What was your favorite world to make?
Probably Roshar, because there was the most space for me to plan, the most complexity to work with.
What was your favorite world to make?
Probably Roshar, because there was the most space for me to plan, the most complexity to work with.
When you get, like, bonded with a spren-- the type of spren that is bonded to you, it depends on your personality and beliefs, right?
Yes, mmhmm. The spren kind of choose, but they-- It's not a hundred percent choice. More like if they're drawn to it, things like that. So who you are, what your beliefs are, what your kind of moral code is can influence what type of spren you would get.
What happens when you cut a kandra with a Shardblade?
So a kandra is going to react basically the same way, in that the Shardblade's going to be hitting at the soul and severing it and things like that. They are not immune to Shardblades. But because they have mutable shapes, there will be a little bit of weirdness involved in that. You'll get to see that happen eventually.
I want to know if there was Stormlight before Honor.
So before Honor arrived there was a proto-version of the storms and a version of Stormlight. Yes.
Okay, but it was different?
It-- Things were different.
He wanted to know, if a pregnant woman took up one of the Shards--one of the sixteen Shards--would the child <still be born without> any god powers?
It would have an effect.
So we know some Orders are of-- Radiant are of Honor and Cultivation, right? So Jasnah is more logical and is definitely kind of, you know, set in stone about her ways. But Shallan, she's got a lot of personal growth and I know-- So I'm wondering is Shallan like one of the Orders that is of Cultivation?
In their-- They would theorize that's more Cultivation than Honor.
So I wanted to ask how Count Dooku was?
Count Dooku has passed on to the Beyond for plants. I know, I know. Count Dooku-- The funny thing is, this isn't even a picture of Count Dooku. The joke with Count Dooku was Count Dooku was actually not a potted plant-- he was a plant that lived in a glass sphere, with just the roots into the water. Now that was a joke when, you know, Alcatraz put the joke about the potted plant in there--was given to me by a friend of mine. But Count Dooku has since moved on to the great Beyond for plants. So we had to use a different picture. We didn't have an actual picture.
So I think [Kelsier] will ever get the Shard of Survival?
Uh, That's definitely a big uh... We'll find out eventually.
Are you planning to unite the Shard of Honor with Dalinar? No?
That's a RAFO. That's a RAFO. That's a read and find out. No answers there for you.
Let's say Lift received two Hemalurgic spikes: one for Allomantic bendalloy and one for Feruchemical bendalloy. Then she eats a bunch of pancakes, stores the nutrition in a piece of bendalloy, burns it to compound nutrition. Can that nutrition be turned into Stormlight?
Yeah. Yeah, but remember she didn't have to be-- so basically what that-- Is just a really complicated way for her to turn Allomantic Investiture-- so that it can allocate Allomantic Investiture into Stormlight. That would be a complex method of doing that. Just transferring one type of Investiture into another. It's just basically drawing from Ruin and she is then turning it into Stormlight-ish? It's a complicated thing, but that's basically what happens, just really crazy.
Okay, so-- but it is the same sort of thing, right? *hesitant nod from Brandon* And--
I hope that eventually in the cosmere they will find easier ways than that.
Was Elhokar going to be a Windrunner squire or was he going to be a different Order?
He was actually going to be a Lightweaver.
Yes. And some interesting story with him because--here's a little tidbit for you... In the original draft that I wrote in 2002 I pushed him far enough that Dalinar had to kill him. It came to blows. And I never quite liked how that turned out, so in the 2010 version we had a different path for Elhokar. But he's been doomed from a long time ago, poor guy.
What is the best advice you got from a beta reader or editor on your female characters?
Stop treating them like a role and start treating them like a person. Most of the times when guys write girls poorly, it is because they are saying "Well, this is the X. This person's role in the story is X," and then they make the person not exist beyond that. Every character, regardless of gender, should have their own motives, passions, and you should be able to know what they were going to do with their life if the plot hadn't smashed into them, and that can go a long way toward helping with that.
That was the big thing for me, was not writing anyone to a role... making everyone the hero of their own story. That was the big thing, but it was a process over time, figuring out treating people like characters instead of roles. That's kind of nebulous, right? Tell them to read a bunch of books by women, because a lot of them haven't, and that's part of the reason they're doing it poorly.
Oh and here's another big thing. The first way of being sexist in your writing involves writing people into roles, right? Into stereotypes. The next thing that people generally do, you'll see this a lot in cinema right now, is take the underrepresented group, or the token female or something, and make them awesome, so that they don't actually have any sort of-- they're just good at everything. Right? That's the next level of doing something wrong, and the third is where you're like, "Wait a minute. Let's make everybody kind of quirky and interesting in their own way, rather than putting anyone on a pedestal," and things like that.
And it's a process for all of us. You'll notice that like in the Mistborn books... I was so focused on making sure I had a strong female lead, that there is like no other women in whole the book. And that's a really common mistake... But you just get better at it the more you write.
I actually named my son named Kelsier.
Did you? That's awesome. I was actually realizing the other day that kids named after my books are starting, probably, to get old enough, the youngest ones, that they can be reading my books, which I'm not sure what I think about that.
Can you make a Hemalurgical spike out of harmonium and what would it do?
Yes, but RAFO. So half an answer and half a not-answer.
You know the artwork... the arches with the faces? What are those?
Those are each of the Heralds. And those archways, Isaac picks based on what he thinks the themes of the chapter are. I don't pick which faces go on there. He reads the chapter... he tries to align what's happening with the emotions represented by the various characters.
And the thing underneath it is?
