Are/were all the Five Scholars Returned?
Are/were all the Five Scholars Returned?
I've got a few Warbreaker questions: Is Clod a Lifeless Arsteel?
Yes. Good eye.
My question is about writing, kind of.
As an author, you have achieved moderate success. People like you and have heard of you within the genre and you have established a relationship with your publishing company that lets you get a lot of books published.
This is the level of success I want as a writer and I am just wondering how financially viable this is. Like, can you write only or do you need a so-called day job? Are you able to support your family with your writing alone? That kind of thing.
Sorry if that is kind of a personal question. I've just always wondered how much money a writer makes once they've "made it".
I had a lot of questions like this myself during my days trying to break in. Everyone told me it wasn't possible to make a living as a writer—that, like an actor or a musician, I'd spend my life poor and obscure.
One of the big turning points came when I met and talked to a professional writer who had had modest success. Not a huge name, but a person who had done what you hope to do. Publish a book every year, never be a household name, but well-known enough in-genre that a large portion of the readers had seen his books on the shelves, though many still had no idea who he was. (The author was David Farland, by the way.)
I wish I could give you that same experience, though it's going to be harder while not face to face. The main tone of the meeting and his encouragement was this: IT IS POSSIBLE and YOU CAN DO IT!
Not everyone can make a living at writing. But it's very within reach, and for the dedicated author willing to practice and learn, it's not as difficult to make a living as many make it out to be.
I do make a living full time at this, and have for several years now. In the early years, it wasn't what many would call a 'good' income, but it was enough for me. Now, it is an excellent income. Not "Fly to Europe every week" income, but certainly "Take your friends out to eat once in a while" income.
A standard royalty for an author would be to 10-15% on a hardcover, and around 8% on a paperback. Usually, the percentage gets better the more copies you sell.
Now, books don't sell the huge numbers that people usually think they do. If you sell 2k hardcover copies in your first week, you can get on the NYT list. (Though it's not certain—it depends on what week it is and what other books came out. 3k is a pretty sure bet, though.)
Elantris—an obscure, but successful, book—sold about 10k copies in hardcover and around 14k copies its first year in paperback. I've actually sold increasing numbers each year in paperback, as I've become more well-known. But even if you pretend that I didn't, and this is what I'd earn on every book, you can see that for the dedicated writer, this could be viable as an income. About $3 per book hardcover and about $.60 paperback gets us around 39k income off the book. Minus agent fees and self-employment tax, that starts to look rather small. (Just under 30k). But you could live on that, if you had to. (Remember you can live anywhere you want as a writer, so you can pick someplace cheap.)
I'd consider 30k a year to do what I love an extremely good trade-off. Yes, your friends in computers will be making far more. But you get to be a writer.
The only caveat here is that I did indeed get very lucky with my placement at Tor. It's the successful hardcover release that makes the above scenario work. If you only had the paperback, and everyone who bought the hardcover bought that instead, you'd have to be selling around 60k copies to make it work. That's very possible, and I know a lot of midlist writers who do it.
Anyway, numbers shouldn't be what gets you into this business. If you have to tell stories, tell them. To be a writer, I feel you need to have such a love of the process that you'd write those books even if you never sold one. It's not about the money, and really shouldn't be. (And sorry to go on so long. I just feel it important to give aspiring writers the same kinds of help that I got.)
Also, was there an inspiration for Vin and if so who/what was it?
Vin has been hard for me to pin down, inspiration wise. I tried so many different variations on her character (even writing her character as a boy) that it's hard to pinpoint when I got it right. There was no one single inspiration for her. (Unlike Sarene, who was based on a friend of mine.) She's a mix of my sisters, a good writer friend of mine, and a dozen different other little bits of people.
The time when I got her character RIGHT was when I wrote the scene that became her first in Mistborn, where she's watching the ash blow in the street, and envies it for its freedom. That, mixed with Kelsier's observation that she isn't a bad person—she just thinks everyone else is—were the big points where her character took form.
Are you going to write more about the Mistborn? There's still those mysterious metals, and it's a brand new world out there now so many possibilities you could do with that!
