Recent entries

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #8751 Copy

    TsorovanSaidin

    How awesome an anime do you think Stormlight would make?

    Ben McSweeney

    OH MY GOD SO AWESOME.

    I am biased, as an animator, of course. But I think the world of Roshar is too fantastic and unique to be anything other than fully animated. If you do it with actors, they're gonna do it in the big green rooms, and that so rarely works out well.

    I'd be content with a CG animated series (Shardplate kinda begs it), but it'd be a lot trickier to do well. That being said, I've seen some really great CG, so it could be done.

    TsorovanSaidin

    I'm so happy you agree. I've been a pretty huge fan of Knights of Sidonia on Netflix. That's a perfect style for Plate in my opinion.

    Ben McSweeney

    KoS is pretty great (awesome manga, too), but the cines for Guilty Gear Xrd are just sick.

    Game cinematics offer the best examples of quality, but it's not easy to get a studio in the range of Plastic Wax or Blur to dedicate the resources required for a full feature or a 22x12/24 series. Well, mostly it's just crazy expensive. But costs are always adjusting, the field is expanding, and we've got a lot of books left to publish before anyone's adapting it for animation or film.

    ari54x

    I think some of the 2.5d CG animation they do could work well for Stormlight- you know, where it's mostly illustrated but some action scenes use cell-shaded 3d models as a reference for the perspective and animation so it's really spot-on? That would be really cool.

    Ben McSweeney

    Oh, it's entirely feasible. Just a matter of the right budget with the right people at the right time. 'Course, that's a tricky triumvirate. :)

    ari54x

    Definitely. I'm hoping White Sand does well as a start to prove that drawing Brandon's work is a good idea.

    Ben McSweeney

    I think it might. And if nothing else, it's one more branch on the tree. Reaching out to new audiences is almost always a good strategy. :)

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #8752 Copy

    sproon

    What medium do you usually favor and about what dimensions do you use for a standard book cover piece? Are they the actual book size or scaled down?

    Also, do you have any clever signatures or symbols you like to hide in your work that you wouldn't mind sharing?

    Ben McSweeney

    I work almost exclusively in digital media these days, usually Photoshop or Manga Studio. Before I made the switch, I was primarily a pencil and ink artist. Hence the "Inkthinker" name, which I've been using for... well as long as I can remember being active on the internet. It was my first email!

    Interesting you should ask about clever logos, are you already familiar with my other work? I do have a signature symbol, variations of which I will often use in illustrations. It's an icon of a lightbulb over a pen-nib, and you can find it all over my stuff on DeviantArt. Here's a good example of the logo game..

    I don't think I've ever used it in Stormlight, because it would seem... inappropriate, I guess? Shallan's pages represent in-world artifacts, the lightbulb-logo meta-game has no place hiding there. I have used it a couple times for Mistborn illustrations in the MAG, and I did sneak it into an ad in the first broadsheet, but only because it seemed thematically appropriate at the time (it was an ad for lightbulbs).

    Of course, the problem with a "hide the logo in places" game is that I often forget when and where I've done it at all.

    sproon

    I won't lie, I'm not overly familiar with your work but what I've seen, I'm a fan of for sure.

    Do you enjoy the digital medium or do you miss the old days?

    Ben McSweeney

    I miss the secondary revenue stream that original art represents once your profile reaches a certain state. I still work with physical media from time to time, but I'm completely consumed by the variability of digital drawing. It's given me the freedom to do a lot of things I could never do before, but that option for secondary sales is greatly reduced.

    If you like playing hunt-the-logo, I recommend my older work from 2007-2012, especially the game stuff. I was playing it all through my work with Fantasy Craft. Those guys give me lots of freedom to play around, and the meta-game seemed most suited to a game book. :)

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #8753 Copy

    _0_-o--__-0O_--oO0__

    What is the best and worst part about working with Sanderson?

    Ben McSweeney

    Hmmm... best part is working with someone who genuinely loves what they do, and they're really, really good at it, and even better he's got a plan to keep doing it. It makes him a very inspirational partner.

