So I just finished Secret History about an hour ago.
And I just have a simple yes or no question? Is Kelsier's spike made of lerasium?
No... Good question.
So I just finished Secret History about an hour ago.
And I just have a simple yes or no question? Is Kelsier's spike made of lerasium?
No... Good question.
Did Lopen bond a spren or is he a squire?
As of right now, Lopen is a squire.
Okay, as of right now. So it's a potential RAFO.
Uh, I answered your question exactly. *questioner laughs* That's not a RAFO, that's an exact answer to the question you asked.
What would have happened if Vin had actually met up with Hoid in Mistborn-- er-- Hero of Ages?
Eh... Have you read Secret History?
I-- I have never heard of Secret-- I'm kind of new to the cosmere.
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?
Have we seen Shardblades on worlds besides Roshar?
Do you count Nightblood? Yes or no?
If you don't count Nightblood then I don't believe you have.
In the Stormlight Archive, Rock once mentions that there's a pool where he comes from. Is that somehow related to the pool in Elantris?
Look at what he says came out of that pool one time when he was there.
There's one little mentioned that Iadon's first wife is the one that's *unintelligible*. Is there ever-- is that ever important again?
Um, not specifically.
And... Fortune and Autonomy are Shards? Yes, no?
You mentioned the other ruined cities... Are there any other cities that you were thinking of putting into the book, but ended up not?
Yeah, I had-- I brainstormed a few with the team. Cities I was thinking of-- Toronto we-- Toronto was the big one.
What was the funny, weird thing about the city?
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?
Yeah, we did a lot of Canadian cities, is what we were thinking at first.
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."
Are you gonna-- So you had the Reckoners series, right?
Are you gonna do another series, like, another trilogy after that? Kind of like what you did with Mistborn?
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.
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?
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.
If you burned gold allomantically, who do you think you would see?
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.
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...
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.
If could be an Epic, what would your Epic name be and what would your powers be?
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*
What was your question? What was the answer to the High Epic? The question she asked?
Oh, oh, I was gonna-- My name was Mr. Prolific.
Mr. Prolific? *laughs*
What was your power?
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.
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?
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.
Who's your favorite Cosmere character to draw?
Mmmm... lately, Adolin. But I don't get to draw the characters "officially" very often.
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.
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. :)
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.
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. :)
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?
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.
The illustrations are all the way Brandon designed them. Some of them contain information that comes up in the text of that chapter.
That's about as definitive an answer as an answer can be. :)
How does Hoid *inaudible* in Scadrial, Roshar, anywhere else he might be?
Have you read the story Mistborn: Secret History?
No, I have not yet.
Secret History has a big clue.
Have you seen the Deep Forger?
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?
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.
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?'
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.
Thinking of all the interior art from The Rithmatest leads me to an important question...
Can you draw a perfect circle freehand? With chalk?
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.
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?
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.
Origin of Shardplate third book? Possibly? RAFO?
No, not quite. But hints?
Have we met Jezrien yet, in the books?
Have we met the king of the Heralds in the books yet?
Uh, yes you have.
And it's not Zahel.
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.
What is Tia's cola brand?
Tia's cola brand is, um...
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.
Yeah. Something obscure and random.
Like... obscure. Kind of indie cola. Probably one I've never even heard of, right?
Are all of the Heralds still alive?
The Oathpact has not been broken, so yes.
Could I have you write the name of-- or the intent of the Shard that's hiding on it's uninhabited world away from everybody?
Mostly because I don't want to canonize these things and so I get locked into it and the decision is absolutely made. I haven't changed many of them, but I have tweaked them before. I've tweaked like how I wanted to represent the intent, so...
Do you have plans to write a longer series?
Yes, The Way of Kings will come out next year.
Do you have new stuff, or new ideas?
Yes—one is The Silence Divine, a world like ours where you gain magic by diseases; another is a world where the only superheroes are all evil super villains and a group of regular people called the Executioners [Reckoners] gather to hunt them down and take them out.
Several fans asked whether there would be a sequel to Warbreaker.
Nightblood will be released after The Wheel of Time
Will there be any sequels to Elantris?
In 2015, the 10th anniversary of the series, he intends to release Dragonriders, three books based on side characters. They will take place 10 years after events, in the city of Dakhor.
