What do painspren look like in the Cognitive Realm?
That's a RAFO.
What do painspren look like in the Cognitive Realm?
That's a RAFO.
In the book [The Way of Kings] you discuss that if you were to lose a piece of Shardplate you have to regrow the part back, or else someone takes it and tries to regrow the entire plate. One thing that has been bugging me for a while now is if you were to take a small piece of the armor, such as a glove, and fuel it with Stormlight to regrow the whole armor, does it retain the original armor? Like does it retain how it looked before, the glove?
So it just transfers over.
Yeah, and the original glove will disintegrate.
Was all of your work on Firefight, is that based on the Butterfly effect?
It is a little bit, definitely.
There's a huge movement in the genre, almost away from heroic, truly good figures and it seems to me like a lot of your books are kind of, there is some darkness in them but you are holding really tight to the light… What do you think about the idea of the true heroic character and where they're going?
I think that people can be truly heroic and I'm happy that the genre has lots of room for different types of storytelling, but the books I'm most interested in are the ones that are people still trying to do what is right, and so that's what I want to write about.
I've been watching some of the videos online and you say writing-- ideas are cheap, and they are, you can get ideas pretty easy, but how in the world do you get-- I can get the beginning and figure out an end but how do you do get all the stuff in the middle?
So if you've got your end, try and say what things, try to get a brainstorming session where you write with bullet points underneath it what things will help me earn this ending so that it feels-- that it has the emotion that I want. And try to brainstorm five or six things and make those waypoints along the way, if that makes sense, between-- Where it's not just one point and two points, it's five points, "I'm going to hit this one, this one, and this one" and if you can come up with four or five interesting things to happen through the end of your book that you can earn that way you're going to have a sequence of like twenty touchstones that can each form a chapter or a couple of chapters that you can work on to get to that ending.
Why did, when Alcatraz got his father's soul back, why did he poof back wearing his suit? Since when you get turned into one they're incinerated, your clothes are gone. Why does he have his?
Why did he have his? Because he was prepared for this. He was ready and he had done something so it wouldn't go that way.
Are going to do anything else in that world [of Dreamer]
Probably not. She [Charlaine Harris] wanted me to write a horror story, and I'd never written one before so I said, "All right, what is the most frightening thing I can think of?" The most frightening thing I could think of was the kids who play Xbox having power over real people’s lives, and that’s where that story came from.
As a physicist I appreciate you being so consistent with your magic systems.
It is something I try very hard to do, though I do recognize that we do bend a lot of rules. When we were doing the time-based one in this [The Alloy of Law], I'm like, "Oh, boy, redshifts. Oh, no, conservation of energy." We had to do some bending to make it so that the radiation from the light passing out of the time bubble wasn't deadly.
I was deployed in Afghanistan when I read The Way of Kings. And I was wondering how do you put yourself in the mind of a soldier? Because it was very--
I have a good friend and I asked them when I interviewed them and that was a big help to me.
When they got to the Shattered Plains it felt like I was reading a story about myself--
Reading about how the rank structure, that was really-- It wasn't quite the same but--
I've got a good friend. His name is actually Skar--he's the bridgeman Skar, I put him in the book because he helped me so much--who is in the army. He had lots of advice for me on how to make everything work.
So [Edmund] is Conflux, and you say the Epics are supposed to turn evil. How come [Edmund] hasn't turned evil yet?
Well they think it is because Edmund is a Gifter and isn't using his powers directly. That's their philosophy on it. Whether that is true or not remains yet to be seen.
Do you think any of your characters have ever been influenced by people you know in real life?
Yeah, it happens. It definitely does happen. Sarene, from Elantris is based on somebody. Most of Bridge Four is friends of mine, most of the lesser Bridge Four members. Not the main ones, but like Skar is a friend of mine, Drehy is a friend of mine, Peet is a friend of mine.
So I was going to say-- What about, what's his name?
No, not the core group. Not Lopen or--
None of those guys.
But everyone else is like a cameo of my friends that I stuck in Bridge Four and, y'know, then mutilate in horrible ways.
