If a Leecher was holding a Shardbearer and burning [chromium], would the Shardbearer be able to summon their Blade?
Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)
If a Leecher was holding a Shardbearer and burning [chromium], would the Shardbearer be able to summon their Blade?
Who would you ask to finish the Cosmere if you were unable to?
Brian McClellan. He's one of my students and he also writes epic fantasy.
Can you slatrify sand into other liquids?
*thinks a moment* I admit that slatrification is one aspect of Sand Mastery I'm the least fond of, because it doesn't mesh well with the rest of Cosmere magic. The comicbook writers are working with my original script, with very minor changes, but if we ever release White Sand in print - which we might do - I might end up changing it. So - I won't answer that, because I'm not yet sure if slatifying into water is possible. *laughs* You can think of the comic as sort of in-universe story about those characters, then.
About slatrification, he said that if he ever writes the novel, he'll make slatrification an in-world legend.
Will Kaladin and Shallan get together?
There will be Shalladin moments in Oathbringer.
What happened to Vivenna?
She's looking for Vasher. Keep your eyes wide open when reading Oathbringer.
Would the metal an Allomancer burns if he was charging Nightblood with Investiture affect the relative power of Nightblood, say if you are burning duralumin or atium Nightblood would be more powerful than if you were burning bronze or zinc?
Excellent question, actually!
Nightblood, as I've written him now and as I intend to keep him, feeds of the investiture--but isn't really strengthened by it. Meaning, it doesn't matter to him what the food is, it's all just food to him.
I'm a very sequential writer. When I write a book, I usually start with the prologue and write straight through until I hit the epilogue. Though I can't remember for certain, I'm pretty sure that this prologue was the first thing I ever wrote for Elantris.
Back in those days, I didn't outline as much as I do now. When I first put fingers to keyboard, I really didn't know where this book was going to go. I had some vague idea of what I wanted it to be, but I didn't know how I was going to get there. However, this prologue really helped solidify things for me.
I love how it works in the story. It's quick, descriptive, and gives a marvelous outline of the magical setting of the book. It's also one of the most heavily-edited sections of the book. Moshe didn't like my original draft of it because he thought it was over-written. The original first line of the book was "Whispered are the days when Elantris was beautiful." I kind of still like this line better, but it may just be nostalgia. The line kind of has a faint. . .flowing quality to it. An etherealness.
Regardless, "Elantris was beautiful, once" made for a nice compromise. I'll probably post the entire, first-draft version of the prologue in the "deleted scenes" section of the website, if you want to compare.
Despite my preference for the old first line, I like the other changes we made to the prologue. Over all, it became more descriptive and easier to understand. It's a nice springboard to the story, and we've used it several places as a kind of quick teaser to get people to read the book.
(Including putting it on the back cover of the hardback.)
I've had a few complaints about this page–but not the complaints I expected. When I was writing the acknowledgments, I was worried that I'd leave someone out who gave me good comments on the book. It took me a lot of searching through old records, but I think I finally found pretty much everyone. However, I assumed that if I did leave anyone out, they would complain. (It's been five years since I wrote Elantris, and a lot of people have read it during that time.)
However, most of the complaints I got weren't from people I forgot to put on the acknowledgements page. The complaints were from people who were on the page, but didn't think they deserved to be there!
You see, I added a few names to this list. These were people who hadn't read Elantris as an alpha reader, but who had been part of one of my writing groups or who had otherwise given me support during the days when I was trying to get published. These people read other books of mine, even if I wasn't working on Elantris when I met them. So, on this acknowledgements page, I wanted to give a general thanks to all the people who have helped me over the years. That means if you're on the list and don't think you belong there, tough!
You get my acknowledgement whether you want it or not!
Anyway, you can see that there are a lot of names on this list. These are a great bunch of people–good critics, great fans, and many of them pretty good writers in their own right. Though at this point, only one of them has a professional novel publication (Rob Wells,) I'm sure that others will eventually join him. When they do, buy their books!
