*inaudible*, the name. Was it on purpose that it's a combination of "sheepish" and *inaudible*?
Probably. No, I'm not gonna say "probably." It is definitely a coincidence.
*inaudible*, the name. Was it on purpose that it's a combination of "sheepish" and *inaudible*?
Probably. No, I'm not gonna say "probably." It is definitely a coincidence.
Do you have a character that's your... a way to be interacting through a character through a first person viewpoint.
Probably the closest thing I have is Alcatraz, from the Alcatraz books. Who is my method of blowing off steam about the writing process.
So, in Steelheart. The symbol of hope, they're thinking it's the Superman symbol.
It is. But I couldn't say that, because it's trademarked. But that is what it is.
You can imagine it as not. Because, I can't ever talk about Superman in that world. You can imagine it's an alternate version of our world where it's not. If it were ever made into a movie, it would not be.
What is it about Kaladin's personality or his history that would make it so hard for him <saying the Oath>?
That is a RAFO, that you will have some explanation next book.
Is there a specific ear that Vin's earring goes in?
Yes, and we've canonized that, but I can't remember which one it is. If you look online, we have posted it to the fans, and they've put it in the wiki.
What inspired Steris?
Partially, me feeling that I didn't do a fair shake by an autistic character in Elantris, and wanted to do a better job of it later on after I had read more and more about it, and I'd known some people with autism, and things like that, and I wanted to try approaching someone on the spectrum from a more realistic viewpoint. Not that Elantris is completely wrong, but it's more Hollywood interpretation, rather than the real-life way that a lot of people who have autism live with it. That was part of it.
Part of it was also, I wanted to write a character based on a friend of mine, who when I first met them, was very kind of abrasive. And as I got to know them, became one of my best friends ever. And I'm like, "I want a character like that for fans." So if you read the book, you're like, "I hate this character." But at the end, you're like, "Oh, when I can see from their eyes, suddenly they're one of my favorites."
Kaladin is one of my favorite characters, and I noticed he's a really good leader, but he also does have his very hard moments. And I was wondering, what inspired you to make such a strong character that is allowed to cry and be weak?
That is partially my philosophy on writing coming out. And is partially me noticing some things about characters in books that I felt hadn't been covered very well. Certain styles of characters had not been done as much, and I wanted to explore that direction. I take a lot of inspiration from my wife for Kaladin, actually, who has depression.
Do you see yourself as a certain character in the book?
They are all one part me, one part not me.
I was wondering if you see yourself as Hoid.
Definitely not Hoid. Hoid is very different from me. If I'm like anyone, I'm either like Sazed, maybe older Dalinar.
With Allomancy is of Preservation, and you have Hemalurgy, which is of Ruin. Is Feruchemy a joint effort between the two? Or is it a third party?
What's the plan for a book on Threnody?
Book on Threnody? I have a plan, but no promises when. I don't even have a title for it.
Similar question for a book on First of the Sun?
First of the Sun is probably not going to have its own book. I might do a sequel short story, but it's not planned to have a full novel at this point in the Cosmere.
*inaudible* Does that have anything to do with the second *inaudible*?
No, it doesn't. Good question.
I am not an economist like Lee, and I'm not an accountant like Larry, but I've done enough research in this to be dangerous. Just a little bit of research. And I found two kind of fundamental theories that have always been very useful to me in building a magic system if you want to relate it to your economics. And there are two different theories that people talk about. The basis for an economy. And one argument is, the economy is run by those who control the food sources. And if you can relate your magic system to the food (that can be transportation, getting food from one place to another; 'cause if you can get food unspoiled to a large city, you can urbanize, and things like this), they look at the idea of food running countries. And the other direction that people go is, violence running countries. The people who have a monopoly on violence in a society are the people who are in charge of that society. And they're both very interesting ways of looking at the economics of society and then relating your magic to that.
