Recent entries

    Firefight release party ()
    #7051 Copy

    Questioner

    What is it like for you when you end a characters life? Like how is it for you emotionally?

    Brandon Sanderson

    How is it for me emotionally--

    Questioner

    Like when I lost a character in Mistborn, I couldn't read. I was done.

    Brandon Sanderson

    ...The thing about it is I am a planner as a writer. So I have usually prepared a great deal. That means that I am prepared and ready for the character's passing. And the way that I usually build in character death is that it is more the characters demanding it than I'm killing them. It is them saying "This is the risk I demand to take" and me as the narrator saying "Well that risk has certain consequences and sometimes I will protect you from those consequences, sometimes I won't" The narrator will decide when I should and when I shouldn't, but the character decides when they make those risks, if that makes sense? It's kidn of this pseudo-organic process, talking about characters is  the one that is most organic to me-- Plots and worlds I can talk a lot about the nuts and bolts, with characters it's a feeling and an instinct of what they would do. And then I have to decide what I do with the consequences to that. But usually I've planned it out quite a bit ahead of time, it doesn't happen off the cuff for me and so I'm ready for it. I do apologize but I feel that it makes a stronger story.

    Firefight release party ()
    #7052 Copy

    Questioner

    You've talked about all these awesome ideas, do you ever get to the point when you are writing where you're like "This isn't awesome, this is stupid."

    Brandon Sanderson

    Do I ever get to the point where I'm writing where this isn't awesome, this is stupid. Yeah. Yeah it happens, and then I just set that aside or I go talk to someone and "is this awesome or is this stupid?" My writing group is helpful for that. But it does happen, to everybody. There are ideas that are just so lame. You think they are cool, you are excited about them-- Mostly they happen at night where you're going to bed and thinking and you're "This is the coolest idea, I'm going to write this book" and the next you are like "What was I thinking?! This is not a cool book."

    Firefight release party ()
    #7053 Copy

    Jasonioan

    Have you ever written a character name that you have no idea how to pronounce? *laughter*

    Brandon Sanderson

    Have I ever written a character name that I have no idea how to pronounce. Oh boy, I got to have, right? Like Rock's real name uh, Numuhukumakiakia'aialunamor, maybe? But most of the Hornearter things I just can't, I'm like what? But even some other ones… The thing is that sometimes I don't pronounce them the right way. Like I say "Kel-see-er" in-world they say "Kel-see-ay" because it is French, the original core I was using so you get things like Vin Demoux and things like this which are French terms or French names or French words, and Kelsier, I say his name "Kel-see-er" but I'm an American. 'Murica.  I say it like an American would but you are free to pronounce the names in the book however you want to.

    Firefight release party ()
    #7054 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you have any plans to release Death by Pizza?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Do I have any plans to release Death by Pizza?  When I was getting ready for what I should do my readings on for this I was like "Oh I could read them Death by Pizza" and I opened it up and read the first chapter again and was like "No I can't read--" *laughter* Someday if I have time to fix it, I will. It was mostly-- A lot of what you see me doing is experimenting in other genres so I can practice that genre and incorporate it into my mainline epic fantasies. I think that great writing, particularly in a big book like those, means that you draw on a lot of different traditions so that the different plot lines and characters feel like different types. So I'm practicing urban fantasy, I'm practicing-- Things like Legion is me practicing a detective novel so I can use that later on. That one just didn't turn out good enough to release. It was good practice for me.

    Firefight release party ()
    #7055 Copy

    Questioner

    Is Mistborn ever going to be made into a movie?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Is Mistborn going to be made into a movie. I recently read the treatments by the guy who has the movie rights and I like them a lot. They are doing good work with the treatments. We sold the rights. Whether they'll get made or not is still kind of a crapshoot because this is how Hollywood works, right? So we will see, but the treatments are good. Peter can back me up on that. The first one we like a lot… So yes there is motion but I don't know how long it will take us, okay?

    Firefight release party ()
    #7057 Copy

    Questioner

    Where did you get the idea of gloryspren and fearspren showing up when people feel certain emotions?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So spren in The Way of Kings where did I come up with these ideas for things that physically manifest people's emotions. So I honestly think the earliest seed of this, years and years ago, was reading Perrin in The Wheel of Time where he can smell people's emotion and I thought that having an actual different sense to recognize emotion was so cool I think that is what planted the seed in the back of my brain. The other thing that that is mashing-up with though is kind of Shinto ideas, because I was relying a lot on some Eastern philosophy when I was building Roshar and The Way of Kings. And the Shinto believe that everything has a soul and a spirit, a kami as they call it, and things like this and wanting to expand that into not just the rock but your emotions have a soul and they manifest and things like that. And then I was working in the cosmere and all this stuff but in the end I think it is a mash-up of those two concepts. Wanting a cool way, a different way, a way that changes society that emotions play out mixed with this idea of the kami and the Shinto beliefs.

