YouTube Livestream 1

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Name YouTube Livestream 1
Date
Date Jan. 11, 2020
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Entries 27
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#1 Copy

Kim Jenson

Does Hoid have any rules, self-imposed or otherwise, about how much he can interfere with what is going on on whatever planet he is currently on? And why does he take such an active part on Roshar, compared to the other planets he has visited?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid has a few rules of thumb, but he does not have the same rules that the Shards have to follow, which is basically one of the big points that makes Hoid do what he does. He has to watch out, because drawing their attention at the wrong time can be very dangerous. But that's not necessarily a rule, it's more of a "be careful." He's defined by the fact that he doesn't have to follow the rules. And he's also defined by the fact that he intervenes when a lot of others think that one should not intervene, as made evident by the chastisement he receives from Frost. So, I would say, no and yes. There are some weird limitations on him related to things in his past that you will find out about eventually, but those are not really about intervening.

Why Roshar more than others? There are a couple of reasons for this. One is: the way he is intervening on Roshar is something that is directly involving the main characters of the book I'm writing. He actually has done a lot on other planets as well, you just haven't seen it because he hasn't been as involved with the main characters. Why is he involved with the main characters? Well, he is trying to get to be a Knight Radiant, and he wants to be involved with the people who are becoming Knights Radiant, because he wants to figure out how that magic works and specifically how you can get off-world with it, which is the real trick on Roshar. So he, in this specific instance, is really involved with those characters because of that reason. A lot of the other places he will go, the magic is already extant, and it's not like Roshar, where the magic has not been around for a while. So he is kind of by necessity more involved in the plot.

#2 Copy

Grant Willis

Are there any clues or easter eggs in Roshar/the cosmere that have not been discovered yet?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, but they're not ones that you should be able to discover. They'll just be things that you'll able to look back at. We embed some things here and there in the art, like the lastclap that was in foreshadowed in the margins of one of the art pieces in the first book, with someone catching a Shardblade. For instance, a lot of the little circles for characters at the start of the stories represent things that will happen much later in the series, but most of them are intentionally zoomed in of what the shot would be so that you can't tell right now, because these are not things that you're supposed to be able to figure out. Most things that I intended for you to figure out, you did, and some that I didn't intend you to figure out, you also did. So people can feel very proud of that. Yes, there are a bunch of easter eggs, there are a ton of them, but there is no way you can figure out what they are.

#3 Copy

Blake Bouza

Do you ever need a reminder of what your own magic systems can do, or is it all laid out pretty perfectly in your mind?

Brandon Sanderson

No, I need reminders on the kind of subtle things. Mostly terminology and what decisions I made, because in a book sometimes you'll make decisions on the fly where you're like, "I think this isn't working, I'm gonna change it to this," or things like that. Like, I still forget that I swapped tin for silver. And I still forget exactly what terminology I came up for Szeth using the Lashings, and some stuff like that. And sometimes I need a, "Hey, does this feel like it works for the magic system?" Because the further we get in the Cosmere, the less simple the rules are, and the more complicated and - like real world physics, where you're building things that work like complicated engineering devices, right? Like, building some of the ways that magic is working on Scadrial with the mechanical elements, and the medallions, and stuff like that is getting really complicated, and I had to write it out and I had to go back and reference that. Because yes, I can remember what metal does what and what the rules are here, but the actual how-they-all-interact-and-come-together gets kinda complicated! So yeah, definitely need reminders on my own magic systems.

#4 Copy

Tristan Gilmore

This is perhaps more of a Writing Excuses question, but at what point in the story do you intentionally finish "building up" and transition to reveals and answering the intrigue you've established? Or do these need to be intertwined to keep the novel from being a constant uphill/downhill of interest?

Brandon Sanderson

In answer to your second question first: yes, it is good to stagger these a bit. This is something I didn't understand as well when I was brand new into writing, in some of my early - particularly unpublished - books. The "Brandon avalanche" which people talk about that comes at the end of a book where all the threads are finally coming together and stuff, was just way too much in these early books, and what happened is you couldn't follow all the threads or give them time to actually have impact, because always another one was happening. And it ended up having kind of boring situations leading to too much excitement that you couldn't actually take time to reflect on anything that was happening. So staggering your reveals is a really good thing to practice. Even if you want to have an avalanche at the end like I have, staggering some of that, having some character climaxes happen at different parts, in different points in the story, just a really good idea.

