Have we seen any Heralds in any of the other books?
In any of the other, um...?
Like Mistb-- cosmere.
You have not seen Heralds [in other cosmere books].
Have we seen any Heralds in any of the other books?
In any of the other, um...?
Like Mistb-- cosmere.
You have not seen Heralds [in other cosmere books].
It seems like-- So the cosmere stuff keeps the physics in there, with the Coinshots, and things like that, it doesn't ignore mass an inertia.
I love that! And I love that about Jim Butcher's books too. 'Cause they keep the physics. It seems like, with the young adult stuff, it's more based on intent...
Yeah, the young adult stuff, I do not keep physics. In Steelheart, or in Alcatraz... or in Rithmatist. I don't even worry about it.
They didn't know what the line did until they knew what it was supposed to do.
Yeah, intent is important in-- Remember the magic system for Rithmatist started as cosmere. And then I made the decision with it that I was not going to have it be in the cosmere. But the magic system started as a cosmere magic system...
...you can do a lot when you can break laws of conservation of matter and energy, when you can cheat them by using the Spiritual Realm. But things that we really cheated on is redshifting and things like this on the time dilation in Mistborn. I don't know if you noticed that, but there should be redshift, there should be weird radiation things, there should be-- And so we had to work around a lot of those things. And we've got our workarounds in the back of our heads. But the other weird one is when Wax is flying, and he reduces his mass, I have to remember that he speeds up, when his mass goes down because of centripetal force.
Shardplate thus far has been powered by Stormlight in the spheres. But after-- now that we've got Radiants, is it powered by themselves?
*adds something about "spren" but is spoken over by Brandon*
Well so far we have not seen Radiants wearing Shardplate.
Yeah, I was kind of wondering that myself, 'cause-- 'cause they're not spren, because the spren were the... Shards [Shardblades]. So what <are> they?
So, that's a big ol' "what really is Shardplate?" *hands RAFO card*
Does Roshar have plate tectonics?
Roshar does not have plate tectonics, good question.
Well when I met you in Orem, I was asking about frequencies. And you said it was more the shape of the plate-- The frequency. We've got no plate tectonics, we've got people who like to sing.
Good question. Now the weird thing that we would have is with the crem, we have to do some weird geology gymnastics, because Roshar is moving...
Roshar, the continent of Roshar, it's moving, right? As it gets weathered and things like this. Making Roshar actually work requires some really interesting scientific gymnastics. But one of them is I just didn't think plate tectonics, or even volcanoes and things, is just not something that is going to work on Roshar the way that I built it. So I just stayed away from all of that. It's a pangaea.
Is the pangaea built up of crem?
It's a pangaea built up of crem.
Over a long time--
Well no, because it was created at first.
And then crem was on top of it?
...The whole idea that this is a fractal-- The whole point of that is, somebody built this. Somebody built this using mathematics that you know. They said "Oh. Boom. Bing!" and grew themselves a continent.
So, just curious about Shardplate.
Um... In one of the books she said that it was seamless. Like there weren't any chinks in it anywhere.
There are chinks, but there's no direct line to the skin. So if there-- if you see a slit, there's another little plate behind it, or something like this.
Okay, okay. 'Cause I've seen them and out of artist renditions and it <looked> accordion. And I'm like, if I wanted to recreate it for my kids...
...it would not be accordion, would it?
Um... It just depends on your own interpretation. The official interpretation of Shardplate is Ben McSweeny's interpretation, which we used for Shallan's sketchbook in book 2, showing her sketches of Shardplate. So that's our official-- official interpretation. But you can interpret it yourself how you would want.
If Shai were to gain a Shardblade and she gave it up, could she then create an Essence Mark that represented the history where she still had the blade? And then if she applied it could she summon the blade? Or a copy of it?
Okay, so doing that sort of thing, like re-writing herself to be an Allomancer or something like this -- This is possible but in order to gain the Investiture she wants to have she will have to input that much in Investiture which her current magic system is not capable of doing. Okay? Alright, so "re-write so that I have a Shardblade" would require some sort of hacking of her magic system, which is currently impossible to her in her current situation.
