Shadows of Self San Jose signing

Event details
Name
Name Shadows of Self San Jose signing
Date
Date Oct. 9, 2015
Location
Location Menlo Park, CA
Tour
Tour Shadows of Self
Bookstore
Bookstore Kepler's Books
Entries
Entries 51
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#1 Copy

Questioner

Thing about Stormlight, are you kinda writing a series about the nature of abstraction?

Brandon Sanderson

Kinda yeah see…*recording paused* journey before destination.

Questioner

Yeah, that is my favorite, so far. I mean I don’t know all the orders yet. Because that is...I’m looking forward to the rest of it.

Brandon Sanderson

It is, the nature of abstraction and that sort of stuff is a very big part of it.

#2 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering if there was any update on the movies, similar to video games?

Brandon Sanderson

The movies are moving along better. They're taking some time, but they are moving along better. I think, right now the farthest along are going to be Steelheart and Emperor's Soul. 

Questioner

Okay. Are they like in production right now?

Brandon Sanderson

No. They are in screenplays. So, yeah, nothing's really gotten done.

Questioner

Are you writing the screenplays?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm writing the treatments.

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't want to write the screenplays but I can do the treatments.

#4 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering if you were planning on writing anything else in the Elantris world?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. There will be some more [clipped off]. Yeah. I'm going to do some more full books. I'd like to get Shai into things a little bit more, but I don't wanna ruin The Emperor's Soul by writing a bad sequel. Mmhmm, you know, it just turned out so well.

#6 Copy

Questioner 1

How did Marsh survive for so three hundred years and *inaudible*?

Brandon Sanderson

Compounding atium. He got a little pouch that one of the kandra gets sent out with if you watch, and then Marsh shows up and he has the pouch.

Questioner 2

<When is that>?

Brandon Sanderson

Go look for the little pouch of atium.

#7 Copy

Questioner

If Kelsier had been born on Roshar, would he have become a Knight Radiant and if so...?

Brandon Sanderson

I think there’s a possibility that some of the orders might want him, but it really depends on what period he was born in, and what he’s up to, because Kelsier's got this dark edge to him where he could go villain very easily, depending on what’s going on with him. *pause* That’s kind of how I view Kelsier’s defining attribute, if channeled correctly he’s a great force for good, but he’s like right on the line.

#9 Copy

Questioner

I was one of your beta readers. So, I wanted to know whether Lord Harms ever got off the roof?

Brandon Sanderson

Lord Harms. Yes, I did because people were so--*grumbling* 'Lords Harms Lord Harms'. Alright. Fine. So, I mentioned Wax saying, "go get Lord Harms back," or something like that. I did put it in at some point.

#10 Copy

Questioner

Was it a deliberate move on your part to make it such that on Scadrial, people who wear aluminum foil hats actually are safe from mind control?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah that was a big inside joke. *laughter* When I realized it would work, I had to put it in. *pause* I’m doing some fun things. The gun thing is another one I’m very fond of.

#11 Copy

Questioner

I almost have a little bit of trouble understanding the difference between the Lighteyed and the darker...How did you come up with it?

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted to have some kind of racism in the books that was removed from the racism we have in our world, so I could talk about it in a more isolated way related to the books; and so, having it based on eye color made sense because the Voidbringers have these glowing red eyes and the Heralds have these bright eyes. So, this idea of eye color being related to your level of nobility, which is not true, but it entered the culture and became the form of racism and prejudice that they use.

#13 Copy

Questioner

So, Metalminds: if you store weight, how does that work, do you decrease your mass or...?

