Recent entries

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5201 Copy

    Questioner

    In all the Cosmere books, on all their worlds, the only thing <brazenly> different about the ecosystems than Earth are the things affected by magic. So, in one of the books, you mentioned, like, a dolphin. Why is everything the same?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, there's an in-world answer and an out-of-world answer. The out-of-world answer is that every book has something we call a learning curve, so that is what makes it harder to get into the book. And learning curves, usually, if they're written well, have great payoffs, but also act like a brick wall when getting into your book. And so certain books, I have designed to have shallower learning curves, so you can focus on learning all these new characters, and the situations, and the political situation, but not have to learn entirely new terminology for the setting.

    In-world, most of these worlds were created by people or... who came from an original world. For instance, there was a planet that the gods from Scadrial (the planet of Mistborn), they came from this world, and they created what they had seen there. So the animal life there, they just created in their own world, because that was what they had a pattern for.

    So in-world, there's a reason, they're all connected. But you'll notice that some of the ones with the steeper learning curve are the ones that have the weirder world, and Way of Kings has the steepest.

    Questioner

    On Roshar, the only area that isn't affected by the Highstorms, Shinovar, is basically like Earth, where everything else has changed.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That gives us a little bit of a frame of reference to contrast things with. There's some in-world things about that you'll learn eventually, but it gets us some ways for you to be like, "Oh. The grass looks like this because it is so different from the grass that this girl is pointing out. It's grass like ours." It's very helpful for establishing a conversation topic.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5202 Copy

    Questioner

    Hoid worldhops between places. How did he do it on Scadrial? With Ati's body?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, there were two perpendicularities on Scadrial.

    Questioner

    I know he uses the pools, but how did he do it with Pits of Hathsin? There was no pool? The body was there...

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, it doesn't have to be going through the pool. What happens with a perpendicularity is, where there is a massive collection of Investiture, it pulls a conduit through. So, if you know what you're doing and where you are, you can get through that.

    Questioner

    So you don't have to use the pools, just where there's a huge concentration...

    Brandon Sanderson

    A huge concentration of Investiture will warp the realms.

    Questioner

    So can anyone worldhop that way, then? If they know what to do?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If they know what to do, in a perpendicularity, anyone should be able to get through there. But as proven with Raoden, if you don't know what it's supposed to do, nothing happens. He gets dumped int he pool, he thinks he's gonna die... nothing. So, it's more than just being there.

    Questioner

    That's how he went from the Physical to the Cognitive, so I was wondering how did he do that at the Pits of Hathsin, when there shouldn't be a pool there

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, that is the equivalent.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5207 Copy

    Questioner

    Do the Shards know each others' weaknesses? Like the metal blindness or anything?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They are not aware of every specific, but they know generalities.

    Questioner

    So they know that they do have weaknesses.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    Questioner

    So would Odium have taken advantage of Honor's weakness to Splinter him?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You could say that, yeah.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5208 Copy

    Questioner

    On the Roshar system diagram, each planet had the sigil of a certain Radiant. I was wondering why you did that

    Brandon Sanderson

    We're using Roshar itself as a frame of reference, and that is how people on Roshar have named the planets. And they can't see them all, I don't believe, but the naming convention sticks.

    Questioner

    And thats why you added the sigils?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mmhmm. I don't think they've discovered them all on-planet, but since other people off-planet know about them... and in the old days, they knew about them all.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5209 Copy

    Questioner

    Is there some sort of dead Shardic power on Roshar that is manipulating everyone to be evil and, sort of testy, and stuff like that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Do you mean the Thrill?

    Questioner

    Yes, but not just the thrill. The way that they treat everything like a game.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is specific to Alethkar, in that region. That is mostly the fault of the Thrill. Like, if you go to Azir, they don't act the same way.

    Questioner

    So that's just a cultural thing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's a cultural thing enhanced magically by a certain ancient spren.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5211 Copy

    Questioner

    Does Rayse have a personal... or did he have a personal relationship with the other [Vessels] before the Shattering?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Some of them, yes.

    Questioner

    So he doesn't personally know them all?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He knows them all, but "having a relationship with" is different. They were all in the same place.

