Firefight release party

Event details
Name
Name Firefight release party
Date
Date Jan. 5, 2015
Location
Location Utah
Tour
Tour Firefight
Entries
Entries 65
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#1 Copy

Questioner

What is your favorite book besides the ones that you wrote?

Brandon Sanderson

What is my favorite book besides the ones that I wrote. That is an excellent question. I would say my favorite classic... is Les Miserables. It is fantastic. I love how Victor Hugo writes character. My favorite fantasy novel is a book called Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly, because it is the book that I read when I was a teenager that made me fall in love with books and become a writer.

#2 Copy

Questioner

What inspired you to write that series [Mistborn]? It's amazing.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh good question, what inspired me to write Mistborn… A couple of things have to come together for me to write a book. Usually it is not one idea. Usually one idea is kind of the sparking point but then I file it in the back of my brain and wait until other ideas stick to it and work in really cool ways. Mistborn is a conglomeration of several things. First off it was watching-- I guess it was reading-- reading Harry Potter and being like "Wow these Dark Lords sure get a tough time of it. They're always beaten by these dopey kids." Right? *laughter* Like Sauron, there's this little furry-footed British dude who's like-- destroys your whole empire or things like this. And I was like "These poor guys, what if we had a book where the Dark Lord won? Where-- What if Frodo got to the end and the Dark Lord was like 'Oh thanks for bringing my ring back.' and then killed him and took over the world." It was really, I'm a fan of The Wheel of Time and thinking what if Rand got to the end of The Wheel of Time and the Dark One is like "Okay, I'm all powerful, you're not, end." And he won. Oh the Pattern just broke.

As an aside for Wheel of Time fans, I actually wrote that scenes for my own catharsis. I actually wrote a scene, I never let anyone else see it, where Rand lost *laughter* and it's actually like this dramatic moment and he's like "I could just destroy the world right now" And I just wrote "And so he did, The end." *laughter* I had a good laugh over it and then deleted it.

So, what if the Dark Lord won, but I figured that would be a downer of a story so I filed that in the back of my head and it melded with my love of heist stories. You'll notice Steelheart is also a heist story. It's one of my favorite archetypes, the gang who all have their individual talents and they get together to do cool things like-- I think one of my favorite movies in recent times was actually Inception which was a heist story using people's brains. So cool, such a great concept. But one of my classic favorite movies is Sneakers, if you haven't seen that. It's so good! So that genre made me want to write a heist novel in a fantasy world so I developed that independently. Allomancy and Feruchemy were developed independently as cool magic systems, that eventually started interacting in interesting ways. And then Kelsier was the other kind of linchpin, him as a character, wanting to tell this story about a guy who had been an upper-class thief, a con-man who then got motivation to go "No I'm going to do something good with my life. I'm going to change the world. It's kind of hard to explain.

#3 Copy

Questioner

How did you think of your powers with Alcatraz?

Brandon Sanderson

How did I think of the powers in Alcatraz. So if you aren't familiar with the Alcatraz books, they are books about a family who all have a magical talent and they are all based on stupid things that I do. *laughter* I am really good at breaking things. This is my phone. *shows phone, laughter ensues* This is my tablet, it only looks this nice because the last time I dropped it I have a nice assistant who took it to the store to fix it last month. So that'll last a few months. So Alcatraz's magical powers is that he is able to magically break things. I'm always late. I wasn't late today because we came up early to have dinner, but I was late to dinner. I'm late to everything So I have another character in that who has the superpower of magically arrive late to things, but he'll arrive late to things like bullets and tax day. They turn into superpowers. It started as me wanting the goofy things I do to become superpowers and extrapolated out from there.

#4 Copy

Questioner

What has been your best writing experience?

Brandon Sanderson

What has been my best writing experience? There's a lot of them, I don't know if I can pick a best one. It's just the thing I love is, I spent ten years writing books kind of by myself alone at night working a graveyard shift at a hotel and the fact that I get to do this full time and I don't have to answer the phone and bring people laundry in the middle of writing a cool scene about shardblades. That's really nice. That I don't have to be-- I'm writing the climax and "Ah you would like a wake up call?" and then back to my climax. So being able to share the stories with people, having people who want to read them and support me is really fun.

#5 Copy

Questioner

Is there ever going to be a mash-up where different magic systems are actually going to collide and--

Brandon Sanderson

The question is is there going to be a mash-up where different magics, from my books, collide. Yes, there will be. I came up with the concept of what I call the cosmere… Long ago, it was about 20 years ago now, when I wrote my very first story that was about a guy traveling between different planets in a magical universe. Where he would go to the planet, try to figure out how the magic worked, then just get it working, then see if it was something he wanted to learn about and know. And that grew over 20 years into what I call the cosmere, which is a collection of planets in a fantasy universe, in which all of the magics are interacting in interesting ways. And we will eventually have some cool crossover books but right now the series I am writing are about the series themselves and so we won't have crossover yet but it will happen eventually.

#6 Copy

Questioner

First of all thank you for creating your own justified physics laws for your magic systems. Coming from a scientist I appreciate that, even though--

Brandon Sanderson

My pleasure. I like to have-- You know I was a chemist for one year in college, one year until I washed out. No really what it was… In high school chemistry is about blowing stuff up and doing cool experiments. They use that to trick you. *laughter* Because then you go to college and their like "Great! Now you are doing math equations, all day" And while I loved-- Oh, Eric's over here, he's like "Yes! That's what I love, math equations. Give me more!" I really did enjoy a lot of the concepts, I just did not enjoy the busy work so that's why I jumped ship. But I like my magic to make sense. Don't get me wrong, when I say "Err on the side of awesome" I don't mean "Write your stories in such a way that they don't make sense" but I will often start with "This is a cool image, I want to have work. How can I work out the logistics of that?" That's the difference between me and a science fiction writer. Science fiction writer extrapolates forward to what would happen with technology. I start with something cool and extrapolate backward.