There's a reason why the Stormlight Archive, I said, "All right, I'm gonna make the magic have a one-to-one, you can correlate it to how much food the magic can create." This lets me understand using some real-world examples how to move armies around, how much magic you would need to keep the army fed, which also kind of ties into the monopoly on violence in society and things like this. But I wanted to relate it in that way because it gave me a way to correlate. "This much magic is worth this much bread. This much bread is worth this much in our world." And obviously, you can't exactly tie it one-to-one. But it gives me a ballpark, so that I can kind of keep a scale going, and I can know how much value these things have. Obviously, scarcity and ease of creating that food and things all play into how this works. It's not exactly, directly across. But it's been really handy for me in figuring out "How much is my magic worth?"
In your opinion. Arcanum and the 17th Shard. *inaudible*
I have never felt creeped out by anything that they do there. But once in a while, I'm really overwhelmed by it.
In Bands of Mourning, there's the people that show emotion with their hands. Who was first, you or Patrick Rothfuss, with people that emote with their hands?
Hey, you can go read Defending Elysium. Which came out before Name of the Wind. Where I have an alien species that use hand gestures as a lot of its emotional accents. I would say it's probably parallel sort of things. Pat and I read a lot of the same books growing up. You'll find this; all of my group of writers around my age all grew up reading the same people, so we're kind of remixing things in similar ways. Brent Weeks and I both released color-based magic systems within a year of each other. I beat him to it by a couple months, which made him really mad. Of course, they were both in development at the same time. Why are these ideas sometimes similar?
Why are me and Pat doing these very scientific magic systems? It's because we read the same books growing up, and we're kind of in the same school of thought as we're pushing in different directions in fantasy.
How long did the writing process take for Elantris?
Elantris was about an eight-month write. And then after I sold it, I needed to do maybe another four months of revisions. So maybe about a total of twelve months.
Elantris. Any further books for the series?
Yes. I have some planned. But I've decided I can't do them until at least Stormlight Five is done.
Are there any possible plans for The Rithmatist becoming a virtual reality game?
We have tried. We get a lot of interest from people who don't actually make video games, who are like "I think this would be a great game. Here's my concept." I'm like, "That's great. But we would need somebody who's actually made video games." So, I think it would make a great one. BYU students did a little fun prototype one that turned out very well. But nothing real so far. So far, I have no interest from game developers who have actually developed games.
What does the Sylspear look like?
Write to Ben McSweeney, he's got concept art for it. He can send it to you.
I had to keep pushing him. He kept drawing things that looked like the ashanderi from Wheel of Time. I'm like, "No, it has to actually look like a spear."
What is the weirdest thing that you have signed?
A baby. Baby is up there. I've signed some pretty weird things lately. License plates, I sign a lot of license plates.
You ever signed someone's skin? And they turn it into a tattoo?
Yeah, at this signing, someone earlier had me sign their Life Before Death tattoo, that they were gonna get the signature tattooed. It's on Twitter.
Someone brought a really strange thing through Idaho Falls. It was something like a muffler, something like that. No, it was the bumper that ripped off their car.
I have had requests to sign inappropriate parts of bodies, and I have refused that one.
I love Emperor's Soul. Are you going to expand that into more in the cosmere?
I have an idea for a sequel. But I'm timid about writing it because the first one turned out so well, and I don't want to Lucas it. So we'll see.
Any more plans for Secret Mistborn?
I can't promise it. Decent chance, but I can't promise it.
Do you have a Calling?
I am a Gospel Doctrine Teacher. Going on my eighth year. I'm on my third bishop. I just don't say anything, because I really like the Calling.
Which Shardblade is this one? *points at illustration* I actually asked Isaac which one it was, and he told me to ask you.
Oh. I bet we haven't canonized it yet. Which is why he doesn't want to say. Normally, I let... 'Cause it's not any of the named ones, it's not Adolin's unnamed sword (well, it actually has a name now), it's not Sunraiser, it's not Oathbringer, so it's probably...
The one who has to do that is Ben McSweeney.
Mark was thinking it was Gavilar's sword.
It could be Gavilar's sword. Who else has one... Khal only has armor, not a blade. Really, what happens is, we have Ben McSweeney just draw a bunch of these, and then we canonize them as we need them to belong to certain people. But you can write to Ben and ask him to canonize it. And we'll just take what he says. Because it's not one of the ones that we... It's from one of Shallan's illustrations? Yeah. So, she saw it in the training field. So it's gotta be one of the Alethi blades. Could be the King's Blade.
