[Destroyed cities is a theme in The Reckoners, there was a war in Portland] Did you have anything specific in mind for Seattle?
Yes, but I don’t want to canonize it… I have to save it for when I’m actually writing.
[Destroyed cities is a theme in The Reckoners, there was a war in Portland] Did you have anything specific in mind for Seattle?
Yes, but I don’t want to canonize it… I have to save it for when I’m actually writing.
What happened with Abraham’s court martial?
So that is backstory that is a RAFO. Why Abraham was there is not something he necessarily likes to talk about, not that he’s shy, but at the same time it’s not something he easily talks about. And so I will not talk about it, I will let him, someday perhaps, talk about it.
We’ve seen the Cognitive Realm now on Roshar with the spheres and Scadrial with the mists. So what does it look like on Nalthis and Sel?
Uh that is a big fat RAFO.
Hoid uses the term subastral, is that the term for a region of the Cognitive Realm, like Shadesmar is?
Yeah. It’s like planet but-- That’s his term for the different-- Because Shadesmar is all like one plane.
So wait you’re saying subastral is different?
No subastral is a region of Shadesmar.
Any kind of Investiture to make a Shardblade?
Not any but there are multiple methods. Some work better than others.
Can you Forge a Shardblade?
To Forge a Shardblade, meaning make a regular sword through Forgery into a Shardblade, would require so much Investiture it’s like asking if we can make lead into gold using a particle accelerator. Yes but it's horribly, horribly, horribly inefficient.
Kaladin. I've heard before that authors, when they write characters, particularly heroic characters, they try to put traits that they like about themselves or that they aspire to in these characters. And when I read about Kaladin, he was everything I've aspired to. But he also had this reluctance to it, almost depression. What were you thinking when you wrote Kaladin? What traits did you have in him?
Well, one thing is that he does have depression. That's just an aspect of his personality. I was looking at Kaladin as kind of... extremely loyal, almost to a fault. He's got a bit of this, what we call a superhero complex, where he takes responsibility for things that other people have done. And that can be really advantageous when he's on your side, but it can also be kind of soul-crushing. That's a big aspect of him. The other big aspect of Kaladin is his training as a surgeon, and then discovering that he's really good at killing people. And that contrasted side of him creates a big part of the mix of who he is, the pull from my father versus the pull from my spirit.
Do you backstock on neat characters?
I do have some characters I haven't found places for yet.
Is it just kind of like a mix/match? Do you find a world for them or...
So characters are the hardest one for me to define. Because I need to discover who they are by writing through their viewpoint for a while. And it's an exploration. Other things, I can plot, I can outline, I can plan ahead. Characters, I can't. I need to explore them. So, really, what I have are seeds, conflicts. They could grow into a character. And I'll sometimes try them out, and they won't work, and I'll send that seed back.
If Vasher is on Roshar where the hell is Vivenna?
OOOOOH that’s a RAFO!
If Kelsier hadn’t died and became Emperor instead of Elend, how would he have ruled?
Poorly. He would have gotten bored pretty fast.
Who’d win, Vin or Kaladin?
On a battlefield Kaladin, off a battlefield probably Vin.
Is Yesteel on Roshar right now?
That is a RAFO.
Were Hoid and Frost some of the older humans created by Adonalsium?
You will find that out eventually… Frost is not a human.
Secret History was cool, thank you for that. Do you plan to have a series of that?
If I can squeeze them in.
Would they primarily be in the Cognitive Realm like this one?
Not always, they’d just be behind the scenes stuff happening with characters who are more cosmere aware.
Was Adonalsium the one who created the cosmere universe as a whole?
That is widely assumed to be the case.
With The Reckoners you had to make the decision not to put it into your cosmere cosmology, was that a difficult one?
It was not difficult once I realized I did not want Earth to be part of everything else.
If it had been would Calamity have been a Shard of Adonalsium?
That’s an interesting question. Maybe.
Did you worry with Secret History that it was a bit too meta for people who had no idea…
No, that’s why all the warnings are there. It’s kind of intended for the people who want something, does that make sense? Like it isn’t really-- it is a story, but it's not a real story, it’s got weird narrative and things to it. It is there for those who really want to know.