    Firefight release party ()
    #7058 Copy

    Questioner

    So when it comes to the superhero genre and female characters, I feel you have the two types. You have the damsel or the super sexualized black widow that is awesome. How has that been a worry for you?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So she's talking about the-- In superheroes you usually have the damsel, so you have the Mary Jane that needs to be rescued, or you have the black widow, hypersexualized thing like this, and the question is has that been a worry for me. It is something that is in the back of my brain, it's not  just a problem in superhero fiction, it's one of the ones that it is most manifest in. You will find the problem in most genres of speculative fiction, especially action genres. There's also what they call the-- There's the archetype of the Mother and the Crone. Those are your archetypes that women get to play. And it's been in the forefront of my brain a lot, in my writing, because I think as a writer the further you go as a writer the more you need to be aware of when you are falling into a cliche and when you're not. So yes it is something I've thought about quite a bit, particularly when I was writing Firefight "How am I going to deal with Megan as a character? And how am I going to deal with Mizzy as a character? And how they differ." So it was something I was thinking about very consciously as I working about on these books.

    I think one regret I have a little bit is that I feel Mistborn I did a great job with Vin, but there's not very much of a female supporting cast in those books. It's kind of the archetype  that there's one girl in the whole city and then everyone else. And you kind of run into this and things like that and I was a little less conscious as a writer in those days. But it is something that I think all writers need to be aware of. The thing is that we talk a lot about feminist theory because it tends to be most manifest when men are writing, but when women write there is also one that they do that is they tend to make the guy like this perfect guy and what happens is the guy has no personality he's just perfection and the girl is either a klutz or a doofus or she can't do anything right and the guys are all these perfect ideals. And that's when women write, when men write it's like the girl exists to be saved or to be lusted after. You just have to be aware as a writer these are going to be very natural to you because of our society or whatever we've seen a lot in storytelling, and you just have to become aware of them. And as soon as you become aware of them you can start working on them.

    The easiest way of getting away from doing this is to avoid tokenism, meaning if you are going to put someone in who is a certain ethnicity or is different from yourself or one thing like that, if you force yourself to put two in you then suddenly can't make them the stereotype because otherwise they are the same character and that forces you to really think about that and is one very easy way. I can go on for hours about that so take my class and ask me and we can talk about it.

    Firefight release party ()
    #7059 Copy

    Questioner

    So, your Legion series, where the guy has multiple hallucinations and everything like that-- Where did you come up with your idea? Was it just hanging out--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Where was the idea for Legion, which if you are not familiar with it Legion is this weird  thing where I have a guy who's a genius, he can study any topic and learn that topic and become an expert in it very quickly but the information appears as a hallucination who can coach him in that information. So it's like he's a schizophrenic but instead of the voices telling him to kill people they tell him how to hack computers or things like that.

    The idea came because I was actually working in a writing group with my friend Dan who was working on a book called The Hollow City which is about a real schizophrenic, not a super-powered schizophrenic in a weird Brandon-world. And I'm like "Oooh this would be so cool, what if his hallucinations helped him? What if--" and he's like "That's not my book, I don't want to write that book" and I'm like "But it's so cool!" and he's like "Then you write it!" So I did. And that's where it came from. A lot of time being a writer is realizing "Oh I wish someone would do this, HEY! I know someone who can do that, ME!" and then I write the books.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7060 Copy

    Little Wilson

    Have we seen any of them [Rashek's children] in Era 2?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Any of the Lord Ruler's descendents?

    Little Wilson

    Yes.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes...

    Little Wilson

    Where?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is not necessarily... Um... I'm not gonna answer that.

    Zas678

    Is it-- Are they just descendants in the same way that, you know, after two thou-- after thirteen hundred years they're all descendants?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You will-- They're not all, but there's a lot of them, percentage-wise. So it's not like you're...

    Zas678

    Specially just kind of...

    Brandon Sanderson

    You're looking for something that's not really there. I'll go ahead and tell you that. There are descendants of the Lord Ruler. But it's not like they have some secret coven or anything like that. At least--

    Zas678

    The Illuminati!

