Was Ash destroying the statues to gain some sort of power, or was it more mental on her part?
Nothing gained, nothing cancelled. It's all her.
Was Ash destroying the statues to gain some sort of power, or was it more mental on her part?
Nothing gained, nothing cancelled. It's all her.
Are the reds [in the cosmere star chart] anything to do with the red stuff in Bands of Mourning, the one where he goes and talks to Harmony?
It's more, if you look in the sky, in certain places, you will see red stars in the sky.
Is there significance in the star chart there where Nalthis and Scadrial are connected? They're the only ones that are.
I'm gonna say, not huge significance. We didn't put that in as an Easter egg, it was more like, "This looked right."
Are you having any cameos in the movies?
If they let me, I will do a cameo in each movie.
Speaking part, or not?
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.
Are we going to see Vivenna again?
Yes. At the very least, you will see her in Nightblood, the sequel to Warbreaker.
What is Lift's favorite food? Answer: yours. It tastes better to her if she's taking it from somebody.
I'm trying to figure out the chronology of the cosmere. The first thing that happened is with Elantris?
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.
Did Odium go directly to Roshar from... after he destroyed Devotion?
No. There were other places.
With Vasher on Roshar, is he collecting more Breaths, or just burning through slowly what he has collected?
He can use Stormlight instead. That's why he came to Roshar.
Did he come voluntarily?
He came voluntarily because he was tired of sucking souls. Roshar is where he decided to "retire."
How many Breaths <does he have now>?
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.
I noticed Nalthis didn't get a star chart. Will you be posting a star chart?
We'll be doing one eventually, I'm sure. We should get that done and posted on the website. Hopefully, someday, I can find a place to work it in. When I publish Nightblood, maybe we'll put it into that.
Axies the Collector, is he a kandra-like species? Are they common throughout the whole cosmere?
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.
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.
How do you pronounce the names of the main characters in Elantris?
RAY-O-DEN, SA-REE-NEE, and hRAY-THEN. I say "serene," but in-world, they say SA-REE-NEE. That sounds a little weird in English, but it doesn't sound weird to them. It's a very common name.
Is Hoid gonna ever end up being <the new Adonalsium>?
I will not answer that.
Is there a centralized set of rules for all of the magic systems?
Yes, but they are things more like the laws of thermodynamics. Not vague, but general, very general. But, yes, there are some rules.
Hoid. Does he show up in Sixth of the Dusk?
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.
Does Trell hold a Shard that we have seen in other books?
You're assuming Trell holds a Shard. And I'm not answering that one, but you can have a RAFO. Nice try.
Elend and Kelsier's relationship, what would it be like? I was thinking it would be, like, playful annoyed exasperation?
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.
Will Kelsier reunite with the crew in the Beyond?
Well, I don't talk about the Beyond. I would like to think that he would. But I don't talk about what happens there, even Sazed doesn't know what happens there. So, if you want to imagine it, then yes, but he would have to get there first.
Is Teft going to become a squire?
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.
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?
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.
Is there a particular period of history you feel influences your writing a lot?
Yeah, early 1900s.
Specifically America, or global?
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.
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.
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?
Background processes of...?
It seemed he knew more about the squires, the process of being squires
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.
Will we see the Moon Scepter again?
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.
So, it's more specific to Sel?
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.
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.
Yes, it does!
So, my question is, how much is quantum physics a part of the magic in the cosmere?
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.
Anywhere I should keep my eye out for more stuff like that.
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.
Kelsier talks about a myth that seems similar to ours, about the grand maze of Ishathon, which seems to parallel to the labyrnth myth.
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.
Is it a Scadrial-specific myth, or is it a kind of a cosmere cosmere...
This one, in specific, I believe is Scadrial-specific.
Given Sanderson's Laws about limitations...
What would you say are any spiritual, cognitive, and or physical limitations to a Returned's healing ability?
That they can do it once.
That they can do it once, and that's it?
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.
Okay. Could you define more cosmere limitations on healing?
Cosmere limitations on healing can be affected by your own perception.
Okay. Cognitive stuff.
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.
So potentially Vasher, having a much greater cosmere knowledge than others could potentially have a much greater usage of that healing than regular--
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.
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?
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.
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"?
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.
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?
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.
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--"
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.
At what point did you go, "Elantris was good, Mistborn was good, now let's do 40 more books"?
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.
Do you have any updates on games or movies or shows?
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.
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.
Right. He did not want what happened to happen, but he didn't know that he didn't want what happened to happen.
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?
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.
Limited number of subjects, right?
