he was there already, he just needed the boost to get into the industry.

It feels pretty cool.

#2 Copy

Questioner

Do you draw from any kind of like specific set of life experiences for your writings? Or is most of it just from your imagination?

Brandon Sanderson

Do I draw from a specific set of life experiences for my writing or is it just from my imagination? I would say my imagination is fueled by my specific life experiences. So the answer is both. Everything I see can become a part of my books, but at the same time sometimes it's just a happy accident.

People ask about Steelheart, the bad metaphors. One of the things about the main character is he is really bad with metaphoric language, comically bad. That happened on accident, I was writing his viewpoint and I'm like "This character is dry, he needs more of a soul, he needs more life. How can I make him work?" and I accidentally wrote a bad metaphor. That happens a lot when you're writing, you know, purple prose and bad metaphors just come out when you're not looking. It's like they sneak out onto the page and you're like "That was really bad". Then I paused and thought "Well, let's go ahead and leave it in *laughter* and run with this." And it was great because it became a metaphor for David's metaphor-- kind of coincidentally or ironically or whatever-- that bad metaphors become a metaphor themselves because he became the character who tries too hard. He's really earnest and he's going to get stuff done but he's trying a little too hard. And that's where the bad metaphors come from, he over-thinks them. He tries too hard to put something together and it ends up as just a big mess. But his earnestness comes through it, and that became his character and it works really well. But that one's just an accident.

#3 Copy

Questioner

What is the favorite character you have written?

Brandon Sanderson

What is the favorite character that I have written? I would say Perrin, from The Wheel of Time. Because I can't pick my own characters, because they don't feel like I'm-- They are my favorite while I'm writing them, whoever they are. But Perrin was my favorite Wheel of Time character and when I got to finish The Wheel of Time he was the character that Robert Jordan left the least amount of notes on. In fact there was one sentence, for three books-worth, about him. And so I got to take him and-- Really Perrin was the one I had the most influence on through the course of those three books and it was very special to me him being my favorite character and being able to do that.

#4 Copy

Questioner

Where there any specific fantasy books that you read as a child that inspired you to write fantasy?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, excellent question. I was not a reader until I had a teacher, eighth grade teacher--this is true--Ms. Reeder. *laughter* Yes, it's really true, R-E-E-D-E-R, was my teacher in eighth grade and she gave me a fantasy novel for the first time and convinced me to read it. It took a little work on her part because I was not a reader. It was Dragonsbane by Barbara Hamley, a kind of classic standalone epic fantasy-- And it's standalone because the sequels she wrote twenty years later when she was really depressed are very different. They're worth reading but they don't feel like sequels. Dragonsbane's a fantastic book. All of Anne McCaffrey's books were next to that in the school library, like in the card catalogue, under the title so I went to them next and they had a huge influence on me. I would say those two were the biggest. And then Melanie Rawn's books were next to those, so I read all of those.

And then the first book series I discovered on my own, when it wasn't already finished, was The Wheel of Time. Wheel of Time, the first book came out about a year after I got into reading fantasy novels and I found the big one on the shelf and was like "Oooh that's a big book. *laughter* I'm going to read that big book." And I had no idea what I was getting myself into. *laughter* Now lots of Wheel of Time fans can say that, they didn't know what they were getting into. I trump them, okay? I really didn't know what I was getting myself into in picking up that first Wheel of Time book and reading it.

#5 Copy

Questioner

Do you ever write like two versions of a scene in a book and if you do how do you decide which--

Brandon Sanderson

Do I ever do two scenes in a book--

Questioner

Like two versions--

Brandon Sanderson

Two versions of the same scene. I do it quite frequently. Every book there will be a couple times. Usually what happens is I'm writing a scene and I'm not pleased with it and so I put it aside and I write it again the next day. And usually letting me subconscious work on it means I end up fixing it. About one out of ten times I start writing it and I realize "It was right the first way, why am I writing something new?" And then I just go back to the book, and it wasn't that the scene was bad it's just I had a bad day. And sometimes you do, no matter what you write you are going to think it stinks. How do I decide? It's very instinctive, I've never had one like "These are both equally good". Always I know one of them is not working. In fact the best way to get over writer's block, I find, is to write the scene anyway, have anything you can think of happen--even if it doesn't make sense in your story--so that you get the scene out, and then attack it again the next day after you have had time to think about it.

#6 Copy

Argent

Are there, or will there be, unicorns in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Are there, or will there be, unicorns in the cosmere? I have no specific plans for unicorns currently. *laughter* But there are unicorns in The Rithmatist so if you--

Argent

Well--

Brandon Sanderson

*apologetically* They're drawings... *laughter*

#7 Copy

Questioner

Where did you get the idea for the Reckoners series?

Brandon Sanderson

Where did I get the idea for writing the Reckoners series? I almost got in a car wreck. I was driving to a book signing and I was late and somebody cut me off in traffic. And it was like-- I had to slam on the brakes and things like that and I thought-- At that moment I'm like "You, person in front of me, are so lucky I don't have superpowers, 'cause if I did I would blow your car up right now. BOOM" It's a great Michael Bay effect, like it explodes and I drive through the smoke. It was really awesome; I remember it. And then I was immediately horrified, right? I'm like "Here I write all these books about people protecting the world with their powers and what would I do if I had them? I'd be blowing up people because they inconvenience me." *laughter* And this is where the series came from, I thought about that the entire rest of the drive, which was about another hour. And I thought "What if-- What could we do if people just started manifesting superpowers and-- You couldn't throw them in prison, or if you did they'd just break out. You couldn't defeat them with the armies. What would the society do if there were legitimately super-powered individuals?" It's kind of the same tactic that Watchmen took, if you've ever read that, but it kind of goes the other direction with "They are all evil, what do we do?" That was the origin and I wrote a whole book series about it.

#8 Copy

Questioner

How do you decide who lives and who dies? Do you know before or is it up to the characters?

Brandon Sanderson

How do I decide who lives and who dies? I just decide based on the demands that they make to me by their character arcs and the risks they want to take. I don't ever feel like I'm killing characters off, I feel like I am writing the stories that need to be written the way they have to be written. They often are planned out ahead of time, I'm an architect as a writer, I come up with an outline and then I hang my story on it. But characters have veto power over the story, if they decide they want to go somewhere else. If who they are growing is somebody the story demands-- I say they decide, it doesn't really happen that way for me. If when I'm writing the story I'm like "This character would not make this decision. I either need to put in a new character in this place or I need to rebuild my outline to match who this person is." And both of those have happened to me. Usually I'm not replacing the character except in the early parts. Usually if I like the character enough as I'm going I replace the plot.

#9 Copy

Questioner

When you develop a character, like as the change over time, does it come naturally or do you have to force it?

Brandon Sanderson

As I develop characters and they change over time, does that come naturally or do I have to force it? For me it comes very naturally. I do a lot of planning ahead of time on my plots and a lot of planning ahead of time on my settings. I do less on my characters. I cast people in roles. I start writing someone in this role and I see what becomes of them in the first few chapters and if I'm not liking that I put it aside and cast someone else in that role and write for a few chapters and then set that aside until I find a mix that I like and then it is a very natural progression as I write them. That's just the way that it works for me. It's a matter of practice making that happen.

#10 Copy

Questioner

How do you consistently create compelling magic systems?

Brandon Sanderson

How do I consistently create compelling magic systems? Well you will maybe want to read Sanderson's Three Laws of Magic, which are basically each essays on this. The short answer is I look for something awesome and what that means is I look for something no one else is doing, or a ramification of a magic system that no one else is using and I extrapolate from it. As a reader of fantasy, who loved fantasy, and still does, for many years I got very tired of seeing the same two or three magic systems in every book that I read. It was really frustrating to me as a writer because I felt fantasy should be the most imaginative genre, it should be the most distinctive and different. And so it was bothersome to me that there weren't enough people doing interesting things with magic and so I just started doing it myself.

#11 Copy

Questioner

Do you ever consider going back to some of your earlier work and doing a prequel or expanding the world?

Brandon Sanderson

Did I ever consider going back to one of my previous books and doing a prequel or expanding the world? Yes, I will be doing these things. The Cosmere Sequence. So if you are not familiar my epic fantasy books, so anything that doesn't mention Earth, they're all set in the same universe. So Elantris, and Mistborn, and Way of Kings, and they all have crossover characters that you can spot if you look really closely, that are interfering. So there will be some parallel stories that show what some of these other people were doing behind the scenes. There will be a series that starts it all off, long before the first books happen, and then there will eventually be--

Mistborn kind of forms the core of this. I pitched Mistborn to my editor as an epic fantasy trilogy, followed by an urban fantasy trilogy, followed by a science fiction trilogy--a science fiction trilogy where they've learned to use the magic system to make space travel possible. That was my original pitch. The Alloy of Law was actually a happy accident, and so we've added a fourth one in, an early industrial era. I'm actually doing four of those, because I really fell in love with them. So you'll be getting two more of those, one in September or October and then one in January. And then the final Reckoners book should come sometime early next year like probably April or May and then the new Stormlight book will be in the fall. So yay Stormlight. *cheers*

#12 Copy

Questioner

So if you had a character in Wheel of Time who was in the cosmere, who would that be?

