What's [Wayne's] effect from his Twinborn abilities?
I don't think I've released that yet.
What's [Wayne's] effect from his Twinborn abilities?
I don't think I've released that yet.
[Wayne] seems to impersonate other people--
That also is just him. There's nothing really supernatural going on, he's just really good at this.
Wayne, his inability to pick up guns, is there anything else to it or is it just psychological?
It's just psychological, and you'll see Shadows of Self, we talk about it a little bit. It's post traumatic stress disorder.
I was reading the first book-- The Way of Kings, there is a scene-- no a Letter. Is that scene-- the person who is sending the Letter says that the Shards in Elantris are broken-- sorry they're, like, [Splintered], and they can’t be used again. How is that so, because if there was Adonalsium which Shattered and people took the Shards.
There are those who believe you could put the pieces back together and their are those who believe you can't, and shouldn't.
You shouldn't put them back--
There are some who believe that.
So will they be able to put it back together?
Well there are some who believe it is possible. *laughter*
Congratulations, you win a RAFO card! RAFO is something Robert Jordan would say, that means Read And Find Out and I print out little cards so at least you get something. That means "I'm sorry I can't answer your question but I'm really not that sorry otherwise I would answer it"
Where do you get your people from? Do you take inspiration from people you know in real life?
Yes, yes I do. Sometimes, sometimes not. As I said, usually the seed that starts a character for me as I grow them is a conflict. For Kaladin it's the conflict between being trained as a surgeon and finding out you are really good at killing people, and how do you deal with that. For some it can be very simple, for Sarene I had a friend who is a woman that is 6 foot 2, or whatever she is, *to the side* How tall is Annie? She's tall. Anway, Annie's tall, and she always complains about how tough it is to be a tall woman. Which is something I never thought of, I'm like "I'm going to use that. I'm going to make use of that in a story," Of course that isn't her whole personality, but that little seed, you drop down and I grow a personality around it as I try someone out... That person I knew, a piece of her turned into a character. For other things, it's just trying and trying and trying untill something works, as I explained before. It is "What has their life done to them", often times it's "What are the passionate about? What do they want? Why can't they have what they want?" Those sorts of things lead me into creating a character
So in Words of Radiance you've got a character called Wit, who has a conversation with Kaladin in which he uses the phrase "bunny rabbit" which obviously doesn't exist in the language that Kaladin speaks. So my question is where and when did the language that he used come from?
So Hoid, or Wit, is actually try-- using magical means to communicate and so when he says a word it just transliterates it or just doesn't translate it into anything in that language. So you'll notice him slipping up on a number of occasions-- he is the only one who uses certain words in the course of-- That's not the only one in The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, because he's just speaking normally and allowing his other means to translate for him. And that's a sign, a symbol, of that happening.
So what you've got there is the beginnings of me exploring an idea I had many years ago, about a world where bacteria and viruses would grant magical abilities in order to keep you alive long enough to spread the disease. It's this basic survival instinct, if they were somehow able to grant this. So you catch the common cold and you can fly, until you get over it and you can't anymore. I thought "Wow, you would need some super CDC soldiers--right? Center for Disease Control--to keep this from getting out of control." his is kind of a cross between counter-terrorism and the CDC, in a fantasy world where when you catch a disease you get a magic power. Pretty weird.
Basically Bridge Four, the starting sequence was one of the most intense things I have ever read in my life. I was in tears, I couldn't stop it, to the point I kept flipping through to the next Bridge Four part. I was just wondering where you got the inspiration to go so dark with Kaladin and what he went through.
That's an excellent question. Bridge Four in the original Dragonsteel was a happy accident, back then I wasn't as good at outlining as I am now. I kind of got to this place and went "Huh, I want to do something interesting here" and I kind of discovery wrote myself into it. It didn't work nearly as well as it did in Way of Kings, but that's because I was still figuring it out. I think the original inspiration was-- Something that I like to do with Fantasy is take the geography and see how the unique geography of the area influences the culture of the people who are living there, in this case the warfare, a subset of the culture interaction. This happens with the weather on Roshar as well. I think this is something Fantasy allows us to do, to explore what is fantastical, yet keep it very grounded in the human experience because I find books interesting when I'm interested in the characters. Having this cool place, the Shattered Plains, is not nearly as awesome as having this cool place and "oh no the people I like are dying here". This idea was one of the ideas, I think the inspiration was medieval siege warfare and just how awful that sounds to me. Having to be one of these people running a ladder to climb up the wall. Just "Okay, here's your ladder, good luck". This idea of just having to run into the face of something terrible, to know you are probably going to lose your own life or your friends are going to lose theirs was just so awful to consider. And when that happens, as a writer you are like "Oh I got something. That sounds awful, I'm going to write about it" That's just what we do. Anything that inspires powerful and profound emotion in myself is something I look to use in my books because I figure if it inspires profound emotion in myself it will work on the page to do the same thing with my characters.
I really want to know what the last two metals are. I always thought the bead Elend ate was one of them, but perhaps they are just things of Preservation, not meant to be understood
The metal chunk that Elend ate is intended to be something of a mystery. Much like atium, actually. Suffice it to say that atium isn't, and never was, what people thought it was.
I intended Allomancy to be much like a real science. People investigate and put things into boxes, trying to describe and understand the world around them. That doesn't mean they always get things right, however.
Let me say this, as I don't want to spoil too much. If that metal Elend ate were fused into specific alloys with certain metals, it could have instead created Mistings of each of the different Allomantic powers. Atium's abilities are not entirely explored yet either.
Also, are koloss just naturally bad-tempered, even without Ruin's influence? Cause the koloss are still taking swipes at Sazed immediately after the merger. (And, does Sazed zap all the koloss? Did they all get toasted by the sun? But what about Human and his friends underground? Are there still koloss around? Just wonderin'.)
Koloss were bad tempered before Ruin's influence, though he certainly made them worse. They were designed by the Lord Ruler to be aggressive, so aggressive that they would destroy themselves if they got loose and away from him. (This was intentional. Note that he didn't give the spark of humanity in them enough credit, and they managed to overcome this and 'evolve' in a way to keep their species going, even after he died.)
There ARE still koloss around, though many of them were vaporized. Human is alive. Sazed took pity on them, however, and they have been transformed. They are now a race that breeds true, like the kandra, and have different thought processes from what they once had. You'll see more of them in the sequel series.
I can guess two possible options for the kandra.
1. God Sazed endowed the gift of presence on the now mistwraiths.
2. Some of the kandra survived in the cave with the Terrisman and people of the city, along with the small mistwraiths, these are re-born with the spikes they pulled out during the resolution.