#7 Copy

Questioner

Have you ever justified the law of conservation of mass in the regeneration of shardplate?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, law of conservation of mass and the regeneration of shardplate. So conservation of energy and mass in the cosmere, you have to understand we are working on the Three Realms, Spiritual, Cognitive, and Physical and there is a lot of dense energy on the Spiritual plane. Most of the magics are working and creating a conduit to the Spiritual plane, pulling something through or sticking it back in. And so everything's conserved, but we have a dump of energy up there that we are kind of using as a dump of energy that we are pulling things back and forth with.

#8 Copy

Questioner

Where did the idea to split The Way of Kings and to make it take place in multiple places come from?

Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings taking place with the different timelines? So Way of Kings I wrote, the very first version of it--in its contemporary form, I wrote the first book about Dalinar when I was a teenager--but the very first book called The Way of Kings I wrote in 2002 and I tried to cram way too much into that book. The big failing of that book was I tried to do everyone's story at once. And so when I re-wrote it in 2009, or whenever it was, I decided I would take the characters and spread them out across the 10 book series and I would focus on a certain set of them early on and then transition into other ones. But in order to maintain some of the complexity I like in my books, particularly big epic fantasies, I added in the flashback sequence, one per character per book as a means to adding some depth and complexity but using it to build up a character you already knew, rather than doing someone completely different. And so this kind of allowed me to tell the story the way I wanted to, by doing-- That did mean I still had to have two separate timelines because I needed to do Shallan and I needed to do Kaladin, 'cause I knew they were going to be important, interacting together for the next few books. Which did put me in two different places but that was much better than the six different places the original had. And it's just because I like complexity, I like a book that everything comes together at once.

#9 Copy

Questioner

So you have a lot of emotional times in your books where you feel something really strong, do you feel that when you are writing or do you think "I need to have an emotional point--"

Brandon Sanderson

The question is, I have a lot of emotional times in my book, do I feel that when I'm writing or do I just sit there and say "I need an emotional time right now". There's a little of both, as a storyteller you get a good feel for when you need certain beats in storytelling. One of the things I like about stories though, and this will tell you a little about me, I am not a very emotional person. My friends will tell you and kind of reinforce this, I am basically, kind of the opposite of an emotional person. When I saw that movie Unbreakable, I know that there are people who are broken so there must be people who can't be broken at all. I know people who are bi-polar with huge mood swings, I'm kind of the opposite of that. If you have a 0 to 100 emotional scale I get between a 65 and 75 every day. Doesn't change. I feel the same way every day when I wake up, but stories make me feel powerful emotion. They are one of the things that just tweak that needle in me and make it go crazy up and down. Which is one of the reasons why I think I fell in love with books and storytelling is because of that powerful emotion. So yes I do, and at the same time part of me is "I need something here. What do I need right here?" and my instincts say "Oh you need a pow. What's our pow?" and you work on it for a while until it comes together for you.

#10 Copy

Questioner

What has been your best motivation for writing/What would you advise to aspiring writers?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay so what has been my best motivation in writing and what would I advise a new writer. So motivation is a tricky thing because it is very individual. For me, a big part of my motivation was wanting to tell these stories. Just having these stories in my head and wanting to find a way to make these books make people feel the way I feel by the books that I love. Like when I was reading Anne McCaffrey books and they had this powerful effect on me "I've gotta learn how to do that." It was just something that was in me. Mixed with the increasing knowledge as I went to school that I was preparing myself for something that as Oscar Wilde would put it, basically useless. And then if I didn't end up making it as a writer-- It's like I imagined, I say sometimes, that it was like a phantom cubicle chasing me and if it caught me I had to become an insurance actuary or something. I'm sorry if there's an insurance actuary, I'm glad we have you. *laughter* I'm glad we have Erics who love math... But anyway I felt if I didn't give it the best shot I could that I would never have another shot at it. So that worked for me. You are going to have to find your own motivation.

The number one thing I would tell a new writer is to treat learning to write like you would treat learning to draw or play a musical instrument, in that it's a creative process not an event. Writing a book is a process, and so your job as a writer is to train yourself to be someone who writes great books not someone who wrote one good book. That means you have time to practice, you've got to sit and-- like you do your scales, you have to spend time at it. I would also say take my class at BYU, or watch the versions online, and Writing Excuses, my podcast for writers. We started something brand new starting today where we are doing a master class in writing where every month we are going to take one topic and drill down very deeply into it.  It will be a great place to start.  Just go to WritingExcuses.com and click play and listen to our episode, okay?

Footnote: Brandon is referring to Season Ten of Writing Excuses here.
#11 Copy

Questioner

So, your Legion series, where the guy has multiple hallucinations and everything like that-- Where did you come up with your idea? Was it just hanging out--

Brandon Sanderson

Where was the idea for Legion, which if you are not familiar with it Legion is this weird  thing where I have a guy who's a genius, he can study any topic and learn that topic and become an expert in it very quickly but the information appears as a hallucination who can coach him in that information. So it's like he's a schizophrenic but instead of the voices telling him to kill people they tell him how to hack computers or things like that.