Generally the symbol of the viewpoint character. But those shift. Like for instance we sometimes start with a general one, and as the characters get more individual we add ones specifically for them. Usually you'll have one that's the viewpoint character, and then like for instance the ones for Jasnah and Shallan split apart when originally they just had one, and stuff like that.
One of the characters in this book replied with "I've got this," or "I got this." It seemed really modern, like colloquially modern.
I've got an answer for this. So here's the thing. I use Tolkien's philosophy on this, which is that you are reading the books in translation, and the person translating the English tries to use the closest English approximation to the same sentiment that would happen in the books.
And we try to move away from being too modern colloquial, and things like that, but the actual answer is they said something that's a similar saying in this, and people did talk colloquially even if they didn't have modern slang. Like, the name Tiffany is a medieval name, people don't know that. There's all these sorts of things that people did even back then. But we try to find something that is not going to kick people out. We are less worried about historical accuracy, and more about what's going to convey the right idea. So just kind of pretend that. Pretend that it's being translated by someone like me, Brandon Sanderson, who can read the original Alethi and be like, "Oh, they said something that means this. What's the modern equivalent?"
Anything about Jasnah.
Jasnah, I would say, is the character who changed the least between the draft I wrote in 2002 and the final version. I always knew who she was and how she was going to turn out, and she stayed really consistent. So I'm really excited, particularly for the back five, which will have more of a focus on her. I've started to tease in some viewpoints, but you'll really get to know her starting in like books six, seven.
What do you think of the VR experience.
I thought it was a lot of fun. I liked the feeling of the world quite a bit. The version I played was a little buggy, so I hope that they got the build working where it's not as buggy. But I thought the visuals were great, like the chull, the feel of the chasms. I think they did a great job with the feeling.
So, when there's wordplay in The Stormlight Archive, we know they aren't speaking English, so are you to assume that that is a translation of the...
This is what Tolkein said, and I always rely upon this. You're reading the book in translation, and the person translating it is going to try to use the closest in feel, but to also make it translate to English. So even when they use idioms and things like that, sometimes they translate and the translator can drop them in. Sometimes they just don't translate, so the translator comes up with something that works in English... It gets you a lot of loopholes, like if you accidentally call something an ottoman and people are like, "But there's not an Ottoman Empire in this fantasy world!" But you're like, "Yeah, all words work that way." It's in translation. This is why when you read something like Allomancy, and they're like, "Well, it's got Latin roots, right?" Yeah... it's just the roots in their language would be something old Terris, and the easiest way to convey that feeling is to use something that's got-- you know. Stuff like that.
Are both of Kaladin's maternal... grandparents darkeyes?
No. Good question. I think you're the first one to pull that out of me...
There's one question, or two questions in [the signing line], that I know are driving your brains crazy, that are not as clear-cut in my answers as you might assume they are. One is about Kaladin's mother.
The scene where Verin Mathwin dies. Did you write that?
I didn't. Robert Jordan wrote that. It is one of the very few scenes that he actually had written in the notes, and I was able to reach out, grab that one and drop it in. I was very satis-- In fact that was one of the big surprises when I was reading the notes.
Everybody-- I mean, it's probably my favorite scene that's ever been written.
Yeah, and he did that one. I feel very happy to be able to tell people that because there aren't a lot of scenes that I could just drop in that he wrote, and that is one of them.
Will we ever get a scene with Lift hanging out with Bridge Four?
Yes, you will likely get a scene like that at some point. No absolute promises, but probably.
So Hoid has a Cryptic.
It is heavily implied that Hoid is trying to get this Cryptic to--
And Soulcasting in some sense or another transports someone into Shadesmar. So does he no longer need a perpendicularity?
So, Hoid has been breaking certain rules along those lines for a long while. I guess he's not breaking any actual rules... He has found, by Stormlight, to do things in ways that others are not using. How about that?
That is excellent.
He is looking forward to having a spren bond that will make things like this easier...
And, audio recorder, that one is not quite canon yet. The one about Hoid.
Is there a difference between spikes from someone who is say, an eight year old and someone who is in their forties?
I've never been asked this before. My instinctual answer is no, but that's not written in the notes, that's just how I would answer right now.
Does Cusicesh the Protector have anything to do with the third Sibling at Urithiru?
See, you gave me too much wiggle room there. Because "anything" is a really broad term. So I could say yes, but not in the way you're thinking.
Okay, hmm I have to rethink my theory then.
I'll say probably not the way you're thinking.
Jasnah and Khriss seem like they would be super good friends or girlfriends, and I was wondering if there was any possibility of that?
Yes, I think that they would get along.
If you're gonna crossover anyone into Stormlight, like if you were gonna grab Scooby Doo, or Dragonball Z, or any other series?
Any series that's not mine cross it over with Stormlight? Wow, I haven't been asked that before. What would I cross over with Stormlight? I don't know. Man, that's hard... Let me think about it. I could give you a goofy answer, but I've never even really thought about that before... Maybe I could slip over some futuristic sci-fi crossover with the Whedonverse.
How did you come up with the name of the parshman Kaladin journeys with, Sah?
I don't remember. I was looking for Alethi names. Alethi has its roots in Arabic and Hebrew with a little bit of Chinese thrown in here and there, mostly with Arabic. So, not sure where I got that one specifically.
...We saw in the [Arcanum Unbounded] that you can also travel without a perpendicularity to get to the different systems, but is that like an alien spaceship thing that we're going to find out?
Yes. You could get between them all if you used conventional space travel. It would take a long time, but you could get between them all. All the other methods use the magics in some way.
But does it always have to be the Cognitive Realm?