I will, someday, write a follow-up trilogy to Mistborn. It will be set several hundred years after the events of the first trilogy, after technology has caught up to where it should be. Essentially, these will be urban fantasy stories set in the same world. Guns, cars, skyscrapers—and Allomancers.
That's still pretty far off, though. The other metals are being revealed on the poster I'm releasing of the Allomantic table. Should be for sale on my website sometime soon, though someone here can probably link to the image I posted of it, which has the other metals explained. (I can't remember where exactly that link is right now.)
Hero of the new trilogy would be a nicrosil Misting.
I love Mistborn! (also Elantris). I can hardly wait to begin on Warbreaker. I know many have questions on the metal based ideas. In Elantris, where did the idea for the disease come from?
Three things. First, some reading I was doing about leper colonies. I wanted to tell a story about someone locked into a similar situation, only tie it to the magic of the world and the history of the city itself.
Secondly, I had this crazy desire to do a book starring zombies that nobody would realize were zombies. It was one of those things that stuck in my head. Undead corpses, with weak bodies that slowly stop working? As heroes? Could I make it work?
Finally, the idea of pain that didn't go away. What would happen if every little wound you took continued to hurt just as badly as it had in the first moment of pain? And what if that pain never, never went away?
How difficult was it to come up with new magic systems considering the wealth of fantasy out there with already established magic systems(that seems to just get re-used in different formats by various other authors)? Do you have more systems to be used in future novels? If so how do you go about envisioning them and creating the rules in the first place?
I've got a few very nifty ones reserved for the future. Don't worry; I'm not nearly out of ideas yet. And I'm constantly having new ones I don't have time to use.
There IS a lot of fantasy out there. And yet, I think there's a great deal of room left for exploration in magic. The frontiers of imagination are still rough-and-tumble, unexplored places, particularly in this genre. It seems that a lot of fantasy sticks very close to the same kinds of magic systems.
One of the things I've come to believe is that limitations are more important than powers in many cases. By not limiting themselves in what their characters can do, authors often don't have to really explore the extent of the powers they've created. If you are always handing your characters new powers, then they'll use the new and best—kind of like giving your teen a new car every year, rather than forcing them to test the limits of what that old junker will do. Often, those old cars will surprise you. Same thing for the magic. When you're constrained, as a writer, by the limits of the magic, it forces you to be more creative. And that can lead to better storytelling and a more fleshed out magic.
Now, don't take this as a condemnation of other books. As writers, we all choose different things to focus on in our stories, and we all try different things. Jordan's ability to use viewpoint, Martin's use of character, Pratchett's use of wit—these are things that far outshine anything I've been able to manage in my works so far.
But I do think that there is a great deal of unexplored ground still left to map out in some of these areas. (Specifically magic and setting.) A great magic system for me is one that has good limitations that force the characters to be creative, uses good visuals to make the scenes more engaging while written, and has ties to the culture of the world and the motivations of the viewpoint characters.
When it comes to crazy plot twists, fascinating characters, magic systems, humor, religion, etc., what do you feel, for you, is the hardest part to get on paper or come up with?
I would say that the most difficult parts have to do with getting a character's internal conflicts (if they have them) right. Sometimes, this can take a lot of exploration. Sazed in Mistborn 3 took a LOT of work before I was satisfied.
Second hardest is getting the humor right, particularly witty style humor like in the Lightsong sections of Warbreaker. There are frequently times when I spend hours on a single line in sections like that.
Finally, do you have any advice for people that would like to write for a living?
First and foremost, don't give up. It can take a while. It takes time to master anything—whether it be writing, playing the piano, or brain surgery. People are willing to dedicate eight years or more to becoming a doctor. If you really want to be a writer, you need to be willing to dedicate the same amount of time and effort. Practice. Practice some more. Write a book, then write another, then write another. (I didn't sell my first, or my second, or my fifth. Elantris was my sixth book.)
Secondly, write what you love. Don't try and guess the market. Read the type of books you want to write, pay attention to what they do, and decide what it is you want to say and how you will add to the discussion. What makes your additions to the conversation unique? Write it because you feel it inside of you, not because it's what seems to be hot right now.