But where do you start doing it? That's kind of the definition for me... like that transition... that moment act 2 into act 3, the moment right after where things have just turned south, is the moment where I start trying to have those reveals in most books. But again, I'm trying to stagger them, I'm trying to have mini-reveals. Particularly in a big epic fantasy, you want lots of ups and downs.

#5 Copy

Questioner

Is there a character based off of Emily [Sanderson]?

Brandon Sanderson

Not really... she asked me not to put her in the books as a cameo sort of thing. Some of my friends are in the books as cameos, and some are in the books as more than cameos, like Skar [from Bridge Four] is based on my friend Skar.

Emily Sanderson

And in that case, he looks like him, he acts like him.

Brandon Sanderson

Because Skar is one of the few people I know who is in the military, so I'm like, "I'm gonna use you as a character, because you act like a military person, and I think that's a good thing." He's like, "Yeah, I'm totally on board with that." Most of them are just cameos and things like that.

Emily Sanderson

In most cases, when Brandon puts someone in a book, it's not the whole person. It's a character trait, or a physical trait, or a personality trait, or something like that. Sometimes I'll see characters who say things that I've said.

Brandon Sanderson

Syl says "I'm intelligent and articulate"... that came from when you were... three?

Emily Sanderson

That's a quote from when I was three, and my dad taught me to say... no, I was younger than that, I was like eighteen months old, and I could speak really clearly, and he taught me to say "I am intelligent and articulate". Brandon heard that story from my dad and put that in.

Brandon Sanderson

The character that I would say owes the most to Emily - even though it's not based on Emily - is Navani, because being able to have a wonderful wife has helped me to write a wonderful wife. They're very different people, but there's definitely some...

Emily Sanderson

I can relate with Navani in a lot of ways, in certain roles that she has.

Brandon Sanderson

The prologue to this new book [Stormlight Four] is Navani, and it owes some very specific things to Emily.

#6 Copy

Hossmobile

If you could have a beer with one of your characters, which would it be?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, since I don't drink, I would have a root beer. I would like to go hang out with Sazed. That would be my choice. I think Sazed is more wise than I was able to write him being and would have lots of good advice for me.

#7 Copy

JazzyKandra

I've been wondering about Cosmere holidays and feast days, specifically for Mistborn. I'm wondering, does Era 2 Scadrial have a Christmas-like or Easter-like holiday, and is it called Maremas?

Brandon Sanderson

No, this is something I think about and then don't have as much time ever to work in as I want to. They have quite a few holidays and feast days in Era 2 Mistborn, partially because Era 2 Mistborn was founded by a bunch of people who didn't get a lot of holidays during their life and then suffered through quite a bit in their lives, and then found themselves in a situation where, perhaps, hard manual labor, while important, was not as necessary as it might be in some other situations. So yeah, there are quite a bit; they are good at taking time off. Probably the best of all of the cultures depicted in the book... I don't know. They're gonna have a lot of feast days on Nalthis also.

Yes, but I would have to go to my notes. I'll try to do a better job of getting more of those in the books. 'Cause it's a place that I feel like I don't do enough. I don't talk enough about sports, I don't talk enough about feast days. Everything is about the plots of the stories, and sometimes I wonder if this just presents an inaccurate representation of the society. But of course, when our viewpoint character is someone like Wax, who looks askance at holidays, then I get a little bit more leeway on that.

#8 Copy

Adam Horne

A few people have wondered if we're ever going to see time travel in the cosmere.

Brandon Sanderson

Time travel into the past is something that I decided very early in the life of the cosmere that I was not going to deal with. So people can time travel into the future, but we can do that right now - not very much, but if you go fast, you are time traveling into the future by laws of relativity, and it's easier to do that in the cosmere. There are a couple things for storytelling that really throw a lot of wrenches into your worldbuilding. One of them's time travel; as soon as you introduce time travel, it changes everything.

Another one is bringing characters back from the dead, and since my very first cosmere book starts with someone being resurrected in chapter one, I knew that people coming back from the dead was not something I could have a hard fast rule against in the cosmere. Multiple books are based on the idea of people being resurrected; that's where Warbreaker and Elantris both come from, is that kind of idea.

