What if you had a Twinborn who had atium for both and he burned atium that was stored?
So, I'll RAFO that. I believe I've RAFO'd that in the past so I'll RAFO it again.
What if you had a Twinborn who had atium for both and he burned atium that was stored?
So, I'll RAFO that. I believe I've RAFO'd that in the past so I'll RAFO it again.
What philosophies do you feel like inspired you the most? Philosophies, or mysticisms, religions?
I like a lot of different things. You'll see a lot of things in Way of Kings of Pantheism. You see all the old Greek dudes. You'll see some Cartesian stuff. It's kind of everything. You'll see a lot of Shinto. Yeah, probably the most has been Shinto or actually more of the kind of Buddhist and Jainism sort of idea.
You know, Taravangian I feel like is embodiment of compassion versus seeing the world for what it really is.
Yeah. Right. And then there's the whole Utilitarianism versus altruism and I just find all of that stuff fascinating. I don't know if there's any one. Shinto, that idea of animism, the idea of everything having a soul, is probably... Yeah.
Do you have the endings of all of your books already pre-planned or does that kind of evolve as you go along?
I have the ending of Stormlight 10. I have the ending of the Mistborn series. But I don't have all the endings of all books.
The main core line of the Cosmere, I do have, but those are subject to change as I go. I don't necessarily have the ending of the Threnody book. Like, that I would have to outline and sit down.
I was just curious about how time works for worldhoppers.
So worldhoppers' time is going to pass normally unless they can stay near to large collections of Investiture. They can warp time in the same way that gravity, large masses, can warp time.
Phenax, which Shard do you think he is most like?
God of Deception. I don't know. I'd have to think about that. I'm not 100% sure. It might be one I haven't revealed yet which...
Obviously that's the whole RAFO deal.
Yeah. Phenax is an interesting character in the lore. I like all of their gods of the underworld that they do.
So the Parshendi Rhythms. They talk a lot about them as like music. So do you imagine them as rhythms where they talk like this or is their a melodic quality to it?
That is what they're doing. There's not very much melodic quality to it. They set songs to the Rhythms. The way I have it in the books, in my mind, and the canon, is there is Connection between them and the songs of Roshar. That they can pick up a Rhythm when there's actually not enough of it, even in a sentence, because of the intent of the Rhythm and what the other person's hearing. So they can hear a Rhythm even if it's only a couple words being said, that you couldn't learn, if you were just a human listening. No matter how good you were. Some you wouldn't be able to pick up because there is not enough information there.
So they're just like kind of complex rhythmic things that you could write out musically.
You could. You definitely could write them out.
What was the thing you that you researched for your books that you were most interested in?
Ooh. That's a great question. Probably alchemy, because I find that fascinating that they believed like almost science but not. I loved that sort of stuff.
In Stormlight Archive, how are they paying for the wars before the one on the Great Plains? How was Dalinar funding his armies?
Usually they have an almost feudal system on Roshar where the city lord's in charge of collecting taxes and sending them in but a lot of the taxes from out around are going to be goods. It's going to be basically feeding the armies and things like that. The people who are living in like Hearthstone and stuff like that aren't paying any taxes other than in grain. But in the cities, they are and you can also see the more important the lighteyes, the better of a city they will get with a higher population because they get a percentage of those taxes. Like Roshone doesn't really get anything. He's basically taking care of someone else's lands.
Now is that like on a property tax basis or is it more of a sales tax?
More of an income tax.
Does Detritus have a sun or a moon or something?
It does have a sun but it has no moon.
If you could do a fourth Allomantic [Metallic Arts] magic system. Have you thought about that?
I actually hadn't even thought about it. You'd think I would have but I haven't. Those three interlock so well. I'd have to think about it. I really don't know that I have one. I'm sure I could come up with something but I'll put that in the back of my brain. They interlock so well that I've never even considered what I'd do for a fourth.
What character have you written that you felt is most inspired by your own personality?