The idea came because I was actually working in a writing group with my friend Dan who was working on a book called The Hollow City which is about a real schizophrenic, not a super-powered schizophrenic in a weird Brandon-world. And I'm like "Oooh this would be so cool, what if his hallucinations helped him? What if--" and he's like "That's not my book, I don't want to write that book" and I'm like "But it's so cool!" and he's like "Then you write it!" So I did. And that's where it came from. A lot of time being a writer is realizing "Oh I wish someone would do this, HEY! I know someone who can do that, ME!" and then I write the books.

#12 Copy

Questioner

So when it comes to the superhero genre and female characters, I feel you have the two types. You have the damsel or the super sexualized black widow that is awesome. How has that been a worry for you?

Brandon Sanderson

So she's talking about the-- In superheroes you usually have the damsel, so you have the Mary Jane that needs to be rescued, or you have the black widow, hypersexualized thing like this, and the question is has that been a worry for me. It is something that is in the back of my brain, it's not  just a problem in superhero fiction, it's one of the ones that it is most manifest in. You will find the problem in most genres of speculative fiction, especially action genres. There's also what they call the-- There's the archetype of the Mother and the Crone. Those are your archetypes that women get to play. And it's been in the forefront of my brain a lot, in my writing, because I think as a writer the further you go as a writer the more you need to be aware of when you are falling into a cliche and when you're not. So yes it is something I've thought about quite a bit, particularly when I was writing Firefight "How am I going to deal with Megan as a character? And how am I going to deal with Mizzy as a character? And how they differ." So it was something I was thinking about very consciously as I working about on these books.

I think one regret I have a little bit is that I feel Mistborn I did a great job with Vin, but there's not very much of a female supporting cast in those books. It's kind of the archetype  that there's one girl in the whole city and then everyone else. And you kind of run into this and things like that and I was a little less conscious as a writer in those days. But it is something that I think all writers need to be aware of. The thing is that we talk a lot about feminist theory because it tends to be most manifest when men are writing, but when women write there is also one that they do that is they tend to make the guy like this perfect guy and what happens is the guy has no personality he's just perfection and the girl is either a klutz or a doofus or she can't do anything right and the guys are all these perfect ideals. And that's when women write, when men write it's like the girl exists to be saved or to be lusted after. You just have to be aware as a writer these are going to be very natural to you because of our society or whatever we've seen a lot in storytelling, and you just have to become aware of them. And as soon as you become aware of them you can start working on them.

The easiest way of getting away from doing this is to avoid tokenism, meaning if you are going to put someone in who is a certain ethnicity or is different from yourself or one thing like that, if you force yourself to put two in you then suddenly can't make them the stereotype because otherwise they are the same character and that forces you to really think about that and is one very easy way. I can go on for hours about that so take my class and ask me and we can talk about it.

#13 Copy

Questioner

Where did you get the idea of gloryspren and fearspren showing up when people feel certain emotions?

Brandon Sanderson

So spren in The Way of Kings where did I come up with these ideas for things that physically manifest people's emotions. So I honestly think the earliest seed of this, years and years ago, was reading Perrin in The Wheel of Time where he can smell people's emotion and I thought that having an actual different sense to recognize emotion was so cool I think that is what planted the seed in the back of my brain. The other thing that that is mashing-up with though is kind of Shinto ideas, because I was relying a lot on some Eastern philosophy when I was building Roshar and The Way of Kings. And the Shinto believe that everything has a soul and a spirit, a kami as they call it, and things like this and wanting to expand that into not just the rock but your emotions have a soul and they manifest and things like that. And then I was working in the cosmere and all this stuff but in the end I think it is a mash-up of those two concepts. Wanting a cool way, a different way, a way that changes society that emotions play out mixed with this idea of the kami and the Shinto beliefs.

#15 Copy

Questioner

Is Mistborn ever going to be made into a movie?

Brandon Sanderson

Is Mistborn going to be made into a movie. I recently read the treatments by the guy who has the movie rights and I like them a lot. They are doing good work with the treatments. We sold the rights. Whether they'll get made or not is still kind of a crapshoot because this is how Hollywood works, right? So we will see, but the treatments are good. Peter can back me up on that. The first one we like a lot… So yes there is motion but I don't know how long it will take us, okay?

#16 Copy

Questioner

Do you have any plans to release Death by Pizza?

Brandon Sanderson

Do I have any plans to release Death by Pizza?  When I was getting ready for what I should do my readings on for this I was like "Oh I could read them Death by Pizza" and I opened it up and read the first chapter again and was like "No I can't read--" *laughter* Someday if I have time to fix it, I will. It was mostly-- A lot of what you see me doing is experimenting in other genres so I can practice that genre and incorporate it into my mainline epic fantasies. I think that great writing, particularly in a big book like those, means that you draw on a lot of different traditions so that the different plot lines and characters feel like different types. So I'm practicing urban fantasy, I'm practicing-- Things like Legion is me practicing a detective novel so I can use that later on. That one just didn't turn out good enough to release. It was good practice for me.

#17 Copy

Jasonioan

Have you ever written a character name that you have no idea how to pronounce? *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

Have I ever written a character name that I have no idea how to pronounce. Oh boy, I got to have, right? Like Rock's real name uh, Numuhukumakiakia'aialunamor, maybe? But most of the Hornearter things I just can't, I'm like what? But even some other ones… The thing is that sometimes I don't pronounce them the right way. Like I say "Kel-see-er" in-world they say "Kel-see-ay" because it is French, the original core I was using so you get things like Vin Demoux and things like this which are French terms or French names or French words, and Kelsier, I say his name "Kel-see-er" but I'm an American. 'Murica.  I say it like an American would but you are free to pronounce the names in the book however you want to.

