I would like to know the process of working with other artists, like Isaac. And I saw there was a very big list of credits in the start of Oathbringer. Does the artist also affect your writing? Or you write first, and then the artists do their artwork?
For each Stormlight book, we have twenty or thirty pieces of art, and I can't do them all myself. We've had a bunch of people waiting in the wings, a bunch of artists that we send the art to. I read the book, I make notes, Brandon gives me notes of what he would like to see in the book. We combine it into a big list. I assign out to different artists. And then we have art reviews, where I get art from the different artists, and Brandon and I go over it and say what they got right, what maybe they could change. And then we go back and forth with the artist until it's just exactly what we want it to be for the book. The same thing happens when Brandon and I are working on maps or symbols. That's basically the process.
So it never affects your writing?
It does affect my writing. I can give a couple little examples of this. The American cover for Elantris, I love. It's done by Stephan Martinière. It's this gorgeous cover, it’s a very distinctive, different sort of style. But the actual scene he painted wasn't in the book. And I liked it so much... And that doesn't matter that much. The cover of the book, think of it more like a movie poster for the book. The actual scene doesn't have to occur, that doesn't bother me. But I realized I could change one little part, and have Sarene and Hrathen on the wall, looking like they did on the cover. So I rewrote the passage to match the cover. So that has happened before.
For instance, Isaac has inserted a character named Nazh into the books, who is kind of one of the people in-world-- It's important to me, particularly in Stormlight, that all the art you're seeing is something from in-world. I don't want it to be-- The covers are different. The covers are one thing. But the other stuff that we wanna have in there, we want it to be what we call ephemera. It's a map that actually existed in Roshar. It's sketches done by a character from the books. This is to not break the immersion. You're not going into the book and getting it illustrated for you. You are getting the scraps of drawings and things that were in-world. Because I feel like-- Tolkien started this. The map that you got in The Hobbit was the map they carried. It's not like someone came along and drew a map. And I liked that way better. So Nazh is one of the characters gathering these maps, and bringing them together. So I wrote him into the books.
Other things that Isaac has done like that, or an artist has sent us something and I'm like, "This is really cool. Let's work this in somehow." It does happen, certainly. And we do get the art early enough, in a lot of the cases, where I'm still doing revisions, and I'll add tweaks and things like that.