Who invited Rayse to the Adonalsium-Shattering party?
Hehe, you will have to see. That is definitely a RAFO.
Who invited Rayse to the Adonalsium-Shattering party?
Hehe, you will have to see. That is definitely a RAFO.
And Hoid was a visitor at it [the Shattering] but he wasn’t partaking in on it.
That is what the implication is. For sure.
How do you strike a balance between making sure you write something descriptive enough to get the scene across that you want but not overdoing it with too much...
Usually the thing to do, is to try to be really concrete. Don’t just say “a dog” say “a wet dog, limping and whining” and describe one really powerful sentence or two, and leave it at that. Describe a few of the small, powerful details and let the readers fill in the rest is a good rule of thumb. If you like things more descriptive you can go up from there. But that’s kind of where to start.
Do you know who Phineas Gage is?
Okay, so he was a miner and had an iron rod shoot through his head...
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah…
...and it changed his personality and stuff.
Yeah, I have read about that.
So if like consciousness and personality can exist independently of a body, if something like that happened to somebody in the cosmere would it change their personality?
It would change their personality. Unless it were a hemalurgic spike but then that does usually twist you as well. Yes it still would. In the Cosmere most of these things will work the same way, because the body’s interpreting what’s going on.
Are the Bands of Mourning...would they be like similarly invested as Nightblood?
Not quite to the extent of Nightblood. In fact not remotely close to the extent of Nightblood.
In Perfect State, will we get more from that universe?
I’d like to, but I’ve got so many things going. So we’ll see. I know what I would do, but it would have to be like... I’d have to find space for it.
Would the two antagonists get together?
You've said that Shadesmar is the cognitive realm connecting all the worlds in the cosmere, and that Hoid is very good at using Shadesmar. Should we take this to mean Shadesmar is how he travels between the worlds? Do the other worlds have different ways of accessing Shadesmar than the way(s) the people of Roshar use?
Can all spren imprint on someone—like Syl has with Kaladin—or is this ability special to certain types of spren? (I just got a mental picture of a flamespren taking notice of the pyromaniac noble girl from the castle market exercise in your JordanCon talk. Not sure that would end well.)
It is special to certain types of spren. There you go, a non-RAFO.
The spren are a really unique part of Roshar. Do you have rules for deciding what "gets" spren (wind, flames, glory, creation, life, death) and what doesn't? Have you introduced most of the spren types, or will we see a lot of new ones as the series goes on?
You will find out much more about the spren as the series goes on. There are a lot of things that get spren where the spren are not noticeable, or they only occur in very rare circumstances or in certain regions, as Axies explains. So the phrase "There's a spren for that" that I've seen popping around on the internet is actually fairly accurate. There's a spren for quite a lot of things. I don't want to delve too deeply into this until I've written more in the series and you begin to understand exactly what the spren are.
You've mentioned that each of the smaller glyphs on the inside cover of the The Way of Kings represents a type of magic. Can you tell us how many of these types we've seen so far?
Remember that to get an order of the Knights Radiant you take two of the small glyphs and one of the large glyphs. The large glyph represents a concept or an ideal mixed with an essence, what they call the elements of this world, with two magics attached to it. You have seen the Windrunners, which is the first, top-right glyph, mixed with the two Surges—the forces in this world—attached to it. So you've seen pressure and gravitation as mixed together to form a Windrunner. You have seen one of the other Surges, which is Soulcasting—Transformation—though which other Surges that mixes with to form orders of the Knights Radiant I am not specifically going to say at this time. What else have you seen? Those are the only ones that are overt. But you have seen the effects of others.
The art featured in The Way of Kings is very striking and has been well-received by readers. Do you have any plans to include more art in your future books—other books as well as The Stormlight Archive? Or maybe as bonus content on your website?
There will be more art in future Stormlight Archive books. I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and I think adding a visual aspect to novels helps create a more complete and immersive experience. You'll notice that art has been important to one extent or another in all of my books. Elantris had its map and the Aons; Mistbornhad its maps and the Steel Alphabet. The Rithmatist, when it comes out in 2012, will have extensive magic system diagrams with every chapter.
Including a map in a fantasy book has become a bit of a cliché ever since Tolkien did it. But if you go back and look at what Tolkien actually did, the map that was in the book was an in-world artifact—it was something the characters carried around with them and used. So I've approached the art in my books in a similar manner. Each piece represents something that is made and used by the people in the world of the books. I think that helps give a richer feel to the world I'm creating.
One thing you probably won't see me doing in future novels is including character art. I want to leave exactly how characters look up to the imagination of the reader. But I'm a big fan of the sequential art storytelling form as well, so you'll likely see me do some completely graphic novels in the future.
