Shadows of Self Newcastle UK signing

Event details
Name
Name Shadows of Self Newcastle UK signing
Date
Date Oct. 20, 2015
Location
Location Newcastle, UK
Tour
Tour Shadows of Self
Bookstore
Bookstore Waterstones (Newcastle Mining Institute)
Entries
Entries 20
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#1 Share

Questioner

In the second Stormlight Archive book... Wit... the Shattered Plains party, where he's introducing all the guests, and just the sheer list of insults. Was that an easy thing to do, and you've got books and books of--

Brandon Sanderson

Man it is so hard to come up with good insults because it's so hard to use one that Winston Churchill hasn't used already. *laughter* But I try to channel the best insult comics and people like that. Being witty in writing is actually the hardest part, but the fortunate thing is that I can take two hours to come up with a line that he's supposed to snap off in a few minutes or a few seconds, and that's how we can imitate being smarter than we are. I totally have to do that in my books.

It's interesting, I got an insight into really smart people. I was roommates with a person who won a ton of money on Jeopardy. Ken Jennings for any of you guys that watch Jeopardy. He won like 80 times in a row, right? I'm serious. He won 80 times in a row, or something like 78-- and before he did that, he was my roommate, and I knew him, and he-- the big difference between him and other people is that speed, that speed of making the connection and snapping it off. You say something and he comes with a comeback, just like that, and then you think  about it and you're like "oh, that was really clever". That's what a lot of these people are, it's not the only type of intelligence by far, but it's one of the ones that this sort of discussion with Wit-- it's what we look for. So it's kind of a marker for somebody that's a little bit too smart for their own good.

#2 Share

Questioner

What is the status of the White Sand graphic novel?

Brandon Sanderson

White Sand graphic novel. Let me run down the big list of things people are waiting for. So, White Sand graphic novel is on the good list, that's going really well. The author we had adapt it was fantastic and the artist is doing a great job. We're doing it in eighteen issues. However, because the people with The Wheel of Time (I don't know if any of you guys bought those graphic novels) but they released those individually, people bought subscriptions up front and then it took them forever to deliver on those. Because I have been burnt by that I said "You can't release any of the issues until you have a certain amount done". So because of that, they just decided they would release them only as graphic novels. So they're doing six-issue chunks. So it's kind of weird, there's eighteen issues, but really it's three books of six issues, and they are working on issue number six right now to release the first chunk next year. And we're very pleased with it.

So, the big list. I am working on Stormlight 3 right now, so you can follow on the progress bars. Once I'm done touring, which I've been doing for way too long, you'll start to see those inch up again, and if I finish it by May or June then it can come out next year. If I don't finish it by then it would be the following Spring. So that's what I'm working on right now.

In the queue we have the sequel to Shadows of Self coming out in January and we have the last of The Reckoners, and that is coming out in February. That's a little too close, I wish they hadn't scheduled them like that, but I'm not in charge when they put the books. 

After I write Stormlight 3 my goal is to write a new book that's kind of in the teen-ish-- it's kind of hard because Steelheart here is not published by a teen publisher, the only one published by a teen publisher here is Rithmatist. But something for the Steelheart-- like older teen/young adult-ish, crazy, wacky things like that; I've signed a contract on that. So that'll be my next project. 

Then I'm going to do Rithmatist 2, then I'm going to do Wax and Wayne 4, which is the last of that sequence. Then I'm going to do Stormlight 4.

If the book you're waiting for is not in that list then it's going to come after Stormlight 4 so don't hold your breath.

Mistborn videogame is basically vaporware at this point I'm afraid. I love the guys that are making it. They're still working on it, they still plan to release it. I haven't seen even a demo or early footage or anything like that, so I'm not certain they'll be able to do anything and you guys should not hold your breath on that.