Regarding the Mistbornbooks, do you think you will ever write a prequel trilogy?
I've considered it, but I don't think it's a good idea. I love the hero's journey, like Rand's journey at the beginning of the Wheel of Time. When writing the Mistborn books, I knew Robert Jordan had done epic fantasy the best it could be done, so I thought, 'what hasn’t been done?' The answer I came to was 'what if the hero lost?' The idea was a good one, but that would make a downer of a book.
[Star wars prequels reference] *general laughter*
I wrote Mistborn a thousand years after the hero lost. I'm thinking of writing a sequel set centuries after Mistborn.
Brandon went on to say that he wrote Mistborn as 1000 years after the heroes lost, and he is more strongly considering a sequel trilogy that would take place about 600 years after Mistborn.
Who is the Alethi Lift saw in Edgedancer? She saw a tall person when she wandered through...
Oh, the tall person? RAFO.
My question is about Yolen. If, or when, you chose to write Hoid's origin story, do you plan to keep the same plots in Yolen? Where the moss is taking over the planet?
So I need to give you some back history to this one... My epic fantasy books, this is all of them but not Steelheart and not The Rithmatist, so the epic fantasy, are all connected, if you weren't aware. They all have little ties between characters, and there's a character named Hoid who's shown up in all of the books basically; he's the same person. When I was earlier in my career, before I published, I tried writing his origin story and I failed. The book wasn't very good, and I tried it again later, after I was published, and I failed again. It still wasn't very good. And this still happens to me. Sometimes I try things out and they just don't work. So the question am I going to try it; when I go back to it will it be the same story? The core part of it will be the same. There are certain events that Hoid has talked about in the books that are published that I will make sure are still relevant, but the story continues to evolve in my head. So I will have to decide eventually what things I want to do and what I don't. I think it will change from what I originally planned, but the soul should be the same. The core should still be the same. It will be very different from Dragonsteel, though, which was the one I wrote in 1998, because that had Bridge Four in it, and I moved them to The Stormlight Archive. So most of that book is gone, and it ended up in The Stormlight Archive, so who knows what will go-- It'll be very different from that.
So at the end of Bands of Mourning with the, um, statue? Is that spike in the actual eye, is that *inaudible* or is that an *inaudible*?
That actually is not. Yeah, good question.
Are there any Shards who-- that have merged like Sazed's Shards?
That is a RAFO, good question. Excellent question.
Just trying to think outside the box.
I think that's the first time I've been asked that.
How hard was it for you to write Kaladin *inaudible* end of the second book?
It was pretty hard. Knowing people whom I love, who have depression, when they are in a depressive funk. And knowing I had to get that across accurately, but try not to make people hate him too much? It was a challenge.
You're very meticulous about your magic systems. Aren't you afraid sometimes that this takes away the sense of wonder? For example in The Way of Kings, it's more wonderous, in my opinion, than in Mistborn. So, how do you manage this?
This is an excellent question. It's actually something I think about a lot, and tomorrow my lecture ('cause they asked me to do a lecture) will be a little bit about this idea. So, if you're interested in writing, you can come to the lecture. But balance between a sense of wonder and a sense of understanding of the magic, that's a difficult balance. And I don't think there's a right way to do it. I think a lot of great books sometimes use both. For instance, I don't know if you've read Name of the Wind, but Pat Rothfuss uses both a hard magic system and a soft magic system. The Naming, which is very soft, and the Sympathy, which is very hard. Hard is a term for very rule-based, so we explain it a lot. The more you explain, the less sense of wonder you have. But the more you explain, the more you can also use the magic to solve all kinds of cool problems and create sort of an intellectual enjoyment. And so it's a different distinction between wonder and this sort of intellectual problem-solving sense, and I tend to go this direction a little bit. I think fantasy naturally has a bunch of wonder to it in the settings and the world, so I think that they balance each other naturally when I push a little bit in this direction. But it is a trade-off. It is something that I wonder about.
For spoiler reasons... is the Thrill at all attached to Odium?
Book three will give more explanation to this. But attached, you could say, that is related.