In your words, "Is it okay, in an epic fantasy, to hang a gun on the mantle, then not fire it until book ten of the series written fifteen years later. Will people wait that long? Will it even be meaningful? My general instincts as a writer so far have been to make sure those guns are there, but to obscure them, or at least downplay them." Your novels are followed very closely by groups like TWG, and now 17th Shard and Stormblessed, and you're familiar with the obsessiveness of Wheel of Time fans. There are more and more people out there who spend time between book releases poking at the metaphorical walls of your work, on a hunt for those guns you've obscured. Does this kind of scrutiny change anything for you?
Yes. I don't generally change the guns that I'm hanging, but I have begun to hang more subtle guns for those who like to dig. I like to have a variety of secrets in my books, with a variety of difficulty levels in figuring them out. If you read one of the books I've written, like The Way of Kings, I would hope that it will meet everyone's needs when it comes to discovering things. For those who really want to dig, there will be some really deep secrets that you can unearth, talk about, and theorize about and eventually be proven right. There will be things that the casual reader will figure out three pages before the answer is revealed, that you will have figured out ten chapters ahead of time. I like that variety because of the old adage—it's hard to fool everybody all the time, but hopefully I can have enough different secrets that they will each fool a few people.
If you had to build a team of various magic users from all the worlds that we know right now, kind of like an Avengers or Justice League, who would you have?
Oh boy, I have no... I don’t want to talk about this because I don’t want to predispose people toward...
Oh no, I’m just talking pure...
Yeah but it’s being recorded.
But I would want someone from every magic system...
To be part of the council?
But yeah definitely someone from every... would be important.
Would the name of the team be a spoiler? The whole team.
I haven’t even thought of... Seventeenth Shard...
Oh yeah, that is kind of like that.
We Book Smugglers are faced with constant threats and criticisms from our significant others concerning the sheer volume of books we purchase and read—hence, we have resorted to 'smuggling books' home to escape scrutinizing eyes. Have you ever had to smuggle books?
I married an English teacher with a book collection as large as my own, so I haven't had to worry about that for a long time. The smuggling of books I had to do was when I was a kid. I would be up late at night reading, and my parents would want me to go to bed for whatever reason. I mean, who needs sleep? But they would come and turn off my lights or do various things to get me to go to bed. I actually lit a Melanie Rawn book on fire once, by accident, because I was reading by candlelight. I've still got the copy.
In high school, I would do the standard super-nerd-reader-boy thing where I would sneak a book into my lap as I was listening to some lecture in a boring math class.
Wisely, when I got to college, I became an English major in my sophomore year. Now people expect me to read. In fact, part of my job is reading and keeping up to date on what everyone's doing. So I don't need to smuggle any books anymore, but I feel for those of you who do, and I would warn you not to read your books too close by candlelight, otherwise dire consequences can occur.
In addition to The Rithmatist, you've also ventured in the the Science Fiction realm with your short stories ("Defending Elysium" and "Firstborn"). We recently learned that you're creating a cool, limited edition tête-bêche ("head-to-toe") bind-up format of these two novelettes, in the style of the groovy old school Ace Doubles. What made you want to create this particular type of print version of your novelettes? And, since these are science fiction, tell us a little bit about writing scifi and how that differs (or is similar to) fantasy.
We were looking at doing con exclusives, something I can take to conventions to make them a little more special for those who make the extra effort to come see me. Yet we didn't think it would be fair to my readers who can't make it to the cons (my readers in Sweden, for instance) if I took a story that was only available at cons. But "Firstborn" and "Defending Elysium" fit perfectly. Both stories have been out awhile, and both are free to read online. If you can't make it to the con, you can still read and enjoy these stories.
Singly, neither story was long enough to justify the price point required for us to go through all the effort to create a book. But both stories are science fiction, and both are novelettes, so doing an Ace Double-style book sounded like the way to go.
A lot of my short fiction comes out as science fiction. When I sit down to write something short, I've often wondered why a science fiction story pops out. Why do my longer works come out as epic fantasy? I've got lots of theories. They're armchair theories from Brandon the English major, not so much from Brandon the writer.
In science fiction, a lot of times the worldbuilding is easier to get across. Science fiction films have been such a part of our culture for so long, and imagining the what-ifs of the future leaves you with more groundwork to build upon, that in many ways there's more the reader immediately understands and accepts.
I've often said that great stories are about great characters first. But beyond that, science fiction stories are about ideas and fantasy stories are about the setting. I think that's why when I come up with a great idea story, I write it as science fiction. If I come up with some interesting setting element, like a great magic system, I write it as fantasy. I've found that getting across an interesting and complex magic system in a very short amount of time is extraordinarily hard, so it tends to work better for longer stories.
For any other Secret Histories in the future, would those be on different planets or would you stick to Scadrial?
It’s possible to do others. The next one I write is probably still be Kelsier and Scadrial. But if I did another I would just call it, y’know, like “Warbreaker: Secret History”.
What about a person makes a Ryshadium choose them? And why are so many in Dalinar’s family…
I will talk about that eventually. That is a RAFO.
You create some of the most elaborate magic systems in fantasy today; these systems function as intrinsic parts of your worlds and characters. Typically, how do you address the different types of magic systems in your different books? Do you define these systems before you start writing the books, or do they evolve and develop as you go along?