The ways that people know how to do it now are all related to the Cognitive Realm in some way. It doesn't have to be that way, but that's the way that everybody knows.
First, just please tell me anything about Nightblood--the book or the Type IV Awakened object. Or Warbreaker--the book or the Type II...
All right. My current plot for the book Nightblood. It's really minor, but it involves Darro entering the cosmere officially. He is a character from Aether of Night... He's a side character in that that I've always wanted to work into this main continuity, the real continuity, so he's coming.
Can you tell me anything about Zahel / Warbreaker / Vasher? I was very disappointed I didn't see him in Oathbringer. I was waiting for him.
He's in there. Briefly.
I'm waiting for him-- Him and Vivenna and Szeth. I want the three of them and Nightblood together. I want that scene, I'm waiting for it.
You will see some good things from him.
How many character chapters is too many? ...My first book has three character chapters, my second has six. I'm wondering if that's too--
Nothing is too many. It's good practice. You might lose control of it. My advice would be if you can keep those characters in clusters, meaning if you split them off into their own plots if they are together in one or two batches, it's going to be a lot easier. Adding more viewpoints is not too much harder when you're doing that. It's when they're all off on their own. But there's nothing that's too much, right? Even if it doesn't end up working out you will have taught yourself something.
What was your favorite aspect from the Legion books to write? Who was your favorite character?
I would say JC was my favorite to write. I like humor. I like how unaware yet sometimes self-aware he can be. It allows me to play with character in an interesting way, so I would say him.
Why don't you have to say the words if you're just bonding a Cryptic?
Every Order's First Oath is the same. Then the Second Oaths for the Cryptics go into truths, but everybody says the First Oath the same regardless of Order. Which should raise the question of--
Did Shallan say it when she was a teeny-weeny, like in the cradle?
That should raise a question. She wasn't teeny-weeny, but it should raise a question there.
I know you have gay and lesbian, and you are planning on trans characters and have trans-ish characters. Do you have any asexual characters?
Yes, though I'm cheating. All the [singers] are asexual in certain-- I do have a non-[singer] asexual character, but I cheated and made an entire race of asexual characters.
Did humans come to Roshar through Shadesmar?
It is technology or magic closer to how the Oathgates work. But it was like that. It's not canon but right now that's what I have. It's not canon because there are certain things I have to work out before that can work...
By the way I'll just say to the tape recording that I haven't canonized, like for instance if they traveled to Shadesmar to get to Shinovar from Ashyn. Right now I have that not being via Shadesmar, but the mechanics of that might not work out, and I might have to default to Shadesmar. So there's certain things, you'll see, where I say, "This isn't the canon answer, it's where I have things right now."
So Urithiru might end up being a spaceship after all.
It's not that. Right now I have them using something closer to Oathgating, but it opens up a huge can of worms, when I'm not requiring direct-- When I'm sending through Spiritual Realm it opens up cans of worms, and I have to just make sure the mechanics on that are tight before I do it.
If someone is a full Mistborn and is able to use Feruchemical gold... can they safely burn harmonium?
Oh, okay. This is theoretically possible.
Would it have an effect?
Yes. It would do something.
And I'm going to hopefully ask what that is.
*gives a RAFO card* You've earned their card.
Does Investiture seek/spawn intelligence because it used to be Adonalsium, or did Adonalsium come to exist because Investiture seeks intelligence?
That's a chicken and egg question, isn't it? You will find both theories espoused by people in the know. What are we calling them now? Cosmerenauts? That's what they said on Reddit. I would say cosmere arcanists, people like Khriss.
Is Iyatil a Misting?
...That's a RAFO.
Is she a Ferring?
That's a RAFO.
Is she a Mistborn?
Iyatil is a RAFO!
Adolin is hit by Parshendi lightning, and then his Plate reacts and starts blocking out the light from the rest of the lightning strikes. Is he awakening his Shardplate as well as his Blade?
So Shardplate didn't have as much of a problem as the Blades did, so if someone else were wearing that they could have had the same effect.
So it's more just a function of the Shardplate, really.
Yeah, but I mean the Shardplate needs to be a little more aware-- You know. It didn't have as much of an effect on Shardplate as the Blades.
That being the Recreance?
The Recreance, yeah.
During part 4 of Oathbringer when they are in Shadesmar. At no point did you depict an Everstorm whilst they are in there, and they were in there several weeks. Is there a specific reason you didn't depict that, or does it just not have a presence in the Cognitive Realm?
There is a specific reason I didn't depict that. It will be involved in a later book, and I was dodging it for "I'm not sure how I'm going to canonize this yet."
The smoky, shadowy spren that's at the battle of Thaylen fields, that's Yelig-nar, right?
Can a spren willingly break their bond anytime between the First and Fifth Oath, with their Radiant?
Yes, this is possible--
Essentially committing suicide isn't it though--
I just ascribe to that question-- A spren could at any point break it. Can they break it safely? That's a different question.
Can they break it safely? *laughs*
There are methods in place where it can be stopped. So yes it can be done. But once you've started into this, once you've chosen on both sides, it's a dangerous process. But yes it can be done, and it can be done safely.
Has Eshonai left for the Beyond?
Yes. I'll canonize this. I'm sorry.
*sounds of horror and shock* Noooo, nooooo, RAFO it!
You wanted-- That was a RAFO-bait but, so I never intended that-- If you want to leave this one out there-- But I never intended Timbre to be Eshonai's soul. When people said that in the beta, I'm like, "Oh, I guess you could see that, but I mean that's not how spren work, right?"