Since I knew I was going to be doing that one, the other two that I think that really mess with things in strange ways are alternate dimensions and time travel. And that's when I just said I'm going to put those both off-limits in the cosmere. You saw me doing alternate dimension stuff in Steelheart, in part because I won't let myself do it in the cosmere. I'm already playing with fire with the way that people can become cognitive shadows in the cosmere, and I don't want to have the other two messing up narratives and storylines and things on the level that they would. So no time travel into the past ever in the cosmere.

#9 Copy

Sethel

What color of Magic [the Gathering] decks would some of your characters play?

Brandon Sanderson

It's going to depend on the character right? I often say Kelsier is black-blue. I feel that Vin is red-green probably. And Sazed is about as mono-white as you get. It's going to depend on the characters. Kaladin is pretty mono-white, though some of his powers are blue based so you could make a very good argument <for that.> That's the thing in Magic, you have both personalities and power suites of characters influencing what colors they [are] and what they would play. So you get Kaladin where personalty: white, power set: blue, would be pretty common. Dalinar is going to be mono-red for most of his life moving slowly into white-red. And you'll get someone like Jasnah who is very mono-blue with some touches of black or Shallan who is also just mono-red.

#10 Copy

Bruno Santos

Of all your books, which cover is your favorite?

Brandon Sanderson

The cover of the original Way of Kings. Because of the meaning Michael Whelan's pictures and paintings have in my life. The fact that I got a Whelan cove, it so iconic for me and for Way of Kings.

We are doing a repackage of the Mistborn books, it's going to be hard to ever do that with Stormlight just because that first cover is so iconic and such a favorite of mine. It is interesting that both Elantris and Warbreaker's covers have become iconic as well in that there has never been conversation about changing those. But for whatever reason Mistborn, we change all the time. I doubt this is last the repackage we'll do; every few years we get new covers for Mistborn. Something about Mistborn lends itself well to us doing that. Maybe it's because we did once already by moving from hardcover to paperback, we changed the art style between the those two, maybe we are just used to it.

#11 Copy

Sarah Palmer

How did you come up with the idea for a bead ocean?

Brandon Sanderson

The bead ocean? I honestly have no idea where the bead ocean came from. It's one of those images that grew out of building the world for Stormlight. I hit upon it and I just went with it and it works. It wasn't directly inspired by anything specific that I can think of. Maybe you'll find some journal entry from me as a kid being like "I went to the ball pit and it was awesome! What if they were made of glass?"

#12 Copy

Bob Solburger

If you were to write an eleventh Stormlight Archive book whose backstory would you explore?

Brandon Sanderson

Wow, what a great question!

Maybe Navani, there might be enough there. It would either be her or be one of the other Heralds.

#13 Copy

Emily Fell

What has been your favorite trope to subvert?

Brandon Sanderson

It's got to be the one that did Mistborn right, the- no, you know what, oh I can't say it.

I like subverting my own tropes the best. Finding something that I've been leaning on and recognizing it for what a good thing [it has been] in my books in the past, understand that readers are going to expect me to do it more, then subverting it is really fun for me. There is a moment like this at the ending of Oathbringer, that I won't mention because it is a spoiler, where something that has happened in the previous two books does not happen in this book. That is intentional, when I was building the outline for the series, I'm like "hey, I'm leaning on this idea a lot." It is a central theme of the [Stormlight Archive], so its okay, but I need to subvert it a couple times, otherwise it will get stale.

But if there is one I can talk about it is subverting the Hero's Journey in ways that are still satisfying. It's easy to subvert a trope and make it unsatisfying; most tropes work because they are satisfying to [an] extent. So the subversion [of the Hero's Journey trope] has to be still satisfying in its own way, and that can get tricky.

#14 Copy

Katie Gerskey

Earlier you have stated that Spensa's story in Skyward was inspired by the 'boy and his dragon' stories that you read in your teens. Is Rysn and Chiri-Chiri's story in Stormlight 4 based upon this plot archetype as well?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. But only in small, minor ways.