Brandon Sanderson

If I had a character in The Wheel of Time who was in the cosmere who would it be? Oh boy...

Questioner

Jain Farstrider?

Brandon Sanderson

What's that?

Questioner

Jain Farstrider?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh Jain? That's a good choice! Jain makes a lot of sense. I was going to say one of the Aelfinn or Eelfinn, 'cause they cross dimensions already. That would be the most likely. But you could totally make an argument for Jain or one of the Heroes having fallen through the portal. I intentionally didn't put any cosmere references into The Wheel of Time. It felt like hubris to do that.

The cameo in The Wheel of Time for me is the sword that Robert Jordan's cousin gave to me out of Robert Jordan's collection, so I wrote my sword into it. So if you look, it's not too hard to find, you'll find Rand get's a new sword. That's my sword. *laughter* I got it hanging on my wall with a little plaque that says "Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time" and then Robert Jordan's name and his lifespan underneath. It's very cool. It's a katana out of his collection, it's really cool.

#13 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I always like to read something that is unpublished. So that is something new that you get only by coming to my signings or going to the internet where people will have inevitably posted it online already. *laughter* It's really exclusive for like the first signing that I do and then after that everybody on the 17th Shard, which is the fan website, are like *hilarious "oooh" sound*

Argent

So you should read something else?

Brandon Sanderson

No... I have to be very careful about what I read because the publisher has certain deals about exclusivity on new releases. Like for instance I can't read any more from the new Mistborn books because Apple has an exclusive release of new material on that and things like that. It's just part of the deals that we do and so-- I also have to make sure that it's not making big spoilers for other books. I have to make sure that it's not containing errors that are glaring continuity errors and things like that. So we are going to read from a novella called Perfect State. This is a novella that I wrote oh about two years ago now and I didn't really L-- get it done. Like I wrote it and then there was something wrong with it and I wasn't sure what it was. I actually finished it a couple months ago. I finally figured out what it was that was wrong.

#14 Copy

Questioner

Did you purposely make the Church of the Survivor sort of like Christianity or not?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier intentionally made it like Christianity. In kind of a false way, meaning he read about and had Sazed tell him about religions that were similar and then he built that his own way.

Questioner

Oh so did Sazed tell him about...

Brandon Sanderson

Sazed told him about religions that were similar. I wouldn't say Christianity specifically, but their version and things. So there is a yes and a no.

#15 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering how you schedule all the books that you write. Do you have adhere to a solid schedule or is it more like you finish a book and go into one you are more excited to write?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, at this point in my career I have the ability to have a little more influence over that. I do try to keep to kind of a regular schedule. My publishers have learned I'll turn in what I'll turn in, and then they'll publish it. Because I am more productive if I can jump between things.

#16 Copy

Questioner

I'm a graphic designer and I want to know how you visually communicate-- You have such great visuals in your books...

Brandon Sanderson

Lots of practice. It really is just practice.

Questioner

Do you draw them all? Or do you just tell someone what you need.

Brandon Sanderson

So I have artists. I commission concept art for my descriptions and then... That doesn't always end up in the book. In fact usually it doesn't. For the things that end up in the book I'll often do like a quick sketch and say "make this awesome" or I'll do a paragraph or two of description.

#17 Copy

Questioner

You know how usually you read a good book and it will change your perspective on some aspect of life, do you ever finish writing a book yourself and-- From your own writings do you ever "Ah I've never..."

Brandon Sanderson

It's usually the research I do. Like when I'm like "I need to get in the mindset of this type of person" and I go read about it. I see the world in a different way after I become immersed in that.

Questioner

So what character have you written that was the hardest to imagine or get into?

Brandon Sanderson

Jasnah was very hard originally, and that took a lot of research into the mindset of people who think differently from myself. In The Wheel of Time books Aviendha and Tuon are both very different cultures so getting into those.

Questioner

How was it writing Mat? Was it pretty easy or--

Brandon Sanderson

No, Mat blindsided me. Mat I thought would be easy because Perrin and Rand were and I grew up with Mat, Perrin, and Rand, right? But the thing is Mat is a really hard character to write, meaning actual-- you look at him, he says one thing, he does a second thing, but he thinks a third thing. And so there is a lot of contrast to him and I just started writing him naturally and I wasn't getting all of that contrast because I was like "Oh I know who Mat is. Mat's my--" But he was saying the things that he never said, if that makes sense? I got his actions right but I flipped what he said and what he thought. It was actually really hard to get him down.

Questioner

You mean how he would say that he was going to avoid trouble and then run straight into it?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it's like "I'm going to avoid trouble", he runs into trouble, and he's thinking all the way about something completely separate, and then something else leaves his mouth.

#18 Copy

Questioner

I'm a physical chemist and I'm reading your book [The Way of Kings] right now and at some point you have someone studying flamespren and what they saw, that's one of the fundamental tenets of quantum mechanics--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

So you got that from quantum mechanics?

Brandon Sanderson

I did get that from quantum mechanics.

Questioner

How did you come across that and decide to incorporate that into your epic fantasy?

Brandon Sanderson

Well The Way of Kings' magic systems are based on the fundamental forces. That was the original idea and the extrapolation from them. I'm fascinated by quantum mechanics and I have worked them into the way that-- Remember in my worlds, my books, the magics are a new branch of physics, in these worlds. And so they interact with our normal physics, it's not like they are ignoring them, so they obey the laws of thermodynamics, even when they appear to be breaking them, and they interact with quantum and all the stuff. It's just very natural that they are going to, to me if that makes sense? It would be weird if they didn't interact with them.

#19 Copy

Questioner

You have said you are an architect, so I was wondering if the plot twists at the end of the book, did you have those at the beginning?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say most of the time I have them at the beginning but sometimes during the writing I rebuild my outline to do something different. You always have to be open to that I feel as an architect, to rebuilding your plot for when the creative process takes you in a different direction.

#20 Copy

Questioner

So what are your thoughts on the Wheel of Time pilot?

Brandon Sanderson

The Wheel of Time pilot? I... think... See this is kind of on the record because of the recording. I think the actors and the director are to be praised for doing so much with so little time. I don't think it should have been made and I don't think it is a good direction for The Wheel of Time to be going. But that is in part because I know Harriet was not pleased with it.

#21 Copy

Questioner

So what about the things you left out when you finished-- What was the one thing you wish you could have gotten in there most?

Brandon Sanderson

Most that I wish I could have gotten into The Wheel of Time? My favorite sequence that got cut, writing-wise, was the sequence where Perrin travels in the Ways and defeats Machin Shin with the Ogier. It's a beautiful sequence, it came out really well. The problem is reading the book you don't miss it because it was a big deviation. So I'm not sure if I wish that one would have made it into the book.

I tried to get Rand engaged, and that one I think-- I think as a whole a lot of people are confused when they come to me and wish that they could have known a little bit more about that relationship and I tried to have the three-- I tried to write a scene where the three women weave a bridal wreath together to give to him and Harriet did not like that scene because she thought it might contradict Rand later wondering if any of them would follow him, which is a scene that Robert Jordan wrote. I didn't think it contradicted but since we had that scene from Robert Jordan and since Harriet-- She's the boss, I was happy to cut it according to her wishes. I miss that one.

Questioner

Is there anything-- Is any of that going to be in the Encyclopedia coming up and are you doing anything with it?

Brandon Sanderson

I am not doing anything with it. It is all Harriet. In fact when Robert Jordan and she signed the contracts for it it was always going to be her project and not his.

#22 Copy

Questioner

When do you know a book is finished and send it to an editor/agent/whatever, wherever it gets sent?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say... that my process is I write the first draft and I do a second draft where I am fixing the problems that I recognized on my first draft. Then I do a third draft where I try to clean up the prose, that's just making the writing line by line better. I try to cut 10% and I just try to take each line and make it tighter. At that point I send it off. But I generally send it-- At that point I send it to my alpha readers, which are my agent and editor for me. If you are doing it I would suggest giving it to a round of readers from friends first. Get feedback from them, then do one more draft and then send it off.

#23 Copy

Questioner

Why would you choose Chicago as a setting?