The top list of people includes my closest and most helpful writing groups. The first group, named "Here there be dragons" actually started when I was writing Elantris, and that was the first book the group dealt with. Though we didn't spend much time on Elantris, I remember meeting in Ben's office in the BYU alumni house and chatting about the book's terrible title (see the title page annotation,) among other things. The founding members were Dan, Ben, me, and Nate. We added Peter a bit later on, and he went on to become an editor at Tokyopop. A couple of other people–Krista Olson, Alan Layton, and a few others–did short stints as dragons, but I ended up acknowledging them in other places on the list.
Of those three writing groups, only one is still going. The one with Alan Layton and Kaylynn ZoBell. We meet in Salt Lake every Friday night (yes, I know. That's the best thing we writers often have to do on Friday nights. . . .) Anyway, they're a great support and help to me.
Another interesting note is regarding my professors. I intend to dedicate a book some day to the teachers that have helped me over the years. It was a school teacher–the appropriately named Ms. Reader–who gave me my first fantasy book . I can think of few professions as noble as that of teacher, and I am deeply thankful to all of those who have helped me–not just the few names I had room to mention on this page.
I've always intended to dedicate my first published book to my mother. I poke a little fun at her here, since I can't resist. However, I really do owe a lot of who I am–and what I've accomplished–to her. When I was in elementary school, I had mediocre grades–and my test scores placed me as "below average" on several occasions. Well, she was bound and determined to prove that I was "gifted" despite those scores. She worked hard to get me to improve in school, and she was a prime motivator behind my reading habits.
Now, my mother is a very practical person. She believes strongly in practical professions that pay well and are stable. Writing is neither one of these. I think she realized early on that despite her hopes, she wasn't going to have a doctor or a business man–or even a scientist–for a son. She did convince me to major in biological chemistry as a freshman–though she said this was simply to put me in a better position for getting a scholarship (which I did get, by the way). However, I've always assumed that a little piece of her hoped that the bio-chem influence would persuade me to go to med school, or to at least become an engineer.
That, obviously, did not happen. The big bad English monster took me in my sophomore year. However, my mother has always been supportive, and it was her sense of dedication, excellence, and assiduousness that forged my determined personality. Without that sense of self-determination, I would never have lasted in this field long enough to publish.
So, thank you mother. Thanks for being proud of me.
You'd be surprised how much can be said about the title of this book. Naming books is one of the most frustrating, and most fulfilling, elements of writing. I'm more fortunate than some authors I know–for most of my books, the names came easily. Sometimes, I even came up with the title before I wrote the book. (This has actually only happened once, when thought up the phrase "The Way of Kings," and thought "Man! That would be a great title for a book!")
Elantris has had several titles. During the rough draft phase, I simply called it "SPIRIT." I knew that the main character's name would be based on the character for Spirit, and that would also be the name he took for himself when he was in exile. I never intended this to be the final title for the manuscript, but it was what I named all the files when I was typing the work.
Those of you who've read the book realize the special significance of "Spirit" (or Aon Rao as it eventually became known) to the climax of the story. I'll talk more about this in a bit.
Well, as I was writing the story, I realized I needed a better title. The most obvious choice was to somehow work in the name of the fallen magical city that was the focus of the book. Now, I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but the city "Elantris" was actually originally named "Adonis." I'm not sure what I was thinking. Sometimes, when you're coming up with a lot of fantastical names, you create words that have a certain, unforeseen connotations or connections. In this case, I wasn't even thinking of the Greek myth. "Ado" was simply the Aon I chose to base the city’s name around, and "Adonis" (Pronounced with a long "A" and a long "O") was the word that came out of that Aon.
So, I named the book The Spirit of Adonis, hoping to play off of Raoden's name.
It was, however, actually a three-fold pun. I included this line–"The Spirit of Adonis" at the climax, when Raoden realizes that the city itself formed an enormous Aon Rao.
I didn't realize what I'd done until my writing group met for the first time, and they said "I like the beginning of the book. I'm having trouble figuring out what this has to do with the Greeks. Is it because the god-like people were so arrogant?"
Then it hit me. Adonis, from Greek mythology, was a beautiful man loved by Aphrodite. The word has become a kind of paradigm for a beautiful–almost perfect–specimen of the male species. And I had unwittingly named my book after him.