#18 Copy

Questioner

You've talked about all these awesome ideas, do you ever get to the point when you are writing where you're like "This isn't awesome, this is stupid."

Brandon Sanderson

Do I ever get to the point where I'm writing where this isn't awesome, this is stupid. Yeah. Yeah it happens, and then I just set that aside or I go talk to someone and "is this awesome or is this stupid?" My writing group is helpful for that. But it does happen, to everybody. There are ideas that are just so lame. You think they are cool, you are excited about them-- Mostly they happen at night where you're going to bed and thinking and you're "This is the coolest idea, I'm going to write this book" and the next you are like "What was I thinking?! This is not a cool book."

#19 Copy

Questioner

What is it like for you when you end a characters life? Like how is it for you emotionally?

Brandon Sanderson

How is it for me emotionally--

Questioner

Like when I lost a character in Mistborn, I couldn't read. I was done.

Brandon Sanderson

...The thing about it is I am a planner as a writer. So I have usually prepared a great deal. That means that I am prepared and ready for the character's passing. And the way that I usually build in character death is that it is more the characters demanding it than I'm killing them. It is them saying "This is the risk I demand to take" and me as the narrator saying "Well that risk has certain consequences and sometimes I will protect you from those consequences, sometimes I won't" The narrator will decide when I should and when I shouldn't, but the character decides when they make those risks, if that makes sense? It's kidn of this pseudo-organic process, talking about characters is  the one that is most organic to me-- Plots and worlds I can talk a lot about the nuts and bolts, with characters it's a feeling and an instinct of what they would do. And then I have to decide what I do with the consequences to that. But usually I've planned it out quite a bit ahead of time, it doesn't happen off the cuff for me and so I'm ready for it. I do apologize but I feel that it makes a stronger story.

#20 Copy

Kaladin al'Thor

I noticed my last time reading Words of Radiance that there were several times-- vines that were on Adolin's shardblade as he summoned it. So I was wondering if maybe the Radiant who used it had was an Edgedancer?

Brandon Sanderson

You are right.

Kaladin al'Thor

You mentioned before that it would be possible to revive a dead shard[blade], but it would be very difficult--

Brandon Sanderson

Very difficult.

Kaladin al'Thor

Like I think what you said is that it would have to be the same person that broke the bond?

Brandon Sanderson

That would be the-- Yeah.

Kaladin al'Thor

So if it was an Edgedancer's blade if he made those same oaths could potentially he…

Brandon Sanderson

That would most likely not be enough. Something else would have to happen. Good guess though.

#21 Copy

Questioner

<At one point it says> that there were 99 Desolations before the Final Desolation, in the Prelude. Was there actually 99?

Brandon Sanderson

Nope, there were not actually 99. That is a mythological relic. Like the 40 days and 40 nights may well be a metaphor for "a lot" ...Good question.

#22 Copy

Questioner

I want to know how long it took you to write your first book.

Brandon Sanderson

First book took about three years.

Questioner

Three years?

Brandon Sanderson

I got a lot faster after that.

Questioner

<How did you do that?>

Brandon Sanderson

Practice. Know-- Confidence, knowing what I was doing. Finishing a book you're like "Wow I can actually do this" and after that like-- It was like, this is a weird metaphor, but it's like the first time I got a girlfriend, had a relationship for a while, "Why was I so stressed about getting a girlfriend? That was actually-- I can do that!" and after that I dated a lot. You know what I mean?

#23 Copy

Questioner

I know you went on mission in Korea, as did I, did anything come from that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, quite a number of things have been influenced by it. I'd say the biggest influence is Elantris, the writing system is based on the idea of Korean and Chinese mixed together. But Asian philosophy, like the kami and things like that are also common in Korea, that belief that everything has a soul. So yeah it's had a huge influence on me, just the way I worldbuild-- I mean just the fact, I don't know if you've read The Way of Kings… I don't know if you know but everyone's Asian, right? Like Szeth, the white dude, is the one that looks weird them. And that's just because-- It was partially influenced by that.

#24 Copy

Questioner

I've been trying to brainstorm what Stormlight characters would have jumped into the other books so far. You told me they had at one point.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they have but you've got to remember that The Stormlight Archive you are seeing right now, what's happening in it is like late cosmere era, does that make sense? So there are lots of people from the world that have been to other worlds but the people you know--this is happening just before Alloy of Law era-- So does that make sense? That's the first time you'd be able to see anyone here and by that era the bleed over is a lot less because we have the whole Odium trapped and things like that. There's a lot less-- There are a lot fewer people traveling in and out of Roshar than there once were.

#26 Copy

Questioner

I was just wondering if you were going to continue the mirroring as the Elantris and Warbreaker series continue...

Brandon Sanderson

They are probably not going to continue that way. There will be some things, like there will be some tonal things. Part of the reason I wrote Warbreaker was this idea that I'm like "I wrote this whole book about the city of the gods but I didn't actually get to deal with people living as gods". So I came back to the topic because of that reason but the second one is probably going to be a little bit more like my unpublished book Aether of Night. I'm going to fold in some of those ideas.

#27 Copy

Questioner

So when are you going to tell us who Gaidal Cain is reincarnated as?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs* One of the prevailing theories online is true.

Questioner

One of 18?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Most of the-- It's not Olver for instance. People thought that for years but Robert Jordan said it wasn't. I think there are two or three leading theories and it is one of those.

