Could it be that spren and seons are basically very similar things?
Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)
He smiled, thought about how to answer that for a second and then said... "Yes, it could be."
Could it be that spren and seons are basically very similar things?
He smiled, thought about how to answer that for a second and then said... "Yes, it could be."
Since I started the thread about outposts and stone bridges, I felt like getting some input there.
Brandon told me that single highprinces could not erect outposts because due to the superior mobility of the Parshendi—they would overwhelm any small outpost quickly. Soulcasting stone bridges is also not plausible. Apparently, they would need to first get the wooden bridge out there, then soulcast it and then, since the stone is heavier than the wood, they would have to reinforce it, e.g. with ropes. These could then be cut by the Parshendi, so it would not help at all. Dalinar with his mobile bridges is on a better track in his opinion. He did say however that several highprinces working together could easily establish outposts in the Plains. He said the competitive nature of the Alethi was doing them a huge disservice in the war and that if they would work together, they could have taken the Plains long ago.
A girl asked what was up with Taravangian, since it seemed a rough break between the tottering old man and the scheming mastermind that Szeth meets at the end.
Brandon said that Taravangian used the Old Magic, and that he wakes up each day with a different IQ. Sometimes he's a genius, sometimes he's an idiot. So what he does is he writes up math puzzles for himself in the evening, and if he cannot get a certain score in the morning the guards have orders to just take care of him and keep him away from important decisions for that day. That way he keeps his effect under control.
Someone asked if it were hard to write Jasnah, an atheist character, for a devout Christian.
Brandon said he read a lot of atheist message boards for inspiration. Also, it sounded like he'd had the character in his head for a while, but hadn't found the right book to put it in—e.g. he said it would make no sense to put an atheist in a world where gods walk around (i.e. Warbreaker).
Ok, last question. It was really difficult coming up with three questions that haven’t been asked already...
OK... you’re not going to ask me the “what would you ask me” question?
OK good, because I hate that one! (laughs)
My question is if there’s anything that you’ve never been asked that you would like to talk about?
Oooooh, ok. Hm. That one is so hard! Every time people ask me something like this... What have I never been asked that people should be asking, is basically what the question is? Something that the fans have just missed... They pick up on so much, that it’s hard... I do wonder if, you know… all the magic systems [in my books] are connected and work on some basic fundamental principles, and a lot of people haven’t been asking questions about this. One thing I did get a question on today, and I’ll just talk about this one... they didn’t ask the right question, but I nudged them the right way, is understanding that tie between AonDor [the magic system from Elantris] and Allomancy [Mistborn’s magic system].
People ask about getting the power from metals and things, but that’s not actually how it works. The power’s not coming from metal. I talked a little about this before, but you are drawing power from some source, and the metal is actually just a gateway. It’s actually the molecular structure of the metal… what’s going on there, the pattern, the resonance of that metal works in the same way as an Aon does in Elantris. It filters the power. So it is just a sign of “this is what power this energy is going to be shaped into and give you.” When you understand that, Compounding [in Alloy of Law] makes much more sense.
Compounding is where you are able to kind of draw in more power than you should with Feruchemy. What’s going on there is you’re actually charging a piece of metal, and then you are burning that metal as a Feruchemical charge. What is happening is that the Feruchemical charge overwrites the Allomantic charge, and so you actually fuel Feruchemy with Allomancy, is what you are doing. Then if you just get out another piece of metal and store it in, since you’re not drawing the power from yourself, you’re cheating the system, you’re short-circuiting the system a little bit. So you can actually use the power that usually fuels Allomancy, to fuel Feruchemy, which you can then store in a metalmind, and basically build up these huge reservoirs of it. So what’s going on there is… imagine there’s like, an imprint, a wavelength, so to speak. A beat for an Allomantic thing, that when you burn a metal, it says “ok, this is what power we give.” When it’s got that charge, it changes that beat and says, “now we get this power.” And you access a set of Feruchemical power. That’s why Compounding is so powerful.