Finally, if I may make a plug, hop over to writingexcuses.com and listen to me and the others on our writing podcast talk about this sort of thing. ;)
Also, how did the experiment with Warbreaker turn out, and are you planning to do this with any other things you write?
It's so hard to tell, sales-wise, how it helped or hurt. I don't, honestly, think it hurt—and I think it could only have helped, as more and more WoT readers turned their eyes on me and were able to grab a book to read for free. I do plan to do it again in the future, most likely with the Warbreaker sequel.
Is there any information about Way of Kings that you can give us at this time?
I've wanted to do a long epic for a while. I guess that's what comes from reading Jordan and the others while growing up. And so, way back in the late 90's—when I was experimenting with my style—I started working on ideas for a longer form series. I knew the real trick for me would be to do it in a way that it didn't feel stale after just a few books; there needed to be enough to the world, the magic, and the plot arcs that I (and hopefully readers) would keep interested in the series for such a long time.
What it gives me (the thing that I want in doing a longer epic) is the chance to grow characters across a larger number of books. Dig into their pasts, explore what makes them think the way they do, in ways that even a trilogy cannot. In Kings, I don't want to do a longer 'saga' style series, with each book having a new set of characters. I want this to be one overarching story.
One of the things that has itched at me for long time in my fantasy reading is the sense of loss that so many fantasy series have. I'm not complaining, mind you—I love these books. But it seems like a theme in a large number of fantasy books is the disappearance of magic and wonder from the world. In Tolkien, the Elves are leaving. In Jordan, technology is growing and perhaps beginning an age where it will overshadow magic. It's very present in Brooks, where the fantasy world is becoming our world. Even Eddings seemed to have it, with a sense that sorcerers are less common, and with things like the only Dragons dying, the gods leaving.
I've wanted to do a series, then, where the magic isn't going away—it's coming back. Where the world is becoming a more wondrous place. Where new races aren't vanishing, they're being discovered.
Obviously, I'm not the first to approach a fantasy this way. Maybe I'm reading too much into the other books, seeing something that isn't there. But the return of magic is one of the main concepts that is driving me.
Well, that and enormous swords and magical power armor.
Your stories are so in-depth and unique in the magical systems and religions. I was wondering if you have always, even through childhood, been creative with stories? Have some of the ideas in these books been something you created when young and then evolved into a story now? Have you always been interested in writing stories as you grew up? Did you have that notebook in class scribbling full of stories and ideas while sitting in class supposedly taking notes?
I've spoken before on the fact I didn't discover fantasy, and reading, until I was fourteen. (The book, if I haven't mentioned it on this forum yet, was Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly.)
Before then, I was a daydreamer. I was always daydreaming—I was never in the room where I was supposed to be listening or studying. I was off somewhere else. Oddly, though, I didn't make the connection between this and writing until I was given that first fantasy novel.
When I read that book (and moved on to McCaffrey, as it was next in the card catalogue) I discovered something that blew my mind. Here were people who were taking what I did, sitting around and imagining stories, and they were making a living out of it.
I hit the ground running, so to speak. Started my first novel the next fall, began gobbling up fantasy books wherever I could find them, began writing notes and ideas in my notebooks instead of (as you guessed) the notes I was supposed to be taking.
Even after all this, though, I was persuaded that people couldn't make a living as an author. So I went to school my freshman year as a bio-chemist, on track for becoming a doctor. That lasted about one year of frustrating homework and classes spent daydreaming before I made the decision to try becoming a writer.
I found this on a blog posted July 2008. Does it have any relationship to reality?
...No matter your race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or belief system, you will find something to love in The Way of Kings. There were pirates, ninjas, monkeys, fireworks, grand journeys, infidels dragged through streets by dragons and a fair amount of buckles swashed. There were ladies romanced, men romanced, sheep romanced and one scene where even two mice get it on. And if you can forgive an inordinate amount of abuse aimed at Canadians, this just may be the book for you. Be forewarned, however, if you can't abide graphic depictions of sexual content that would make Laurell K. Hamilton blush and cover her naughty bits, you might want to skip this book...