    Brandon Sanderson

    At least, you know, there are-- there are-- How should I say? It's not outside of reason that there are people who are descendants of the Lord Ruler who are part of a coven or something. But you know what I'm saying?

    Zas678

    Yeah, it's not like... super secret magic power society.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, mhm.

    Zas678

    There could be a group of people who are like, "We're so much better."

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    Firefight release party ()
    #7062 Copy

    Questioner

    What has been your best motivation for writing/What would you advise to aspiring writers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Okay so what has been my best motivation in writing and what would I advise a new writer. So motivation is a tricky thing because it is very individual. For me, a big part of my motivation was wanting to tell these stories. Just having these stories in my head and wanting to find a way to make these books make people feel the way I feel by the books that I love. Like when I was reading Anne McCaffrey books and they had this powerful effect on me "I've gotta learn how to do that." It was just something that was in me. Mixed with the increasing knowledge as I went to school that I was preparing myself for something that as Oscar Wilde would put it, basically useless. And then if I didn't end up making it as a writer-- It's like I imagined, I say sometimes, that it was like a phantom cubicle chasing me and if it caught me I had to become an insurance actuary or something. I'm sorry if there's an insurance actuary, I'm glad we have you. *laughter* I'm glad we have Erics who love math... But anyway I felt if I didn't give it the best shot I could that I would never have another shot at it. So that worked for me. You are going to have to find your own motivation.

    The number one thing I would tell a new writer is to treat learning to write like you would treat learning to draw or play a musical instrument, in that it's a creative process not an event. Writing a book is a process, and so your job as a writer is to train yourself to be someone who writes great books not someone who wrote one good book. That means you have time to practice, you've got to sit and-- like you do your scales, you have to spend time at it. I would also say take my class at BYU, or watch the versions online, and Writing Excuses, my podcast for writers. We started something brand new starting today where we are doing a master class in writing where every month we are going to take one topic and drill down very deeply into it.  It will be a great place to start.  Just go to WritingExcuses.com and click play and listen to our episode, okay?

    Footnote: Brandon is referring to Season Ten of Writing Excuses here.
    Firefight release party ()
    #7063 Copy

    Questioner

    So you have a lot of emotional times in your books where you feel something really strong, do you feel that when you are writing or do you think "I need to have an emotional point--"

    Brandon Sanderson

    The question is, I have a lot of emotional times in my book, do I feel that when I'm writing or do I just sit there and say "I need an emotional time right now". There's a little of both, as a storyteller you get a good feel for when you need certain beats in storytelling. One of the things I like about stories though, and this will tell you a little about me, I am not a very emotional person. My friends will tell you and kind of reinforce this, I am basically, kind of the opposite of an emotional person. When I saw that movie Unbreakable, I know that there are people who are broken so there must be people who can't be broken at all. I know people who are bi-polar with huge mood swings, I'm kind of the opposite of that. If you have a 0 to 100 emotional scale I get between a 65 and 75 every day. Doesn't change. I feel the same way every day when I wake up, but stories make me feel powerful emotion. They are one of the things that just tweak that needle in me and make it go crazy up and down. Which is one of the reasons why I think I fell in love with books and storytelling is because of that powerful emotion. So yes I do, and at the same time part of me is "I need something here. What do I need right here?" and my instincts say "Oh you need a pow. What's our pow?" and you work on it for a while until it comes together for you.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7064 Copy

    Zas678

    About Bands of Mourning... Marasi finds ReLuur's missing spike, and she describes it as pewter... Which is not one of the four metals conventionally used in kandra blessings...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Zas678

    ...and is used to steal Feruchemical abilities. Was Marasi just mistaken, or is something going on there.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That you will eventually find out.

    Firefight release party ()
    #7065 Copy

    Questioner

    Where did the idea to split The Way of Kings and to make it take place in multiple places come from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Way of Kings taking place with the different timelines? So Way of Kings I wrote, the very first version of it--in its contemporary form, I wrote the first book about Dalinar when I was a teenager--but the very first book called The Way of Kings I wrote in 2002 and I tried to cram way too much into that book. The big failing of that book was I tried to do everyone's story at once. And so when I re-wrote it in 2009, or whenever it was, I decided I would take the characters and spread them out across the 10 book series and I would focus on a certain set of them early on and then transition into other ones. But in order to maintain some of the complexity I like in my books, particularly big epic fantasies, I added in the flashback sequence, one per character per book as a means to adding some depth and complexity but using it to build up a character you already knew, rather than doing someone completely different. And so this kind of allowed me to tell the story the way I wanted to, by doing-- That did mean I still had to have two separate timelines because I needed to do Shallan and I needed to do Kaladin, 'cause I knew they were going to be important, interacting together for the next few books. Which did put me in two different places but that was much better than the six different places the original had. And it's just because I like complexity, I like a book that everything comes together at once.