Getting the gift of a strange and unusually pet is one of those things ever since I read Dragons Blood by Jane Yolen, ever since I read The White Dragon and Jackson getting his dragon. There is something in me that loves this sort of fantastical pet - I mean own a macaw. [As far as] pets that are responsible to have go, excluding things like getting a lion, it's one of the weirdest things you can get as a pet. And that's going back to that love of dragon stories. That's why I bought <Cock>, my love bird, that was my buddy all through high school, it was because a flying, talking, little creature just feels so fantasy to me. So yeah, definitely Chiri-Chiri is playing into that trope to an extent.

#15 Copy

Questioner

Were did Lift come from?

Brandon Sanderson

One of the things I did when I was developing the Knights Radiant, was that I knew I wanted the Knights Radiant to come from variety of walks of life and a variety of ages. This was especially important because I knew my some of my central characters were going to be around the same age and come from various similar cultures. So I knew when I was developing them I was going to need someone like Lift. I wanted a tween who became a Knight Radiant. That was the thing, who's going to be my tween, whose going to be the older, the person in their 60's or 70's who becomes a Knight Radiant.

#16 Copy

Lightning Captured

Is their anything you can share about your books and TV/Movies?

Brandon Sanderson

Not a lot. There's just not really any motion; I wish there were.

I'm excited for Dark One with Joe Straczynski, he just makes really good television. But really there's nothing more to announce than that. It was really fun to go to Hollywood and pitch with Joe. If you don't know Joe Straczynski, he was the show-runner on Babylon 5 and the creator of it. He's also done a bunch of other stuff like Sense8 and he has written a lot of comics and stuff like that. He is really just a fascinating guy. There is not really any motion on that.

We were really close on Snapshot and then I haven't heard anything from them for a while. We have new deals in the works for both Alcatraz and Skyward, though I can't announce those yet because I don't think they have been officially done. But at least there are deals in the works for both of those.

You can go and read my big huge spiel about movies [in] last year's State of Sanderson, or two years ago or a year ago but for two years ago where I talk about it. Nothing has made any progress lately. This is why in this year's State of Sanderson I basically said I'm to the point where I'm realizing if I really want to do anything I probably have to do it myself. I may have to just sit down and write screenplays and go find directors myself and see if that works, but historically that's very hard to do and I am not an experienced screenwriter, I have written one screenplay in my life and it was kind-of bad. So who knows? I'm moving into the stage where I am starting my own production company and I am taking the rights and leaving them in the production company rather than selling them off with the hope that whoever buys them will make it because so far no one has done any of that.

I hear Witcher is great, I haven't watched it yet. It's a really good sign that there is good a fantasy show out that is not Game of Thrones, because everyone thought, well this could only happen once. But if it is proven by [Witcher] and hopefully by Wheel of Time, when it is ready, hopefully those will prove that fantasy is viable not just as Game of Thrones which will help the rest of us get a bunch of stuff done. So thumbs up to Henry Cavill for really pushing for the Witcher to get done and doing it right. If the rest of this all takes off we will really owe a whole bunch to him pushing to get that Witcher show made.

#17 Copy

Deana Whitney

I'm working on a food article about Roshar, so a few questions. Lavis equals corn?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, ish. That would be a nice *indistinguishable*

Deana Whitney

Is one of the other grains like buckwheat, do they have bananas or similar-tasting fruit, and what is the Earth equivalent of the most popular vegetable in Alethi cuisine?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably a sweet potato, though I hate them, would be the closest thing to the tuber that they use. There is a somewhat buckwheat-ish grain, but most -- like the Thaylen bread that they talk about and stuff, you've got to be getting wheat in from Shinovar. But yes, they have a grain that's slightly more of the consistency, so if you saw it or if you ate something from it you would be like this is some weird form of wheat. They're forming the flatbreads out of it. I would have to go to my notes and find out which one it is. I know I've mentioned it in the books before. If I didn't end up mentioning it I got it in the wiki, so you can drop us an email and I can pull it out of the wiki for you.

Deana Whitney

I was also hoping they have garlic.

Brandon Sanderson

They have things similar enough to garlic that you could just use garlic.

#18 Copy

Questioner

Emily, what is your personal favorite of Brandon's books?

Emily Sanderson

That's hard. I kind-of have a special place in my heart for Warbreaker because Brandon started writing that after we meet and was writing it after we meet and he was writing it while we were dating, engaged, and first married-

Brandon Sanderson

And on our honeymoon.

Emily Sanderson

*laughs* Yes. *laughs* I was reading a book while he was writing a book.