I think they might have [the Highprince glyphs] in order on the warcamps map, when I have them on the edge. They might be in order, but I might have put them together in a way that they just looks nice... I think I might have picked an order that looked cool. I'm like, "Ah, this one looks better here and moved them around."
One of them's upside down, right?
I think they go all into a symbol in the middle... You might have some of them upside down. I'll have to look at my old file that has the originals. And you can see, too, that their glyphs, they're starting to look different from what I do now stylistically.
You talked about the Shard line, and I've seen that, they all have this line down the middle.
Yeah, we started changing things. That's just how things work. Things evolve. But, it works in the history. There was probably a time when the calligraphy, it was just in the vogue to do it this way. The rules could have changed. If you're the Calligrapher's Guild, you're gonna want to change the style, see what's in vogue. Because, hey, now all the nobles need to change their house logos so their logos, their glyphs don't look... "Oh, that looks so old." They want to stay relevant, so they probably do things like that. It's interesting how that-- Even though there's a kind of way they look like mistakes, it's how things work in the real world, people make slight changes and people do things a slightly different way, but I imagine those particular glyphs are a little more simplified than some of the stuff that we're doing. If we were to go into, like, Sadeas's glyph, for example, it's really simple. But I have other places where it's got more lines and stuff. His personal banner is probably gonna have more stuff in it.
One of the Kholin glyphs has all these extra letters. It's like, "Wait a minute, what are these letters?"
People call them "screw with you" lines. No, they call them "screw you lines," and it was never meant to mess with people. It was meant to make it look cool.
I've been doing maps for a long time, and I never thought it was something I would be making a living on. It's just so strange.
'Cause they're not over-complicated. They're not super busy. So, I'm like, what am I focusing on? Where are the cities?
That's actually one of the things that I do intentionally. Because, if you look at a real map, there's cities everywhere. But these are for books. They're intended for us to open them up I mean, they fit on the page a certain way... I mean, every map is meant to convey information, there's a reason why. The reason for these maps is not to look complicated, but you can go in there and at least get the information that you want. While at the same time, giving some kind of verisimilitude of real maps.
Why did the Sharans have a prophecy about the Dragon slayer?
...Partially, that's a RAFO. RAFO, meaning, "I am no longer the voice of canon for The Wheel of Time." And I've been very careful about this. While I was working on the books, while I was writing them-- When I was first handed The Wheel of Time, Harriet said, in essence, to me: "You are the author on these now. You just have to convince me. You can do whatever you feel is necessary to tell the story the right way." And for that time, I stepped into the shoes of being in charge of all of that. Though, like I have Karen here, there's always Maria and Alan even back then, that are like, "Certain things contradict. You just can't do that." But for a while, I was the voice of canon. I have stepped out of those shoes. It's not an appropriate place for me to stand any longer. That was a mantle that I bore for a short time ,and then I gave the One Ring back to Frodo. Because that was something I had to carry, because no one else could, for a short time, but it wasn't mine. It wasn't my duty. I've left those shoes behind. So I do not give canon answers. I let that to Maria and Harriet on things like this.
Now, I can talk about, like, story and narrative reasons why I did certain things that I did. For instance, I, as a reader, waited for years and years to find out what's happening in Shara, and I wanted to do something big and cool with it when the books came along. When Harriet said, "You can do whatever you want. Here are the notes, you can do whatever you want." If you've looked at the notes, Robert Jordan's notes were really interesting in that he would often say, "I'm gonna do this, or maybe this, or I'm not sure, I could do none of the above." So there was a lot of creative freedom in there. One of the things I wanted to do was do Shara. And this is the thing that I did, that at the end, Harriet said, "You didn't convince me on this one." There were actually two things I didn't convince Harriet on. I got away with a lot. A lot of things I did, I convinced her on. Like Aviendha going through the pillars. That was something that I had to do some-- like, when I first suggested to them, they're like, "Woah." But when I wrote it, they're like "Wow, this really works." But Perrin going back and cleansing the Ways with the Ogier, and the scenes in Shara, are the two things they didn't feel I pulled off in the original draft.
But my goal was, I really wanted to bring Shara into all of this. I wanted to narratively connect it. I wanted it to be a part of, and show how some place that had been so isolated form Randland for all this time could have their own legends and mythologies spawned. I wanted to have a different perspective. I wanted you to go there and say "Wow, it's really different. But there are some core ideas that are really cool that have grown up." And if I would have had three more books, Shara probably would have worked. But we didn't have three books, and it was the right call to cut Shara, because it was a real big deviation in the final book. And maybe even if I'd been able to work it in earlier, it would have worked. But it didn't work where it was.