    Firefight release party ()
    #7066 Copy

    Questioner

    Have you ever justified the law of conservation of mass in the regeneration of shardplate?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, law of conservation of mass and the regeneration of shardplate. So conservation of energy and mass in the cosmere, you have to understand we are working on the Three Realms, Spiritual, Cognitive, and Physical and there is a lot of dense energy on the Spiritual plane. Most of the magics are working and creating a conduit to the Spiritual plane, pulling something through or sticking it back in. And so everything's conserved, but we have a dump of energy up there that we are kind of using as a dump of energy that we are pulling things back and forth with.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7067 Copy

    Zas678

    Did Vasher visit Roshar before the Recreance? Because he had-- *Brandon mumbles question* Because he had to see Shardblades, and... presumably live ones.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah... I'll RAFO that. I'll RAFO that. It is an assumption that he had... He doesn't necessarily have to have seen alive ones. He could have heard records of them.

    Zas678

    Okay. Because I've tried to make out a timeline, to be like, "Okay, if this is here..."

    Brandon Sanderson

    Kara has a timeline-- Not Kara-- Karen has a timeline in hand. But I would have to look at it to give you exact dates, but yeah.

    Zas678

    Okay. So you didn't have to see...

    Brandon Sanderson

    He did not have to see.

    Firefight release party ()
    #7068 Copy

    Questioner

    First of all thank you for creating your own justified physics laws for your magic systems. Coming from a scientist I appreciate that, even though--

    Brandon Sanderson

    My pleasure. I like to have-- You know I was a chemist for one year in college, one year until I washed out. No really what it was… In high school chemistry is about blowing stuff up and doing cool experiments. They use that to trick you. *laughter* Because then you go to college and their like "Great! Now you are doing math equations, all day" And while I loved-- Oh, Eric's over here, he's like "Yes! That's what I love, math equations. Give me more!" I really did enjoy a lot of the concepts, I just did not enjoy the busy work so that's why I jumped ship. But I like my magic to make sense. Don't get me wrong, when I say "Err on the side of awesome" I don't mean "Write your stories in such a way that they don't make sense" but I will often start with "This is a cool image, I want to have work. How can I work out the logistics of that?" That's the difference between me and a science fiction writer. Science fiction writer extrapolates forward to what would happen with technology. I start with something cool and extrapolate backward.

    Firefight release party ()
    #7069 Copy

    Questioner

    Is there ever going to be a mash-up where different magic systems are actually going to collide and--

    Brandon Sanderson

    The question is is there going to be a mash-up where different magics, from my books, collide. Yes, there will be. I came up with the concept of what I call the cosmere… Long ago, it was about 20 years ago now, when I wrote my very first story that was about a guy traveling between different planets in a magical universe. Where he would go to the planet, try to figure out how the magic worked, then just get it working, then see if it was something he wanted to learn about and know. And that grew over 20 years into what I call the cosmere, which is a collection of planets in a fantasy universe, in which all of the magics are interacting in interesting ways. And we will eventually have some cool crossover books but right now the series I am writing are about the series themselves and so we won't have crossover yet but it will happen eventually.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7070 Copy

    Zas678

    How long either before modern day or before the Hierocracy was the Recreance?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um...

    Zas678

    Like 200 years-ish? 100 years-ish?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Okay, Recreance to Hierocracy is what you're asking? 

    Zas678

    Yes. Or to modern day, I don't care.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, so Recreance to Hierocracy... Hierocracy is in recent memory. Recreance is not.

    Zas678

    Okay. So that's probably like a 500-year difference. Something like that.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, yeah, or more. Hierocracy, though, is recent-ish memory.

    Firefight release party ()
    #7071 Copy

    Questioner

    What has been your best writing experience?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What has been my best writing experience? There's a lot of them, I don't know if I can pick a best one. It's just the thing I love is, I spent ten years writing books kind of by myself alone at night working a graveyard shift at a hotel and the fact that I get to do this full time and I don't have to answer the phone and bring people laundry in the middle of writing a cool scene about shardblades. That's really nice. That I don't have to be-- I'm writing the climax and "Ah you would like a wake up call?" and then back to my climax. So being able to share the stories with people, having people who want to read them and support me is really fun.