    Questioner

    He knows who they are but he doesn't necessarily interact with them?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. Not necessarily. They weren't part of a homogenous group before this happened.

    JordanCon 2018 ()
    #5213 Copy

    Argent (paraphrased)

    Nazh writes that "spren fishing" is illegal in Ravizadth. What exactly is spren fishing?

    Isaac Stewart (paraphrased)

    It is the act of forcefully attracting spren in Shadesmar for your own purposes. For example, you know how when Adolin is genuinely afraid there, his fear attracts fearspren naturally? That's okay. But if someone were to engineer situations that would attract certain kinds of spren because they wanted to make use of those spren - for study, or other reasons - that would be "fishing". If spren have formal ethics, this would be unethical.

    Argent (paraphrased)

    So this has a lot to do with consent? Drawing spren naturally is part of how spren work, but forcing them to come, that's a no-no?

    Isaac Stewart (paraphrased)

    Pretty much.

    JordanCon 2018 ()
    #5215 Copy

    Isaac Stewart (paraphrased)

    The Nalthis essay and star chart (similar to the ones Khriss put together for the other Shardworlds in Arcanum Unbounded) are in the works, but we don't know when we'll release them. Warbreaker's 10th anniversary next year is a good candidate, but it may happen even earlier.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5216 Copy

    Questioner

    It seems like we need a ton of Radiants since, like, yesterday. Are these ones gonna get really buff? Or is Lift gonna recruit? Are there lots of shoemakers and Lifts that haven't been found that are gonna come out of the woodwork?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are some that haven't been found. That's part of the point of the interludes, is to show "This is happening other places."

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5220 Copy

    Questioner

    Are you having any cameos in the movies?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If they let me, I will do a cameo in each movie.

    Questioner

    Speaking part, or not?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably not, but who knows. What I've suggested to them is that they kill me in an imaginative way in each book as recompense for killing off characters.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5223 Copy

    Questioner

    I'm trying to figure out the chronology of the cosmere. The first thing that happened is with Elantris?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So far they are chronological order except for White Sand. And then the Alloy books are getting out of chronological order, we're jumping back and forth. But the first introduction of each book is chronological order, with the exception of flashbacks and things like that. But the actual main line of each book, chronological except for White Sand and the Alloy books.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5225 Copy

    Questioner

    With Vasher on Roshar, is he collecting more Breaths, or just burning through slowly what he has collected?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He can use Stormlight instead. That's why he came to Roshar.

    Questioner

    Did he come voluntarily?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He came voluntarily because he was tired of sucking souls. Roshar is where he decided to "retire."

    Questioner

    How many Breaths <does he have now>?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He has the same number that he left with. Which, there are clues to what level of Heightening he at least has, in the books.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5227 Copy

    Questioner

    Axies the Collector, is he a kandra-like species? Are they common throughout the whole cosmere?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, the Aimians reside on Roshar right now. They are... I would not say kandra-like, in that the other species of Aimian has more kandra-like qualities. There's two that used to live there, before it was Scoured. But they are a different species; they are not human.

    Questioner

    *inaudible*

    Brandon Sanderson

    Shapeshifters, there are multiple types of shapeshifters, but... even, you would call the Royal Locks a type of shapeshifting. So, shapeshifting is a common thing in the csomere. Having the ability... Once you know how the magic works, you will see why. So, there are other, kind of, species of shapeshifter.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5231 Copy

    Questioner

    Hoid. Does he show up in Sixth of the Dusk?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hoid is not in Sixth of the Dusk. I kind of made the little rule to myself that I should not just try to shoehorn him in to everything. On a thing like Sixth of the Dusk, there's no reason for him to be there. In fact, it would be really hard for him to get there. Even harder. So, he's not in Shadows for Silence either.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5233 Copy

    Questioner

    Elend and Kelsier's relationship, what would it be like? I was thinking it would be, like, playful annoyed exasperation?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Kelsier would have really come around on Elend, is my instinct. Partially because Elend came around on Kelsier. If you read the later books, he really understands a little more. He's much more of a realist than he used to be. Which Kelsier would appreciate. I would imagine that Elend would be a little frustrated with Kelsier. But Kelsier would just start treating him like a minion, rather than someone to... And that's a sign of affection. If he orders you around, that's a sign of affection.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5235 Copy