And I’m one of those people, I just have to wonder if you had no idea you’d be really confused through at least the first half.
Yes you would. But that’s why all the warnings are there.
Are you going to have Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series pulled into the cosmere?
How many worlds does [the cosmere] have in it?
A couple hundred. A couple hundred stars.
How many planets are your books going to use?
Habitable worlds, in Goldilocks zones? There's probably 20 or 30, maybe a few more. Maybe up to 50, but you'll only really... there'll be like, ten or so core planets that you'll see stories from.
Is Calamity actually a worldhopper?
Calamity, I didn't write this as a part of the cosmere. The main distinction is I didn't want Earth to be in the cosmere, I want it to be distinct. Once I stick Earth in, the cosmology and things doesn't work. The cosmere is a dwarf cluster, and it's a dwarf galaxy, it's a cluster of stars. It's a specific place, and Earth's not part of it.
What can you tell me about where spren come from?
Spren come from where everything in the world of Roshar comes from. The are a natural part of life there. They come from the same place rocks and the wind and all of that...
Well you answered my question about Allomancers being able to burn metals in other realms. Is that because the Shards are sort of… My impression from the book was that the Shards were, in the Mistborn books, specifically in that area but is it because the universe is formed across all of them that that is why the metals...
So, most of the magics are not region-dependent, because the Spiritual Realm-- in the Spiritual Realm space doesn’t exist. All things are the same distance from one another.
Okay, so when Kelsier is in the-- Which Realm is he in?
He’s in the Cognitive Realm.
Is he seeing people from other worlds or is he--
No, he meets some people who are traveling but Cognitive Realm is location dependent. He is on the Cognitive Realm on Scadrial and the people he runs into there-- until he kind of travels off into space, which is where he finds the fortress.
So even though he’s tied to Scadrial could he go to the Cognitive Realm of other worlds?
He would have trouble getting to another planet, being a Cognitive shadow like he was.
So is there some particular thing that somebody would need to have to be able to move between the realms?
A body is helpful. Depends on what their ties are and things like that. Not always, but yeah.
So, when you were coming up with superhero names, did you have to look them up to make sure somebody hadn't done it already?
Yeah, I had to make sure that they weren't... impossible-to-use names that somebody hasn't done, I just had to make sure they weren't super popular. And some I was able to find that people hadn't done. But some, I'm like, "I have to use this name anyways." But, like, my first three names, like Nightwielder, people had used. I eventually found one that hadn't been used.
Was that frustrating?
Uh, it's kinda like the "Simpsons did it" thing. People complain that every plotline's been done by the Simpsons. Superhero powers have all been done, superhero names have all been done; but stories have all been told before. So, it's "What can you add to it?" that you ask yourself.
So, of the ones that you came up with, how many would you say you looked up and were like "aaaah..."
I would say about half.
I'm doing video game design, and I'm curious: what are your thoughts on constructing interesting stories, because we're kind of getting to a point where video games are able to tell... like, people are getting used to, basically, interactivity being a medium <with which> to tell a story. I'm curious, from having spent some time developing your craft, how to link that in with being forced to have the 'main character' <do that more often sorts>?
Yeah, I think there are so many cool <different ways> of people who are doing it, but I'm not sure I can point out and say "This is the right way." I know that my favorite stories from video games tend to be ones where they force you to experience the story without forcing you to stop the game. Things like in inFAMOUS where you're riding from position to position, you're on the phone with people. Or things like Dark Souls, where you kinda just reveal it all around you. I don't like the games where they stop. And play a cutscene.
Where it takes you out of the game, and it's like, 'movie time.'
Yeah. I think there's <a way beyond doing that>. I also really like it when something about the form of the game enhances the story. Like how <Braid> was with <the guy who could rewind time to move stuff back>, stuff like that. There’s all sorts of cool things happening, VR’s only going to make that more interesting.
For spren, when the Oaths are broken I’m kind of envisioning the mind of the spren gets trapped in that person’s Spiritweb somehow. Is that along the right lines or not along the right lines?
Ehhh, in between those two answers.
So burning prayers, is that so certain Shard’s can hear what’s being said?
I’ll leave that one vague for now.