So, movies, I've sold Mistborn, The Emperor's Soul and Steelheart, all are in production, but that doesn't mean anything in Hollywood, in production can mean anything. None of them have started filming yet. Until something starts filming you should assume that it's a hopeful dream. Those are the hopeful dreams that people are paying me a lot of money for. So, there you are.

#3 Share

Questioner

How much of your own personality do you put into your characters?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question. I put a piece of me in every character. There's some aspect of me in every one of them and there is something very different from me in every one of them, because that's kind of how I explore the world, I write about characters that have something familiar but something very different for me, and every character I write I try to the bulk of those things into. 

#4 Share

Questioner

Books were published in sort of different territories and different countries, obviously there's always different covers for different regions. So America has like a certain style of cover which is very different from what we have over here. How much input do you have into, sort of, the artist, who is chosen and do you have a favorite sort of style of cover for your books?

Brandon Sanderson

Very good question. So, I don't necessarily have a--how should I say--I get to have a lot to say these days over cover artists. I could ask for a cover artist, if they're available, they'll get them for me, and things like that. Not in my early career, but now. The trick is, in the UK, we use the same cover artist for everything and this is the big difference between the UK market and the US market. The US publisher likes to change with each series to a new cover artist, to say "look, it's a new series". For the UK, they distinguish a new series by the color scheme, so you'll notice all the Mistborn books have a blue swirl, whereas all of the Way of Kings have a red, or orange-ish tinge to them and, you know, Elantris has the green and things like that. That's how they do that. They like that all of your books look the same on the shelf.

UK also likes--how can I put it--classier covers *laughter* and that leads to, in some ways, some covers that I think are fantastic and some that are just a little generic, because they try to go kind of classy, if that makes sense, and so you just end up with not much on the cover. The US covers vary a lot more. I've had my worst covers of, you know, among US covers, and I've had my best covers because the US likes to do this painting of some sort of scene represented, almost more of a movie poster for the book, so some of those get really cringe-worthy. They just get--Like my middle-grade series, the Alcatraz books, oh those covers in the US were dreadful. In the UK they were very stylish and with like some iconic picture on them, but in the US they were, oh, so bad. But The Way of Kings, the painting, the US painting's one of my favorite covers I've ever had and I actually went and bought that painting itself, but I have a soft spot for Michael Whelan, he's the artist of that. 

#5 Share

Questioner

You say that there's part of you in every character, but what of you is in Vin as a character?

Brandon Sanderson

What of me is in Vin? The inherent belief that people are good. And Vin does believe in that. She believes that deep down, that people are good, she just doesn't believe that she belongs with them. Does that make sense?

#6 Share

Questioner

What is your favorite book that you've written?

Brandon Sanderson

My favorite book that I've written? I can't pick a favorite. It's like trying to pick a favorite child. 

Questioner

You always have a favorite child though...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah *laughter*, no favorite children, I just skyped with my children and they showed me their Halloween costumes, it's the cutest thing ever, but the littlest one, he's two, he's a Minion and he's so cute as a Minion, because he can barely talk as it is... and then the middle one is a skeleton and he just said "it's so scary dad, it's so scary, you're going to be so scared" and then he puts it on and I have to pretend to be scared. He scares himself looking at the mirror. And the seven year old's in karate now so he bought a ninja outfit and he thinks he's a real ninja because he's learning karate.

#7 Share

Questioner

You're also famous for your magic systems, do you start with the effect you want to achieve or the mechanic you want to use?

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on each magic system, they're all different. Sometimes there's just a really interesting-- Mistborn's a good example of this. I built Mistborn because I wanted a different power for each thieving crew member and I had in the back of my mind a few cool powers to use, but others I just developed. I'd be like, alright, we need something for the fast-talker. So therefore you get the thieving-crew and the classic thieving-crew elements, and I wanted something to improve every one of them. So while I had the Pushing and Pulling already, because that was really interesting and I'd been working it out in my head, I didn't have all these powers set out for the team, so I developed those.