I was going to say, so you're saying Timbre is not Eshonai's soul.
No. I never even thought they would make that connection. Because we saw Timbre in the previous book... I mean, I don't want to kill people's fan theories. But that one kind of blindsided me in the beta. I'm like, "Well I guess we'll go ahead and let people think that but no." No.
You can leave that one off if you want to tease people and things. Some people really want to believe that.
I made a bet that Eshonai was not only still be alive after Words of Radiance, but would also become Radiant. And then the bet was if not I had to eat a shoe.
So I've been trying to get out of it for like--
Well you could eat a gummy shoe or something like that...
But no, I didn't intend this. No. There are-- Yeah.
Is Dragonsteel Adonalsiumium?
RAFO. I'm not even sure how I'm going to canonize Dragonsteel when I add it in.
Is Kaladin a worldhopper?
No. Kaladin has not been to any other planets (as of current)...
Why is Kaladin so proficient-- Like naturally born to wield a spear. Is that a weapon he likes or is it a destiny for him?
So destiny is a strong term... I would say he has natural aptitude, but no more so than a normal person who has a natural aptitude for something. But the way the Spiritual Realm works in the cosmere and the way Connection works, there were certain things that were happening to Kaladin before they happened...
It's like Syl says in one of the books. "You didn't know me then, but I knew you then. Even though we hadn't met yet, I still knew you." You see some weird Connection things too. And these are mostly just for fun sort of cosmere connections. Like when you see Syl take on the look of Shallan standing on the beach. There's gonna be a connection there. It's forming, it doesn't exist yet, but all things are one in the Spiritual Realm, and we're just kinda seeing echoes of that. It's not meant to be destiny, it's more meant to be, "Hey there's little connections happening".
I would not say Kaladin is any more naturally gifted in that than your average professional sports player is naturally gifted in what they do.
What's the deal with silver? Why does it not fit cleanly into the Allomantic metals, why is aluminum a special one and not silver. Why is it silver powder and not aluminum powder on Threnody? These kinds of questions.
Do you want the in-world answer... or the writerly answer?
Well really I want the in-world answer.
...The in-world answer is that people are not sure yet.
Well, that's not the in-world answer. That's the in world answer from Khriss, right? What about the in-world answer from--
That's the in-world answer--they're not sure yet...
The writerly answer is that we started with silver in place of tin. And by the time I swapped it out, aluminum was already its thing. If I had to do it over again, I might make silver aluminum, but I wanted what aluminum does to be rare, and silver isn't. So I might not have. I love what aluminum does because it's super-rare pre-industrial, but you hit industrial and it's everywhere.
So it allowed me to do, when we get to modern era, to have real checks on Allomancy as Allomancy gets more powerful.
So Nightblood drains investiture from people. How would it operate on Sel?
Oh yeah, because the investiture's in the ground, practically.
...On Sel-- I mean Investiture is in everything, right? So I don't imagine it having a difference on Sel in the Physical Realm from what you normally see.
Was just the continent of Roshar created by Adonalsium or was the whole system created?
Whole system was created.
Is there a center to the cosmere?
There isn't a center in the cosmere... I keep calling it a dwarf galaxy but I think they decided it's a cluster, instead of a dwarf galaxy.
Even a dwarf galaxy is still really big.
Yeah, still too big. So we had to call it a cluster. Because we only wanted like what, we came up with 50 or 100 stars? So it's a cluster. Or a really dwarf galaxy.
Is there any effect on a Shardblade if the deadeye is really far away from where the Blade is?
The one that's trapped on the ship. Let's say they're taking him to the far side of Shadesmar, but the dude that owns that Blade lives in...
We will deal with that in the books. There is an effect, but that's not enough of an effect.
Considering no one says that their Shardblade is acting weird in two and a half thousand years.
That happens all the time in Shadesmar. If you were able to get it off the planet, it would have an effect.
If you as the owner of the Shardblade were offworld and you tried to summon it, that would be the effect?
Either way. But you can't take spren off-world. I mean, you can, but you can't really. Really all that I have in the notes for it to do right now, is to add slightly more time. So you're like, "That's weird that felt like not ten heartbeats, it felt like twelve." But it's like, you're on another planet, then it's suddenly speed of light type stuff. So suddenly it's like, "This is taking three years instead. That's a pretty big deal!"
...So I've got a few weird speed of light things mixed into the cosmere, and that's one of them.
You talked about Mistborn being the space traveler ones. I was wondering if you were going to utilize some of the speed bending into that, into the travel with it?
You will see what I do when I do that... The biggest problem is, for you physics majors, how we make sure that we're not breaking causality... So breaking causality is kinda my big no-no. For instance, I have right now that moving between Oathgates goes at the speed of light. But technically we still break causality, right, with Shadesmar stuff... But the issue--the way we can do it in Shadesmar is because it breaks causality, but there is so muc-- Like if you were able to go into Shadesmar, move at the speed of light, come out like, you could break causality but it's, in practice, impossible, because the difference is so slight.
We also break causality with the Spiritual Realm, but I can control that.
Also you can just kind of like, mulligan that off.
...If we were having instant speed, communication and things like that... yeah if we have an ansible, that's how we're not breaking causality. How we're not doing the train thought experiment which breaks my brain...
So that's the big thing I have to worry about once we get to the Mistborn era, the space travel and stuff. Like, right now I don't break causality, or at least if I do, it is indiscernible to human ability to realize it. Once we get to actual space travel, and actual FTL, then I want to have rules in place, even if it is just like the rule for red shifts. On speed bubbles, where I say, "Yeah it just doesn't happen." Letting you know. But it would be no fun. Even if it's just that. But I at least want to have that in hand.