    Questioner

    Is Teft going to become a squire?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, the next book will involve all of Bridge Four trying very hard. But, I can't promise that anyone specifically... but, Teft has had a viewpoint in the first book. Teft did get his viewpoint in the second book. He will have one in the third book, also.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5236 Copy

    Questioner

    You mentioned that you're not doing another Emperor's Soul book. I wanted to know, what would or did happen if [Shai] ever tracks down the Imperial Fool?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, you might see her again in books. She did eventually track him down. So, I might include her in books. I won't write a sequel story to Emperor's Soul, but you have not seen the last of Shai. You will see cameos. And it's entirely possibly I will sneak one into a book somewhere, or something like a scene. She did eventually track him down.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5237 Copy

    Questioner

    Is there a particular period of history you feel influences your writing a lot?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, early 1900s.

    Questioner

    Specifically America, or global?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Global. But, you now, America obviously is gonna have a big influence. It really starts for me, Renaissance through industrial revolution, to the beginnings of the modern era. Because, the idea of science being something wonderful that you can study, that is a big part... like, Newton believed alchemy was real, and tried to apply science to it, and couldn't make it work. That sort of thing is really cool to me. That era, moving into the modern era, where science is, like, a wonderful thing that people are discovering, is really cool to me. I'd say that's my biggest influence. I remember reading an essay by somebody who studied ditch-digging in 1910. And had been, the science of ditch-digging, and applied it to ditch-diggers and taught them to ditch-dig better, and how science can help a person dig ditches. Like, everyone's life was improved by science. That's a really cool era to me.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5238 Copy

    Isaac Stewart

    The symbolism [of the Threnody symbol] here has a lot to do with the star system. The three rules, right? I'm not gonna spill it out here. There's the three rules. So, each of these symbols has something to do with the three rules, and also different things that are found in the sky. I'll give you one of them. The eye is the sign of Purity. And then, I'd might as well. This is silver. This stands for "Do not run." And this one is the blood. Which, there are stars in the sky that are red there, so that's the star.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5239 Copy

    Questioner

    I asked about The Lopen, and it was a public Q&A, so I was trying not to be spoilery. But some of the things he said at the end of Words of Radiance, where he knew a lot about background processes. I asked if I should be suspicious of it, and you said, "Yes." Was that in reference to him becoming the king, that you revealed? Or is it because of something else that he knows about?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Background processes of...?

    Questioner

    It seemed he knew more about the squires, the process of being squires

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, Lopen. Lopen knowing more. No, that's not about being the king. You are supposed to be suspicious of it because Lopen has been paying a lot of attention. He didn't have foreknowledge. It was completely accidental he ended up in Bridge Four. But once he did, he decided, "I'm gonna do this. I'm gonna learn about it." And he has been the one actively pursuing becoming a full Knight Radiant. He's the only one of the team who's actively been doing that. That's why you are supposed to be suspicious. There's not an ulterior motive. He is proactive.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5240 Copy

    Questioner

    Will we see the Moon Scepter again?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, I intend for you to see it again. But I've already said what it does, I believe. It's a Rosetta Stone for the different symbols on [the world of] Elantris that mean different things.

    Questioner

    So, it's more specific to Sel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's specific to Sel, it's specific to understanding the magics on Sel. It helps figure out how the different magic systems do the different things they do on Sel. So, it does have Aons along one side of it. You probably will see it again, but it will probably be in cameo. Hoid got the information he needed off of it, from that.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5241 Copy

    Questioner

    So, there's a line in Elantris that has always fascinated me. Raoden is reading really old books, and he says that some of these books mention words such as "frequency" and "pulse length." I'm a physics major, this reminds me a lot of quantum physics.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, it does!