In other cases it's just, you know The Stormlight Archive started with the fundamental forces in physics and extrapolating outwards from them until I had ten fundamental forces because I wanted to do fantastical fundamental forces. So that one started in physics.

The magic for Warbreaker started because my editor called me, true story, and said "ah, after Mistborn and Elantris you've done some very dreary settings, very nice but very dreary, let's do something with more color in it". More color it is!

#8 Share

Questioner

When you finished writing A Memory of Light you posted on Facebook a beautiful piece of music *inaudible* and I was wondering, do you listen to music often when you write, and how does music influence--

Brandon Sanderson

I do listen to music. I almost always am listening to music when I write, and I really like things like Pandora or the discover weekly playlist on Spotify, or things like this. Any time I can get something seeded with some unusual different disparate elements and discover some new music, that'll be good for me. A lot of soundtracks, Pink Floyd, a lot of Pink Floyd, <Tangerine Dream?>, stuff like electronica, like that works really well for me. What else, Daft Punk would be in that group as well. So, it's a mix between piano music, electronica and soundtracks, what you're going to see me writing to most of the time.

#9 Share

Questioner

Do you have a favorite character that you've created or one that you've tended to favor over another?

Brandon Sanderson

Do I have a favorite character? No, that's again, you know, the thing. I will say Dalinar is my oldest character, followed by Hoid. Those two have been around since I was 15 and so, there is some favoritism for them, perhaps, just in longevity sense.

#10 Share

Questioner

I wondered if there's a bit of you in all the characters... and it's characters where they don't have bits of you that you get stuck with writing them, and how you overcome that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, getting stuck. So characters are the hard one for me to talk about because I plan my worlds in great detail before I start writing, in most cases, and I plan my plots in moderate detail. I plot backward, I start with what I want to have happen for a plot cycle; not necessarily the last scene, but, you know, something like this character learns to use the magic, and I've got the scene where it shows that this is working, and then I list a bunch of bullet points underneath. That's my-- And so if you look at my outline, it's like goal, bullet points, goal, bullet points, goal, bullet points-- that's my whole outline.

My characters, I figure out who they are when the book starts, but I do not outline them in great detail. The reason for this is we find that writers tend to fall into two general camps. We have what we call outline writers, and discover writers. Now, discovery writers, George RR Martin calls them gardeners, they like to discover their story as they go. Stephen King says you never start with an ending in mind because otherwise it ruins the book, he just goes and see what happens. They tend to write character really well. In fact if you're reading a good and you go "Wow these characters all feel really vivid and alive", that's probably a discovery writer. If you're-- On the other hand outliners, or architects as George RR Martin calls them, tend to plan everything out ahead of time and because of this they tend to have spectacular plots. If you've got somebody who's got a great plot, it's a page-turner, the great twist at the ending-- that's most likely going to be an architect, but the flaw of this is they tend to have weaker characters; and the flaw over here is they tend to have weaker plots. Terrible endings are a horrible kind of habit of the discovery writer. 

Over time I've really tried to kind of mitigate this by letting myself discovery-write my characters to kind of get some more of that living character status, which means I have to have a flowing outline where, once I've started writing my way into the character I will then have to rebuild the outline periodically to match the person they're becoming, which sometimes rips apart that outline quite a bit. The other thing that it requires me to do is I often have to kind of cast characters in a role. Vin is a great example of this, where I actually tried Vin three different times--I posted one of these on my website--with a different personality each time until I got one that would fit the story that I'm telling, and who she was, and I went from there.

