Firefight San Francisco signing

Event details
Name
Name Firefight San Francisco signing
Date
Date Jan. 17, 2015
Location
Location El Cerrito, CA
Tour
Tour Firefight
Entries
Entries 82
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#1 Copy

Questioner

White Sand, I know you're working to convert it into a graphic novel, how close is that graphic novel going to be to your initial--

Brandon Sanderson

Alright, so the question is about a book called White Sand, which is one of my unpublished novels. I wrote thirteen during the days when I was trying to break in. Several of them were good but not great. One of them was great, and that was Elantris, the one I published. There were a lot of practice novels in there and some that, with some revision, could be very good. One of those, the best of them, is called White Sand, and some of the fandom have read that. I mean, if you really want to read it, it's not up to the par of my current books--so read all of those first--but if you've run out of stuff to read you can email me and I email to people, just in my web form. But the book is actually pretty decent, it's got one major flaw, which is that it's really about 100,000 words of story stuffed into about 200,000 words of book, right. I hadn't quite learned how to do pacing quite as well, and the characters aren't quite as complex as the ones that I write now. So we are doing a graphic novel adaptation of that, because I felt that we can trim and add a little depth to characters and it'll be a great book, and it felt like it would be a lot easier for me to do that, working through scripts in a graphic novel format, because you naturally just trim, than it would be to rewrite the entire book. 

So we're doing a graphic novel, I'm doing it with Dynamite, who has put out a lot of really solid adaptations, it's one of the things that they do very well. They've been a blast to work with. Their illustrator is excellent, their schedule, they've been very regular on their schedule. I told them that I really would like to have the entire book done before we release anything, because, I don't know if there's any Wheel of Time fans here, but the Wheel of Time comic book had issues, with release times. So I'm a skeptic, because I know about that whole thing and so we're going to try and get the whole book done. So it's going to be a little while before we actually release it, but theoretically once it's done we should have the whole thing, or at least a sizable chunk of it finished already. So the big difference is going to be trimming that down. We'll also probably do a little bit more stuff with the cosmere than I originally did in it. 

#2 Copy

Questioner

Any plans on doing anything similar with Aether of Night?

Brandon Sanderson

Any plans to do Aether of Night, which is the next best book? And really the only other one that I want people reading, because the rest kind of fall into the threshold of, yes this is not as good as my current work and it's bad. Aether of Night is two good books put together that don't intertwine very well. I'm more likely to take Aether of Night and take pieces of it, like I did with some other books, and make a new book out of it, than I am to  do a graphic novel.

#3 Copy

Questioner

Would it be reasonable to assume that Baxil's mistress is Shalash?

Brandon Sanderson

Hehehe. That is a reasonable assumption, that Baxil's mistress is Shalash, or just Ash as she is normally known. That is a reasonable assumption. Whether I can confirm that it's true or not-- That should be one of the top candidates for who that is. 

#4 Copy

Questioner

Are you thinking of making a card game? I kind of searched your--

Brandon Sanderson

Am I thinking of making a card game? So Crafty Games who has the rights to the Mistborn stuff, they want to do a card game. I like what they've done with the RPG, if you play pen and RPG's we do have one, it's pretty decent, but first I think they're going to do a board game, and then that. So I have no plans to do one other than the standup cards, the one that are in the cosmere, may eventually have some sort of weird game that goes with them that I've come up with, but I can't promise when that'll actually happen. These ones don't have stats on them because they're not in the cosmere. But they're still cool.

#5 Copy

Questioner

Are there cats anywhere in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes there are cats in the cosmere. There are lions in Mistborn, and have been mentioned numerous times, so you can assume, extrapolation, that there are also cats in the worlds somewhere. Scadrial, the Mistborn world... is my Earth analogue. When I was designing I'm like, I'm gonna design this one in such a way that I can-- because I knew I was going to be doing 1900's fiction, and 1980's fiction, I wanted it to have some sort of parallel societal evolution and so I put in a lot of parallel cultural things, and things like that. So you can make an assumption that, unless I say otherwise, on Scadrial they have basic Earth ecology, particularly now after events that I can't talk about because they're spoilers.

#6 Copy

Questioner

How did you come up with the weird weaknesses for Epics in Steelheart?

Brandon Sanderson

How did I come up with the weird weaknesses for Epics in Steelheart? Honestly? Ooh. This is rule zero. I'm like, one of the things going on with Steelheart is, number one it has to fit the structure of the magic system, which you find out in book two, why people have the weaknesses they do, but number two, I'm like, I need to be coming up with some way to keep this a little more light-hearted because it really is about a bunch of people running around assassinating other people, so I didn't want to let that get tooooo dark, if that makes sense. I'm not really a grimdark writer, so I wanted to come up with some things that added-- just kind of played into the fact that superheroes, at their core, are kind of ridiculous, right. I mean, the whole genre, I love it but it's a little ridiculous and so part of this is just buying into all of that. Some of them it's just because I thought it was cool.

#7 Copy

Questioner

Do you have any idea which book of yours might make it to the movie theaters first?