Brandon Sanderson

I grew up in Nebraska, Lincoln, and Chicago was the big city we would travel to. I liked that it was-- This is kind of going to sound weird but it was a big city full of mid-westerners. Like when I went to LA everyone talked and acted different, when I went to New York everyone talked and acted different, but in Chicago it-- they were kind of like a bunch of hokey mid-westerners had somehow built a big city? *laughter* If that makes any sense. So I have always had a fondness for Chicago. It's like the big city of farmers or whatnot. I don't know there's just something about it, the being on the lake and the profile of it and things like that. And I'm a Batman fan and Gotham is Chicago. Chicago was my go-to when I was going to destroy a city in our world; I picked Chicago.

#24 Copy

Questioner

I really enjoy the systems of religion and the religious questions that you bring up and so I was wondering-- Well first whether in your worlds there is a relationship between the efficacy of religion and the efficacy of magic?

Brandon Sanderson

There is but the relationship is not a direct one-to-one parallel. In other words the beings that are worshiped have an influence over the magic. Whether they are actually God is disputed by various people. And there are people who worship things that are not the various beings the magic is-- Does that make sense?

#25 Copy

Questioner

Also what is it about about the Fantasy genre in particular that lends itself to these sorts of questions about the nature of religion?

Brandon Sanderson

Well I think that there are a lot of things. One of them is that fantasy is one of these genres where we can take away a lot of the contemporary baggage. For instance, since it is hard to talk about things like the Catholic Church and the religion without getting into the social issues in our world right now, but if you create a fake religion that you can narrow down and focus on one aspect of it-- Fantasy is really good at that. Tolkien did it with racism, let's have an elf and a dwarf and have them interact, and take away all the baggage of civil rights era America or England and instead said "Let's see if these two races can get along".

Bystander

It's the same reason why I like Star Trek, you can kind of create a scenario and--

Brandon Sanderson

But I also think that because of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis having such an influence on the genre you can do Good vs Evil, which lends itself. Like Robert Jordan's works there's no religion there's just a lot of spirituality. So there is no religion because people can actively check and see if God is real, the Creator. The magic is there, it's the proof, they don't need a religion. Which is a really interesting way to approach it.

#26 Copy

Questioner

How do you come up with the ideas for the powers and the names of the Epics?

Brandon Sanderson

The names are actually really hard because comic book heroes, there are so many names they've already used. And so I have to a lot of searching and thinking and it's usually my fifth choice. Lots of looking in the thesaurus for "Alright was a word that is like this one that has been used way too often". The powers I'm look for usually something cool that somebody has done in a movie or a book or a comic book that I don't think they extrapolated far enough. I'm like "No that's not how it would really work. This is how I think it would really work." and kind of taking my own spin on it.

#27 Copy

Questioner

How much research do you have to do in sciences and technology and history to create a world that is more relate-able if not as believable as they are?

Brandon Sanderson

What it takes is a lot of general knowledge, meaning you read a lot of history books, a lot of science books, and this general knowledge that you then incorporate. It's not like I go and say "I need to know more about this thing". I'll do that for characters and some aspects of the worlds sometimes but mostly this is coming from spending 10 years learning all this stuff. Does that make sense?

Questioner

It makes total sense, and my 10 years of community college will help me write.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes it will.

Questioner

My 120 credit-hours.

Brandon Sanderson

120 credit-hours, that's what makes a good writer... That really turns-- You can pick out "Oh that's my linguistics class" and I'd be like "Oh that's my chemistry class. Oh that's the class I snuck into, the psychology class".

#28 Copy

Questioner

Can worldhoppers travel forwards and backwards in time or are they stuck going forward?

Brandon Sanderson

They are stuck going forward. Good question.

Questioner

So Hoid has to move in a straight line?

Brandon Sanderson

He has to move in a straight line. It can squish-- stretch or squish that line but he can't go back along the line.

#29 Copy

Questioner

How do you think about reddit or the 17th shard and the Coppermind-- All the different theories going around? Do you ever find one that hits your plot line or something?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yes. I don't change it. I'm just like "There's a smart person.' But what I learned in Wheel of Time fandom was that you can't-- There is madness that lies in trying to change things once someone figures it out. Like particularly with the way that I do my plots, there's foreshadowing so there's someone who's going to be able to figure it out. If they can't figure it out I haven't put in the foreshadowing properly. So almost everything that I've put into the books, somebody knows. Some of them are really obvious and everybody's got it, and I'm okay with that because the people who don't read the forums, a few of them will be surprised, but mostly it will be like "Yeah of course we know this Brandon. Of course we know yada yada yada" I don't--

Argent

Go on, go on.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't... *mutters* I think you've figured it out-- But there are things like that. But there are other little things that there are a dozen theories on, and one of them's right.

Questioner

You are probably going to get that when there's large populations...

Brandon Sanderson

There's large populations and there's proper foreshadowing, somebody is going to get it, and I think that's appropriate.

#30 Copy

Questioner

I was curious Mat and then the second-hand man Talmanes... Did you have inspiration for those-- Because I absolutely enjoyed, I laughed out loud multiple times reading those characters. And I wondered--

Brandon Sanderson

With Mat it was always just me trying to match Robert Jordan's style, sometimes awkwardly at first but I think I got it down. With Talmanes there was more room for interpretation because I had always-- In fandom people interpret his personality in a lot of different ways, and I was a certain theory because we'd never seen through his eyes. When I did write scenes through his eyes I used my interpretation. There are some people "No that's not how he is". There are some people "Yes I always knew he was like that". But that's how I've always viewed him, with kind of the tongue in his cheek as he's talking to Mat. And I've always loved him as a character because of that. Which is why I wanted to write him and include him. There weren't any notes to use him.

#31 Copy

Questioner

Do you ever listen to your own audiobooks?

Brandon Sanderson

I do on occasion. I don't listen to them for long because I will find myself wanting to change things. And that's dangerous...

Questioner

Do you have a favorite narrator that you--

Brandon Sanderson

I do--

Questioner

Of your books and of other books.

Brandon Sanderson

It is Michael Kramer, who did the Wheel of Time books. Which is why I asked for him on my books.

Argent

If I may, how do you feel about Graphic Audio?

Brandon Sanderson

I, personally, love that they are available but I find them kind of distracting when I'm listening to them.

Argent

Too much--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. I'm glad-- I mean I want to sell as many of them as we can because there are some people who just love them. But I actually love straight reads, like I like Wil Wheaton's reading, where there's very minimal voices.

Argent

Well that's because it's Wil Wheaton.

Brandon Sanderson

It is Wil Wheaton but I-- I do like Graphic Audio because they use women for women's parts, men for men's parts, which is really helpful. Men doing women's voices in books, and women doing men's voices as readers, a lot of them are like fingernails on a chalkboard for me.

#32 Copy

Questioner

When it comes to major, pivotal plot twists. Moments where the reader goes "WOAH" or "Oh my god". Are those something you write as starting point or ending point?

Brandon Sanderson

What I do is I plot my outline backward, starting with those scenes. And then I write the book forward to those scenes. The reason I can do it that way is because in the plot I don't need to know the characters' emotional state, I can just come up with "This is going to be a great scene". But I have to have been with the characters through the journey to write their reaction to the scene. So I can't actually write it early.

#33 Copy

Questioner

My question was, have you ever written a scene and had it published and then wanted to change one of your scenes?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I have. There have been a couple of them. There's one at the end of Words of Radiance, when it came time for the paperback I reverted to a previous version of the scene. So yeah you guys will see that when the paperback comes out. One of the ending scenes-- It's a very minor tweak but I had done like four different drafts of this scene and I didn't like the one we ended up with. Even immediately after we sent it in I was like "No that's the wrong one". So we reverted.

Questioner

Will you post that online?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I'll post that online when the book comes out. I'll be like "By the way guys, Warning. There's a change here."

Bystander

The internet will freak out.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. The other thing is the ending of Elantris, the spatial-ness of it, and things, I got some of the math wrong. I didn't have Peter back then. And so now that we are doing a 10th anniversary edition I actually had Peter and Isaac, who does all the maps, get together, work out the actual math. The size of the city, the size of the continent, and all this stuff and Isaac's doing a new map and we are changing the text to now match that map. So for instance where it says something is in the original text it will actually move now that we have an actual real map, rather than my MS Paint thing that I was using 'cause you know me and maps. So yeah you nodded, there are a lot of mathematical-- just problems. We've got the new map now and it all works. So I'm glad that it all actually works, once you get the math right. But like the number of steps is way off at the end of that one for instance.

*To Argent/Kurkistan* Have you guys figured that out? Like it makes the size of the planet stupidly big.

Argent

When is that coming out by the way?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not sure, we just have to see when we turn it in. I think maybe later this year. Maybe early next year. I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to get it out with one of the Mistborn books, at around the same time.