And so it's really hard for me to pick out what I do with characters, but if my book is not working it's almost always that a character is not working for me. And this happened with Sazed in book 3 of Mistborn. I wrote this in the annotations, you can go and read it off that. Dalinar, in the original draft of The Way of Kings. When a character is not clicking 100% it is the biggest problem I run into with books, that takes a lot of drafting to figure out what to do. With Dalinar, if you're not familiar with what happened there, is I split him into two people. It always had his son Adolin, but Adolin had not been a viewpoint character, and the problem I was having with Dalinar was that I wanted to present a strong figure for the leader because people though he was going mad, but I also had to have him talk about this madness, and be really worried about it, and so he came on very weak, because everyone thought he was going mad, and he spent all of his time brooding about going mad. When I took the brooding out to his son, and had Dalinar be like "I'm not mad, something's going on, everyone thinks that I'm crazy, but I can deal with this", and had his son go "my dad, who I love, is going crazy", those two characters actually both became more alive, and worked better, than they had with the conflict of "I'm going crazy" being Dalinar's. So, it takes a lot of work to figure these things out sometimes.

#11 Share

Questioner

Utah is very, very far from here. Have you ever considered a seminar in creative writing here? In Europe?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, creative writing. My wife wants to live in Spain for a while, she speaks Spanish... and she actually really really loves Barcelona and so we are planning, like, 2017 or 2018, to come live there over the summer, and if I do that I'll try to teach my class at a local university, or something like that... And if I ever do that for England, which I could see us doing over the summers periodically, then I will ask if any local universities want to have the class. But if you want to watch my class I do post the lectures online. You'll find them on my website, brandonsanderson.com/writing/advice and you can go watch my university lectures there. 

But yeah, I would love to do that at some point, it's going to take a little while 'til we figure out how to make it work, but my wife will be happy to know there's at least one person pushing for us to go to Spain. We were in Aviles and I loved that. Have you ever been to Aviles? It's up on the northern coast, it's great. They have a science fiction convention there, it's called Celsius 232-- whatever Farenheit 451 would be in Celsius.

#12 Share

Questioner

Obviously a movie's going to be a long way off, but how much input would you have in it and would it be like what you want compared to what--

Brandon Sanderson

How much input would I have in the movie? That really depends on the producer. I can't-- I'm not powerful enough to get in the contract. I'm actually like two ranks, two like not powerful enough-- the rank of of author above me, George RR Martin's rank, they don't even have the power. It's the rank of author above that, like Jo Rowling or Stephanie Meyer-- they have enough sales that they can demand something in the contract and, you know, I'm a number one bestseller but there's a big leap between me and Stephanie Meyer or JK Rowling and so-- There's-- I would have to say no. With some authors, they just say no; I would roll the dice and gamble on getting a good movie and I try to stay very in touch with the producers, so they know I'm a good resource, and some of them have made use of that, and some of them have made less.

#13 Share

Questioner

When you take stock of the idea that you have largely been responsible for the cultivation of millions of writers *Brandon laughs nervously* to me, that's what you really bring to the world.

Brandon Sanderson

How do I take stock of cultivating-- Millions? I don't know if there are millions, but there are tens of thousands that watch my lectures and listen to the podcast. I think it's great. When I was trying to break in, the way I learned to write was by going and asking questions of writers and they took time for me. Captain Kirk sat me down at a convention once and talked to me for like an hour about becoming a writer, L.E. Modesit did the same thing. They were a huge resource for me, and we live in an era of social media where I can be a resource in a different way. When I was doing it I just had to try to go to a con and find them, right, there wasn't an internet-- I'm old guys, there wasn't an internet when I was a kid learning how to write and so you had to find them, talk to them in person. I can post these things out there. So I hope that it's useful. I hope the main thing that people take away from my writing is there are multiple ways to do it and there is no one right way to write. There is not a Brandon Sanderson method other than, the Brandon Sanderson method is tools you should try, and you should try George's tools, and you should try Stephen King's tools, and JK Rowling's tools, and everybody who talks about it, try the different methods they have of writing and hopefully it'll end up working out and you'll find your own method.