You’re very talented at taking seemingly mundane or unusual things and creating magic systems around them, like color in Warbreaker, metals in Mistborn, and light in The Way of Kings. Can you explain how you decide what to use for a magical system in a book, and your process for building a coherent system once the initial concept has been decided?
First of all, I’m looking for something that fits the book that I’m writing. So for instance, in Mistborn, I was looking for powers that would enhance what thieves could do. I was also looking for something that had one foot in alchemy, in that kind of “coming-of-age magic into science” way. Alchemy is a great example because it’s a blend of science and magic… well, really, a blend of science and superstition, because the magic part doesn’t work. So something resonates there.
I’m also looking for interesting ways to ground [the magic] in our world, and using something mundane is a great way to do that. Magic is naturally fantastical, and so if I can instead use something normal, and then make it fantastical, it immediately creates a sort of… ease of understanding. Burning metals sounds so weird, but it was chosen for that same reason, because we gain a lot of our energy through metabolism. We eat something, we turn the sugars into energy, boom. So that’s actually a very natural feeling. When I started writing out some sample things, it felt surprisingly natural, that people eat metal and gain powers, even though it sounds so weird. It’s because of this kind of natural biology. So I’m looking for that.
Once I have a magic system, I look for really great limitations. Limitations really make a magic system work better. Wheel of Time is a great example. Having a magic system where you can weave all these threads is awesome. Having a magic system where you do that, and then it drives you mad, is even better. It creates plot hooks, it creates drama, it creates challenge. [That limitation] is brilliant, I think it is one of the most brilliant ever made, especially because it also changes your characters. It has a deep influence on your character arcs, so you can tie it into character.
Beyond that (and this is kind of pulling back the curtain a little bit), there is no specific defined place where someone goes mad, so you can actually stretch it out and use it when you need it. It doesn’t constrain you too much. Like if your magic system’s limitation is, “When you use this magic, you have to use the head of one of your grandparents.” (laughs) You can use that magic four times! It’s limited, but also very constrained. Going mad is not as constrained. There’s a spectrum there - you can use it when you need it. So I’m looking for cool limitations that will work that way, in ways that I can use to force the characters to be creative. A good limitation will force you to be creative, and your characters to be creative. Pushing and pulling metals is basically telekinesis, right? But by making it center of mass, you can only pull directly towards yourself or push directly away from yourself... Number one: it’s vector science. It has one foot in sciences. Number two: it feels very natural to us because this is how we manipulate force ourselves. Number three: it limits things so much that it forces creativity upon the characters. There’s that sweet spot, where they can be creative and do cool things, where it doesn’t become too limited, but it also keeps you from having too much power in the hands of the characters, so they are still being challenged. I’m looking for all that, and on top of that I want to have good sensory ways to use magic.
I don’t want to have two wizards staring at each other, and then be like “and they stared at each other very deeply! And then they stared harder!” I don’t want it all to be internal, which is where the lines for the metals came from. You see something, you push it forward. The pulses that some of the allomancers use, they’ll hear. I wanted sensory applications.
Let’s start with an Alloy of Law question, since that’s why we’re both here. You’ve obviously put a lot of thought into the evolution of the world of Scadrial, specifically in how you’ve integrated the world’s technological advances. Was there anything in particular that drew you to the old west setting, and did you do anything to research it, like going to a shooting range or a ranch?
Good question. I actually wrote the prologue LAST. I wrote it to be the prologue to another book about Wax and Wayne if I did one. I always knew what happened, but I didn’t want to start the book with the old west, because most of it didn’t happen in the old west, it happened in the city. What is now chapter one used to be the prologue. And after writing the whole book I realized that we didn’t see into Wax’s heart, we didn’t know what he was always referencing with Lessie… we actually needed to see it. And so I actually took that chapter and moved it to the front. I worry a bit that it will old-west-ify it a bit too much, because I did see this as a city book. All of the Mistborn books have taken place in cities.