Is Michael Kramer's pronunciation usually the correct pronunciation?
He is on more than he is off, but we did not get him the pronunciations in time. So a few of them, he had to do on his own. He is more often right.
And I heard you're also considering jumping into the second book of Warbreaker, eventually.
Yeah, eventually. I don't feel as much urgency on that one as I do something like Stormlight. Because I wanna have regular intervals. And that sequel is one I've said I will probably do, but it's not, like, a promise thing.
I really love the female protagonist in the Way of Kings series. I was wondering where you pull your inspiration for a woman like Jasnah?
So, my mother graduated first in her class in accounting in a year where she was the only woman in most of her accounting classes. So, I draw of inspiration from my mother. But, also good authors I've read. Anne McCaffrey, I would recommend. Melanie Rawn. Some of these people who were my introduction to fantasy were also very good at writing characters and taught me a lot.
In Oathbringer, you kinda have themes of mental illness, right? Is that intentional?
Yes. It is intentional.
How come you decided for...
Because several of the characters that I was dealing with had mental illnesses, and I let theme develop out of what the characters are interested in, what their conflicts are, and who they are. These themes kind of grow out of character.
Is there any basis in reality from where you get your magic systems at all?
A lot of different.... I mean, they're usually several steps removed. But Stormlight started with the idea of the fundamental forces in physics, and it kind of just extrapolated in weird directions after that.
Can you tell me anything about Steris and what she's up to in Book 4?
In Book 4? Steris is working hard on getting Wax to care about politics, since it's his job. And she's doing a pretty good job.
How much does your wife influence your work?
Quite a bit. She's usually the first person who ever reads my books. And we tend to talk a lot together about books and movies and things like that, so I'd say she's a pretty big influence. She won't let me base a character on her, though. I asked her if I could, she said no. She can't be in the books.
If you got an actual Feruchemist who was as battle-minded as the Mistborn were in their heyday, and they met a Mistborn, which one would have the advantage in battle?
In a short battle, a Feruchemist. In a long battle, a Mistborn. That'd be my guess.
If you could get someone that works on VR to make something, what would you have them make?
I would love to do a Mistborn game where you can jump around and do perspective and things like that.
We've noticed some very unique parallels in some of your stories with historical events. Are you pulling some inspiration?
Always. Some of those are coincidental, but a lot of them are... I mean, Oathbringer has the famous story from Genghis Khan getting hit by an arrow and recruiting the archer.
We saw some interesting parallels during Mistborn between some of the Dark Ages stuff.
French Revolution was definitely part of that. There's a whole bunch. So you'll see me pulling from all over the place. I mean, I've used Agincourt as a battle. I flipped it upside down so people wouldn't tell. Stuff like that.
The Rithmatist. Is there another one close to coming out?
Rithmatist, I've had real troubles with for a couple of reasons. Once I get Alcatraz, like, finished finished, my next thing to do will be to get Rithmatist taken care of. 'Cause I finished Legion, last one's coming out in a couple weeks. But I'll finish Alcatraz, and that means fewer series hanging and looming over me. And then Rithmatist will be the only one that hasn't gotten...
Have you ever thought about making any of your books or ideas into movies or TVs?
I have tried. It's bigger than one person can do. So really, with movies and TV, you have to find someone you trust and hope they can get it done. But funding and things is so hard. We've had some decent scripts. We have a really good script for Snapshot, which is one of my shorts, right now. So far, I have no news on anything other than "We're working on it," but I would like to.
Are we ever going to get Hoid's story?
Does... <Roial?> make it to one of the other books?
I-- That-- I have to RAFO that... Hoid's backstory is coming. It's going to be a while, but you're going to get it.
Was Taldain one of the planets of the Iriali Long Trail? Was Scadrial?
I asked what would happen if you burned lerasium or atium near ettmetal.