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Questioner

If you could live on any one of the worlds, which one would it be?

Brandon Sanderson

If forced to, because I would stay here if I could 'cause internet, internet's really cool, mac & cheese, I like mac & cheese, I like instant ramen. But if I were forced I would pick Scadrial, the Mistborn world, because it's the closest to all of those things, but beyond that it would, post-Catacendre, a very good place to live...

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writing

I was wondering about , how much of your day do you spend writing? Because you have five(?) books coming out, I didn't count them all.

No, I've only got two books this year. I do two books a year, with a third book occasionally. It just depends on how long the books are. For instance a Way of Kings book is four of these [Firefight?] in length, so when I do a Stormlight book you get less, fewer other books. When I do-- For instance I can do two of these [Reckoners?] and two Mistborn books in the same length of time. I work a normal workday usually, plus a little bit... I don't write particularly fast. I do write a large amount but mostly I'm very consistent. I just write a little bit each day and then it happens.

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Questioner

How did Kaladin heal his Shardblade wound without the power of Regrowth?

Brandon Sanderson

That's partially a RAFO. Remember that healing in the cosmere usually has to do with how you view yourself. And as long as there is some outpouring of Investiture you are usually capable of healing. More the weird thing is not that Kaladin healed it's that Szeth couldn't.

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Questioner

Can someone be sacrificed for both Hemalurgy and the magics of Dakhor simultaneously?

Brandon Sanderson

So this is going to require the soul being ripped apart, so it depends on what pieces of the soul are left and how easily you can capture them. That's a theoretical possible-- possibility... Know that most of the horrors of Dakhor are twisting a soul not stealing a soul.

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Questioner

In, I believe it was, Well of Ascension, when Hoid-- Vin was going to talk to Hoid and get information but she sensed something.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, she did.

Questioner

Can you reveal anything about that.

Brandon Sanderson

Nope!

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

But you can have a RAFO card... Do you have a theory?

Questioner

No, I don't.

Kurkistan

Spidey-sense.

Brandon Sanderson

The clues are all there. They're very obscure.

Argent/Kurkistan

*theorize*

Brandon Sanderson

*mock-annoyed* Stop theorizing! I shouldn't have said anything.

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Questioner

Was Vin's mother under Hemalurgic influence?

Brandon Sanderson

Vin's mother was under influence of Ruin.

Footnoe

The epigraphs from The Hero of Ages say this: "The point, however, is that people with unstable personalities were more susceptible to Ruin's influence, even if they didn't have a spike in them. That, indeed, is likely how Zane got his spike." In the annotations Brandon confirms that the same applies to Vin's mother.

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Questioner

The symbols before the chapters [in The Well of Ascension], are those alloys for the god metals?

Brandon Sanderson

No, the symbols before the chapters are the same symbols as in the first book from a different era. Same thing for the third book, they are the exact same symbols from a different era.

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Questioner

Assuming that it's possible-- There are alternate Physical Realms, is Shadesmar common between them?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes... They don't always call it Shadesmar.

Questioner

Sure, but there is one Cognitive?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. There's one Physical too if you think about it.

Questioner

Well... Between the books...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah but there's one Physical-- There's one universe, it's all the Physical Realm, just like there is one Cognitive Realm.

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Questioner

Where did you come up with the idea for Allomancy?

Brandon Sanderson

It's a combination of several things. One is I started with wanting a group of powers that would complement a gang of thieves. So I designed the powers to work within the roles of a thieving crew. The burning metals came from reading about biology and metabolism and it felt very natural to me because that's how we get our energy as human beings. The whole connection of the metals and the visualization stuff came from mixing the periodic table of the elements with alchemy. All of those things kind of spun together to make it.

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Questioner

How did you sort of develop and write the character of Vin? 'Cause her upbringing is so different from anything we-- that I have experienced and I'm guessing you had a similar experience. So did you have a model or somebody you could talk to?

Brandon Sanderson

I-- Not really. Now I did have two sisters, which helped, but my sisters were not raised in such a manner. It is more just trying out personalities, like I talked about in my speech until I got one that worked. Lots of practice if you want to be a good writer, lots and lots of practice. Try writing people very different from yourself and try to get them right. Give it to people and have them see if anything "Yes this feels right" and things like that. Just do lots of practice.

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Questioner

So a lot of your books are very cinematic in nature and lend themselves very well to other forms of media and I was wondering if you had to choose what would you do-- video games...

Brandon Sanderson

I would want to do all of those.

Questioner

All of the things?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I would love to do a big cross-media sort of deal. Whatever I can get away with, right? So we're doing a White Sand comic book right now, you probably know about that. White Sand, my unpublished novel, we're doing a graphic novel of that. I'm working hard to get the movies made, I will do anything I can get made. Just because I love storytelling in all its different weird varieties.

Questioner

There's the Mistborn dice game, do you know of anything for The Stormlight Archive? If they're ever going to do something with that?

Brandon Sanderson

I think the thing we are going to do with Stormlight Archive-- We're going to try a chasm assault board game. Where you put together chasms and bridges and things like that. That's what we think would work really well. We have a developer-- well game designer who wants to do one of those so we're going to work with them and try to get it made.

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Questioner

You are releasing a graphic novel version of White Sand, which one is going to be canon to the Cosmere, the graphic novel or the novel you originally wrote?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh definitely the graphic novel. The book I originally wrote has its problems, and I never released it. The books don't become canon until I release them. This will be the canon release of White Sand. I don't think-- If the graphic novel does well we are not going to write novels, I'm going to do the second one as a graphic novel original. That's just how we are going to do it-- is my plan right now. There are things when we went back to it that we tweaked, for instance Hoid's appearance in the original novel was only a reference. He was mentioned by, what did I end up calling him, Eis? Ais, I had both names for a while, it was only a reference to one of his old cases, that's his only appearance. And we're like "Ehh people are going to expect more now". So we are writing in a better appearance for him. Stuff like that, I feel Khriss' character needs better development than the novel had, so we are working on that. Stuff, you know. Things you would do in a major revision.

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Questioner

Is there any possibility of the novellas being released in like a bound--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, we will eventually do-- Tor really wants to do a collection of all the cosmere novellas. So like... *Brandon stumbles over the words* Shadows for Silence, The Emperor's Soul, Sixth of the Dusk. But I was trying to say Shadows for Silence but I almost said Shadows of Self, that's going to be a problem for me going forward, using "shadows" in two. But all of those in one collection is what we're probably going to see.

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Questioner

At the end of Firefight when it says that if you overcome your fears that the corruption kind of ceases to exist. Does that mean an Epic's weakness is resolved also?

Brandon Sanderson

That is a question for the sequel.

Questioner

So would that imply that maybe David has a power but he doesn't know it because he overcame the water fear?

Brandon Sanderson

That's entirely possible... You're asking good questions.

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Questioner

I really like your idea with the whole Mistborn series, taking it further in history and we are both PhD physicists.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh sweet.

Questioner

I always think about that and I was wondering if you were worried about going that sci-fi fantasy route? Like for instance--

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not worried about it, I'm just excited... In my mind all of my books are sci-fi as well as fantasy because I'm making weird new branches of physics and trying to adhere to as many of the laws as I can.

Questioner

Yeah that's one of things I love about how well thought out the magic systems are.

Brandon Sanderson

Like I-- You are actually not the first physicists to come through another one came through earlier tonight and talking about the quantum mechanics that are in The Way of King.

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Questioner

Do you set out to write a specific-- like a teen book or an adult book? Or are they just--

Brandon Sanderson

I usually do set out these days. Originally I was not as cognizant of it, but I do think keeping audience in mind is an important attribute of writing. The thing is when you are doing a teen book it's not about writing down it's about dealing with issues, like it's the type of conflicts that really make something a teen book in my opinion. And those conflicts can transcend into adult books but-- I don't know it's just there's a feel for it.

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Argent

Awakening and Surgebinding, Stormlight and Breath seem really similar in some aspects--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Argent

--except Breaths seem to stick to things better--

Brandon Sanderson

They do.

Argent

--than Stormlight. So when you are holding the Breath it doesn't expire when you put it in something it doesn't go away. Can you tell me something about why that's happening?

Brandon Sanderson

Part of this is kind of inherent to the Shard and the power it's coming from. I mean the power of Endowment is just going to stick, that's part of the nature of its magic. Does that make sense? But it also kind of has to do with how the ecosystems are working. For instance the Stormlight is essential to the ecosystem of Roshar, it needs to be expended, it needs to get out and-- It's like evaporation, does that make sense?

Argent

Recycling? Not the recycling but the cycle of--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah like the cycle of water. And so just part of the way the nature of it works, it has to get out, it has to leak out, it has to run out. I mean it leaks even from spheres, right?