Partly too because he was doing the experiment of putting it online as he wrote it, he would send it to me to make sure there weren't any huge, horrible, glaring errors and I would read through it. For the first time I was getting Brandon books right after he had written them, and that was really fascinating. It was really fun to see that this conversation these characters were having was inspired by a conversation that we had last week. Or this is the kind-of thing we've talked about. That was really fun. So [Warbreaker] has a special place in my heart for that reason.

I think honestly that my favorite book is the last one that has come out. I read Way of Kings and was like "This is amazing! How can you possibly do better then this?" and then I read the next one as was like "He did! This is amazing too!" I do really love Stormlight Archive.

Brandon Sanderson

But you have to read them when they are bad, the first time through.

Emily Sanderson

That is true. Maybe that's why I think they are so amazing. I read them when they are bad then I read them again when they are all cleaned up...

Brandon Sanderson

We're in the middle of Stormlight 4 right now, in writing group. It's bad, it's got so many problems. There not huge fundamental problems, but there are big problems.

#19 Copy

Questioner

(To Emily Sanderson) Which of Brandon's books did you like least or were the biggest critic of?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh boy! Which one would that be? Which one didn't you like?

Emily Sanderson

I wasn't super fond of Snapshot honestly.

Brandon Sanderson

Snapshot is a little brutal for Emily.

Emily Sanderson

Yeah, its a bit much.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I could have guessed that.

Emily Sanderson

Some of the fight scenes in Mistborn are too violent for me too.

Brandon Sanderson

You didn't particularly like Dreamer did you? *Emily hmmms* You were okay with Dreamer?

Emily Sanderson

I was okay with Dreamer. Perfect State was kind-of...not my favorite. A lot of people have a hard time with Alcatraz and I love Alcatraz. It's kind of a love it or hate it. I'm in the love it camp for sure.

#20 Copy

Adam Horne

They want to know who your favorite character of Brandon's is.

Emily Sanderson

Oh, favorite character of Brandon's.

Brandon Sanderson

Stick. *laughter*

Emily Sanderson

No, I really like Lift. I'm enjoying Jasnah quite a bit.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you don't get a lot of Jasnah in these early books though, unfortunately. There's a couple Jasnah viewpoints in the new book [Stormlight 4], so that's good. You'll get a little Jasnah, but you really aren't going to get a lot of Jasnah for a while.

Emily Sanderson

I kind of think... It's hard because it's like whichever one I happen to be reading at the time is my favorite. 

Brandon Sanderson

That's what Robert Jordan said, when someone asked him who his favorite character was, is, "Whoever I'm writing right now."

Emily Sanderson

It's kind of true though. Whoever I'm reading right now, I'm like, "Oh, I love this character." I read a Kaladin chapter and I'm like, "I love Kaladin." Then I read a Dalinar chapter.

Adam Horne

Did you say who your least favorite character was?

Emily Sanderson

My least favorite character? Can I choose Padan Fain?

Brandon Sanderson

Padan Fain, Padan Fain.

Emily Sanderson

He's not technically one of your characters.

Brandon Sanderson

He's very hateable. He's pretty despicable.

Emily Sanderson

Moash is pretty despicable, but I don't know that he's my least favorite.

#21 Copy

Cyrus the Not Too Bad

You are known for being extremely meticulous in planning out the structure and details of your stories before writing. That being said, are there any times you have come up with a new idea or plot point as you are writing and just went with it?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it happens all the time. I am, as I've come to learn, relatively detailed in my outlines compared to a lot of my contemporaries. (I am not the most detailed; I think that prize probably goes to Kevin J. Anderson. His outlines tend to be just basically the book, but shorter.) If you've seen me talk about my outlines, there are a lot of bullet points in there and goals; I don't know exactly what's gonna happen in each chapter, I'll know what I want to achieve in each chapter, which is a little bit different. I'll know, "these two characters need to interact, this information needs to come out, and this event happens to end the chapter." I'll know things like that. However, as I'm writing, as you're putting the book together, as you're getting in the zone and really getting to understand how the book is feeling and flowing, you start to change things, just from the first chapter. Not even it comes out exactly like planned most of the time. And this is just a part of the process.