    Firefight release party ()
    #7072 Copy

    Questioner

    How did you think of your powers with Alcatraz?

    Brandon Sanderson

    How did I think of the powers in Alcatraz. So if you aren't familiar with the Alcatraz books, they are books about a family who all have a magical talent and they are all based on stupid things that I do. *laughter* I am really good at breaking things. This is my phone. *shows phone, laughter ensues* This is my tablet, it only looks this nice because the last time I dropped it I have a nice assistant who took it to the store to fix it last month. So that'll last a few months. So Alcatraz's magical powers is that he is able to magically break things. I'm always late. I wasn't late today because we came up early to have dinner, but I was late to dinner. I'm late to everything So I have another character in that who has the superpower of magically arrive late to things, but he'll arrive late to things like bullets and tax day. They turn into superpowers. It started as me wanting the goofy things I do to become superpowers and extrapolated out from there.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7073 Copy

    Zas678

    How does the Nalthis year compare to normal years?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, that's a PAFO. That's a Peter and find out. If you know much of orbits, and things like this, you will know that most of them have to be pretty close because of the nature of Goldilocks zones and things like this. But they all--

    Zas678

    Yeah. Yeah. They all have to be "year-ish", but the exact "ish" is going to be...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. Mhm.

    Footnote: Brandon's comment about the period of orbits in the Goldilocks zone is incorrect.
    Firefight release party ()
    #7075 Copy

    Questioner

    What inspired you to write that series [Mistborn]? It's amazing.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh good question, what inspired me to write Mistborn… A couple of things have to come together for me to write a book. Usually it is not one idea. Usually one idea is kind of the sparking point but then I file it in the back of my brain and wait until other ideas stick to it and work in really cool ways. Mistborn is a conglomeration of several things. First off it was watching-- I guess it was reading-- reading Harry Potter and being like "Wow these Dark Lords sure get a tough time of it. They're always beaten by these dopey kids." Right? *laughter* Like Sauron, there's this little furry-footed British dude who's like-- destroys your whole empire or things like this. And I was like "These poor guys, what if we had a book where the Dark Lord won? Where-- What if Frodo got to the end and the Dark Lord was like 'Oh thanks for bringing my ring back.' and then killed him and took over the world." It was really, I'm a fan of The Wheel of Time and thinking what if Rand got to the end of The Wheel of Time and the Dark One is like "Okay, I'm all powerful, you're not, end." And he won. Oh the Pattern just broke.

    As an aside for Wheel of Time fans, I actually wrote that scenes for my own catharsis. I actually wrote a scene, I never let anyone else see it, where Rand lost *laughter* and it's actually like this dramatic moment and he's like "I could just destroy the world right now" And I just wrote "And so he did, The end." *laughter* I had a good laugh over it and then deleted it.

    So, what if the Dark Lord won, but I figured that would be a downer of a story so I filed that in the back of my head and it melded with my love of heist stories. You'll notice Steelheart is also a heist story. It's one of my favorite archetypes, the gang who all have their individual talents and they get together to do cool things like-- I think one of my favorite movies in recent times was actually Inception which was a heist story using people's brains. So cool, such a great concept. But one of my classic favorite movies is Sneakers, if you haven't seen that. It's so good! So that genre made me want to write a heist novel in a fantasy world so I developed that independently. Allomancy and Feruchemy were developed independently as cool magic systems, that eventually started interacting in interesting ways. And then Kelsier was the other kind of linchpin, him as a character, wanting to tell this story about a guy who had been an upper-class thief, a con-man who then got motivation to go "No I'm going to do something good with my life. I'm going to change the world. It's kind of hard to explain.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7076 Copy

    Questioner

    I have a question about [Tia]. I think she might-- and I *unintelligible* finished this, so I'm not sure-- but I think [Tia] might be an Epic and that her weakness might be cola. *Brandon and Isaac laugh* And so she stops it by drinking so much cola. And she stops it. But that's the only reason I can figure out why she drinks so much cola. 

    Brandon Sanderson

    You haven't known very many adults who like their cola, have you?

