Shadows of Self San Diego signing

Event details
Name
Name Shadows of Self San Diego signing
Date
Date Oct. 8, 2015
Location
Location San Diego, CA
Tour
Tour Shadows of Self
Bookstore
Bookstore Mysterious Galaxy
Entries
Entries 27
Upload sources
#1 Copy

Questioner

I also have problems with an English major with creative writing and fantasy. I'm just wondering, how do you get past that? Because I'm also trying to go into teaching, and it's the same with research.

Brandon Sanderson

...The first thing you should do as a writer, is you should listen to what those people are saying and teaching and try to learn from them. I think the strength of fantasy and science fiction as genres is that people think the wrong things about our genre. You can find literary writers in science fiction and fantasy. N.K. Jemisin is doing amazing things with literary fantasy right now. You should be reading her books, they're fantastic. Gene Wolf, Ursula Le Guin; they imagine that fantasy is way more strict than it is. So, if you take a class with someone, see what you can learn from them, that's the first thing. The second thing is, don't back down. Write what you want to write, and don't let them talk you out of loving what you love. Go ahead and try new things but apply it to what you think is going to help you, and if you're willing to take the grade hit for it.

#2 Copy

Questioner

It's National Novel Writing Month. Do you have any advice for amateur writers jumping into this endeavor?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, NaNoWriMo. I did this for many years before I got published. I was already writing, my friends were all doing it, so I'm like, "Yeah, I'll keep going and, then I won't tell you guys my word count because then you'll feel bad." *laughter* We always had, like, a race board posted on a website, that just posted what the daily count was supposed to be. I often doubled it. So, I was like this even back then. I would say, for you, to-- Number one, don't let the word count goal intimidate you. If you don't get 50,000-- the whole goal is just to get you out of your writing comfort zone. So, for you, 25,000 is where you're going, and you actually still do that, that's fine. 50,000 isn't a novel anyway, they just say it is. I mean it is technically a novel, but I mean, how many novels are 50,000 words? There's not very many. A lot of middle grade is around 50,000 words. I would just go for it. The other thing is, have a daily habit of when you're going to write, and try to make that sacrosanct and get into this habit of, I'm writing for these two hours. And kind of unplug during those two hours and write during those two hours. Worry less about what your word count is you're hitting. Do try to not self-edit. That's the biggest thing that's gonna to help you. If you're not going back and revising and revising and revising, and you're pushing forward-- the goal is to teach yourself to finish something and to push forward and turn off your internal editor.

#3 Copy

Questioner

What is the worst writing advice you've ever gotten?

Brandon Sanderson

...The thing about writing advice is, most people are giving writing advice that works for them which means it's actually good advice to try out. The only really bad advice is, "This is the way it must be done." Because different writers have very different approaches. Can you imagine Stephen King. Stephen King can't write with an outline. So he says "Don't outline." Orson Scott Card says, "I've gotta have an outline or my book stinks." Both of those can't be right. But one of them might be right for you. The truth is, most writers I know don't outline some things, do outline other things, and come up with this, like, Frankenstein of different pieces of advice that work for them.

The absolute worst thing I that ever heard, and I'm not gonna say who said this, was they were telling my students, while I was teaching them, my students came in and said "What do you think of this," to include a glossy headshot with every submission. To get the attention of editors. And not include a SASE, a self addressed stamped envelope (back in the days, you know, where we did this all in print). If they liked it enough, they'd track you down.

#4 Copy

Questioner

Did you speak in English, and was it translated when you did that overseas trip [to Dubai]?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, good question... Yes, they actually had headphones for everybody. And I spoke in English, and they had an interpreter. I got to do a speech, kinda like this. And there was a guy there who's like, "Fantasy's not real." He actually said that, and the people in charge were like, "Oh, it's okay, we're sorry, we didn't mean to offend you," and I was like, "Oh, no! I'm ready!" Which is why I gave my little speech on why fantasy is awesome. And it was super cool. They did interpret it, yep.

#5 Copy

Questioner

Of all your books... who is your favorite audiobook narrator who has narrated your novels?

Brandon Sanderson

It is Michael Kramer. And that's a bias of mine because, having listened to a lot of the Wheel of Time books in the early years, I fell in love with Michael and Kate's reading styles, so I've asked for them specifically on several of my projects. I sometimes like to have somebody different for different books just to have some variety in case there are people who don't like that, but they will continue probably to do Mistborn and Stormlight because they're my favorite readers.

