Recent entries

    A Memory of Light Milford Signing ()
    #8851 Copy

    Viper (paraphrased)

    At one point someone [on 17th Shard] asked you if seons were Shards of--

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Aona.

    Viper (paraphrased)

    Devotion ... yeah Aona, and you said that was close. My question is: are the Aons at the HEART of the seons Shards of Devotion?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    No, but close.

    Viper (paraphrased)

    But... I was sure... the floating Aon at the heart, that's not a Shard...

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    *taking pity* You're close but a word is wrong. You're using the wrong terminology.

    Viper (paraphrased)

    SPLINTER. Are the Aons at the heart of seons SPLINTERS of Aona?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Yes.

    A Memory of Light Milford Signing ()
    #8852 Copy

    Viper (paraphrased)

    The gemhearts/stormgems/whatever that are grown inside the beasts in Way of Kings ... is that the same as the way atium is grown inside geodes in the Pits of Hathsin?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    It's similar. The Pits are an area where there's like a leak from the Spiritual Realm into the Physical. That's what happens there.

    A Memory of Light Milford Signing ()
    #8853 Copy

    Viper (paraphrased)

    So in cosmere, does physics work the same way in the Physical Realm as it does in our world? Specifically, particle physics; and are atoms made up of protons and neutrons and electrons, and is light photons, etc?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Yes.

    Viper (paraphrased)

    So what's at the core of an atom of atium? Ate-teum? Also how do you pronounce it? At-teum?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Yes. And the matter is just normal matter, but it's wrapped in the Spiritual. The Spiritual DNA [or something] is what makes it magical.

    My 14-Year-Old Self Might Take Issue with The Alloy of Law ()
    #8854 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    As we get ready for the release of The Alloy of Law, I find myself wondering what the teenage me would think of what I’m doing in this book.  You see, I became a fantasy addict when I was about fourteen, and one of my mantras quickly became, “If it has guns, it’s not good fantasy.”

    Now here I am, adding guns to my most successful fantasy series.

    Despite the ways I’ve changed over the years, despite my belief that fantasy should be (and is becoming) something more than the standard “guy living in idealized chivalrous England leaves his farm and saves the world,” a voice inside of me is screaming that nobody will buy this book.  Because it has guns.

    I don’t believe that voice, but I think it says something interesting about me and others like me.  Perhaps we fantasy readers sometimes mix up correlation and causation in our fantasy novels.  In fact, I’m more and more convinced that taste for a specific genre or medium is often built on shaky ground.

    An example may help.  I have a friend who once claimed he loved anime.

    Over the years, he consistently found anime shows superior to what he found on television.  But as he started to find more and more anime, he told me that he discovered something.  He liked the anime he’d seen at first because these were the shows that were successful and well made, the ones with the quality or broad appeal to make the jump across cultures.  He found that he didn’t like all anime—he only liked good anime.  Sure, the medium had something important to do with it—but his enjoyment came more from the quality of his sample than the entire medium.

    Likewise, I’ve come to find that what I enjoy is a good story.  Genre can enhance this—I’m probably going to like a good fantasy more than a good thriller or romance because worldbuilding and magic appeals to me.  In the end, however, it isn’t the lack of guns (as my young self assumed) that draws me to fantasy stories.  It’s the care for setting, pacing, and character development.

    This is actually a correlation/causation fallacy, and I wonder if I’m the only one to have made it.  Many of the books in the fantasy section we love (perhaps because of the setting attention or the types of writers attracted to fantasy and SF) have dragons.  Do we therefore make the assumption that we only like books with dragons?  These two things (the dragons and our enjoyment) are parallel to, but not completely responsible for one another.

    On the other hand, maybe I just think about this kind of thing too much.

    Either way, I present to you The Alloy of Law.  A look at the Mistborn world several hundred years after the events of the original trilogy, where the industrial revolution has finally hit and knowledge of gunpowder is no longer suppressed.  That means guns.  Lots of guns.  And magic too.