Let's just say I changed that pretty quickly. However, I needed a new name for the city. I played with a number of different combinations of Ado, but somehow ended up trying up different sounds and combinations. Thankfully, I came up with the word "Elantris." As soon as I wrote it down, I knew this was my city. It sounded grand without being overbearing, and it had a mythological feel to it (hearkening slightly to "Atlantis".) I renamed the book "The Spirit of Elantris," and proceeded.</p>
Then came time to send out the manuscript. I had had some comments on the book–people liked "Elantris," but the "spirit of" was less popular. I tried several iterations, and even sent out some query letters calling the book "THE LORDS OF ELANTRIS." That just felt too cliché fantasy for me, however, and I eventually returned to "The Spirit of Elantris."
Finally, the book got sold. At this point, my editor (Moshe Feder) suggested that we shorten the title to simply Elantris. Remembering how other people had been unimpressed with the "spirit of," I agreed. Now that I've seen the cover lettering and worked with it as "Elantris" for some time, I'm very pleased with the change. The new title has more zip, and makes the book sound more majestic. I still get to have a reference to my old title, as Part Three of the book is called "The Spirit of Elantris."
Of course, even this title isn't without its problems. People have trouble spelling it when I say the title, and some think of the car named the "Elantra." At one panel, I even had one person miss-hear me, thinking the name of the book was "The Laundress." That would certainly be a different book...
I have heard you say you consult with doctors, physicist, and other professionals in order to keep your books as grounded in reality as you can. How did you meet these individuals and how early in your career did you have their help?
This is something that grew far easier once I had access to resources such as my editor at Tor. Moshe knows EVERYONE, and he's been able to get my writing into the hands of various experts for review. I didn't do this as much in my unpublished days; it's something I've come to learn and appreciate in the last ten years.
I assume that the Worldhoppers (characters who travel from planet to planet between books) can and sometimes enter into romantic relationships. Have there ever been any children born on one world with powers from another? (For example: A misting being born and raised on Roshar)
Yes, this has happened.
Would it be possible to have a "Shardgun"? (Shardblade in the form of a gun)
Can holders of Shards give them up voluntarily? If so, what would happen?
Yes, a Vessel for a Shard of Adonalsium can give up their power if they wish.
As for what would happen...well, there are some variables in there. Kind of like the variables in what happens to a bucket of water if you dump it out. Depends on where it falls, how strong the wind is, what the air is like.
Power dropped like this, if left alone, could end up Splintering and turning into something like spren/seons. It could become something more like the Stormfather--a large, self-aware entity. It could become something like the Dor or many of the Unmade--something proto-aware, but not truly an individual. There are other possibilities as well, depending on lots of factors. (Are sapient beings involved? what is being done with the power--is it concentrated in the Spiritual Realm as normal, or is it being pushed somewhere else?)
Was there ever a time when you had intended to kill off a character, but changed your mind because you liked them too much?
Hmm... I'm trying to think of whether or not this happened. I do believe that Adolin died in the original draft of The Way of Kings, which I wrote in 2002. he had a much smaller role in that book, and it played out very differently. When I did the newer version, which I rewrote from scratch, Adolin evolved much differently.
For those who don't know, he wasn't intended to have as large a role in the plot--but I ran into a problem during writing. Dalinar was feeling inconsistent as a character. I wanted to present him as strong and confident, but at the same time had him troubled by worries that he was insane from visions he was seeing.
This worked in outline form, but when I actually wrote, it seemed like he spent WAY too much time standing around worrying that he was crazy. So I expanded Adolin's character, providing a contrast. Dalinar, confident (to an extent) he was seeing something real--and his son, who worried his father was going insane.
Through this development, and giving Adolin more time on the page, he became a much more rounded character.
Another instance of this was Spook from the Mistborn series, who grew to have a much larger role than I'd originally intended.
There's another in this category--but it could include spoilers for an upcoming book. I'll talk about it eventually.
ETA: Szeth originally died permanently in the end of Words of Radiance. I also changed my mind to let Amaram live in the scene with the poison dart. Adolin killed off Sadeas instead.
Why didn't Dalinar get the powers of a Stoneward when he bonded Taln's [Honorblade]?
Some readers have already figured this out, so I don't think I'm engaging in too large a spoiler to dig into this one here.