The answer to that is yes! It's different for every book. With my Cosmere books—which are the shared universe of my epic fantasies—I need to be a little more rigorous. There are fundamental underlying principles that guide the magic systems, and so there's a larger developmental phase before I start writing the book. Then I stick more strictly to the rules I've given myself.
All the way back in 2007, I was writing one of my epic fantasies, and it just wasn't working. I needed a break to something creative, different, and distinctive. So I jumped ship, abandoning that epic fantasy, and wrote The Rithmatist instead, which had a lot less planning than one of my epic fantasies.
With something like The Rithmatist—which is outside the cosmere—I'm allowed a little more freedom, which is one of the reasons I like writing books like this, where I allow myself to develop it as I write. The magic was the first thing that got me excited about The Rithmatist, so I based the book around it.
The first thing I wrote was the scene—now late in chapter one—where Joel watches Fitch get defeated by Nalizar in the classroom. It started out on a chalkboard, but I eventually moved it to the floor because that made more sense. As I was writing these chapters, I developed the Rithmatic lines and let the story feed the magic and the magic feed the story in a way that some writers call "discovery written."
In all of your other books, you write strong, layered female characters—what can we expect from The Rithmatist in the protagonist/heroine department?
I often worry about falling into the trap of making female characters strong by not making them feminine. In Mistborn, Vin is strong in part because of how good of a warrior she is, and that's fine. There are plenty of women like that, who can hold their own in a fight. But in The Rithmatist, one of the things I wanted to do was write a female character who is more girly, so to speak. I wanted to make her a strong protagonist in a way that does not undermine her femininity. I hope that I've managed to approach that with Melody in The Rithmatist.
Do you read YA speculative fiction? Which books or authors are your favorites in the young readers category?
I've already mentioned a bunch of my favorites, but I could go on! I'm quite fond of Westerfeld's work. I think it's quite marvelous. I've read Terry Pratchett's teen books. If you've only read his adult work, you're really missing out. He is quite good. I've also enjoyed James Dashner's and Eva Ibbotson's books.
I got into a lot of the YA classics in the late 90s, well after everyone else had been into them. Things like The Giver by Lois Lowry and Dragon's Blood by Jane Yolen. Jane Yolen has long been one of my favorite writers. There's just a lot of exciting things happening in YA, and I feel inspired by a lot of the works by those authors I've mentioned
What is Endowment’s long term plan? Like just even in general, is she just like “Keep Nalthis safe” like Sazed is or is she like, does she have a plan for...
You don’t have to tell me but like, does she have a plan that involves the cosmere...
...or is it just to stay on...
She’s more focused on her thing.
What can your fans expect from The Rithmatist, as compared to your other adult novels? Was it easier or harder to write for a YA audience (or was there anything different about the writing process for this particular book)?
That's an excellent question! I wouldn't say it's either easier or harder. For me, a story grows in my mind till I just can't ignore it anymore, and I have to write it. That certainly happened with The Rithmatist.
As for what I did differently, there are a couple things. When I work on a teen book, I usually try to focus the viewpoints. That's one of the big distinctions for me between an epic fantasy that has teen characters—like the Mistborn books—and a book that I've specifically written for a teen audience. I usually focus on a single character—maybe two—so the narrative is a bit more streamlined.
The other big difference here is that I really wanted to write something with a sense of fantasy whimsy to it. I say whimsical, and it might be the right term, and yet it's not. For example, the magic system is one of the most rigorous and specific that I've written. I hope readers will find it as interesting as I do—with the defensive circles and the different types of lines.
With my epic fantasy books like The Way of Kings, for example, I looked at the size of the planet, its gravitation, its oxygen content—all the sorts of things that allow me to worldbuild with some scientific rigor. I consciously didn't want to do that with The Rithmatist. I replaced the United States with the United Isles, turning the country into an archipelago. I shrank the planet, and I did really weird things to the history of the world because I thought it would be fun. For example, I let Korea conquer the world, because I'm a fan of Korean history.
It's not like I'm sitting down and saying, "What is plausible?" I'm sitting down and saying, "What is awesome?" Then I write a story in which that awesomeness can shine. I let myself do that in my YA works more than in my adult works to give them a different feel. Writing this way allows me to exercise different muscles.
I believe that children and teens are better able to mode shift. When they pick up a book, they don't necessarily feel that it has to fit in one of the genre boxes. As an author, that allows you to do some interesting things in teen that are harder to do within an adult genre.
First and foremost, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us!
You are an established (and highly respected and loved) author of adult fantasy (we are huge fans of your Mistborn books, The Way of Kings, and Warbreaker—excuse us while we fangirl a little bit). The Rithmatist, however, is a young adult title—what made you want to get into the YA space? Do you read YA fantasy novels?