    The young me might have been horrified, but the thirtysomething me finds the mix to be exciting, particularly in a world where the magic is directly related to metal

    Salt Lake ComicCon FanX 2016 ()
    #8855 Copy

    Questioner

    This is about certain people from Nalthis... living on Roshar and how they are living on Roshar. Could they also do that on Scadrial?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Scadrial would be a lot harder because getting the Investiture out of things on Scadrial is tough, there are ways you could do it but it would be much more difficult.

    Questioner

    Does that have to do with the Investiture being more directed?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, it's more the genetic component is a big part of it. The directed component-- In Roshar its just flowing around all over the place. For instance, if he could get to a Shardpool he could feed off that, but then he's at the Shardpool and that's kind of dangerous and things. Roshar is really the easiest place in the cosmere for him to consistently get this sort of stuff. Taldain would not be bad either, that's the White Sand world but it is inaccessible currently in the cosmere

    Salt Lake ComicCon FanX 2016 ()
    #8856 Copy

    Questioner

    On about Wayne from The Alloy of Law, so reading the first book everyone's smiling because he's a rascal. But he's not really a rascal in the first book. You slowly turned him into a rascal in book 2, filling in what he's done in his past. Book three just a downright rascal... I wanted to know your progression of that character mirrors your progression of that world because the Alloy of Law isn't particularly gritty, but in book three you've got a bit more grittiness.

    Brandon Sanderson

    See, I would argue that two is the grittiest of the three, personally. It's hard for me to talk about this one just because I wrote Alloy of Law as an experiment to see if I liked it, and then I sat down and built a trilogy about those characters, so you could almost imagine that Alloy of Law is a standalone, and the next three are a trilogy about those characters. I don't know that I made any specific decisions in any way, I just said "what is the story I want to tell about these characters with these three books", and then I took them and I dug into them and I felt like I hadn't dug into them deeply enough in Alloy of Law, to really who they were. It was done, again, kind of more as a free writing experiment than an intentional novel, even though I did have an outline and things for it.

    The books two, three, and four--which form a trilogy--have a distinct outline. Any changes are changes kind of focused on that idea. That I took something that was kind of like a seed for a trilogy and then built a trilogy around it. I didn't make any specific determination that I would be more gritty; I think the second book is grittier because of the difference between hunting a group of bank robbers vs. a serial killer. That's gonna have some natural move towards that, but it's not any specific event. That said, reader response is kind of how you decide on these things. I just kind of write the books as I feel they need to be and what you get out of them is certainly valid.

    Salt Lake ComicCon FanX 2016 ()
    #8857 Copy

    Questioner

    I am hugely arachnophobia and I was wondering if you have any phobias or really big fears that might get in the way of writings sometimes.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Do I have any phobias that get in the way of my writing? I don't really have any of that strength. I do think spiders are creepy. They are more creepy in a 'find something and smash them' sort of way. I think the only time I've felt a deep, phobic fear is the first time I went snorkeling and was going along and everything was great, then I turned and looked to where the shelf ended, and I got close to them and I looked down and out into the nothing and there was that moment of just "that thing is so much vaster and bigger than me." that I think I felt that same "I am going nowhere near that, I am coming back", right? It creeped me out for the rest of that snorkeling trip.

    Salt Lake ComicCon FanX 2016 ()
    #8858 Copy

    Questioner

    At FantasyCon they had a panel on why there was so many Mormon sci-fi/fantasy authors and lots of opinions were put out there. Since you tend to think about trends and things like that I wondered what your take was.

    Brandon Sanderson

    What is my take on why there are so many Mormon science fiction/fantasy writers-- successful ones-- Why are there so many. We all have our own theories. It's funny, this is-- Like my first visit to my publisher in New York. One of the editors there asked me that very question, they're like "what's going on out there?" and I've had a lot of time to think about it. I've got a couple of answers, and these are just my arm chair answers.

    Looking at myself, I grew up in Nebraska... so it wasn't like I was really immersed in Utah culture and things but I did notice when Tracy Hickman, and when the fantasy books I was reading, one was written by Tracy Hickman and he had on the back that he was LDS, and Orson Scott Card's books. I thought, "Wow, these are people like me and they are doing this." I think the early success of Scott Card and Tracy Hickman and some of these people was a big deal for those of us who were like "Oh, this is something that I can legitimately do."