    Questioner

    So, my question is, how much is quantum physics a part of the magic in the cosmere?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Here's the thing. I don't know quantum physics well enough. That's a rabbit hole; I am an armchair scientist, I do not have a degree in physics. And so, while I really like it, I build it in... When I'm doing this, what I usually do is I build in cosmere versions, so I can't be held accountable to getting some little thing wrong. So, yes, quantum physics is important. But, in some ways, some of the things in the cosmere are more like the pop science version of quantum physics, what everyone thinks quantum physics is but really isn't, are actually some of the things in the cosmere. The fun, awesome version of quantum physics. I try to make some of it as accurate as I can, not having a physics degree. But I have to be aware that... I am not writing science fiction, I'm writing fantasy, so there will be things that you're like, "That's not quite right," but it works in the cosmere.

    Questioner

    Anywhere I should keep my eye out for more stuff like that.

    Brandon Sanderson

    In Words of Radiance... when was the interlude, is it in the first book? The spren, they took their measurements. That's part of it. We're gonna have, just, little things like that around that are relevant, but I'm not gonna dig into it deeply until [Mistborn] Era 4, probably.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5242 Copy

    Questioner

    Kelsier talks about a myth that seems similar to ours, about the grand maze of Ishathon, which seems to parallel to the labyrnth myth.

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are certain things from being a student of folklore, I know about certain myths that show up multiple times in different cultures, and I know how frequently myths show up in different cultures. So, I will frequently add in cosmere versions of these myths, knowing that different cultures on our world have spawned them independently, feeling it's likely they would spawn on-world in the cosmere. So, when you see a Cinderella myth, if I ever use it, which is the single most common myth throughout all cultures. I'm not saying "Oh, someone's been to Earth and found Cinderella." I'm saying, "People have developed this myth independently." But, yes, that is coming from my folklore background.

    Questioner

    Is it a Scadrial-specific myth, or is it a kind of a cosmere cosmere...

    Brandon Sanderson

    This one, in specific, I believe is Scadrial-specific.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #5243 Copy

    Questioner

    Given Sanderson's Laws about limitations...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Questioner

    What would you say are any spiritual, cognitive, and or physical limitations to a Returned's healing ability?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That they can do it once.

    Questioner

    That they can do it once, and that's it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, right? The Returned get one heal and then they die. That's a pretty big limitation. Like you have to choose really well. However, what they can heal is bounded by cosmere limitations on healing, but it is a supercharged version.

    Questioner

    Okay. Could you define more cosmere limitations on healing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Cosmere limitations on healing can be affected by your own perception.

    Questioner

    Okay. Cognitive stuff.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Cognitive stuff. And so there's a part of that, and... But that's really-- cognitive interferes. And if your spirit is gone? Right? Cosmere healing, you know, if your spirit is passed on you just get a dead body even though you've healed it.

    Questioner

    So potentially Vasher, having a much greater cosmere knowledge than others could potentially have a much greater usage of that healing than regular--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well the healing-- What I mean by that is yourself. You impose limits. So the person being healed can impose some limits on the healing working. It doesn't happen as often as I'm making it sound. But, you know-- why Kaladin's scars have not healed, right? So Kaladin being hit by a Returned would still not heal his scars. He's got a major hangup about those scars.

    Footnote: The questioner seems to have been asking about cosmere healing in general for Returned, but Brandon focused on their ability to give up their Divine Breath to heal somebody else.
    Orem signing ()
    #5244 Copy

    Questioner

    So, with Apocalypse Guard being pseudo-shelved, and now Dan Wells being brought on as a co-author. A) How cool is that, and B) Is it, like, from the ground-up restructuring co-writing? Or is he coming in as, like, a super-editor?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, what happened, for those who don't know, I wrote Apocalypse Guard, somewhat connected to The Reckoners books. That was my project for last summer. And to catch you up to speed, it didn't turn out. Like, I finished the whole book, and there are some really good parts to this book. But the book didn't work; some of the characters were off, some of the art was off. And I beat my head against the wall for a good month and a half trying to do revisions. And every revision I tried made it worse. And that's when I shelved the book. And I shelved the book and I started working on Skyward. This still happens to me. If you're a newer writer, and you're like "Wow, my book just didn't turn out," well,it happens to all of us. And then I did get the bright idea, it was about a month later, I'm like, "Who's the best author I know? It's Dan! Dan is the best author that I know." So I just called him, and I said, "Dan, is this something you would even consider? I would hand the book completely off to you, let you have it for, like, six months or a year. Do whatever you feel like you need to make it work, come back to me, and then we will write some sequels. Either I'll write one and you'll write one, or something like that. We'll collaborate on an entire trilogy." Because I've always wanted to do something with Dan. And this felt like a good place, because I couldn't get the book to work.