I can give you narrative reasons. I can't give you the canon in-world reason. You can ask Maria or Harriet about that, and see if they'll answer.
I will be very liberal with the RAFOs. Just because getting pinned down on things like this-- I always say, I like to answer questions. I like to give you guys the secrets you want to know. But at the same time, I'm a showman. And where I really want it to come out is in the stories. And so there are a lot of things I'm holding.
For those who don't know, RAFO could mean "This is a secret I want to hold for dramatic purposes in the stories." It could mean "I enjoy the fact that the community is discussing this even though the commonly assumed answer is the right answer. I don't want to canonize something 'cause I don't want to kill the looney theories. Because people who love their looney theories really hold on to them tightly for a long time." It could just mean, "You know what, I haven't thought of that," or "I know I wrote it down somewhere, and I don't want to say it right now because I'll contradict myself later."
I do have Karen [Ahlstrom] here. Karen is my continuity editor. She has the wiki up here open on the computer. The wiki began as a big notebook, like, a 3-ring-binder, that I typed a whole bunch of stuff on on the computer at work. For those who don't know, I started my career writing books overnight on the graveyard shift at a hotel. This is how I managed to go to school full-time and work full-time and write all-time all at once. It was my cool life hack that was really great, except for that whole minimum wage part. So I sat at that desktop computer at the front desk working on stories and writing books, and the wiki for The Stormlight Archive started there as just a big file of things that I wanted to do for the worldbuilding. Eventually, when it came time to write the books for real, I hand-- did you put this all in the wiki?
No, somebody else did. Maybe Peter...
...I may have done it myself. I took this thing, which was around 300,000 words, which is about the length of The Way of Kings, and I dumped it into a personal wiki. Wikidpad, it's an open source wiki software. And then eventually it got too big for me to take care of, so I handed it off to Karen. And now, I just kind of ask her things. So, you may ask questions, and I'm just like, "Karen, what do you think? Let's look it up!"
Given that Shards, and perhaps, Ascended beings, have intents similar to their names...
More that they have names similar to their intents.
So, would Unity be a natural enemy of Autonomy?
Um... Possibly. You say "natural," and so I--
Well, would one eliminate the other one? But more towards Autonomy trying to break up--
To break up Unity. It's so hard to say, because Autonomy is a bit of a strange duck. Like, what counts as being Autonomous? Is absorbing everything and becoming one again Autonomous or not? That's kind of your question that you get into. And the way Autonomy looks at it right now, is no. Autonomy wants to remain Autonomy. Autonomy does not want to be corrupted by anything else. And Autonomy would think the Shards are better on their own. But is this a natural effect, or part of the-- Does that make sense?
Well, but it's also along the lines of, Odium wants to break up the other ones, so they don't--
Odium just wants to be top dog. And your two ways to be top dog are to climb higher, or to lower everyone else. And he's like, we're gonna lower everyone else. Because I know, if I combine, it stops being me, is what his opinion is. I would no longer be the person I am. I would change into someone else. And then that person gets to rule, and I don't want that person to rule. I want to.
Large gemstone, Oathbringer. Not leaking Stormlight. Is shining. Is there a spren inside of it? ...Is there a spren trapped in it?
...There is not. Good question. I mean, at various points in the story, there are, but the one you're referencing.
So, I noticed that in Mistborn, the way you get magic is very biological, the way you swallow it. *inaudible* I wondered if they have such a malnourished kind of life? *inaudible*
Good question, I've never been asked that one before. Does this have to do with their malnourishment? I did not build into it that this had to do with malnourishment. You can certainly imagine it that way if you want. The whole origin of this was, I'm always looking for something that has one foot in science and one foot in superstition. And metabolizing energy, eating things and getting-- that feels so natural to us, that when I tried it with the metals, it worked so well. It's one of those cool things, that I work backwards from. I'm like, "This works. This is really cool. People read this and they get it." In fact, people often say, "I dreamed that I ate metal and flew around." And it's just one of those things that sounds so weird when you describe it, but in a book it works really well. And I think it's because it has that connection to biology. So, I started with that, and then justified. But, I wouldn't say the malnourishment-- Their souls might be crying out for some Spiritual nourishment.
The term "the God Beyond" is used across several worlds and stories set in the cosmere. Is this piece of terminology one that has spread across the cosmere through the intermingling of worldhoppers and native populations? And if not, is it merely a conceit that the translation into English we read encapsulates similar convergent ideas?