I can imagine too that some kandra on assignment may have hidden in the shelters with the rest of humanity.
Yes, they live. The people were smart enough, eventually, to replace their spikes. (And there were a couple who were on assignment who made it to storage caches.)
However, there will likely never be any more of them, since Hemalurgy is required to make them. They are now some of the few people who can communicate directly with Sazed, who—like Ruin—can whisper to people most easily when they are connected to him via spikes. With some speculation, you can probably guess what kind of roles the kandra will end up playing in future books.
On a broader level, is Hemalurgy officially dead, then? Or is it still extant in some Ruin-free (but still messy) form? (If it's gone, is there any imbalance since Preservation's magic power is kept and Ruin's isn't?)
Is Hemalurgy dead? No, not at all. It, like the other two powers, was not created by Ruin or Preservation, but by the natural state of the world and its interaction with the gods who created it. It still requires the same method of creation, but very few people are aware of how it works.
How do you become a beta reader?
People always want to know this! We have beta and gamma readers. Alpha reads are only my agent and my writing group. Beta readers are people from fandom who have proven that they know their stuff and are a part of the community. Peter picks these from people who are on my Facebook, who are interacting with him there, or who are on the 17th Shard. There's no promises you can get in on this. We do change it every book and get some new people, because sometimes we just want people to give fresh eyes on something.
Gamma reads, if you want to read things early, are bug hunters. They can spot a type form a hundred paces. If you are really good at finding typos, you can go to the thread on the 17th Shard, for every book there is a thread, a forum thread that talks about typos. And if you are consistently finding typos no one else has found, chances are good Peter will be like, "Hey, do you want to proofread for us?"
But don't feel like you have to do this because it actually diminishes the book a little bit, even though you get to do something cool, because it's not in its final form yet. I don't like beta reading when I don't have to, I'd prefer reading something with polish.
How do you keep everything straight in your head?
So, it's kinda weird. I forget my keys. I forget what day it is, I'm one of these types, right. But stories, I don't forget. Stories are in there. Part of the help for this, though is I do use a wiki, called wikidpad, it's, like, a personal wiki thing. And I stuffed a whole bunch of it in there, not all of it, but a whole bunch of it. I actually have someone whose job it is to go through each book, add in all the new details and things like this to keep kind of a personal encyclopedia of the Cosmere, for myself, for reference that I can be working with as I'm building things.
So, yeah, it's a mixture of tools, my own personal weird brain psychology, and good help and forum assistance. Like, if you read one of my early drafts, there's, like, so many continuity errors. So many, right? Because there's just stuff I... like, when you're writing, you're not thinking about. And your fingers, they just type it. Or, like, I forget, like... one of the things I have to do for a Stormlight is I have to go through and add in way more spren. Because it's just so unnatural to us to have emotionspren, that first draft, I don't even worry about them. Like, get down what's happening, and then I will highlight where the spren appear. It's almost like I do post-production on my books. But, even still, to this day, I write silver when I mean tin in Mistborn, because for years it was silver was that power. Like, it's been ten years since it was silver, that I changed it to tin, but even still my fingers type silver. And the alpha readers and beta readers are like, "Oh, there's a silver in here! We found one!" Like for years, Clubs, I think it was Clubs, and... I had two of the powers swapped for the... anyway, so there's all that. And then there's all the stuff that I forget I changed in revision in previous books.
So, it's not like I'm photographic memory who keeps all this. I have a good team, a good process, and enough up here that we can make a good book come together. But those early books... don't become an alpha or beta reader for me unless you're willing to be like, "Okay. Canon is not here." Like, in the Lift chapter, there was even a place where I'm like, "I think this is connected. I wanna connect this to something in the Cosmere, but I can't remember what it is. Karen, can you look up some of this and see, so I can make sure that I can..." I think it's in there. And then in the beta read document, everyone's like, "Oh, you can do this! You can do this! You can do this!"
No that wasn't in Lift!
Yeah, it is! I just went and looked at it. Maybe Karen posted that quote that I gave her, maybe Peter pulled it out, and she posted it in the document later on.
How does time work in the Cosmere? Or a better question to ask: are any of the books happening at the same time in the Cosmere?
I'm gonna have to look at the timeline. Most of them do not happen concurrently. Mostly they have been at distinct points. But the closer we get to modern and future era Mistborn world, the more overlap there is between them, just kind of by necessity 'cause they eventually start ramming together. So, the further we get in the Cosmere, the more likely things are overlapping.
So, I don't know that we've had anything actually overlap yet, in fact I'm pretty sure that we haven't, unless you count some of the short fiction might overlap. But even then, I don't think anything big overlaps, but it will start happening soon.
Also, you should tell us what the last two metals are.
The last two metals are chromium and nicrosil. We'll reveal what they do on the Allomancy poster. Suffice it to say that in the next trilogy, the main protagonist would be a nicrosil Misting. And, to make a Robert Jordan-type comment, what those two metals do should become obvious to the serious student of Allomancy... (It has to do with the nature of the metal groupings.)
If I read the poster correctly, and have the correlations down, these metals are the external enhancement metals.
The simplest idea is that they do to another person what aluminum and duralumin do to the Allomancer burning them. If this is true, then chromium would destroy another Allomancer's metals (useful skill, that, especially in a group of Mistings fighting a Mistborn) while nicrosil would cause the target's metals that are currently burning to be burned in a brief, intense flash. This could be used either to enhance a group of Mistings or to seriously mess up an enemy Allomancer.
The other metals do not have exact one-to-one power correlations like that, so it seems more likely to me that they would work differently. It could be like an area effect weakening or enhancing spell. You would want an enhancer in your party, and you wouldn't want to go up against a weakener.
Nicrosil is a rather more complicated alloy than the others. It's an interesting one to pick, rather than something simpler like nichrome (though I guess that's actually a brand name).
Ookla is right, the others don't have 1/1 correlations. But I liked this concept far too much not to use it.
In a future book series, Mistborn will also have become things of legend. The bloodlines will have become diluted to the point that there are no Mistborn, only Mistings—however, the latter are far more common. In this environment, a nicrosil Misting could be invaluable both as an enhancer to your own team or a weapon to use against unsuspecting other Mistings.
I take it either Spook did not have children or Sazed made him a reduced-strength Mistborn rather than giving him the full potency of the 9 originals and Elend?
Spook is a reduced power Mistborn.
Very interesting about the nicrosil.
So, if there is no more atium, then that would mean in any future trilogy, there would only be 14 metals, right? Somehow, that doesn't seem right, but maybe that is because it irks me that one quartet to be left incomplete with the absence of atium.