Brandon Sanderson

Which one might make it to the movie theaters first? So right now it's going to be a race because I would say that a lot of things are kind of equal footing, because most of my options that we have for films lapsed last year and then we resold them. So we're kind of starting from scratch on everything. We sold Legion again, we sold Mistborn again, and we sold The Emperor's Soul shortly before.

*crowd ooh's and aah's*

And then we sold Steelheart like on Friday. Steelheart had been optioned and they let it lapse. Mistborn had been and Legion had been, so we've got four new companies basically working on it, but every time we do this my profile as a writer has raised to the point that we get a better crowd, if that makes sense. Like the Steelheart deal I'm really excited about. I love the producer, he's the guy that did-- did you guys see Real Steel? Did you ever see that, the Richard Matheson story? The guy who did that. I loved that, I thought it was-- it was one of those movies I watched expecting it to be dumb, and it was great. But he also did the Night at the Museum stuff, and things like that, and so I'm really excited about that.

But the Mistborn script treatments are excellent, the best treatments I've gotten. What that means is that's what you write as a producer to give to a screenwriter to then write the screenplay, and then after that you get stars attached, and then after that someone finally gives you money and you make the film. So we're still a long way away, but the treatments are really good.

And then, you know, the guys who have The Emperor's Soul are super enthusiastic. They're DMG, they made the Iron Man films with Marvel, they're super enthusiastic and they went down the cosmere rabbit hole. They bought it and then they're like, "who is this--" let me see this deleted scene about this guy named Hoid. So I gave it to them and they're like, "wait a minute", and they started reading everything. And so they've come back to me and they're like "sooo, um, the Sanderson cinematic universe..." So I don't know what's going to happen with that, but there's lots of discussion about things like that. And they've been talking to the Mistborn guys, and so--

But this is all very new, meaning we're at the preliminary stages of all of it. There's like, nothing I can officially even announce other than "These people have bought these rights, these people have bought these rights". Maybe we'll get something made eventually. I've gotten really close before and it hasn't happened so, who knows.

#8 Copy

Questioner

Can you talk a little bit about writing your action sequences?

Brandon Sanderson

Writing action sequences, alright, alright... So writing sequences. The trick to writing an action sequence as a novelist is to not try to do what Hollywood does well, on the page. Instead do what a book does well. What I mean by that is, I can watch, like I assume most people can, Jackie Chan, he can fight for an hour and I'm loving it. He can introduce physical comedy into it and just the punches and stuff are just great, the blow by blow is fun. But if you tried to write a blow by blow in a book, you know "he punched him", then "he kicked him", then "he punched him really hard", and then "he jumped over and kicked him" it would just get boring. And so the way I think to write and engage the action sequences is, number one, make sure the reader knows very soon on what's at stake and have them care about what's at stake. Number two, get them inside the head of the character, so what the character's thinking, feeling and what connections they're making. In other words, make the fight sequence into a puzzle. Your main character's got to solve this puzzle in some way, and maybe the way to solve that puzzle is to just stab a bunch of people really hard, but you want to follow that thought process and have motion in the scene that involves the character's desires, goals, and thoughts, and things like that, and you'll have a stronger action sequence that way. It's the sort of thing that movies can't do. They can't show you the thoughts unless it's David Lynch doing Dune, and then-- have you seen that movie? You know how that turned out, it was really weird.

#9 Copy

Questioner

In Words of Radiance you have a great line which said "careful planning is the water which nourishes creativity". I was wondering if, when you wrote that line, were you specifically thinking about novel outlines?

Brandon Sanderson

So there's a line in Words of Radiance that's says "careful planning is the water which nourishes creativity". Was I specifically thinking of outlines? So when I speak most lines like this, I'm trying to speak through someone's eyes. That's Navani, I believe, who says that am I right? The idea being that that's the way they'd perceive it. There are other people who would disagree. Now I am a planner, so I understand that mindset a lot. I use a lot of outlines. There are other people who don't plan at all and their books still turn out awesome. So I think there are a lot of different ways to be creative. But I don't think that Navani thinks that there are a lot of different ways. If that makes any sense. She has a different perspective on it perhaps.

#10 Copy

Questioner

I know you have an immense amount of your own work lined up but have you given any thought to revisiting The Wheel of Time?

Brandon Sanderson

So question is any thoughts of revisiting The Wheel of Time, ok. So, Robert Jordan was very uncomfortable with the idea of people writing in his universe. To the point that, if you read interviews with him, people would ask "So what happens if you die?" and he would say "I will order my hard drives to be bulldozed into a landfill and never accessed". He changed his mind at the end, partially because of the prodding on his wife who wanted to see it finished, and he said "I do want you to find somebody". But for those of us who know how uncomfortable he was with the idea, I just--

From the beginning when I sat down with Harriet in 2007 or 2008 when we were talking about this, I'm like "I don't know that it's right to do any more books" and she said "Yes, I agree with you". So we presented a united front, because the publisher wants more books. They always want more books. The publisher's job is to get more books right, and both of us together just said this should not happen, because of Robert Jordan's wishes. And beyond that, he didn't leave any notes, right, for other things. I mean Robert Jordan was one of these discovery writers who didn't outline a lot. What he did is he had touchstone moments through the series he knew he was going to get to and he would write towards those. When I was given the outline for the ending, the "outline", what it was was the scenes he'd already written, and Q&A's with his assistants where they asked him what's going to happen with this person, and then a few of those touchstones written as a paragraph. This is what's going to happen to this character, this is what's going to happen to this character. There was no, like, A-B-C, no outline or anything like that, and it was very free-form.