I am doing a GURPS rpg right now where my character is a lawyer and I'm in law school. And I was wondering if you have ever considered having a character in the books who is a lawyer?
An attorney? There is a story I've wanted to tell forever... I'll never do it. But it's one of those ideas. I wanted to do a story where aliens come down and decide that throughout human history possession of land indicates ownership, by our historical record. We have to convince them in court that that's not the way we do things. They just want to annex the planet. "Look at the Americans. You just took this land and said it's yours. So we want to do that to your planet." And have a science fiction story that is a legal battle about why they can't take over our planet.
How do you pronounce Jasnah?
I say Jasnah. But you may say whatever you want.
And then is it Szeth?
The "s" is more silent than the "z" but it is sort of sub-vocalized. Szeth.
In the drawings, who is Nazh?
He is kind of like a cosmere special agent, who gathers things for the person who is writing the Ars Arcanum.
Have you thought of titles for the rest of The Stormlight Archive?
No, I only named the first five when I was doing my outline. They were Stones Unhallowed, Oathbringer, and I don't like the other name so I'm not going to mention it.
Will there be a book about the Southern Pole of the Mistborn world?
That's a RAFO. By the end of the Era 2--Alloy of Law Era--you will know more about them.
I was wondering if Sazed was based on any of your own explorations when you were developing your own path?
Yeah, definitely he is a part of me, but there are big things that are different from me as well. Really the main concept for him was "the Missionary for Every Religion" and that was a cool idea to me.
In Firefight you said Obliteration... he wasn't an ordinary Epic, he was a force of nature. Why did you say that?
It was in David's voice, and that is kind of how he views it. It's not necessarily true, it is what he viewed.
I had another question, did you ever read books by other authors to get your ideas?
Yes I read a lot of books by other authors and what I usually do is I will read something and if they did it really well, I don't want to do anything like it. But if I think they messed it up then I'm like "Oh I need to do a story that does this the right way" Does that make sense? It is one of the most fun parts of being a writer. You can watch a movie and go "Ah they totally did this the wrong way... and then do it yourself, the way you want it to be.
I had one that you were going to answer when I came?
Oh yeah. So, he secretly feared people who weren't intimidated by him. Remember he was a night watchman before. And anyone who didn't respect his authority, that was his secret fear. He wanted everyone to obey him and when no one was afraid of him he lost his powers.
Do you have kids?
Do I have kids? or pigs? 'Cause I have both, the kids are the pigs. I have three young boys, they are 7, 5, and 2. They are too young to read my books. We spend time reading Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, that's a very good book, or Supertato, one of their favorites, about a potato who is a superhero.
What do they think? I don't think they really get it. They don't understand, they're like "Daddy is working on his book" and my son will be like "I'm going to write a book too!" And it's like one picture on a page with one word "Hat" or something and he'll be "I wrote one, why does it take you months Dad? This took me an afternoon." I hope that someday they will enjoy them and be able to come on tour with me and things like that. Excellent question.
You talked about creativity earlier, and if you look back on your career until this point as a writer, how have you changed over that time? What has writing done for you as a point of self-improvement?
What has writing done for me as a point of self-improvement over the course of my career. That's excellent. I discovered writing when I was 15, that was when I was this young, gangly boy who is trying to figure out what to do with his life and I found solace in books and writing, which I had not done when I was younger. It was a teacher who handed me, it was a book called Dragonsbane, when I was 8th grade that changed my life. What it did, right off the bat was give me purpose, and that is so important. Knowing there is something you want to do. All through college, you know I had friends who "I'm taking this degree because it's what was expected of me but I don't know if this is what I want to do". I knew what I wanted to do, and knowing that-- that alone has been worth it's weight in gold.
Spending the time writing and practicing gave me confidence, that's been very important. Like when I finished that first book, it took me three years to write it. I said "You know what, I can do this. I can create this thing." Then being able to see myself get better and better and better, the confidence from that was great.