Have we ever seen the Physical embodiment of either Odium or Cultivation? Similar to what we saw with Ruin chasing...Vin?
So... Physical embodiment is kind of hard thing to define with Shards because you could argue that everything is a physical embodiment of them, does that make sense?
Yes. I mean more a physical form that the uses share--
Oh okay, okay. So have you ever seen Odium’s? I don’t believe you’ve seen Odium’s.
What about Cultivation’s?
Cultivation is a RAFO.
And then the curse Kelek’s Breath, is that a clue as to the origin of some of the Heralds?
Erm… Explain why you think it might be.
Uh, well, Warbreaker. The use of Breath… It seems like they have similar strength to somebody who has extra Endowment. So I’m wondering if they come from-- I can’t remember the name..
The Heralds-- You’re wondering if the Heralds come from Nalthis?
The Heralds do not come from Nalthis, but that is an excellent question.
I kind of envision the Old Magic working a little bit like Hemalurgy, where some-- takes a part of the Physical DNA of the person and transmutes it onto the Cognitive DNA because everything seems to be a Cognitive shift for the person, am I thinking along the right lines?
You are thinking along very-- Yes you are thinking along the right lines. I won’t tell you exactly but you are thinking along the right lines.
For all the spren, like the honorspren and the liespren, I’ve noticed that all of the characters, the honorspren have been girls and all the liespren have been boys. Is that just ‘cause all the people who attract liespren are girls and all the other people--
So it’s not a one to one ratio of people who are more likely to attract a spren of the opposite gender.
Is there a reason for that?
Yeah I’ll delve into it eventually in the books. Maybe just obliquely, but there is a reason for it.
Why does everyone know about his [Kaladin] Stormblessed name? Like Gaz knows about it before he survives the highstorms. Like how do they know?
How do they know? The rumors were already spreading, people started talking about it and things like that.
What would happen if you went to the Nightwatcher asked for your boon to have a boon and no curse?
Probably end up with nothing?
It depends on the mood the Nightwatcher is in. When you read Book 3 of Stormlight you’ll get to see a little bit of what the Nightwatcher is, and that will inform what you think about these things, okay?
Vasher/Zahel is a Returned, which means he needs Breath to live. But Breath doesn’t exist on Roshar. Does he use St--
He uses Stormlight. One of the reasons-- In fact one of the primary reasons he’s on Roshar is because Stormlight is so much easier to come by than Breath. And in fact researching about things like this is one of the reasons he discovered Roshar in the first place.
So it’s the same reason why Night-- the sword…
The exact mechanics of how Nightblood ended up there will be explored in a future book.
When are we going to see Ironeyes again?
He will probably make an appearance in The Lost Metal. I’m not sure he will be back from where he is in time.
How do your religious views affect the way you write?
You know, being religious means one of my mandates is, I always want to approach everyone's beliefs with reverence. Nothing bothers me more than seeing the one person who's a theist, who is an idiot, surrounded by everyone else. So, I like to explore these issues, I really like to kind of dig in to all these different perspectives. Being fascinated by it by myself makes me make it an element of my books.
As a writer, I tend to be more character-driven. I love what you've done with the character development of the two of these guys throughout the series. How much of them growing throughout the series, as you work on everything else, it comes together?
You know, characters I don't plot out as much. It's very easy to write them being cardboard. So, I try to let it be an outgrowth of what they're passionate about. Just kind of letting the passions of the characters drive their reactions in the narrative, and I think you'll never go wrong with that.
How often do your dreams ever influence your books?
Once in awhile.
Once in awhile.
Yup. […] writer you have a cool dream […] something there […] Usually there’s not but once in awhile there really is something and it turns around in your head and eventually ends up in the books.
So I just finished The Bands of Mourning, which was my favorite out of that series. Did you know when you were writing Alloy of Law how you were going to link this to the original, with the kandra, the bands of the Lord Ruler...
Yeah the kandra were seeded, MeLaan you can go and look back in the original three. Like I’m going to use her in the next series, for sure. Now what I usually do is when I’m starting a series, and I did this for this one, is I will write the first book in the series. So I did this with Steelheart, I did this with the original Mistborn, I did this with Alloy of Law. I write the first book, I sit down, and say “Okay, what worked about that, what can I expand upon” and then I outline the series with those characters and then go back and revise the first one to match and then I release the first one. Does that make sense? So not everything do I know writing the first one but by the time I’m through the revisions I usually do.