So if she had had a Shardblade and gave it up she could not rewrite herself to have that back without more input --
She could-- Yes, exactly. Now rewriting-- That would be a lot easier than just rewriting herself so that she had a Shardblade--
That's what I was asking--
Yeah, but what you're asking about would be much easier and that is probably within her power. But what that would do is-- Yeah that's totally within her power. It would create some weird implications where she's summoning it and someone summons it back from her because the Shardblade thinks it's owned by two people.
So it wouldn't be a copy it would be the same Blade?
Have you studied Latin?
I have studied enough to know about it, but I have not studied enough that I could read or even figure out most origins. Yeah.
Okay. 'Cause I did-- I took a semester of Latin, and I'm like, "Oh, that's where all these words came from in Brandon's writing." And...
I do often say, "Alright, I need the right feel for this." And I will go delve into Latin, and Greek, and things like this trying to-- The big question is, I'll need to create a word that imitates an ancient word from the world that we're in, but it's going to be in translation. And so often I will use a Latin root to be like-- to indicate "this is an ancient word from their world, from their scholarly language. To make a parallel to that, I'll use one from ours."
What exactly was Shai's Soul Forging of Ashravan comparing itself to to see how well it sticks? Like the Spiritual aspect? Cognitive aspect?
It's more Spiritual. Much more Spiritual.
Does being the donor of a Hemalurgic spike have any implications for your afterlife? Or how about the recipient?
That is actually going to depend on-- Okay. Yes it has implications for the afterlife. Yes.
Okay so are there a bunch of Scadrian souls wandering the afterlife with holes in their personalities or memory or identity? Or some with extra parts tacked on?
So it has implications, but they are not exactly ones that you are assuming. So in the cosmere there is "dead" and "mostly dead". Okay? And this has been shown several times so once someone dies there is a period before they transition. Sazed talks about this in Mistborn 3. And so most of the implications are for before transition. Does that make sense? Post-transition you are going to have to ask the philosophers and the theologians who are the ones that talk about that. So there is an afterlife and an after-afterlife. Not as many implications for after-afterlife. Middle? Yes. Okay?
Do you form emotional relationships with your characters?
Um-- Yeah I would say that I do. Mmhmm.
For instance, reading The Way of Kings, I really dislike Sadeas. Do you feel that way about him too?
He's a rat. He's totally a rat.
Who is your favorite character, character development-wise?
Oooh, favorite character for character development. Who develops the best? That is really hard for me to say... From any book? Who has the most development-- I would say Shallan has undergone the biggest transformation in the major books. No, Vin. Vin goes through the biggest change, so we'll go with Vin. Vin's the best character development across the course of the books.
Does Vasher have a favorite animal? *laughter* I warned you, it was random.
Does Vasher have a favorite animal.
You've thought of just about everything else for your books--
Yeah, I know... Would Vasher have a favorite animal? I'm sure that he had a pet or something growing up. Vasher hates just about everyone and everything these days.
What about squirrels?
It's a weasel!
He does like squirrels! Undead squirrels.
Where did the idea to use chalk come from?
Y'know, I have trouble pinpointing that one. I remember the idea of chalk circles, and things like that, and just seeing those in the lore of our world's sort of magical mythology and thinking about chalk circles. I remember thinking about how I want to do a book some day about people who play a game with magic, and things like that. At the end it is just one of things that I'm like "Hey, magical Starcraft with chalk. Go!" and I just started working on it, and it happened.
As of the end of Words of Radiance, how much do the Heralds know about events on the Shattered Plains?
Depends on the Herald.
Where did you get your inspiration for Kaladin?
Kaladin came because I was reading about the life of a surgeon in the Medieval age and how it-- how strange it was to be like this person who had one foot in science and one foot not, and that was really interesting to me. And he evolved a lot over time becoming more the hybrid warrior and things like that. But that's where it started, what it was like to live and be a surgeon in a Medieval world.