The big decision I also made late in my career, before I got published, I had to decide who I was doing this for. Because once you've got a dozen unpublished books, you start asking yourself the questions everyone is asking you. At the end I just decided this idea of "I'm just going to keep doing this. If I am 70 and I have a hundred unpublished manuscripts on my dresser. I love doing this, it is very fulfilling. I'm getting these stories out of my head, I can see myself getting better. I'm not going to be a failure if I have a hundred unpublished manuscripts, I'm going to be more of a success than if I never wrote them." And that decision is what drove me to write The Way of Kings, because before I'd been really hunting how to get published and trying to write things like I saw getting published and people kept telling me "Your books are too long" so I've been writing these shorter ones. And I just said "I don't care what you people are saying, I'm going to write the most awesome epic of the style I would love to read, that I don't feel enough people are doing. It's going to have this crazy world and all these characters and all this stuff and I know no one is ever going to want to publish it, but I'm going to write it" And that's when I wrote The Way of Kings, it was right after that decision.
So is there one book from college that you were forced to read that when you look back now was the best reading you've done?
One book that I was forced to read. That was the best reading-- Probably Paradise Lost. I now think that book is awesome but when I read it when I was younger I was like "Ahhh what is this aehhhh epic poetry noooooo".
Do you consult with other fantasy authors? Or do you keep things close to the vest *audio obscured*
Do I consult with other fantasy authors? Or do we keep things to the vest? We consult a lot. We talk to each other a great deal. The ones that I know best are the ones I often go to but sometimes-- I talk to Pat Rothfuss quite a bit, and Brent Weeks, we're kind of in the same area but with three different publishers and that's really useful to us. I consult with my Writing Excuses buddies all the time. Somebody who knows a ton that I don't know very well but I know he knows a ton so I'll often ask him question by email is Cory Doctorow. He just like knows everything. We talk a lot, whenever we can. Because it is a very solitary business, so having people to talk to about it is great.
What is your favorite Aspect to write in /Legion/?
What is my favorite Aspect to write in Legion. It's J.C. by a mile. *laughter* Can you guess who J.C. is based off of? ...J.C. is based off of the actor Adam Baldwin, from his various roles. He's almost always played someone with the initials "J.C." Go look it up. That's Jayne from Firefly or from Chuck and things. I just think he is hilarious. In my head that is who would play J.C.
I would want to know what is your favorite character you've ever written.
What is the favorite character I've ever written. I actually can't pick one, because they are like my children and picking a favorite child is basically impossible. I don't have one. Robert Jordan, I quote him a lot because I studied his life a lot, he always answered this question by saying "My favorite character is the one I'm working on right now" and I like that answer.
One of my favorite aspects of your books is you always have this character that kind of has a submissive personality starting out and they evolve into a more dominant personality. Do you have an author for a series that kind of inspired this?
Inspires me? He says frequently I have a character who's in a submissive position that becomes dominant through the course of the series. Do I have an author that I'm relying on specifically. No more than the "Hero's Journey", the general idea of the person growing and becoming master of their domain where once they were not. I don't think I have a specific person I'm looking at for that. But it is a fun type of story to tell, just because of the way you can show progression with a character.
When Jasnah Soulcasts stuff from a distance, is that something she can only do because she's a Radiant? And if so, how does that work?
RAFO. Here's a RAFO card.
Are spren molecules and atoms that rearrange in our minds to create them?
A good question, are spren molecules and atoms that rearrange in our mind to create things. No, they're not. Spren are entities from the Cognitive Realm, who have gotten pulled through in Roshar. It is something that doesn't exist on Earth, the Cognitive Realm, pulled through by human intervention. The way we think about things and personify things.
What happened to Alcatraz?
What happened to Alcatraz. Well he almost got sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of Evil Librarians but he survived to write his autobiography-- No, you mean the books. I wrote the fifth book this summer after researching for The Aztlanian long enough that I realized I have to do more research before I can finish it. So I stopped, knew that I wanted to write another middle-grade, so I stopped and wrote Alcatraz 5 and gave it to Tor. They're planning to publish it next year. They're going to start with Alcatraz 1 in January with new art and things like that, publish those first five and do the sixth book sometime in June-- Or fifth book in June is what I think. So republish the first four and then publish the fifth.
What can you tell us about the Mistborn video game?