Now, I am an outliner, which means that when one of these things happens, I will often go with it, but I'll also be revising my outline. I'll take a little bit of time to just go with it and see how it goes, often. But a lot of times, I'm already working on my outline. I'm already saying "oh, this is a much better idea, this is working way better." Trying to remember... from a first book, a time where that happened. Famously, Adolin wasn't a viewpoint character in the original draft of The Way of Kings, but that didn't happen during the drafting, that was during the revision process, so it's not quite what you're asking.

The personality that Doomslug ended up having in Skyward was not something I had planned out. I just kind of went with it as it came along as I was writing. A lot of the personalities of the side characters in Skyward are a good example of this. Like, even Jorgen's personality is quite different from what I had imagined in the outline. This happens a lot with characters for me that I'm writing, and who they are becoming is a much different person than who I maybe imagined them. Until I write through their eyes, I'm not 100% sure who they are. And this is the big thing that throws my outlines off. I know that my characters are going to grow to become different people than I imagined when I started, and the outline just has to adapt to that.

Unless it goes too far. Some of my fans who were watching back in the time, I added a character to Warbreaker just kind of on-the-fly as I was working on the beginning. And I really liked this character, they were great. So I'm like, "Wow, I want to bring this character on the adventure." And I wrote them into a couple of chapters, because they were just fun to write, and it just ruined the other chapters. The chapters no longer worked in the structure I was making, and it was a worse structure, and this character being along was taking away from the sense of isolation, which was a major theme for Siri in that book. And I was posting these chapters online as I wrote them for Warbreaker. I just eventually said, "This character is no longer coming on the adventure" and pretended they hadn't been there in the next chapter I posted. That happens sometimes, too, where you just decide to edit something down.

#22 Copy

Stevie B Art

We're studying King Lear in English, and I noticed that the character of The Fool is very much like Wit. I was wondering if you've ever read King Lear, and did you write Wit to be like him?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, Wit comes from The Fool from King Lear, and Twelfth Knight also has one. The jester character in Shakespeare is a direct inspiration for Wit. I love them. Particulary, the fool in Lear. Lear is one of my favorite stories, and even to this day, maybe The Fool... it might be Kent who says it, says "See better, Lear." That line is one of those succinct, beautiful, powerful lines that's burned into the back of my brain that I read way back when I was in high school, and I have since experienced King Lear. Usually, I like to go to Shakespeare, rather than read Shakespeare, for obvious reasons.

I would say, though, I was already writing Wit at the time, the fact that Robin Hobb did such a fantastic fool character in The Assassins books, that fool definitely had an influence on my as well. One of the things I always wanted to do with Wit was to make sure that he felt different from just another court jester, because I'm assuming I'm not the only one inspired by Shakespeare to create a character similar. And I spent a lot of time early in my career, in the unpublished days, saying "What's gonna make Wit, what's gonna make Hoid different from just another jester?" And I spent a lot of time on that. And when I publish, eventually, I'll let you guys read Dragonsteel. He reads way more like a Shakespearean fool in Dragonsteel than he eventually became in the later Cosmere books, once I was getting published.

#23 Copy

r0ax_

How do you research the physics elements of your books? How much would you say you later the laws of physics, and how much do you respect them?

Specifically wondering about Skyward?

Brandon Sanderson

I, these days, am able to cheat on this a little bit, because I know I have a really good support structure of people who have actually studied physics, rather than myself, where I have flirted with studying physics. I am not a scientist, but I love pop science, if that makes sense. I'm the person who loves to read a book about someone doing science, but when I was a chemistry major in college, the actual physical labor of running experiments was mind-numbingly boring to me. And so I like to know. I like to know what rules I'm breaking, and how to play with them. But these days, I'm really able to trust my basic pop science studies. So, I'm not going to go read seven textbooks on physics. What am I gonna do? I'm gonna go to YouTube and say, "All right. What does it actually look like for someone to pull X number of g's." And I will watch those videos. (There's actually some really good ones on YouTube about that, specifically.) I'm going to go read blog posts, because our internet is so great, from pilots talking about their experiences. That's what I'm looking for. I'm not looking for what the physicist says happens. I'm looking for: how does a pilot describe it, and how is it presented for a layman.

And then, I am going to do my best and find experts to read the book for me and tell me where I'm wrong. I often say that you can get yourself most of the where there in research as an author with a minimal amount of time. You just need to find an expert, who spent all the extra time that it takes to become a true expert, to read your book and tell you where you're wrong. Preferably, a couple of people, because it turns out people in any profession disagree with one another greatly on some points, and it's good to know which points those are.