So the highstorms, they're just one storm that goes around the world or--
Well there are different philosophies in the world about that but-- The scientifically-minded believe their is only one storm that goes around the world. The lore says that there is a place the storms blow out of called the Origin. But the scientists don't believe that that is true.
Is there more to the Roshar world than what is shown on the map or is it just that?
There is only one continent. Now if you are paying attention, that's not answering your question completely.
It's just different realms and all that. I meant like more landmass.
There is only one continent on Roshar.
Just different versions of it.
That doesn't mean there aren't islands out there.
Now the Mistborn world there is a whole lot more.
We've only had that one little part so far.
Yeah, but it's basically almost all empty because... Which is actually very fun for the worldbuilding, is this idea of a mostly unpopulated world.
So I have heard that it is harder to Push a Shardblade with Allomancy than it is a normal sword.
Is that true of both living and dead Shardblades?
Okay, so it's even more difficult to Push one alive.
The thing-- An Invested object is more difficult with any of the magics. So, for instance, even a Feruchemical metalmind is going to be harder. Depends on how much it is Invested, and things like that. But, y'know, it can range from you barely notice it or don't even notice it to "Wow, that's hard to Push on". Same for a Hemalurgical spike, depending on how much Investiture is left over, how long has it been outside of a body, and things like that. Same thing Pushing on something inside a person's body, their Investiture is going to interfere with it.
Same thing, when you read White Sand, why a person slapping their hand through someone's stream of sand can throw off the entire creation of the sand mastery. It's just-- There's interference patterns, and things like that.
And is that true of a Drab as well? Does the body affect--
The Drab is going to have less.
So they just have less Investiture, but they still have some natural Investiture?
They do still have some. They've lost their Breath but that isn't the entirety of the Investiture inside of them.
Almost all of the times we see Vin--in fact I think every time--we see Vin, or someone in the Mistborn books, Pushing or Pulling on an Invested metal they are either drawing on the mist or they're Elend or the Lord Ruler who have the enhanced power, or something like that. Or it's a duralumin Push, or its one of the Inquisitors who's had a spike-- y'know, and things like that, that've-- And so it's not something that you see done very often in the Mistborn books.
I can actually confirm that's correct.
Oh you guys looked it up?
I mean it can be done. And depending on Investiture it can be not even that hard to do but--
So who are the people of the sky?
From Sixth of the Dusk? The Ones Above. That I have not answered yet, but there are lots of good theories online about who it might be. But I'll give you a RAFO card.
So are you going to write a Sixth of the Dusk novel?
Probably not. A lot of the little cosmere novellas that I'm doing, they are less important to the overarching plot of the cosmere that I designed. And so I want to visit them, show different places in the cosmere and how the magic is affecting different worlds, but the goal is not to incorporate them into the mainline story. I mean the main story takes place mostly on the planets you've seen, with a couple of other ones, and I'm sticking to that.
So are you going to write a series that ties all the major ones together?
I know that with creation you start to lose-- honestly, your confidence in it, with creation. I was wondering if you experience that loss of worth in it, and if so, what do you do to counteract it?
It happens mostly when I'm working on a book. Once it's done I'm usually proud of it, but about the three-quarter point--
I've heard that a lot. Just what do you-- How do you convince yourself it's still worth, y'know--
...When it starts to happen to me, I sit down and say "How can I make this scene awesome? This one that I'm writing right now?" because I can use my tools, my skills, and my practices as a writer to make that scene really awesome. And usually I'll shake things up a little bit, I'll write a different viewpoint or I'll do something I wasn't expecting to do according to the outline, just to make that scene really great. And that restores a lot of my confidence.
I was wondering in what books, particularly Mistborn, is the conscious decision when you put in little snippets of LDS lore in there, like plates, metal plates--
You know most of it is unconscious. Once in a while something intentional slips in that I’m like "Ooh that's a cool connection". A lot of it is unconscious.
Have you thought about doing parallel stories, like Ender's Game and Shadow...
I have considered that and I know that at least one--I may not write it--but there's at least one in my head because there's this character Hoid who is running through all my books and what's going with him might make for an interesting parallel story if I ever write that.
Emperor's Soul, are we going to see much in with that?