...The way Brandon Sanderson breathes life into this story is inspirational. The characters, the storyline, the magic—seemingly woven (as only Brandon can) from sheer nothingness. One of my favorite parts of the book is where the Wizard Ooflar divides one rather simple system of magic into five complex subsets, each with its own arcane history and labyrinthine steps. Who would have thought the apprentice Pemberly could put an entire village to sleep by tapping out a quadrille in her clogs? Although it would seem implausible, somehow his magical system works, especially the dance-off. I also enjoyed the ten-day feast in section two, chapter 85. I don't know if I'll ever forget the scene in which we see King Horag the Midleth eating live grunthyean orbs. (gag) I loved this book and can't wait for the sequel...
Ha. These are some of the amusing fake reviews for Kings that readers have been posting on Amazon. For some reason, Amazon put up a page for this book years and years ago, when I got my first contract. Somehow, they heard I was working on a book called The Way of Kings, and jumped the gun in adding a page for it, even though I was still working on the book. (I've been planning, writing, and wrestling with this story for some ten years now.)
Anyway, readers noticed the page and began having fun with it. None of them have read the book, but that hasn't stopped them from reviewing it. There are even pictures of it, including photoshops of me holding a fake book. Look for it on Amazon. It's rather amusing.
One common theme in magic systems across fantasy is the use of artifacts to focus, increase or do something specific with the magic. Inclusion of artifacts is something you have avoided in your magic systems (although I will say I haven't missed them). Is there a reason for this? How has your writing changed with the 'forced' introduction of artifacts (i.e. finishing the Wheel of Time)? Do you plan on using artifacts in your own works after you finish the Wheel of Time?
I've not done artifacts for the same reason I've not yet done a lot of things—not because I don't want to, but because I like to keep the focus in a given book or books. There wasn't room for yet another extrapolation in that direction when writing the Mistborn books, and the magic system didn't really allow for it.
However, I think there is a lot of room to explore magic artifacts. I've long been wanting to do something that refines magic and uses technology based on it, in kind of a magic-punk sort of way. Kings, for instance, does use artifacts and magical items—very specific kinds, mind you, that are built into the framework of the magic system. But they're there. One of the big elements of this world will be the existence of Shardplate (magically enhanced, powered plate armor) and Shardblades (large, summonable swords designed to cut through steel and stone.)
This isn't really because of the WoT—I wrote the original draft of this book long before I was published, let alone working on the WoT—but I have always lilked the use of artifacts in the WoT world, and it has been fun to use some of them in that setting.
You have stated in your blog that Mistborn had three magic systems (Allomancy, Feruchemy and Hemalurgy) and also that The Way of Kings will have upwards of 20. For comparison, how many magic systems would you say the Wheel of Time series has? Two (One Power and the True Power)? How do you classify other abilities (not necessarily related to the One Power or True Power) such as Dreamwalking, viewing the Pattern, Wolfbrother-hoodness, and changing 'luck' or chance? Would you classify these abilities as a magic system in and of themselves? Has your chance to see the background material Robert Jordan left changed how you view these abilities?
This kind of gets sticky, as it's all up to semantics. Really, you could say that Mistborn had a different magic system for each type of Misting. But at the same time, you could argue that something like X-Men—with huge numbers of powers—all falls under the same blanked 'magic system.' And take Hemalurgy in Mistborn 3—is it a new magic system, or just a reinterpretation of Allomancy and Feruchemy?
So what do I mean by twenty or thirty magic systems in Kings? Hard to say, as I don't want to give spoilers. I have groupings of abilities that have to deal with a certain theme. Transformation, Travel, Pressure and Gravity, that sort of thing. By one way of counting, there are thirty of these—though by another way of grouping them together, there are closer to ten.
Anyway, I'd say that the Wheel of Time has a fair number of Magic systems. The biggest one would be the One Power/True Power, which is more of a blanket "Large" magic system kind of like Allomancy being a blanket for sixteen powers—only the WoT magic system is far larger. I'd count what Perrin/Egwene do in Tel'aran'rhiod as a different magic system. What Mat does as something else, the Talents one can have with the Power something else. Though I'd group all of the Foretelling/Viewing powers into one.