My mom says it's Alcatraz, my middle grade series, is most like me so I trust her. Other than that, it's hard for me to say. You have to go to my friends and things. I feel like ever character's part of me and every character's not. Stephen Leeds, from the Legion series, has a lot of writer-ish stuff in it. Particularly the last of the three if you've ever read that one. That was kind of a very personal book and it was getting into kind of the way... So maybe Stephen Leeds as a middle manager. I feel like a person who's controlling all of these characters. Rather than this person having the adventures, I'm keeping them organized.
So we were trying to guess what your next book's title would be for this series. If you were to stick with alliteration, it could be Solbound.
That's a pretty good idea. I actually had the next one being the Aztlánian because Aztlán is the mythical home—like the heaven—of the Aztec people, but I don't know if I'll go with that or not.
Are there enough perfect gemstones on Roshar to capture all of the Unmade?
Yes, there are.
Does the "M" in M-Bot stand for mushroom?
Yes. To me it does. I'm not sure how I will canonize it in the books, but that's what I intend it to be.
I have a bit of a problem with the first Desolation timeline. I'm wondering how old were the Heralds when they became Heralds.
The age that you would see them as when you met them. They basically are the age they look. When they became Heralds, they are the age that they appeared.
So they were like in their younger middle age?
Some of them. I mean Ishar is older.
So that means that the entire timeline of the first Desolation happened within a single lifetime?
A lot of the ancient chronologies are wrong and you won't get the actual answers until the Heralds themselves explain it in their flashback sequences in the back five.
You've said that the Heralds came over from Ashyn.
Okay. How old were they then?
Younger than they were when they became Heralds.
What's the longest you've spent revising a single sentence?
Usually, the longest I spend revising single sentences would be the keteks in Stormlight, which are the poems I write that go along with it. I'm not so good at poetry so it takes a lot longer for me to get poetry right. Followed by humor scenes. Witty lines, and things like that, take a long time for me to actually write.
Will you write a novella on Silverlight?
Someday I want to, but I can't promise it. It's if it fits in. I've got a really good, nice Silverlight story that I want to tell, but whether I can get to it... There are just so many things competing, and the only things I will commit to are the core Cosmere stories.
Are you doing any more novels for White Sand?
You can read the prose version that this was based on—that I wrote—just by getting it from us. Someday, I'll probably do some prose for these short stories, but right now, they are going to be graphic novels. In fact, we'll do a sequel series—now that we know what we're doing—that is designed specifically to be a graphic novel. That's our goal there.
Will we see more of Rysn in the Stormlight Archive books?
Yeah. I plan to... She never becomes a main character. I plan to have an interlude with Rysn every time.
She won't be out of the interludes?
No, she won't be, but I might write a novella with her. Like I did with Lift.
I was just kind of wondering how long the art process takes like would Alcatraz be out next year?
The art places is really going to depend on how long Hayley takes. It's probably going to take at least a year. I think the earliest you would see it would be around the time we release the next Stormlight book. That would be my guess.
With the latest maybe May of 2021. Yeah. Like mid-2021.
It's going to depend on her schedule for doing the art now that we have the book. You could give it to her, if you haven't already, to read.
Yeah. I talked to her about it today.
I gotta ask, are you going to give us any sort of backstory prior to Dragonsteel coming out? Of Hoid?
You will get little snippets here and there but really it's when you get his story that you are going to get the fully story of Adonalsium shattering. I have to leave it at snippets until then, because anything I give you is as a snippet now is canonizing something that I'm going to write later on. So I have to leave it at the stuff I know is going to be in there.
Let's say you wanted to be the Mistborn equivalent of a Surgebinder, having all ten Surges, would the best way to do that to bond at least five Honorblades or can you bond more than one spren?
You could bond five Honorblades. That'd be the easiest way by far. Because convincing multiple spren to bond you is going to be really tough, so by far the easiest way is just to get... you'd actually need all ten Honor... No, you'd need five Honorblades for the five... Yeah.
You'd have to get the right ones.
You'd have to get the right ones and then you'd have all ten.