I'm Brandon Sanderson, I write epic fantasy and young adult books of various stripes. Justin told me to tell you why I go to cons. My story goes back to actually I was in high school. I was in my English class, my high school English course, and the teacher walked by and put a flyer on my desk, and he said, "I think this is for you." It had just come through his things, it was "Local Science Fiction Convention, with a student writing competition." And I had never shared my writing with anyone at that point. Never shown it to anyone. In fact, I would type stories and hide them behind the painting in my room so my mom wouldn't find them. Other high school boys are hiding other things, and I'm hiding my writing. Because I'm too embarrassed that my mom would find it.
But my teacher's like, "You should try this." "This is for you," is exactly what he said. So I submitted, and I went to my first science fiction convention. Downtown Lincoln, Nebraska. And I entered their writing convention, which I won, the student writing competition. Even though I stapled my story backward when I handed it in. Yeah, they said, "First, we thought you were trying to do some sort of avant-garde literary thing, then we realized you just stapled it backwards." Because it came out of the printer that way. But I won the student competition.
And beyond that, there-- I'd always been a nerdy kid, kind of felt alone. And I went to the con, and I found a whole bunch of my people. I came home to that con. And I've been going to cons ever since. And I think they're an important part of the science fiction community. I like how much we participate in these. My editor said, "Now that you're a big author, don't get a big head. You need to go to these things, because we can't let the comic cons be the only cons. Comic cons are fine, but at comic cons you're an observer, and at a sci-fi con you're a participant." And that is what it's about, it's about building a community. So I am here because I believe that cons build a very important community, not just for young writers, but for young nerds everywhere.
We do have my cameos. They're not contractually written in, but it's understood, that in each movie, I get killed. *laughter* If these things ever get made, my cameo is they have to put me in a crowd scene or have me die on-screen in an interesting way in every film... I don't necessarily have to have lines, but they have to work me in somewhere... Yeah, Wilhelm Scream, they've gotta Wilhelm Scream me. Maybe I'll work up to getting, like, how Peter Jackson died in Lord of the Rings. If you guys know, Peter Jackson gets killed in the third movie. He's one of the people from the north, or whatever. They're on the boats, and there's a bunch of arrows, and he's like *yelling sounds* and *dying sounds*. It's really cool; he's got a great death scene.
Are you worried if DC goes into a more gritty antihero sort of thing, it will edge out the place for Steelheart?
Nah. I'm not even sure Steelheart has a place. Superheroes are so played out. I don't think I would fund a Steelheart movie right now. It was really fun to write because of my superhero background; doing a superhero deconstruction like that was a lot of fun. But, I mean, I don't know if I would go see it if someone else had made it as a movie. There's so much superhero fatigue right now.
I'm not worried about that. I would rather them just make great movies. I don't need my movies to get made. I'll be excited if we ever do get some made. I mean, I'm doing my thing. I'm really having fun doing my thing, right? I don't need my thing to necessarily get to the big or small screen for it to--
In my dream of dreams, I get to be Stan Lee. I get to make something that people really love and that comes together in a really cool way later on... I don't necessarily want to wait as long as Stan Lee had to wait.
Any of those people that you learned with, did you relate any of them with characters in some of your stories?
Yes, actually. But most of the times, I take one aspect of somebody. Like, I had a good friend named Annie who was a six-foot-one woman. And I had never thought about the problems being six foot one in our society as a woman could cause. And she talked about it a lot, it's not all who she was, but it was something that was a conflict that I had never seen. So when I wrote Elantris, I'm like, "I'm gonna use this, because it feels real, it's really interesting, it's something I'd never heard about from someone else. Plus I have a reader who can read it and tell me if I get it right." So it's not like Sarene is based on Annie. But Sarene has that one aspect of Annie that I used. And that's usually how you normally see me using people in books.
Bridge Four are all my friends, though. All of the non-main Bridge Four members who keep surviving and not getting killed, those are just my friends. Skar and Drehy and Leyten, and Peet is Peter my assistant. All my friends ended up in Bridge Four, except for Ben, who's still in my writing group, who said "No, you can't put me in."
