Sasquan 2015

Event details
Name
Name Sasquan 2015
Date
Date Aug. 19, 2015
Location
Location Spokane, WA
Bookstore
Bookstore Spokane Convention Center
Entries
Entries 15
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#1 Copy

Questioner

The entire time I was reading through The Rithmatist I couldn't help but think it was inspired by Fullmetal Alchemist and Tor recently posted something on Facebook comparing a lot of your works to Final Fantasy, so I was just wondering how much video games and anime you *audio obscured*

Brandon Sanderson

Good question, I've played all of the Final Fantasies, I have never watched Fullmetal Alchemist *crowd goes woah* ...I know... *crowd laughs* Peter, he worked for TokyoPop, he was a manga editor and so he is very proficient in his anime and manga and he's told me Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is my must-watch sort of thing. I've never seen it, but it sounds like they are doing the sort of stuff I like, so I need to make sure I do that. But I have played all the Final Fantasies. I mean, I've been a gamer for forever. My fun story about this, and we might have to end here is, when I was 11 my dad sent me out on an airplane to visit my uncle for the first time I've been away from my family on my own, I was so excited. He handed me two hundred dollars, like "Pay for your food, don't let them pay for anything. This is so you can pay for your keep." And so then every time we went out for food or something my uncle insisted on paying for everything, he wouldn't take my money. I'm a little eleven-year-old I can't get him to take the money. So at the end I'm like "My dad is going to kill me. What do I do with this two hundred dollars?" He took me to the mall and said, "Alright! Find something to do with your two hundred dollars." *laughter* That's where I got my Nintendo. *more laughter* This was, what '86? Or something like that. I got my original Nintendo Entertainment System which when I-- No, I sold that and bought a Super Nintendo, my brother sold that and bought himself a Playstation. We sold each system to pay for the next one, so in my brother's PS4 there's a little bit of my original Nintendo.

#2 Copy

Questioner

And the Steelheart film?

Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart film is owned by Fox, different company, Shawn Levy's company, 21 Laps at Fox, they are the ones who did Real Steel if you ever saw that, the Richard Matheson story, and I thought their adaptation of that was really good. They also did the Night of the Museum films, and so when they came to me asking for Steelheart, I said yes, but I only signed on that in June, so I don't know- it's only been a couple months. I wouldn't expect an update for another couple months.

We signed on Emperor's Soul in November, October of last year, so I've been able to see the progress on that one come along.

#3 Copy

Questioner (Paraphrased)

Do you ever plan on writing a sequel to The Emperor's Soul?

Brandon Sanderson

The first one turned out so well, and it's one of those things that you kind of-- Like I didn't expect-- Like sometimes you're amazed at how well something turns out. I wrote that mostly on the flight home from Taiwan. It wasn't anything I was planning to write. I was inspired by my trip to Taiwan. I sat down, and I lived in Korea for two years, so I was kind of familiar with some of the culture, tojang, the stamps, and things like that, and so I ended up writing a story. It turned out so well, that it feels like it's one of those things that may not need a sequel. Does that make sense?

There's some things that are just better by themselves. *laughter* So we'll see. If the right inspiration strikes. I'm not planning one right now, though, for those of you that have read it, there is-- we have sold a movie option on it.  

*applause*

So a movie option on Emperor's Soul, how would you do that? The producers are working very closely with me, and I'm working on the treatment , and I'm very excited. In fact, [Matt Hughes?], are you in here somewhere? The producer of it flew up from Hollywood, because he wanted to see WorldCon. So he's skulking around WorldCon for the first time. But yeah, so you might see a film.

#4 Copy

Questioner

Which of the roles Hoid has played is your favorite? And will we be seeing him in Dalinar's flashbacks?

Brandon Sanderson

So which of the roles played by Hoid is my favorite. I would probably say Dust from Warbreaker. I just like-- That's the most true storyteller he's been, kind of based on oral storytelling tradition and things like that.

I can't tell you.  You'll have to read and find out whether you'll find him in Dalinar's flashbacks or not.

#5 Copy

Questioner

My son said if I got to ask a question he wants me to ask when's the next Rithmatist and also when's the next Alcatraz?

Brandon Sanderson

So I'm currently writing Stormlight 3, that is projected for Christmas of next year. It's really going to depend on when I finish it. If it goes-- Peter's smirking because he's like "Yeaaaah."