Argent

And when you lash things it's temporary--

Brandon Sanderson

Yep. And even though Szeth says that he thought Voidbringers could hold it they can't. Like it is just not the way that it works.

Argent

Can they just hold it better?

Brandon Sanderson

They can hold it better. It's not permanent. Now there are things that can do it permanently but--

Argent

Like the black sphere for example?

Brandon Sanderson

Well we are not going to... The black sphere is something different. You guys have guessed what the black sphere is, right?

Argent

Well we have some ideas. I support that it holds an Unmade. Am I wrong?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not going to answer that.

Argent

But you said--

Brandon Sanderson

I'm just curious what the theories are. Book 3 the black sphere is-- Everyone who reads the books will know what the black sphere is by the end of Book 3.

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Argent

Renarin, his visions of the future are they connected to one of his Surges? Both of them? Are they a side-effect of his order?

Brandon Sanderson

Umm...

Argent

Like I can kind of fit in the two of them...

Brandon Sanderson

Alright, how much of a spoiler do you want on this?

Argent

All of it.

Brandon Sanderson

*Incredulously* Really?

Argent

Is that even a question for me?

Brandon Sanderson

Do you want to know something secret that you then can't post?

Argent

*sighs* How-- Is it something that is going to come up in Book 3--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Argent

--or later.

Brandon Sanderson

It comes up in Book 3.

Argent

I'll bear the burden.

Brandon Sanderson

You'll bear the burden meaning I can tell you?

Argent

I'm going to pause this actually... *Audio paused*

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Argent

Can Nightblood damage or kill a Shard? Is he that powerful?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is not powerful enough for-- *makes weird/hesitant ehhh sound*

Argent

Can it damage?

Brandon Sanderson

Damage? Yes. How damaging? Is a subject to discussion. Nightblood contains a lot of Investiture.

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Argent

Does Lift turn food into Investiture directly or is it similar to the metals on--

Brandon Sanderson

Similar to the metals.

Argent

So like a gate?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Argent

Okay, that's good to know.

Brandon Sanderson

She can metabolize-- She can draw-- It's not actually the food, it's-- It's not like the metals, not exactly. It's not-- What she can do is she can metabolize into Investiture instead of sugar. Does that make sense?

Argent

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

We metabolize food into sugar. She can metabolize it into Investiture. Does that make sense?

Argent

That makes a lot of sense. So if she eats--

Brandon Sanderson

She's got to have a blood sugar spike.

Argent

So if she eats like a cake it will give her more Investiture--

Brandon Sanderson

Faster. It will give her faster.

Argent

Whereas if she eats a vegetable...

Brandon Sanderson

Vegetable... More calories is going to equal more. But the better comparison would be a sausage and bread. Because bread is a fast blood sugar spike and the sausage is not. And that's how I'm working in my head. It's kind of a magical version of a blood sugar spike and I have it happen to her faster than it could happen. Like normally you eat a piece of bread and your blood sugar spikes in a half hour, it's going to go faster for Lift.

Argent

Hers is like five minutes.

Brandon Sanderson

Hers is like five minutes, but a sausage would be slower.

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Argent

Can a Returned like Lightsong go to Roshar and form a bond with a spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Investiture interferes with other Investiture.

Argent

And they have a lot of it.

Brandon Sanderson

And they have a lot of it. That is not-- It's not completely-- For instance you can Push on Invested metal, but it's hard. There's a resistance, the more Invested the harder-- So a bond for instance-- forming a bond-- It's, yeah-- It can be done--

I mean Sazed took two of the powers up, right? But I kind of imagine what he did as a nuclear reaction. Where breaking an atom is hard, unless you are in the middle of a sun. And he was in the middle of the sun. At that point--

Argent

There was a lot of stuff going on around him that facilitated.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, definitely. But when you've got that much power you'll-- In other words if there is a lot of power going around, these things become easier.

Argent

So, possible but difficult is--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

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Questioner

I'm 66 in a couple months and I want to make sure I live long enough to read the whole Stormlight--

Brandon Sanderson

Alright.

Questioner

Am I going to?

Brandon Sanderson

You'll definitely make it through the first five. The thing about it is I'll break in the middle, but the first five come to a natural climax, and then there's an in-world break of 15 years. Not 15 years away for us but an in-world break. And then I'll do another trilogy. I think you'll make it through them all. I think you'll easily make it, you look very hale and healthy.

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Questioner

Did I read that they were going to make a movie out of Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

The question is-- Somebody bought the rights. The question is whether they are actually going to use them for anything, and that I can't say. I really like the people who have them.

Questioner

Would you be involved in it if--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. I would be involved.

Questioner

How much?

Brandon Sanderson

The contracts say I have to be able to go to the set at any time.

Questioner

You wouldn't be helping writing the screenplay?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh I don't write screenplays, it's a different skill. I think you do an expert do what an expert does. But so far they have sent me all of the stuff they've done and I've given feedback and they've taken it. It's a good sign.

Questioner

In your opinion what percent--

Brandon Sanderson

How close?

Questioner

--that they are going to start it.

Brandon Sanderson

15?

Questioner

That small?

Brandon Sanderson

That's high. I think that's very high for this business. My agent says one out of 30 gets made.

Questioner

So what's the criteria they would--

Brandon Sanderson

Investors, if there are people who are willing to give us a 100 million dollars... So if you happen to know anyone willing to sink a 100 million dollars into a film we could do it tomorrow.

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Questioner

So I'm in the middle of Hero of Ages, and I'm noticing there are constant parallels between Vin and the Hero of Ages and Elend and the Lord Ruler?

Brandon Sanderson

That's done intentionally.

Questioner

Is it going to hurt?

Brandon Sanderson

Is the ending going to hurt? The ending is the right ending. It's going to be satisfying, but it also might hurt.

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Questioner

So are the rumors true are you [and Pat Rothfuss] going to write a book together?

Brandon Sanderson

No, but every time we are on a panel we are like "AH we should write a book together." It's highly unlikely, that we would ever do anything together. Just because our writing styles are so different. Pat's writing process-- It's not so much style it's the writing process-- is so different. But you can hold out hope. Perhaps some day I will have a pitch for Pat or something like that. But I would hate to inconvenience his fans by distracting him with something else.

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Questioner

When you finish a book how do you celebrate?

Brandon Sanderson

I usually, unless I have a really tight deadline, I pick a video game and I play the video game. Usually once a year I'll do that and I'll take like two weeks off and just play through a game.

Questioner

I like that idea. I'm trying to finish up my master's thesis and deciding what I can do when I've finished it.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh okay, I don't know if you can take two weeks off. I can.

Questioner

Well I've already told my boss I'm going to take three weeks off. But I'll probably go somewhere.

Brandon Sanderson

See traveling, I travel so much for work that I don't really want to go anywhere. I just want to stay home where I don't have to do anything. I played Skyrim, I broke it out over the holidays. I hadn't ever played that one. That's my latest.

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Kurkistan

So, could you give us some examples of how the ideals that spren represent work in other magic systems, like we have Forging where you get plausibility, or Returned how they're beautiful or any other systems?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, one more time on that.

Kurkistan

Okay, so you know the ideals the spren are manifestations--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Kurkistan

How-- Do those have impacts on other magic systems?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes, in the same way the Returned- that's the exact same system at work there.

Kurkistan

Is it the same reason why the Lord Ruler has to die of old age, and why you can't heal yourself into being an octopus or something?

Brandon Sanderson

Um... Yes, that is all connected in the exact same way.

Kurkistan

Okay, so it's all like these highfalutin Spiritual ideals?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Kurkistan

And are there like, median Cognitive ideals that gradually kind of influence these, or--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, they transcend between the three. I mean the original concept for the Three Realms is Platonic philosophy.

Kurkistan

So it goes up *makes absurd reverse-waterfall hand gesture*

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it goes up and it comes back down. A lot of the Cognitive is-- So like, the Cognitive has a bigger effect on how you can heal and things like that. Does that make sense?

Kurkistan

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

But the power to heal is a actually a Spiritual thing.

Kurkistan

So it's like the Spiritual says "I want to be like this" and the Cognitive is like "Okay I'll try really hard to be like that, but I have a limit."

Brandon Sanderson

Right. Right. Filtered through how you see yourself, yeah.

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Kurkistan

So is that the same thing with Commands, are there like ideals that are Commands?

Brandon Sanderson

This is more of a-- For you to interface with the magic, you need to be able to comprehend it. And so forming a Command-- The same thing happens in Elantris, you know they don't accidentally draw runes, right? The intention is part of interfacing with the magic. So it's like your mind reaching into the Spiritual Realm and you have to like conceive something.

