The Dusty Wheel Interview

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Name The Dusty Wheel Interview
Date
Date April 1, 2020
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#1 Copy

The Dusty Wheel

Everyone's here to find out more details about what's going on with the state of Sanderson. What can you tell the fans that you haven't said yet? How are things going, what's in process, and what can we expect?

Brandon Sanderson

I started the fourth draft of Rhythm of War today. This is the big beta read revision. I spent the last week taking a break from Rhythm of War and working on the novella that's going to go in between books 3 and 4 (theoretically, if I actually finish it). I did one of those between books 2 and 3, and I really liked it. But I only got two chapters of that done, about 10% of it. So, who knows how long it will take me to get that finished after this is done. I've got about two months of work to do this revision, and then one month left for the final polish, which will be June. Right now, just digging into that. Beta reads have given me a lot of useful feedback. A lot of things I'm changing are just slight tonal tweaks here and there, just to balance out.

One of the things that happens, particularly with a Stormlight book, is: I write a lot of viewpoints separately and then interweave them, and that ends up creating generally some tonal problems here and there, and some pacing problems that just need to be smoothed out. Either chapters need to be rearranged, or the tone of a chapter needs to change, because I have too many heavy tone chapters in a row and one of them needs to be lightened up, or vice versa. Things like that.

The Dusty Wheel

Can you give the fans a hint, maybe, about character groupings? I know that's been a big question among the fans.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not sure if I can give too much of a hint about that. What I can say is, start to make people's expectations: this is the Venli/Eshonai book. But really, it's the Venli/Eshonai flashbacks, and the main book is focusing a lot more on another character. This just naturally happened during the writing process; there was another character that ended up taking a lot of the time. It's not a person who has a flashback sequence in the books. So, you can theorize on who that would be; it's someone who does not have a flashback sequence, so it's not Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar, Szeth, Eshonai. But, really, it's this character's book, mixed with flashbacks for Venli/Eshonai. It really turned into that character's book a lot more than I was expecting, and it was one of those happy accidents where I really liked how it turned out. But fans who go into this expecting something that's as much Eshonai or Venli's book as the last book was Dalinar's book are probably going to be disappointed, because it's more of a split between these three characters. Venli/Eshonai in the flashbacks, and then someone else in the present.

So, hardcore fans, expect another character to really be the focus of this book.

The Dusty Wheel

Do you have a favorite you've already announced that's in Rhythm of War that has been your favorite character to write in this book?

Brandon Sanderson

It has been this character that I'm not going to tell you who it is.

#2 Copy

The Dusty Wheel

Where does your favorite scene take place in this book [Rhythm of War]?

Brandon Sanderson

In this one it's in Part 4. It's a character who only has one viewpoint in Part 4. It is the ... Let's just say it's the chapter in this book where we get a story from Wit. We usually get one in every book - sometimes two - we get one in this book and it's the chapter that has his story.

#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

At the end of the day, when I've been looking for my own adaptations (this is just kind of a personal philosophy), I'm not looking for someone who's gonna film my book scene-by-scene. Working on my own adaptation now for Mistborn, the treatment, I basically had to throw out the whole book and start over with the same premise, and build up the story again in a way that works for the movie medium. And that's when we finally got a treatment that works.

#5 Copy

The Dusty Wheel

What one character from The Wheel of Time series would you choose to be a worldhopper, who could then make an appearance in The Stormlight Archive, if you could?

Brandon Sanderson

Thom. Thom Merrilin is my type of character. You find a Thom Merrilin type in all of my books, and I just love him. He could appreciate it. He could appreciate going to different worlds and collecting different stories, and stuff like that.

#7 Copy

The Dusty Wheel

You've said many times [Dalinar] is the first character you ever wrote for the first book you tried to write when you were a teenager. Can you tell me more about that original version of Dalinar, how he evolved through all these years, and what is the difference between past and current version?

Brandon Sanderson

This is really hard to remember. This is a book I wrote when I was seventeen. And the basic premise was that the king got assassinated, and no one knew what to do, and his brother kind of took over as regent for the king's son, who was too young to become king. And this character was the genesis of Dalinar. The book wasn't really about him. The book was about somebody else. It was about a kid named Jerick, who was half dragon and half elf. (This was the book you write when you're seventeen, right?) And it was about the court wizard, who was a proto-Hoid. And it was kind of their story. And the Dalinar character had a completely different name. The only thing that stayed through the years is this idea of, what is your responsibility to your brother versus your kingdom. So I came back to it and in 2002 wrote Way of Kings Prime. (Which is what we call the proto-Way of Kings, which I will be releasing for people this summer for people to read. And you'll be able to see Dalinar from that book, and by then you can start to see who Dalinar has become.) My remembrance of that book is that he's just a good and upright king who's never done anything wrong, and the nuance of a lot of the characters for the Stormlight Archive came over years of working with them and trying different things and trying to find characters who were more nuanced. But I haven't read The Way of Kings Prime in seventeen years, now, so who knows what you'll find when you read that one!

#8 Copy

The Dusty Wheel

If the Eye of the World were in the cosmere, which Shard's perpendicularity would it be?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, that's a cool question. I wonder if that, in the back of my head, is where I even got Shardpools? I never thought about that before. It's totally possible, right? I read the book enough times.

Who would it be? I can see it being a Shard that doesn't exist, a Shard of kind of Prophecy, sort of thing. Like, Fortune, or something like that. Which, in the cosmere, there's not a Shard called Fortune; Fortune is kind of a property. But I could totally see that being the case. This idea of this representing Rand's destiny, and the coming destiny and being bound to the Wheel. Those are such themes in The Wheel of Time and in some of the other '80s fantasy that I read that I kind of intentionally pulled away from that in the cosmere in dealing with destiny and prophecy, except to subvert them in various cases. But, yeah, I can see it being something like that.