And then, there's nothing wrong with bonding five individual Blades? You don't have to have five arms?
You do not have to have five arms. You could bond five Blades if you wanted to.
Really cool. Thank you.
Do you have, for Starsight and Skyward, aesthetic touchstones that you bring to these different books? Or does it just all sort of emerge from the storytelling as you get into your characters?
I do, and it depends. Sometimes, as I'm working on the book, I develop those. Sometimes it's ahead of time.
My cultural touchstone for Skyward was me saying, "All right. These people are in just this terrible situation. And they are constantly being fought by this unknown enemy. What kind of society would grow out of this?" And I pushed it towards a little bit of an authoritarian, martial dictatorship. Using, actually, North Korea as one of the touchstones, and some of the Axis powers as touchstones. And a little bit, in places, of communist propaganda, and things like that. Some of the visual touchstones was Italian futurism, and things like this, just to kind of give this same sort of feel that I was looking for. If you read the book, there's just little hints of it here and there. You're gonna see cubist designs in the architecture, and you're gonna see the paintings and things they describe have this sort of Italian futurist feel to it. There's a little post-Art Nouveau. You've probably seen the art style. It's, like, ships flying into the air leaving lines of red and yellow light in the sky, and very very almost Art Deco-ish feel. These were my visual touchstones for myself. Just because the society, I thought, this might be the closest thing that we have on our planet to how I feel this would really arise with the military being completely in control and lots of people being lost in battle but them needing to keep morale up, and things like this.
So this whole aesthetic of speed and force and martial unity and finding themes of, there is a particular beauty to those kinds of things. There's art that reflects it.
There's also this kind of, "Desperate times call for desperate measures." And one of the things Spensa butts up against in the books is, "Have we gone too far on this? Have we become so focused on this that we're losing track of what it means to be human? But, at the same time, is this what kept us alive? Maybe the fact that we can even think about being human exists because of how extreme our society had to become." And these are really interesting questions that are fun for writers to deal with. Part of the reason that I write sci-fi and fantasy is it allows me to pluck some of these things from our world, separate them from some of the cultural baggage, and try and approach them and talk about them in story form. So I can just explore what it might feel like and how some of these questions might be explored, potentially, by us in the future.
If you were to use Hemalurgy on a Surgebinder, would it steal the Surge or the actual spren bond?
It's going to steal the spren bond, but you've got to remember the spren has power over that bond. So what you're doing is (1) incredibly evil, even more evil, but (2) you may not end up with what you want, because that spren has free will in most cases. You may go through all this trouble and then they may break the bond, and you would be left without it. So you would need something else to force them to be unable to break the bond, which would be even more evil, but it is possible in Hemalurgy.
The two paintings--The Battle of Twilight Falls, and the one that Kaladin sees in Shadesmar. Are they the same?
I believe that they are, but I could have...When I wrote the original scene, I intended them to be, but I might have changed something later on. They would be by the same artist. You can say yes, unless I changed something. There was something I was thinking of changing. I'd have to go back and look at them side by side.
But they sounded different. One has black in it, that the other one doesn't.
The thing is, that artist, and people seeing it, I intend them to each see something different in the paintings they see. But I don't know that I actually decided to make that the same painting. But the same artist.
What's Morningtide's real name?
Morningtide's real name? I don't know it off the top of my head, so I'm just going to give you a RAFO card.
Are the delvers, are they new since Jason's time?
They existed, but Jason didn't know about them.
Ohh, because we couldn't find any trace of them...
There's no trace of them. They were basically added in when I was doing Skyward. It was my evolution of where I wanted to take the whole thing.
If a Mistborn were to burn a metal that's been Forged by a Soulstamp, is there a different effect from another, or?
So they Forged it from one metal into another metal?
So once they started to burn it, it would break the Forgery and it would turn back into its original metal. So you'd have just the briefest moment of getting what it said it was and then it would go back to the other and then if you were a Misting of the wrong type, you would get no more from it.