Because that actually happened during Mistborn. I said, "Hey, Micah," who was my roommate at the time, "Your last name is DeMoux, that's a cool French-sounding name. Can I use it in a book?" He's like, "Sure. But I have to get a girl. And I have to not die. It doesn't have to be the girl. I have to be successful in my romantic inclinations." And I'm like, "Alright." So Captain Demoux got put in. Meanwhile, Ben was walking by, who was my roommate at the time, and he's like, "Put me in, but kill me in a really, really terrible way." So I did. I put him in Mistborn and killed him in a terrible way. Then he read the book, and he's like, "No, you can't use me like that." It's okay, it became a guy who dumped my sister-in-law. *laughter* But there's a very gruesome death in Mistborn 2 that happens in a very-- shall we say, someone who does not do well for themselves, let's just say that. And that was Ben. But he made me take him out. And then I was putting people in Stormlight, I'm like, "You don't want to be in?" He's like, "No, don't use me." I finally got away with slipping him into the Wax and Wayne books under his online name Rick Stranger.
Warbreaker. When it talks about the God King, the way he sees the world, and he talks about even a little blemish on someone's skin is so beautiful. To me, it sounds like, if you think about the love of God for Christ, that is how they would see us. Is that kind of what you were going for?
Sure, absolutely. I mean, I don't think I was thinking that when I was writing it, but certainly my Christian upbringing is going to make those things pop out in my fiction, so I would say "Yes, that's a valid interpretation." But you kind of have to look at that as reader response interpretation. Rather than "This is what the author intending," it's "This is what the author was unintentionally drawing upon." Reader response is the wrong term. Whatever the correct literary-- I would have known it in college... Because reader response is that author intent does not matter. If you respond to it a certain way, that's a valid interpretation. And there's a certain thing that's like, the author's upbringing informing how they write their text. Like, it's not deconstructionalism. Historicism.
That reminds me of a question someone asked you on the forum about memespren.
Yes, there would totally be memespren, absolutely... I'm probably not gonna go there.
Who's your favorite planeswalker?
Probably Elspeth. When Elspeth is dressed in armor appropriate for her personality. I have a thing about that. But I really like-- I mean, it's me. I like the questing knight searching for answers who thought she found them and then they turned-- the moral axis was upended. That was a really cool story, to me.
Would you ever write any planeswalker stories?
If I were asked by Wizards of the Coast to write a story, I would probably say yes... I've told them this, as well, that if they asked me to write a story, I would probably say yes.
So that's not Secret Project, either.
I didn't say that.
Do you ever feel like it can be bad if you have too many characters that have really politically or socially unhealthy perspectives?
That is dangerous, yeah. Particularly in the hands of an inexperienced writer. It's not a reason to not do it, but I'm reminded of Save the Pearls. So, this is a well-meaning young woman who is obviously writing from a position of privilege who wrote a book about reverse racism where the black people are racist against white people. And the black people are called Coals, and the white people are called Pearls. And it is really heavy-handed and poorly done, and really... is bad for the whole discussion. It is horribly, horribly racist in the way it treats black people in the book that's supposed to be about how bad racism is. And her intent was good, it's like, "Hey, let's let white people experience how it would be to be racist against people," but it just-- in her hands, it's just terrible. It is dangerous to not be part of the conversation and try to say something about the conversation. To not do your leg work, and things like that.
But at the same time, as an artist, I don't feel like you should not try to have things to say. But you should maybe research a little more, things like that. What if you want to write a book where main characters are racist? They hold unpopular and unhelpful opinions, they are dead-out wrong. How can you write this without contributing to the problem? And people have different answers to this. I would go research online and see what people have said about it. I mean, Stormlight is about a bunch of racist people who don't know they're racist. They just don't know. And this is me tackling that really dangerous problem, and it is a place you can get burned by doing.
But again, I think you should do it. I think we should be having these discussions, but make sure to read first. And there are ways to go about it where you indicate, "Hey, this is part of life. And it sucks." But it is part of life, so if we pretend it's not there, then it's also doing a disservice to the discussion. So, yeah, it is something to worry about. It's definitely something to think about. It's definitely something that should inform the way you approach your writing. But be careful.