Sounds like a topic for a paper, actually. Any of you academics out there feel like writing one?
Let's just say that The Wheel of Time has a smaller number of larger magic systems, and I tend to use a larger number of smaller magic systems. Confusing enough? ;)
Someone else’s question was about the safehand.
So that essay he told us about, the one that defined masculine arts as being ones with two hands and feminine needing only one? That was in order to let men secure power over Shardblades.
I also asked him about capitalization.
He talked about how in modern English, capitalization is boring and doesn’t happen often enough, referring back to the Victorian era where they would just capitalize Important Words.
I asked him about parshmen vs Parshendi.
He said that the Parshendi were a nation.
Can someone bond more than one Honorblade?
Honorblade? You can't bond an Honorblade, though it can be given to you. Shardblades, however, come from a spren bond and it is possible to bond more than one.
Does Hoid ever show up somewhere, stand around for awhile, realize that there isn't a novel-worthy plot going on, and leave?
*laughs* Yes, Hoid gets around a lot and that has happened a couple of times. He does not know everything.
Any chance of a Shardspear?
Shardspear? YOU are going to get RAFO'd.
Can Breath be used to power Surgebinding?
They are very similar Investitures, and most of the magics can be powered with the other magics if you are capable of making that happen.
What would happen to the Breath?
The Breath would be consumed in the same way that Stormlight is. A renewing resource, much like atium is.
Are there birds outside of Shinovar on Roshar?
There are, but very few and they are all in the west. So you're not going to find birds in Alethkar for instance. Unless they're chickens that have been brought, or something like that.
To the spren, is becoming mindless the same as death?
They consider it as such.
If Endowment were killed, would the Returned still come?
Somebody needs to hold the magic. If no one holds the magic, the magic will start to gain sentience. Interesting and bizarre things happen then, so I would say yes, but with the caveat that with whoever picks up the power or what happens with the power could end up changing that.
What kind of changes do Slivers go through after letting go of a Shard's power?
It leaves them, imagine it like a balloon that has been deflated.
Okay, so would Rashek still have had powers?
He would have had some residual effects. But it also works the soul in weird ways, like a balloon that has been deflated.
Is there a difference between Shadesmar and the Cognitive Realm?
Shadesmar is a word for the Cognitive Realm specifically touching [Roshar]. It's like San Diego is a word for a place in America. It's a local word.
Does Nightblood rip souls out of people, by chance?
Nightblood consumes Investiture, including the spark of life.
In the cosmere you have so much going on, what happens when you come up with something that would conflict with something else?
Then I don't put that in the cosmere.
For the people you have coming back in the Stormlight Archive--how do you pick who makes the cut?
It just depends on where I feel like going, the interludes are complete freedom for me.
How deep are you going into Shadesmar in Words of Radiance?
Not terribly deep in Words of Radiance. We're going to have to wait until Jasnah or Shallan are exploring it more.
When are we first getting a look at the cosmere coming together?
The third Mistborn trilogy is going to involve--it's the first one I planned to do a lot with. I doubt I will do much in the second Mistborn trilogy, more than I probably have done [so far]. It's fun for me, so I'll keep including things in. You'll notice that Hoid is a bigger part of the Stormlight than previous ones, but I still don't want it to come to the forefront quite yet.
For the Dangerous Women story, are you going to write anything again in that world?
That world will show up again. Silence probably won't, but the world itself, yes. It's called Threnody, it is one of the Cosmere worlds. There's not a Shard there but there are interesting things happening. There's actually been a character in other books who's from Threnody. It will eventually be clear who that is, but they have shown up in many previous Sanderson novels.
Would that be Hoid?
Hoid is not from Threnody. Good question though. Hoid is from Yolen.
You very clearly make rules for the wine in this world, like the different colors and different alcohol content. I was wondering what the inspiration for that is, and also what some of them are actually made from, because it doesn't seem like grapes.