What can I tell you about the Mistborn video game. We are still working on the Mistborn video game. The same producer has the rights but the developer that we were hoping to use has fallen through and they have moved on. This is the third time we've moved to a new developer. We do not plan for it to come out this year. We keep pushing it back. I'm sorry. But the good news is the movie seems to be kind of inching forward again finally, so if the movie gets made that will push the video game to come out. And if a video game comes out that might push the movie to come out. So they are kind of intertwined and working well together.
Do you ever have crazy ideas that are too crazy?
This happens all the time.
Greatness is often born of brashness. Of a reckless, bull-headed intent to do something everyone tells you is stupid. Sometimes, the best ideas are the ones you can't articulate in brief, because distillation ruins the very performance. Reduce a symphony to three notes, and it will seem pedestrian. Some ideas take to summary with ease. For others, explaining them is like trying to help someone climb Mount Everest after they say, "I'd like to take the quick route, please."
As a writer, you grow accustomed to saying, "It will work when I write it." You get use to saying, "I can do this, even if everyone tells me I can't." Becoming a writer in the first place is often done in defiance of rational good sense.
And sometimes, you're wrong. You try to prove that the idea works, you OWN it…and it's just not working. You're convinced it's your skill, and not the idea. If you could just figure it out…
This happened several times on The Wheel of Time. River of Souls, the famous deleted sequence from Demandred's viewpoint, is one of these. Perrin's excursion into the Ways in book 14 (also cut) is another. Early on, I pitched Perrin deciding to follow the Way of the Leaf to the team–but I wasn't actually serious on that one. More, I was in a brainstorming session with Team Jordan, and throwing out things that could possibly fulfill Perrin's arc in an unexpected way.
The 10th anniversary of Elantris has some deleted scenes, and the annotations talk about how in that book, I originally decided to have Hrathen turn out to be of a different nationality (secretly) as a twist at the end. The man who was doing all these terrible things was from Arelon all along!
That was stupid. It undermined much of his arc. It was a twist to just have another twist–in a book that already had plenty. Early reactions from Alpha readers helped me see this.
Lately, I've been trying to do some things with backstory and "cosmology" for the Stephen Leeds (aka Legion) stories, and Peter's not sold. We'll see if this turns into a "it will work when I write it" or a "That's a twist you don't need, Brandon."
Just a warning: as always, some of these were heard wrong by me, or by the person recording, or were mixed up during questioning.
For example, the one referencing the first 11 chapters was me talking about the first book, not the third. The question about Ivory also wasn't quite recorded correctly.
I usually don't have the time to go through all of these, but remember--word of Brandon can be very fallible for many reasons. I continue to be willing to answer these for fans at conventions and signings, but the community does need to know not to hold to them too strongly.
Do you have a special way of coming up with your bad analogies?
Do I special way of coming up with bad analogies. Which are actually similes. So here's the thing-- So Steelheart, I wrote Steelheart in like 2008 or 2009, it was pretty early on, I had the idea-- I was touring for some book, I think-- I feel like it was Warbreaker or Mistborn 3, any way I was touring for one of these books and I get cut off in traffic, I get really mad at the person, and I imagine blowing up their car. I get horrified, like "If I had superpowers is this what I would do? Would I blow up cars of people who cut me off in traffic?" and I was like "OOh that's a story". So I went and wrote the prologue, like almost immediately, I think on that tour I wrote the prologue. I remember reading it at DragonCon that year, whenever year that was.
Then I put the whole book aside and had to wait for like 5 years because I'm like "I'm working on The Wheel of Time I have no time to write this other side project." I was much better at that and not going crazy on side projects when I was doing that. When I finally got back to it I had this prologue-- The prologue was ten years before in-world time, like the character grew ten years between the prologue and chapter 1, so I was "Alright I need a voice for this character" and I started writing, doing my standard thing. I was having so much trouble coming up with a distinctive voice for David, the main character, and I accidentally wrote a bad metaphor. That happens a lot when you're writing-- you just come across something and it's a terrible analogy and you delete it, but here I said "Well what if I ran with that?" The fun thing is by coincidence that became a metaphor for his entire personality. He tries so hard, is very earnest, but sometimes he tries a little too hard, and looks beyond the mark, and stumbles a bit. And that is who he became as a character, and the bad metaphors are a great metaphor for that.