What do you feel about the role of allegory? The whole debate between Lewis and Tolkien. But connected to that, the other side of it, how do you feel about the duty of fiction to say something good, or send a message...
So, where I fall on that is, I fall on Tolkien's side. In my own fiction, I do not want my fiction to be an allegory of anything other than "Here is how some people see the world." And I think that that is a powerful thing that fiction does, is it shows different perspectives on the same issues. I stole a quote that I swear was from Robert Jordan. I hope someone finds it one day, where said he wrote his stories to give people interesting questions. He didn't write his stories to give them answers. And I put that as a quote from one of my characters in one of my books. I haven't been able to find where Robert Jordan said that, but I swear he said it at some point. That the idea is, that I think fiction is about questions and not answers. But that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy reading Phillip Pullman, who's like, "This is an allegory for my life experience." I enjoy reading C.S. Lewis. I don't enjoy certain authors, we won't extrapolate further along that path. But there are lots of authors that have written books as allegory that I think are great books. A Christmas Carol is an allegory. It's a great allegory, it's fun, but that's not how I generally write. I generally write by saying, "Who is this person? What are they passionate about?" I will look for theme in what the characters are struggling with and bring that theme out as a manifestation of the characters, but I won't go in saying "I'm gonna teach people about the nature of honor." But maybe one of the characters is really interested in the nature of honor, and so they'll talk about it.
This isn't so much a question as just something I noticed... When I first read a summary of the Deadpool movie... to trigger his powers, they basically tortured him. And as soon as I read that, I was like, "They Snapped him!"
Now, I can't claim ownership of this. I think you will find the idea of "anguish brings powers" reaching back to the early days of the Golden Age superhero comics. And to a lot of the early 70s and 80s fantasy that I was reading and absorbing during those formative years. So, I can't take credit for that. I think it's a very common trope. And so I would not suggest that the writers of Deadpool have anything to do with it... I wouldn't think that they had read-- Just because it's part of the general understanding. I mean, I bet there's a TVTropes page for it, right? ...They'll probably have some pithy name for it or something, "Traumatic Power Inception" or something like that, they'll have some page for it. And you can go find all the places where it came from.
Yeah, the Patji stuff [from the OB London signing]. I mean, I maybe didn't word it the right way, but it was all right. Like, people flipped out about the wording a little too much, I think.
I'm just surprised you offered it up.
Yeah, that's a good time to get me, because I will just start talking. But it might not be continuity... The Patji stuff-- I mean, the thing is, the chances that I get to write more Sixth of the Dusk are just so slim.
I thought you were gonna do a sequel?
I mean, I've got a sequel plotted, but I've got a sequel plotted to everything, right?
Do you ever find yourself writing so much of your own work that you actually go back and look and realize you've forgotten pieces?
Oh, I have to reread, particularly in Stormlight. Yeah, absolutely. It's hardest when I get hit with questions like this, there are sometimes I get hit with a question, I'm just like, "What?" I usually just RAFO it. But it is particularly bad-- If you wanna read bad answers by me, go get any of the ones where I first start answering questions in London after an 8-hour time jump. Like, I get off a plane, they set me in front of a crowd, they say "Go." Imagine signing and writing things in books while people ask you questions about complicated fiscal policy. And you have to keep writing and answer them. And those questions just-- Every time I'm in London, I get back and people are like, "You said this!" I'm like, "What?" Any time I'm in Europe. The first signing, particularly, in Europe, you can find delightful questions... It took me a few hours, the last one. I did get, eventually, into the zone, and start answering questions. But that was a miserable signing all around because it was the winter in London, and it was a particularly cold winter, and they decided to put the line outside. And they'd never done this to me before at this bookstore, but the line was so big that they're like, "We're gonna run them around the block." It was a very long line, but I'm sitting here trying to answer these questions, while at the same time I'm worried, I'm like, "These fans are outside in the cold. This is not right!" And so I was stressed and jet-lagged, so some of my questions were just off the walls.