Lightweavers are radios, aren't they? Lightwaves are radio waves? Light and-- they're the same thing, aren't they?
...They can do sound too, yeah. So you're saying lightweaving with illusion, can it?
Can transmit radio waves? As in, communicate over long distances, it's one of the most important things in battles, right? In war...
I had someone in one of my very early books irradiate someone with Lightweaving, I think.
Oh that's right you've got multiple kinds of Lightweaving.
Mraize's Basement Emporium. Is that more like a trophy room or a "In case of emergencies" room?
Or a bank vault?
Or a weapon's vault?
I mean, he can't use the Aether, right? ...He can't use the Aether, he doesn't have an Aether. But the sand, the sand does stuff. So a handful of sand is a really useful amount of sand to have if you're not a sandmaster. Because sand reacts to Investiture. So if you let it fade and you take it somewhere, as soon as Investiture goes kinetic, it'll turn white again. So you'll be able to use it to tell who's using Inve-- it works just like a Seeker, like bronze pulses...
So having white sand, having sand around is really good. If you can keep the little beasties that are growing on the sand around, they will react to basically the Investiture equivalent of radiation. So that's handy.
We'll have the Skyward beta coming up soon.
Oh cool. Yeah, I'll bug Kara and Peter. See if they need some help with that.
Mmhmm, yep. We need teenagers for that one. We're going to have a separate teenager one, because it's a YA, and an adult one. And the adult one is to find all the nitpicky stuff, and the teenager one is just "respond to each chapter, what did you think of it?"
All the physical manifestations--solid physical manifestations we've seen of Investiture has been metallic. It's been atium, lerasium, Shardblades. Is that just a coincidence?
No, it's intentional.
It's intentional so we're not going to see Investiture wood or Investiture plastic?
Right, I mean technically, like, what do you call the aethers? Those are not metal. But I do it as metal intentionally.
They could be a metal with very low boiling point.
*sarcastically* Yes, the vine ones are--
Well we've had liquid, we've had gas, the solids all seem to be metallic, so.
That is intentional, it's just one of those little laws of the cosmere, that's not meant to mean anything
Is the perpendicularity that Dalinar made--is that one going to become permanent...
That one is not permanent, but I haven't said whether or not it can be done again.
We will have-- we will be involving Shadesmar a lot in the... I had a lot of fun with Shadesmar and planned it for a while.
Who here was in the beta for [Oathbringer]? ...They had a lot of affect on part four in particular
Part four, so I had this weird thing... So I had this thing in Oathbringer where the plot archetype was Kaladin feeling like he needed to get to Dalinar, followed by him failing to do so. Which was a really important thing for Kaladin, but the original time where he discovered he needed to get to Dalinar was when he met the Ire and it was in the city--Celebrant. And in the beta that's where it was.
And so what it felt like is, everybody on the ship is like, "Oh we need to get to the perpendicularity in the Horneater Peaks." And then, I just took them down south instead. So I'm like, "Oh I need to get them there." And all the readers were like, "This feels like a digression, it feels boring. Why are we not going-- why are we going the wrong direction?"
It was just one of these promises thing where I had promised--set the expectation. So moving the Ire to the lighthouse meant that Kaladin was a contrast to the other people. And you were like, "Oh yes, Kaladin" When a character in the fantasy novel has a strange vision of the future, that means something! So we will be okay with following Kaladin down south.
When you say Ire, what do you mean?
I mean the word for "ancient" in Aonic.
Okay, because we've only ever heard it referred to in the one little thing in Secret History so hearing you refer to the lighthouse as the Ire was...
I don't know if he actually be-- Yeah.
Was the painting the same painting in Warbreaker?
Because apparently it matters that it is or isn't
Have you ever been to the Free Kingdoms, and if you have what was it like?
I have not been to the Free Kingdoms. They won't let me in. They think that I'm a Librarian agent, which I keep telling them I'm not but they keep pointing to the fact that I write lots of books and I go speak at libraries, and I hang out with librarians, and some of my good friends are librarians, so the don't trust me. I can't get a pass.
I was wondering, in Stormlight, what kind of gem the [singer] gemhearts were, or do they just, do they hold Stormlight well?
So, this is a good question. This is one that people have been asking me since the first book, if they had one, and I've finally kind of confirmed it in book three. So the reason people don't think [singers] have a gemheart is it is milky white, and looks like bone.
But aren't their bones red?
Their bones, well-- Their bones are red-- not completely. If you're going to pull out the bone, what you're going to see-- I'll explain it in the next book. So what you're going to do is, if you break open the bone, you're going to find this white-- It's not marrow but it is, yeah I guess it's marrow. Anyway at the center kind of in their sternum there is a gemheart there, but it is fused to the bone and it is grown into the bone, and you have to kind of snap it open and find it inside, and it kind of just looks like marrow, but there's a gemheart in there. And it kind of relates to some stuff in Dragonsteel that I'm not gonna get into. But you'll see in the next books. But there's a good reason people just don't think that [singers] have a gemheart.
So they must not glow much then, I'm assuming.
Yeah, well, it's surrounded by bone. So it's a different special thing. We'll bring it out in the following books. It might not be the next one.
Who had custody of Nightblood before Nale?
Read and Find Out.
In the cosmere we've seen Investiture manifest in different ways all across the systems. So I was wondering, when it comes to the powers of Dalinar, is it possible for that power to open a Perpendicularity anywhere, say on Scadrial or any different planet? In a different way, where you could potentially combine all the Realms, open the doors for the Realms.