What about Feruchemy or Hemalurgy?
So Feruchemy and Hemalurgy. You would have a lot of trouble Investing it because it's already Invested. So you would run into troubles right away trying to Invest it, because it's already got all the Investiture messing with it. You could theoretically make it happen, but it would take enough work and conniving that it just wouldn't be worth it.
In Defending Elysium, you had a guy in a white room with the communications. Then Spensa sees the delver in a white room...
That is an intentional harkening of the same idea.
Are they closely connected?
I wouldn't say closely, but I would say moderately.
Do you actually have a potted plant named Count Dooku??
I used to but the joke was it was actually not in a pot; it was in a glass jar.
Was it an air plant?
Yeah. It had water but it was like one of those air plants. That was the joke. They were supposed to put the picture in the original ones of Count Dooku, my plant, and they refused with that picture as the picture of me. So the joke didn't work. And then by the time we did the new ones, I didn't have Count Dooku anymore. Count Dooku had died. So we just put in a regular potted plant but that was supposed to be the joke that you would be like "wait a minute, that's not a potted plant." But Scholastic, they wouldn't deal with it. They didn't want me to be that goofy.
Is all the worlds in the Cosmere on a linear timeline?
Yes, with an asterisk. There is time dilation. If you get too close to large amounts of matter or large amounts of Investiture, you will have time dilation.
Does Intent reflect on the Spiritual or Cognitive aspects of Intent?
Yeah. Intent can influence that, but it's going to be very much based on the specific instances. I'm not sure exactly what specific instance you're talking about but it can.
Like the Elantrians, when they're drawing Aons and their Intent to draw an Aon.
Their Intent to draw an Aon is really important and in the same way your Intent to Awaken is really important, and in the same way there are some things in Roshar where your Intent is really important to what you're doing also.
And does that reflect like how Shallan can see, "I am a stick" by touching the bead in the Cognitive?
Is that by Intent? Not exactly the same mechanism going on right there.
The most exciting project I'm working on right now. I discussed before getting to know Brandon Sanderson, and we ended up becoming really good friends. And he has a book series, the Reckoners series: Steelheart, Firefight, and Calamity. And he was approached a little while ago by Audible. They saw a lot of success with those books on Audible and wanted him to write a spinoff series for it. But he's got a lot on his plate right now, and he actually asked me to pick it up for him. It's been really exciting.
He's been fairly hands-off, which has been both good and bad. I wish I had a little bit more direction, but it's also been nice to have full autonomy. He just kind of said, "Take it where you want." Right now, we have this spinoff series of a different team of Reckoners set in that Steelheart world. But we decided just a few weeks ago that we wanted to consolidate these books when we go to print and kinda change them a little bit to actually be Book Four and continue the series. Four, Five, and Six, and stuff. It'll hopefully mash together these two different Reckoners teams.
It's pretty exciting. They have kind of a demanding schedule for these three novellas, but it'll be shorter books for Audible. But once we can go to print (Audible's gonna hold the rights on them for two years, and then we get to go to his press, Delacorte), that's when it'll be released as Book Four.
That's a really interest project to be taking over and moving new direction at the same time.
It's tricky because, when he approached me about the project, he said, "Okay. We want this to be a series that people don't have to have read any of the Reckoners books before, and they can just pick it up fresh. But we also want it to be satisfying to everyone who's read it before. And also we want it to be three independent books that are following a new team. And also we want it to be a sequel." So it was super intimidating. I kept telling myself, "Okay, I can do that." And then it got more involved and more involved, trying to simultaneously make it a sequel as well as a spinoff has been a little bit challenging.
So far it's going really well. I'm almost done with the first one in the spinoff trilogy.
If they made a movie out of Mistborn, if they were making it rated R, would you have a say to that? Would it bother you? What would you do?