It's not grapes, it's a local fruit. So we would not probably call it wine, we would probably call it something else. And it's based on my desire to do funky things with world building in every way I can. The color is a cultural thing.
For a Windrunner, if he had enough heating fabrials and enough Stormlight, how high up could he get?
You could exit orbit. Windrunners, remember they're gravitation and pressure. So if he knew what he was doing, we have actually factored how long it would take to get to the various moons.
It seems like a movie adaptation would have just constant spren everywhere?
That's why I made it so that not every use of the emotion causes them-so it wouldn't get too crazy even when I'm writing them. And what's happening is the spren exist on the Cognitive plane, on Shadesmar, so they have to be attracted, they have to be nearby enough to flock to you, so it depends on how common the spren is.
Where did you get the basis for the spren?
The spren are partially based out of Shinto mythology, the idea that everything has a soul and a spirit to it. And partially mixing that with my desire to have some sort of a unique representation of emotion in these books.
The coats that the Alethi wear, that the officers wear. Is it a Prussian sort of thing?
I'm thinking in my head probably French early 1800's. Just past Napoleonic. Bound tails.
How did you come up with the whole thing in Mistborn where you use metals?
I was looking for something that bridged science and superstition. Metals had an alchemical feel.
What about Kaladin getting sliced with the Shardblade and then being able to rejuvenate?
That is a clue for what is going on with Szeth and his understanding of Shardblades and the Shardblade he has.
Which is an Honorblade, right?
I can't say, but Szeth says in Book One you can't heal a Shardblade wound with Stormlight. There are other very big but subtle discrepancies between what Szeth does and what Kaladin does.
Why does the Stormfather consider himself dead, or will that be covered?
That will be covered, eventually.
What you can tell me about Investiture?
That is the word for someone or something which has gained a portion of the magic of Adonalsium, so the original whatever-it-is. Like a Shardblade is an Invested object, and people if they draw in the Stormlight, they're drawing in the magic--they're Invested.
A while back someone asked if Hoid's sword is Nightblood, you said that was interesting. Is it similarly Invested?
I'm going to RAFO that. It is a very interesting question.
Do you have a story arc for the whole cosmere?
Yes. I do. The original plot outline was 36 books.
Will we see more of Szeth’s backstory, including how he became a Truthless?
That, you will have to wait for his flashback sequences in a future book. Each character gets a set of flashback sequences. I'm not going to promise that the characters live to the book where their flashback sequences are. You might have a character die and then get their flashbacks the next book to get more information on them. This will be Shallan's flashback, then the next book will be Szeth's flashback, then Eshonai, then Dalinar.
Can you tell me what Wit put in his drink in Shallan's flashback scene?
It was something that you or I would probably not want to eat in our world, but that Wit got some benefit from eating...
Something we've seen in the Mistborn books, perhaps?
[sounding pleased] Yes, perhaps like something you've seen in Mistborn.
Siri comments on how Bluefingers seems to have a supernatural sense of time. Is it really supernatural?
It is not. Good question.
Do Vasher and Vivenna hook up? *laughing*
Uh, that's a definite RAFO.
Who is Susebron's mom?
Um... Oh, I have this... *sighs* So, the thing about it is... You read it, you know, in the book, it's not terribly relevant. And so...
Mhm. But I'm a mom! *laughs*
Yeah, but you're a mom. So it's-- I mean, I have it in the notes, but it's nobody you'd know in the books.
Lemmex. In [Warbreaker] when he's dying he pulses. And later Vasher says that it's rare. What is it...? Don't tell me RAFO...
*presumably hands RAFO card* *stander-by laughs*
Do you know the part in Wheel of Time when Mat is-- seems to be trapped in his *inaudible* ways before he meets Verin?
In the town? I always think, when I read-- Every time I feel like-- Is it a <tone> war?
It is, yeah.
Writing the characters?
And is there any correlation between that and Legion and you?
Oh yeah, most definitely. Legion is... You know, I'm-- I don't actually hear voices or see things. But there is this sort of part of you that becomes a different person all the time. I can see if I were more unhinged I'd be like that or like Shallan.