    Worst part... well, with the touring and so forth, sometimes it's really hard to get time where we can actually talk, even by phone. Unlike the rest of the team I don't live in the same city as Brandon, so aside from those few occasions when we're attending a con or his tour comes nearby, almost all our communication is by email. And that's a little frustrating, 'cause I genuinely like the guy on a personal level.

    Brandon and I talk pretty steadily during production, but that's business and only takes place for a few months of the year. Most of the time I talk to Isaac, he has the patience of a saint.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
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    inkfinger

    Love your work, it must be so amazing to work alongside Brandon Sanderson and the rest of the team :)

    As someone who wants nothing more from life than to be a full-time illustrator, I'd love to know what you think one should focus on to get into this type of work. Basically, what would your advice be to a young illustrator?

    Ben McSweeney

    Hm. To keep it short, I think you want to get a solid foundation in classical technique... the really boring stuff like perspective, anatomy, composition, life-drawing and portraiture. I know it might not seem like it relates to the sort of work you want to do, like you're being forced to conform to these rigid schools of thought that aren't relevant, and your teachers might mock your ambitions (if you have bad teachers), but please believe me... if you can master that cranky old-guy stuff, the possibilities are endless.

    You're probably going to need to master digital tools, but most of the software we use to paint and draw in the computer is based on real-world toosl and techniques, so the more you know about the real stuff the easier you'll find it to manipulate and master the virtual. That being said, it's hard to survive as a commercial artist in the modern industry if you're not willing to work on a tablet.

    It's a really competitive world out there. I worked for over ten years before I was able to make drawing-for-money into my sole source of income, and even then it was another five before I started to feel like maybe I wasn't going to grow old in the same world I grew up in. Lots of people make it happen faster. Even more people never make it happen at all. It's a great career, but you gotta be strong and well-suited and maybe just a little lucky.

    The sooner you start, the longer you'll have to travel as far as you can go. :)

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
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    Argent

    Are there any plans to create and release a collection of drawings as a separate book? While some of your gorgeous gorgeous arts makes its way into Brandon's novels, the focus is naturally not on them - but I am sure some of us would like to get our grubby grabby hands on a book that's only, for example, Shallan's drawings. One of her in-world sketchbooks, in a way.

    If there are no such plans, is this something you would consider?

    Ben McSweeney

    There's plans, but they are waaay down the road. With Stormlight we're looking at a ten-book series, and we're only now on book 3.

    That being said, we create and collect a lot of ancillary material during production. Failed ideas, wrong turns, and even just construction material. I don't see us leaving all that in a drawer forever. :)

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #8756 Copy

    Darkenmal

    What's your average schedule while you are working on a novel?

    Ben McSweeney

    I usually get an early draft right alongside Isaac and Peter, which allows me to start thinking and thumbnailing and asking all Brandon all sorts of annoying detail-questions as much as a year before publishing. But the real, down-n-dirty work-work of producing the final art usually takes place in the last 3-6 months before delivery.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
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    Kopaka99559

    Which of your illustrations would you say was the most enjoyable to create?

    Ben McSweeney

    Shardplate and Blades, hands down. It was also kinda the easiest, because I'd been doodling different types of Plate since the first pitch to Tor back in 2008. Brandon basically gave me a big ol' present with that one. :)

    Discounting that, probably the Chasmfiend, just because it was one of those designs that was awful and failing and then suddenly I figured out a solution, and ultimately I loved the results. That nosedive is the worst on the way down, but man it feels good when you pull out of it.

    platysaur

    Chasmfiends are some of the most badass and terrifying creatures in fantasy, I think. So in that regard, you did an amazing job! Whitespines are pretty awesome too.

    Ben McSweeney

    Thank you! The whitespine design was particularly challenging, we almost went with a different creature up until just a few weeks before the deadline, when I scrapped it and redrew it all again. It really was a bad design, anatomically, and while I could have let it pass I would have hated it forever. The end result isn't perfect, but it's much better.