Would it be possible for Sazed to create a replacement metal, by chance, or will the temporal quartet remain inherently empty? It doesn't seem like it's too far of a stretch for Sazed to make more metals: after all, the metal Elend ate was a fragment of Preservation, and now Sazed holds Preservation.
That's a RAFO, I'm afraid. Suffice it to say that what the characters think they understand about the metals, they don't QUITE get right. If you study the interaction between the temporal metals, you might notice an inconsistency in the way they work...
Uh-huh. That was already noticed by theorizers in the forums here. Gold works like malatium and electrum works like atium. Yet they're on opposite corners of the metal square.
Ah. I wondered if that had been noticed.
Marsh? The book doesn't mention him after he fights with Elend.
Marsh is alive. I changed this from when I talked to [Peter]. I realized some things about his use of Allomancy that would allow him to survive. Actually, he is immortal. He can pull off the same Allomancy/Feruchemy trick that the Lord Ruler did. (And he knows it too, since he was there when Sazed explained how it was done in Book One.) He's actually the only living person who actually knows this trick for certain. (Though there's a chance that Spook, Ham and Breeze heard about it from Vin and the others.) So yes, if there were another series, Marsh would make an appearance.
I thought that trick required atium and involved burning the atium. With all the atium gone and Sazed not making any more, it would therefore not be possible even for a full mistborn/feruchemist. Am I wrong, is Sazed providing atium specifically for Marsh to allow a friend and valuable servant to survive, or what?
Marsh has the bag of atium that KanPaar sent to be sold, as well as several nuggets in his stomach. So, I guess 'immortal' is the wrong phrase. He's got the only remaining atium in the world and can keep himself around for a long, long while—but he WILL eventually run out. Unless Sazed does something.
Just wanted to say, great work on the book. It kept me completely occupied from around 11 am to 8 pm and I have got to say that it had the most well thought out ending ever put into a book.
Also, do you have any plans for more Mistborn books? Or is this the end?
Okay, I was expecting these. Let's get to them first.
More Mistborn Books
My plans right now are to do a second trilogy of Mistborn books set several hundred years after the events of the first series. That means that technology would have progressed, and there's a good chance I'll decide to do the books as kind of an urban fantasy. (But set in a completely different world from our own, so not quite like other urban fantasies.) Guns, skyscrapers, cars—and Allomancy.
Now, I'm not 100% decided on that. I know that adding modern technology ruins the fantasy flavor of a book for many people, so I'll have to think about it. But I think the imagery would be compelling, and I would love to deal with a 'modern' world where the events of this trilogy form the foundation for the religions, history, and society of the book. It would be a really challenge, since I'd have to decide how technology and society developed following this book.
I asked if the Aimians as a race were, as I suspected, closer to the Cognitive Realm, and whether they are somehow related to the Parshendi.
Brandon started by saying there are 2 sub races of Aimians for a start, and Axies the Collector is of 1 set, we have yet to meet the other but we will!
He did say there is 'Something' going on with the Aimians and their interaction with the Cognitive Realm but wouldn't elaborate on that point.
He then went on to say that Aimians are not in fact related to Parshendi at all, but the Horneaters and Herdazians are!
This cosmere that you have is gigantic, enormous, and wonderful, by the way. But, it's one of those things... how long has that been kicking around in your head before you started putting it down on paper?
For those who aren't aware, and might just be here having read the Reckoners, all of my epic fantasy books are connected. But they're all connected through little cameos. And I did this before Marvel movies, let's just point that out! They're copying me, I'm sure. I'm sticking to that. But there's little cameos for the various things because there's a story behind the story. I started doing this because I knew, in my career, I was going to have to... just the way I am, I need to jump between worlds to keep myself really interested. But I also like big epics. So it's me trying to have my cake and eat it, too, right? Lots of little things, but a hidden big epic. Right now it's all cameos, you don't have to worry about it, it's never really relevant to the story. Each story is self-contained. And then, if you want more, you can dig into it, and... it goes pretty deep. The guy who bought the Emperor's Soul movie rights was like, "Oh, I hear that this is connected," so he went and started reading. And, like, a few months later, he called us and said, "Uhhh, I just read the whole Cosmere. Uhhh, my brain is breaking." So, you can jump down a rabbit hole with the Cosmere if you want.
So, how long has this been kicking around? I can trace it back to a couple of events in my youth, as a budding writer. First one was, I've talked about this idea that you're the director of the book when you read it. When I was a kid, what I would always do is, I would want to have some sort of... it's hard to explain. I wanted some control over the story, even though it was a book I was reading, I wanted to participate, and so I would always insert a character behind the scenes. Like, in the Anne McCaffrey books, when there's somebody who's a nobody, I'm like, "Actually, this is some secret agent type character," and things like this. And I would always insert these characters into the books. But I would even be like, "Oh, this is the character from this other book, that I'm now reading." I would have my own headcanon, is what you call it, that would be parallel to the book canon, with this story behind the story happening. I also remember really being blown away when Isaac Asimov tied the Robot books and the Foundation books together, and thinking that was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen. Where I'd loved these two book series, and the conclusion to them is interwoven, and at the end of the Foundation books you kind of get a conclusion for the Robot sequence as well. That kind of blew my brain, and I'm like, "I need to do this."
So that's the origin, and that's kind of really the origin of Hoid. He's in the first book that I started writing, in very proto-form. He's kind of the same character who had been hanging out in Anne McCaffrey's books and other people's books as I'd read them. And that was it for a while, until I became a better writer, and then started actually building an epic. So, it's been around for a while. I would say the actual origin of the Cosmere was when I wrote Elantris, and then jumped back and wrote the book called Dragonsteel, which was this next book that I wrote after that, which was the origin of the Cosmere, kind of the prequel to all of it. And then I went and wrote White Sand. And those three together were my beginning. Only Elantris, of them, got published so far, although White Sand does have the graphic novel.
Do you plan on having any more mistborns in the Wax & Wayne series?
Read and Find Out.
So, you mentioned, at the beginning of Words of Radiance, that you were originally planning on making it shorter than The Way of Kings. How long is Oathbringer going to be?
Oathbringer is plotted at the same length as Words of Radiance. Isaac has seen my outline, and Peter has seen my outline, and they're like... *beat* "Okay. Um, all right." So, we'll see. Like the other ones, it can't really be cut. That's the big problem with these Stormlight books, because the way I plot them, the ending is so important to justifying the fact that you've spent a lot of this time building with some of these books. A lot of my books, they're zippy, but these, you invest a lot of time knowing there's gonna be payoff, and so, it's like, if I cut the last third and make it into a book, you've got a book with no payoff, and a book with only payoff, and that just doesn't work.