Brandon Sanderson

So, storing weight actually plays with your mass, because if you look at how we do the physics of it… This one is really screwy, because we are changing mass and playing with it. You watch, like with Wax decreases his weight while he's in motion he'll speed up, and if he increases it, he'll slow down. The conservation of momentum and things like that, but we'll doing really weird stuff. It's like, how can you store your mass… Well, in the magic system it works, but it’s one of the weirdest things we do. *pauses to sign book* We kind of play loose and free with the physics sometimes. Like the example that I often use is Wayne doing a speed bubble, the light that is trapped in the speed bubble...like if he turns on a flashlight would actually radiate because of the redshift, and you could just kill everybody by flashing that. So, we make the speed bubbles not cause a redshift for that reason. We kind of work with what is good storytelling first, and then work the physics around it, but we have to put in all these little breaks and things like that in there regularity in order to actually have the story.

#14 Copy

Questioner

In The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, you covered the relationship between Shardblades and spren...you never get around to Shardplate.

Brandon Sanderson

I’m saving that one on purpose, it’s a gun on the mantle, or armor on the mantle. So, you will eventually find out what’s going on there, okay?

#16 Copy

Questioner

In Elantris, so, if the people are dead they don't have any pulse, right? 

Brandon Sanderson

They do not have a pulse.

Questioner

So, wouldn't all the blood just go straight to their legs?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I worked out a few things on this. In order to make what I was doing work I didn’t want to zombify them too much, and so I would give them like a blood pump, like a pulse of the heart, very softly, like every couple of minutes or something like that, and remember they’re being sustained directly by the magic so I was able to fudge some of the stuff. There’s some other things that would happen, like the gas would cause them to expand and... I didn’t want to do that, I didn’t want them to go all the way to zombie, and so I made some basic metabolic processes happen, but more magically caused than physically.

#17 Copy

Questioner

I remember in, I believe it was Hero of the Ages, when Sazed was helping TenSoon escape. When he had fallen on the guard, he said that, by increasing his weight he also increases his density so he doesn't <hurt> himself. Then in The Alloy of Law, it also says that when Wax increases his weight he said that he didn't.

Brandon Sanderson

So, Sazed is just making a mistake. He's mistaking the fact when he increases his weight his musculature changes to be able to handle the new weight and that was what he was talking about. Strength and muscle tone and things like that. I might have just gotten it wrong in the original one [scene], I can't honestly remember, but this is what we kinda decided it needs to be. 

 

#18 Copy

Questioner

So, you know when Feruchemists increase their weight or strength, something like that, [...] like when they're increasing their strength their muscles literally grow bigger, why does that not happen with Allomancy?

Brandon Sanderson

So, the idea with Feruchemy, in Feruchemy you're storing like your own physical strength. So, when you're filling the metalmind, you kind of shrink *inaudible* and you get it back. With Allomancy, you are drawing on the strength magically from something else and so the power and strength you're getting is actually not related to your muscles, it's related to the magical power, you're pulling directly from another place. So, that's why.

#20 Copy

Questioner

Is there meant to be a direct connection between the efficiency for transferring Breaths and the stamp magic from The Emperor’s Soul?

Brandon Sanderson

There's not meant to be a direct correlation only in that the magics both work on the same fundamental rules, like all of them do.

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

I wasn't specifically linking those two in any way in my head when I was working on them.

Questioner

Okay, because I was just wondering with the fact that the stamps work better with what there supposed to be like...and the Breath work better--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. That's just a fundamental of the Cosmere, the whole idea of perception, what you're thinking, how much something matches what you're doing, and how well you're able to visualize what you want to have happen. This is all related in the cognitive aspects of the magic, basically, and the spiritual, I suppose.

#21 Copy

Questioner

Regarding Hemalurgy and its basis in the Pits of Hathsin being Ruin’s body, my theory is that Kelsier gained his Mistborn powers from being in the Pits of Hathsin.

Brandon Sanderson

It’s a good theory. I’m not going to confirm or deny it. It is a very good theory.

Questioner

Do you just get all the small little bits and pieces from just the way people talk about him as the Survivor, so *inaudible* theory... Are we ever going to see it confirmed or denied?

Brandon Sanderson

It is possible that you will, but you will see...I’ve got somethings that I want to write about Kelsier.

Questioner

Please, that would be amazing.