Anything else we would have to do, like he left two lines about what he was going to do for the sequel trilogy. It would have to be so much me that I don't think it would be appropriate. Now I can't speak for Harriet and the estate. Maybe they will change their mind on that. Certainly stranger things have happened, and if they do, I will support them and say go for it, but I probably wouldn't write them myself, just because I don't think it would be appropriate.

#12 Copy

Questioner

Last month you posted a picture of your Dropbox right and there is that one folder that we read about. Is there anything you can tell us about that yet?

Brandon Sanderson

So I posted a picture of my Dropbox and I just happened to have crossed out one of the folders. What can I say about that-- you'll know eventually. There's not a whole lot i can say about it because its mere existence is a spoiler to people who haven't read certain other books. And so that's the reason why I crossed it out.

Questioner

We can assume it's cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

I can't say either way. It's mere existence is a spoiler. You will find out eventually, but it is definitely a little side project that I may or may not actually ever finish.

#13 Copy

Questioner

What are you reading right now?

Brandon Sanderson

What am I reading right now? So I most recently finished The Martian by Andy Weir, which is big thumbs up, it is fantastic. By the way, he has a potty mouth so kids, be aware, but fantastic book. After that I read Naomi Novik’s new book, which comes out in June--I get them early! It's called Uprooted and I liked that a lot too. Those are both very solid. Otherwise I am reading-- let's see, I've got a couple. Oh, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, read that, really liked that. So those are my three, I read them all in December.

Right now I'm reading Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett, one of my favorite writers, and I'm also reading Peter Orullian's second book. He's a fantasy novelist who would really like me to give him a cover quote, so I'm reading his book to see if I can give it a cover quote or not. He's a Tor author that writes epic fantasy.

#15 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering if you had an inspiration for Cody.

Brandon Sanderson

For Cody, yes I did actually. I was at a convention in the South and I had someone, a guy, use y’all for "me", and I'm like, "Y'all for one person?" and he's like "Yeah, that's how you use it" for one person. *laughter* Really? And he just tried to convince me that this is true. So I went to wikipedia and they said there are some delusional people who use it that way. So I'm like, I'm totally building a character around this person who, you know, I couldn't tell the whole time if he was pulling my leg because I was not from the South, or if indeed that was his little regional dialect, that y'all is one person and all y'all was two, which is what he tried to convince me-- it is true? You say it's true?

Bystander

It's from Kentucky.

Brandon Sanderson

See I have gotten-- I have gotten more emails about from Southerners who say "You've committed the great sin for a non-Southerner by using it that way, and it's an abomination, and it's not true". And I'm like, wow I must have done something right. 'Cause they hate that. I'm getting it from the people from Atlanta, they're like "this is not-- this is not correct". You know, Charleston, where they're all like the hoity-toity Southerners. So anyway, yeah that's where Cody came from. That idea.

#16 Copy

Questioner

I wanna know about Alloy of Law, if there was an actor who was going to play Wayne, who would you--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh who would I cast to play Wayne in Alloy of Law? I have no idea. I don't cast characters. I pay a lot of attention to directors but I feel like the best actors are the ones that always surprise you. Like if you were to tell me Matthew McConaughey was doing what he did these last couple of years, if you would have said that ten years ago, I would have laughed at you right, because the best actors can do so many different things. So I don't know, I have no idea who I'd cast. The only actors I've ever really cast in my books, if you guys have read... Legion, about a guy who's schizophrenic but not really, he sees hallucinations but they help him solve crimes; I cast all the hallucinations as actors, so if you pay close attention you can tell who each of these hallucinations are because a lot of them are famous actors. Except for Kalyani who's a friend of mine.

#18 Copy

Questioner

So it's one thing to write a book, how do you pitch a book then? What was the hardest pitch?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh pitches are hard. How do you pitch books, is what she's asking. So hard. You know what taught me to pitch books was standing in book stores. In my early days I would ask them, like I would do a signing at a Barnes and Noble and no one would come of course, because no one had ever heard of me. So it was really me standing behind a cart by the door, trying to shill my book to everyone who walked in the doors. Very used car salesman. "So, you like fantasy novels? You know anyone that likes fantasy novels? Have you heard of The Hobbit?" And so what I had to do it I had to come up with a two sentence way to tell people what my book was. And so if you have a book I would practice on just people-- you know, your acquaintances and say "Can i tell you about my book I just so I can practice", see if you can get it down to two or three sentences. And once you start doing that you'll get a feel for what things you can talk about in your book that made people say "Oh, that's cool" and what made their eyes glaze over. Usually stay away from a lot of names and background stuff, and point toward one great concept in your book, whether it's a character concept or what. When I pitched Mistborn I'm like "what if the hero who'd been prophesied to save the world failed?". Like what if Frodo had gotten to the end of Lord of the Rings and Sauron had said "thanks for bringing my ring back, I've been looking for that", and killed him and took over the world? You know, "what if", and that was how I started that one. 