Are Shardblades Allomantically pushable?
By someone who has more power than anyone you've seen so far, yes.
Do you have a pronunciation guide anywhere?
So, we need to put one of these up. I put one up for Elantris. The trick with pronunciation guides is that, personally, I am kind of a believer in that I write a script where you are the director. You get the script I've provided, and then as you read the story, you are creating the actual final detail of how everything looks and osunds and stuff. And so, in your head, your version of the character names are canon to you, and there is no right pronunciation, really. I can give you the one that I thin is closest to how they would say it in-world, but I don't even always say them right. For instance, I just said Tashikk for the country in the Makabaki region when I was reading the Lift thing. But that's actually the Arab ق (IPA: /q/) sound, I can't even do it, it's the double-q. I can't say that. *Brandon tries to say taʃiq* Peter can do it, my editorial assistant, he's not here, but he can do it. I can't. I say them like an American. I say "KELsier" (ˈkɛlsiər). They say "kelsiEY" (ˈkɛlsiˌei). So, is my version right? My version is wrong, but it's right to me? So, yeah. But if there's a character name you want to know how I say it, I can tell you. Is there one specifically?
I say shuLAWN (ʃəˈlɔn). But, again, none of us are actually Veden like her, so who knows how they say it? They would have some accent that would be something that I can't even do.
What's Sazed? How do you say that?
Oh, Saze? So, I say say-zed (seizɜd). But I say that, and that's how Kelsier says it. Sazed himself is from the Terris region, he's gonna have a slightly different pronunciation. I would say that say-zed is not how he says it. It's gonna be either sawzd (sɔzd) or, it's gonna be something softer like that. I just say it like Kelsier does. But he says it wrong, depending on your definition of wrong.
What's the update on the next Rithmatist?
Next Rithmatist. So, there's no big update on that. If you didn't hear, when I wrote Alcatraz 5, the reason I wrote it was I wanted to do another teen book. I had planned Rithmatist 2, my outline was not good enough. I started writing it, and didn't feel confident in the book. I scrapped the outline, and I read five books on Aztec culture. And then, by the time I had done my research and rebuilt the outline, I did not have time to write the Rithmatist 2 before my other deadlines were due, so I wrote Alcatraz 5, 'cause it's shorter and faster and doesn't require five books worth of Aztec culture research. That's why Alcatraz 5 is coming out this year instead of Rithmatist. It would have been Rithmatist 2 if the outline had been better.
What that means now is my schedule is: Stormlight 3, Apocalypse Guard 1, Wax & Wayne final, Apocalypse Guard 2, Stormlight 4. If I'm ahead on any of those things at any point, I can slide in Rithmatist. But the reason it's so slow, by the way, what happened with Rithmatist, for those who don't know the story, I wrote Rithmatist in 2007. It was the last book I wrote before the Wheel of Time came along and just completely destroyed and changed my career, like, you know, a freight train. A freight train full of gold, so don't get me wrong; it was a very nice freight train. But it still slammed into me. And it upended everything. I had planned to do Rithmatist 1, 2, 3 as my next books. But then Wheel of Time came in, and Tor was like, "No, you need to work on this." I'm like, all right. We'll shelve Rithmatist," but that meant it got shelved for, like, four years, right?. And then when I came back to it, it was after the Wheel of Time, so it was the orphan child of the previous career path I was on. And my pet career path turned towards, "I need to do Way of Kings now," which I had been planning to wait to do after RIthmaist, because I wanted to have Way of Kings out for Wheel of Time fans, because I knew Wheel of Time fans would like Way of Kings a lot. So, that's why Rithmatist seems to be getting such little love. I do want to do it, but I was on a long career path, and then I got shifted quite dramatically. Alcatraz was a different thing, that was the publisher dropping the series, which was why it took so long to get 5 out.
So, I apologize for that. I will try to slip it in at some point,. but I can't promise when, because of... I can't delay Stormlight, and some of these other things.
On your website, you have a Movies & Games section? It just says "Coming Soon"?
Yes. Hey, Isaac! The Movies & Games section! The one in charge of that is Isaac, who also is the art director for our company, and he's a writer/illustrator in his own right, so Isaac's a little busy. There's, like, 50 billion things on that to-do list.
When you took over the whole Wheel of Time thing, that must have been-- there was so much going on there... they had their own characters and you had to immerse yourself in that role and to try to create-- writing in your own words. Do you think that helped you develop as a writer?
It totally did. The most I've grown as a writer was my first year writing, but after that, the number two time that changed me the most, was working on The Wheel of Time. It was incredible, and awesome, and terrifying, all at once. The hardest thing I've ever done professionally was write those books. For those who don't know, I didn't know Robert Jordan or his wife. I got a phone call one day, asking if I would finish his series. His wife, who was also his editor, she discovered him and then married him, which is a really good way to make sure your editorial advice is taken; *laughter* he asked her to find somebody-- before he passed away he said to her "If I don't make it, go find somebody". So she read Mistborn and she called me, and asked me "Would you be willing--" Now she knew I was a fan of the series, because I'd written a eulogy for Robert Jordan on my website, and that's how she found out about me. But then she just called and said 'here', and the things was, she then had to go grieve, right, she's like "Once you're done I can edit it, but I'm an editor, not a writer, I can't write this myself". So she gave me all the stuff, and then I basically did it all by myself for a year, and wrote that first one. I did send her some test chapters, is this right, is this wrong, but it was a very daunting task, he had not finished very much of the book. He had some notes, but he was a discovery writer so his notes were very vague. "I'm thinking about this happening", "oh, this character has a scene that's kind of like this", "I might do this, I might do this". A lot of stuff like that in the notes and so there was a lot of-- I describe it like someone takes a Ming vase and they smash it and they throw away half the pieces and they throw in pieces of another vase just to screw you up and they give it to you and they're like, "Alright, now make the vase, see if you can do that".
He did a lot of foreshadowing in his books...
There were certain things he did, to have out, and some of the most important ones he did have, other ones, I just had to catch the ball that he had thrown using my experience as a writer.
In terms of books that you wish you could have written yourself?