    I also think that science fiction/fantasy was a safe counter-culture, meaning, y'know for me in the eighties, yeah, y'know. Counter Cultures were big, sixties, seventies, eighties. They still are of course but you've got this punk and all of this stuff and, y'know, all my friends were smoking pot and all of this stuff and you want to rebel against your parents, right? At the same time you're a good kid, like "I don't want to rebel-rebel", and so when i got into sci fi/fantasy and they didn't get it at all I'm like "I found it!" I can rebel against my parents by playing Dungeons and Dragons, right. This is my grand rebellion! My mother heard all this stuff about Dungeons and Dragons and to her credit she came and just watched us and since there was actually a girl in our group, afterwards I asked her and she was like "You were hanging out with members of the opposite gender, talking to people instead of just playing video games like you always do? I thought it was awesome!" but she didn't tell us that. If I'd known she thought it was awesome it might have been bad, cause she was always like "uhhhh, roleplaying." So I think that that is part of it.

    Early successes, safe counter culture, and then there's kind of the focus on literacy and reading in the community without, kind of-- like, for some reason, I think you can blame Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, the community is not as scared of fantasy as some other religious communities are. You find a lot of Jews in publishing and science fiction and fantasy too, and I think for some of the same reasons that the community, the religion is not quite as frightened of these sorts of things for some reason, so with the focus on literacy you end up, I think, with writers of a lot of different stock. So that's my little sort of three part take on it. Maybe its true, maybe its not.

    Firefight Houston signing ()
    #8859 Copy

    Questioner

    From context and usage, it's fairly clear, sort of, what the word "slontz" means, but what exactly does it mean? Where does it come from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Where does the word "slontz" come from? Alright, alright. Um-- *long pause* Boy, can I even dredge up where that came from? I like to use, particularly in certain worlds where it seems like it fits, I like the made-up swear words. And the made up names, just because I think slang evolves, and slang being individual to the world feels much-- And I know some people find them goofy, but it feels more realistic to me than them using our curse words. It just doesn't seem right. Now there are worlds where it was right, like in Mistborn I used our curse words because I was like, "These are a bunch of thieves living on the street," I wanted it to feel a little harder. Though, you know, it's me, so it's never gonna be that hard. But "slontz," I think I was like, "I wanna come up with some fake Yiddish word that sounds cool," honestly. I like the Yiddish. I hang out with my editor and my agent in New York, and they're both Jewish, and they use all these words that are so much fun. I'm like, "I want a word that sounds like that." I didn't spend too much time on the linguistics of that one, I'll be honest, it was just a fun word that I came up with.

    Firefight Houston signing ()
    #8860 Copy

    Questioner

    Who is your favorite author to read? Fantasy author to read?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My favorite fantasy author to read right now is Terry Pratchett. I think Terry is very, very good. But a very close, maybe tie to Terry Pratchett would be Guy Gavriel Kay, whose works are amazing. Also up there are Robin Hobb, who's quite amazing. The three most recent books I read are Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett, his newest one from last year. I'm a little behind on that. Robin Hobb's Fool's Assassin, very good. The Martian, by Andy Weir. If you haven't read that, it is really spectacular. But by the way, language warning, for you young kids. The main character has quite a bit of a potty-mouth. I also read Naomi Novik's book coming out in June. (I get them early. Ha ha.) And it was spectacular, it's called Uprooted, and it's kind of like a dark fairy tale, and it was very good.

    Firefight Houston signing ()
    #8861 Copy

    Questioner

    What's the name of the fifth book of the Alcatraz Smedry series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Alcatraz Smedry Book Five is called Alcatraz Versus His Own Stupid Self. I think. *chuckles* That might be the subtitle. It might be Alcatraz Versus the Dark Talent. I haven't settled on between those two. If you know Acatraz books, that title should make, be very fun to you.

    Firefight Houston signing ()
    #8862 Copy

    Questioner

    Have you ever done a non-fiction?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Have I ever done a non-fiction? I have written essays on writing, which is the closest I've gotten to non-fiction. I don't know that I will ever get-- Those might be considered fiction. I don't know if I'll ever do a true non-fiction book or not, they just-- I'm really impressed by them. Anyone read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks? I just finished that, it's amazing. The stuff that non-fiction writers-- They take ten years of their life, do all this research, and then write this one book, that's just way too slow for me. I can't see myself doing that, because it just takes to long, but maybe someday.

    Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
    #8864 Copy

    Questioner

    If an Elantrian were aroused when he was taken by the Shaod, what would happen, and what would happen if a pregnant woman was taken by the Shaod.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would say that the baby would enter the same suspended transformation. As for the first question, why don't we RANFO.

    Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
    #8865 Copy

    W. Heus

    How do you feel about the lack of prominent gay characters within the epic fantasy as a genre and do you ever include (or will ever include) gay or lesbian characters in your own work

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's an issue that I feel I should speak about delicately, because it's one of those charged issues that can create a lot of division. But my basic feeling is that a character should not be any more or less sympathetic, or more or less evil, or anything like that, because of sexual orientation or because of basic beliefs or philosophy on things like religion. So there are gay characters in my books, though so far they have been side characters. I don't make a big deal of it, because I tend not to make a big deal of the sexuality of side characters in general. For instance, in The Way of Kings, Drehy, a member of Bridge Four, is gay. He's based on a good friend of mine who is gay. There is a lesbian character in Alloy of Law; again I don't make a big deal of it though it's a little more obvious.

    Basically, I just try to write characters and try to have different makeups of characters. I feel gay characters should be included, and I'm annoyed that sometimes there seems to be an association between including gay characters and using that as a means of making them seem like a reprehensible character. You may know what I'm talking about; I've seen it in books before and it bugs me. Just like it bugs me if an author makes a character religious and the tone of the book implies, "Well, obviously, religious people are all idiots, so I'm not going to make this character actively an idiot, I'm just going to represent them as being religious," which by the tone of the book indicates that they're an idiot. That's not to say that there can't be social structures like religions that will push people toward doing things that are questionable or morally reprehensible—there can, of course, and it will happen—but I'm talking about the individuals. I don't know that I have strong feelings on the subject other than that I think people should be represented as people.

    I wrote a bit more about the subject in my essay on Dumbledore.

    Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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    Kasair74

    What is your process for pre-writing work? (Worldbuilding etc). When you write something and "get stuck" or it doesn't turn out quite as you envisioned, how do you know whether to take it and add something different to make it better, or just move to another project and let the "stuck" project be? (I was thinking of how Mistborn was a combination of two projects that didn't turn out quite as you thought, but combined they increased in awesomeness).

    Brandon Sanderson

    Trial and error. Though for me, setting aside a project is almost always a bad thing for that project. That doesn't mean I don't have to do that sometimes, but if I set aside a project rather than continue to work on it until I've fixed the problem, I've found that my personal makeup means that restarting that project is very difficult. It happens, and I've made it work, and there are great books that I have released where I did it, but usually it can take weeks of effort to get back into that project. Because I'm a linear writer—I start at the beginning and write to the end—if I haven't been writing from the beginning when I pick something up, it can be extremely difficult.

    Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
    #8867 Copy

    Questioner

    I notice Adolin has a talent for picking out when people are lying. At least he caught Sadeas, he caught Amaram, he knew Kaladin was having something, but he missed Danlan.

    Brandon Sanderson

    How reliable is Adolin with his read on people? Better with guys.

    Everyone

    *laughter*

    Brandon Sanderson

    Look at the list you just gave me.

    Firefight Houston signing ()
    #8868 Copy

    Questioner

    Have you ever done fan-fiction?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Have I ever done fan-fiction? ...I have done fan fiction a couple of times. One was this series called The Wheel of Time.

    Crowd

    *thunderous laughter and applause*

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. Technically, right? It was sanctioned fan-fiction by the publisher, but it was basically fan-fiction. I also did a couple of video game tie-ins for a friend of mine, which was essentially fan-fiction. They were friends building a video game, they talked to me about how cool it was, and how it was inspired by my books, and I'm like "Ah, I'd better write something for you." And that's where the Infinity Blade stories come from. I can see myself doing things like that in the future, but not very much. They're only, kind of, in most cases, going to be little forefront fun projects.

    Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
    #8869 Copy

    Questioner

    On Roshar, the Alethi, their hair breeds... I was wondering, what happens if, say, Adolin and Shalan have a child. Does that child have red and black and golden hair? Does this mean that at some point in the future you could have a rainbow haired child?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You can have a rainbow haired child on Roshar. Do know that the hair breeds true. It's easy for it to be bred out.

    Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
    #8871 Copy

    Questioner

    Are there times when you regret saying too much?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, there are times when I regret saying too much. What I regret more is when I say something that I know came off wrong and is going to send the fan base down the wrong paths. I don't like to do things like that. Robert Jordan liked that, I don't like that. I want to give truthful answers, I want to leave mystery where there is mystery. Like the Lord Ruler's kids where everyone is searching like "where are they". Anyways, there was one at the latest release we did where I knew I was wiggling around it and was gonna send them in the wrong direction. Afterwards I felt bad.

    Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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    The Not So Dark One

    With your penchant for developing very different types of world and types of magic as you go from series to series are you ever tempted to allow other writers to expand your universes in the way George R. R. Martin does with the Wild Cards series? Open but controlled?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have never been tempted by this, basically because I have so many things balanced in the Cosmere to not interfere with one another, to make the story come out the way I want. I would be worried about things breaking continuity. And if there are stories in these worlds worth telling, they're stories I want to tell. That doesn't mean I won't eventually do something like that; I would consider it someday, but I haven't considered it yet.

    Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
    #8873 Copy

    Jvstin

    On your Writing Excuses podcast you mentioned a love of maps, especially maps that thematically work with the world of the book (such as the maps in your The Way of Kings). Given that, what is your all-time favorite fantasy novel map?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Wow, that's putting me on the spot. There are many different aspects I like about a lot of different maps. I love how the map in The Hobbit is the map the characters carry around. That struck me when I read that book. I really liked how David Eddings' books had a big map and then a zoom-in for every section when the characters would go there. But I wouldn't call either of those my favorite fantasy map.

    The main Wheel of Time map is certainly one of the prettiest. But the best I've probably seen is the one from Leviathan. That one kind of blew me away.


    Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
    #8874 Copy

    Questioner

    Can you tell me how many souls Hoid has?

    Brandon Sanderson

    How many Breaths? No, but I can tell you you could look up the minimum he has based on the heightenings and things that he says.

    Questioner

    Right, and all that i know is that he has perfect pitch.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. There is room to rise from that, so I'm not going to confirm anything else, just keep an eye on him.

    Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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    Eric Lake

    Here's a quote. "Why, the Astalsi were rather advanced—they mixed religion with science quite profoundly. They thought that different colors were indications of different kinds of fortune, and they were quite detailed in their descriptions of light and color. Why, it's from them that we get some of our best ideas as to what things might have looked like before the Ascension. They had a scale of colors, and use it to describe the sky of the deepest blue and various plants in their shades of green." Do the pre-Ascension religions correspond to religions from other Shardworlds, as this one seems somewhat like Nalthis?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I mention this in one of the Well of Ascension annotations.

    After I came up with the idea and had Sazed mention it, my desire to explore it more was one of the initial motivations for Warbreaker's setting.

    The answer to your question is yes and no. There are shadows.

    Firefight Houston signing ()
    #8876 Copy

    Questioner

    Of these books that you wrote in the past that you have not published, will any of them be available online?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Will any of the unpublished books be available? ...Most of them, no, they won't be available. They aren't very good. The first few, in fact, are really bad. Number six was Elantris, which after a lot of revision I eventually sold. Number seven was Dragonsteel, which was my honor's thesis at BYU and is Hoid's backstory. That is only available through inter-library loan because the book is bad, and I won't let anyone else have it, but BYU has a copy. They loan it to people. The one after that was called White Sand, which we're redoing as a graphic novel right now. If people really want to read the prose version of that, I send it to them if they write me an email and ask. Because it's not aggressively bad, it's just kind of weak, does that make sense? The big weakness of it is that it's too long for its story, and I found that, looking back through it, that I can trim it and turn it into a graphic novel that would be really solid. It's just that it's got too many pages for the story, and you have to trim a lot for a graphic novel anyway. So I think that one will work. A couple of the other ones got cut up and turned into other books, and number 13 was The Way of Kings, which I rewrote from scratch when I released it. It's a very different book now, but it was kinda the first draft of that.