Brandon Sanderson

You have not seen the last of that man, I want to write some stuff that happened.

#22 Copy

Questioner

What’s your most terrifying character, and why is it Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. Nightblood is pretty terrifying… You know, an object created to destroy evil but doesn’t know what it is?

Questioner

When you brought it back...I had <to like shut the book> a little bit and like, scary.

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted you to think that Nightblood in the hands of Szeth should be one of the most terrifying things that you have ever contemplated.

#23 Copy

Questioner

On the coppermind it states specifically that Nightblood is fueled by Investiture, would that mean that an Allomancer burning, say, steel, could then [draw] Nightblood and fuel it off of that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, Nightblood would feed off that Kinetic Investiture, you could make that work. You would have to keep that portal open, and he would eat the power instead of whatever you were planning to do with it, and when you ran out of metal he’d kill you.

Questioner

Would that also work with say...whatever you have in a Coppermind or metalmind?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes, theoretically you could make that work too. That’s an excellent question, you’re the first to ask that.

#25 Copy

Questioner

Would you ever want to write an episode for Doctor Who?

Brandon Sanderson

I would consider it. But I don’t have enough screenplay writing background right now, I'd have to work with someone else. Does that make sense? If they had a good screenwriter who could work with me, then yeah.

#26 Copy

Questioner

My question is about Jasnah, and why she tried to assassinate Elhokar’s wife?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, you’re going to need to get to know Elhokar’s wife a little better before you get an answer for that. But understand that Jasnah is very deliberate in her choices, and protecting her family is one of her most important personal mandates.

#31 Copy

Questioner

If you could ditch the entire Cosmere, *laughter* what would you write about?

Brandon Sanderson

Start fresh? 

Questioner

Twilight fanfiction.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, there you go, Twilight fanfic. That's...

Questioner 2

Brandon Fifty Shades of Grey would be much tamer. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

The problem is, I don't think my Fifty Shades of Grey would hit quite the same demographic. 

Questioner 2

You'd have a great magic system, though. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it would. It would just be a magic system based on different colors of grey and what they do. *laughter*

Questioner 2

Sorta like Warbreaker.

Brandon Sanderson

I have no idea what I would do, I'm sure I could find something, but it would probably turn into another cosmere.

#35 Copy

Questioner

The metals used in Allomancy are they naturally occurring on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

They do.

Brandon Sanderson

And all the alloys as well?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, the magics would...oh, all the alloys in Roshar naturally occurring… The magic of Mistborn is related to the actual metals' structure being the key. So, you can use metals from other worlds, there's no actual power in the metal. The metal is like a password.

#36 Copy

Questioner

You’ve spoken before how DNA exists on multiple different levels in your magic systems. I was curious about something else that I think I read that that the Hemalurgy system actually splices something into the DNA - so what does that imply for heritability of those?

Brandon Sanderson

So, it is not inheritable when it's Hemalurgic because it's splicing. It's basically ripping off a piece of the soul and spiking it on someone else's. So, it would not transfer.

#38 Copy

Questioner

I wanted to ask about Paalm’s spike. Is it that one specifically that allowed her to hide from Harmony or would it happen with any sort of...?

Brandon Sanderson

It was because she was not using one out of any metal that he knew, was a big part of it. She couldn't have done that with any spike. Taking one out helped a bit, but a non-Harmony spike it had to be… What you’re seeing there is a weird hack of the magic system intentionally that was built to do that.

#40 Copy

Questioner

I was a little bit interested in Words of Radiance...how Taln's Shardblade screams for Dalinar when the other Honorblade doesn't scream for Kaladin...

Brandon Sanderson

That is true. So, if you look at the description Shardblade at the end of book one and they present it book 2, check the [clipped].

Questioner 2

You also give a hint at the end of the book of what happened.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. I give a hint in the book of what happened as well, the hint is, those aren't the same swords.

#43 Copy

Questioner

Is there any real difference between Steelrunners and Sliders? It seems like that could be sort of similar class--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. But different.