I read a lot of things for pleasure. I think I need to stay up on what everyone else is doing. As a teen, my favorite writers were Anne McCaffrey, Melanie Rawn, Barbara Hambly, Robert Jordan, Tad Williams, it would probably be. David Eddings too. I grew out of David Eddings, happens when you get into your twenties, but during my teens he was the bomb. Do kids still say that, the bomb? I'll have to figure out what they're saying now. Nowadays I read Pat Rothfuss, I really like Pat, I really really like Naomi Novik's Uprooted, if you guys didn't read that this summer it's a fantastic novel. I like Brent Weeks' work a lot, Brian McClellan's, Nora Jemisin, you guys read NK Jemisin? She writes very literary fantasy; if you're an English major and you like that kind of stuff, which I do, it's amazing. Her most recent one has a character who writes in the second person, and it works. It's the first time I ever read a book where the second person, which is you do this, you do that, it actually works, it works really well. The second person past tense, so you did this, you did-- it's a person telling themselves a story so it actually, it really works. The Fifth Season. So, yeah, I read a lot of stuff.
I know that Mistborn, Stormlight Archive, Elantris are set in the same universe, and they've all kind of got certain Shards and I was reading that, like, you might do a book about that?
I will eventually, there's no 'might' about it, but I always try to talk somewhat timidly about it because I don't want the focus to be on that, I want the focus to be on each story that's happening. For instance, The Stormlight Archive will only be about The Stormlight Archive. I will be upfront when I do a crossover, but it is many years in the future. For now, I like it being a behind the scenes thing for fans who really want to get into it. I don't want to scare a reader who'll be like "I can't read Mistborn because I haven't finished all of these other books". You can read Mistborn on its own, and there will be cameos that you will notice as you do more, and the more I write, the more to the forefront some of these things will come, but I will lead you gently into it. But yeah, I will be doing crossovers eventually.
And when did you kind of-- was that something you wanted to do from the very beginning, or were you halfway through--
No, that was something I wanted to do from the beginning. I was inspired by Isaac Asimov combining his Robots books and his Foundation books, and he did it late in his career. It kind of felt a bit hacked together a bit, but it blew my mind when he did it and, as a writer, I always thought, what if somebody did this from the get-go.
The actual origins of the kind of worldhoppers for me was reading books as a teenager and inserting Hoid into them. I really did this.... Do you read books and you like change what is happening in the book, or maybe it's just a me thing? I would have my character interacting with the characters in the books, in my head, as I played the movie of that book in my head, while I was reading it, and there was this character hopping between worlds, with this knowing smirk on his face.
And so, when I was working on Elantris I said, "OK", I knew I had something in that book that was good, that was important, that was relevant, I was very confident in that book. It was my sixth novel, by the way, so I kind of had a handle on these things, and so that's when I decided I'm going to start doing some of this, I'm going to insert Hoid into this and I'm going to start planning this larger epic. It was particularly important to me because I knew I was not going to write a sequel to Elantris immediately, but I wanted to be writing epic stories, and the reason I didn't want to write a sequel to Elantris is because, if an editor rejected Elantris I wanted to be able to send them another book, because when you're getting close to publishing you'll start getting rejections that are like "This is actually a really good book, it doesn't fit our line, you just wrote a great mystical llama book but we just bought one of those, do you have anything else?". I wanted to be able to send them "here's my next thing" rather than "oh, I've got a sequel to the one you just rejected". And so I sat down and wrote the sequel, which was not a sequel, it was called Dragonsteel, which was Hoid's origin story. And then I jumped forward and I wrote White Sand which is another book connected to all these things and it went on, you know, it went crazy from there. And then when I actually sold Elantris it was already going and already in there, and I was able to sit down and write Mistborn, well in hand, knowing what was going to happen. That's why you find Hoid in Elantris and Mistborn and the sneaky, the scary-- well, it's not sneaky and it's not scary-- the moment in the third book when Vin gets creeped out by Hoid is a very important moment, Cosmerologically, but I'm not going to tell you why!
Did Wayne really steal a Returned horse?
*laughs* Did Wayne really steal a Returned horse is what you guys are asking? Aaaahhh I did not have Wayne stealing a Returned horse--
Or otherwise invested?
I'm not going to say whether or not-- there could have been things going on, but no, there is no stealing a Returned horse-- Is there a theory that the horse was Returned and that, from like, the prologue?
Oh no, that's just from me.
OK, OK, sometimes people ask these questions and there's like this huge forum thread where they think they've figured something out and I'm like "Returned horse?? What??"
When you take stock of the idea that you have largely been responsible for the cultivation of millions of writers *Brandon laughs nervously* to me, that's what you really bring to the world.
How do I take stock of cultivating-- Millions? I don't know if there are millions, but there are tens of thousands that watch my lectures and listen to the podcast. I think it's great. When I was trying to break in, the way I learned to write was by going and asking questions of writers and they took time for me. Captain Kirk sat me down at a convention once and talked to me for like an hour about becoming a writer, L.E. Modesit did the same thing. They were a huge resource for me, and we live in an era of social media where I can be a resource in a different way. When I was doing it I just had to try to go to a con and find them, right, there wasn't an internet-- I'm old guys, there wasn't an internet when I was a kid learning how to write and so you had to find them, talk to them in person. I can post these things out there. So I hope that it's useful. I hope the main thing that people take away from my writing is there are multiple ways to do it and there is no one right way to write. There is not a Brandon Sanderson method other than, the Brandon Sanderson method is tools you should try, and you should try George's tools, and you should try Stephen King's tools, and JK Rowling's tools, and everybody who talks about it, try the different methods they have of writing and hopefully it'll end up working out and you'll find your own method.
Obviously a movie's going to be a long way off, but how much input would you have in it and would it be like what you want compared to what--
How much input would I have in the movie? That really depends on the producer. I can't-- I'm not powerful enough to get in the contract. I'm actually like two ranks, two like not powerful enough-- the rank of of author above me, George RR Martin's rank, they don't even have the power. It's the rank of author above that, like Jo Rowling or Stephanie Meyer-- they have enough sales that they can demand something in the contract and, you know, I'm a number one bestseller but there's a big leap between me and Stephanie Meyer or JK Rowling and so-- There's-- I would have to say no. With some authors, they just say no; I would roll the dice and gamble on getting a good movie and I try to stay very in touch with the producers, so they know I'm a good resource, and some of them have made use of that, and some of them have made less.
Utah is very, very far from here. Have you ever considered a seminar in creative writing here? In Europe?
Yes, creative writing. My wife wants to live in Spain for a while, she speaks Spanish... and she actually really really loves Barcelona and so we are planning, like, 2017 or 2018, to come live there over the summer, and if I do that I'll try to teach my class at a local university, or something like that... And if I ever do that for England, which I could see us doing over the summers periodically, then I will ask if any local universities want to have the class. But if you want to watch my class I do post the lectures online. You'll find them on my website, brandonsanderson.com/writing/advice and you can go watch my university lectures there.