    He was super enthusiastic. He's like, "Yeah, it sounds like fun." Dan likes weird things, this is a weird thing. Like, I'd never heard of someone doing this before. So, Dan took it, and he came back. We did a meeting over dinner, where I'm like, "Well?" He listed off-- All the stuff I also thought was broken, he thought was broken. He picked them out himself, he's like, "This character doesn't work, and this is--" So I'm like, "What do we do?" And so we just brainstormed for a while on what to do. And I'm kind of just letting Dan do his thing. It's not super-editor, like, he's ripping out entire chapters and rewriting them, things like that. Like, then there's one character who's just been ripped out of the story and a new one put in their place. Stuff like that. Total, takes the sledgehammer and goes to work on it. But, of course, preserving some of the stuff I think works the best. So, I haven't seen-- I've seen him with the sledgehammer, and he says "What about this?" I'm like, "I don't think that's a load-bearing wall." He's like, "Great," BAM. I'm like, "I hope this looks good when we come back." But it can't look worse than it did.

    So, I'm not sure, still. Kind of, our thing on that is that, we're gonna sign a contract-- We haven't even signed contracts yet, he's just doing it. When we sign a contract, it will be like, we'll put a date in there that we think he'll turn it back to me, and a date I'll turn it back to him, and we'll see. I'm really excited, though. Finally being able to work with Dan, and finding this way to fix a story-- I'm excited.

    JordanCon 2018 ()
    #5245 Copy

    Argent

    During past events and interviews you've said that you've had to make your peace, so to speak, with some fans guessing reveals in future books before those books have even come out. Obviously you can't write for just a fraction of your fans who obsess every detail, and every word that Hoid ever utters. (Balderdash.) But have you ever written anything specifically for those people going, "Oh, that's gonna blow their socks off"?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, yeah. So, for any who didn't hear, I get the question of, "How do I feel about fans guessing things before I've revealed them in the books? How do I respond to that?" And I've said I have to just make peace with that. Because I feel like trying to change-- like, I'm such an outliner, that if I change the target, if I change what I'm doing, then it's just not gonna work at all. Changing the target after I've shot the arrow, it would mean me moving the target away so the arrow misses, and saying "Haha, you guys got it wrong!" just wouldn't work for the way I tell stories. But the way I tell stories, you need to be able to see the arrow flying. I like that. And when you get three years in between books, you're gonna see where those arrows are flying. So, I just had to make peace with the idea that the hardcore fans, and maybe even some of the medium-core fans, they're going to know, they're going to see these things. Like, the big revelation-- one of the big problems I had with this was: the big revelation at the end of Oathbringer was something that the hardcore fans had figured out in book one. But the characters hadn't, because they are steeped in this world, and in the lore, and in the customs of the world. So something that was mind-shattering to a lot of the characters was old hat to some of the readers. And I had to figure out how to-- one of the things the beta readers helped me with on that book was figuring how to make sure I layered surprises at the end of Oathbringer, so that ones would be emotionally impactful to the readers while the characters were reeling from something the readers might not be reeling from. That was a challenge.

    Anyway, the actual question he asked is, "Are there things I write saying 'Oh, they're gonna love this one'? Do I tease?" Yes, I totally tease. I write in words that I'm like, "Oh, I'm gonna name-drop this person they have never heard of. Because I feel like the character would name-drop, and plus it's gonna drive them crazy." I try to hold myself to the cosmere-aware sections of the books for doing that. Things like Secret History or the Letter epigraphs, and things like this. Places where the casual reader will be like, "You know, I don't get any of this, so it doesn't matter. I can move on." Where I'm kind of, like, taking you and quarantining you in your own section of letters from the cosmere, and stuff like that. But I'm gonna read you one of those in a minute.