#6 Copy

Questioner

When building out your magic in your books, what process do you go through, they're certainly intricate compared to a lot of others.

Brandon Sanderson

Good question! ...I could give you three lectures on this, and I have done it before. Fortunately, I wrote it all down. So, I've got a couple resources for you, this goes for anyone who's interested in writing. My website... there are three resources on there. The first are my essays on magic systems. I've done three essays so far, my speech last years was my fourth, you'll have to find that online somewhere. Sanderson's Zeroth Law. I named them after myself, because, I mean, Asimov did it. *laughter* I don't think he actually named them after himself, but-- So, those are gonna talk about magic systems, how I develop them in-depth.

The other resource I have for you is Writing Excuses, my podcast. Fifteen minutes of writing advice every week. Start with January of this year. I think they get better and better as we've gone along, so this year's are better, and we started kind of a new thing.

And the last thing is, if you're hardcore, and you're kind of masochistic, you can watch my university lectures, which are a little more boring and dry, they're an hour and a half long, there's thirteen of them, they're linked on my website. And I made the university let me record them and post them online as part of having me in there to teach...

#7 Copy

Questioner

What was your favorite character to write?

Brandon Sanderson

My favorite character to write is whoever I'm writing at the moment. I don't usually pick a favorite... I don't have a favorite character... and I don't usually have a favorite book. People ask that a lot. It's like choosing your favorite child.

#8 Copy

Questioner

Is there anything you've read recently that you are championing, like--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, some stuff that I really like recently. If you haven't read Naomi Novik's book Uprooted, it's delightful. Like a dark fairy tale written for an adult audience. We get a lot of fairy tale retellings that are kinda YA or middle grade targeted. This one's-- she's got Polish descent, she kinda picks-- there's no specific fairy tales, she just kinda came up with her own. And it's wonderful. It's a little romance-y, but some fun magic and it's kinda dark, but highly recommended.

Brian McClellan, my old student, Promise of Blood, he writes fantastic stuff, and I'm jealous of his magic system, it's really good.

Nora [N.K.] Jemison's new book, I mentioned that, if you like literary style stuff... The Fifth Season. And, it's got a character whose viewpoint in the second person, and it works. So, it's the only thing I've ever read in second person that works. It is so good. There's a few for you.

Some of my classic favorites, if you haven't read them, are Fire Upon the Deep by Vernon Vinge. It's the closest thing to reading Dune again that you will ever have. It's got that same epic worldbuilding, really cool epic scope in a science fiction novel, and I love that book.

#9 Copy

Questioner

...How and when do you manage to sleep? *laughter* You read and write and have a family.

Brandon Sanderson

So, I'm not allowed to talk about the clones *laughter* writing my books.

I set a strict schedule, and what I do is, I get up at noon, because I'm a writer! And I'll write from noon until 5:00. 5:00 until 8:30 or 9:00 is family time, and that's just-- that's sacrosanct. I don't do anything else during that time except hang out with family, I play video games with the kids, if you've got a seven or eight year old, Terraria, great for kids, you can get it on tablets and sit next to them. It's like an easier Minecraft. We play games, I go out with my wife, we do stuff like that. And then, at about 9:00, the kids are in bed, we're usually back, and then I go back to work. And I work from about 9:00 until as long as I need to work to get my work done that night. And when I'm home, that schedule works very well. It can get me up to twelve hours of writing time in a day if I'm really crunching on something. Since I don't have a commute, it actually-- I get that extra time in my day. And when I don't have a time crunch, then I can be done by, like, 2:00 AM and play some video games or something. I have a very-- My mental health is good. You don't have to worry about me not sleeping, and things like that. On tour? All bets are off. These things usually get done about midnight or 1:00 AM, and I often have a flight the next morning at 8:00. So, on tours, I just don't sleep. And I usually don't eat, either...

#10 Copy

leinton

Does Roshar experience storms outside of the highstorms and the Weepings? And if so, how often would Shinovar get them?

Brandon Sanderson

So, the weather patterns are dominated by the highstorms. Non-highstorm storms are rare but do occur. The further to the west you get, the harder it is to tell the difference between a highstorm and a regular storm. Like, in Shinovar, a highstorm is just kind of like-- it feels like what a storm you might get here, or even weaker. But they do happen. They're gonna happen, most often you're going to notice them in the quote-unquote "summers," when the highstorms are further apart.