    I think there's a blog post about it on Brandon's website, somewhere. Isaac did a whole interview with me, including pictures of the previous designs.

    platysaur

    Interesting story! Thanks for replying. I can't wait to see what you have next for Stormlight Archive! And great job on Shadows of Self too, I just finished it yesterday. I love the dude's super long and pointy mustache.

    Ben McSweeney

    Haha, I think Isaac came up with the description of the moustache, so he deserves much of the credit. They are dangerous-looking, aren't they?

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
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    MikeOfThePalace

    Is there a book out that there that you're just dying to illustrate? Something that caught your imagination and you would die of excitement if offered the chance to bring your drawings to print?

    Ben McSweeney

    Ohhh... gosh, if I wasn't drawing it already, I'd probably be all over Stormlight, but that's a crap answer. Let's see...

    I reserve the right to come back to this later, but right now I've been enjoying the hell out of the Malazan series, and I wish I had solid illustrations of the various races... still, I'm only up to book 4.

    I just started Jim Butcher's super-steampunky The Aeronaut's Windlass, and I'm kinda wishing for a guide to ship types and some of the House heraldry. I really loved what Keith Thompson did for similar content in Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan novels, though that was much more traditional illustration rather than visual development.

    Not every novel really needs an illustrator... for instance, I don't think it's needed for Glen Cook's novels, even though I love the Black Company, The Instrumentalities of the Night and the Garrett P.I. series (I do wish the cover artists would stop illustrating Garrett as if he were Sam Spade, it's worse than putting a hat on Harry Dresden).

    I'll think about this some more.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
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    Oudeis16

    I know a lot of people get tattoos with work from Mr. Sanderson's books. How do you feel knowing people have your work etched painfully into their flesh?

    Ben McSweeney

    It's a little weird, only in the sense that it's so intensely, overwhelmingly flattering that it's difficult to figure out the right response. What do you say to someone who appreciates your work that much, other than a wholly inadequate "thank you"? Though I guess as it goes on, I'm getting used to it.

    I'm quite certain Isaac has me way beat in the tattoo-inspiration department, as he does most all of the icons and symbols associated with Brandon's novels. But every Pattern tattoo is another tally for me. :)

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
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    NoNoNota1

    Since you do this as a career, do you still draw and illustrate for fun as a hobby, or does it begin to just feel like working overtime, no matter how much you love it?

    Ben McSweeney

    I do, but not nearly as much as I would if I wasn't doing it all day, every day. I'm not sure what my hobby is, these days... reading, I suppose? Games sometimes. Redditing too often. :)

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
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    ChannelSaidin

    First off, I want to say thank you for the great illustrations.

    I was wondering, what is your favorite scene that you have, or wish, to draw?

    Ben McSweeney

    Thank you for the compliment! We do 'em 'cause we love 'em, and we love when you love 'em too. :)

    All my favorite scenes are so spoileriffic. The Second Ideal, the chasmfiend appearances, the final battles of WoR, "Stretch forth thy hand!"

    If I draw my favorite scenes and they're seen by people who haven't read the books, it'd be like seeing all the best parts of the movie in the trailer.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
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    lurkotato

    Are there any creature sketches of Shallan that didn't get included in the Stormlight Archive books?

    ... because I would pay for a copy Shallan's sketchbook, especially the wildlife detail. take note Brandon

    Ben McSweeney

    There's a few. We hope to collect all the ancillary material into it's own book at some point, but not for a while... the novels are the main focus for the immediate future. The more novels Brandon writes, the more ancillary material we can create and collect. It'll pay off in the long run.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #8763 Copy

    ballthyrm

    Would you like to continue your collaboration with Brandon Sanderson on a comic Book for example ?

    Ben McSweeney

    Brandon and I have discussed working on a comic together on multiple occasions. We both love the form, it's something I've done in the past, and I think together we'd make some amazing pages. But it also requires a lot of resources up front to cover overhead costs, and finding a way to make that happen has been tricky. I'm thinking we'll figure something out, but it's going to take a while. Crowdsourcing has opened up some very viable options, but it still requires a seed of core content that has yet to be created.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #8764 Copy

    Happilymarriedman

    I'm currently working on a novel myself. I'm having some issues visualizing the characters I can write descriptions all day long. How often does an author come to you and give you a relatively vague description of what they are seeking, is there an extra cost for dreaming that stuff up?