I would have a say over some and I could get it in contracts for some. It depends on the contract. There are some we've had were we don't have that in the contract. I'm not powerful enough to get that in a lot of things but the more powerful we get, the more we can get things like that to be able to say no. Mostly, we try to pick people that we don't think would do that but the end of the day, no movie people give authors say over their movies because a movie costs 200 million dollars to make and it's just... Basically, when you sign rights away, you just have to see what they do. I would prefer that they not.
In the Rithmatist, the Rithmatists get kidnapped by the guy [Harding] but it never explains how they got out of the room [the bedroom].
They could just go under doors and things like that because they're 2-dimensional so they don't actually have [height].
Double Eye of the Almighty, is that just symbolism or does Tanavast have weird pupils?
That is symbolism. But if you were to see Tanavast and you were on Roshar, he would manifest with weird pupils at that point.
Reflection of how people believe?
Yeah. But the actual Tanavast before, he did not have weird pupils.
So, Vasher has been on Roshar to live off the Stormlight. Does he know about larkins?
He has heard of larkins.
How afraid of them is he?
He is happy that are all supposedly extinct. They would kill him.
I know you served a mission in Korea. So, how much of a Korean influence...
There's a bunch.
I noticed in Mistborn, I think of some Korean influence.
Yeah. In Elantris, the idea of the language is based on the relationship between Korean and Chinese. So, it's not the sounds or anything, it's the idea of there being the Chinese characters that have Korean back... you know you can write them in Korean or in Chinese. All of that stuff. The Chinese characters, the Korean grammar around them, and stuff like that, it was a big influence on me designing that writing system.
For the light-lances, where do they get their power from?
They come from the same sort of place that everything's getting their power. You know, little micro-engines that are basically fantasy-ish. They're... It's super advanced hyper-engines. I think I worked something out where they using acclivity stone in some way. They're like Brandon's versions of Asimov watches with atomic power. They're just fantastically far-future power sources. Otherwise, we couldn't make any of this work. Like, the whole shell around Detritus and stuff. We needed a cheap and powerful energy source.
Exactly. They're just like little bitty things.
They're basically fantasy novels with spaceships.
Any advice for integrating realistic battle tactics with a magic system when writing a book?
Boy, it's tough. It depends on how much the magic going to get used and if you can find a real-world analogue or not. If you can find a real-world analogue, it can be handy to be like, "this magic is basically like adding an air force, let's see how that happens." If you can't find a real-world analogue, and it's very common, enough that it'll shape-change battle, then you need to make the sure the battlefield, you're controlling it and make it about the magic, so that no one can say "oh, you got the tactics wrong" because you're controlling it and you're controlling the narrative.
Basically make the magic the more important part?
Yeah. There's lots of ways to do this but that's a good way to do that. That would be my recommendation.
Have you taken out any insurance policies to make sure we get to the 10th book of Stormlight, Brandon?
I don't if any insurance policy could do that other than making good outlines and making sure that somebody is tasked to do it, in case. I always used to say it's not far enough along but at this point, we're getting far enough along that we would want to have someone finish them.
Can there be an Allomancer who's allergic to their metal?
Yes. I have a lot of allergies myself, so I sympathize with you.
It's like being an Alethi highlady who is left-handed, or being an Allomancer who's allergic to your metal, these are really painful things that the culture and society and magic system is not built well to deal with that highlight certain problems that people do have. And it totally can happen, and it sucks.
You've started to put more of an emphasis on Identity, which is a cosmere concept. Why did you do that?
These are things that are gonna need to make sense to the reader by the time that we get to Era 3 and 4. And so I'm using Era 2 as a kind of, ease-you-in to this idea. And that Identity is a cosmere concept is very much tied to the way the magics work behind the scenes.
So when you read Era 1, when you read Stormlight, the first five-book arc, when you read Elantris, you read those books, you're looking at kind of just the effects of the magic. But the underlying principles are more being shown in Wabreaker and in Era 2, where I'm starting to try to get you to understand the fundamental principles that make the magic systems work. So when we get to Era 3 and we start to need that understanding to really extrapolate how the magic's working, you'll be there on the same page with me, is my hope.