#29 Copy

Herowannabe

I've got a Vasher question too. In Warbreaker he's not really much of a swordfighter but in his later appearance--

Brandon Sanderson

In Warbreaker he is better than you think he is, but he is tired of fighting. He's just completely-- You know at this point he's several hundred years old, and he created a sword, he's a swordsman. He knows his way around a sword but he is worn out emotionally and just doesn't want to be fighting and things like that. And plus he's had Nightblood, he doesn't need to, right? Nightblood, you swing Nightblood and it doesn't matter how good you are with a sword, really. You know which direction to point him and disaster happens. And so he's much better than you think he is.

Herowannabe's wife

But now he doesn't have it anymore.

Brandon Sanderson

But now he doesn't have it anymore, and now he kind of has to survive-- He has to make a living somehow and this is something he was good at.

#30 Copy

Herowannabe

I noticed that shardblades are unnaturally light but Nightblood is unnaturally heavy.

Brandon Sanderson

That is correct.

Herowannabe

Care to expound on that?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is built around the same principles as shardblades, if shardblades were... broken?  I mean he is-- You'll notice dark smoke that goes down rather than light smoke that goes up, and things like this. So, yeah, they are built on the same principles but in some ways opposites.

#31 Copy

Herowannabe's wife

In this one [Sixth of the Dusk] is the guy he [Dusk] finds dead, is that Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

They guy he finds dead is not Hoid. Good question.

Herowannabe's wife

Is it anyone we already know?

Herowannabe

Does Hoid make an appearance in that one?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid does not make an appearance in that one.

Herowannabe

What about Shadows for Silence?

Brandon Sanderson

In Shadows for Silence he does not make an appearance. I established with those two, my goal was, he-- I found that if I just shoehorned him in it didn't actually fit the narrative. Like I want this to not just be a cameo, he's actively doing things. Does that make sense? He's not just there for cameos... he's actively up to something.

Now he has been to Threnody. Threnody is very interesting to him for certain reasons. He hasn't been to First of the Sun, he's never visited Sixth of the Dusk's planet, yet.

#32 Copy

Herowannabe

So Elend, at the end of Mistborn [Era 1], is going around finding Allomancers the mist had Snapped. How come he didn't find any other Mistborn? Or did he and we just didn't know about it?

Brandon Sanderson

What you have to remember is the mists were looking for a way specifically to deliver information to him, that "I am alive and doing something" but they were also kind of crazy. And so the idea was to make him notice the number 16 so that he would know that there was a plan and that something was prepared for him. Does that make sense?

Herowannabe

Why didn't the mist throw in some Mistborn in that sixteen too?

Brandon Sanderson

Then you would have 17. Or you would have like--  It was the number that was important to what the mists were doing. Plus it is much harder to make someone who wasn't originally-- Like remember what's going on is these are people it is Snapping intentionally who did not-- Like it's Investing them so-- It's either awakening a very little remnant in them or taking people who had-- They wouldn't have been able to be Mistings, if the mists hadn't intervened. Making someone a Mistborn takes way more power.

#33 Copy

Questioner

The dead shardblades, could you possibly get Stormlight into them to reawaken them?

Brandon Sanderson

Dead shardblade could you pump enough Stormlight into them? That alone would not be enough.

Questioner

So you would have to find someone to re-swear with oaths?

Brandon Sanderson

There is something broken on the Spiritual Realm because of the broken oath and simple Stormlight will not fix that.

Questioner

So say--

Brandon Sanderson

If the person were still alive and could re-swear the oath then yes.

Questioner

[...] the Spiritual Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

It is not outside the realm of reason but it would be very very very difficult.

#36 Copy

Questioner

So there’s the scene of Kaladin standing alone in /Words of Radiance/. He’s lost his spren, everything is gone, and he's just standing there, and he still fights no matter what. Did that scene come first? Or did the rest of the book?

Brandon Sanderson

That was the pivotal scene for the book. That was the thing I felt he needed to learn and the person he needed to be. So I have several focus scenes for each book and that was one of them for this one.

#37 Copy

Questioner

So what give books do you think helped you understand leadership the best?

Brandon Sanderson

Well Art of War is definitely part of that. I would say that The Prince is important for understanding leadership, even though I don't agree with every point he's making. By the way he is not as-- Even though it is Machiavelli writing it, he is not as machiavellian as we think he is in that book… So The Prince--  Hmmm, a lot of Plato surprisingly, is where I pull some of my ideas. King Benjamin's speech from the Book of Mormon, in Mosiah, if you haven't read that, is definitely part of it. Ummm... What else--

Questioner

Like where do you get your-- because you obviously have experience because that's how leadership works.

Brandon Sanderson

It is interviews, it is personal experience, it is talking to my friends who are in the military and asking them "Does this sound right? Does this feel right? Tell me what it feels like to obey. Tell me what it feels like to be in command." And things like that. Just lots of practice and interviews and things is where most of it is coming from.

Questioner

So it’s less like personal experience and more you're really good at researching it.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, a writer has to be able to do that because for a book like this the amount of psychology and medicine, battlefield tactics, leadership, and all these other things you need to know, you can't know them all. You can't do them all personally. You've got to be able to experience it, you've got to be able to write it as best as you can, and then go to experts. Like the medicine in this I went to a field surgeon and I said "Will you read over my Kaladin scenes and tell me where I'm going wrong." Like I was able to get myself 80% of the way there with research and then the 20% is me going to an expert and saying "Tell me what I'm doing wrong."

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Questioner

I have a copy of your Dragonsteel master thesis, I haven't read it though.  And I was wondering, how you've grown as an author, do you like people to read that or would you rather they wait until you do the better version?

Brandon Sanderson

I-- I'm-- That one I don't really like people reading that much because it has an inferior version of Bridge Four that I don't want people to meet. Does that make sense? Like the Bridge Four team--

Questioner

...And when you re-write it it will be better?