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Questioner

You said in an earlier interview that the glittery things in Elantris...

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, seons.

Questioner

I believe that you said that the seons on Roshar would bond similarly--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes

Questioner

Would that work in the opposite direction?

Brandon Sanderson

Meaning what? Someone from Roshar could they bond a seon? Oh, would spren bond-- Yes that could happen.
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Questioner

My question has to do with the color of Shallan's eyes currently, because we've noticed over the books that Kaladin's eyes, as he's continued to use his Surge, changed to lighter and lighter blue. Whereas one could argue that Shallan is farther in her Ideals than Kaladin is, yet her eyes have not changed at all.

Brandon Sanderson

Right, 'cause they were already light.

Questioner

'Cause they were already light? So it only affects lightness or darkness in the eyes, not necessarily any other color?

Brandon Sanderson

It's not like it is-- It's not like it's saying "Light minus 50%".

Questioner

It's not like Honor is blue and--

Brandon Sanderson

No. It is not. It is just kind of the way that the changes the Stormlight is making the body and certain people are already descended from people who had repeated, over time, changes by the body which stopped physically... That's not to say that all lighteyes that's where they came from. There are some that are natural mutations.

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Questioner

I am very convinced that Adolin, with the events that happen with the last book. You're sending him down a like a dark path. Is he possibly going to be a-- *questioningly* Antagonist? Protagonist?-- A bad, eventually? Or is he--

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to say this, the things that Adolin did do not contradict some of the moralities on Roshar, in fact they follow them directly. Some of the moralities on our planet would say what he did is the right thing to do. I think treating it as a "dark path" is too reductionist to say. There are people who would seriously argue, and they would have a good argument, that what Dalinar was doing by leaving Sadeas around was a good idea. And then there are other people who would say "You know what Sadeas did was a challenge and it was rightly then responded to" and then there are people who would say it was absolutely immoral. So, it depends on your philosophy.

What would Honor say? Well, Honor's dead, so-- *lots of laughter* You know Honor would not have been behind that action, but Honor's dead.

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Questioner (paraphrased)

I love Writing Excuses and I'm actually going on the Retreat this year. I think the cruise is a good idea.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

See Mary did the Steampunk cruise, and she just kind of asked "Wait a minute, what are people paying for this?" and it was less than we had to charge them for the retreat at her house, because of all the food and stuff we had to do. We were like "Wait a minute, you can do this for the same price or less? Why are we doing this at her house?"

Questioner (paraphrased)

Cruises are a blast.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I've been on several and I've enjoyed everyone of them.

Questioner (paraphrased)

The Alaska cruise has been one of the best experiences of my life. So it's going to be good for writing and inspiration.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

My cruise story is the Taravangian interlude [in Words of Radiance] was written on a cruise with my family. I sat on the little balcony to our room typing while everyone else went off and did stuff where there were people. And I was by myself and it was great.

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Questioner

When Syl says in The Way of Kings that she had been with other men who have killed. Is she-- Why is she able to say that?

Brandon Sanderson

Syl's memories, the longer she's bonded the more access to them she has, from times before. She knows some of these things. She'll never get it all back.

Questioner

From the time before Kaladin.

Brandon Sanderson

From before Kaladin, from before the Recreance, yes.

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Questioner

How has the fantasy publishing industry changed with the global popularity of *audio obscured*

Brandon Sanderson

It has changed, but really what we're seeing is what happened in the States in the seventies, the States and the UK following Tolkien, is now happening in a lot of countries that it hadn't happened in before. Which is cool. But it's not just Game of Thrones, since the Lord of the Rings movies, it's Harry Potter. The last ten years are wakening fantasy. See the thing about fantasy is we don't find fantasy doing well in developing countries. It's kind of the thing where if you are going to be reading about knights and wizards, you are not going to be somebody who's struggling for your bread each day. You know what I mean?

Questioner

People in developing countries read more aspirational--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. So you see for instance as countries transition out of that you see a lot of fantasy and things. For instance it happened in Japan in the seventies. It happened in the US even earlier. It's happening now in Brazil and Taiwan. Those are two of the places where it is just appearing. India, it's just starting in India. Mainland China hasn't quite caught on yet but there's hints that it is going to happen. But it has been in Europe for quite a while.

Questioner

So do you have translations of your books in Portuguese?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I'm in 26 languages, or something like that. But you can kind of use that as a map for the places that read-- you know. Like the only South American country is Brazil, I don't have any other distribution in South America. Not a single country in Africa, except South Africa, the UK editions. None of those. Japan, China, Korea? Yes. Europe? Almost everybody in Europe.

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Questioner

I heard earlier, through people I know, that Syl will eventually develop her memories from before the Recreance. Does that mean any spren that are alive currently have been alive for that long as well? Or are they--

Brandon Sanderson

Not necessarily. Some spren-- The thing about spren is that when does the energy become conscious? So yes they will have all existed before but at what point is consciousness attained. That's kind of their birth. It happens much more rarely than it does on the other-- on the Physical Realm, like regular people and things like that. But there can totally have been spren who have been born since then. And they would count most of the spren that you see as not being alive, well not being born. Not conscious. What's the word for the difference between humans and animals, it's not just sentience, there's another word. Starts with a C. Sapient, you're right it starts with an S.

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Questioner

I noticed in a lot of your cosmere books, like for example Elantris or Mistborn, they have something to do with some sort of subject matter or school or something. For example the Steelpush and Ironpulling in Mistborn is based on physics.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

If you push too hard it's based on...

Brandon Sanderson

Vector physics, yes.

Questioner

And then like Warbreaker is just like math, adding Breaths together. Did you intend that?

Brandon Sanderson

Not necessarily. I read a lot and I like science and I like philosophy and I like and things like this. And those spark most of my ideas. So yes in a term but I'm not like "Let's do this subject".

I would say Warbreaker, the big part of Warbreaker is the idea of sympathetic magic. Which is the idea that like affects like, which is a very common type of magic throughout all cultures on the planet, on our planet. When people believe in magic they believe in sympathetic magic. A voodoo doll is sympathetic magic. And that's where the idea came from.

Questioner

So in Elantris, which is different and then--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah that's basically fantasy programming, is where that one came from.

Questioner

And then there is The Stormlight Archive, which basically violates all the laws of physics by just saying everything comes from spren.

Brandon Sanderson

Well no they still have arguments on that, are spren attracted to these things or do they cause them.

Questioner

Yeah that's kind of weird...

Brandon Sanderson

Stormlight Archive was based on the fundamental forces, if you want go read on physics google fundamental forces.

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Questioner

What was the hardest part of finishing The Wheel of Time?

Brandon Sanderson

The hardest part, I would say, was the battle logistics.

Questioner

So A Memory of Light took a while?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, A Memory of Light is all battle logistics, it was really hard. And the second half was really tough to get that all right. And just to work with the assistants and things like that.

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Questioner

I was wondering when you first thought to put Nightblood in Words of Radiance?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood in Words of Radiance happened because... So I wrote the original draft of Way of Kings in 2002 and Vasher was Kaladin's swordmaster and I thought "This guy has a really interesting past, he's not natively from Roshar". So I went and wrote his backstory and that became the book Warbreaker. So he predates-- And then I came back and I re-wrote Way of Kings and I cut him out of it to save him for the later books. So when did I first think of it? Well 2003 probably? Was where that was happening.

Questioner

Nightblood was our apartment's collective favorite character.

Brandon Sanderson

I have some other quote-unquote cons going on the fans so to speak that are going to be very cool when they happen.

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Questioner

Why do you do interludes? What possessed you to go that direction instead of just including it as another chapter?

Brandon Sanderson

I felt that one of the foibles of the large series epic fantasy genre is the tendency of authors to go afield down paths of side characters. It happened to Robert Jordan, it happened to George R.R. Martin. And so reading theirs I hoped to learn from them and say "I'm going to do this thing that gives me a pressure valve to tell these stories that are outside the main line but I'm not going to give myself enough room that I can just turn this into a full character, yet." That allows me to do goofy stuff around the world but have a form for it built into the book.

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Questioner

The thing that struck me is the concept of Stormlight *audio obscured* stand up *audio obscured* more powerful *audio obscured* stand up to it.

Brandon Sanderson

If you stand up to it?

Questioner

*audio obscured*

Brandon Sanderson

There is definitely a [view?] with the Parshendi, you need to go in and stand up to get what happens, yes.

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Questioner

Do you have a plan for the entire concept of the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes I do.

Questioner

Do you have an Allomancy dude fighting a Surgebinding dude?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah it's going to be cool. It's going to be super awesome. The Allomantic space battles are really great. It's going to be like 15 years, sorry. But they are really cool.

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Questioner

Why can Rock see Syl?