Questioner

And was that how you pitched it to your publisher?

Brandon Sanderson

When I pitched the publishers I was not nearly as good at it as I am now and I just relied on my writing sample to get me through. My pitches were terrible, so don't-- It's very hard to learn but the only way to do it is to practice with people. That's good, that's going to take you further than anything.

#19 Copy

Questioner

Szeth-son-son-Vallano is one of my favorite characters and I was wondering how-- He's so complex, right, which is why I love him. What was your inspiration for him, and how did you get all those amazing layers of--

Brandon Sanderson

What was my inspiration for Szeth? Boy. Talking about my inspiration for characters is one of the hardest things that I do because, while I plan my settings a lot and I plan my outlines a lot, I do not plan my characters in the same way. I actually discovery-write my characters and this is something I do very intentionally because I feel like if I plan the character too much, I plan the life out of them basically. So when I have a plot I basically cast a bunch of people in it. I'll write a chapter with someone in it and I'll throw it away, and I'll a chapter with a different personality, and I'll do that until somebody clicks with that plot. Once I know who they are I'll usually rebuild the outline to fit them, kind of the character has veto power over the plot that I've designed for them. But I just keep casting people in the roles, and with Szeth I think it was the whole idea of when I was building Roshar and I'm like, alright, I know there's going to be a place where there aren't any rocks, the rest of the world is all about this kind of stone sensibility to it so what if it's reversed, what if these people worship stone. What if stone were holy. And so I kind of built out of that, it was his religious ideals that came first. 

#20 Copy

Questioner

What is the most unforgettable frustration ever since you became a writer?

Brandon Sanderson

Ah most unforgettable frustration since becoming a writer. Boy. I would say that, as a writer, since being published the number one frustration is sometimes I have to meet a deadline instead of just going off and writing whatever bizarre thing I want. I still do that a lot but once in a while I've got to meet a deadline, and I've been training myself to be like no, I'm writing this book, and I have to be creative and excited about that book. And I can't write until I get creative and excited about it. So it's that trying to get myself to make sure that I'm created and excited about a book, that's very difficult. I would say that touring is also, it gets very exhausting. I was surprised at by how exhausting  going on tour a lot can do. We've mitigated that by keeping me from having to get early mornings, when I don't have to have an early morning I'm much more chipper. I'm not a morning person, I'm a night person, and numerous days in a row with not enough sleep can make me a zombie.

#21 Copy

Questioner

If you could have any of your powers from any of your novels, in the real world, which one would it be?

Brandon Sanderson

Which power would I have? I would definitely be an Allomancer. Because all the metal we've got around-- steelpusher-- coinshot, I would just jump all over the place, it would be super cool. That's not the smart one to pick, no, because there are ones that'll be like "this can keep you alive", or "be immortal!" But no I'm gonna push on metals and fly.

#22 Copy

Questioner

Since Disneyland is taking over the world, Disneyland is obviously Librarians. So is Alcatraz ever going to visit Disneyland?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh that's a good question. He should because Disneyland is totally Librarians. They totally run that. I will consider that. I will consider that. Good question. Alcatraz 5 is written. We're re-releasing the Alcatraz books with new covers and new artwork and all sorts of cool things like that starting January of next year [2016] and they'll run straight through to the fifth book which will come out in the summer sometime.

#23 Copy

Questioner

You've developed so many worlds and so many magic systems, how do you keep them all straight?

Brandon Sanderson

How do I keep everything straight, all the worlds and all the magic systems? I use a wiki--

Questioner

You do your worlds all at once--

Brandon Sanderson

Nah I jump around-- I use a wiki. I use a personal wiki called WikidPad, you can't use it, it's only mine, and it's like 400,000 words at last count, which is about the length of Way of Kings. And I have now a continuity editor who goes in after I write a book and they put everything in. That's my method. But I am kind of scatterbrained, I will forget my keys, I'll go to the airport without my wallet and have to talk my way through security. But I don't forget stories. They stick up there.

#26 Copy

Questioner

Would the weaknesses that you thought of for Firefight... Is that, did you think of that when you were writing Firefight, did those apply in Steelheart?

Brandon Sanderson

They should apply in Steelheart. The things that I thought of in Firefight should apply in Steelheart, the weaknesses.