And will that hold true for the second trilogy, as well?
Yes. It might not hold for the final one in the same way. But as for the research I did... I actually got my gun nut friend. Gun nuts are very particular. He’s a big Wheel of Time fan, and a very big gun nut. I got him to read the book and give me all the “this is how a gun nut says you’re doing it wrong” notes. That’s how I usually do something that specific. I like to write the book, and then go find an expert. For instance, in The Way of Kings, Kaladin’s surgery and first aid things. I wrote the book, I did do some reading on it, but then I sent it to an author that my editor knows. He’s a medical doctor, and I had him read those things and tell me what I was doing wrong. I prefer to do it that way and then fix it, because I can do enough, but there’s a certain understanding curve. I can pick up 75% of what I need to sound authentic with a little bit of research, and that last 25% requires a Ph.D. (laughs) And so rather than getting a Ph.D., I just give it to someone who has a PhD, and they can crosscheck it for me.
In whose voice is the "Ars Arcanum" written? Hoid's?
I've avoided answering that question. It's either Hoid or a member of the Seventeenth Shard. That's as much answer as I'm giving anyone right now.
Was the scruffy-looking "beggar in black" guy at the wedding dinner Hoid?
Is this a prequel to the "modern" trilogy? How far into the future is that? (in-world)
There will be several "Wax and Wayne" books dealing with the next development; they're not so much "prequel" as they are a side venture into life between the first and second trilogies, but they will be used to provide some foreshadowing for the second trilogy. Incidentally, he also described the beginning of the second trilogy as "a Misting SWAT team trying to figure out how to take out a criminal Mistborn." He also said that the third trilogy will be much nearer "hard scifi" as their understanding of Allomancy and Feruchemistry enables them to develop FTL propulsion.
Why do the Twinborn in Alloy of Law have only one feruchemical power, when all previous feruchemists, in spite of breeding programs, could use all the metals?
Or were Ferrings always part of the system and we just didn't meet them in Mistborn?
The Ferrings are a new development since Mistborn, as the Feruchemists have been interbreeding with the Allomancers. Basically, the Allomancy genes interfere with the Feruchemistry genes, breaking it down and creating the limitations we see in Alloy of Law.
Also, I overheard Brandon saying to another fan that all magic on Sel is essentially programming, and building up a complex Aonic effect or an intricate Forgery works just like writing code.
All right. And related to that, sometimes some little concepts kind of... cross worlds. When Miles died, who was talking there? Him, or someone else?
Wow, that's a really excellent question. And I'm afraid I'm going to have to RAFO that.
So, according to King Taravangian, the... erm... I don't actually know the name for it, the uh, death-babbling phenomenon...
OK, death rattles have been going on since about the time the Parshendi were first discovered. Soon after this, King Gavilar was killed, and he said something that sounds kind of nonsensical. Was that him talking, or someone else?
No, that was Gavilar.
You've said that Splintering a Shard is essentially the same thing as the Shattering of Adonalsium, repeated on a smaller scale.
And a while ago, someone asked you if Splintering was permanent or reversible, and you said that it can be reversed.
And Shardholders [Vessels] tend to take the name of the Shard they hold. So you've got Sazed, who goes by "Harmony" now, after taking up Ruin and Preservation. That makes me wonder, does he hold two Shards... or one?
You could really answer that either way. The distinction is a really subjective one, and you could say that he's holding both Shards, or that he holds one single Harmony.
Has Hemalurgy been used on another planet besides Scadrial?
Yes it has. Brandon did not want to give out any more details about who was getting spiked or if the spiking was successful.
Robert Jordan has said that in The Wheel of Time, even material objects have a thread in the Pattern. In The Emperor's Soul, you have a world where objects have souls. Was Jordan your source for this?
Both stories draw from the same Asian belief system.