Brandon Sanderson

Well Bridge Four won't even be in that book anymore I moved them to Roshar. So you go back and you find the version of Rock that is not quite the right version and you'll find-- Teft is basically the same dude but a lot of the other ones have changed and morphed and they basically won't feel right anymore, if that makes any sense. Feel free to read it, don't feel bad reading it but that's the part that I'm not--

Questioner

Is that the only part you are worried about? And the rest you are like "It's not my best writing" but--

Brandon Sanderson

The rest is not my best writing but whatever. But the Bridge Four stuff, I'm like I did it so much better that it's not even going back and seeing it in rough sketches, it's like if da Vinci had painted a Mona Lisa that was ugly and a different person? You don't want it cemented in their mind that that is what the piece of art is. The rest of it I don't mind so much, I mean the main character his conflict will change dramatically because I pulled that out and gave it to another character in the books. So basically the only thing remaining that is still going to be canon is Hoid and his story, the story what's going with him there is still stuff he would have done...

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Questioner

On one of your older Writing Excuses you guys talked about doing retellings or reimagining stories. I was curious if any of your--even your short stories-- are either in full or in part retellings?

Brandon Sanderson

I use the bits-- You ever read the Alcatraz books?

Questioner

Actually those are the only ones of yours I haven't.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so those I actually--don't get weirded out-- but I used the Oedipus myth.  A little bit. Not the weirdest parts. But the y'know--

Questioner

Fate...

Brandon Sanderson

Fate, and being blind but not blind, and prophecy, and things like like that because the character tells you the end of the last book in the first paragraph of the first book and then it's all like it's almost fated to be. And so there is metaphorical blindness, and there's-- things like that. So that's the only one I used any-- and even that's really loosely structured. I wouldn't say I used any specifics, yet, for any of my books.

Unless you count archetypes. Like I like taking certain archetypes and mixing them in. Like Bridge Four is an underdogs sports story. So I use the archetype of something like losers but I made it being killed on a field of battle instead, and things like that. But those are more general, it's a more different sort of thing.

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Questioner

For new writers is there pitfalls in trying to use, like, a more famous story to tell their story?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I don’t think there are any major ones, just make sure the serial numbers are filed off enough. You know the best versions of these things are like when you realize-- well we talked about-- The Lion King, is Hamlet and when they sat down with Hamlet and said "We’re going to do Hamlet with talking lions" they made it different enough to claim it as their own. And that’s the real thing you have to do, is make sure you're claiming it as your own.

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Questioner

Why did you choose the cities you chose for Steelheart and Firefight?

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted to choose cities that I was familiar with. Like cities I had driven in, cities I knew my way around in, and things like that. Which-- It was really just based on that concept, though I've always liked Chicago because as a kid going to Chicago-- that was the big city close to Nebraska. It was the one I knew and it was like the mid-western big city, if that makes any sense. So I always felt a kinship to that. That's why I picked Chicago. I also wanted one with a lake so I could fre-- turn the lake to steel.

Questioner

...Have you chosen one for Calamity?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. I originally chose Montreal, and my publisher-- I actually said "We could do Montreal or Atlanta" and they like Atlanta better. So I decided to go ahead and go with Atlanta.

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Questioner

So someone, I can't remember who it was, told me you said something about the pools in Elantris being related to worldhopping.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Is that right?

Brandon Sanderson

That is correct.

Questioner

So when the Elantrians go in the pool do they die or do they go to a different world?

Brandon Sanderson

Well you're making those mutually exclusive.

Questioner

Oh so it can do more than one thing--

Brandon Sanderson

One thing you gotta remember is in Elantris Shadesmar, the place that we call Shadesmar, is full of a raging, powerful source of energy called the Dor. It's very, very dangerous. Nobody goes there. So, just keep that in mind.

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Questioner

What do you want to accomplish with your writing?

Brandon Sanderson

What do I hope to accomplish?

Questioner

It's kind of a deep, philosophical question.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. It is. It is indeed a philosophical question. At the end of the day the number one thing I want to do is tell great stories. Everything else is kind of an appendage to that. I'm a storyteller. And great things come from stories, but if the only thing I do is entertain some people and make their day brighter, that's a success. So sure, I'd like to create something in fantasy that's never been made before, right? Like I would like the cosmere to become this thing that people are like "No one's ever done that, look at this cool thing!" but that's secondary to just wanting to tell great stories and make people's lives a little brighter.

Yeah, I think that great books make you think, but not because they try very hard to make you think. If that makes any sense?

Questioner

I agree with it...

Brandon Sanderson

I would like to-- I would like to write something that is as immortal as Ender's Game is likely to be, right? Most of the body of Scott Card's work will probably be forgotten, but in two hundred years, they'll still be reading Ender's Game. And most everyone's work, that most everyone writes, will be forgotten but once and a while somebody creates something that is likely to stick around for a while. I'd like to do that. But that's secondary.

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Questioner

If you wanted your sons to grow up to be one of your characters, would you want them to?

Brandon Sanderson

Uhhh. If they grow up to be Dalinar, without going through the phase of being a murderous tyrant, I would probably pick that one.

Questioner

Alright, no murderous tyrants.

Brandon Sanderson

No murderous tyrants. If they could grow up to be Sazed without being, y'know, castrated that might be-- But that's the thing. A lot of my characters have been through some rough stuff.

Questioner

Almost right.

Brandon Sanderson

No, I don't think that torment necessarily makes you a good character person, there are plenty of good people who have never been through things like that, but it makes them interesting to write about.