--Sliders have the bubble around them, but...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. They work similarly, the big difference is you're seeing the limitations of Allomancy versus Feruchemy. Where Feruchemy there upper limit is unbounded, but you have really much more distinct cost and that can be stored up. You see that these have a different kind of cost to them, but I would call them the same category of thing, it's just the Feruchemy can be way more powerful. Except its limited by how much you store up.

#44 Copy

Questioner

What would happen if a copper-compounder would compound copper?

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of people have been asking that one. I don't know why they've all suddenly latched onto it, but you are going to get RAFO-ed, but I will give you a card. *laughter* I have reserve something for later books.

#45 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I'm working on a story slowly about a world where diseases grant powers while you have the disease. The pitch is you catch the common cold, you can fly until you get it over. This is the idea that bacterial and viruses have evolved to grant these powers in order to spread themselves, and so I need some help with my immunology stuff. Even if it's just...

Questioner

No one ever needs immunologists.

Brandon Sanderson

Here. Give a list of good diseases that have a certain like how long it takes the average person to get over them, and I have to really work out the viruses that you don't ever really get over. Right?

Questioner

The chronic ones, like yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

Like how does that work with the magic, and cuz I actually want one plot point of the story for someone to invent penicillin. And its basically like a weapon, right? To knock out people's powers, and so, I have to make sure I can only use those for bacteria and I have to know how that's going to work and stuff.

#46 Copy

Questioner

How did the name Bridge Four [come about]?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I stole Bridge Four (there's an interesting story to it)... Dragonsteel was my seventh novel, and it's Hoid's origin story, and it takes place... the series is Hoid's origin story, though that book doesn't really get into it. We have a few viewpoints from him, but it's not really about him. And the idea was, I was gonna kind of lead into this epic fantasy, and then start talking about this mysterious character who was a big part of it. And the main character I decided to lead in with that was this person who got stuck in a bridge crew. It's not Kaladin, it's a very different character, but the idea of the bridge crews. Well, eventually, I took Dalinar out of... even before I was writing Dragonsteel, I pulled him out, set him for a different book. And eventually it became clear to me that I needed to pull the bridge crews out and move them to Roshar because they just worked better. I had this great idea for these bridge crews, but the world they're in just didn't match. And the chasms and things matched very well. So I moved them out and made them a part of Kaladin's story. What I'm getting at is, I came up with the bridge crews, like, twenty years ago, and I have no idea why I picked four, other than... I have no idea. Bridge Four has been Bridge Four to me for years. In fact, if you read Dragonsteel, you can still find Rock in Bridge Four from twenty years ago, acting kind of the same. And a few of the other characters are still there, as well.

#47 Copy

Questioner

So, [Shadows of Self], when they were doing the PR for it, Tor put out, like, six or eight free chapters. At some point, don't you feel you're just slowly...

Brandon Sanderson

So, here's the story behind that. They're like, "We're gonna start our PR!" and they released three chapters in July. And I wrote to them, and I'm like, "The book comes out in October. And if you want to get people excited about the book, why did you release all the chapters in July?" And they're like, "Oh, yeah... Right." So, then they said, "I guess we'll just release three more in October leading up to the launch. I'm like, "Okay, sure." You now, I'm the one who released Warbreaker for free on my website. If you haven't read that one, it's just there for free under Creative Commons, because I figure people who enjoy my writing are going to start supporting me as a writer, either by giving my books to their friend or buying them or coming to events like this, so... Part of me wouldn't mind if Tor just gave away every one of the books, because more people would actually go buy them if the people who wanted to buy them could try them out for free. We've got this weird thing in with books entertainment where you don't know if you're gonna like it until you get to the end. But we expect you to pay for it up front. You know, that's not unusual, but at the same time that's like going to a restaurant and having a big list of things that you don't know what they are, and not telling you what they are, just saying "Oh, you'll love them." And then expect you to order a meal kind of randomly. Once an author has his track record, I think that it's a little bit more... makes sense for people to say "Oh, I trust Sanderson, I'm gonna like this book. I can buy this book and enjoy it and read it." When they came and said "We're thinking of giving The Way of Kings away free for six months on Amazon," I said, "Yes, give it away. Get people to read the book." That's kind of the opposite of stopping people from reading it. I'm for it.