But yeah, I would love to do that at some point, it's going to take a little while 'til we figure out how to make it work, but my wife will be happy to know there's at least one person pushing for us to go to Spain. We were in Aviles and I loved that. Have you ever been to Aviles? It's up on the northern coast, it's great. They have a science fiction convention there, it's called Celsius 232-- whatever Farenheit 451 would be in Celsius.
I wondered if there's a bit of you in all the characters... and it's characters where they don't have bits of you that you get stuck with writing them, and how you overcome that?
Yeah, getting stuck. So characters are the hard one for me to talk about because I plan my worlds in great detail before I start writing, in most cases, and I plan my plots in moderate detail. I plot backward, I start with what I want to have happen for a plot cycle; not necessarily the last scene, but, you know, something like this character learns to use the magic, and I've got the scene where it shows that this is working, and then I list a bunch of bullet points underneath. That's my-- And so if you look at my outline, it's like goal, bullet points, goal, bullet points, goal, bullet points-- that's my whole outline.
My characters, I figure out who they are when the book starts, but I do not outline them in great detail. The reason for this is we find that writers tend to fall into two general camps. We have what we call outline writers, and discover writers. Now, discovery writers, George RR Martin calls them gardeners, they like to discover their story as they go. Stephen King says you never start with an ending in mind because otherwise it ruins the book, he just goes and see what happens. They tend to write character really well. In fact if you're reading a good and you go "Wow these characters all feel really vivid and alive", that's probably a discovery writer. If you're-- On the other hand outliners, or architects as George RR Martin calls them, tend to plan everything out ahead of time and because of this they tend to have spectacular plots. If you've got somebody who's got a great plot, it's a page-turner, the great twist at the ending-- that's most likely going to be an architect, but the flaw of this is they tend to have weaker characters; and the flaw over here is they tend to have weaker plots. Terrible endings are a horrible kind of habit of the discovery writer.
Over time I've really tried to kind of mitigate this by letting myself discovery-write my characters to kind of get some more of that living character status, which means I have to have a flowing outline where, once I've started writing my way into the character I will then have to rebuild the outline periodically to match the person they're becoming, which sometimes rips apart that outline quite a bit. The other thing that it requires me to do is I often have to kind of cast characters in a role. Vin is a great example of this, where I actually tried Vin three different times--I posted one of these on my website--with a different personality each time until I got one that would fit the story that I'm telling, and who she was, and I went from there.
And so it's really hard for me to pick out what I do with characters, but if my book is not working it's almost always that a character is not working for me. And this happened with Sazed in book 3 of Mistborn. I wrote this in the annotations, you can go and read it off that. Dalinar, in the original draft of The Way of Kings. When a character is not clicking 100% it is the biggest problem I run into with books, that takes a lot of drafting to figure out what to do. With Dalinar, if you're not familiar with what happened there, is I split him into two people. It always had his son Adolin, but Adolin had not been a viewpoint character, and the problem I was having with Dalinar was that I wanted to present a strong figure for the leader because people though he was going mad, but I also had to have him talk about this madness, and be really worried about it, and so he came on very weak, because everyone thought he was going mad, and he spent all of his time brooding about going mad. When I took the brooding out to his son, and had Dalinar be like "I'm not mad, something's going on, everyone thinks that I'm crazy, but I can deal with this", and had his son go "my dad, who I love, is going crazy", those two characters actually both became more alive, and worked better, than they had with the conflict of "I'm going crazy" being Dalinar's. So, it takes a lot of work to figure these things out sometimes.
Do you have a favorite character that you've created or one that you've tended to favor over another?
Do I have a favorite character? No, that's again, you know, the thing. I will say Dalinar is my oldest character, followed by Hoid. Those two have been around since I was 15 and so, there is some favoritism for them, perhaps, just in longevity sense.
When I read Alloy of Law, in my head, Wayne was Simon Pegg... Was that intentional?
No, but when I was working on the newer books, I'm like. "Oh, Simon Pegg would be a great actor for this." The first times I wrote him, I didn't imagine Simon Pegg. But it was an after-the-fact-- kind of like Michael Fassbender [for Kelsier], I'm like, "This is the kind of actor I would like in this role."
Who would you have Kelsier play in the film?
Right now, my choice would be Michael Fassbender. But I don't get to choose that, but he would be my choice. And the screenplay pitch that we have out says "A Michael Fassbender-like character," so, hopefully...
You continue a proud tradition of fantasy writers being very concerned about food. How do you approach that? How do you create that sense of realism and a multisensual experience.
So, I had a professor in college at BYU who was a folklorist, specializing in food-lore. She was very helpful in this. One of the reasons I think that a lot of the professionals, though I certain do not do George R.R. Martin levels of it, is kinda, food-lore is actually really important in our societies. But it's one of the ones we forget very easily, when developing a fantasy world. It's part of what makes fantasy worlds, when you don't use some of these things. Not saying every book has to. But it's one of them that's kind of on the small list of "these things make it feel actually real," rather than "imitation-real." Because we have so much of this food-lore. And food is so much involved, I mean, everyone has to eat every day multiple times. So we're gonna have all this lore and things. And if you skip all that, it starts to feel like the cardboard cutout, a fake city built for a movie set or something like that, instead of a real lived-in world. And, I happen to like food. Probably something that George and I share. So, you end up with food stuff in the books.
So, as a writer of so many books of epic fantasy, what is your crazy sleep schedule like? And how do you manage your life?
So, my crazy schedule is not as "crazy" as you think, just a little crazy. I go to bed at 4:00, and I get up at noon. I did not become a writer so that I could keep the job that a working stiff would have. My writing schedule is generally, I do one big block from about noon until 5:00. I hang out with my kids and my wife from about 5:00 until 10:00. And then from about 10:00 until 2:00 or 3:00, I do another writing block, and then I take an hour or two off and play video games or something like that. *laughter and cheers* The secret to my productivity is not much of a secret. It is that I work every day, I just get get up and I write. And I don't always publish what I write. Some of what I write doesn't work. But I like writing, I like telling stories. The creative process is really, really engaging to me, it's what I like doing, so I do it every day. And I'm not a really fast writer, I'm just really consistent at my writing.
*inaudible* my friend gave me Way of Kings. *inaudible* I tried. I tried really, really, really hard to read it. *inaudible*
So here is the thing, don't feel embarrassed by this, because The Way of Kings is never the book I give people first. The Way of Kings is a book for people who already trust me. Because it takes to about Chapter 11 before the book works. And, you get payoff for that, but I never give it to people first. I either pick Mistborn: The Final Empire *cheers* and that is what I would recommend to you, because it is a self-contained story, it is going a little bit faster, it has a lot of things I do very well, but it also doesn't demand as much of you up front. Once you've read the Mistborn trilogy and you trust me, I think if you come back to Way of Kings later, it will work for you, but you've gotta trust me first. So try Mistborn. The other options would be The Rithmatist, which is also going to have a little more of a streamlined plot than Way of Kings.