So, that's literally what I did for Skyward. YouTube videos, firsthand accounts, and a couple of pop culture essays. Stuff that's only, like, two to five thousand words long, about what the experience feels like and why it's working like it's working. Followed by getting some physicists and some fighter pilots both to read my early draft and tell me what I was doing wrong.

How much do I try? Sanderson's Zeroeth Law says "always err on the side of what's awesome." What this means for me, realistically, is: I want to tell a good story. And telling a good story takes precedent over basically anything else. That means that I don't want to break laws for physics for no reason, and I want to know when I'm breaking laws of physics. But I am going to find a cheat that lets me tell the story the way I want to tell it, if there becomes a conflict. The most famous one for me of this is the redshift that would happen when you make time bubbles in Era 2 of Mistborn. When I was working on this and researching it and be like "what would actually happen," turns out that a lot of the research I was reading said that you would redshift the light, and you would really have a chance of irradiating everybody outside or inside the bubble, depending. And I just had to say, "You know what? I've gotta come up with a law in the magic system that fixes this and makes it not happen. Because otherwise, I just can't do the magic, right?" That was good for me to know, but it's also a place where I just decided to cheat. And we can, as fantasy authors, cheat.

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Sebtub

I've you say in other interviews that the Stormlight Archives was your go at a big epic everything's-on-the-table fantasy series. But was there any particular series or religion or myths that inspired the story?

Brandon Sanderson

There's a whole bunch going on. You will find a whole lot of Eastern shamanism, like shinto or things like that, built around the idea of everything having a spren. That is one obvious influence.

Another one is Plato's theory of the Forms (from the Phaedrus, I believe it is), and this idea of different realms of existence directly became Realmatic theory, which is the Physical, Spiritual, and Cognitive of the books. He just had two; I ended up with three. But you can directly trace that to Plato.

A lot of the Alethi culture came from me wanting to build something based off of my research into the Mongol people, particularly during the time of Genghis Khan. But I took away the horses; you don't have cavalries on Roshar to the extent that you would on Earth. And I thought that was really interesting, because most people who base anything on the Mongols go with the whole horse lords things to the point that it's become a cliche. So I'm like, "What if I strip that away, and I'm forced to look at other nuances of their culture?" Particularly, I love the moment (trying to remember what the name of the dynasty was) where the Mongols conquered China, and then basically became a dynasty in China and became basically another Chinese government. The Chinese were used to this idea, that different people take over, the bureaucrats start serving them instead, and the big machine that is China keeps going with a new Dynasty in charge; now they're Mongols. That's really cool to me. And this idea of the Alethi as this famous infantry, this conquering infantry, that (also kind of you see this in Dalinar) have to, in some ways, settle down and rule an empire now that they have one. That's really cool to me, that's really interesting. And that's probably one of the most direct things you can point to Mongol culture for, is this idea. But also kind of, I feel like when people do a warrior culture in fantasy, too often 1) they all feel alike in some ways, and I didn't like that. I wanted to do where you were reading through the eyes of people who were from what I thought was a nuanced, realistic warrior culture. And you didn't realize until you were partway through the book, you were like, "This is a warrior culture! This is, like Klingons. These are the bad guys to a lot of people's eyes!" But it's more nuanced, it's not one note, and so you've got a lot of variety in the culture and a lot of people to it, and a lot of different opinions and perspectives that you may not even notice.

I love doing stuff like this. Like, Elantris is a zombie story. The original premise for Elantris is a zombie story. And I hope that a lot of people don't even realize that. Because I'm trying to strip away some of the trappings and use some of the core concepts. I like it when people get done with Elantris, and they're like, "Wait, zombie story? Oh, yeah!" And I like it when people are reading the Alethi, and they get to the end and they're like, "Oh, those are the Mongols? This is a warrior culture? I didn't even get that! I was through their eyes, and I didn't understand that these are the scourge that everyone else is afraid of, because I was seeing through their eyes and just seeing them as people." That's a greater sort of worldbuilding and storytelling philosophy that I have.