#48 Copy

Questioner

You mentioned networking. Which, I've always wondered, for things like this, is there any point in me trying to make a connection with you *inaudible* ten years?

Brandon Sanderson

It's very hard to make any kind of meaningful connection with the established authors. If you want to network, you can try, but I just don't have the time. People will ask me out to dinner on tour, and I've already got, like, five friends and family I've got to say no to. I can't even go to dinner with Jason. (Hi, Jason.) One of my long-term friends, because I'm just popping all the time on tour. At a convention, you can usually grab an author, if you're at a con, and be like, "Hey, can I ask you questions for a few minutes," and it's less about networking then, and more about getting information. People you should be networking with are your colleagues.

Here's an interesting story. So, I took a class in 2000 at BYU as an undergraduate. And it was taught by David Farland, who's a fantasy novelist. I'm like, "Oh, there's a real novelist teaching a class. I'm gonna take that." Some of my friends felt... people I didn't know, but other people like me, went and took this class. In this class, I met a man named Dan Wells. I met another man named Peter Ahlstrom. A woman named Kaylynn ZoBell. A group of our friends, the people who became my friends, I started a writing group with them. Well, I sold a book, went full-time. Dan sold a book and went full-time. Peter became an editor at TokyoPop and went full-time. And Kaylynn sold a book. She hasn't gone full-time because that panics her. But, of the people in that class, we are the only ones who went pro. And all of us did. Which should tell you something. And that is, having a community of people who support you as writers... I don't think we were the best writers in that group. I think we're the ones that supported each other, kept practicing, and we became the best writers. But that's that support group. And what happened is, Dan came up to me at a con, and said, "Hey, I found this guy, Moshe Feder. You should come talk to him." So Dan pulled me over and I talked to Moshe. I sold a book to Moshe. Years later, Dan had written a book I thought Moshe would like, and I called Moshe and said, "Hey, the guy who introduced us has a book. You should read it." And Moshe bought Dan's book. And you kind of help each other out, and things like that.

You should be networking with those people. And the other people are the editors and agents. They're at conventions and conferences to work with new writers. That's the purpose. They're always hunting for new talent there. An editor and agent, because they love science fiction and fantasy, and are looking for people to bring out to the world. Every editor wants to be Hugo Gernsback, who discovers these new writers, and things like that. So those are the people to network with.

#49 Copy

Questioner

If Patrick Rothfuss dropped dead tomorrow, would you finish the Kingkiller Chronicles?

Brandon Sanderson

So... if there were no other options. The thing is, I'm not sure how good a match I would be for Kingkiller. I might be able to do it. Thing is, Pat and I have... some similarities; our use of magic is very similar, and our use of viewpoint. We're very similar in those two things. Pat is very different from me in narrative structure. And more importantly (because I could do his narrative structure), he is a prose stylist, that has a lyricism to his writing that is very different from what I try to do. I have spent my life practicing something that in the industry we call Orwellian prose, which is... George Orwell would talk about how he wanted his prose to be a window pane. That through which you saw the story, but didn't distract you in any way. And I try to move my writing, most of the time, away from anything that draws attention to itself. Except for the occasional flourish at, like, the beginning of the chapter, or something like that.

Pat, every one of his lines is gorgeous. It's part of what makes the Kingkiller work so well. And that is not a skill I have practiced. I would think that somebody like Guy Gavriel Kay, or Nora Jemisin, who are fantastic prose stylists, might be a better match, because that's something you can't just fake. You can maybe work with a bad plot, but voice, it's so different.