What an excellent question. I have been expecting that question for a while. So... various people are using this phrase, "The God Beyond." And, what Trae is asking is, "Is that a translation artifact?" ...Like, our conceit is, when you are reading a book from the cosmere, I (or someone) has translated it into English. So when you see someone make a pun, it doesn't necessarily mean they made that exact pun, it means they made a pun in their language that worked, and I am looking for one in English that expresses the same concept or the same humor. Or lack thereof, if you don't like puns. In our language. So, you're asking, the God Beyond: do they all say "the God Beyond"? Or the saying some entity that I am translating all as God Beyond. And they are actually all saying "God Beyond." It is the same, in their language, same thing. So, like worldsinger, worldbringer, things like this; the linguistic ties there are intentional, as opposed to just an artifact of the translation. There are things that are artifacts of translation very commonly, but that is not one. I am doing that intentionally.
In reading about Adonalsium and Odium, I get the sense that it's more related to lerasium and atium than it is to, like, Preservation or Ruin. Because, sometimes it seems like we're identifying... Odium and Adonalsium as beings instead of, like, the body of--
Yeah, it is a little confusing by design. The question is, like, telling the difference between the Vessel who is holding the power, the intent of that power, and the physical manifestations of that power as Investiture or as whatever, these things are confusing. And I did this on purpose. I like that blurring between them. One of the things I did when I was designing the magic for the cosmere, was-- you guys know this very easily from looking at the books, I love the ideas of quantum theory, string theory, all this stuff. And even, just looking at quantum mechanics as we understand them right now. And the further you get into the details, the more the rules that you built, everything you understand upon, become blurry. And we live in this world where certain scientific principles, like-- I was sitting at a writing group, talking to my friend who's a mathematician, and I'm like, "I really like math 'cause it is objective. One plus one equals two." And he's like, "Well, the further you get in math, the less that actually is true, and the more 'One plus one equals two' is a philosophical statement, not an actual objective truth." And we talked about the nature of, the further you dig into things--
So, I tried to build the cosmere magic-- For instance, how the Bands of Mourning work. We are getting away from Step 1, which is, "Metals push or pull." We can get that. Into Step 2, where we are building complex machines out of the interactions between the magic. And we will then get to Step 3, where it's like, we can explain the principles, but you need to be a computer engineer to understand exactly how the computer is working. And I wanted to be able to build to get to that point. With the philosophy of, "What is the power, what is the individual, what is the intent," and things like that, we're kind of going that direction, in a philosophical direction. What does it mean? What are the answers?
Humans like things to be divided and put in boxes, but in nature, these boxes are usually arbitrary, of our distinction. So, I like that aspect of our interaction with the real world. So, the answer to your question is, this is not a question for me, this is a question for philosophers. Where does the intent stop, and the being begin? And what does it mean to have a body? Is the body of the original person that has taken up the Shard, the Vessel, when that drops out when they die, is that their real body? Or is that just the power pushing out something that it absorbed and recreating it, and dropping a copy of it? What is that? What's going on there? What's it mean? How much can a Vessel influence their intent? This is all a question for philosophers, that I'm going to explore in the books, but it's not the sort of thing that you're like--
Does one plus one equal two? The answer is, one plus one equals two according to this proof that we believe explains the universe, but is a little fuzzier than you think it is.
Are we gonna possibly get another Mistborn: Secret [History]...
So, depends on my time. Like, Mistborn: Secret History, I started writing in 2006, and I released it in... 2016. So, it took, like, 10 years to get that, because it was a side-project of a side-project. It's, like, so self-indulging, Mistborn: Secret History is...
So, Secret History 2, will I ever have time to do that? Well, it depends on if I can do it in a way I don't feel is interfering with the main Cosmere timeline. Because we would all like to see Secret History 2. But not if it means we don't get Stormlight 9, if that makes sense. It's gonna depend on my writing time, on how I'm feeling about various things. You are more likely to get it the more I work on Era 3, because Kelsier is a part of Era 3.
So, in Oathbringer, when Dalinar goes to the Nightwatcher, we see Cultivation intervene directly. How closely does she supervise other Nightwatcher visits? ...Could the Nightwatcher give a boon that Cultivation wouldn't want her to?
Well, yes. "Wouldn't want her to" is a strong phrase. Like, Cultivation is always aware of what's going on. Cultivation rarely intervenes, even if she thinks it would be a bad boon, because she wants the Nightwatcher to learn. And she also is very interested in seeing what happens. So, rarely intervenes, but is aware.