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Questioner

When did you write your first book?

Brandon Sanderson

I started my first book when I was fifteen, and I never finished it. The first book I actually finished I started when I was nineteen. I was on a mission, and I wrote on P-days. And I finished it when I got back, because there's not a lot of time on P-days, so it took me about three years. I wrote my whole mission on P-days, and about eight months after I got home I finished it.

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Questioner

Have you thought about doing parallel stories, like Ender's Game and Shadow...

Brandon Sanderson

I have considered that and I know that at least one--I may not write it--but there's at least one in my head because there's this character Hoid who is running through all my books and what's going with him might make for an interesting parallel story if I ever write that.

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Questioner

I was wondering in what books, particularly Mistborn, is the conscious decision when you put in little snippets of LDS lore in there, like plates, metal plates--

Brandon Sanderson

You know most of it is unconscious. Once in a while something intentional slips in that I’m like "Ooh that's a cool connection". A lot of it is unconscious.

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Questioner

I know that with creation you start to lose-- honestly, your confidence in it, with creation. I was wondering if you experience that loss of worth in it, and if so, what do you do to counteract it?

Brandon Sanderson

It happens mostly when I'm working on a book. Once it's done I'm usually proud of it, but about the three-quarter point--

Questioner

I've heard that a lot. Just what do you-- How do you convince yourself it's still worth, y'know--

Brandon Sanderson

...When it starts to happen to me, I sit down and say "How can I make this scene awesome? This one that I'm writing right now?" because I can use my tools, my skills, and my practices as a writer to make that scene really awesome. And usually I'll shake things up a little bit, I'll write a different viewpoint or I'll do something I wasn't expecting to do according to the outline, just to make that scene really great. And that restores a lot of my confidence.

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Questioner

So are you going to write a Sixth of the Dusk novel?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably not. A lot of the little cosmere novellas that I'm doing, they are less important to the overarching plot of the cosmere that I designed. And so I want to visit them, show different places in the cosmere and how the magic is affecting different worlds, but the goal is not to incorporate them into the mainline story. I mean the main story takes place mostly on the planets you've seen, with a couple of other ones, and I'm sticking to that.

Questioner

So are you going to write a series that ties all the major ones together?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

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Questioner

So I have heard that it is harder to Push a Shardblade with Allomancy than it is a normal sword.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Is that true of both living and dead Shardblades?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Equally?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, no.

Questioner

Okay, so it's even more difficult to Push one alive.

Brandon Sanderson

The thing-- An Invested object is more difficult with any of the magics. So, for instance, even a Feruchemical metalmind is going to be harder. Depends on how much it is Invested, and things like that. But, y'know, it can range from you barely notice it or don't even notice it to "Wow, that's hard to Push on". Same for a Hemalurgical spike, depending on how much Investiture is left over, how long has it been outside of a body, and things like that. Same thing Pushing on something inside a person's body, their Investiture is going to interfere with it.

Same thing, when you read White Sand, why a person slapping their hand through someone's stream of sand can throw off the entire creation of the sand mastery. It's just-- There's interference patterns, and things like that.

Questioner

And is that true of a Drab as well? Does the body affect--

Brandon Sanderson

The Drab is going to have less.

Questioner

So they just have less Investiture, but they still have some natural Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

They do still have some. They've lost their Breath but that isn't the entirety of the Investiture inside of them.

Almost all of the times we see Vin--in fact I think every time--we see Vin, or someone in the Mistborn books, Pushing or Pulling on an Invested metal they are either drawing on the mist or they're Elend or the Lord Ruler who have the enhanced power, or something like that. Or it's a duralumin Push, or its one of the Inquisitors who's had a spike-- y'know, and things like that, that've-- And so it's not something that you see done very often in the Mistborn books.

Rubix

I can actually confirm that's correct.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh you guys looked it up?

Rubix

I checked.

Brandon Sanderson

I mean it can be done. And depending on Investiture it can be not even that hard to do but--

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Questioner

Is there more to the Roshar world than what is shown on the map or is it just that?

Brandon Sanderson

There is only one continent. Now if you are paying attention, that's not answering your question completely.

Questioner

It's just different realms and all that. I meant like more landmass.

Brandon Sanderson

There is only one continent on Roshar.

Questioner

Just different versions of it.

Brandon Sanderson

That doesn't mean there aren't islands out there.

Now the Mistborn world there is a whole lot more.

Questioner

We've only had that one little part so far.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, but it's basically almost all empty because... Which is actually very fun for the worldbuilding, is this idea of a mostly unpopulated world.

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Questioner

So the highstorms, they're just one storm that goes around the world or--

Brandon Sanderson

Well there are different philosophies in the world about that but-- The scientifically-minded believe their is only one storm that goes around the world. The lore says that there is a place the storms blow out of called the Origin. But the scientists don't believe that that is true.

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Questioner

Where did you get your inspiration for Kaladin?

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin came because I was reading about the life of a surgeon in the Medieval age and how it-- how strange it was to be like this person who had one foot in science and one foot not, and that was really interesting to me. And he evolved a lot over time becoming more the hybrid warrior and things like that. But that's where it started, what it was like to live and be a surgeon in a Medieval world.

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Questioner

Where did the idea to use chalk come from?

Brandon Sanderson

Y'know, I have trouble pinpointing that one. I remember the idea of chalk circles, and things like that, and just seeing those in the lore of our world's sort of magical mythology and thinking about chalk circles. I remember thinking about how I want to do a book some day about people who play a game with magic, and things like that. At the end it is just one of things that I'm like "Hey, magical Starcraft with chalk. Go!" and I just started working on it, and it happened.