#9 Copy

The Dusty Wheel

When it comes to trying to do an adaptation. How would you perceive that with the Stormlight Archive? Have you thought through adapting them? And if you have, how would you proceed with it?

Brandon Sanderson

We've got three main options. The most obvious and easiest is an animated program. The level of special effects you need to have to show the spren and the strange world is so high that an animated show makes a lot of sense. And I'm monitoring very closely the fact that adult animation is becoming more and more a thing as the years progress.

Option number two is straight-up television show, streaming service high-budget television show like Witcher or something like that. Which is totally in the cards. Totally viable, not outside reason at all. Getting back a 300-page-plus screenplay that someone tried to do of The Way of Kings, it is pretty obvious that it's gonna be a tough adaptation.

If you're gonna do a movie, you do a film, I feel like the Cosmere would already have to have been established with other films that are successful, so that we could get away with a longer, higher-budget (even than the others) film. And I think there's probably a film adaptation that could work. One that focuses mostly on Kaladin, and one that probably moves Shallan's plotline to the Shattered Plains right from the get-go, in order to have her be a viewpoint of Dalinar, that you can get to know Dalinar through her being Jasnah's ward, and things like that. Which doesn't require as much time spent on Dalinar. The big problem with The Way of Kings is that it's really hard to cut any of the three major plot sequences and have it still work. Because Dalinar needs to exist in order for the ending of the book to work. And Shallan needs to exist so that you're not always at war. So that there's something else to this story to give a B story that you can cut away from to occasionally show other things happening. I think it's vital to what makes The Way of Kings work as a book, is that you get to have these cutaways.

So, yeah, I think something like that could theoretically work. But the high-budget television show is probably the best option. And that's one reason why I'm pushing so hard for a Mistborn adaptation right now. I do think Mistborn working really well lets us do a lot more with Stormlight, either with a television show or with a film, whichever direction we go. And Mistborn is the book of mine that could be a film the easiest. Right now, what we're actually looking at for Mistborn would be: Book One as a film. Book Two and a few things we cut from Book One becoming a television show that bridges to Book Three being a film.

The Dusty Wheel

Have you had any offers along those lines?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but I'm being very cagey about who they're from and whether I'm accepting them or not. Basically, I don't want to sell the rights to Mistborn or the Cosmere again. I would be interested in partnering with people, where I'm a producer and very much involved. And I don't know how reasonable that is for me to expect that it can happen, because I've not done a ton with Hollywood. But I've read all these scripts that people have set in, and I legitimately think that my outline for a script is stronger than any of the Mistborn scripts I've seen. I don't know if my screenwriting will be as good. But if I can get down the script, the outline I've written, and then have someone else polish it up so it actually works, then I think we'll be in good shape.

#10 Copy

The Dusty Wheel

I still have some left over resentment about Dalinar. It's not that I don't see redemptive arcs as very powerful, it's not that I don't recognize that there is some notion of redemption there for him. But it's not like he's out there like, "I am this redeemed person, and I am so much better." I like that there's still kind of an honesty and an awareness on his part. But I still do struggle with him, and I know he's kind of a favorite of others. How often do you kind of run into this reaction to him among fandom? Is this something that a lot of people are expressing to you? Or do you just kind of generally get, like, "Dalinar is the best"?

Brandon Sanderson

No, everybody has characters they connect with better than others. And I would say that it's a fairly even split between Shallan, Dalinar, and Kaladin. Depends on the forum you visit. If you go to a predominately, like... Reddit has a certain demographic. They do tend to like Dalinar more. But from fan mail I get, and things like this, I'd say it's about an even split who they like. And almost always, someone's gonna have one they just don't connect with. But they're fine reading about. But it doesn't click for them. It's just not their thing.

And it's totally legit, by the way. Dalinar burned the city down! You can have a redemption arc, right. But that's always bothered me. I love Star Wars, but Darth Vader blew up a planet. There's redemption arcs, and then there's "You blew up a planet!" And Dalinar's experience is even a little more personal, even though less catastrophic, because you see him do it in the books. And that's not the sort of thing that I want you to feel like you have to forgive him for. This guy was a warlord. And part of it is me kind of dealing with the fact that a lot of our famous people from history that we laud, a lot of our greatest moments in history, have these dark sides to them, right? We talk about America in World War II, and it's like, the Greatest Generation. And I don't want to downplay the contributions of those people. My wife's grandfather served on a whip in World War II and almost sank, his ship got torpedoed the day after he got off for sick leave. But at the same time, we did nuke two cities full of civilians. And that's the most dramatic, but not the worst atrocity that we committed. And you can't just ignore.

Dalinar has several distinct flaws, even still. He's bad at delegating. He is set in his ways and he is a monarchist. He believes in the kind of "Great Man Theory" is what they would call it. This is what the guy who does Hardcore History, Dan Garland, talks about, this idea that "Great Men change the world." And a lot of historians say this is kind of a fallacy. Dalinar believes in that. He believes that a strong king is required for a government to work. Which is very at odds with our modern philosophy, and I agree with our modern philosophy. I do not agree with Dalinar. I do not agree that a king is better than a ruler with more limits. I'm glad we have a president, and not a king. But Dalinar, he's all on board with this idea of "Great Men have to change the world." And he would say "men," when we would be like, "Are you sure it has to be men, Dalinar?" He is a person, is what I want to write him as being. And some of those things are gonna rub you the wrong way. And I hope that my characters learn and grow in lots of ways, but there are some things that are aspects of their personality that are just who they are.

Event details
Name
Name The Dusty Wheel Interview
Date
Date April 1, 2020
Entries
Entries 10
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