#29 Copy

Questioner

In Stormlight, how the hell does society work with one object standing for both the currency, the magic system, and light and power--

Brandon Sanderson

How does it work in Roshar with one thing spanning-- for the economy, the magic system, and... lighting up everything. They would ask, "How  you could possibly have three different things?" because it makes no sense to them. It totally functions, I think. The big distinction is you can't use Stormlight for lighting if-- Like that's something for rich people. You'll see poor people using candles and whatnot, because hanging out your spheres is not a smart idea in some other places. There are spheres that are a low light level that are worth about a candle or so, so if you put a candle out someone could just swipe that, it's worth the same amount. There's really no difference between putting out a candle and that. If you're going to put out a lantern you can put spheres in it and lock it up.

#30 Copy

Questioner

In one of your Alcatraz books, what exactly is the meaning of fourteenth, upside-down übercousins?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughing* Ah, this is one of the weird sorting systems that is used by the Librarians and it's a weird word. What does it mean? I have no idea, I just made it up. Sorry! No no, that's not the real answer. The right answer is Alcatraz wrote those books and I've never been to the Free Kingdoms or met the real Librarians, so I have no idea what he's talking about. I'm just the name they put on the cover so the Librarians don't find him.

#31 Copy

Questioner

What advice would you give to people who want to be authors?

Brandon Sanderson

What advice would I give to people who want to be authors? ...You want to be a writer? So, I have these little cards that say "so you want to be a writer", I'm going to pass one back to you. So the number one thing I'd say that as a writer you want to know is, your duty, your job, is to practice in such a way that you can become a person who can write great books. Your job is not to write a great book. Your job is to practice so you become people who write great books. So treat becoming a writer like you treat becoming a pianist, or becoming a doctor, or anything else that is a goal you want to achieve. Say, I'm going to take years to do this. I'm going to practice consistently. And I am going to not stress right now if I am not achieving what I want to do. You don't start off doing brain surgery, you don't start off playing Rachmaninoff. You start off practicing and just do that. If you are willing to do that, you will improve and you will be surprised how fast you grow. If instead you're like I need to write the perfect paragraph or the perfect chapter before I can move on, and you stare at that and beat your head against it you will never improve.

There's a story told by someone, you can google this online, just look for the, ah-- pottery-- uh, oh... trying to remember what it's called-- Alright I can't tell you how to google it but maybe your googlefu is better than mine when I tell you the story. So there's this person who teaches pottery and he shared in his book--and I've read the book, and seen it, and things like this--a story about how he one year split his class in half, and had one half, the new beginners in pottery, their job was each week their grade was going to be based on how good a pot they made. They've gotta make the best pot they can every week, turn it in, he would give them a grade for that week. And, you know, that's how good you were. The second group, he said you're going to get a grade based on the weight of all the pots you create this week, meaning we're just going to weigh them and if you hit this certain amount you are going to get an A, if you get this certain amount you're going to get a B. He did this for the entire semester teaching exactly the same way and at the end he said "Now make the best pot you can" to both groups. And the best pots all came from the group who did their grade by weight. All of them. The best pots came from that group. Not the people who tried to make a perfect pot every week, but the people who tried to make the most pots every week. And that works in creative endeavors quite a bit, that practice trumps perfection on the small scale when you're starting.

#32 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

When spren die, they kind of become part of everything, so why did, when the Knights broke their oaths, why did they stay as Shardblades?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They had been bound into that form by those oaths. The oaths are broken, but it's like they’re cracked. Does that make sense? Like, there's still something holding those spren and that's what made them *inaudible* It would have been better if they had actually died, does that make sense? But they couldn't-- they're bound in that form.

Questioner (paraphrased)

But their consciousness is still, like, gone?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They still have a consciousness, some of them. To an extent.

Questioner (paraphrased)

That's why the screaming happens.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes.

Footnote: The first part of this was transcribed from a separate recording, so it should be close to verbatim. However, the audio file has been taken down, so it cannot be verified exactly.
#33 Copy

Questioner

I struggle because I go through books so quick, and so I've gone through a lot of your recommendations, and a lot of other recommendations from other people on reddit, on your reddit page, but where do you find books that you read?

Brandon Sanderson

These days normally it is people ask me for cover quotes. And so what people send in, I read the first few pages, or my wife, she reads voraciously and what she finds-- Like The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks, I got that from her, if you haven't read that it's really good. It's like half non-fiction book, well it's all non-fiction but half like science writing and half biography, it's really cool. Definitely check out Uprooted when it comes out, that's very good. You've read the Hyperion books?

Questioner

Yes.

Brandon Sanderson

Ok, what else is good that you may not have really read? My recommendations right, if you've read Guy Gavriel Kay...

Bystander

Yeah...the student of yours who wrote a book?

Brandon Sanderson

Ah yeah Brian McClellan's. You've read Brain McClellan's? You've read everything! Something old and long...Elric [by Michael Moorcock]. Elric's pretty decent. It depends on if you like heroic fantasy, you know more of-- that, and David Gemmel, both of those heroic fantasy, try one, see if you like that style there's a ton of them out there.

#34 Copy

Questioner

When it comes to like, touring and stuff like that, how do you pick these locations?

Brandon Sanderson

Sometimes, it's my publisher, sometimes it's me saying let's go somewhere different. And sometimes it's places where I've come a lot where they do a good job, like when I come to a store like this, I feel like they do a good job, so I put a good report into the publisher and say, feel free to send me back to that store.