Let me say this very carefully. I'm being recorded now... Any time where you gather the right amount of Investiture in the right way, you are going to have kind of a version of a cosmere singularity, right? Which is where you are pulling the different Realms together into a kind of-- you are piercing between them with a large amount of Investiture. So what's happening with Dalinar is both the bug and the feature at the same time. But it is not necessarily the only way. And once things are kind of, once the Spiritual Realm is being involved, time and space don't mean anything anymore on the Spiritual Realm. That's your answer.
Are the [singers] living computers, and are spren variables in a computer system?
Excellent question. The answer is: I would say no, I wouldn't consider this. But I have considered this idea, and there is a place in the cosmere where people are using spren-- not spren but something similar on another planet, for a little bit of computation. Which I want to be able to write that story some day, but-- It's a very fun thing that I dug down a rabbit hole in one time. You might see this somewhere in the cosmere, but it's not actually Roshar. I wouldn't call them that.
I appreciate the comment on Steris. I kind of feel that when I did Elantris, I was really interested in this, and i maybe didn't-- I kind of approached things in, like, a pop culture sort of way without really understanding it. And then I came to know some people with autism, and I'm like, "I need to do this better. I need to do this realistically and kind of help with the presentation rather than contributing to one narrow definition that is the pop culture definition." So I'm glad that that has worked for you.
For the creatures on Roshar... where do you start in your worldbuilding for that kind of hting?
So where I started for Roshar was the highstorm. So I knew I had the highstorm and I was going to want to build out from that, and I would want an ecology that incorporated the magic. Those were kind of the two things I was looking for. I wanted everything to deal with the storms in some way and be affected by them, and I wanted Stormlight and spren to be integrated into the way that the worldbuilding happened because this was my big worldbuilding epic. So I started along those two lines, and that's where gemhearts came from. That is where-- The [singers] grew naturally out of that. A lot of the creatures and things I looked toward tidal pools because I figured this was kind of a similar sort of thing, an environment that has to deal with a drastic change, a biome that deals with this repeatedly every day.
I just came off of the VR experience, and I thought it was really exciting. Glad I got to be a part of that. How much of that were you actually part of?
What happened is they came to me a couple years ago, and we brainstormed the experience. They had the pitch of being in the chasms and I was cool with that. I thought that was a good idea. We brainstormed, they picked my brain about what things looked like. They wrote it all down, they showed me some concept art, and they did show me the script when they had it. So I was involved, but it wasn't like I was completely overseeing it, and that's how I kind of prefer to do things. I prefer with the media interpretations that people listen to me and listen to the pitfalls and things they might be making, but at the end of the day I want them to be free to make the piece of art they want to make.
So for instance the Parshendi don't look 100% like I imagine them, but the chasms look very close to how I imagine them. But I kind of like that. I like how different artists interpret different ideas in my work. It's kind of exciting to me. So that's where I would go on that.
What was your inspiration for Steelheart's weakness...
Without spoiling Steelheart, the inspiration for the weakness was a direct outgrowth of who I saw him as a character before he gained powers. Kind of the bully sort of person given a little bit of power, exercises all kinds of terrible, just really mean to people with just a small amount of power. That character was really fascinating to me, the person who really doesn't have any authority, but still what little bit you give them they misuse. And I grew out of that, that idea. So, I kind of wanted to connect--slight spoilers for the series--but I kind of wanted the weaknesses to connect to the personalities of the characters in interesting ways, so it was a natural outgrowth there.
What was your inspiration for Kaladin? What made you want to make him?
Kaladin's origin was in me reading about the interesting lives of surgeons in pre-industrial eras. Surgeons who were at times treated no different from a butcher, and at other times straddled this line between superstition and science in a really interesting way. And I wanted to write a surgeon who straddled that line. Where the superstition was against them, but in some ways the science that they knew also worked against them because the people didn't trust it. That's a really fascinating character. He started more as his dad, and as I worked the books he became Kaladin the son of a surgeon instead of the surgeon himself.
Shards. We started with fairly obvious ones, magic wise. Trying to keep this spoiler free, so: Ruin, Preservation, this kind of thing. Then we get the weird ones. Why do we have Shards that can only exist in the mind of a sentient creature? ...Like the concept of Honor can only be done when it's carried out, essentially, by a sentient creature.
So when I split Adonalsium I said, "I'm going to take aspects of Adonalsium's nature." And this involves personality to me. So the Shattering of Adonalsium was primal forces attached to certain aspects of personality. And so I view every one of them this way. And when I wrote Mistborn we had Ruin and Preservation. They are the primal forces of entropy and whatever you call the opposite, staying-the-same-ism-y. Like, you've got these two contrasts, between things changing and things not changing. And then humans do have a part, there's a personality. Ruin is a charged term for something that actually is the way that life exists. And Preservation is a charged term for stasis, for staying the same. And those are the personality aspects, and the way they are viewed by people and by the entity that was Adonalsium.
So I view this for all of them. Like, Honor is the sense of being bound by rules, even when those rules, you wouldn't have to be bound by. And there's this sense that that is noble, that's the honor aspect to it, but there's also something not honorable about Honor if taken from the other direction. So a lot of them do kind of have this both-- cultural component, I would say, that is trying to represent something that is also natural. And not all of them are gonna have a 100% balance between those two things, I would say, because there's only so many fundamental laws of the universe that I can ascribe personalities to in that way.