We are unlikely to see me do another thing just like that, because it turned out so perfectly... I don't know that I want to spoil it but at the same time, she's a great character and I keep itching to do something else with her. So we'll see...
When did you write your first book?
I started my first book when I was fifteen, and I never finished it. The first book I actually finished I started when I was nineteen. I was on a mission, and I wrote on P-days. And I finished it when I got back, because there's not a lot of time on P-days, so it took me about three years. I wrote my whole mission on P-days, and about eight months after I got home I finished it.
If you wanted your sons to grow up to be one of your characters, would you want them to?
Uhhh. If they grow up to be Dalinar, without going through the phase of being a murderous tyrant, I would probably pick that one.
Alright, no murderous tyrants.
No murderous tyrants. If they could grow up to be Sazed without being, y'know, castrated that might be-- But that's the thing. A lot of my characters have been through some rough stuff.
No, I don't think that torment necessarily makes you a good character person, there are plenty of good people who have never been through things like that, but it makes them interesting to write about.
What do you want to accomplish with your writing?
What do I hope to accomplish?
It's kind of a deep, philosophical question.
Yeah. It is. It is indeed a philosophical question. At the end of the day the number one thing I want to do is tell great stories. Everything else is kind of an appendage to that. I'm a storyteller. And great things come from stories, but if the only thing I do is entertain some people and make their day brighter, that's a success. So sure, I'd like to create something in fantasy that's never been made before, right? Like I would like the cosmere to become this thing that people are like "No one's ever done that, look at this cool thing!" but that's secondary to just wanting to tell great stories and make people's lives a little brighter.
Yeah, I think that great books make you think, but not because they try very hard to make you think. If that makes any sense?
I agree with it...
I would like to-- I would like to write something that is as immortal as Ender's Game is likely to be, right? Most of the body of Scott Card's work will probably be forgotten, but in two hundred years, they'll still be reading Ender's Game. And most everyone's work, that most everyone writes, will be forgotten but once and a while somebody creates something that is likely to stick around for a while. I'd like to do that. But that's secondary.
So someone, I can't remember who it was, told me you said something about the pools in Elantris being related to worldhopping.
Is that right?
That is correct.
So when the Elantrians go in the pool do they die or do they go to a different world?
Well you're making those mutually exclusive.
Oh so it can do more than one thing--
One thing you gotta remember is in Elantris Shadesmar, the place that we call Shadesmar, is full of a raging, powerful source of energy called the Dor. It's very, very dangerous. Nobody goes there. So, just keep that in mind.
Why did you choose the cities you chose for Steelheart and Firefight?
I wanted to choose cities that I was familiar with. Like cities I had driven in, cities I knew my way around in, and things like that. Which-- It was really just based on that concept, though I've always liked Chicago because as a kid going to Chicago-- that was the big city close to Nebraska. It was the one I knew and it was like the mid-western big city, if that makes any sense. So I always felt a kinship to that. That's why I picked Chicago. I also wanted one with a lake so I could fre-- turn the lake to steel.
...Have you chosen one for Calamity?
Yes. I originally chose Montreal, and my publisher-- I actually said "We could do Montreal or Atlanta" and they like Atlanta better. So I decided to go ahead and go with Atlanta.
For new writers is there pitfalls in trying to use, like, a more famous story to tell their story?
You know, I don’t think there are any major ones, just make sure the serial numbers are filed off enough. You know the best versions of these things are like when you realize-- well we talked about-- The Lion King, is Hamlet and when they sat down with Hamlet and said "We’re going to do Hamlet with talking lions" they made it different enough to claim it as their own. And that’s the real thing you have to do, is make sure you're claiming it as your own.
On one of your older Writing Excuses you guys talked about doing retellings or reimagining stories. I was curious if any of your--even your short stories-- are either in full or in part retellings?
I use the bits-- You ever read the Alcatraz books?
Actually those are the only ones of yours I haven't.