    Footnote: Brandon has since changed the method for obtaining the prose draft of White Sand. It is now automatically sent out to anyone who signs up for the newsletter on his website.
    Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
    #8877 Copy

    Questioner

    What's the difference between a spike prepared for a Koloss and a spike prepared for a Mistwraith or Kandra? What side effects might occur from... [?]... Koloss spikes?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's the pieces of the soul that are being ripped off and the amount of the soul that's being ripped off. That's a big part of it. What side effects would there be? You would probably not get something as intelligent.

    Questioner

    What's the difference in how you prepare those spikes?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Koloss spikes, you've seen how their done. The Kandra spikes were prepared by the Lord Ruler. He gave them to them, and so we don't know what he did, at least in canon.

    Questioner 2

    That means that we kind of screwed up the role playing.

    Brandon Sanderson

    You can totally do- I imagine all the role playing happening in a slightly different alternate universe, where there are slight variations and differences.

    But yeah, there are no- Kandra spikes are prepared and given by the Lord Ruler, they didn't even know how to make them themselves. I mean they had an inkling of what went on, but they didn't know.

    Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
    #8879 Copy

    Maru Nui

    You've said you lifted the Shattered Plains from Dragonsteel, what would Kaladin have been doing if not running bridges and what will happen to Dragonsteel without the Plains?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Both good questions. I've spoken before of the big changes that happened when I wrote The Way of Kings 2.0. One of them was bringing in the Shattered Plains. The problem was that there was a big hole in Kaladin's storyline, because in the original manuscript of The Way of Kings (major spoiler), he accepted the Shardblade. That was the prologue of the book; Kaladin—then known as Merin—saved Elhokar's life. They tried to take the Shardblade away from him, and Dalinar insisted that he be given it. So Merin was made a Shardbearer in the very first scenes of the book. And from that point, his character never worked. So in doing the second version of the book, I decided that no, we've got to build more into this, we've got to dig deeper, and he has to make the opposite decision, which is where the entire framework of him turning down the Shardblade and then being betrayed all came from. The problem was then what was he going to do? I knew I wanted him to have therefore ended up sold into slavery and have terrible things happen to him, but I couldn't figure out what Kaladin was going to do and was unable to write the book until I mashed in the Shattered Plains and said, "Ah, that was what he needed to be doing all along."

    I really don't know what I'll do in Dragonsteel without that now. The problem is that it was the part of Dragonsteel that worked, but it was the part that was most at odds with the story in Dragonsteel. The story that I wanted to tell was the first half of the book, which is the more boring part. Hopefully as a better writer now I can make that part more interesting, but that was the core of what Dragonsteel was. The Shattered Plains was always just going to be a small diversion, but when I wrote it it was fascinating, and I ended up pouring tons of effort and time into it. In many ways it was a distraction, a deviation, a beautiful darling. So for a long time I've been thinking, "I can't kill my darling, because that's the most exciting part of the book." Yet it was at odds with what the story of the book was originally intended to be. I wasn't as good at controlling my stories back then, making them come out to have the tone I wanted. Anyway, we'll have to approach that when I actually write Dragonsteel.

    Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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    Daedos

    When did you develop your idea to have multiple series playing out on different planets? How many separate stories do you plan to tell in said universe, and will your Dragonsteel books be the last?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I started doing this early in my career before I got published, when I felt that writing sequels was not a good use of my time. Just look at the hypothetical; if I'm trying to get published and I write three books in the same, if an editor rejects book one, he or she is not going to want to see book two. But if an editor rejects book one but is optimistic about my writing, I can send them a book from another series and they can look at that.

    During my unpublished days I wrote thirteen books, only one of which was a sequel. So I had twelve new worlds, or at least twelve new books—some of them were reexaminations of worlds. But I wanted to be writing big epics. This is what I always wanted to do; something like the Wheel of Time. So I began plotting a large, massive series where all these books were connected, so I could kind of "stealth" have a large series without the editors knowing I was sending them books from the same series. It was mostly just a thing for me, to help me do the writing I wanted to be doing. And then when publication came I continued to do that, and told the story behind the story.