The highstorms came from tidal pools. A lot of the ecology on Roshar was, "Can I create something that looks like a tidal pool or a reef that's, like, a break for the waves, where things are crashing into it a lot." Just kind of building this idea around that.

There's a few of them for you. There are tons more. Stormlight Archive, it's hard to point out one idea for. In fact, it's really hard to point out one idea for the plot premise at all, because telling people what The Way of Kings is about is really hard. Mistborn's easy, right? This is why I think it would probably be wise, if we're going to do any media, is to start with Mistborn. Because we can pitch Mistborn. "Hero failed. Gang of these rob the Dark Lord." Easy pitch. What is Way of Kings about? "Uh... it's about this guy who's trained as a surgeon and he finds out he's really good at killing people and he goes to war but he doesn't actually get to fight, he gets put in the bridge crews, but it really about him building a team of friends among these people in this terrible situation... But it's actually about restoring lost Orders of Knights from long ago... But it's actually about an impending war that they were set up to fight, these Knights, that they told everyone that they'd won, but they really didn't win, but they kind of did..." It just gets really convoluted. It is hard to explain what The Way of Kings is about. This is why The Way of Kings has three prologues. (Don't do that, by the way. One prologue is bad enough; you don't need three. Unless you're writing Way of Kings. Then it was totally necessary.)

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Questioner

What inspired Lopen?

Brandon Sanderson

A couple things inspired Lopen. The first, and kind of most important thing, that inspired Lopen, was: I knew Bridge Four needed more light. Like, it needed somebody who just refused to be beaten down at all. Because things were so dark in the Bridge Four sequences, I knew I needed to add in somebody who just had a different personality. And I developed Lopen around that idea. Lopen is the guy that's going to be shoved into Hell and be like, "Hey, guys, what's going on? Wow, it's kind of hot here, huh. Well, we'll deal with that!" Just refuses to let it get him down.

The Herdazians, in general, came from me wanting to reach to other cultures that aren't often seen in fantasy novels for some of my inspirations. So a few of the Herdazian inspirations come from Hispanic culture. I think that's probably pretty obvious. But just not something that you see a lot in epic fantasy, for whatever reason. If people are writing epic fantasy, and they're reaching for cultures to base things on, they are usually going to go to Europe or to Asia. You're going to see a lot of Japan and China. You're going to see a lot of Germany. You're gonna see a lot of classical Europe, Hellenistic, things like that. You'll occasionally see the Persians because of like, the accumulated Persian inspirations and things like that. Then we have a "Cyrus the Not So Great" earlier - that was the Persians, right? Yeah ... But you don't see Mexicans, right? You don't see South Americans. And there's a lot of really interesting things to go there.

Now, it strays into dangerous areas when you're just like, "I'm going to lift this culture wholesale" and plop it in you're book, which is dangerous because you risk, really, misrepresenting that culture, appropriating it, things like that. But I think where fantasy comes from is going and actually doing deep dives into Earth's history and looking for inspirations for cultures. And with the Herdazians, I spent a lot of time in that direction. Because I was already reading on some of that for Rithmatist.

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Mario Zekal

We know heist movies like Sneakers were inspiration for Mistborn. Are there other genres or specific movies/TV shows that inspire you, and that you would want to give a fantasy/sci-fi twist?

Brandon Sanderson

I've done most of the ones that I've thought of. I'm still waiting for the right place to do Count of Monte Cristo. I think that is a plot archetype that is not done quite as often, and can lend to some really interesting storytelling. So, you can be on the watch out for when I find a place to use that. I actually know exactly where it's going to go, but I'm not going to tell you. So, there's that one.

I've used the underdog sports team. I've used the "get the team together" Avengers style thing. There's just so many plot archetypes out there that I'm watching for. So, yeah, I'll just tell you that: watch for the Count of Monte Cristo style of story, because I have a really interesting take on it. And if you're looking for another example of this, obviously Skyward is based on the "boy gets dragon egg" story, but turned on its head to a different style.

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Brandon Sanderson

Herdazian food is very different [than Mexican food], there's just a few aspects that I used. The food, actually, I'm doing in Stormlight is more based off early 20th-century American street food, and the change to mobile cuisine. It's one of those fascinating things you can read about. And that's where the food like chouta is coming from, this idea of: as cultures intermix, and as Industrial Revolution stuff starts to happen, food starts to be portable. And I like that idea.

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