If it goes any later-- the first draft goes any later than March of next year, that means we'll have to push back. So if you watch on my progress bar, if I finish it by-- my goal is to be done by the last day of February, and that's going to take some dedicated writing, *Peter's smirks some more*, but we'll see. If it strays much longer than that, than we'll push it back. They're just big involved books to write. I've already finished enough that would be a finished manuscript for another novel, the same length as Calamity or the new Mistborn books, but it'll go four times that length.

So Rithmatist is a side project that I will write when I have time. My main sort of focus right now-- I kind of have to focus on three things. Stormlight, Mistborn, and The Reckoners, which I'll have another trilogy with Random House which will be something new, but my mainline teen stuff is the more adventure type stuff. I'd love to do another Rithmatist. I think it was a very fun book, and for people who liked more involved worldbuilding, and more fantastical sort of things that want something for teens, Rithmatist is what that is. Steelheart is more action movie. And so I would like to do that.

Alcatraz, I did finish Alcatraz 5, which is the last of the ones that Alcatraz will write, and that is scheduled for next summer after we do a rerelease of the Alcatraz books with brand new art. We'll be showing that off on my website soon. The art's looking really great, we finally got a look I like for them, some interior art, a nice map, things like that.

So those will start being released in January, and the newest one coming out in June.

Warbreaker and Elantris sequels? No immediate plans, they're happening someday. Really, once I finish Stormlight, I'll go into the next series for Random House, the follow up to Steelheart, and then we'll see where I am, and see if I have time to write another side project which would be one of these books before I jump into Stormlight 4.

#6 Copy

Questioner

How do you go about designing new magic systems? Because that's one of the most amazing things you do.

Brandon Sanderson

I've written several essays about this, so if you go to brandonsanderson.com/writing-advice, you'll find my essays on magic systems. Basically, I'm trying to look for something that I can explore in a way I haven't seen people do before. It doesn't have to be a new power, it just has to be a new take on a power that I can explore, that I can have fun with, that I can find some sort of scientific rigor. I like to have this sort of have one foot in science and one foot in superstition. That's what is fun for me in worldbuilding, this idea that-- I often say a lot of the old scientists, like Isaac Newton, believed in alchemy. Like "If only we could figure out..." and they started applying the scientific method to alchemy. Which is so cool! It's like "If we keep trying, we'll eventually figure out how this works." But it doesn't work.

I like this idea of applying the scientific rigor to something superstitious, and finding that it does work, and then what do you do with that. So that's what I'm really looking for, particularly in my epic fantasies. It's also got to be the gee-whiz, the wow, "This is really exciting. This is really interesting."

#7 Copy

Questioner

I hear... that you teach... If you could, in 2 minutes or less, teach us. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

One of the requirements for teaching the class that I do at Brigham Young was that they let me record the lectures and put them online. So the entire 2 years so far of my course How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy is online. I also have Writing Excuses, my podcast which is writing focused. If you haven't ever listened to it, it's Hugo award winning, and I would recommend starting January this year. We started kind of a master class of writing a story. And we'll record that live tomorrow morning, 11 am, so you'll be able to hear us doing that.

The number one thing I can tell to the aspiring writer is-- This is something I've started talking about a lot recently--remember that you are the product of your writing, not the book, or the story. Now it's a weird thing to wrap your mind around. But it was very important for me, starting out as a writer, that when I wrote a book, I was turning myself into someone that could write better books. So that book was not the product; the book, in some ways, was the side effect, of changing myself into someone who was better at writing books. Each time you do that, you will get better, and the side effect, the side product that you produce will be better. The idea is to keep in mind, "What's going to make me a better writer. What practice is going to help me." Always look at your writing as something you're practicing to make yourself get better, no matter what it is.

I mean, I wrote 13 novels before I sold one, perhaps that's why I have that perspective. But I think that a lot of the very successful writers are people who practice a lot, and treat all of their writing as practice.

#8 Copy

Questioner

Have you ever thought of teaching at Clarion West?