When is Rithmatist 2 coming out?
Rithmatist 2 is the number one requested book that people ask of me. I know more people are waiting for Stormlight 3, but they can see the progress bars and things like that, so they know it's coming. Rithmatist 2, I might write between Stormlight 3 and 4. I tried to write it, and since they were going to South America, and I had not done my research, I was not able to accurately represent an alternate Earth version of the cultures, like the Nahuatl, the Mexica people, so I stopped to stop and read, like, ten books on that, which prevented me from writing the book at that point. Now that I've done the research, I can, I feel, write the book, and do justice to it, but I have to now find a timeslot in my schedule, because the slot that was in my schedule I spent doing research. You wouldn't have wanted the book that would have come out if I hadn't done that research. You know all this buzz about Harry Potter and Native Americans? Mine would have been ten times worse, just because you write from a position of ignorance, so I was starting, and I was like, "No, I can't do this." So now, I think I can do it, and I think it will be good, but now I have to find the time. I'm sorry.
When you finished writing A Memory of Light you posted on Facebook a beautiful piece of music *inaudible* and I was wondering, do you listen to music often when you write, and how does music influence--
I do listen to music. I almost always am listening to music when I write, and I really like things like Pandora or the discover weekly playlist on Spotify, or things like this. Any time I can get something seeded with some unusual different disparate elements and discover some new music, that'll be good for me. A lot of soundtracks, Pink Floyd, a lot of Pink Floyd, <Tangerine Dream?>, stuff like electronica, like that works really well for me. What else, Daft Punk would be in that group as well. So, it's a mix between piano music, electronica and soundtracks, what you're going to see me writing to most of the time.
You're also famous for your magic systems, do you start with the effect you want to achieve or the mechanic you want to use?
It depends on each magic system, they're all different. Sometimes there's just a really interesting-- Mistborn's a good example of this. I built Mistborn because I wanted a different power for each thieving crew member and I had in the back of my mind a few cool powers to use, but others I just developed. I'd be like, alright, we need something for the fast-talker. So therefore you get the thieving-crew and the classic thieving-crew elements, and I wanted something to improve every one of them. So while I had the Pushing and Pulling already, because that was really interesting and I'd been working it out in my head, I didn't have all these powers set out for the team, so I developed those.
In other cases it's just, you know The Stormlight Archive started with the fundamental forces in physics and extrapolating outwards from them until I had ten fundamental forces because I wanted to do fantastical fundamental forces. So that one started in physics.
The magic for Warbreaker started because my editor called me, true story, and said "ah, after Mistborn and Elantris you've done some very dreary settings, very nice but very dreary, let's do something with more color in it". More color it is!
What is your favorite book that you've written?
My favorite book that I've written? I can't pick a favorite. It's like trying to pick a favorite child.
You always have a favorite child though...
Yeah *laughter*, no favorite children, I just skyped with my children and they showed me their Halloween costumes, it's the cutest thing ever, but the littlest one, he's two, he's a Minion and he's so cute as a Minion, because he can barely talk as it is... and then the middle one is a skeleton and he just said "it's so scary dad, it's so scary, you're going to be so scared" and then he puts it on and I have to pretend to be scared. He scares himself looking at the mirror. And the seven year old's in karate now so he bought a ninja outfit and he thinks he's a real ninja because he's learning karate.
You say that there's part of you in every character, but what of you is in Vin as a character?
What of me is in Vin? The inherent belief that people are good. And Vin does believe in that. She believes that deep down, that people are good, she just doesn't believe that she belongs with them. Does that make sense?
Books were published in sort of different territories and different countries, obviously there's always different covers for different regions. So America has like a certain style of cover which is very different from what we have over here. How much input do you have into, sort of, the artist, who is chosen and do you have a favorite sort of style of cover for your books?
Very good question. So, I don't necessarily have a--how should I say--I get to have a lot to say these days over cover artists. I could ask for a cover artist, if they're available, they'll get them for me, and things like that. Not in my early career, but now. The trick is, in the UK, we use the same cover artist for everything and this is the big difference between the UK market and the US market. The US publisher likes to change with each series to a new cover artist, to say "look, it's a new series". For the UK, they distinguish a new series by the color scheme, so you'll notice all the Mistborn books have a blue swirl, whereas all of the Way of Kings have a red, or orange-ish tinge to them and, you know, Elantris has the green and things like that. That's how they do that. They like that all of your books look the same on the shelf.
UK also likes--how can I put it--classier covers *laughter* and that leads to, in some ways, some covers that I think are fantastic and some that are just a little generic, because they try to go kind of classy, if that makes sense, and so you just end up with not much on the cover. The US covers vary a lot more. I've had my worst covers of, you know, among US covers, and I've had my best covers because the US likes to do this painting of some sort of scene represented, almost more of a movie poster for the book, so some of those get really cringe-worthy. They just get--Like my middle-grade series, the Alcatraz books, oh those covers in the US were dreadful. In the UK they were very stylish and with like some iconic picture on them, but in the US they were, oh, so bad. But The Way of Kings, the painting, the US painting's one of my favorite covers I've ever had and I actually went and bought that painting itself, but I have a soft spot for Michael Whelan, he's the artist of that.
How much of your own personality do you put into your characters?
Good question. I put a piece of me in every character. There's some aspect of me in every one of them and there is something very different from me in every one of them, because that's kind of how I explore the world, I write about characters that have something familiar but something very different for me, and every character I write I try to the bulk of those things into.
What is the status of the White Sand graphic novel?
White Sand graphic novel. Let me run down the big list of things people are waiting for. So, White Sand graphic novel is on the good list, that's going really well. The author we had adapt it was fantastic and the artist is doing a great job. We're doing it in eighteen issues. However, because the people with The Wheel of Time (I don't know if any of you guys bought those graphic novels) but they released those individually, people bought subscriptions up front and then it took them forever to deliver on those. Because I have been burnt by that I said "You can't release any of the issues until you have a certain amount done". So because of that, they just decided they would release them only as graphic novels. So they're doing six-issue chunks. So it's kind of weird, there's eighteen issues, but really it's three books of six issues, and they are working on issue number six right now to release the first chunk next year. And we're very pleased with it.