    I originally plotted an arc of around 36 books. The total has varied between 32 and 36; 32 would work better for the nature of the universe, but the question is whether I can fit everything into 32 books. I won't say whether Dragonsteel will be the last or not.

    Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
    #8881 Copy

    Questioner

    Kelsier vs. Kaladin, who wins?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Kelsier is meaner. Kelsier is sneakier. Raw power - I'm not sure, but I'm gonna go with Kelsier. If its on a battlefield, Kelsier doesn't win. If its off the battlefield, Kelsier wins. Kaladin is a soldier. He can fight a war and fight with a team and he can win a battle. Kelsier can sneak into someones house and stab them.

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    Goron

    You've mentioned before that all your books so far are in chronological order (Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, Stormlight Archive). Alloy of Law takes place about 200 years after The Hero of Ages. (Right?) Does this put it chronologically before or after Warbreaker?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Alloy of Law takes place around 300 years after The Hero of Ages and several hundred years before the events in The Way of Kings. That does put it around the same time as Warbreaker.

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    Questioner

    I want to know how you get into the zone while writing. How do you go from normal Brandon Sanderson life to... how do you make the transition.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Usually, if I'm having trouble, going for a walk, turning on music, thinking about what I'm going to be doing for the day. Sitting down, turning on music and starting. If I'm having any trouble, reading what I wrote the day before helps. Usually there is not a difficulty for me but those help me if there is.

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    Locke219

    I know it's a RAFO, but how the eff did Wyrn see into the future? That seems above even a Shardholder's abilities! I bet that sucker's tapping into the Shadesmar. But I digress...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ha, wow, that is indeed a RAFO. Note that we have seen temporal abilities in the cosmere before. Most of the time these are related directly to the pure essence of a Shard or to a Splinter.

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    Questioner

    So, you teach classes at BYU. Is there any chance of you ever actually teaching an online class, or like a class outside of BYU?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Is there a chance of teaching an online class, or a class outside. There is a chance. It's not a likely one. Just because an online class sounds miserable to me. I'm sorry, it just does; I like face-to-face interaction and one of the reasons I teach the class is to get out of my house. Because most of the time I'm just alone in there working on stories, so getting out and interacting directly with aspiring writers is very important to me, it's very fun to me. I can see myself doing that at other universities, being invited as a guest lecturer for a semester, and things like that. I can totally see that happening in the future. But I do put all of my classes online.

    Questioner

    I know, I've watched all of them.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, you've watched them. The other thing is, I do kinda do some things like this, sometimes at conventions. So, if you get me invited to your local science fiction convention, I will do that. I've come to two of them, no, three of them in Texas before, so I do do that. I also do things like the Writing Excuses retreat and things like that. So I do try to make myself available, but I have to be careful. I could spend all of my time doing that instead of writing. And that would be a bad idea, because writing is my first love. Teaching is my second love, I do enjoy teaching, which is why I haven't let go of the class. But I would hate to sacrifice everyone's books for me running around blabbing. I do enough of it on tour.

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    Questioner

    What was your favorite book you wrote?

    Brandon Sanderson

    ...That I've made? Um, it's hard for me to pick my favorite book or my favorite character from my books, because it's kind of like trying to pick my favorite child. And I can't do that. I like them all as I'm working on them.

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    Questioner

    I notice how in the different worlds you have different sets of powers. Elantris has two gods in it, two Shards, and there are four powers that we've seen, and we've seen three powers on Scadrial. Do you have kind of a formula or general rule for how many magic systems there are in a place?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. I was looking at this and decided that what people call a magic system is more a human construct of etymology and categorization than it is an actual true magic systems. You could claim that all the magics on Roshar are just one magic system: applying the powers of nature through the Knights Radiant and stuff like that. You could say that is just one magic. You could say that the magics on Sel, Elantris' world, are all the same magic. People divide them into systems saying "these are Aons and these are with the Skaze" but those are kind of the same thing, it's just different powers. So that's a human construct just like saying animal, vegetable, mineral, mammal, non-mammal. That's a human construct. Yes there are Laws in nature that we are using as our guidelines but those are our constructs.