    Ben McSweeney

    Well, generally speaking there's always going to be a cost if you're commissioning someone to illustrate your descriptions. Before you go to the expense, one suggestion I might put forward is to cast a few actors in the roles. Don't tell anyone who you choose, but if there's someone out there who would perfectly fit the role, cast them in your notes and then use Google Image and IMDB to collect reference and let that lead you. Also, don't overdo the descriptions when you do get down to the actual words-on-the-page... Pick a few notable features, be consistent, and allow the rest to be inferred.

    Brandon is actually not very interested in portraiture for the published art in the novels... you may notice that we very rarely show anyone's full face in our illustrations. Part of this is because Brandon doesn't want to force the reader into imagining the characters looking just one way... the image you create in your mind when you read a description is yours, it's the part of your reading experience that you create and it should be as valid as anyone's.

    That being said, I got to help Michael with Shallan's portrait in the Words endpages, and that was great fun for me as well as leading to a better, more accurate Shallan.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
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    EctMills

    Have any aspects of your style changed as a result of working in the publishing industry? If so what were the changes and why were they necessary?

    Ben McSweeney

    Oh gosh, yes... for one thing, I'm constantly having to push harder just to keep up, younger artists have a great advantage in learning to work digitally from the start. I picked it up over a decade into my career, and had to learn it on the fly.

    The switch to digital media is probably the largest, most sweeping change to happen to Commercial Art in hundreds of years, and if you can't make the switch you had better be damn good. Art Directors and Editors have come to appreciate the mutability of digital media, and it has massive advantages that physical media can't replicate. It lacks the tangible nature, but for most commercial purposes an original piece of physical art is just an artifact with a separate value, it's not relevant to the needs of the client.

    I was dragged kicking and screaming into learning to use a tablet. 8 years later, and I never want to give it up.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #8766 Copy

    what_how

    I enjoy your covers quite a bit. You also do a lot of animation work, one of which was Post Human, which was in 2012, I think? Incredible work!

    I've looked around, and I can't see many of your sketches posted online. Those that can be found look incredibly clean! Do you keep a running sketchbook for ideas, and if so, are they all that pretty looking?

    Ben McSweeney

    I don't do very many covers (none for Brandon so far), but I love when the opportunity presents itself. :)

    Yep, Post Human was produced in 2011-2012, it was the last project I worked on at Studio Fates. Crazy stuff.

    I do have a couple physical sketchbooks that I doodle in, but a large portion of my work today is digital. I keep a Manga Studio story file for a digital sketchbook, though I'm just as likely to doodle something up in Photoshop.

    Most of the work I do now is for clients, either studios or individuals, and that doesn't allow me to share as much as I used to. It's unfortunate that one of the results of doing more paid, professional work is that it cuts into your time for personal work that you can share freely.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #8767 Copy

    the_mighty_titan

    What's the general cost when commissioning an illustration?

    Ben McSweeney

    Industry standards vary wildy depending on where you're sourcing your talent, and through whom. Unless you have someone like an Art Director or Editor doing the legwork and brokering the deal, you'll have to negotiate specifics with each artist privately. Their rates will be informed by their current availability, industry experience, and self-confidence.

    Newer artists will often work for a few hundred per image, sometimes less. For a more experienced illustrator who's in-demand, you can probably expect a total budget of several thousand, and if they're really popular and you're looking for, say, a cover painting, it's going to hit five figures easily. It's earned through the experience and reliability that they bring, when you commission Michael Whelan he might cost you a chunk of money, but you know you're getting one of the very best.

    That being said, the rise of digital painting combined with a growing entertainment industry has given birth to a flood of new, hungry commercial artists... you still have to sort for the diamonds, but if you're willing to do the legwork there are more options for you now than, I'm quite certain, ever before in history.

    It's an interesting time for the field, but it really brings that Chinese curse aspect to the front. :)

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
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    oednj

    How much input does the author have into the illustration?