    Firefight release party ()
    #7077 Copy

    Questioner

    What is your favorite book besides the ones that you wrote?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What is my favorite book besides the ones that I wrote. That is an excellent question. I would say my favorite classic... is Les Miserables. It is fantastic. I love how Victor Hugo writes character. My favorite fantasy novel is a book called Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly, because it is the book that I read when I was a teenager that made me fall in love with books and become a writer.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7079 Copy

    Questioner

    Did Lopen bond a spren or is he a squire?

    Brandon Sanderson

    As of right now, Lopen is a squire.

    Questioner

    Okay, as of right now. So it's a potential RAFO.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, I answered your question exactly. *questioner laughs* That's not a RAFO, that's an exact answer to the question you asked.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7080 Copy

    Questioner

    What would have happened if Vin had actually met up with Hoid in Mistborn-- er-- Hero of Ages?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Eh... Have you read Secret History?

    Questioner

    I-- I have never heard of Secret-- I'm kind of new to the cosmere.

    Brandon Sanderson

    There is a short-- or a novella called Mistborn: Secret History that you should read that has a little bit to do with this. It doesn't answer that question exactly, but read it and then ask again, okay?

    Calamity release party ()
    #7085 Copy

    Questioner

    You mentioned the other ruined cities... Are there any other cities that you were thinking of putting into the book, but ended up not?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I had-- I brainstormed a few with the team. Cities I was thinking of-- Toronto we-- Toronto was the big one.

    Isaac Stewart

    What was the funny, weird thing about the city?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um... I wanted to do a mushroom city, and I didn't do that. I dunno, I had a bunch of them that I bounced off of Isaac and Peter. This is the one we decided on just because the salt thing is so *unintelligible*, you know?

    Isaac Stewart

    Yeah, we did a lot of Canadian cities, is what we were thinking at first.

    Brandon Sanderson

    And then Random House came in and said, "Can it be an American city? Please?" I'm like, "Okay, but you'll have to fight off the Canucks."

    Calamity release party ()
    #7086 Copy

    Questioner

    Are you gonna-- So you had the Reckoners series, right? 

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh-huh.

    Questioner

    Are you gonna do another series, like, another trilogy after that? Kind of like what you did with Mistborn?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um, maybe. The next series will be related to the Reckoners, but not directly tied to it. I might come back to the Reckoners, but I'm not one 100% sure.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #7087 Copy

    Oudeis16

    I just finished reading the 10th anniversary edition of Elantris. I'm... still a LITTLE fuzzy on how the Chasm Line looks, added to the city. Is there any chance you might post a picture of Rao with the chasm line added?

    Ben McSweeney

    I wish I could, but Elantris artwork is all Isaac's space. I haven't read the 10-year edition yet, but I was hearing it had all-new maps... they're not clearing it up? I'll have to take a look and see what you're seeing.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #7088 Copy

    Oudeis16

    If you burned gold allomantically, who do you think you would see?

    Ben McSweeney

    Hmmm... well, there'd certainly be a version of myself that joined the US Navy at 19, 'cause that was a thing that very nearly happened. A classified ad and one phone call made the difference that day.

    It's hard to imagine a version of myself that isn't an animator, but it's easily feasible to imagine that I could have stayed in illustration and never split the XP to go dual-class. I have no idea what I'd be doing now or if I'd even still be drawing at all, but it'd certainly be different.

    Somewhere down a leg of the Time Trousers is a version of me that never discovered Brandon's work, or decided to draw up some fan-art, or posted it to his fan-forums... or tried doing any of those things at a different time in life, because I happened to cross Sanderson's path at just the right time.

    The thing about gold shadows is that they show you "a version of who you could have been", but there's a near-infinite set of possibilities for that.

    Oudeis16

    Yeah, the default seems to be pivotal moments in your life, but life isn't exactly short on near-pivotal moments. It's sorta a rorschach test; when you think about gold, what are the moments in your life that you think are pivotal?

    What do you think the Sailor would think of you if you met him via gold? From our limited sample (Vin and Miles) goldshadows haven't shown a tendency to get along very well...

    Ben McSweeney

    Hard to guess. If military discipline took hold, he might be a different kind of person not just in terms of life history, but also personality and views. If he saw combat, he'd definitely be a very different Ben.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7089 Copy

    Questioner 1

    If could be an Epic, what would your Epic name be and what would your powers be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um, I'm not sure. Let's see... Epic name... Mr. Prolific. Right? That'd be a good name. *pause to sign and gets distracted* 

    Questioner 2

    What was your question? What was the answer to the High Epic? The question she asked?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, oh, I was gonna-- My name was Mr. Prolific.