First off, thank you very much! I really appreciate the fangirling. I do read quite a bit of YA fiction. In fact, during the era when I was trying to break into publishing—the late 90s and early 2000s—a lot of the really exciting things in sci-fi and fantasy were happening in YA and middle grade. Garth Nix, J.K. Rowling, Dianna Wynne Jones and others created some wonderfully imaginative writing during this time.
I dipped my toes into middle grade with my Alcatraz series soon after I got published. I hadn't written a YA before, but I wanted to—for the same reason I write epic fantasy: there are awesome things I can do in in epic fantasy that I can't do in other genres. And there are awesome things I can do in teen fiction that I don't feel I can get away with in the same way in adult fiction.
Science fiction and fantasy have a very fascinating connection with YA fiction. If you look at some of the series I loved as a youth—the Wheel of Time, Shannara, and the Eddings books, for example—these have enormous teen crossover. In fact, when you get to something like the Eddings books, you've got to wonder if they would've been shelved in the teen section in a later era.
Back up even further to the juveniles that were written by Heinlein and others, and we see that teen fiction has been an integral part of science fiction and fantasy. Some of the early fantasy writings—things like Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and C.S. Lewis's works—were foundational in how the fantasy genre came to be.
So YA feels like a very natural thing for me to be writing because I enjoy it and I respect what it has done for the genres.
If a Hoed goes to the shardpool in the mountains, what happens to them in the Cognitive Realm?
What do you think happens to them?
I want to say that the IRE, but I know they’re not because they’re really, really, really, really old.
I have a theory that that’s how you get seons.
Here’s the thing, here’s the thing, what have I said about the Cognitive Realm on Sel?
That it’s really, really dangerous.
Yes. Any guesses why?
Because the Shards are Splintered so all the power of the Dor is kind of sloshing around and it’s basically like a highstorm there.
So, what would happen if someone went into there through the shardpool?
It’s probably not as good as they think it is?
Would they get splintered like that?
No they’d just...
Would they get ripped apart?
Yeah. That’s why it’s really dangerous.
So the Elantrians are just dying when they go in...
So when the Hoed or the Elantrians go in...
For the...let’s just say they’re cast into a very dangerous environment without any preparation for it.
So how’d the Ire get there?
They have gone before or they may have been properly prepared.
There’s some theories, that are theories that could totally be the case. Or you could theorize others as well.
Hi, I could be wrong, but I think I read somewhere that you're writing an Urban Fantasy? Just double checking tha t:P
I wrote one as a 'for fun' deviation during a break about a year and a half ago. I do this often, experimenting. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. This time, it was fun, but it wasn't high enough quality to release. Perhaps I will re-visit it, but more likely, I will leave it alone. Any artist creates 'b-sides' so to speak as they practice different styles and experiment. This was one of mine, and I don't like the idea of releasing something that didn't turn out well enough.
The age of the Ire is really, really, really old, is that the age of the organization, or the age of those members.
Of those members, they, yes, are really, really, really old.
So each person in the IRE is really old, not just that the IRE...
I remember you saying originally that a lot of your work you wrote from your heart and based upon your own interests. I believe you struggled to get much attention from this early work and I believe you said Mistborn you wrote for the market as opposed to for yourself. Now that you are self-publishing certain titles, do you think we will be seeing more 'unique' and 'out-there' projects? I.e. Fantasy that is quite unlike things we have seen before?
You've got the story mostly right, though it was the original draft of Mistborn (that did not get published) which was a 'For the market' book. It was awful. The Way of Kings was the book I wrote after that, giving no care to the world, writing only from my heart--and so you can say I've already started doing that. I would like to point out, though, that the second version of Mistborn (the one that got published, in which I tossed aside everything but the magic system and some original character concept) as in my mind a 'return to form' of the books like Elantris that I'd been writing and feeling were not getting attention.
Now that you are self publishing - has it given you a new found respect for those who have been self publishing from the beginning? I mean, now you are no doubt speaking with printers, typesetters, cover artists, reviewers, convention organisers. I guess you are having to market your own titles as well (although you've always been a great author for self promotion). Also, has the amount of work surprised you?
Well, I get to cheat. I've done well enough that I have a full-time assistant with a lot of experience in desktop publishing. So, I can hand him the book, and he can take it to design town. That said, we on the more traditional track have had to do some eating of our words in recent years. Once upon a time there was a large stigma to self-publishing, and we all kind of got infected by it. So when it became viable as a real, serious alternative for authors, we had trouble getting rid of our biases.
I wouldn't say the amount of work has surprised me, as I've paid attention to those self-publishing. I teach a writing and publishing class, and I've found that as publishing changes, I've had to keep my eyes on what it takes to publish reasonably on your own. I also know how much work goes into publishing a book on the publisher's end, and had no illusions about how much work it would take us.
What advice would you give to people who want to be authors?