    Do you read his work then draw and show it to him? Do you sometimes draw something and he incorporates it in the novel?

    Ben McSweeney

    Brandon actually has direct input into the illustrations we do, especially those for Stormlight.

    For the most part, I get an early (often partial) draft about the same time as Peter and Isaac. On occasion, something I draw gets incorporated into the text, either as a later edit or even in another part of the book. That's always awesome for me, but it's really rare and only we know when that happens.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    Kabsal

    Huh. It seems a proto-Shallan did already exist as of this version [Way of Kings Prime]. I thought with the prologue's discussions of House Davar that Shallan would have been a more recent development.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Brandon sees Shinri and Shallan as entirely different people who have the same last name and are both Jasnah's ward. However, most of the other characters are the same people as they are in the published novel.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    slevy221

    I haven't seen or heard anything about the potential for TWOK movie ever since there was that article about using virtual reality to pitch the idea.

    Anyone heard anything recently?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No updates, I'm afraid. Last big session I had with them was when I flew to LA in June. They're still working on the VR experience/pitch to take to studios.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
    #8774 Copy

    [Discussion of Nale, and the legality of his actions.]

    Brandon Sanderson

    He takes whatever steps he can to go through proper channels. He would argue that he's doing what /u/bonly says he is. But remember, he is insane, and his perception of the world is untrustworthy.

    He would claim to be, in the context of this discussion, Lawful Neutral.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    WriterPGR

    Not sure if this has been discussed. But the Oathbringer cover clearly has a new font from WoK and WoR. I thought it was just a placeholder and the final version would have the awesome Stormlight Archive font.

    But today at the bookstore I noticed the Words of Radiance they had in stock also had the new (IMO boring) font. Anybody know why this got changed?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We were getting a lot of feedback that the old fond looked...gimmicky and outdated. The publisher came to us and suggested a change, I believe, but we'd been talking about it in house here too. The more we looked at the new book with the old font, the more we agreed. Somehow, it worked for TWOK but just didn't for Oathbringer.

    I realized that some would like the old font, but gave the go ahead to change anyway. At some point, a font that drew that much attention to itself was going to become a millstone around our necks. We decided to change sooner rather than being dissatisfied for years. (Sorry.)

    Peter Ahlstrom

    So, this was a matter of much internal discussion between Dragonsteel and Tor. It basically comes down to legibility.

    The old font is just not very legible. If you don't already know what it says, you have to stop for a few seconds to figure out what it says. If you're looking from a distance, Words of Radiance looks sort of like Wobos of Bhoihnce.

    After Tor spent some time tweaking the letter shapes on Oathbringer to try to make it more legible, and really didn't get anywhere (it kept ending up looking basically the same), they floated the idea of just doing a redesign. We at Dragonsteel agreed this was the best time to do that if it was going to be done.

    They tried quite a few different fonts, and the one they ended up with was one they had actually proposed to use for Brandon's name. We said keep Brandon's name the same, but try that font on the title. It's not just a standard like Times New Roman; the shapes of the letters have interesting little touches with the serifs and whatnot.

    No, it's not an "awesome" font like was used previously, but it's a lot more legible for books sitting on the shelf and possibly catching someone's eye when they're walking past.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    Badloss

    I love, love Brandon Sanderson but I feel like every time he needs a "magic word" he just takes two regular words and jams them together.

    Dreamshard, Shardblade, Shardplate, Lightweaving, Mistborn, Coinshot, Pewterarm, Coppercloud, Surgebinder, Soulcaster, etc etc etc

    Sorry u/Mistborn I still love you

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's done intentionally. Let's look at our options.

    I can create all-out fantasy words for terms like this. (Lait or crem from Stormlight are examples.) Problem is, the more you do this, the more you pile a difficult linguistics on top of a reader. The more words like this they have to learn, the more difficult it is to get into a story. If you were doing it, perhaps you'd go this direction. I feel that overloading on these terms is dangerous. Already, the main reason new readers put down my books is that they feel overwhelmed by the worldbuilding.