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    Locke219

    When Dilaf is instructing the monks in how to kill the Elantrians, he mentions purification rites that need to be spoken. Do the rites have to do with the Dor? Or are they purely religious/ritualistic?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They are mostly ritualistic, but a lot of what the Dakhor do is strongly influenced by the Skaze. Read into that what you will.

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    Questioner

    I loved Firefight... what happens to Houston?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, what happened to Houston, yeah! *laughter* One of my favorite things is, like, destroying my favorite cities. I do this in my epic fantasy. If you've read The Rithmatist, I turned my hometown in Nebraska into the dark tower that all the evil comes out of. And Chicago, one of my favorite cities, has turned to steel. I just melted Houston. Because it's hot here, it kinda made sense to melt, but yeah. Sorry. *laughter* I apologize for melting you. But, y'know, you-- You probably got out. *laughter* You were smart enough to go "They're all evil. I'm going to go somewhere else." It was all those people from the political party you don't like that melted.

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    Locke219

    Can Returned have children? If so, who was the first Returned to do so?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm going to have to RAFO that one because it's a big RAFO question for the world. In-world, it is believed both that they cannot and that they can. Mythology speaks of it happening, yet many Returned by their own experiment have not been able to have children.

    Footnote: Brandon does confirm in the annotations for Warbreaker that it is possible for Returned to have children, but there are certain requirements that are not currently known.
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    Nightfire107

    Does the sand storytelling Hoid uses in Warbreaker have anything to do with your future possible trilogy "White Sand" written about in a recent blog?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, it does not. This is a storytelling method that Hoid developed on his own. It does have a relationship to The Liar of Partinel.

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    Joeh42

    In Warbreaker, is Clod the Lifeless body of Arsteel? I like this idea because Arsteel would have had some Breaths within him when he died, as this is how Vashir defeated him and Denth, and this could help explain why he seems to be a little more self-aware than most Lifeless. Could you respond to this idea?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I confirmed in the Warbreaker annotations that Clod is Arsteel.

    Clod is more self-aware than most Lifeless. There is something left of Arsteel within Clod. The Breaths that Vasher gave him when he killed him do have an effect on this.

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    Ghero6

    In Vahr's case, did collecting Breath from other rebel-minded people strengthen his determination and resolve?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It would have had an influence on him, but you would need the numbers of Breaths that he had for any effect to manifest. It's basically a non-issue in the current book, but it could be an issue in some of the things that will happen in the next book.

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    Questioner

    What gave you the idea to use chalk in Rithmatist?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I cant even remember. I was just wanting to play magical Starcraft on the ground and chalk made the most sense.

    Questioner

    With the chalk *inaudible*

    Brandon Sanderson

    They do not believe right now, but the study of actual chalk composition is a relatively new science that they have not paid enough attention to.

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    Rose Greene

    We are all fans of all of Brandon's stuff in our house, but we are particularly taken with Alcatraz. And I'm very alarmed by the publisher description that Shattered Lens is the "fourth and final book." Because the story isn't over yet! End of comas? Altar of encyclopedias? Attica?? Please, PLEASE reassure us that there is indeed another book coming out. Because otherwise we might have to picket Scholastic's offices or something!

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'd be happy if you would picket—though I say that mostly jokingly. I didn't want them to put that on the book. It's not the last book. But those who know what's happened behind the scenes know that Scholastic and I have not seen eye to eye on how the Alcatraz books have been packaged and distributed.

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    Questioner

    Secret history gave a lot of answers but a lot more questions. Will we get more answers in the next Mistborn book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The next Mistborn book will have some answers but not Secret History level answers. It is still mostly focused on Wax and Wayne, Steris and Marasi, and finishing up their stories. By the time we get to third era Mistborn we are gonna start seeing a lot more creep in of some of this stuff. Its really fourth era were gonna see the most. The further we go in the Cosmere the more things will creep in. Mistborn; there be a lot more creeping in than in Way of Kings.