What advice would I give to people who want to be authors? ...You want to be a writer? So, I have these little cards that say "so you want to be a writer", I'm going to pass one back to you. So the number one thing I'd say that as a writer you want to know is, your duty, your job, is to practice in such a way that you can become a person who can write great books. Your job is not to write a great book. Your job is to practice so you become people who write great books. So treat becoming a writer like you treat becoming a pianist, or becoming a doctor, or anything else that is a goal you want to achieve. Say, I'm going to take years to do this. I'm going to practice consistently. And I am going to not stress right now if I am not achieving what I want to do. You don't start off doing brain surgery, you don't start off playing Rachmaninoff. You start off practicing and just do that. If you are willing to do that, you will improve and you will be surprised how fast you grow. If instead you're like I need to write the perfect paragraph or the perfect chapter before I can move on, and you stare at that and beat your head against it you will never improve.
There's a story told by someone, you can google this online, just look for the, ah-- pottery-- uh, oh... trying to remember what it's called-- Alright I can't tell you how to google it but maybe your googlefu is better than mine when I tell you the story. So there's this person who teaches pottery and he shared in his book--and I've read the book, and seen it, and things like this--a story about how he one year split his class in half, and had one half, the new beginners in pottery, their job was each week their grade was going to be based on how good a pot they made. They've gotta make the best pot they can every week, turn it in, he would give them a grade for that week. And, you know, that's how good you were. The second group, he said you're going to get a grade based on the weight of all the pots you create this week, meaning we're just going to weigh them and if you hit this certain amount you are going to get an A, if you get this certain amount you're going to get a B. He did this for the entire semester teaching exactly the same way and at the end he said "Now make the best pot you can" to both groups. And the best pots all came from the group who did their grade by weight. All of them. The best pots came from that group. Not the people who tried to make a perfect pot every week, but the people who tried to make the most pots every week. And that works in creative endeavors quite a bit, that practice trumps perfection on the small scale when you're starting.
Would the weaknesses that you thought of for Firefight... Is that, did you think of that when you were writing Firefight, did those apply in Steelheart?
They should apply in Steelheart. The things that I thought of in Firefight should apply in Steelheart, the weaknesses.
Have you given any thought to auctioning the Stormlight Archive as a mini-series?
Have I thought about optioning Stormlight as a mini-series? Yes I have but I think it's premature to do anything with Stormlight right now, I think we should let a few more books come out.
Can you tell us the intent of Bavadin's Shard?
The intent of Bavadin's Shard? No. But good question.
You've developed so many worlds and so many magic systems, how do you keep them all straight?
How do I keep everything straight, all the worlds and all the magic systems? I use a wiki--
You do your worlds all at once--
Nah I jump around-- I use a wiki. I use a personal wiki called WikidPad, you can't use it, it's only mine, and it's like 400,000 words at last count, which is about the length of Way of Kings. And I have now a continuity editor who goes in after I write a book and they put everything in. That's my method. But I am kind of scatterbrained, I will forget my keys, I'll go to the airport without my wallet and have to talk my way through security. But I don't forget stories. They stick up there.
Since Disneyland is taking over the world, Disneyland is obviously Librarians. So is Alcatraz ever going to visit Disneyland?
Oh that's a good question. He should because Disneyland is totally Librarians. They totally run that. I will consider that. I will consider that. Good question. Alcatraz 5 is written. We're re-releasing the Alcatraz books with new covers and new artwork and all sorts of cool things like that starting January of next year  and they'll run straight through to the fifth book which will come out in the summer sometime.
If you could have any of your powers from any of your novels, in the real world, which one would it be?
Which power would I have? I would definitely be an Allomancer. Because all the metal we've got around-- steelpusher-- coinshot, I would just jump all over the place, it would be super cool. That's not the smart one to pick, no, because there are ones that'll be like "this can keep you alive", or "be immortal!" But no I'm gonna push on metals and fly.
What is the most unforgettable frustration ever since you became a writer?
Ah most unforgettable frustration since becoming a writer. Boy. I would say that, as a writer, since being published the number one frustration is sometimes I have to meet a deadline instead of just going off and writing whatever bizarre thing I want. I still do that a lot but once in a while I've got to meet a deadline, and I've been training myself to be like no, I'm writing this book, and I have to be creative and excited about that book. And I can't write until I get creative and excited about it. So it's that trying to get myself to make sure that I'm created and excited about a book, that's very difficult. I would say that touring is also, it gets very exhausting. I was surprised at by how exhausting going on tour a lot can do. We've mitigated that by keeping me from having to get early mornings, when I don't have to have an early morning I'm much more chipper. I'm not a morning person, I'm a night person, and numerous days in a row with not enough sleep can make me a zombie.
What do the glyphs in the Kholin glyphpair mean?
Oh boy, that's in my notes. I should know that, I should totally know it but I would have to look it up.
So it's one thing to write a book, how do you pitch a book then? What was the hardest pitch?