Brandon Sanderson

*pause* Okay time to pause the record-- This doesn't go online, okay? *Audio paused*

Questioner

Thank you sir.

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe you already knew that.

Argent

Do you ever get annoyed with us?

Brandon Sanderson

No. I thought I talked about the--

Questioner

Sparkflickers?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah the-- So I mentioned both of them?

Footnote: When Brandon asks if he "mentioned both of them" he is referring to the fact that both the Unkalaki and Herdazians have listener blood.
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Questioner

What you do with religions in your world, in your stories more generally. *audio obscured* Tokien, he says his books are fundamentally Catholic works, but he never mentions religion explicitly. It kind of just breathes religious air, is the way I describe it. So like you address religion in your books with the characters, sometimes positively sometimes negatively. How do you deal with that in your world and in your books, like with the air that they breathe kind of, to steal the metaphor?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah I just-- The characters are everything to the books. What they are passionate about becomes what the book is about. For me my job in writing is to explore different sides of issues through the eyes of different people. That said, who I am shapes what I am interested in and what ends up in the books. I think at the end of the day I think you could call my books fundamentally Mormon books, in the way that Tolkien's were fundamentally Catholic, because I can't separate myself from my religion. I am trying to explore the world through the eyes of people who see the world differently from the way I see it.

Questioner

So you would say you're-- Through your characters-- It comes out through how different people would approach it.

Brandon Sanderson

That's my goal.

Questioner

So how then, does Mormonism affect, like you said-- In what way would you say your books are fundamentally Mormon?

Brandon Sanderson

Well if the philosopher in me steps aside, and the writer in me just wrote what the writer is passionate about. If the trained English major says-- One of the biggest fundamental tenets of Mormonism is deification of normal people, right? Mormonism believes that we are gods in embryo and we are here to learn and have experience so we will be better in the afterlife, and growing and we'll eventually-- Joseph Smith taught "What Man is God once Was, and what God is Man may Become" maybe not "will be" but "may become" That's what he said. And so if you look at my books there's a whole bunch of deification going on, right? That's like fundamental to the cosmere is "What do people do with the power of the gods when they're given it?" And I would say that's totally my upbringing that made me fascinated about that. Does that make sense?

Questioner

Yeah, I never thought about that. Fantasy really lends itself to that.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it does. But I mean deification of a normal person is a very Christian tenet also, it's just one person did it, and it was a person who was God before, but it is still part of that whole thing which is part of why I think Christianity and Fantasy ended up kind of hand in hand.

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Questioner

Do you have any sort of set pattern for when you are getting ready to do a rewrite on a novel?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I grit my teeth, bang my head against the wall, and try to do anything else except the rewrite.

Questioner

Yeah it's...

Brandon Sanderson

You must be like me then, I hate revising but deadlines are what make me do it. Setting them on my own, you just have to learn to do it. The number one thing I think held me back as a writer is my dislike of revision. And it wasn't until I learned to do it...

Questioner

And just get it done...

Brandon Sanderson

...and just get it done that I started writing books that would be publishable.

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Questioner

You have like tons of spren, right? And the the ones like rotspren, and you have your characters and some point will be able to harness those spren and be completely evil with them?

Brandon Sanderson

And be completely evil with them? *pause* There are-- There is an order of Knights Radiant that has to do with the breaking down of matter into smaller pieces.

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Questioner

Now the Wit, does he have a spren, is he a Herald, is he one of the older people?

Brandon Sanderson

So, Wit is an immortal who travels between worlds. Who-- His magic is not from Roshar. He is in all the other books, if you look for him. So he's in Warbreaker, he's in all three Mistborn books, he's in-- yeah...

*points to Argent and Kurkistan* These guys can point you to everything, they're from the fansite and they've found out about all kinds of things about him. But he is popping up everywhere.

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Questioner

Why didn't you have Vin talk to Hoid? She sort of saw him and then just ran off.

Brandon Sanderson

I have not answered that question yet. But that means you can have one of these [RAFO cards].

Argent

That doesn't come up very often but we got it twice.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it's not that big of a thing.

Argent

You should take the hint.

Brandon Sanderson

You are going to have to wait a while to get that answer.

Footnote: The answer to this question is revealed in the novella Mistborn: Secret History.
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Argent

Since Chicago came up, will Atlanta have a special name as well?

Brandon Sanderson

Atlanta will have a special name, it's now a theme of the books.

Argent

Because Peter said "Hotlanta" and people think he's joking, like he usually does.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not going to ruin one of Peter's jokes if it indeed is a joke. But I haven't written the book yet so he hasn't read-- I mean I've written parts of it but he hasn't read anything of the book.

Footnote: In Calamity it is revealed that Atlanta was renamed "Ildithia".
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Questioner

Are there differences in pronunciation between the different worlds in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Do you have any record of that?

Brandon Sanderson

So, it depends on the culture and things like that, what it's going to be like. You can kind of bet in Mistborn it's going to be French, if it's from the Central Dominance. So they'll say "Kelsi-ay" and "De-MOH" but where Elend's from is a lot more Germanic so "EE-lend" "STRAHFF" and stuff like that. The other worlds are all going to have their different things. In Roshar you are going to get some of the "YAS-nah kHo-LIN" it's going to be a little more Semitic in its language family.

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Questioner

Was Androl, from Wheel of Time, your own creation?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. When I went into the trilogy I actually asked them "Is there a character I can have to just do whatever I want with?" and they looked through for one Robert Jordan had left no notes on and they gave me Androl. I went crazy.

Questioner

I love his use of Gateways.

Brandon Sanderson

He was a little bit of a pressure valve, for me, being able to do the things I like to do in a novel, in The Wheel of Time, so I didn't then take over other characters too much. A bunch of me creeped into Perrin too but...

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Questioner

And are there parts-- Are the cosmere novels chronological so far? So when you eventually go back to Warbreaker the effects of Vasher being on Roshar...

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, no, they are not all going to be chronological. Most of them have been chronological so far, but we are getting to the point where they're stopping to be because like Way of Kings was before Alloy but now we've gone back and done Words of Radiance which is a jump backward and then we are going to be jumping to the next Alloy which is a jump forward. I'm pretty sure that's how it goes.

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Questioner

In your talk earlier about character arcs do you have a character who surprised you the most in how they ended up developing?

Brandon Sanderson

Spook from the Mistborn books, he was not in the original outline having the role he did in the third book. But when I finished the second book I was like "Ennnh he's grown into something that needs more exploration".

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Questioner

So the first one is Kaladin's backstory, the second is Shallan's backstory, who's next?

Brandon Sanderson

I actually haven't been able to decide yet. It's going to be one of the five for the first five books are Kaladin and Shallan and then Dalinar, Szeth, and Eshonai and I can't decide which one matches the next book best. And I'm going to have to write it...

Argent

What's the current list for the back five?

Brandon Sanderson

Current list for the back five... Jasnah, Lift, Ash, Renarin, and Taln.

Footnote: Brandon eventually decided to go with Dalinar for Stormlight 3.
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Questioner

I know at the end of Words of Radiance Syl shows she can turn into different forms, not just a sword. Why do they not... Or why do none of the other past Radiants really show that they have done that. Because normally in the flashbacks they are shown just being swords.

Brandon Sanderson

So the Shardblades came from spren seeing the Honorblades, which were created for mankind, and being like "I can do that". That is what they were imitating.

Questioner

So that's what they wanted...

Brandon Sanderson

No, that's how they see themselves and how they are seen. They can change into other things...

Questioner

They just never...

Brandon Sanderson

But when you let go of one it's going to become a sword again.

Questioner

Oh, I just meant in all the visions they were always portrayed as swords. Was that just for...

Brandon Sanderson

That's cultural, like this is... One thing that is interesting is you are going to see that the new Radiants don't have... I mean the Radiants you have seen almost all of them are after thousands of years of Radiants and Orders and you have certain things that you do.

So the writing reason was I didn't want to give away...

Questioner

That's what I was going to ask.

Brandon Sanderson

There is a writing reason behind it. I didn't want to do that and give too much away. I already worried that having Syl shift shapes as often as she did through the first book was going to be a big clue to people and I wanted to hold off on giving away too much.

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Kurkistan

Is there-- Can you explain the relationship between Spiritual DNA, Spiritual aspects, and the spiritweb, or are they all just terms for the same thing?

Brandon Sanderson

They are all similar terms for the similar stuff, yeah.

Kurkistan

Okay. So it's not like the core is Spiritual DNA then things as you spread out is all Spiritual aspect?

Brandon Sanderson

No.