So I find Honor very interesting, but I find Autonomy a very interesting one for the exact same reason. What does autonomy mean? We attach a lot to it, but what is the actual, if you get rid of the charged terms, what does it mean? And this is where you end up with things like Odium claiming "I am all emotion." Rather than-- But then there's a charged term for it that is associated with this Shard. I'm not going to tell you whether he's right or not, but he has an argument.
Where are the rest of Roshar's named gems? Like, we have the Hope diamond, we've got dozens of--
A lot of them are in the [Thaylen Gemstone Reserve] ...There's a lot of them around and there are places like that. One of the tricks, and I actually kind of was aware of this, particularly in book three, I was like "Yeah, I maybe should have named some of these things earlier." One of the tricks with a book like Way of Kings, there are already so many new names and terms that oftentimes I find myself finding ways to not include a new name or term because the overwhelming nature of the learning curve is so big. And I will admit, writing book three I'm like, "Ah, I should have named some of these earlier," this is what they would do.
But it's kind of this Occam's razor, well, that's the wrong term. It's this idea of "Let's try to keep it as simple as possible for that fact that it's really complex." and that's why I naturally just didn't do it.
I would say in-world a lot of them are named. But you've also got to remember that gems are not as eternal on Roshar as they are. They are a little more ephemeral, you will often end up using them for something and they are wearing out, so to speak. So the idea that a diamond is forever is more of an Earth concept than a Roshar concept.
You mention Adonalsium as a being, and that they were split. Where one supposedly supreme being exists, are there others?
That's a RAFO.
This is a bit of a technical question, but if somehow Sazed were to die and another Shard picked up Harmony, what would happen to their intent.
It would be influenced by them over time, but they would be influenced more by it.
Do you ever find that you are producing content so quickly that your mind comes up with a better idea after percolating for a while, and the book is already published? And if that does ever happen, how do you handle it?
This is dangerous, right? I think every author wants to go back and tweak things. And there is a fine line between pulling a Tolkien, where you go back to The Hobbit and you revise the ring conversation so it matches The Lord of the Rings, which has now become a classic conversation, we're all glad he did that, right? It ties The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings together better, it was a good revision. There is a fine line between that and Lucas-ing your work, right? Where instead of taking something and tweaking something to make it better, you tweak it just to make it different. I think there is a fine line there. There is a quote often ascribed to da Vinci, that a lot of people say it isn't his, but it's the idea that, he (maybe) said "Art is never finished, it is only abandoned."
You really have to take that perspective as an artist, you have to eventually just let things go. Not to sing an Elsa song, but you just gotta be willing to say "I'm done." And you are always going to have better ideas later on or ways you could tweak it. And more, it's not that you have better ideas. What happens is you change as an artist, and your goals change over time and the way you would approach something changes over time. While I've played in this realm, I've settled on that I should just avoid this most of the time. You could always tweak it to be better, and you've got to release something sometime.
I do find it very useful to finish something, write something else, then come back to the thing I've finished, because that gives me the right amount of balance between giving it time to rest so that I can approach it with fresh eyes, and also being regular with the releases. I haven't ever felt like I'm going too fast. I have had things that don't turn out too well, but those I just don't release. That happened with Apocalypse Guard last year where I wrote the book, I gave it some time, I came back and looked at it and it just wan't-- it didn't work. It was broken, it was not good, and I'm just like, "I've got to set this aside and think about it."
It's weird. Writing has a little bit more performance art to it than as a non-writer you might think. Meaning who you are in the moment, when you are creating this thing, the connections you make while you're making it are deeply influential to how the piece of art turns out. It's like you're freezing a moment in time for that author. Rather than trying to create the perfect work you are creating a reflection of who they are when they made it, and you have to kind of be okay with that as a writer.
Was Honor just talking about the people on Roshar when he told Dalinar to "Unite them?"
RAFO. *taunting hum* Read and find out.
Why do you have to make so many of your terms and names in your books so confusing? I'm going to be using Mistborn as an example: Feruchemy, Hemalurgy--
I think they're cool. Part of the answer is I look for the way languages are built. I try to do things in the way that it's going to feel natural but also foreign, and that is really tough. Like, it's going to feel alien, it comes from a different world, but it's natural to do and remember, and it is also based on the world.
If you think Mistborn is hard, read Elantris. All of those names are based on some linguistics that, I realized as I wrote the book, this is one is even tougher. So sometimes I'm looking for things that are more familiar and less strange, sometimes I'm looking for things that are more strange. At the end of the day it's just whatever I think sounds cool.
Do you ever take inspiration for some of your characters from people you know, in your life?
Yes and no, meaning generally I don't base characters exactly on people I know. There are a few exceptions. Skar from Bridge Four is Skar my friend, Ethan Skarstedt, who is a person in my writing group, he's in the military, and he's the only person I knew who actually would do a good job in that situation I put him in. But most of the time what I'm doing is I'm taking some interesting aspect about a character. When I was writing Elantris I knew a woman who was 6'1" and she complained about her height a lot. And had never heard that, I'm like, "Wow, that's really interesting." I'd never considered that being 6'1" in our society as a woman would have all these extra associated problems, and I took that and used it in a character and then had her read it and said, "Does this feel right?" But it's not as if that character represents Annie. It means that one aspect of Annie sent me into an interesting character conflict or interesting trait a character could have that I found fascinating. That happens a lot.
I wanted to ask you question about your worlds in general. I've read Mistborn and Elantris, and now I'm reading The Way of Kings, and you seem to always associate such important parts of your magic system or your personality system or your dating system with the land, with the geography of wherever they live. Do you have a secret geography degree or...