Near the ending of The Emperor's Soul, I loved how the old man ends up repeating an act for which he had earlier chastised his young charge. A little O Henry touch?
It's good that you caught that. I didn't want it to be "beat you over the head" obvious, or too subtle.
In the opening of The Emperor's Soul, I see a scene familiar to Warbreaker; the first character we meet is in jail. Was this "connection" intentional?
Yes and no. Originally there was a prologue which featured Hoid speaking with the main character and setting some of the plot in motion, but it was cut before final revision. Also, it's convenient to begin with a character who is already in trouble.
In the Mistborn series, I read on one of your posts online that you had a rough outline of how the series would have gone if a major death in the first book hadn't happened? I was just curious how that would have progressed if he was still alive?
He would have taken over, because that character doesn't not take over. And it would have been a very different series, it would have been more heist focused, and not so much epic fantasy focused.
Would he have finished everything up a heck of a lot faster than Vin and Elend did?
Worse, but yes. Things would have gone very differently, how about that? The reason I decided it couldn't go that way was because I think the series just wouldn't have worked.
Question about timelines—Was Honor splintered BEFORE or AFTER the Day of Recreance?
You know, I'm going to RAFO that for now.
This will probably be RAFO'd, but: is Szeth bound to a spren?
No. He's not. Haha, I didn't RAFO that.
Hoid has a nugget of lerasium and the Moon Scepter. Does he have a Breath?
It seems quite likely that he would.
Are we going to find out soon if the Parshendi are actually of Honor?
Yes. (You'll find out.)
Wyrn can see into the future... is he a follower of Dominion or of Odium? Cause Dominion is [Splintered], so...
You said that the Pits are a leak from the Spiritual into the Physical—
A necessary leak.
Ok. Are the spren a similar leak but from the Cognitive?
The next book [Words of Radiance] is going to explore the spren a lot further.
Aons look like Arelon; soulstamps look like MaiPon. Aons get weaker when you get further from Arelon, right? That's not just cause Elantris acts like a focus?
That's right, it's based on distance. That's why there are no stamped objects in Elantris.
So do soulstamps get weaker further from MaiPon? If you left Sel via Shadesmar and went to another planet, would the soulstamp stop working?
Could soulstamps be carved that used Arelon as a base form instead of MaiPon?
That's very interesting, isn't it?
At one point someone [on 17th Shard] asked you if seons were Shards of--
Devotion ... yeah Aona, and you said that was close. My question is: are the Aons at the HEART of the seons Shards of Devotion?
No, but close.
But... I was sure... the floating Aon at the heart, that's not a Shard...
*taking pity* You're close but a word is wrong. You're using the wrong terminology.
SPLINTER. Are the Aons at the heart of seons SPLINTERS of Aona?
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?
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.
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?
So what's at the core of an atom of atium? Ate-teum? Also how do you pronounce it? At-teum?
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.
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
This is about certain people from Nalthis... living on Roshar and how they are living on Roshar. Could they also do that on Scadrial?
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.
Does that have to do with the Investiture being more directed?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Who is your favorite author to read? Fantasy author to read?
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.
What's the name of the fifth book of the Alcatraz Smedry series?
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.
Have you ever done a non-fiction?
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.
What's the next non-sequel book you're wanting to write or rewrite?
I really would like to get Steelheart done. That would probably be the next one I'd want to do; that or Dark One. But I don't know when I will have time for them.
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.
I would say that the baby would enter the same suspended transformation. As for the first question, why don't we RANFO.
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
How reliable is Adolin with his read on people? Better with guys.
Look at the list you just gave me.
Have you ever done fan-fiction?
Have I ever done fan-fiction? ...I have done fan fiction a couple of times. One was this series called The Wheel of Time.
*thunderous laughter and applause*
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.
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?
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.
Would you rather be an Allomancer or a Shardbearer.
I would rather be a Shardbearer.
Are there times when you regret saying too much?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.