Oh pitches are hard. How do you pitch books, is what she's asking. So hard. You know what taught me to pitch books was standing in book stores. In my early days I would ask them, like I would do a signing at a Barnes and Noble and no one would come of course, because no one had ever heard of me. So it was really me standing behind a cart by the door, trying to shill my book to everyone who walked in the doors. Very used car salesman. "So, you like fantasy novels? You know anyone that likes fantasy novels? Have you heard of The Hobbit?" And so what I had to do it I had to come up with a two sentence way to tell people what my book was. And so if you have a book I would practice on just people-- you know, your acquaintances and say "Can i tell you about my book I just so I can practice", see if you can get it down to two or three sentences. And once you start doing that you'll get a feel for what things you can talk about in your book that made people say "Oh, that's cool" and what made their eyes glaze over. Usually stay away from a lot of names and background stuff, and point toward one great concept in your book, whether it's a character concept or what. When I pitched Mistborn I'm like "what if the hero who'd been prophesied to save the world failed?". Like what if Frodo had gotten to the end of Lord of the Rings and Sauron had said "thanks for bringing my ring back, I've been looking for that", and killed him and took over the world? You know, "what if", and that was how I started that one.
And was that how you pitched it to your publisher?
When I pitched the publishers I was not nearly as good at it as I am now and I just relied on my writing sample to get me through. My pitches were terrible, so don't-- It's very hard to learn but the only way to do it is to practice with people. That's good, that's going to take you further than anything.
Have you thought any more of metal allergies with your Allomancy?
It would definitely not be pleasant.
Because I have the steel allergy.
You have the steel allergy, huh?
Yeah, I actually got it last year. I have a steel allergy and I work in a steel plant.
Aww man. It would not be pleasant, I can definitely say that. Although, I would have the instinct that fewer people on Scadrial would have that allergy because of the Investiture during their creation. But it could totally happen.
How do you write Wayne? The guy is a little bit crazy, but when you see things from his perspective it makes sense. How do you get in that headspace to write that?
I put on his hat. Well it’s--characters are so hard for me to define how I do them. Everything else I can define, right? I can talk about it. With character I write their viewpoint and see if I get to know them, and if I do I’ve just got it. That’s all I can say.
The unknown spike, raysium?
I’m not going to tell you. Good question.
We’re told that anyone pierced by metal is vulnerable to the influence of Ruin and Harmony, but in every case that we actually see it’s not just pierced by metal but an active Hemalurgical spike.
Yes, that is what they mean. So “Anyone pierced by metal can’t be trusted” means “That might be a spike”.
So why does the Path say “everyone wear an earring when you pray” if it’s not...
It’s tradition. Just in the same reason that you wear a cross when you’re Christian and things like this. Like this has become part of the religion.
How about the Elantris timeline then. Since the Secret History…
I will-- When I write the Elantris sequels you will get a much stronger timeline for those, but let’s just say that the Ire have been around for a long time.
In Bands of Mourning, was that Jasnah?
No it wasn’t, good question.
Are they in the same time period?
So, Alloy Era book are happening after Stormlight 5. But not nece--I haven’t said exactly how far off.
We saw with Miles what it was like if you Compounded gold. I was wondering what it would be like if you tried Compounding tin.
So Compounding with tin?
Just what it would be like the experience...
Ehhh… I’ll go ahead and I'm going to RAFO that. Because I want to write it out and see how it looks on the page.
Hello, and welcome! I hope the holiday season is treating you all very well. Around this time each year, I write a blog post called State of the Sanderson. I usually post it on or around my birthday, which happens to be today. (So, happy Koloss Head-Munching Day to you all.)
These posts run long and are extensive essays that go over what I did during the year, updating you all on the projects I've been working on, then doing a rundown of projects that I'm planning. (Find last year's State of the Sanderson right here.)
I hope you'll find this helpful and interesting. Storytelling is not an exact science, and things don't always go as planned. At the same time, I believe it important to be up-front with you all. I know what it's like to wait for years to read the ending of a favorite series, and I appreciate your longsuffering support when I jump between projects.
In teaching my university lectures and workshop, I interact with many, many hopeful and talented newer writers. Their excitement, and worry about the future, reminds me how fortunate I am to be able to do what I love for a living. In the story of the ants and the grasshopper, I get to spend my life making music—but instead of letting me starve in the winter, you bring me in and give me something warm to eat, then you listen while I tell you a story.
It's strange to consider what might have been. How many plausible variations of life are there where I'm not a professional novelist? Did I hit on the one perfect sequence of events that brought me here, or would I have muddled my way through even if Moshe hadn't agreed to look at Elantris back at a party in Montreal in 2001?
Though I deal in the fantastic as my daily labor, the scene where I'm not a writer is one scene I have difficulty conjuring. Would I be a professor perhaps? I do enjoy teaching, though only in moderation. (When I had to teach the same class multiple times in a day, I found the experience monotonous. One course a year is just about right for me—exciting, vibrant, and involving new things to teach and talk about.)
Indeed, early in my graduate studies, I realized I'd never make it as an academic. Ironically, I discovered that doing all the things in my writing program that would prepare me for a good Ph.D. or MFA course (being on the staff of journals, assisting professors, traveling to conferences) would prevent me from actually writing—so I threw all of that up in the air and doubled down on my novels. Some of my colleagues went on to professorships, but I was never really headed that direction.