No. The reason I do this comes down to a fundamental philosophy I have about epic fantasy. Epic fantasy is the genre of discovery and immersion. Grandpa Tolkien did this by taking a map and putting it in the book. And it wasn't just a map, it was the map they had. So the map becomes an artifact of the world. And I love that. I love the idea that you can have a map that's wrong, that it's not an exact map. I love that you can have a scientific table in the back of the book that represents their understanding and human beings' attempt to organize the world, but is actually flawed because it just represents their attempt at organizing things. And I love these ideas. I love the idea of the land and the artifact and the story all being one. I really--
One of the books that I love, even though the maps aren't the thing, is Dune. Dune is about how your environment shapes your culture, and how your culture in turn interprets your environment. And I love how that works. I think it really influences how great epic fantasy creates its sense of immersion. I love how Watchmen did this with including ephemera in its books. By saying, and creating a form where one issue does this certain thing to enhance the feel of the issue. I love when the form and the shape of the book does the same thing, so this is all kind of my nerdy writer loving-the-shape-of-things-ism that I have, whatever that is.
Who is the fans favorite character, from your perspective, everybody that says it to you?
I would say that Kaladin tends to be the fan favorite viewpoint character in that he is the least controversial. Meaning most people just like Kaladin even when they are annoyed with him, it's just like "I get Kaladin." Shallan is the most divisive. The people who like Shallan scenes love Shallan scenes. The people who don't like Shallan scenes, she is their least favorite character. And that's a sign that I'm doing a character right. I really like-- I ran into this too, like, in any book where you have a wide cast you are going to have this sort of thing. But yeah, I would say, if you're just going ask, "Who's your favorite character?" it's probably The Lopen. Everybody should say that. But if it's not The Lopen then it's probably usually Kaladin.
Dalinar can learn languages with the people he contacts. Venli knows all the languages. Could he learn all the languages? And how long would that last?
His Connection is going to work-- He has to kind of be active about it, so it needs to be-- let me see if I can get the specific words right...
The mechanics I have in the notes is he has to touch someone and will learn to speak the language of their native country, that they spoke as a young person. He's making a direct Connection to that specific person and their way of speaking. So if you have learned another language and Dalinar shakes your hand and activates his Connection ability, he will Connect not to that language you've learned, but to your native language.
How long does it last?
I have it lasting-- it does need to be renewed, but I have it lasting basically as long as-- days not months. But I didn't actually put a define on it, so I'm going to say that's not canon. I'm not canonizing that. But I didn't want him to have to keep renewing it every couple of hours. But he would have to do it again if he left and came back.
In Stormlight Archive before the full disadvantaged duel, there's foreshadowing of Shardblades being spren and Adolin talking to his Blade, tradition. But then also... Adolin says, "Oh I forgot my mom's lucky necklace," and I don't think there's ever a reference to that again. Do we see something come back up about that necklace?
The necklace is just pure superstition on his part, it's not seeding something in... I have to sometimes make certain things not relevant, otherwise everything is relevant. So the chicken and the necklace mean nothing, but obviously the talking to the sword is a tradition that has a meaning, and it comes into play in Oathbringer.
Why are you a plant in the back of the book?
Well, here's the thing. When I wanted to do a picture in the back of the books, the original versions that the other publisher did, I said I wanted a silly picture. And they wouldn't let me put a silly picture. So I wrote that I was a potted plant, and then put my own picture. But when we did the reissues, the new publisher's like, "Eh, I guess we gotta use a potted plant," and then they went and got one and put it there instead. And I was totally fine with it. The joke was that it was just me but it said it was a potted plant, but now it is a potted plant.
The Sharders have asked if I can find out if the Ars Arcanum for Elantris written at any specific time. Like, was it during the events of Elantris?
The Ars Arcanum is around the context of then, yes. It should be around the events of the first book. I would have to look at it and double check that. But you can take that as canon unless I look at it and find--
I'm gonna take a stab at Kaladin's fourth oath. Is it, "I will not feel bad about slaughtering my enemies?"
...You know I'm not going to answer that. But I tell you what, it's been recorded by the fan sites, everything I say, so if you're right you're on record. But I'm not going to tell you.
The spren that Hoid picks up, is that the one meant for Elhokar?
It is, yep.
And is Hoid now, like he can already basically Lightweave...
He can already-- I will have to delve into that during Hoid timed, but he was limited, and he's still limited. But there's stuff that he's been trying to do for a while that he can't quite get working.
'Cause it seemed like when he and Shallan were creating that story together of the wall--
Right, he was using her power, right? And guiding it, he wasn't doing it himself.
Is that something he can do in general, just help people with their powers?
Not necessarily. That was pretty special circumstances.
Are you going to make a Stormlight Archive RPG by chance?
Likely someday. The idea is we want to support Mistborn while we're supporting it. Maybe eventually we will do Stormlight as well.
You've said the Sleepless are inspired by the Tines in A Fire Upon the Deep. They were very relient on being close to each other to survive. Are the Sleepless under the same restriction?
I would say not nearly as strict.
In the... wedding, Dalinar suddenly remembers Kadash... retching... My theory is that the reason he was upchucking everything since yesterday was that he just realized that it was Evi, and he did it. Everybody's like, "No, it's just because it was such a brutal attack and it was horrible, and he's beyond it." And I'm like, no, I think it was was because he realized who's down there, and he was the one who lit the match. That's my theory...
I will not confirm or deny, but you did see me going like this *nodding*, so--
In that same chapter, with the wedding, the Stormfather says, YOU HAVE BROKEN OATHS BEFORE to Navani. Will we ever learn more about that?
Could Kaladin Lash a boat to be weightless?
Yes. That is possible.