    So we have the second option. Use a latin, germatic, or greek root and create a word that FEELS right, has some mental connection for the reader, but which isn't a real word. Allomancy/Feruchemy/Hemalurgy. Veristitalian. To a lesser extent, Elantris.

    This so called "Harry Potter Spells" method gives some familiarity to the naming, makes them stick a little better in people's heads, which makes the books a little easier to get into. But they're also distracting to some readers who say, "Wait. There's no Latin in this world, so where did Latin root words come from?" And for others (particularly in translation) those roots mean nothing, and so these all end up lumped into the first group.

    The final method is the pure Germanic method--creating compound words. It works in English very well because of our Germanic roots--and is one of the main ways (other than turning nouns into verbs or the other direction) that we create new words. Supermarket. Masterpiece. Newspaper. Thunderstorm. Footprint. Firework. Heartbeat. Yourself. None of those look odd to you because they are words that are "meant" to go together in your head.

    I use some of batch one, some of batch two, but I do favor batch three--it does what I want it to. Works in the language, has an "otherworld" feel but is also very quickly understood by someone new to the series. There are arguments for all three methods, however.

    Phantine

    You can also just go the route of using an English word despite it clearly not being accurate.

    "He tied a ribbon around his horse's third antennae, and patted its chitinous flank."

    Brandon Sanderson

    Agreed. Re-contextualizing English words can work too--I find it particularly useful to do what I mentioned above. Take a verb and make it a noun or vice versa. Or use a verb in a way that you normally don't. (Awakeners or Lashings are examples from my work, though Spice from Dune is one of the grand-daddy examples of this. As it is for a lot of fantastical linguistics.)

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    Questioner

    Considering Brandon likes MTG, this is probably something he has thought out haha.

    Kaladin strikes me as someone with a very White personality and Blue powers.

    Shallan's Blue.

    Dalinar's White, but I feel like he was Red before.

    Adolin has some Red, some White, and recently some Black I guess.

    Lift is Red in personality and I guess Green at powers.

    What else can you guys come up with?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hmm... These are not bad, and it's always hard to figure out how to define by this system--honestly, I wouldn't trust my definitions, I'd have to go to MaRo or something.

    I'd suspect that Shallan is red/blue instead of mono blue.

    Lift is very green, not just in powers, but in personality. She's all about instinct, and doing what occurs to her in the moment.

    As OP said, Kaladin is very white/blue. And Dalinar is red who became white. Navani is mono-blue. Szeth is black/white, and Taravangian probably mono-black. Eshonai is probably green.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    kakarotoks

    I've searched this subreddit for someone mentioning Jane Elliot before, but nobody has, so I decided to share this.

    I was explaining The Stormlight Archive to a friend yesterday when he told me that BS must have been influenced by Jane Elliot, so I researched her and found the wikipedia article about her.

    This woman was a school teacher who decided to teach her class about racism the day after Martin Luther King's death by segregating the class between light eyed and dark eyed children. It's a very interesting exercise and I love how the darkeyed vs. lighteyed issue was actually experienced for real on this earth, not just in the SA books. You can read more about the experiment on the wikipedia page or in this article.

    The coolest part of this is that the 3rd time Jane Elliot did that experiment, she filmed it and it was made into a documentary in 1970 with the title : The Eye of the Storm

    I think it's a pretty cool coincidence (probably influence rather than coincidence) and I thought I'd share!

    Brandon Sanderson

    The study sounds familiar to me, so I'm sure I've read it before--but I can't remember if it was like this (in reference to the SA, which I'd already started working on) or if I read about it before, and it lodged in my brain as something to try some day.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    Rotten_tacos

    Will there be leatherbound editions of The Stormlight Archive anytime soon?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We do those on the 10th anniversary of the original. So, not for a few years.

    havfunonline

    Will there be one for Edgedancer? I know if I was buying the leatherbound editions (which I might someday) I'd want any canon novellas in the correct spots on the shelf XD

    Brandon Sanderson

    Arcanum Unbounded (which contains Edgedancer) will eventually get one.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    NotClever

    I can't remember, was it true that Jordan wrote the last chapter before anything else, or was that just apocryphal?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've heard that, but can't find any evidence for it--I do know he had it in mind very early, and did write it down in a very complete form before passing. In fact, it was in a more complete form than most everything else in the notes.