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Argent

Back in, I think, Words of Radiance I asked you-- Somebody asked the question that had to do with the number 10 on Roshar and I didn't get the question on the recording--which was horrible--but your answer talked about Honor's purposes. Is what you said, and you mentioned 10 of them and that is why the number 10 is so sacred. Could you say something so I have something on the record? So we know what you said about that?

Brandon Sanderson

Honor's purposes...

Argent

Or Shard's purposes... Like what is that all about?

Brandon Sanderson

That will become-- I said it vaguely on purpose.

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Kurkistan

So time bubbles... How much control does a bubbler have over the bubble before and after it's cast? Can they just grow and shrink it or...

Brandon Sanderson

Not very much.

Kurkistan

So Wayne could flare his metals make time go faster--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Kurkistan

But if he'd stopped flaring--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, but-- they have a bit of control over the speed of it, but once it's up moving it or anything like that, not much. The flaring of it and things like that, yes they can-- it's mostly set when they start.

Kurkistan

But they have some discretion when they start it.

Brandon Sanderson

They do have some discretion, yes.

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Argent

At one point Syl turns into a hammer when Kaladin fights Szeth. Are there any actual advantages to a Shardhammer over a Shardblade or knife?

Brandon Sanderson

Very minimal. It has mostly to do with a-- How much thrust or swing or things you can get to it. The impact of blade or weapon against armor is not going to be-- The hammer could in some ways get more leverage. But it's not that the impact is going to do--

Kurkistan

So it didn't help against Szeth.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Argent

It was like the flow of the fight was-- Syl turned--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

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Kurkistan

So for Soulcasting—-I talked a lot about those ideals that a lot of things are based on—-is that also like there's an ideal of stone that when you Soulcast stone if you don't do anything special, it just defaults as that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there will be a default of all of them.

Kurkistan

And that's the same exact thing as spren and why the Lord Ruler dies of old age and all that stuff?

Brandon Sanderson

That is-- Yes, that's the same sort of concept. Yes.

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Kurkistan

You've said that the the laws of physics in the cosmere are ours except where they're messed with by the Spiritual... But are the laws of physics actually in the Physical Realm all the time, or are they in the Spiritual Realm doing their stuff on a Spiritual level that's trickling down to the Physical as a matter of course?

Brandon Sanderson

The three are more closely aligned than-- *Breaks off to focus on the books he's signing, the speaking was distracting him*

Kurkistan

So you were saying that physics-- laws of physics-- that the Realms are a lot more closely bound and the laws of physics are not just tied to one of them?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

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Questioner

Are the chasmfiends that we have seen the last stage of their life-cycle?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you have seen the last stage of their lifecycle.

Questioner

But that's--

Brandon Sanderson

You've seen the second and third stages mostly.

Questioner

Are you counting the cocoons?

Brandon Sanderson

Cocoons are a stage, yes.

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Argent

In terms of timeline-- So The Way of Kings and The Stormlight Archive takes place 1173-74 right now, how far ago, approximately, was the Recreance?

Brandon Sanderson

So you-- Let's see-- Heralds leave at what, 4500?

Argent

That's what it says.

Brandon Sanderson

So the Heralds leave at 4500 and we're at 11--

Argent

So we are at 5500 years after--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. So Recreance is more recent than late.

Argent

So... In the thousands--

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to have to pull out the timeline.

Argent

But it's not like three hundred years ago.

Brandon Sanderson

It's not like three hundred years ago, but it's also not like 4000 years ago.

Argent

Okay, so from the middle--

Brandon Sanderson

The Hierocracy happened after and the Hierocracy was a couple hundred years ago. It's longer than that even, it's like five or six hundred years ago I think.

Footnote: Argent makes a small math mistake here, Aharietiem ended 4,500 years before the events of the book, not 4,500 years before the start of the calendar the Alethi use.
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Kurkistan

So you've said that healing is like the Spiritual wants to heal and then it filters through the Cognitive, but how's that work with healing wounds to the soul like Hemalurgy or Shardblades? What do you refer to to heal the soul at that point?

Brandon Sanderson

You need to make a patch on the soul with Investiture.

Kurkistan

So how's the Investiture know where to go, what to look like?

Brandon Sanderson

Well your soul is an ideal. So if you can get it up there, there are ways to do-- to recreate that with um... See I'm getting into stuff for later books.

Argent

No, that's okay.

Kurkistan

So when Hemalurgy rips something off the soul, is that the ideal soul or some sub-soul?

Brandon Sanderson

That is off of your soul, and it can be healed; but what it's going to be doing is creating a patch of new soul. So it will not be your original soul. Does that make sense?

Kurkistan

Okay, that- well, not completely, but I think that's your intention.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Bystander

If you do that, is that like Frankenstein's monster, or is it like a graft that's absorb--

Brandon Sanderson

Less horrifying- Less horrifying than Frankenstein's monster, but it is a graft that is like-- It is not your original soul.

Bystander

Yeah, but in modern medicine stuff like that is absorbed-

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, in this you will always have a scar on your soul that something else has patched over.

Kurkistan

So Kaladin shouldn't just keep getting his arm chopped?

Brandon Sanderson

*ignoring/not-hearing Kurkistan just now* But that is what happens with most forms of Investiture in the first place.

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Kurkistan

Is there- have you come up with a Realmatic explanation for why light isn't affected by time bubbles besides handwavium "please don't burn people with microwaves"?

Brandon Sanderson

Peter's got one for us. 'Cause we were going to do redshift: like the actual original writing for it had redshifts; Peter's like "Dude, you will microwave everybody" I'm like "Oh man". So the handwavium of that: there is a real- there is an actual explanation, but it...

*they move to outside the store*

What's the middle of this question?

Kurkistan

Middle of the question was you were thinking about explaining the Realmatics behind light for time bubbles.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh right, right right right right. I can't because it spoils future books; like that's spoiler for Mistborn... 10?

Kurkistan/Argent

*laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

So... if you count the four Alloys, so really gotta stay away from stuff like that.

Kurkistan/Argent

That's fair/fine.

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Argent

Are there power modifiers for Soulstamps like there are for AonDor?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Argent

Yes... Does Shai know them-- Or any of them?

Brandon Sanderson

Um... Hehehehehe...

Argent

Not "has she used them", I'm not going to go there, but does she know any of them?

Brandon Sanderson

She knows more than she thinks she does.

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Kurkistan

Could a Feruchemist manipulate their identity such that they could make a metalmind that anyone could tap?

Brandon Sanderson

Ah... RAFO.

Kurkistan

Okay; could they manipulate their identity such that they could pull Breaths out of something that somebody else Awakened?

Brandon Sanderson

Ah... ahahah, Awakened, oh yeah... That one's going to be harder, but you're thinking along-- You're thinking with portals. *smiles* Do you know what that means.

Kurkistan

Yes, I know what it means--

Brandon Sanderson

You're starting to think with portals.

Kurkistan

I'm thinking with portals, okay, thank you.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. In other words you're wrapping your head around the way that the magic system is working, so.

Argent

That's so excellent.

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Argent

Would a parshman who received multiple breaths, or any other type of Investiture, be able to gain sentence or become more like listener-- Kind of like mistwraith/kandra?

Brandon Sanderson

That would require some Identity changes and transformations.

Argent

So it's not just a dump of--

Brandon Sanderson

It's not just a dump. It's a biological thing for them, they've adapted. So they've evolved to the point where this sort of thing-- It would be like trying to power DC with AC current or the wrong voltage or something like that... I mean once you figure it out it could be an easy hack but finding out that hack it's like-- You know it's like going back to people in the 1800's and being like "Why don't you guys have electricity?" *laughter*

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Kurkistan

Okay, so I'm contractually obligated to ask about time bubbles one more time.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Kurkistan

So what's up with frame of reference for time bubbles; in that obviously if you make a bubble and it's still it's not really still, like time moves differently but--

Brandon Sanderson

We deal with that a little bit in Era 2 Book 2 [Shadows of Self], where we talk about the fact that you know-- obviously the bubble is moving with the planet. So they're not-- the frame of reference is not absolute.

Kurkistan

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

And so we talk about sorta' the idea of mass and momentum and time bubbles and things like that.

Kurkistan

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

For instance you can make a time bubble on a train.

Kurkistan

Oh and it stays on the train?!

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but when you start catching stuff off of the train, it's gonna' jar each time, and it's probably going to ruin your time bubble, right?

Kurkistan

So does it get it's "anchor" from-- it's asking all the things that are within it what they think "still" is?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. That's a good way of looking at it. Frame of reference for the Cognitive things around. Make sense?

Kurkistan

Okay, the things around or the things within it, specifically?

Brandon Sanderson

The things that it's cutting into, specifically, but yeah.

Event details
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Name Firefight Chicago signing
Date
Date Feb. 20, 2015
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Location Naperville, IL
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