I was a very similar voice to Robert Jordan. I had studied his things. While he's more flowery than I am, I knew his style enough that it was a good match. So, someone like Brent Weeks, who writes like me, then that's something that I could do. But someone like Pat... Pat would be a really tough one for me to pull off.

One of the weird things is, people joke about me taking over George Martin. Which you shouldn't joke about, we totally want George to make it through... My prose is much closer to George Martin's, but my thematic content is way different. People talk about this like, "Let's just give it to Sanderson." I'm like, "Really? Do you want all these Game of Thrones people to stop swearing and get married, because that's what I..." *inaudible* You don't want me taking over George. You'd rather me taking over Pat.

#50 Copy

Questioner

When you're designing your magic systems, what is it you typically go into?

Brandon Sanderson

At that thing I said, brandonsanderson.com/writing/advice, I've got three essays on magic systems that can cover it way better than talking about it right now. That'll get you really into it. I would suggest those, they're called Sanderson's Laws, because I'm really humble. Asimov has them, and Clarke has them; so I can have them, there's not fantasy guys who have laws. So go read those, and they will talk you through how I develop a magic system.

Questioner

I was wondering about the background behind one of them. Stormlight.

Brandon Sanderson

Background behind the magic system in Stormlight traces back to my early history as a science major. I was a biochemistry major in college, before I jumped ship to English. And I've always been interested in the sciences quite a bit, and you'll see that in writing as a theme through my magics. The magic system of Roshar is based on the idea of the fundamental forces. I love the idea of the fundamental forces. This idea that there are certain interactions between parts of matter and energy that transcend everything else and rule how our entire world works was fascinating. So I wanted to come up with this idea of ten fundamental forces that worked with the magic system of the cosmere. Because there are extra forces, because there's weird stuff in the cosmere. Some of them are one-to-one. Gravitation is just one of the fundamental forces. And the strong and weak forces, I played with and came up with some things for that too, so you'll see that. But on the other hand, we've got things like transcending between the Physical Realm and the Cognitive Realm, which is a very cosmere-type thing. So, I built ten fundamental forces. And then I was playing with the idea (which I have in the cosmere) of pieces of energy becoming sapient. You've seen it happen in Elantris, you've seen it happen in Warbreaker. Way of Kings is one of the places I really wanted to show off how this works. So, the idea of the spren connecting a bond to the force that they're related to in certain ways, that just grew out of that.

#51 Copy

Questioner

When you're having a hard time writing some of your... for example, the Rithmatist, you said came out of struggling to finish something.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I was struggling to finish another attempt at Hoid's origin story that wasn't working. So I jumped over and wrote something else.

Questioner

I was wondering if you could talking a little bit about how working on another project... Is it the fact that that idea is sitting around in your head that's keeping you from...

Brandon Sanderson

Good question. So, the question is, "Working on another project. What makes me jump? What makes me excited? What's going on?" It's very dangerous to get in the habit of jumping projects. And I've trained myself not to do this except in extreme cases. But once in a while, you just hit a funk on a book so much that you don't want to let it become a theme, you don't want it to let it become momentum for you, or the lack of it. And so I would jump to something else that it's just repeatedly, it's just not working for me. And I know my writing style enough to know that that's not common to me. If it happened every project, then it would be a problem I'd need to push past. In that case, the book just wasn't working, and I'm gonna work on this other thing that I'm really excited about, just to make sure I'm recapturing my love of writing, and not getting into a funk. And that, actually, is kind of how I manage my writing overall. I will jump projects after I finish something to make sure I don't get burned out on writing. As soon as I finish something, I look for something very different to do, in order to keep myself fresh. And that's why you see these lots of different things for me, is because that is how my psychology works. I always need to be doing something new.

Event details
Name
Name Shadows of Self San Jose signing
Date
Date Oct. 9, 2015
Location
Location Menlo Park, CA
Tour
Tour Shadows of Self
Bookstore
Bookstore Kepler's Books
Entries
Entries 51
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