So, the big list. I am working on Stormlight 3 right now, so you can follow on the progress bars. Once I'm done touring, which I've been doing for way too long, you'll start to see those inch up again, and if I finish it by May or June then it can come out next year. If I don't finish it by then it would be the following Spring. So that's what I'm working on right now.
In the queue we have the sequel to Shadows of Self coming out in January and we have the last of The Reckoners, and that is coming out in February. That's a little too close, I wish they hadn't scheduled them like that, but I'm not in charge when they put the books.
After I write Stormlight 3 my goal is to write a new book that's kind of in the teen-ish-- it's kind of hard because Steelheart here is not published by a teen publisher, the only one published by a teen publisher here is Rithmatist. But something for the Steelheart-- like older teen/young adult-ish, crazy, wacky things like that; I've signed a contract on that. So that'll be my next project.
Then I'm going to do Rithmatist 2, then I'm going to do Wax and Wayne 4, which is the last of that sequence. Then I'm going to do Stormlight 4.
If the book you're waiting for is not in that list then it's going to come after Stormlight 4 so don't hold your breath.
Mistborn videogame is basically vaporware at this point I'm afraid. I love the guys that are making it. They're still working on it, they still plan to release it. I haven't seen even a demo or early footage or anything like that, so I'm not certain they'll be able to do anything and you guys should not hold your breath on that.
So, movies, I've sold Mistborn, The Emperor's Soul and Steelheart, all are in production, but that doesn't mean anything in Hollywood, in production can mean anything. None of them have started filming yet. Until something starts filming you should assume that it's a hopeful dream. Those are the hopeful dreams that people are paying me a lot of money for. So, there you are.
In the second Stormlight Archive book... Wit... the Shattered Plains party, where he's introducing all the guests, and just the sheer list of insults. Was that an easy thing to do, and you've got books and books of--
Man it is so hard to come up with good insults because it's so hard to use one that Winston Churchill hasn't used already. *laughter* But I try to channel the best insult comics and people like that. Being witty in writing is actually the hardest part, but the fortunate thing is that I can take two hours to come up with a line that he's supposed to snap off in a few minutes or a few seconds, and that's how we can imitate being smarter than we are. I totally have to do that in my books.
It's interesting, I got an insight into really smart people. I was roommates with a person who won a ton of money on Jeopardy. Ken Jennings for any of you guys that watch Jeopardy. He won like 80 times in a row, right? I'm serious. He won 80 times in a row, or something like 78-- and before he did that, he was my roommate, and I knew him, and he-- the big difference between him and other people is that speed, that speed of making the connection and snapping it off. You say something and he comes with a comeback, just like that, and then you think about it and you're like "oh, that was really clever". That's what a lot of these people are, it's not the only type of intelligence by far, but it's one of the ones that this sort of discussion with Wit-- it's what we look for. So it's kind of a marker for somebody that's a little bit too smart for their own good.
Do you ever find it difficult writing for two kinds who read your books, the kind that only want to read it and have a lot of fun and take nothing away from it, and the people who obsess over every sentence for hidden cosmere-ic meaning?
Right, right, right. For those of you who don't know, though I'm not sure there are many who don't know still, all of my epic fantasies are in the same universe and there are characters in each book who are interfering with each other's stories. There are characters from Mistborn in Way of Kings, and there are characters from Elantris in Mistborn.
This was done, for a little bit of backstory, I love big epic fantasy works, if you can't tell Wheel of Time is one of my favorites ever, I like the big things. Breaking in I felt that it was a lot to ask new readers to take a chance on me as a writer by saying "it's book one of 25" I felt it was better to say "here is a standalone novel, self-contained that you can enjoy reading and kind of figure out who I am as a writer." That's kind of my purpose for Elantris and Warbreaker, and lately Emperor's Soul. "Here's how to try out my writing style to see if you like it." But loving these epics I couldn't help connecting them and hiding an epic behind the scenes. This was partially inspired by Asimov, who later in life joined his two main series, the Robot books and the Foundation books in what I felt was a clever way. But it had some problems in that he had to juryrig it after the fact. He'd been writing these books for decades and then he brought them together and I thought "wouldn't it be cool if someone were to take that idea and start it from the get go." It's this whole shoulders of giants thing, people try something out and you go "that was awesome, can I improve upon it?" or "whoah I'm not ever going to try that because that had certain issues" Book 10, the Wheel of Time fans know--
Robert Jordan actually talked about that book about how he wish he hadn't written it the way he did. I have the advantage of having read Robert Jordan, so I can see how that book went wrong and I can avoid making that pitfall. I went ahead and did this hidden epic because I thought it was really interesting, I did not expect it to come to the forefront as much as it has. Which is awesome, people started peeking these things out. Secrets that I embedded in Elantris, That I didn't expect to come out for another ten fifteen books people are already asking me about. Which means I kind of need to step up my game to make sure that all this stuff is very subtle. The whole idea is that you don't have to have read Elantris to read Mistborn, you don't have to have read Mistborn to read Way of Kings, they are all easter eggs right now. Eventually I will write a series that ties them all together in a direct way, that's many years off, and I will be very upfront with "You have to read all the others, you will be very lost if you aren't familiar, at least go read the summaries of the books before you start this one." We are far away from that.
Your magic systems, they're genius.
Oh thank you very much.
There's a certain subtlety to them that doesn't overtake the story which in some books could easily happen. How early on in your process do the magic systems have to be looked at an really put into place?
Every book is different. For some books the idea is a plot idea that starts me and for some books it is a setting idea--and magic systems are setting ideas in my head--and some its a character idea. With a character idea its usually a conflict, "that's an interesting conflict, what can I do with that" With magic systems it's usually "this will allow me, as a writer-- it will force me to stretch. It will have interesting limitations, it will do interesting things visually on the page, it will change the world in a very subtle yet important way that then I can explore" If we change one little piece of physics what does it do to the world, this sort of thing. I'm usually getting a lot of my ideas from reading science articles and things like this. Stormlight Archive is based off the fundamental forces, Mistborn is based off of vector physics and metabolism and things like this. These ideas-- I like having one foot in science and one foot in superstition for these magic systems. I usually don't start a book until I've fleshed out the magic system pretty well. That said when I was doing Stormlight Archive, the version that you have read I didn't have the terminology and how it was going to feel for the lashings until I wrote Szeth's opening scene, and that was where I really nailed down how this would look on the page and how it would feel. Sometimes you just need to write, you can't just plan endlessly and not write anything. But most of the time I have that nailed down. If people are interested in this you can look up my essays on writing magic systems, I think they are fun, but I humbly titled them Sanderson's first law, second law, and third law. So I think highly of them. You might find them interesting. They talk about my philosophy on writing and on magic systems.