    JordanCon 2018 ()
    #5246 Copy

    Questioner

    I know you've been asked several times about other authors that have influenced your work, but are there people in other lines of work, other medias, that you deliberately learn from? And if so, who?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. So, I do really like film. I love films that, like-- one of my favorite films of all time is Gattaca. And I really like films that do interesting things with narrative, like parallel narrative between characters and stuff like that. I like films are trying, even if they fail, to do really interesting things. Like, Interstellar; I really liked Interstellar. Interstellar is a hugely flawed movie, but it's, like, so ambitious and interesting. And I like it when movies do that. So, I do study a lot of films. I like movies that have good structure. I love the original Star Wars trilogy for its structure. It teaches you so much about structure that Lucas apparently didn't learn. He learned other things; Lucas had really big dreams and great ideas and I really liked that he-- Even in the prequels, I liked that he told us a consistent narrative across three. I like doing that.

    Watchmen was really influential on me, as like basically everyone who's read it. Watchmen was influential. And some other graphic novels. I loved Kingdom Come when I first read it back in the 90s or whenever it was. The roommate gave me that, and I'm like, "Wow, these do different things with the medium that I--" Yeah

    I read a lot of webcomics, also. I don't know how much influence they have over me. But Dr. McNinja, until it ended, was my jam. But I would list those. Films, and the occasional really powerful graphic novel that have influenced me a lot.

    JordanCon 2018 ()
    #5247 Copy

    Questioner

    In the early 2000s, you started toying with this idea of the cosmere, these interconnected stories that are separate, but you've got your little Easter eggs. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, Marvel movies started coming out. Were you like, "Wow, I can't believe this got so popular, this idea of--"

    Brandon Sanderson

    Like, it had always been in their comics. I didn't invent interconnected universe. I didn't even invent them in books. Like, Michael Moorcock, I don't know if you guys have read Michael Moorcock, but I really like Michael Moorcock's work, and he connected a bunch of his things together. And Stephen King famously did it. I think the one that first blew my mind when someone did this was when Asimov connected Robots and Foundation together. 'Cause I had read the Robots books, then I read the Foundation books, and then I read the later Foundation books and I'm like, "They're the same world?!?" That was a very mind-blowing moment for me.

    But when I was writing a lot of this stuff in the late 90s, early 2000s, the rule of thumb was, "People don't want continuing narrative." Like, I still remember watching the DVD extras on the Deep Space Nine DVDs. (Which is the best Star Trek, fight me.) And in Deep Space Nine, they would talk about how they would have to-- they had this big arc they wanted to do for seasons. Go listen to it, it's hilarious. They're like, "But we couldn't tell the executives about that, because they would say 'People don't want continuing story arcs, they want individual adventures.'" So, they would write the Ferengi episodes, which were standalones that were goofy and funny, and sent those as their samples to the studio execs, and hide the fact they were making this big, interconnected epic out of Deep Space Nine. And that was the conventional wisdom. That's just where storytelling was going. So, I'm like, "I have to be really hidden about this, everybody's gonna--"

    But, Marvel wasn't the first case we have. It was the television show 24. When 24 came out (this is old news to a lot of you, it's like 20 years ago), but when that show came out, people were like "Wow, a continuing narrative. Some people really like this." And then Marvel did their thing, and Marvel became Marvel over the next years. And that was, like, a thing. And then Netflix started doing stuff where it's like, "We're releasing a whole season at once so you can binge. It's like a nine hour movie." And meanwhile, this whole time, I'm like, "Yes! I was born at the right time!"

    I will tell you that when DMG came to buy the Cosmere, it was with stars in their eyes, because shared universes were suddenly the thing, and I had the only one on the market for sale. They're all really really stretching, they're like, "Universal Monsters universe?" They're always trying to make some shared universe. And meanwhile, they're like, "There's a guy who already has one. We'll just go buy it!" That was a big part behind them grabbing that. I think that now, people are more wary, because so many of them that they tried to make failed. But the reason they failed, at least in my opinion, is because they did it the wrong way. Instead of starting with something great, that people would want more of, they started saying, "You are going to get 30 of these. You'd better like the first one. Oh, you think it's mediocre? Well, you'd better like the second one, right?" Where this has always been a theme for me with the Cosmere, that I really want each individual story to stand on its own, and if you want to dig into the connections behind them, there is that depth for you to dig into, and you can start making all of these connections and being part of the fandom. But if you just want to read Warbreaker, it is a standalone. You don't need any of this other stuff, it's all Easter egg, and I think that is part of the issue with some of these. It's this thing I told the writers the other day. This magic phrase of, "Everybody wants to start a book thinking it's a standalone and wants to finish it thinking, knowing it's a series." Like, you want to pick up that first book, or whatever it is, and have it be so good that it wraps up and just knocks your socks off. And at that point, you want a sequel. You don't really want the sequel when you start, you just want a good well-told story. So, I tell a lot of writers, try to make sure that first story is really good, and then worry about sequels. So, that's been my philosophy, and hopefully it has worked out.