So the reasons the fans...*inaudible* ...because I've found-- there's some authors I've read who allowed that to happen, and it seemed like it could compromise the integrity of the book. However, once in a while someone will ask a question, I'm like, "...yeah," right? Like someone asked about-- if Shallan might have some latent bi tendencies, right? And she'd been admiring women throughout the books. I'm like, "Yes, she probably does." Like that's something that was there that I hadn't vocalized, so that happens. And once in a while they ask me questions I'm just stumped on because I hadn't even considered it. In those cases I'll either say that or I'll just say, "RAFO, I need to think about it."
Yes, yes. Well, you come up with the fundamentals of a magic... *brief interruption* ...then some questions can be easily answered. If you know, okay-- how-- Like with Elantris the fact that they could do it in any medium. They could chisel it. They could do all of these things to get the-- if they want to get it drawn in the air, says that, you know,... *inaudible*. And so if you have the fundamentals and they are consistent, you can extrapolate. And the fans should be able to extrapolate too.
How many Eternal Masters boxes are you buying?
"How many Eternal Masters boxes am I buying?" That's in Magic: The Gathering... Here's the thing. I have a powered cube, right? So Eternal Masters, I'm like... You know? So I usually play one draft of this, but then... It's fun, but it's-- You know, I've got the cube, right? So anything that we've-- if we want a very complex, weird drafting environment then we just grab that.
Could you write something about Dawnshards that we don't/won't know?
One Dawnshard is different from all the rest.
So when you use an Allomancy metal--I know you had mentioned it once time, like *inaudible*... My question was, when that happens, is the metal like actually gone, or like conservation of...
No, it's becoming Investiture. Yeah, so... Investiture, energy, and matter are the same thing in the first category of *inaudible*.
I was wondering if it would be possible to make a fabrial that works on, like, Connectivity or some of the more abstract things like that?
Yeah, this is possible. Fabrials can do a lot more than they've been used for so far.
So any chance of a horror story?
Yes. I actually have written one I consider horror. A short story. It was in a horror anthology. We're going to publish it with *inaudible* [anthology]. You'll be able to read it. But--
It's non-cosmere, yeah. It's [the most horrifying thing I can] *inaudible* It's not going to read like one until you figure out what's going on. It's not like horror... monster movie horror, you know?
Yeah, I mean it's still [wacky] magic and things like that, but when you realize what's going on. Yeah.
I know the Cosmere has been around for a while. *inaudible* I guess it's a hard thing. Like, how soft...
No, it's all still evolving. It will continue. Like, you can't get so locked into an outline--even though I have them--that you don't change it when something better comes up. A big example of this is Adolin, right? Adolin was not *inaudible* character. And yet in the first book I needed *inaudible* I needed a viewpoint of somebody who was not imagining things, right? Somebody who was kind of more normal guy-ish. And he has a huge thing in the book. So now the outline of all ten books has changed because *inaudible*. And so, you've got to be willing to do that, I feel, as a writer.
How did you come up with Kaladin?
With Kaladin? Um, it was the idea of healer who finds out that they're really good at killing people. Yeah, he's really good at killing people. And that comflict of, "Am I a healer or am I a hurter?" Like, "Can I hurt to hurt to heal?" *inaudible*
So, last time you were here, I know that the Mistborn movie had kinda fell through. Any other nibbles, are we gonna see something?
Any other nibbles? ...So, Mistborn had just fallen through last time. We did resell Mistborn, and I've seen the treatment. So, the steps to getting a film made. Start with them giving me money. *laughter* The important part. Step two is usually a treatment, this is where they take the book and they do, not a full screenplay, but kind of a ten-page summary adaptation of what they're going to cut, what they're going to add, that they will then hand to a screenwriter. Next step would be to give that to the screenwriter that they hire, who they usually have hired, and have them do a screenplay of it. Next step then, generally, is going to people with lots of money and say "Hey, will you fund this?" Conversely, they can go to people who are content-makers, like a director or the talent, so to speak, or a star, and get them attached. So, when one of those happens, it's easier to get the other ones. And then, finally, is a green light. So, you can see, we're right at the beginning again. We had gotten to the screenplay stage last time, but the screenplays were just not that great, and the people who were doing it before were just not very powerful in Hollywood. I love them, they were great guys, but they came to me very early on, and so it was a longshot.