    Questioner 2

    Mister what?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mr. Prolific.

    Questioner 2

    Mr. Prolific? *laughs*

    Questioner 3

    What was your power?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If I could choose I'd be able to fly. But I don't think you get to choose. So it's probably the ability to make books materialize out of thin air. *group laughs* And then use them as weapons.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #7090 Copy

    Herowannabe

    If I remember correctly, you did several fanart pieces of Brandon's novels, specifically Mistborn, before he ever commissioned you to do anything for him, right? What was your first introduction into all things Sanderson? And what's the story of him commissioning you to illustrate for him?

    Ben McSweeney

    SO! Storytime.

    The first time I heard the name Brandon Sanderson was around 2007. I was listening to Mennege and Stackpole's old Dragonpage Cover to Cover podcast (283A), where they used to talk craft and industry of genre novels and interview authors.

    Brandon was there to talk about The Well of Ascension. I heard his elevator pitch (fantasy heist novel, superpowers, dark lord ruling for 1000 years, etc), and then he talked a bit about his thoughts on creativity and writing and I heard a kindred spirit. He and I have very similar views on creative production and craftsmanship, and I liked what I heard so much I went out and bought the first Mistborn novel, then the next, then the third in hardback when it came out.

    I was especially hooked by his visually arresting concepts; men with steel spikes through their eyes, flat heads catching the light like Gendo specs, gleaming points emerging from the back of their skulls like horns? Giant raging blue hulks with their too-tight skin tearing off their muscles, carrying Big Damn Swords of pitted, jagged iron? Cloaked figures soaring over misty spired rooftops on invisible threads of force, flinging coins like bullets and slamming each other around with super-strength?

    Yeah, I can work with that. :)

    I figured what the heck, it'd be fun to draw new fan-art even if nothing came of it. I sketched up some Vin and Inquisitor and Koloss pieces, really basic stuff, and began posting to his fan-forums on the old Time-Waster's Guide (now long gone).

    Unbeknownst to me, at that same time Brandon was looking into the market for a concept artist. Suddenly here I was on his doorstep, reasonably competent and already showing what I could do with his descriptions. He got in touch and let me know that he wanted someone to help him with a new project, a pitch for a series of epic novels that would require a strong visual component. And he was going to pay me.

    Didn't even try to lowball.

    So there's my "lucky break" story. Right place, right time, right work, right guy, right on.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #7091 Copy

    sansaTheGreat

    Who's your favorite Cosmere character to draw?

    Ben McSweeney

    Mmmm... lately, Adolin. But I don't get to draw the characters "officially" very often.

    Enasor

    Does it mean you have drawn Adolin? Any chances were are going to see those sketches someday? As a die-hard fan of him, I am dying to see a proper representation.

    Ben McSweeney

    There's a peek at Adolin's face on the Shardplate page, but just a peek. His armor does appear twice, both on the same Plate page and as Adolin's chapter icon, and those are Brandon-approved designs for both Plate and Blade... we might modify them as time goes on, but for now they're a good starting point.

    Brandon's always been pretty cagey about releasing official illustrations of characters... Michael Whelan gets a pass because he's Michael flipping Whelan and because covers need faces, but we try to limit it within the pages of the book (covers change around the world, but the interiors go everywhere). This is because Brandon doesn't want to force one interpretation of a character's likeness down the reader's throat. He describes them, but the face you see in your mind is your own creation, and that should remain as valid as possible for as long as possible.

    Someday we might collect those background works into a book, but not for a while. :)

    Enasor

    Oh that's a shame. I really hoped to see a more detailed facial within the next book. The miniature was amazing. You did a great job: I especially loved the little bangs of hair. I wished we could see what hid under the helmet though or just Adolin without his armor.

    Ben McSweeney

    I might do some unofficial version at some point. I like doing fan-art as much as anyone, it's how I got this job to start with. :)

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #7092 Copy

    TransFattyAcid

    One of the drawings in The Rithmatist contains a spoiler for the chapter that follows. How do you all normally ensure that doesn't happen? Do you read the whole book or is it more of relying on the art request telling you what to avoid?

    Ben McSweeney

    That's something that falls at the feet of editing and layout, at the publisher. I produce illustrations to spec, but I don't get a lot of input on where they're ultimately placed on the page or in the book.

    That being said, someone really should have caught that. [Peter], do you know if this is something that was fixed in later editions.