For me, it was always write or bust. I don't know what busting would look like—but I do know that, barring something truly insane, it would involve me ending up with a closet full of dozens and dozens of unpublished manuscripts.
As an aside, for those who didn't hear the story on tour this year, my second son (who is six) has started to figure out what it means that I'm an author. He came up to me a few months ago and said, "Daddy. You write books!"
I said, "Yes!"
"You sell them, so we have money for food and our house!"
"And when people visit, you give them books from the garage! That's how you sell them!"
I often give copies of the books to friends who visit, and in his six-year-old understanding, this was how we made our living. But hey, there are worse things to be than a garage novelist with a trunk full of demo manuscripts.
In any case, you have my sincere thanks for your support! I'm glad we're not in the alternate, dystopian Sanderson timeline where I have a goatee and have to spend my life selling people insurance.
We are approaching Koloss Head-Munching Day—the day of the year that happens, by utter coincidence, to coincide with my birthday. (December 19th.) I'm turning forty this year, which isn't as dramatic for me as it might be for some others. From the way I act, people have been joking for the last twenty years that I was "born forty." I guess I'm finally just catching up.
It's been almost twenty years since I finished my first book. I can remember joking with my friends in college (whom you might know as Lieutenant Conrad from Mistborn and Drehy from Bridge Four) that by forty, we were all going to be rich and famous.
The thing is, I always intended to make that dream happen. Not necessarily for the "rich" part or the "famous" part, neither of which interested me a great deal. I just knew that without a solid, stable writing career, I'd never be able to make the Cosmere happen.
Perhaps that's where this whole "born forty" thing came from in the first place. I basically spent my twenties writing, slavishly trying to figure out how to craft stories. Friends would tell me to relax, but I couldn't, not when these dreams of mine were so big. It should be mentioned that despite what our society would like to believe, hard work doesn't always equate with success. For me, luck played a huge part in my being able to sit here and type this out for you.
Still, here I am, and I honestly can't imagine things having gone better. People often seem bemused by my productivity; when I get together with fellow authors, they sometimes jokingly refer to me as "the adult" in our group. I get this—for a lot of them, writing is more of an instinctual process. Sitting and talking about the business side of things, or their goals for writing, flies in the face of the almost accidental way they've approached their careers. And it works for them; they create great books I'm always excited to read.
However, sometimes there's also this sense—from fans, from the community, from us authors in general—that whispers that being productive isn't a good thing. It's like society feels artists should naturally try to hide from deadlines, structure, or being aware of what we do and why we do it. As if, because art is supposed to be painful, we shouldn't enjoy doing our work—and should need to be forced into it.
If there's one thing that has surprised me over the last ten years, it's this strangeness that surrounds my enjoyment of my job, and the way my own psychology interfaces with storytelling. People thank me for being productive, when I don't consider myself particularly fast as a writer—I'm just consistent. Fans worry that I will burn out, or that secretly I'm some kind of cabal of writers working together. I enjoy the jokes, but there's really no secret. I just get excited by all of this. I have a chance to create something incredible, something that will touch people's lives. In some cases, that touch is light—I just give a person a few moments to relax amid the tempest of life. In other cases, stories touch people on a deep and meaningful level. I'll happily take either scenario.
Almost thirty years ago now, I encountered something remarkable in the books I read. Something meaningful that I couldn't describe, a new perspective, new emotions. I knew then that I had to learn to do what those writers were doing. Now that I have the chance to reach people the same way, I'm not going to squander it.
I guess this is all a prelude to a warning. I'm working on a lot of projects. Many of these tie together in this epic master plan of mine, the thirty-six-(or more)-book cycle that will be the Cosmere. Even those books that aren't part of the Cosmere are here to challenge me in some way, to push me and my stories, to explore concepts that have fascinated me for years.
These last ten years have been incredible. I thank you, and I thank God, for this crazy opportunity I've been given. I don't intend to slow down.
I'm not embarrassed to be "the adult." Even if I've only just hit the right age for it officially.
I was also wondering if... I just finished reading the Ars Arcanum in the back of Bands of Mourning and I heard it mention that god metals could be alloyed to give different abilities or traits.
Could you give an example of one?
So, you could alloy lerasium with certain metals of the sixteen in the table and get, if you had just enough lerasium, it would make them a misting of those powers.
Hello, all! I recently turned in Shadows of Self, the new Wax and Wayne Mistborn novel. (And, well, something else too. More on that below.) In addition, tomorrow is December 19th—known with fondness as "Koloss Head-Munching Day." Also my birthday. (I'll be 39.)
This seemed like a good chance to take a step back and give you all a long-form update on what I've been doing lately, and where I am looking for the future. I like to be accountable to you, my readers, for what I'm doing. You are the ones supporting me in this, my lifelong dream of being a professional writer.