    JordanCon 2018 ()
    #5248 Copy

    Questioner

    At what point did you go, "Elantris was good, Mistborn was good, now let's do 40 more books"?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, a brief, brief history (writer's side, not the in-world side) of the Cosmere is this. So, Elantris was written without the cosmere in mind. This was-- Elantris was the first, kind of, book in my--

    So, the way my history works, I was told early on that your first five books are generally terrible. And this was actually really relieving to me, because I'm like "Oh, I don't have to be good until book six." So I wrote five books as, just, lots of experimenting. Lots of different types of stories. And I didn't really even try, I sent one or two of them out, but I didn't really aggressively try to publish them. They were White Sand--not White Sand that you can get from my newsletter signup, an earlier version--which is my first book. And then Star's End, which was a little science fiction book, and then a sequel to White Sand, and something called Knight Life, which was a comedy. Yes. But bits of that got repurposed into Alcatraz. And then The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora, which was a weird cyberpunk, far-future thing. And I got done with all of those, and I'm like, "All right. I kind of know what I want to do. I thought it was epic fantasy. I now know it's epic fantasy." And then I wrote Elantris. My next books were Elantris, a rewrite of White Sand, and Dragonsteel. And this was kind of me exploring "What do I want to do? How do I want to-- What is my-- What do I want to add to this genre?"

    But the idea of the interconnected universe grew out of doing these things, writing these books. I started planning The Way of Kings then, I started planning the book that became Warbreaker then. It was called Mythwalker at the time. And I wrote a book called The Final Empire and a another one called Mistborn, which are neither of the ones that you guys actually have read. What eventually happened, is when I sold Elantris, this whole thing of the cosmere had really come together, this is what I wanted to do, I was really excited by it.

    And so, the first book that I wrote knowing about the cosmere was Mistborn. And Elantris got retrofitted into this as I was writing the Mistborn trilogy. And it was while I was working on the Mistborn trilogy that I made the nine book arc that is kind of the core, though-line of the Cosmere, the past/present/future Mistborn. I called my editor in... 2005 with a really big, exciting, sort of huge outline for 40 books (it was 32 back then), I'm like, "It's gonna be this, it's gonna be this, it connects here, and all this stuff--" That's when it all kind of happened, and I built that all out. It was the process of working on the Mistborn original trilogy and building out the nine book arc for those that really solidified a lot of these ideas. By then, I had written Dragonsteel, so I knew--- Dragonsteel was book number seven, so I knew about Adonalsium and all of this stuff, but it was really kind of in Mistborn where I decided how I was gonna incorporate all of that. And even then, even in Mistborn, there are still things that I was still putting together.

    So, yeah. There's a brief history of it. By the time I had those three books done, 'cause I wrote them in a row, I was pretty solid on how all of this was gonna come together.

    JordanCon 2018 ()
    #5249 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you have any updates on games or movies or shows?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Okay, let's go down the big run-down.

    We've been having moderate luck with board games, people are actually producing the things that they sign up to do. So, we should be having another board game before too long. We have the House War game, and we have the Reckoners game coming out, and there might be another one to announce eventually. We've been having a lot more luck there than we have other places. Video games, nada. There's just nothing. I would love to do a video game, but-- yeah. I don't know what's going on over there. We sold the Mistborn rights, they were really nice, and then they didn't do anything for, like, five years, and eventually, they're like, "We can't make this."