Is, like, fabrials that can imitate, I mean, very specific forms of Surgebinding... Are there fabrials that can imitate the Surge-- <stages> of Voidbinding?
Yes. That is theoretically possible.
Could a Forger, like, reforge a Shardplate to look differently?
So here's the thing... Um, yes, *but*... Anything that is Invested is-- resists all of the forms of Investiture. And the level of Investiture in it determines how hard it is. Forging is one of these things that-- It's very hard to reforge things that are Invested. Not impossible though. So yes, *but*... Do you see what I'm saying? There's that-- there's a pretty significant "but" on that one.
So is it possible to Awaken a Shardblade? That's the question-- that's my question for you.
Um... With the magic system of Awakening, you mean?
So, all forms of Investiture strongly resist other forms of Investiture.
*brief interruption* Nightblood is essentially an Awakened... Trying to do that.
'Cause he shows up in Words of Radiance, right?
Yes. So, it-- let's just say it'd be very, very hard. Because it's like saying, "Can-- I want to turn on a lightbulb that's been turned on." Yes, you can... maybe... I don't know what that even means. It's already Invested. It's already Awakened.
I was wondering, like, are we gonna... From the Secret History...
The people he met with... Are they the ones from Bands of Mourning, and Are we gonna see them anymore?
Which people? Nazh and Khriss?
Uh, Nazh-- Khriss is in Bands of Mourning. Nazh is referenced in many of the books. He's been in-- uh-- he's been in a lot of them... Just briefly, or annotating maps or things like that.
Okay. So are we gonna see them more kind of like Hoid in the future?
Yeah, they're-- they are Hoid-esque. Khriss is the one who's been writing all the Ars Arcanum from the beginning, so...
It seemed like in Alloy of Law you made us like Marasi better than Steris, and then kind of switched it. Was your intention the whole time for them to end up with Steris, or...?
Okay, it was.
In fact, I like Steris a lot in the first book. But you are seeing things through the eyes of other characters. And Steris takes a little bit of time to warm up to. Like, many people like her. And once you get to know here--which, I always knew her--then there's a level of <thoughtfulness> there.
Marsh is still alive hundreds of years after.
He's got, like, Lord Ruler level healing powers. Why does he still have a crushed eye socket?
So all healing in the cosmere has to do--or almost all has to do--with your perception of yourself.
So in the Rithmatist... The constable had acid wash over him and it destroyed the thing that possessed him. The professor who got acid dumped on him did not have the thing expelled. Why the difference?
You will find out in the next book.
Ah, got another read and find out.
How many magic systems have you written?
Uh... You know, this is a hard one, because do you count each Order of the Knights Radiant, or each Surge as their own magic system, or...
I have never read those books, so I don't know.
So... probably a dozen. Maybe two.
Why so many? When so many people just stick with one?
Uh, because it's fun.
If an Epic gives her powers to someone, is that person then vulnerable to their weakness?
Much much less so, but still vulnerable. Um... But it is-- it is... yeah, it is weakened.
Who owns all your copyright for all your symbols and logos and everything else?
I own the copyright on most-- almost-- on all of those.
Yep, yep. And that is something we did intentionally after noticing that... sometimes, like the Wheel of Time--they weren't good at keeping track who owned those, and it was really problematic when they wanted to do t-shirts and things. And so I just bought the rights when I did them.
That's awesome. Cause I've, uh, looked at licensing and royalties and other things like that with some companies, and it's...
Yeah. I don't think you want to do something like that. Now cover art you don't want to buy outright. The artist needs to be able to use that for other things. But the symbols you can... most artists will sell you those outright.
What are the chances that one of Megan's alternate realities could secretly be the cosmere, but we'll never see it?
Heh... Um, I would like to keep these two separate. But if you believe in infinite variety then I suppose...
If I believe it hard enough! Okay, alright. But they're-- But they're meant to be separate.
They are meant to be separate. I will do other things with that-- within-- kind of that idea of multiple dimensions and things like that.
In the Reckoners? In that world?
Is there a point in trying to figure out who has the Blade everyone is wondering about?
Not really, no. At this point there just aren't enough clues to do more than guess.
Can Kaladin wear Shardplate at the end of Words of Radiance?
it would affect him like it affects Szeth, so not a good idea.