2014 was an excellent year for me. Words of Radiance has been very well received, and enthusiasm for the Stormlight books is very high. As this series is my baby, it feels awesome to see people getting to know characters like Dalinar and Kaladin, whom I've known for decades. At the same time, I've been jumping back into teen books again after the Alcatraz books. (Which kind of fizzled back in 2010 or so, though we're planning a relaunch.)
Having two publishers made for a very challenging tour schedule. I've been away from home far more than I want to be, mostly because of the need to add more touring (along with things like school visits and appearances at teacher/librarian conferences) for Steelheart and The Rithmatist.
I'm still struggling to find a balance I like. On one hand, I enjoy visiting you all and going cool places. On the other hand, my real love is writing the books—and I don't want to get so busy that the stories fall by the wayside. Anyway, the following is an account of my 2014 writing experience for those who are curious.
Any of you who haven't read the Evil Librarians series might want to duck out here, because I'm going to talk about the big reveal at the end of the fifth novel. This is a post that's been brewing since 2006, so I'm eager to talk about it—but anyone who has read stories like Secret History will know that I like to brew surprises over the long haul. I'd rather you discover this on your own, by reading the series. I've posted before my pitch on what the books are about, and why you might like them.
For those of you who have read up to the fifth book, it's time to give a behind-the-scenes look at what happened with this series.
If we look back to 2006, we can find the seed of the first [Alcatraz] book in a writing prompt I wrote out for myself: “So there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to be sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil librarians.”
Great first line to a story. I typed it into my phone while at a meeting one day, and quickly became enthralled by it. I'd been reading a lot of middle grade, and wanted to try my hand at something in the genre. I discovery-wrote the story, mostly as a writing exercise—and as a break from the Mistborn series, which I felt needed some breathing room before I could work on the next book.
The story turned out great. Quirky, sarcastic, and fun. So I sent it to my agent, and he liked it too. It took us only a few months to get four offers. Each of the editors we were talking to wanted to know, what was my vision for the series?
And this was tricky because the first book had left me in a bit of a conundrum. You see, a big theme of that first book was a character telling their life's story and warning everyone that he wasn't a hero, that things ended poorly for him. And yet the series was lighthearted and fun, full of humor and wackiness. It didn't have the dark tone of Lemony Snicket, despite the main character's insistence that he was no hero.
I felt I'd promised the audience a fun reversal—that Alcatraz would end up being a hero, even if he didn't think he was one. This was tricky though, because I had the feeling that if I ended it that way, it would be too obvious. Somehow I had to have an ending that justified Alcatraz thinking he was a huge failure in life, but at the same time indicating to the reader that he was actually heroic.
And that's when I hit on a structure that would let me do this. I pitched the following to the various editors interested in the books: I'll write a six-book series that I tell everyone is five books long. The main character will write five, and the fifth will end with the disasters he predicted. This will show exactly why he thinks of himself the way he does.
But then the sixth book will be from the viewpoint of his bodyguard, continuing the story and giving the real ending.
I felt this would work because it played into the themes of Alcatraz being honest about his past, mixed with his feelings of failure. But it would at the same time let us have an ending that wasn't quite so much of a downer. All it required was that we remain quiet for six years or so (it ended up being ten) about the secret sixth book. (In the intervening years, if people asked me if book five was the end, I tried to always answer, "The fifth book is the last one Alcatraz will write.")
Some of the editors loved this idea, and others didn't like it at all. One who loved it was Susan at Tor, who is now publishing the books—so yay!
My initial pitch for the release of book five this year was to have a little envelope inside the back cover that you opened and found a note from Bastille, saying she was going to write the last book. However, that proved to be a problem. First, it's easy to lose a card from an envelope, which meant that library books and secondhand books risked having the true ending get lost. Second, it seemed like it would just be too much for people to resist opening early. We ended up going with a folded-over page at the ending, which at least can't get lost. (And in the ebook, Bastille's note is at the very, very end, past all the footnotes, like a post-credits scene.)
So what does this mean for the future of the series? Well, two years ago I posted a screenshot of my folder showing all of my books in order. It hid a secret project, scribbled out. People assumed this was Secret History, and I didn't disabuse them (as I was working on it at the time). But it's actually Evil Librarians Six, which I've done a bunch of work on. I'm not sure when I'll have it out, but it won't be too long. (I will probably finish it sometime next year.) I'm tentatively calling it Alcatraz Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians: The Worldspire. (Yes, Alcatraz's name will likely be crossed out on the cover, with hers written over it.) Originally I'd named it Alcatraz vs. His Own Dumb Self, but I think that might be going too far.
Thank you to all the fans who have kept with this series over the years. It's because of you that I went through all the trouble of buying the series back from the old publisher, when they decided to end it at four books. And it's because of you that we have the gorgeous new Tor editions, finally with cover art that fits the books. (Not to mention the awesome interior art.)
But book six WILL be the last. You can trust this, because it's me saying it, not Alcatraz.