Brandon Sanderson

Have I ever thought of teaching at Clarion. The reason I teach the class I do is because I can drive to it and it's one night a week for three hours. *laughter* They work very much around my schedule. The other thing I like about it is they put it in a lecture hall so I mentor 15 students, I read their writing and things like that, but then any student who wants to take one credit-hour of "you get a free 'A' for listening" can come sit-- So I can have like a hundred people in my class while still mentoring 15. The university really bends over backwards to make it work for me. So I might consider doing Clarion or something but man it takes a bunch of time out-- Peter what did you--

Peter Ahlstrom

There is the cruise.

Brandon Sanderson

There is the cruise. We do a Writing Excuses cruise which is Clarion-like a little less workshop focused than Clarion, Clarion is very workshop focused. But yeah we do the Writing Excuses cruise. So if you sign up for that when I'm going on the cruise, which I can't promise I'll do every year, but I'm doing this year, then you get the opportunity to come hear the lectures and things like that.

#9 Copy

Questioner

So I know you talk a lot about the length of the Stormlight books before and how Tor has had some interesting worries there.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah. They were more worried about it-- They would like me to write shorter, but they were much more worried before they became the explosive smash hit that they are. *laughter* Now they're just like-- They've learned. "Do what you want Brandon" *laughter*

Questioner

How do you balance, you know, wanting to extend a scene or wanting to do more flashbacks, or do more characters, while still making sure you get the plot and turn out an incredible book?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, right. So epic fantasy does have this issue of spending so much time dallying with side stories that you lose, sometimes, focus of the main plot. So I've tried to do this thing with the Stormlight books where I consciously made two decisions. One was I would do a flashback sequence in each book that kind of focused on one character that hopefully gave a kind of soul to that book that allowed you to remember "Oh whose flashbacks was that book. Oh that was this one." and that one lead you to understanding the theme of that entire book. Hopefully that will help keep that. The other is that I try to confine my time to the side characters to the interludes, which are slice-of-life glimpses of Roshar. And if I can confine myself to little stories there, then I have a set amount of room-- It's like giving yourself this ground to play in that is bounded, so you finish when you're done with that. I get three interludes between each part, so I can write a bunch of little short stories to explore side characters. But I have to be very careful, you know, "I don't want to do this character yet because I've got this new character" I've got to balance that. And those two things together, hopefully, will help me. Now the issue is most books that-- the series that have had trouble with this in the past don't have it until books 3 or 4, so we won't know if I'll be successful until we get through books 3 or 4, where it starts to appear. So watch me for the next couple years and we'll see if it manifests.

#10 Copy

Questioner

How did you get started with Writing Excuses?

Brandon Sanderson

So Writing Excuses. My dopey brother, who barely reads any fantasy or science fiction or anything-- he's a computer programmer, I love him, but he is not a big reader. Who now has a Hugo award *laughter* He came and said "You know I'm taking a podcasting class, these are getting really popular. You should do one of these. You and Dan should get together and do an old-school radio drama and I'll record it." And I was not interested because "This is just like writing my books. I'm not interested." But I thought about that for several months and thought "You know--" I started listening to a lot of podcasts and thought "You know there isn't a really good writing podcast" I couldn't find one. Now since then I've found others who are good. But I wasn't able to find one, particularly one that had the quick and efficient style that I wanted. A lot of podcasts, I love them but they ramble. They just go on. You just listen for hours and hours and they sometimes get to the point. I wanted something focused. So I called up Jordan and I said "What about a writing podcast? People ask me for writing advice a lot. I have this degree, I've been trained as a teacher but I don't teach very much. What can I do to help people with writing?" And so I pitched it to Dan, got Jordan to do all of the editing and producing, and then went and grabbed Howard, who we didn't know that well at that time but I had seen him speak and knew he was clever and fun and I'm more of the dry professorly type. So I could play straight man and having Howard kind of be-- he calls it "I'm the bonehead I don't know anything" but he does know what's going on, he's just good at playing that role. And then we added Mary after we realized we were three white, Mormon dudes *laughter* with kind of the same view on life. Now granted Howard and Dan are insane so that's different *laughter* So we brought in Mary, who we fly in, or we fly to her, we don't like the Skyping podcasting thing so we do them in person. Just to make sure we were adding more variety to the podcast. Plus she had been the best guest we had had on, her puppeteering episode was great. So that's kind of the evolution of it.

This year is the year we decided to give it a different sort of structure. "Okay we've done this now for nine seasons, let's try something new with each subsequent season."