    But I don't think it was written before he did Eye of the World. And I seem to recall an interview with him before he passed saying something along the lines of, "I've got it in mind. I know what it is. It might be slightly different if I write it now, as opposed to if I write it after I finish the last book, but the soul of it will be the same."

    nermid

    Can I ask how much of the sequence where Rand and the Dark One devise possible futures post-TG was you and how much was RJ? Because that was phenomenal.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That was one of the sequences where I had to construct something to fit what I felt RJ wanted--using the notes, in part, and the momentum of the books as my guide.

    In the notes, RJ said something along the lines of, "Rand and the Dark One fight. Rand realizes that he can't destroy the Dark One, because doing so destroys choice." So I constructed the idea of dueling possibilities because I felt a simple sword fight with the Dark One would be anti-climactic, and that RJ would have done something more epic.

    Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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    Questioner

    I'm working on being an author as well. How do you worldbuild?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You look for what is going to be relevant and importnat to your characters, and spend your time there. So don't, for instance, build a whole bunch of new languages for a world where all your characters are going to be from the same country, and the languages don't play a relevant part. That is what I would say, particularly in the beginning. If you feel you need more to help you make the world feel fleshed out to you, do that. But worldbuild in service of the story you want to tell.

    Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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    Questioner

    So, I heard you talk about cameos, are there any other cameos besides Hoid and Nightblood in the books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, Galladon from Elantris, Baon from White Sand, and Captain Demoux all show up in Way of Kings. They're the Purelake scene. Let's see... the character of Felt is a worldhopper, you see him in a couple of books. Watch out for him. Khriss is in a couple of the books, she's the one who writes the Ars Arcanums. Nazh is in a couple of the books, Khriss's assistant. Vasher is in the book. They're all over the place.

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    Questioner

    Does the name [Wax & Wayne] foreshadow anything that's gonna happen?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. I named them that because the pun made me crack up. It's not meant to be foreshadowing. The fun thing about that pun is, Scadrial not having a moon, means that those words exist in their language, it's not part of the common parlance like it is here, so they don't get the pun.

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    Questioner

    Do you have a set plotting strategy, or do you kind of adapt it to the way you formulate your idea?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My plotting, I have a set one, but it's a really flexible one. It's based off of my goals for a given subplot and what I think needs to happen to achieve those goals. So my outline is a list of goals and bullet points, which makes it a very flexible outline.

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    Questioner

    With the hemalurgy, I was a bit confused on how it worked on people and how it worked for kandra, there was the blessings, and one brought them more stability of mind or something. So what is different for kandra than it is for other people?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The things that are building kandra have ripped off different pieces of souls. Rather than stealing someone else's Allomancy, most of those were just created with regular people. The same way that a koloss... you don't need an Allomancer to make a koloss. You just take a regular person, you rip off a piece of their soul, and you staple it to someone else's, and basically screw up their Spiritual DNA, and you have a koloss. But stapling on someone's Allomancy requires an Allomancer.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    [Aether of Night] is two halves of good books, kind of shuffled together. Half of this good book and half of this good book shuffled together. The Shakespearean farce, which is fun and, kind of silly, and this guy who's in not in a position to lead... and the deep worldbuilding war novel with the cosmere magic. And it's like, "We're going to shuffle these together and see how it turns out."

    Questioner

    I loved it. I thought it was good.

    Brandon Sanderson

    And my brother's cameo is in this book. Darro is named after my brother, Jordo.

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    Questioner

    Which one have you been the most excited to write? Which brought the most joy to write?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, it's really... I love them all. I wouldn't write them if I didn't. I'm at a position in my career where I can say "I'm just not writing this book right now," and not do it. I would say that I'm most proud of the Wheel of time because it was so hard. Particularly the last one, I would say I'm most proud of.

