Recent entries

    Calamity release party ()
    #7551 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 ()
    #7552 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 ()
    #7557 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 ()
    #7558 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 ()
    #7559 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 ()
    #7560 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 ()
    #7561 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 ()
    #7562 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 ()
    #7563 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 ()
    #7564 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 ()
    #7566 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 ()
    #7567 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 ()
    #7568 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 ()
    #7570 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 ()
    #7571 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?

    Calamity release party ()
    #7573 Copy

    Questioner

    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?

    Brandon Sanderson

    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...

    The Gathering Storm Milford signing ()
    #7575 Copy

    Questioner (paraphrased)

    Do you have new stuff, or new ideas?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    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.

    The Gathering Storm Milford signing ()
    #7577 Copy

    Questioner (paraphrased)

     Will there be any sequels to Elantris?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    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.

    Footnote: The only Dragons, or references to dragons in the Cosmere are from the unpublished Dragonsteel,set on Yolen. This proposed title is questionable, as is the "city of Dakhor"
    Sources: Dragonmount
    The Gathering Storm Milford signing ()
    #7579 Copy

    Questioner (paraphrased)

    Regarding the Mistbornbooks, do you think you will ever write a prequel trilogy?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    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.

    Audience Member (paraphrased)

    [Star wars prequels reference] *general laughter*

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    *laughter*

    I wrote Mistborn a thousand years after the hero lost. I'm thinking of writing a sequel set centuries after Mistborn. 

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    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.

    Sofia signing ()
    #7581 Copy

    Questioner

    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?

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7583 Copy

    Questioner

    Are there any Shards who-- that have merged like Sazed's Shards?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is a RAFO, good question. Excellent question.

    Questioner

    Just trying to think outside the box.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think that's the first time I've been asked that.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7584 Copy

    Questioner

    How hard was it for you to write Kaladin *inaudible* end of the second book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    Sofia signing ()
    #7585 Copy

    Kiril

    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?

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7588 Copy

    Questioner

    Could a Forger, like, reforge a Shardplate to look differently?

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7589 Copy

    Questioner

    So is it possible to Awaken a Shardblade? That's the question-- that's my question for you.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um... With the magic system of Awakening, you mean?

    Questioner

    Yeah.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, all forms of Investiture strongly resist other forms of Investiture.

    Questioner

    Makes sense.

    Brandon Sanderson

    *brief interruption* Nightblood is essentially an Awakened... Trying to do that.

    Questioner

    'Cause he shows up in Words of Radiance, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7590 Copy

    Questioner

    I was wondering, like, are we gonna... From the Secret History...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh-huh.

    Questioner

    The people he met with... Are they the ones from Bands of Mourning, and Are we gonna see them anymore?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Which people? Nazh and Khriss?

    Questioner

    Yes.

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    Questioner

    Okay. So are we gonna see them more kind of like Hoid in the future?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, they're-- they are Hoid-esque. Khriss is the one who's been writing all the Ars Arcanum from the beginning, so...

    Calamity release party ()
    #7591 Copy

    Questioner

    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...?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, yes.

    Questioner

    Okay, it was.

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7592 Copy

    Questioner

    Marsh is still alive hundreds of years after.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh-huh.

    Questioner

    He's got, like, Lord Ruler level healing powers. Why does he still have a crushed eye socket?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So all healing in the cosmere has to do--or almost all has to do--with your perception of yourself.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7593 Copy

    Questioner

    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?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You will find out in the next book.

    Questioner

    Ah, got another read and find out.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7594 Copy

    Questioner

    How many magic systems have you written?

    Brandon Sanderson

    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...

    Questioner

    I have never read those books, so I don't know.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So... probably a dozen. Maybe two.

    Questioner

    Why so many? When so many people just stick with one?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, because it's fun.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7596 Copy

    Questioner

    Who owns all your copyright for all your symbols and logos and everything else?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I own the copyright on most-- almost-- on all of those. 

    Questioner

    On everything?

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    Questioner

    That's awesome. Cause I've, uh, looked at licensing and royalties and other things like that with some companies, and it's...

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    Calamity release party ()
    #7597 Copy

    Questioner

    What are the chances that one of Megan's alternate realities could secretly be the cosmere, but we'll never see it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Heh... Um, I would like to keep these two separate. But if you believe in infinite variety then I suppose...

    Questioner

    If I believe it hard enough! Okay, alright. But they're-- But they're meant to be separate.

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    Questioner

    In the Reckoners? In that world?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.