#14 Share

Bort

Did Wayne really steal a Returned horse?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs* Did Wayne really steal a Returned horse is what you guys are asking? Aaaahhh I did not have Wayne stealing a Returned horse--

Bort

Or otherwise invested?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not going to say whether or not-- there could have been things going on, but no, there is no stealing a Returned horse-- Is there a theory that the horse was Returned and that, from like, the prologue?

Bort

Oh no, that's just from me.

Brandon Sanderson

OK, OK, sometimes people ask these questions and there's like this huge forum thread where they think they've figured something out and I'm like "Returned horse?? What??"

#15 Share

Questioner

I know that Mistborn, Stormlight Archive, Elantris are set in the same universe, and they've all kind of got certain Shards and I was reading that, like, you might do a book about that? 

Brandon Sanderson

I will eventually, there's no 'might' about it, but I always try to talk somewhat timidly about it because I don't want the focus to be on that, I want the focus to be on each story that's happening. For instance, The Stormlight Archive will only be about The Stormlight Archive. I will be upfront when I do a crossover, but it is many years in the future. For now, I like it being a behind the scenes thing for fans who really want to get into it. I don't want to scare a reader who'll be like "I can't read Mistborn because I haven't finished all of these other books". You can read Mistborn on its own, and there will be cameos that you will notice as you do more, and the more I write, the more to the forefront some of these things will come, but I will lead you gently into it. But yeah, I will be doing crossovers eventually.

Questioner

And when did you kind of-- was that something you wanted to do from the very beginning, or were you halfway through--

Brandon Sanderson

No, that was something I wanted to do from the beginning. I was inspired by Isaac Asimov combining his Robots books and his Foundation books, and he did it late in his career. It kind of felt a bit hacked together a bit, but it blew my mind when he did it and, as a writer, I always thought, what if somebody did this from the get-go.

The actual origins of the kind of worldhoppers for me was reading books as a teenager and inserting Hoid into them. I really did this.... Do you read books and you like change what is happening in the book, or maybe it's just a me thing? I would have my character interacting with the characters in the books, in my head, as I played the movie of that book in my head, while I was reading it, and there was this character hopping between worlds, with this knowing smirk on his face.

And so, when I was working on Elantris I said, "OK", I knew I had something in that book that was good, that was important, that was relevant, I was very confident in that book. It was my sixth novel, by the way, so I kind of had a handle on these things, and so that's when I decided I'm going to start doing some of this, I'm going to insert Hoid into this and I'm going to start planning this larger epic. It was particularly important to me because I knew I was not going to write a sequel to Elantris immediately, but I wanted to be writing epic stories, and the reason I didn't want to write a sequel to Elantris is because, if an editor rejected Elantris I wanted to be able to send them another book, because when you're getting close to publishing you'll start getting rejections that are like "This is actually a really good book, it doesn't fit our line, you just wrote a great mystical llama book but we just bought one of those, do you have anything else?". I wanted to be able to send them "here's my next thing" rather than "oh, I've got a sequel to the one you just rejected". And so I sat down and wrote the sequel, which was not a sequel, it was called Dragonsteel, which was Hoid's origin story. And then I jumped forward and I wrote White Sand which is another book connected to all these things and it went on, you know, it went crazy from there. And then when I actually sold Elantris it was already going and already in there, and I was able to sit down and write Mistborn, well in hand, knowing what was going to happen. That's why you find Hoid in Elantris and Mistborn and the sneaky, the scary-- well, it's not sneaky and it's not scary-- the moment in the third book when Vin gets creeped out by Hoid is a very important moment, Cosmerologically, but I'm not going to tell you why!

#16 Share

Questioner

In terms of books that you wish you could have written yourself?