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    Questioner

    Which has been your favorite project?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't really have a favorite. It's whatever I'm working on at the moment. Every project, there are times where I am just so done with it. Every project, there are times where I'm super excited about it. And when I'm timing it right, the time I'm so done with it is the time where I can be done with it. And the time where I'm super excited about it is when I'm starting it and writing new material for it. I don't think that there is a single book that I haven't been, like, "I am so tired of this, I am so done," by the time I am at revision number five.

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    Questioner

    So, why does Warkeeper get putting further back on the back burner, it's, like, my favorite.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, the main reason for that is, I consider it a side project. I considered the first one a side project. And I have to be careful. The big thing is having both a YA career and an adult career. Which, both sell about the same, Reckoners and Stormlight, which are kinda my two big things, about equivalent, which means I have to make sure I'm balanced, an adult book and a YA book. And if I stop to do Warbreaker, I have to... it's much more likely to happen once I have the Wax & Wayne books done. 'Cause when that sequence is done, I'm like, "All right. I fulfilled that promise." Anyway, it's weird how I view which things I promise. Warbreaker, I've never promised people anytime soon. But starting something like Wax & Wayne, I'm like, "I am gonna do these for a while, I have to be regular with those." I don't know. I wanna write it. It will happen someday.

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    Questioner

    I've been recently introduced to you as an author, and I heard "lighteyed" and "darkeyed." What is that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, in The Stormlight Archive, their ethnic divisions in one of the cultures is by eye color. It traces back to when there was an ancient magic that eye color was related to, and in the modern culture, if you have lighteyes (like you), that's nobility. If you have Darkeyes (like you), you are not noble, you are... you know. So, instead of dividing by skin color or by nationality, they are much more interested in eye color. But that's only one of the cultures, that's a big important one.

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    Questioner

    How long did your editors want Words of Radiance to be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, my editor just wants it to be the right length. My publisher is the one who wants things shorter. So, my editor, he's just interested in story. But the publisher, he's interested in money. And the shorter the book is, the more money it makes him. It's really weird, it's kind of interesting. For instance, supermarket pockets, like, the little racks that hold paperbacks, they can hold a certain number of books. My books, they can often only hold one of. And that means if it sells, that pocket is empty, which the supermarket hates. They don't want empty pockets, they want the shelf space used. They'd rather stack four books in there. So, the publisher in turn says, "Brandon, can't you cut these books down shorter?" I'm like. "Well, Tom... no. Other books are short, you have lots of short books of mine to sell," but... yeah. It's not one of them. We just have to give up on the pocket thing, and then the booksellers are like... here, let me [visually illustrate it]. If you've got a book like this [small book], and you sell it for eight dollars, and Way of Kings is this [big] and you sell it for nine dollars, which one does the bookstore want on their shelf more? Well, the truth is, they want the one that sells the most copies, so they're okay with it. But the smaller book will generally... well, it's a matter of them having sixteen dollars worth of stuff to sell or nine dollars worth of stuff to sell.

    So, the publisher really does like things shorter. But it's kind of a pushback between him and me, where I'm like, "My fans also like good value-to-money." I'm just saying, good value-to-money, that's something they're, like, "Look, we'll go buy the hardcover, even though it's thirty-five dollars, because instead of buying a twenty-five dollar hardcover by somebody else that's one-fourth as long, we buy a thirty-five dollar hardcover of Brandon's and we get our money's worth. The audiobook people love that. Like, Audible and things, they're like... you know. Because it's one credit, it's the same price for their listeners, but it's three times as long.

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    Questioner

    I have a question about the cosmere, and Hoid specifically. The way that he is worldhopping, is he using Cognitive and *inaudible* Realms?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The times you have seen him worldhop, it has involved shardpools, or perpendicularities, as we call them. He is using primarily the Cognitive Realm.

    Questioner

    Because, from what I understood from Secret History, that he's going through the shardpool, from the Cognitive to the normal Realm.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, he's traveling through the Cognitive Realm, and then jumping back to the Physical one, once he's where he wants to go.

    Questioner

    So, I'm guessing what's going on, though, is that he's travelling between planets using the Cognitive and coming out from the shardpool to the Physical Realm?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, that is exactly right.