Okay, so those I actually--don't get weirded out-- but I used the Oedipus myth. A little bit. Not the weirdest parts. But the y'know--
Fate, and being blind but not blind, and prophecy, and things like like that because the character tells you the end of the last book in the first paragraph of the first book and then it's all like it's almost fated to be. And so there is metaphorical blindness, and there's-- things like that. So that's the only one I used any-- and even that's really loosely structured. I wouldn't say I used any specifics, yet, for any of my books.
Unless you count archetypes. Like I like taking certain archetypes and mixing them in. Like Bridge Four is an underdogs sports story. So I use the archetype of something like losers but I made it being killed on a field of battle instead, and things like that. But those are more general, it's a more different sort of thing.
The Mistborn video game. Still working on that?
Yes. We are still working on that. They are moving very slow. And I am disappointed by how slow they are moving, and I had dinner with the producer a week ago. He says it's still coming, but I don't know when. He says Christmas time 2015. I'm skeptical.
Do you get to work with illustrators?
I do. In fact, the interior artists I hire myself, just to make sure that they look the way I want them to. The cover illustrator, normally author's don't have much control over that. I'm kind of a special case, and so I've been able to pick my cover illustrator for the last few books, and so I have a lot of influence over these sorts of things. It's not standard. I think the artistic design of these books is very important.
Do you get any of yours [inspiration from mythology]? Like I know you mentioned sciences and physics.
Yeah a lot of science and physics is where it's coming from. A lot of, I mean, having lived in Korea for two years, and speaking Korean, a lot of my linguistics come from Korean, and the idea of Spren comes from Asian mythology: the idea that everything has a soul. So that's an inspiration.
I want to look into ancient Asian culture, and it sound like something to do.
There's that. I would bet that the three kingdoms stuff has some influence on me, and Sun Tzu's Art of War has been an influence on me, and things like that.
We know that 10 is an odd number in the cosmere. And I noticed that the Lord Ruler specifically released 10 Allomantic metals. Was there a reason behind that or is that just a coincidence?
No, that was a coincidence right there. Ten is an odd cosmere number for Roshar, and there are reasons why this is. . .
Well it wasn't just Roshar, it was also Nalthis in Warbreaker.
Nope, that one is a coincidence. Sometimes they just pop up that way. Part of the original reason that Roshar was 10 was I was going for a 10 day like Robert Jordan did, which I thought was cool. But then I ended up writing the Wheel of Time so I'm like 'I have to do something different now'. So it turned into the two five-day weeks. Two five-days becoming a 50 day month.
Do you ever find you own stories, your own characters, coming back and influencing you?
Yeah. More, it's like I have these things I'm really interested in. And so I find myself rounding those things again and again. And I've actually started a list of 'You've covered this thing, Brandon. You can't do this one anymore'. Just because I work in the cosmere where everything is connected, so the underlying physics of the books are sometimes very similar. And so I just have to be very careful not to repeat myself too much.
How many drafts do you usually go through for a book?
It really depends on the book. The highest number I believe was one of the Wheel of Time Books, which would have been 14, and I would say more commonly 5 or 6 is what's normal.
Do you read non-fiction at all? I'm history grad student. I'm reading some of your stuff. I was kind of wonder if you ever did get inspiration from history or things like that?
Yes I do like them. I really like pop history books. *inaudible* suggestion. Just like you know, history of war, history of. . . Honestly, I end up at the Barnes and Noble browsing their discount things for pop history and pop science books, and you find really interesting ones there a lot of the time.
So, if someone went to Shadesmar on Scadrial would the whole ground-water inversion, is that a Cosmere wide thing?
That you will have to read and find out about. I will say that there are places in Shadesmar that are different and there are places that are the same as what you see on Roshar.
So the Cognitive realm. Is Shadesmar a Roshar specific term?
Shadesmar is Roshar specific term, but when I translate from what other people are saying in these books I just translate it to Shadesmar. So for instance when Wit is talking about it he's going to call it Shadesmar. He's just going to use the Roshar term. But no, Shadesmar is what it's called there.
He wrote three drafts of The Final Empire, two rough and one polished. He may do another book in the Mistborn world, but it would be in the far future as opposed to being a sequel, and the world may actually progress scientifically.