Questioner

Ok, because I'm a student at Sunset University, and I have a lot of people who are fans there, and I'd love it if you know--

Brandon Sanderson

The best way to get me into places like that is if you have a local convention, science fiction convention, having them invite me to be guest of honor, I do that sort of thing a lot.

#37 Copy

Questioner

My brother and I have been debating about Hoid and how he got his abilities. We have a couple theories. One of them is Hemalurgy. The other has to do with the portals into the worlds themselves, because the birds in Sixth of Dusk--

Brandon Sanderson

Ok, he doesn't have Hemalurgy right now. He has powers that predate the Shattering of Adonalsium. Not all of his powers predate, but he does have powers that predate.

Questioner

Ok, so I was wrong on both counts then. Am I wrong on both counts?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not saying that, I'm saying that he does have powers that predate but he has also gained powers since.

#43 Copy

Questioner

How far ahead in the timeline is Sixth of Dusk?

Brandon Sanderson

Pretty far.

Questioner

Can I have a general--

Brandon Sanderson

Most people that I'm writing about now are dead.

Questioner

Is it up into the third trilogy of Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

It is that era, yes.

Questioner

Sweet! That's what I thought.

Brandon Sanderson

It might be a little bit before that trilogy, but it's that era.

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Questioner (paraphrased)

Warbreaker had just come out, and I was talking about how you used more comedy in the book, and I was asking about it and everything else, and I was so pleased that you've done such a wonderful job with it, I enjoyed the humor aspects, besides it just sets everything up perfectly.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I feel that a great book is going to have a wide range of emotions, so I try to stick various different ones in.

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Questioner

I've always thought in Steelheart, or in the Reckoners series, what influenced your characters like that, like was there comic books behind that? 

Brandon Sanderson

I've read a lot of comics, so you can find--

Questioner

Any specific ones that influenced you?

Brandon Sanderson

Watchman influenced everyone. Kingdom Come is one of first that made me really think about comics. My favorite was the old Eastman and Laird original Turtles. But I don't know if that's as much inspiration as me just enjoying it. I don't know. I like the graphic novels like the Killing Joke... that feel like a self-contained story.

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Questioner

From the very beginning did you already know-- like cosmere? Like was that your goal setting out?

Brandon Sanderson

It was my goal very early on. In fact, before I wrote any books I wrote a short story about Hoid. So he goes back to before the very first book that I wrote. So yeah it goes back pretty far. I can trace inspirations back to Asimov tying Foundation and Robots together and feeling like that was really cool and wanting to do something like that, if it makes sense. And so I would say that’s probably like the first seed was when I read the later Foundation books and they tied them together.

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Questioner

I write as well, and I was wondering what books you use to improve your own writing?

Brandon Sanderson

I have found both of Orson Scott Card’s books to be very good. Stephen King's book is very good. I find that my writing improves more when I read people's writing that I admire and then ask myself what they did well. That helps me more than some of the textbooks. 

Questioner

That's kind of how I was feeling too, for myself, so excellent.

Brandon Sanderson

Breaking down someone who's really good at this, like Anne McCaffrey, or somebody like that, and saying "what is she actually doing?".

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Questioner

I was reading stuff online about like a Mistborn videogame?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, we'll still working on it. It's taking much longer than we thought. The developer, that producer of the game and I had chosen, they, ah, had a falling out and split and so we had to start over from scratch and that's what really threw us for a loop. We then took it to a really prestigious one-- game company that I love and they considered it for a long time, but it turned out that they just didn't have the time and couldn't do it. So now we are kind of back to square one finding a third group to do it.

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Questioner

In the end of Words of Radiance, Syl is turning into a Shardblade as well as other different weapons, and Kaladin has a whole bunch of windspren around him. I am wondering if that is a precursor to Shardplate?

Brandon Sanderson

I think you are a very smart man and you are asking wise questions.

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Questioner 1

I've been trying to figure out how to... make an Alethi dress with a safehound pouch without the hand being all bulky.

Questioner 2

Yeah, or looking like it's amputated.

Brandon Sanderson

There are people online who have done them and they look good.

Questioner 2

Yeah, I've looked them up. The problem is when you have the thing there, and because your putting things that are about the size of a marble, it ends up looking like there's a clump.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah, it does. It does look-- it looks odd to our eyes. It's natural to them, if that makes any sense, but if you make it a little bit tighter, also we found that helps.

Questioner 2

But what it be unreasonable for it to go really long, because I was thinking that would be kind of pretty.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah you could totally do a really long one.

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Questioner

I had a question about how the Alethi women exhibit their wealth through their dresses. So I know there’s embroidery in the fabric and the fact that you're kind of disabling one arm? But besides that?

Brandon Sanderson

So gemstones, like well cut gemstones and then fill them with Stormlight. 

Questioner

Oh ok, but they're round, so...