#11 Copy

halo6819

What planet did humans originate on? Or did they originate on Scadrial when Preservation and Ruin got together?

Brandon Sanderson

Humans did not originate on Scadrial, because they were on Yolen, which is a planet before Adonalsium-- the story that takes place before Adonalsium was Shattered. They may have been on other planets, but they-- the very first ones you would care about are probably on Yolen.

#12 Copy

Questioner

Do you write non-fiction books?

Brandon Sanderson

...I have not written any full non-fiction books yet. My nonfiction is my class and my podcast. Maybe someday I'll do a writing book. We did do one called Shadows Beneath... my friends and I each wrote a story, and then we wrote about why we did that story the way we did. So all of my nonfiction is, like, articles about writing. So, maybe someday, we'll do something else, but that's kinda where I am right now.

#13 Copy

Questioner

So, there's not a lot a lot of Western books coming out these days. Is there anything in particular that made you decide to set Alloy of Law and the other books in that time period; and any challenges moving into that time period?

Brandon Sanderson

...It's hard to say, you know, to reach back into my "cultural archive," so to speak, in my head. I did watch a lot of spaghetti westerns during that era. I think they're cool. But I really think it was more wanting to deal with something in the early 1900s. Because, I love that era. That era, in our world, was, like, this era of scientific discoveries-- there was this revolution that happened, right around that time, with the coming of electric lights and the coming of motorcars where, for the first time, science is a thing for everybody. Like, before, science was a thing that somebody rich got to do, and then it became something-- like, I remember reading an essay that was written in, like, 1910, about a scientist who had gone and studied ditch-digging, and gone in there with the ditch-diggers. And he taught them, he figured out the science of what makes ditch-digging easier on their bodies and on their health and faster, and basically he 'scienced' ditch-digging for the ditch-diggers. And they loved that. It made their jobs much easier. It was a time where science was like that, it was the first time that science was like that... That time period really fascinates me, because you've got this whole-- my career is based around taking cool things and superstition, and to have, like, one foot over there and one foot in science, and kind of bringing those two things together. And that fascinates me, and that was a time period where we were transitioning from superstition toward science. That's really cool to me. So, I wanted to do something in that time period, and the Western aspect was just a fun part of it. The whole pitch of "Clint Eastwood has to move to big-city New York and take over his house politics" was really interesting to me.

#14 Copy

Questioner

Of all the characters that you've written, which one do you think is the most like you, and is there one you want to be like?

Brandon Sanderson

Understand that there are none that are specifically "most like me." There's a piece of me in every one of them, it's been very hard for me to determine. If I had one that I think the best of is probably Sazed, maybe Dalinar. But I sure wouldn't mind being as clever as some of them are. You laugh, because, like, "You wrote them, Brandon." *laughter* The thing about being clever-- and I have some clever friends, I lived with a a guy named Ken Jennings for many years in college, and his brother's just as smart as him, and our mutual friend Earl, they were all on Quiz Bowl in college together, and he [Ken] won the Jeopardy thing, like 80 in a row. And Ken, and people like this, what really makes them smart is the speed of thought. They just snap off a retort, just like that, and you get them together, it's this weird thing, where, like, spacetime seems to warp around them and they start one-upping each other with references and cultural jokes and things like that, and you just step back, and, like, they're their own power source. Of random 80's inside jokes just going at each other. And that's what really makes someone witty, is the ability to pop it off. That's not smart, that's witty, in a book. Now they're also very smart. But in a book, you can emulate that, by giving yourself three hours to think of what the perfect comeback, and then writing it in the book. And they just came up with it, and everyone thinks you're brilliant, when you're just habitually that person who's like, "That would have been smart! That's what I should have said!"

#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Will there be a follow-up to The Rithmatist? Let's go down the list.

So, I am writing Stormlight 3 right now. So, Stormlight 3, our goal is for next fall. You can follow along on my website, the projection right now is for, like, April, which is gonna be really tight for next fall. If I can get it done before April, then we can get it out in November. Otherwise, they would probably wait until January. Usually they skip December, 'cause it's just so crazy for bookstores, you don't want to be sending new books to them in December. So, if that happens, then it will be another January release, or something like that.

I have Bands of Mourning, the next Mistborn book, in the queue.

I have Calamity, the next Reckoners book, in the queue.