There are several oddities going on here. The most important one relevant to this question is the Blade in question. If you compare the descriptions of the sword described in the epilogue of The Way of Kings to the one that traveled with the madman (allegedly Taln, the Herald) to the Shattered Plains, you'll find they are different.
The one that the characters obtained in Words of Radiance is NOT an Honorblade. It's an ordinary Shardblade (as ordinary as one of those can be called.) I'm not going to say specifically what happened to the Blade Taln arrived with at Kholinar, but I will say that it IS a different weapon from the one in Words of Radiance.
The other issue here is the somewhat lesser question of whether this character is actually Taln, the Herald, or not. Some characters in-world don't believe that it is, though his viewpoint in Words of Radiance strongly implies otherwise. This isn't specifically relevant to the conversation for reasons I'll talk about below--but it is tangentially related. Because in the cosmere, Intent is important to many of the types of magic. It's theoretically possible to hold an Honorblade and not realize what its powers are, and therefore be unable to access them.
As an aside, this character was actually the primary protagonist of the version of The Way of Kings I wrote in 2002. A man who woke up, with lingering memories of madness, and claimed to be a Herald when nobody believed him--as he couldn't manifest any powers, seemed to have lost his sword, and lore said the Heralds weren't coming back anyway.
When I wrote the new version of The Way of Kings in 2009 or so, one goal was to focus the storyline. I'd included so many characters in the 2002 version that none of them progressed very far in their arcs, creating a strong setting and interesting characters--but a bad book. During the new version, I decided that this character would be moved to the later books, and I'd explore him there.
In the 2002 version, the text was very dodgy on whether or not Taln was a Herald. Confronting the fact that he might be crazy was a major arc and theme of the book--however, as I've worked on the new version, I've realized that it would be dangerous to be too vague on this. Stringing people along with the question for a book or two is one thing, waiting until book six or eight to do a character's arc, and leaving the question of whether they're a Herald or not all that time, seemed unfair.
So the text is going to be making manifest fairly quickly who this person is. You'll have confirmations long before we dig into his viewpoint in the later books.
So, a recap:
1) The swords WERE swapped somehow.
2) Someone could hold an Honorblade and not realize they had access to powers.
3) This character may or may not actually be a Herald--but the text is going to make the answer clear, and I'm not trying to trick you.
If you could have dinner with three characters from books (not just yours), who would you dine with, and why? Plus what would you be eating?
Hmm... Let me answer this as one from a classic, one from a sf/f book not my own, and one from a book that is my own. Otherwise the question is too big for me to get a real answer to, as there are so many.
Well, my favorite character from a classic is Jean Valjean. I don't know what we'd eat, but I'd avoid ordering bread...
My favorite character from a fantasy book not my own is probably Perrin from The Wheel of Time, though that's a half-cheat, as I worked on the series. So it would either be him or, if I had to pick another, maybe Sam Vimes from Discworld. We'd avoid sausages in a bun.
From my own books, I don't know if I can pick a favorite, as they're all my children. So maybe I'll just tie it to who would be the most fun to go to dinner with. Kelsier would be too dangerous--you never know who is going to show up and try to kill him. Probably Shallan, as I feel she'd have the most interesting conversation. We wouldn't order men's food because I'm too much of a wimp, and it would probably be way too spicy.
If you could make one change to the cosmere that is impossible to change now, what would it be?
Hmmm.... I gave this some thought all week, and had trouble deciding because the things I would change are more about individual books, and less about the cosmere as a whole. I don't know if I'd change anything about the big story--mostly because the things I would want to change would all take place in the Dragonsteel era, and that book isn't canonical anyway. Once I write it for real, I can change any of the things that I don't think are working.
As for the core of the cosmere...I might make some small tweaks to Allomancy. I have hever liked how the signal of sixteen worked in Hero of Ages. (for those not in the know, I talk about this in the annotations--I was looking for a sign that Preservation could send that Ruin wouldn't notice, along with help for mankind.) In the end, i think this ended up being a little clunky. Other things (like slatrification in sand mastery) are small enough I can change moving forward, but not Allomancy. So I might take another stap at that.
On the whole, though, I'm very pleased with how the larger cosmere story is playing out.
Can I become a beta reader for Brandon's books?