Coming up with them now is really hard. Doing it on purpose is way harder than coming up with good metaphors. They are rough. Sometimes I'll sit-- Like the most time I spend staring at the screen when working on these books is coming up with one of David's metaphors.
Which book was the hardest to write?
Which book was the hardest to write. A Memory of Light, the last of The Wheel of Time books by a LARGE margin is the hardest book I've ever written because the last Wheel of Time book mixed with a lot of war scenes that--I don't have the history in warfare that Robert Jordan did so all this stuff I had to do, there was a lot of research and a lot of going back and forth with Alan Romanczuk with Team Jordan. It was by far the hardest.
If characters are reflections of their authors, which character do you feel reflects you the most?
Which character reflects me the most. I don't think there is one… I think each of my characters represent me in some way and each character is different from me in other ways. So I can't say which one represents me more or less. They're all a bit of me.
How difficult is it to transfer Investiture from one magic system to another, is it even possible?
How difficult is it to transfer Investiture from one magic system to another. It is possible. It is more difficult with different magic systems. Breaths are easy. Stormlight is fairly easy. Others from there on get pretty hard.
Are you still planning on doing Mistborn in Space, because that would be awesome.
Am I still planning on doing Mistborn in Space. Yes I am… Mistborn was originally pitched to my editor-- I pitched it as a trilogy of trilogies--I've obviously gone off track on that on that--but I was going to do an epic fantasy, a 1980's level kind of contemporary, and science fiction all in the same world. Alloy of Law, I really fell in love with that time period for some things I was doing and I was like "I'm going to write FOUR BOOKS HERE" So there's now 13 planned. Who knows if I'll add more and things like that.
If you were going to make Horneater stew here on Earth, how would you go about it?
If I were going to make Horneater stew, on Earth, how would I go about it. It's going to be a spicy seafood stew. When I think of Horneater stew I'm actually thinking of Yukgaejang which is a Korean dish. Or Haemultang is what I mean. Haemultang is a spicy-- spicy seafood-- it's basically whatever thing from the ocean-- I don't eat things from the ocean personally-- but everything from the ocean they want to throw in there with some spices. They stir it up and give it to you and if you like fish in there and there are like crab claws and full clams in the shells. You're like "Really guys?" But Rock would just be munching those down and being happy.
If you were a Misting, which power would you have?
Coinshot. Coinshot for sure.
Would you rather be a misting or a Twinborn, and then which power would you choose?
What powers would I have? ...I would probably pick Twinborn because "Hey extra power" right? I would probably have Wax's powers from Alloy of Law, those are the ones I find the most interesting. Which is why I started with them there. I think I will be able to do cool things with them. Others are cool as well but-- With all this metal around, jumping on it would be so much fun.
Do you find it hard working with multiple publishers and multiple houses?
Do I find it hard working with multiple publishers… and multiple houses as a writer? Uh, yes there are some hard parts to it. I do two tours a year instead of one, because I have two publishers now-- And that's rough. Every time one publisher asks for something the other one is like "Well we want that to" so I'm going to BEA, that's the Book Expo, and the other is like "Well you have to come to this thing for us". So it fills my time a lot more, which is hard. But at the same time it is also very nice because it gives me a little more credibility with both. That they both know that they kind of have to make me happy. That is pretty nice. And there is also the piece of mind that if for some reason one of things I was doing tanked I've always got another one. That was much more important to me early in my career, when I was doing the Alcatraz books with Scholastic and the epic fantasies with Tor.
If you had the choice of being an Epic and being evil or not, would you take that choice--
Would I make the choice to become an Epic? Well they ALL GO EVIL so NO. No no no no. I'd be a Mistborn, yes yes yes yes. *laughter* Epic? No no no no.
You talked earlier about your writing process when you were in college. What's it like now?