On Allomancy, he said that tin and pewter are opposites in a sense, that they strengthen different aspects of the body, and that there will be a published poster to explain some apparent inconsistencies among the last four metals.
Was Elantris intended to be a zombie story?
Yes, but he disguised it so that it would not be typecast as a horror story by potential readers. He wanted to do a story about heroic zombies, since he had never heard of such a tale.
How do you find an agent?
One way is to go to awards ceremonies or writing conventions, such as WorldCon. Brandon stated he met his agent while he was attending the Nebula Awards in NY. He was at a bar, drinking sprite, and talked to someone nearby who happened to be Jim Mintz, an editor at Tor, and also met his agent, Moshe Feder (who was at the signing as well).
How much pre-writing do you do for each book?
He wrote 50k words backstory for Mistborn, and 200k words backstory for The Way of Kings. It takes about 8 months to write a novel. Though it only took a month to write Alcatraz, which was a parody of conspiracies, and included bad super-powers, an anti-epic fantasy (and that a possible movie from Dreamworks was in the works at the time).
Someone asked about corrupt religions in Elantris & Mistborn.
He mentioned that he teaches one class/year at BYU on sci-fi writing. He fears the misuse of religion, but that he presents "fair and balanced" viewpoints in his books. He also stated that "fiction helps you see through other people's eyes" and quoted Robert Jordan: "I really like when my books raise questions, I just don't like giving the answers."
Are you going to release more of your online lectures?
Yes. As I do them, or at least in this year, and kind of collecting them on my website this time to make it a little bit easier to find them and things like that. I actually have a substitute teaching right now who is being recorded, and those will go up this time, too. So you'll get a lecture from Howard and a lecture from Eric, who has been *inaudible* short story writer who has been published in Teen.
Is Wit a Herald?
Wit is NOT a herald.
That question I asked, I've been wondering about it a lot, how do you do misogyny *inaudible*? I think the message of the book...isn't really right wording.
No, I know exactly what you mean. How do you write misogynistic characters without writing a misogynistic book? That is tricky. You know, one thing that I didn’t bring up a lot is to have people on a spectrum. If every--‘cause even if you go back to, for instance--if you went back to 600 BC, there would be certain people who think different ways than everyone else. We think that cultures are monolithic, but they're not. And if you go back most of my characters are not acting like they would in the mid-1800’s. If you went back then you would find people who are anti-racist, even back then. So it’s legit that you can have certain...
Yeah. The trick is you can’t make anyone just a super paragon, like Ghandi was racist but he was really powerfully influential in what he did. Everyone has got their biases and so if you make someone with no biases then they’re a bad character, but if you make people’s biases shine a light on each other you’ll have a stronger story.
*inaudible about Kaladin* He does have that deep-seated prejudice against the lighteyes, but in every other way as with everyone else its a subtle reminder.
Except the Parshendi. He’s been getting better. But that’s the whole point of relaying this. This person has.
Like you said, there's the stereotypes about Herdazians.
Yeah. Herdazians. And most people don't pick it out that there's like this deep racism against the Herdazians.
Do people ever accuse you of being <misogynistic>?
Not yet. I know it will happen. It probably has happened and I haven't seen it, but no, I haven't been upfront accused of it. My worse thing is there's some unconscious sexism in Mistborn. Vin works very well but there aren't any other women. I kind of fall into the one woman in the whole world sort of thing. But part of learning about this is we all have these biases, we're all going to these make these mistakes. You have to be okay to fail. Better that than wrong. Why is that wrong? What about is it? In what way?
With The Bands of Mourning, now that we understand flight with potassium, or whatever alkali metal that actually was... So is that part of where we’re starting with the Faster Than Light travel? Something along those lines with potassium and maybe like--
I’m not going to tell you, but this is the bridge into the next Era, which the Era beyond will be FTL, but this sort of stuff needed to happen first.
Right, right exactly and the good stuff and the technology trying to get them up to speed and plus with Kelsier going to that other realm and the glimpse of Sel and stuff.
Yep, yep, there will be so much fun stuff in the next series.