You mentioned earlier that the Mistborn magic system is basically a Periodic Table of Elements. How would that affect the study of science in creating the whole Periodic Table?
If you can see what's happening on Scadrial, even in Era 2, they have a disproportionate amount of understanding and study of metallurgy, and they are not nearly as good at other things. So it's affected where they spend their focus and their research. Like, they don't have the radio, when they kind of should. They had to get it from some other places, the idea of that technology. So really, what's happening there is, I'm trying to keep it close ('cause Scadrial is an Earth analogue), but at the same time show what they're stronger at and what they're weaker at. It has influenced the way they approached science in some interesting ways.
We won't find out a lot more until Era 3, where one of the characters is more interested in the science. Because the characters in Era 2 are mostly interested in shooting people and perhaps creating interesting mixed drinks. And finding lost coins. (Steris.)
How are you going to deal with the fact that Allomancy is genetic, and as it spreads to the population, the general power of it decreases in a given individual. What are you going to do in Eras 3 and 4?
That is what we call a RAFO. Read and Find Out. You can find in Era 2 one group's attempts at dealing with that. But they are approaching it in a very scary way.
Is it x-linked? Is it dominant?
This actually plays into the way the cosmere works. Every person in the cosmere has what I call a Spiritual DNA, which exists in... it goes back to Platonic forms, it's very weird. But it is not their actual genetic code, it is their Spiritual genetic code, which works a little differently.
Is the reason aluminum is so distinct in the cosmere have to do with what you talked about earlier? [falling from the sky, Napoleon's plates]
Yes, it's because I love how it had this sort of mythological attachment in our own world. And I liked that mythology.
But the other cool things that aluminum does is, it is a really powerful, strong, wonderful metal that, in our society now, is so common you can make cans out of it and sell it super cheap... but only two hundred years ago, was more valuable than gold. And that changeover let me build into the Mistborn system something that would then add a counter to the powers I was developing, which were going to become more and more common as we reached the modern era. That there would be a counter to them which would also become more and more common. It's a really nice parallel that I could build into the system.
Are you gonna try to use superconductors or different alloys in your books?
Yeah, you'll see a lot of interaction with metal. In fact, book four of Stormlight talks a little more about how metals in fabrials work. If you watch very closely, you'll see parallels between that and what's happening in the Mistborn series.
The further we get along, the more important things like superconductors will be, and we'll start explaining why metals work the way they do in the cosmere, and stuff like that. So that's all stuff you can look forward to.
I'm thinking of the characters of metal. Other than the One Ring, you have Elric's sword, that can ingest your soul.
Yeah, oh, I love Stormbringer. Stormbringer is an amazing sword. If you guy shaven't read Elric, it was the inspiration for Nightblood, was the Elric cycle with Stormbringer. It's this sword that sucks people's souls and gives the main character the ability to be strong, 'cause he was born very weak. But it usually harvests the souls of the people he loves most as he's trying to save the world, and it's this give-and-take. Do I use this powerful sword, because I'm really saving the world; it's really important. But it's probably gonna suck the souls of everyone I love. Creates some really great tension. But those books are kicks to the face. They are not pleasant stories necessarily.
I intentionally didn't use lead or mercury in my magic systems because I knew they would kick people out. When you say, "People are eating lead," even in a fantasy book, it's gonna make some snickers. People are gonna stop and be like, "Wait a minute... this is a bad idea." And as my popularity's grown, I've become more and more aware of how many times I'm going to have to answer the same question if I put it in my book. I'm so glad I didn't use lead because at every signing, I would be answering fifty or sixty times, "You do know that lead's a bad idea to eat, right?"
If Khriss were to describe the Cognitive Anomaly to another Silverlight scholar, how would she do so?
She would RAFO you.
And then, is the Cognitive Anomaly either one of Nalthis's lagrange points or that another RAFO?
It's a RAFO. Everything about the Cognitive Anomaly is a RAFO. I'm sorry.
It was worth a shot.
It is an anomaly and that is all we're saying.