Brandon Sanderson

No no, not the spheres, the actual stones. Gemstone rocks will still hold-- The sphere is just the way to make sure you don't lose them, you can make any sort of jewellery or gemstone, in your hair or anything like that, glowing would be how they would show off their wealth.

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Questioner

What kind of embroidery is it [on Alethi women's clothing]? Is it like flowers, patterns?

Brandon Sanderson

No no, it is a lot of things but the Alethi's don't do the flower thing as much... It's not really an Alethi thing, floral patterns. So you are seeing a lot of designs and hatchings. They may look a little Arabic to you. Or the glyphs and things like that you will see worked in but very stylized.

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Questioner

When you do your outline, all the revelations and twists, do you always stick to your outline?

Brandon Sanderson

I do not. Now the difference between me and someone who's more of a discovery writer is I will rebuild my outline when I start going off of it. So what I'll usually do is I'll try-- if I think I'm gonna break the outline, I'll try a chapter that direction, see if I like it. If I do I'll then rebuild the outline and then go forward on it.

Questioner

Do you ever refer back to your previous book?

Brandon Sanderson

Definitely. Usually what I'll do is I make an outline for the first book, I'll write the first book, and then I will outline the series. That's very common for me.

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Questioner

You're a lot faster at getting your books out, getting these really awesome books out, then many other writers. And I think you know who I'm thinking about. What’s the secret?

Brandon Sanderson

The secret is my work ethic. It's beaten into me by my parents I think. I write every day. It's like that classic pioneer work ethic. I just, I write my stories every day, I do this compulsively. I think the other thing is, we talk about someone like Pat Rothfuss. He is a perfectionist, to a level beyond me. I am okay getting my prose pretty good and then handing it to the editor, and letting them work on it, you know what I mean. He has to be perfect before he hands it on, if that makes sense. And I think that as a result, his biggest strength over me as a writer is his prose is more lyrical because he works so hard on it. So it shows. It's like he takes that extra one percent, but that extra one percent takes him like two extra years to get. Some other writers, as you get older, they just, the grind of it gets to them and they slow down. I just love what I do and I write every day.

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Questioner

If you electrified metal would that have any impact on being able to Steelpush or Ironpull it?

Brandon Sanderson

I do not currently have that as an effect, that interfering with it requires Investiture, and electrifying is not Investiture. So no it would not. In fact, I'm absolutely sure it will not because the plans call for that to be a possibility they are doing in the future.

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Questioner

When you're developing magic systems do you have it all planned out before you start writing the scenes?

Brandon Sanderson

I usually do, but I let myself have some wiggle room to change things as I go. Usually by the end of the first book I have it all locked down. Before the first book I have an outline for my magic system. I write the book and see how it works and see if there are things I need to tweak, and then I go back and make sure that it's locked down, and then I can write the other two to be consistent with the first one.

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Questioner

What's your ideal work environment?

Brandon Sanderson

Sitting by the fire, feet up, easy chair--recliner, laptop, music. It's not very complicated. I can write almost anywhere if at least the laptop and music are there. 

Questioner

What do you listen to?

Brandon Sanderson

It really depends on my mood and what I'm into at the moment. Right now I've just got a playlist on Spotify that someone has made. It's called epic soundtracks and there's like 800 songs on it. I put that on shuffle. But I guess it just depends on my mood.

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KiManiak

Do some Surges have a stronger cognitive aspect--or cognitive influence, if aspect is too general--do some have a stronger cognitive aspect than others? For instance does Illumination tend to have more of a stronger cognitive--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah you could say that some do. I think that that is a legitimate-- Though I'd say it is the subject of debate.

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KiManiak

So, for Shardplate, when Kaladin killed the Shardbearer, which we know is Helaran, in Way of Kings, Amaram remarked that Amaram knew the Shardbearer was dead both because the Shardblade didn't disapper and also because the Shardplate began to fall off of him. And so my question is, is there some type of "lesser" bond between Shardplate and its wearer, like is it in sync with the wearer's lifeforce or--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

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Questioner

What is Feruchemy, is it tied to any Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

Feruchemy, is it tied to any Shard in specific? Yes, they talk about that in the books.

Questioner

Ok, it's like, of Preservation?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you could say that.

Brandon Sanderson

Because it seems like one Shard, one magic system?

Brandon Sanderson

Here's the thing, it's more that-- They, in their philosophy, say that it's kind of a hybrid between the two, but you could kind of feel that it's more--

Questioner

It seems more Preservation.

Brandon Sanderson

It seems more Preservation, but in-world they think it's kind of a hybrid. The philosophy says that one was kind of net-positive, one was kind of net-negative and one was a hybrid. That's their in-world philosophy. I personally would place it more with Preservation.

Questioner

Ok so more than one magic system can be tied to one Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. 

Questioner

Ok, that's what I wanted to know.

Brandon Sanderson

Here's the thing, the definition of magic system can be, is so fluid. Like you can look at this book and say "how many magic systems are there?". Is Surgebinding one or is it ten?

Questioner

Allomancy's 16--

Brandon Sanderson

Is Allomancy 16 or one, and things like that. So yes multiple magic systems can be tied to a Shard.