    Peter Ahlstorm

    The illustrations are all the way Brandon designed them. Some of them contain information that comes up in the text of that chapter.

    Ben McSweeney

    That's about as definitive an answer as an answer can be. :)

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #7094 Copy

    Phantine

    Have you seen the Deep Forger?

    https://twitter.com/DeepForger

    It seems like once the processing time comes down a bit, it'll be a pretty powerful tool for doing concept art and rough outlines, but I'm not really into the illustrating business. What are your thoughts on it?

    Ben McSweeney

    It's pretty neat, but it's worth noting that what Deep Forger does is create an approximation based on certain distinct styles of painting, and then applies that effect to a photograph. It's not doing anything particularly creative, it can't produce a Monet or a Picasso from scratch, without input. And from looking at the samples, it seems that most of the time the photographic source origins are still pretty clear. Sorta the same way rotoscoping rarely fools anyone into thinking it's hand-keyed animation.

    That being said, I'm often impressed by what I see people doing with Zbrush and other 3D sculpting software and then applying the right lighting and render techniques to create some very illustrated results. The trick is that it often takes as long (or longer) to produce content that way as opposed to illustrating it traditionally. The advantage is that you can often do a LOT more with a well-sculpted 3D model, even when it's a static object.

    I don't feel that traditional illustration as a craft is particularly at threat, because the real value in an illustrator isn't in the skills their hands produce but in the brains that come up with ideas and new applications and twists, and that's some next-level AI stuff.

    Digital painting has totally changed the landscape in which we work, but it hasn't changed the heart of the illustrator... just the tools. As such, we'll always be using the most effective and efficient tools that we can, but the fundamentals that lie beyond tools and techniques haven't changed much.

    Phantine

    Yeah, I guess my real question is more along the lines of 'does this seem like it'll be a useful tool, and where would that fit in your normal workflow?'

    Ben McSweeney

    I don't think it'd fit in the workflow of what I do... I could perhaps see some potential for it to serve as a method for creating photobash assets that would more easily merge with a larger painting (like serving as a method for creating backgrounds, if you have the right location or can dress a set), but part of the weakness of something like Deep Forger is that it requires an existing image to manipulate.

    A huge part of what I do is visualize and illustrate things that don't exist, and often can't exist in the physical world. I can source reference and I do, pulling ideas from here and there to flesh out the kernel of a concept, but ultimately I don't have anything more than description and design mandates to build from... and that's something a computer can't quite do yet. Someday... maybe.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #7095 Copy

    IBNobody

    Thinking of all the interior art from The Rithmatest leads me to an important question...

    Can you draw a perfect circle freehand? With chalk?

    Ben McSweeney

    Hahaaaa, not a chance. But even a Rithmatist spends much of their young life learning that skill. Some have it easier than others, but it's not something that just comes to people with Rithmatic ability. It's very much a skill.

    That being said, I do think the best way to draw a circle would be to lock your arm out and then spin on one foot, effectively turning yourself into a compass.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #7096 Copy

    Arithered

    What is your conception of how spren would appear to the average person? Do they have a solid physicality of some kind or are they more ethereal/ghostlike?

    Ben McSweeney

    Back during the pitch I did illustrate a few spren ideas for Brandon, but my understanding of them has expanded greatly since then. There's a lot I don't know, but I think I've got the basic idea down.

    I see them as looking like they're made of Stormlight, sorta like many common sci-fi "holograms". I don't think any spren have physically solid forms unless the manifest fully, and the only examples we've seen of that so far are Blades.

    In terms of their appearance, the text descriptions are always the first place I look. Never contradict the text, it's the common basis for all our interpretations.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7098 Copy

    Questioner 1

    Have we met Jezrien yet, in the books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What's that?

    Questioner 1

    Have we met the king of the Heralds in the books yet?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, yes you have.

    Questioner 2

    And it's not Zahel.

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. I-- Fans have picked out who he is. It-- he's moderately obvious. So the-- so he's not supposed to be a big secret. But I will pop him out a little bit more in the third book, so if you don't want to get spoilers you can wait til then.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7099 Copy

    Questioner

    What is Tia's cola brand?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Tia's cola brand is, um...

    Questioner

    <Non-determined>?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Non-- Like it's a in-world cola. I just didn't want to mention a name of one. If-- If I were going to choose one, it would be something like RC, or something like that.

    Questioner

    Yeah. Something obscure and random.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Like... obscure. Kind of indie cola. Probably one I've never even heard of, right?