What's my writing process like now? So I'm a writer. That means I don't have to get up in the morning unless I have to come to some signing like this. I hope you guys appreciate the fact that I got up at 6:45 this morning. Normally I get up at noon. So I get up at noon, I write from noon to 5, I then go hangout with my family from 5 until 9 or so, and at about 9 o'clock I go back to work and I write from like 9 to 3. Or something like that. And then I goof-off and go to bed at about 4. It is a great life. Except when I'm on tour and they are like "Yeah you need to be up for a flight at 8 o'clock" and I'm like "AHHHHH! Curse you Brandon and you staying up late all the other nights!"
Can you give us some more tidbits about Hoid?
Can I give you more tidbits about Hoid? He loves bacon. *laughter* No I can't give you any, you'll have to go online and find out more tidbits about Hoid. I'm very tight-lipped.
What is the most interesting or awesome thing you found in your South American research for The Aztlanian?
What is the most awesome thing I've come up with in my research for The Aztlanian. So the question, for those of you who read The Rithmatist, I'm working on a sequel doing a lot of research on South American and Central American cultures. The Aztecs all the way down to the Incas *audio obscured* city was just so cool reading about that. One of the big things that I discovered was that a lot of records indicate that Meso-American culture was way bigger than, way more populated than people are usually taught. It's just that they lost somewhere around 60%-- This enormous number to diseases that were brought over. Way more than I originally expected. And reading about some of this, like the early accounts of how many people there were, their civilizations. Later on when the explorers really started coming, talking about there being these ghost cities, of empty-- the people all left them because so many people died and things like this. That what happened was almost like a post-Apocalyptic-- Like when the invasion of the Aztecs, of Mexico, was happening they were basically invading a post-Apocalyptic society where everyone was already dead. They'd even lost their emperor, Montezuma the First had died from this stuff. It's very interesting, all these things reading about-- There is a ton to learn.
In /Steelheart/ <audio obscured>
What does Steelheart's past life have to do with his weakness? I can't tell you that, because it's a spoiler. When you come through the line I can tell it to you. When you come through the line talk to me, because I can't answer spoiler questions.
I have read it already.
Yes, but who here hasn't read Steelheart? *people raise their hands* See? That's why we can't answer that. But I will answer it when you come through the line.
<audio obscured> in the Firefight-- The Reckoners series, was there a particular character you gave the <audio obscured>
So the question is: In The Reckoners, was there a particular power that I gave to someone because I just thought that power was cool. And yeah, the tensors. They can turn things to dust. For years I'd been walking around looking at our society where we have all this metal and this wood around, and things like that. I just loved the idea of just being able to turn it to dust. Maybe it's like a "reducing things to their more primal state" or whatever-- but anyway it was one of those magics that was in my head for a while. And really superheros are magic. I don't pretend that they're science fiction, they're magic. So I just designed these magics that feel cool to me.
So Kaladin, he has a lot of Christ-like qualities being the who protects those who can't protect themselves. When you were writing the character of Kaladin did you ever make a conscious decision to make him a Christ figure or--
The question is... Kaladin has some Christ-figure feel to him, was that intentional when I was writing the character. Actually it wasn't, there's nothing really intentional about that allusion. But I can definitely see it. Being Christian myself a lot of what I find heroic is related to my faith. But I very rarely do conscious things like that, mostly-- This is for English majors, "I bet he got it from here" and things like that. So it was not intentional but I can totally see where you are making that connection.
If you could bring one character from another universe into the cosmere, Who would it be?
What an interesting question. I'll play along in a moment, but I'll point out that it's generally not tempting for me to write other creator's characters. The ones I were most interested in writing were those in The Wheel of Time--and somehow, that ended up happening already.
Generally, when I consider a character that I love, my mind starts breaking down the "Why." I look at what effect they had on me, and what about them I really love--what is it this character does to the story that is so intriguing. Often, if I boil that down, I can start creating new characters who draw upon this, and other traditions--and that is what excites me.
That said, who would I bring to the cosmere, if I had the chance? I'll take a different tactic on this than, perhaps, you'd assume. I'd grab some of my favorite villains from other media, because it would be interesting to see how the characters would react. If Magneto were to deal with a world of people with magic, how would he react--and how would the characters react to him? What about Moriarty? Javert? (Okay, Nale's already got some Javert in him.)
Cthulhu? Nah. That's going to far