#11 Copy

Megalodon

So are you planning to do anything like the Rysn interlude where you record and post videos again?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I would like to do that. For those who haven't seen them, I did record myself typing one of the interludes and then I posted it on Youtube. And I will try to do another one of those. I think it's fun. I sometimes get jealous of Dan-- err Howard I mean, who can sit and draw while he's talking with people and do a demonstration. A demonstration of writing is *pantomimes writing/crowd laughs* But this can be put on and sped up, so you can watch it in speed and with cool music in the background and stuff. I'll try to do another one of those.

#12 Copy

Questioner

So for big, big books like Stormlight, what is the ratio of time spent on the first draft versus on revisions, and has that changed over the course of your career?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh wow. They take more time in revision. They take more time at every step of the way than the shorter books. So a book like Calamity I can write pretty solidly, I can write 2 to 3 thousand words a day on that rough draft, and I spend two weeks on an outline and whatever that turns into it's only a couple months of writing. A Stormlight book, the plotting is so intricate it often takes me a year before I'm comfortable with the outline I'm working on-- so I will writing other stuff while working on this outline-- 'till I catch what the soul of that book is going to be, but then all of the interludes, and all of the things, and boy, every book we've had big portions we need to knock out and re-write. It just takes a long time. I would say 50% of the time I spend on-- You take the time I spend writing the first draft, cut it in half and that is the time I spend revising on your average book. But it really depends. Like Stormlight I started the outline last year, or a year ago in June, and started my first exploratory scenes--I posted a few of those online--then went back to the outline, and outlined for a year and then I felt good writing it. So I started that in June. I will write this all the way until March and then we will probably be revising it until six weeks before the book comes out, because that is the absolute deadline that Tor needs before they can print and distribute it *camera pans to Peter making a wryly amused expression* So that's about how long it will take to do this book. It's a lot of work. You know I like doing this because I like having multiple things going, right? Like I don't think I can write a Stormlight book every year, in fact I couldn't, that process I just outlined is a two and a half year process. So, it's just not something I could do. But during that two and a half years I can do some shorter books, some novellas, and just experimenting with different types of writing.

#13 Copy

Questioner

For The Reckoners series, it's my understanding that the Epics appear after they've had some sort of life threatening experience to gain their powers is that correct?

Brandon Sanderson

No, not always.

Questioner

That's what I thought after Firefight.

Brandon Sanderson

Not necessarily.

#14 Copy

Wetlander (paraphrased)

One question I did ask Brandon, though, was whether Ym was an Edgedancer.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

We both acknowledged that with the healing thing, he had to be either an Edgedancer or a Truthwatcher, of course. He pointed out that Ym's spren doesn't look at all like Wyndle.

Wetlander (paraphrased)

Which I countered by saying that I thought the Ym's spren manifested the way Wyndle would if you couldn't see the Cognitive Realm.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He just smiled... and said something like, "I'm going to RAFO that. You're very wise, and I put the description in for a reason, but I'm going to RAFO for now."

#15 Copy

Questioner

At the end of Steelheart, when they're fighting Nightwielder. His weakness was supposedly UV rays and he had Newcago in perpetual darkness. Except the sun produces UV rays.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah when I was building the magic system for this one of the things I realized is large-scale applications of Epic powers could not be subject to their weaknesses otherwise their weakness would become easily manifest. You can see this when Steelheart turns the city to steel, if his fear was manifest far from him every person who-- I'm not going to tell you what his weakness is in case you read the book, it's the big secret-- but anyone who manifested his weakness would have a pocket around them. It would take you about ten minutes to find out what his weakness was. And every large-scale application of power that I was imagining had that big same problem. So what I decided, if it's not immediate to you, if it's not you seeing it and being right there-- That it's your actual-- Something about you that causes the weakness that causes it then it was not going to be manifest. Does that make sense? And in the third book, because enough people asked about this I had David go into a little explanation, he's very technical. But really the reason for coming up with this rule in the first place was because I thought "There's no way you can have this work the way I want to unless there is a loophole there. Unless there's an exception here." So the reason is he's distant from it, large-scale applications it doesn't happen.

Event details
Name
Name Sasquan 2015
Date
Date Aug. 19, 2015
Location
Location Spokane, WA
Bookstore
Bookstore Spokane Convention Center
Entries
Entries 15
Upload sources