And I have the fifth book of the Alcatraz series in the queue. We got the rights back, and we can start publishing the Alcatraz books again in January, so we will be rereleasing the first four with new cover art. It's really cool, we're trying something out with these books, as an aside. We did this really cool full-color map, and we're putting it on the inside of the jacket flap thing. So you can take off the jacket while you're reading the book and see the map, and if this works, we're gonna try it with Stormlight, where you can take off the jacket and see the map, it's just printed in full color on the back, but we wanna make sure it looks nice, that everything's gonna work with it... And then the fifth book will be in June.

By the way, as an aside, those books I just listed, are all collectively shorter than a Stormlight book. You can add the word counts, two Mistborn books, one Reckoners book, and Alcatraz, plus a novella, all were written last year. And this year I've only been writing Stormlight, and I'm still-- yeah, anyway.

Once I finish Stormlight, the next project will be the new new YA series from Random House, following Reckoners. It will be a new thing. I will write one of those, I will probably write Rithmatist 2, I will probably write the last Wax & Wayne book, and then I will go to Stormlight 4. Those will be the three projects I do in between.

So, if the book you're waiting on a sequel to wasn't on that list, I will get to it eventually, but that's, like, the list for the next couple of years.

#16 Copy

Questioner

So, the game Mistborn: Birthright, it's been two years now.

Brandon Sanderson

...I love the guys who were working on it, but I, if I were you, would consider it vaporware until you hear more. They've had some real troubles with their funding. They're great people who have just not been able to get the game going. They make a lot of easy, quick games for movie tie-ins, this one is *inaudible*, so it's just been a lot harder for them to get going. Again, they're fantastic people, and I hope that they'll get something going about it eventually, but I'm not gonna talk much about it until they do.

So, someone's gonna ask, the movie thing. So, Shawn Levy, owns The Reckoners, optioned that in June. He did Real Steel, the Richard Matheson story. If you haven't seen that movie, it turned out really well, with Wolverine in it. He also did the Night at the Museum films. And they're working on a screenplay. DMG owns The Emperor's Soul. They were producers on the latest two Iron Man films. They're a Chinese company, they really liked Emperor's Soul, so they came and optioned that from me. The Mistborn books are with the people who have the video game rights. We've combined those together into one right, I gave them a year to work on that. They've been very encouraging on how they're working on that, but it's Hollywood, so who knows what will happen. Legion just lapsed, so if you're uncle makes movies, tell him to make Legion, from Brandon. Stormlight is under contract, but I can't say with who yet. So, I think everything novel-wise except for Rithmatist, probably-- Yeah, 'cause somebody optioned the Cosmere. Minus Mistborn. They got really excited by this whole, "Wow, it's a shard universe" thing, which is really hot in Hollywood right now. They're a really good company, but they came to me like, "We can do Marvel with Fantasy," and I'm like, "I'm not gonna say no!" We'll see how it turns out, but that's where we are.

#17 Copy

Questioner

With regards to Legion, are you planning on writing another short story?

Brandon Sanderson

I am planning a third Legion short story, and then I will probably let that one lay fallow for a while. I don't know when I'll do that, it might be next year. I usually do a novella every year. And so, we'll see, it might be Legion next year to kind of wrap that up, not that it's really gonna be an ending because those are kind of episodic, but it will be the end of writing those for a while.

#18 Copy

Questioner

Any advice for finding a good, constructive writing group?

Brandon Sanderson

Writing groups, your best bet is to find somewhere, like, at a convention, that's doing writing critiques, and get in on one of the group critiques that happen there, usually led by, like, an author or somebody, and see who's giving good critiques. And then approach them and see if you can start something up. I would say that's the best. University classes, you can get into one of those, some sort of writing class where you can kind of get a preview for how people critique and things like that. That's your best bet, conventions, or writing classes.

#19 Copy

leinton (paraphrased)

Is crem made out of calcium carbonate?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No, that it was a darker material, and wouldn’t directly correlate to any rocks on Earth

leinton (paraphrased)

Where does it come from?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That’s one of the greater mysteries. Far in the future, scientists on Roshar will start asking that same question.

Event details
Name
Name Shadows of Self San Diego signing
Date
Date Oct. 8, 2015
Location
Location San Diego, CA
Tour
Tour Shadows of Self
Bookstore
Bookstore Mysterious Galaxy
Entries
Entries 27
Upload sources