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Questioner

I'm a poet myself and I totally related to your thoughts on writing and how to keep it fresh and on fire, and yet disciplined.

Brandon Sanderson

I have a lot of respects for poets, it is hard work. When I had to do poetry in one of my books, I actually went to a poet and hired them to write the poems, to put the-- I don't know if you've read Words of Radiance, but the songs were kind of hired out, because I don't trust my own poetry chops, they're just not good enough.

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Questioner

Atium and lerasium are their own special ways of Investiture, of using it. Do the other Shards have those, that even within their magic systems are unique just to that one Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Can you tell me anything about any of that?

Brandon Sanderson

You might see some of them some day? I think, I know you've seen at least one, but people don't know what it is? One person's asked me a question about it, so somebody's figured it out but, yeah, there are things like that in other worlds. Kind of, distilled essence of Shard, yeah.

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Questioner

So the shape of the Shardblades of the spren that pretty much die and leave them afterwards, are they specific because of something? Or just because that's how the Radiant used them, in that shape? 

Brandon Sanderson

It is a mixture of how the Radiant views them, and how-- Their nature. It's a mixture of their nature and how the Radiant views them.

Questioner

Were they still able to shape them however they want? ...The Shardblades. 

Brandon Sanderson

Originally? Yes.

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Questioner

What's going on in the other pole of Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson

Oooh that's a big ol' RAFO. But it is a RAFO with a promise that you will find out before too long.

Questioner

So in these coming two Mistborn books, maybe? Because there was some mention of something to do with that, I thought, briefly, in Alloy of Law, just some vague--like there was something that had been found, or some brief contact, maybe...

Brandon Sanderson

*Brandon clears his throat, significantly* let me say this, so I don't spoil things. By the time we do the 1980's level technology, the whole world will have been explored. I mean, I can't really do the second trilogy, with-- I mean, by then, you know what the continents look like, and things. Even in Scadrial, where they just haven't explored nearly as much, but they're kind of behind on that so far, so sometime between now and then, exploration of the world has to happen. 

Questioner

Good point. Because they didn't have the whole volcano thing going on. 

Brandon Sanderson

No they didn't. They did not.

Questioner

How is there anyone alive over there?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, I can tell you this because it's in the annotations. The people down there were placed as kind of a control group to the changes that were made to the people of the north, where changes were made to live with the ash and things like that. But other changes were still made to them. Or changes happened to them, shall I say. 

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Silver

Did you ever confirm Renarin's eye color?

Brandon Sanderson

I don't know if I have. Peter would have to look in the wiki and see if I've written something that contradicts or not. But I have not yet, I don't think. But if you write us an email I can, it's something I just have to be able to look up.

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Silver

If you created a Forgery where someone was killed, would that person stay dead or would they wake up when the stamp wore off?

Brandon Sanderson

Umm ok. So you, in order to kill them, would have to Forge them to death, right. You can't just like-- for instance, if you rewrote this table so for whatever reason it believed that I was dead, it wouldn't affect me at all, it would only affect the table, because if you rewrote the table to believe it had been carved a certain way and I was the carver, I wouldn't remember doing that. So the Forgery affects only the item. If you stuck a stamp on me that forged me to be dead, I think that would probably be-- Depends on what you do to me, but it could go either way.

Questioner 2

It would have to be be believable wouldn't it?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah it would have to be believable, but it could go either way. Depending on how you created it, and what was going on. It's a good question.

Silver

I did not come up with it!

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it is a good question... That could create some interesting paradoxes also.

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Aila

Would food from Hallandren be considered men or women's food in Alethkar?

Brandon Sanderson

Food from Hallandren I think is mostly going to be considered masculine food. Let me see-- I'd have to go and look and see at my notes what they're eating because there's a lot of Pacific islander influence on the area, not the culture, but where they are. So there's going to be a lot of fruit in their diet, but I think I mention that-- yeah I think it's gonna be mostly man-food. Actually no, I'm going to retract that, it's going to be both. They're going to be weirded out by it, because they're not-- you know, like our food, if they came here and ate, they would be weirded out by it. Number one a lot of it would be too bland. So they'd be like ehh, we're not sure.

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Questioner (paraphrased)

The Shardblade that Dalinar had at the end of Words of Radiance, was that the Honorblade?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The Shardblade that Dalinar had at the end of Words of Radiance that he gave up?

Questioner (paraphrased)

Yeah, that he gave up.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No, it was not.

Questioner (paraphrased)

It was not? So what happened to the Honorblade that the Herald had?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Nobody kno - Well, somebody knows, but it is not known to the main characters.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Can I ask if Hoid-

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

If Hoid knows?

Questioner (paraphrased)

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Hoid did not take it, but I’m not answering whether he knows.

Footnote: This was transcribed from a recording, so it should be close to verbatim. However, the audio file has been taken down, so it cannot be verified exactly.
Event details
Name
Name Firefight San Francisco signing
Date
Date Jan. 17, 2015
Location
Location El Cerrito, CA
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Tour Firefight
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