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Questioner

Does Vasher have a favorite animal? *laughter* I warned you, it was random.

Brandon Sanderson

Does Vasher have a favorite animal.

Questioner

You've thought of just about everything else for your books--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I know... Would Vasher have a favorite animal? I'm sure that he had a pet or something growing up. Vasher hates just about everyone and everything these days.

Questioner

What about squirrels?

Bystander

It's a weasel!

Brandon Sanderson

He does like squirrels! Undead squirrels.

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Questioner

Who is your favorite character, character development-wise?

Brandon Sanderson

Oooh, favorite character for character development. Who develops the best? That is really hard for me to say... From any book? Who has the most development-- I would say Shallan has undergone the biggest transformation in the major books. No, Vin. Vin goes through the biggest change, so we'll go with Vin. Vin's the best character development across the course of the books.

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Questioner

Do you form emotional relationships with your characters?

Brandon Sanderson

Um-- Yeah I would say that I do. Mmhmm.

Questioner

For instance, reading The Way of Kings, I really dislike Sadeas. Do you feel that way about him too?

Brandon Sanderson

He's a rat. He's totally a rat.

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Lady Radagu

Does being the donor of a Hemalurgic spike have any implications for your afterlife? Or how about the recipient?

Brandon Sanderson

That is actually going to depend on-- Okay. Yes it has implications for the afterlife. Yes.

Lady Radagu

Okay so are there a bunch of Scadrian souls wandering the afterlife with holes in their personalities or memory or identity? Or some with extra parts tacked on?

Brandon Sanderson

So it has implications, but they are not exactly ones that you are assuming. So in the cosmere there is "dead" and "mostly dead". Okay? And this has been shown several times so once someone dies there is a period before they transition. Sazed talks about this in Mistborn 3. And so most of the implications are for before transition. Does that make sense? Post-transition you are going to have to ask the philosophers and the theologians who are the ones that talk about that. So there is an afterlife and an after-afterlife. Not as many implications for after-afterlife. Middle? Yes. Okay?

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Lady Radagu

If Shai were to gain a shardblade and she gave it up could she then create an Essence Mark that represented the history where she still had the blade? And then if she applied it could she summon the blade? Or a copy of it?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so doing that sort of thing, like re-writing herself to be an Allomancer or something like this-- This is possible but in order to gain the Investiture she wants to have she will have to input that much in Investiture which her current magic system is not capable of doing. Okay? Alright, so "re-write so that I have a shardblade" would require some sort of hacking of her magic system, which is currently impossible to her in her current situation.

Lady Radagu

So if she had had a shardblade and gave it up she could not rewrite herself to have that back without more input--

Brandon Sanderson

She could-- Yes, exactly. Now rewriting-- That would be a lot easier than just rewriting herself so that she had a shardblade--

Lady Radagu

That's what I was asking--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, but what you're asking about would be much easier and that is probably within her power. But what that would do is-- Yeah that's totally within her power. It would create some weird implications where she's summoning it and someone summons it back from her because the shardblade thinks it's owned by two people.

Lady Radagu

So it wouldn't be a copy it would be the same blade?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

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Questioner

Does Roshar have plate tectonics?

Brandon Sanderson

Roshar does not have plate tectonics, good question.

Questioner

Well when I met you in Orem, I was asking about frequencies. And you said it was more the shape of the plate-- The frequency. We've got no plate tectonics, we've got people who like to sing.

Brandon Sanderson

Good question. Now the weird thing that we would have is with the crem, we have to do some weird geology gymnastics, because Roshar is moving...

Roshar, the continent of Roshar, it's moving, right? As it gets weathered and things like this. Making Roshar actually work requires some really interesting scientific gymnastics. But one of them is I just didn't think plate tectonics, or even volcanoes and things, is just not something that is going to work on Roshar the way that I built it. So I just stayed away from all of that.  It's a pangaea.

Questioners

Is the pangaea built up of crem?

Brandon Sanderson

 It's a pangaea built up of crem.

Rubix

Over a long time--

Brandon Sanderson

Well no, because it was created at first.

Bystander

And then crem was on top of it?

Brandon Sanderson

...The whole idea that this is a fractal-- The whole point of that is, somebody built this. Somebody built this using mathematics that you know. They said "Oh. Boom. Bing!" and grew themselves a continent.

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Questioner

It seems like-- So the cosmere stuff keeps the physics in there, with the Coinshots, and things like that, it doesn't ignore mass an inertia.

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Questioner

I love that! And I love that about Jim Butcher's books too. 'Cause they keep the physics. It seems like, with the young adult stuff, it's more based on intent...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the young adult stuff, I do not keep physics. In Steelheart, or in Alcatraz... or in Rithmatist. I don't even worry about it.

Questioner

They didn't know what the line did until they knew what it was supposed to do.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, intent is important in-- Remember the magic system for Rithmatist started as cosmere. And then I made the decision with it that I was not going to have it be in the cosmere. But the magic system started as a cosmere magic system...

*audio lost*

...you can do a lot when you can break laws of conservation of matter and energy, when you can cheat them by using the Spiritual Realm. But things that we really cheated on is redshifting and things like this on the time dilation in Mistborn. I don't know if you noticed that, but there should be redshift, there should be weird radiation things, there should be-- And so we had to work around a lot of those things. And we've got our workarounds in the back of our heads. But the other weird one is when Wax is flying, and he reduces his mass, I have to remember that he speeds up, when his mass goes down because of centripetal force.

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Name Firefight release party
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