Brandon Sanderson

I read a lot of things for pleasure. I think I need to stay up on what everyone else is doing. As a teen, my favorite writers were Anne McCaffrey, Melanie Rawn, Barbara Hambly, Robert Jordan, Tad Williams, it would probably be. David Eddings too. I grew out of David Eddings, happens when you get into your twenties, but during my teens he was the bomb. Do kids still say that, the bomb? I'll have to figure out what they're saying now. Nowadays I read Pat Rothfuss, I really like Pat, I really really like Naomi Novik's Uprooted, if you guys didn't read that this summer it's a fantastic novel. I like Brent Weeks' work a lot, Brian McClellan's, Nora Jemisin, you guys read NK Jemisin? She writes very literary fantasy; if you're an English major and you like that kind of stuff, which I do, it's amazing. Her most recent one has a character who writes in the second person, and it works. It's the first time I ever read a book where the second person, which is you do this, you do that, it actually works, it works really well. The second person past tense, so you did this, you did-- it's a person telling themselves a story so it actually, it really works. The Fifth Season. So, yeah, I read a lot of stuff.

#17 Share

Questioner

When you took over the whole Wheel of Time thing, that must have been-- there was so much going on there... they had their own characters and you had to immerse yourself in that role and to try to create-- writing in your own words. Do you think that helped you develop as a writer?

Brandon Sanderson

It totally did. The most I've grown as a writer was my first year writing, but after that, the number two time that changed me the most, was working on The Wheel of Time. It was incredible, and awesome, and terrifying, all at once. The hardest thing I've ever done professionally was write those books. For those who don't know, I didn't know Robert Jordan or his wife. I got a phone call one day, asking if I would finish his series. His wife, who was also his editor, she discovered him and then married him, which is a really good way to make sure your editorial advice is taken; *laughter* he asked her to find somebody-- before he passed away he said to her "If I don't make it, go find somebody". So she read Mistborn and she called me, and asked me "Would you be willing--" Now she knew I was a fan of the series, because I'd written a eulogy for Robert Jordan on my website, and that's how she found out about me. But then she just called and said 'here', and the things was, she then had to go grieve, right, she's like "Once you're done I can edit it, but I'm an editor, not a writer, I can't write this myself". So she gave me all the stuff, and then I basically did it all by myself for a year, and wrote that first one. I did send her some test chapters, is this right, is this wrong, but it was a very daunting task, he had not finished very much of the book. He had some notes, but he was a discovery writer so his notes were very vague. "I'm thinking about this happening", "oh, this character has a scene that's kind of like this", "I might do this, I might do this". A lot of stuff like that in the notes and so there was a lot of-- I describe it like someone takes a Ming vase and they smash it and they throw away half the pieces and they throw in pieces of another vase just to screw you up and they give it to you and they're like, "Alright, now make the vase, see if you can do that".

Questioner

He did a lot of foreshadowing in his books...

Brandon Sanderson

There were certain things he did, to have out, and some of the most important ones he did have, other ones, I just had to catch the ball that he had thrown using my experience as a writer.

#18 Share

BlackYeti (paraphrased)

In Words of Radiance, the Stormfather refers to himself as a Sliver, how is this the case when he is apparently a Splinter?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The Stormfather is a Cognitive Shadow, but he doesn't know the correct terminology. Terms such as splinter and Sliver don't really apply to him.

#19 Share

Bort (paraphrased)

Did Shardplate always have gemstones, or were they added later, after the Recreance?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They were added, but maybe not just after the Recreance. They were added to Shardplate about the same time that the discovery was made that adding a gemstone to a Shardblade would allow it to be bonded.

#20 Share

Bort (paraphrased)

Did Nazh retrieve Jasnah's belongings from the bottom of the sea by visiting Shadesmar, finding the correct beads, and moving them to land?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, that would be the easiest way. Nazh spends a fair bit of time in Shadesmar, and that this would be the first thing he would think of when asked to retrieve Jasnah's stuff.

Event details
Name
Name Shadows of Self Newcastle UK signing
Date
Date Oct. 20, 2015
Location
Location Newcastle, UK
Tour
Tour Shadows of Self
Bookstore
Bookstore Waterstones (Newcastle Mining Institute)
Entries
Entries 20
Upload sources