    So, Hollywood. Steelheart series is owned by Fox, with 21 Laps producing, that's Shawn Levy's company, he made the Night at the Museum films. They still own that, they are on their second renewal of the options, so they've had it for a number of years. I have not heard anything from them since last July, when they called and said they wanted to keep it still and wrote us a check. I don't know what's going on there.

    Snapshot is owned by MGM. Snapshot is a novella I wrote about a year ago, it's kind of Phillip K. Dick-ish, with a little bit of Se7en, the serial killer show. It's different. MGM bought that, they have assigned a screenwriter. The screenwriter said his goal would be early this year, in his schedule, to work on it. And they've been fairly good at staying in contact with us every couple of months. We haven't heard from them since, about, December, when they said that there would be there, so we probably need an update there. But things seem to be moving just fine there.

    DMG has the Cosmere. They bought it up in pieces, and eventually just bought the rest of it from me. They have been really good to work with. DMG has always involved me in everything. They have shown me every screenplay and script they have come up with, and they made the VR experience as a tool to try to explain the Stormlight to studio execs who don't read books. Which you can get on VR systems, if you want. It's kind of trippy, with you down in the chasms in the Shattered Plains. But that was primarily so we can go to studio execs and be like "It's like this!" But they have been really good to work with. Right now, latest news is they're worried Stormlight is going to be too hard to do as a film series. Surprising! So, latest discussions with them-- Though, we did get a screenplay from them that came in at 250 pages. Which, if you don't know screenplay format, one page equals one minute, so 250 pages is 4+ hours. And it still cut out a lot, so they're like, "Well..." So, I don't know where that will go but that is where we're looking right now. Mistborn, they're still looking at for a feature. They have a screenplay that they are trying to get studios to partner with them, and things like that. They're doing the whole Hollywood runaround. So, who knows.

    Most likely, the best thing that could happen for Stormlight would be for Wheel of Time to get made and do really well, and then everyone will be like "Wow, we want more epic fantasy. It's not just Game of Thrones, it's lots of stuff!" Hopefully, that'll go places, but I don't know any more than you guys really know about that. I can't say specifics. I did do a phone call with one of the people involved, they reached out and said "Hey!" but it's just "Hey, we're the TV people, hi!" So, we will wait eagerly for updates on that.

    We haven't announced a deal, but we've signed contracts on Legion for another television show. Legion, this will be our third or fourth option on that. If you don't know how Hollywood works, they option things, which means they rent the rights, and they get them for three to four years depending, with payments every year or eighteen months. And during that time, they try to get it in development, try to get everyone excited about it, try to get it to a screenplay, and stuff like that. And at the end of those years, they either pay you the rest of the money, if they have the option-- it's like a rental that applies, it's like rent-to-own. The big price, that they pay a little of that price. Or they just decide to let the option lapse, and then it goes to someone else. So, that has happened at least several times. Nobody wanted it for a while, when the Marvel show was happening, and suddenly, they want it again.

    So, there's your rundown. A whole lot of "Well, this looks promising, I think," which is how it's always kind of gone. Hopefully, Wheel of Time or Name of the Wind will come out and do really well, and that will spark everybody wanting to make very expensive fantasy properties and very expensive television shows. Because The Stormlight Archive will not be cheap. It will be really, really not cheap. So, if you have an aunt or an uncle who happens to runs Netflix Originals division, tell them they need a billion dollars. They've got it, right? They have to spend it, or they'll have to pay taxes on it, so might as well do Stormlight.

    JordanCon 2018 ()
    #5250 Copy

    Argent

    I thought, like, at one of the signings you told me that when Odium was on Sel and Splintered the Shards there, the reason he did the Cognitive Realm hack was because he was not yet experienced in Splintering stuff.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Right. He did not want what happened to happen, but he didn't know that he didn't want what happened to happen.

    Argent

    What I was getting at is, I could never find a recording of you saying "He was not experienced. He didn't want the power to be taken by anyone, and that's the only solution he could figure out." Does that sound like something you would say?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is something I would say, yes... There are better ways to do what he wanted to do, which he later did a better job with. But there's not a lot of experimenting he could do.

    Argent

    Limited number of subjects, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mmhmm.