So, the new treatments are very good. I'm hopeful for what's happening there. For other things, we have The Emperor's Soul, in works with DMG. They worked with Marvel on the Iron Man films. They're a part of the funding company for those. We have just sold Steelheart to Fox. Specifically, to the producer and director of Real Steel (which is a great film, if you haven't seen it) and the Night at the Museum movies. And then, we have one more in the works... Legion. We have a Legion television show in the works.
So, as far as I know, the Wheel of Time rights have lapsed, and there's a discussion of what to do with those now. Because the people trying to make a film of those were not able to get a film made. They should have been doing a television show all along, I know, but-- Anyway. So there we are, that's how it stands, and the video game is still kinda spinning its heels as well.
So, have they optioned the first trilogy, or just the first book? How does that work?
With Mistborn, they have optioned the entire thing. They basically optioned the whole world. Though, the people who have The Emperor's Soul, it's very fun, because they started to go down the cosmere rabbit hole. Yes, for those who don't know, my epic fantasy books are all connected, and they're all in the same universe. And so, their guy they assigned to it, the studio exec, read the book, and he's like, "Ah, there's some references to other things." And he went and read those, and he went and read those, and now he's read everything. He called me, and he's like, "Uhhhhh...." He's flown out twice to try to get a handle on the whole cosmere thing, what they can put in, what they can't put in. They wanna have a Hoid cameo at the very least, and stuff like that. So that's been very, very fun.
Will you be able to advise on these movies? Do you have any creative control at all?
Do I have creative control, or can I advise? Well, in several of the contracts, mostly the Mistborn and the Emperor's Soul one, I have executive producer roles. In Hollywood, executive producer is the throwaway credit, though. That's one that they pat you on the head, bring out out, let you watch, and then they give you, like, a chair with your name on it you can take home or something, I don't know. They've been very easy to work with so far, so I have confidence that they would allow me, and in both contracts we got the requirement that I can come on-set anytime I want to, not just the one time, which is good. And they've taken my advice on the treatments. I am not powerful enough to get anything more than that. You have to be, like, two levels above me before you can really get any influence in Hollywood. Even, like, Tom Clancy, when he was starting, couldn't. JK Rowling could. And people like that. So, if I can get a good film made, and it takes off, I think all future contracts I'll have more influence, but right now I'm just kind of up to what they will let me.
This [Perfect State] is a story, a novella that I wrote, oh, maybe three years ago now. It was between two books, at some point, and I didn't have anything to do, but I knew a revision was coming back soon, so I didn't want to start another big project. And so, I sat down and wrote this. And I just finally had time to do a revision on it, so we're going to be releasing it, this spring sometime.
I think what we're doing is we're putting this and the story that's in Dangerous Women [Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell], if you haven't read that, we're putting together in a little two-pack collection that I'm gonna be taking to conventions and things like that. So, that's how you would read this.
Can we expect a book regarding the backstory of Tonk Fah and Denth and all the characters of Warbreaker?
Um, yes, you can expect the sequel to Warbreaker, which will happen, but it's a ways off, to delve a little bit more into at least Denth's backstory. But I can't promise when I'll write that, or an Elantris sequel, sorry guys. The next book I'll write, after Calamity, will be... the next Stormlight book.
If you were a Smedry, what would your Talent be?
My Smedry talent is breaking things, it's where it came from. I break stuff. My phone is broken. My tablet, I've broken the screen already on this, and I haven't even had it a year, but my assistant went and got it fixed. I drop stuff. I broke my wife's phone.
Do you ever read upcoming kid authors?
Will I ever read upcoming kid authors? Yes, I will. I can't promise to get to everybody who wants me to read a book by them, but I will read-- I try to read. So, if you want to send me something, you can. I get to them very infrequently, but if you get published by a publisher, something like that, I'm much more likely to.