Would she intervene if she thought the boon would help Odium?
Is Rial from Bridge 13 a worldhopper?
I will go ahead and RAFO that for now...
Can you Soulcast aluminum into other materials?
Aluminum would strongly resist any sort of Soulcasting.
Would that resistance be overcome? Could be overcome?
This is the question. Everything can be, right? Aluminum, in the cosmere, was created. And can be created. So, people ask me this, "Can? Cannot?" Like, with a powerful enough magnet in our world, what can you do? Like, is water magnetic? ...But, could you make water respond to a magnet? Yes! You can make anything if you really try hard enough... It's, like, this idea, that when people are like, "Can you, yes or no?" Well... yes! Would it take the power of six Shards of Adonalsium working together? Maybe! Can you? Yes, you probably can. Like, we're talking about a fantasy universe where almost anything is possible, and the impossibilities are contradictions, it's "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" sort of questions when you get into "can you?"
Now, could you Soulcast aluminum using a reasonable amount of energy that an individual could conceivably have in a normal setting and situation? No. If that's what you're looking for.
If you had to characterize in a few sentences, as adults, what the relationship was like between Jasnah and Elhokar...
...As adults. Their relationship is that of a fond-but-unyielding sister and an earnest-but-insecure brother.
So they were affectionate?
Yes, I would say they were affectionate. Not as much as, maybe, some other siblings. Like, you can look at Renarin and Adolin and see genuine affection. With Jasnah and Elhokar, it is almost-- there's definitely some affection, but there's almost more of an allegiance. Like, they're both dealing with certain pressures upon them, and their lives were very much consumed by these pressures, and they had that in common. But, I mean, Jasnah's not a hugger anyway, if that makes sense?
There was no jealousy between them?
Oh, there was definitely jealousy on Elhokar's part. Definitely, the insecurity there. But Jasnah, was-- I mean, she was a little bit aware of it, but you know how she is, right?
I didn't know if that contributed to why she removed herself from the Shattered Plains.
Yes, a little bit. I mean, her quest was more important to her than any of that. But, you know. Let my brother not live in as many shadows. Because he had a lot of shadows that he had to live in. And she was one of them, certainly. That would've been a consideration to Jasnah. But if had been right to stay, for her quest, she would have.
The second set of The Stormlight Archive. Is that the same characters? Or different ones, like you did with Mistborn?
They are same characters, but we're gonna see a few main characters fade to being secondary characters. The ones that survive. And we're gonna see a few minor characters fade to be-- The structure of The Stormlight Archive is: one flashback sequence per book, and a focus on one of the Orders of Knights Radiant per book, and I've already announced who these all are, though I have secrets that pertain to them. Our next two books are Eshonai and Szeth. But, of course, Eshonai is dead. We're gonna see flashbacks from her viewpoint that inform our "now," but I haven't promised that these characters all live. Does that makes sense?
But our back five are Lift, when she's grown up. It'll be about ten years later. I haven't gotten the exact date yet.
Is she alive, or a grown-up ghost?
...If she survives! *laughter* It will be Lift, Renarin, Taln, Ash, and Jasnah. So, yes, your main characters-- some of them are main characters. People who aren't on that list will still-- some of them will have big chunks of the stories. Just like you will notice that there's a big chunk of Kaladin in Book 4, even though it's Eshonai's book. So, that will happen. But I'm not making any promises about who survives and who doesn't.
What I really also wanna do is, like-- The big epic fantasy series. I have an advantage over Robert Jordan in that I've read Robert Jordan. And I can see the structure of this, and say, "What can I do to create the structure of a big epic that will have a lot of the things I love about a big epic but avoid some of the potential pitfalls." And I feel that one of those is beginnings, middles, and ends are really hard the longer you go in a series. And if I bring it to five, and then I take a break. And those five tell a story. And then I certainly am gonna leave some things that we start up in the next one, and do the second sequence of five. It's just kind of how the structure of The Stormlight Archive works for me.
A given book, I usually plot as three novels. And I will do this outline of three novels, and this becomes one volume of The Stormlight Archive. Well, each of those novels has Act One, Act Two, Act Three. And then all of those combine into the thick ones that you get, and then five of those combine into an arc. And then the two books of five combine into their own arc. So, hopefully it'll all work out. When I first pitched this to my editor back in 2003, his response was, "Wow, you're ambitious!" And he was a little frightened when I gave him Stormlight. And then, in 2004, I pitched the whole 9-book Mistborn thing that is somehow now... 13. But, yeah, so. We'll see.