Beta readers are some of the people to whom I send early versions of my books for feedback. Usually, these are different from alpha readers, who include industry professionals like my editor, my agent, and my writing group. Beta readers, instead, are usually fans and "average" readers, used as a test audience. I don't expect them to offer solutions to problems; more, these are the people i want to use to gauge how the book will be received.
Most of these people fall into two groups. The first are old friends who have been reading my writing for a long time, and whose opinion I trust. The second are people who have made insightful comments on places like the 17th Shard, Tor.com, or my Facebook page. They are generally people well known in the fandom community surrounding my books--people who have good reputations, with whom we feel we can entrust early copies of books without leaking them.
We do pick from general fans sometimes to do beta readers, but there are a LOT of people who want to do this--and not many slots available. Usually, we pick people who have a special experitise relating to a book I'm working on. (We might pick a person who has been an EMT, for example, when reading Stormlight--to help with Kaladin's surgery scenes.)
I don't generally pick beta readers myself. I leave this to my team, mostly Peter Ahlstrom. I suggest not pestering him with requests, however. Instead, if you really want to beta read, participate in the fan community and get to be known there. Another great way to help is to find typos that HAVEN'T YET been found and post them in the appropriate thread for that book on the 17th Shard. (Don't just send these via email; chances are, peter already knows about them and has fixed them in a newer edition of the book.)
When all of the contest judges, beta readers, and writer's groups say that your work is ready, but all of the agents say it's just not right for them, how do you find out what would make it right for them?
Sometimes, you can't.
One thing you have to be ready for is that even the best piece of writing will have people who don't like it. this is the nature of art--because human beings are different, we simply like different things. It doesn't have to have a value judgement attached to it. There is no "fixing" a painting so that everyone loves it. By fixing it, you would sometimes just make it so that different people love it.
That isn't to say that skill level is flat, and art can't be improved. I'm just saying that sometimes, you just can't change a piece in a way that will make a specific person like it--at least, not without changing it into a completely different piece of art.
If your honest feedback from contest judges and early readers is all great, and if you feel that the stories you've been submitting are ready, then you should keep going and keep submitting. And keep writing. Elantris was rejected several times, as were many famous books. Sometimes, what the agents need to see is that you can be consistent.
But beyond that, if you keep writing and submitting, one of several things will happen.
1) You'll eventually find an agent or editor who loves your fiction as much as all these other people.
2) You'll grow as a writer and realize that the book you've been submitting, though enjoyable to many people, were still flawed in big ways and can be revised (with your new skill) to make them work better for an audience who doesn't know you.
3) You'll realize that your stories have an audience, and the agents are just not getting it. (All too often, they miss excellent writers.) You'll self-publish to great success.
I can't say which of these is the future of any individual story, and I can't say if it's a legitimate flaw that professionals are seeing in your writing or not.
I can say: keep writing, be patient. If you want to traditional publish, keep submitting. Agents can be timid. If they don't pick hits, they don't eat.
But do write for you, first, and don't let yourself be pushed into trying to be someone else, writing-wise.
I just had a question about writing, specifically regarding your laws on magic. Your first law states that the ability to solve problems using magic is directly proportional to the reader's knowledge of said magic. My question comes kind of as the opposite. What is your opinion on the ability of the author to create problems using magic? Does the reader need to know a lot about the magic system for you to be able to have the "villain" use it to create problems for the protagonists? Or can you create problems with this magic without the reader knowing a lot about it?
One thing to remember about my laws is that they're laws I devised for myself--laws I find make my writing stronger. I think they hold very well in general, but there are no "rules" for fiction. There are as many ways to do things as there are people doing them. However, like most things, I DO have an opinion. :)
Magic causing problems in the story is a great thing--as more conflict generally makes for a stronger story. Obviously, this isn't a 100% correlation, but it's a good rule of thumb. Using the magic as a kind of "human vs. nature" style plot is a great idea, and I've used it to great advantage myself. One could say that in Elantris, the magic (which is broken) is a primary antagonist of the story.
There are a few things to be aware of. First, avoid what my friend and colleague Bryce Moore dubbed "Deus Ex Wrench." Yes, that doesn't quite work. But the idea is this: Just like solving problems out of nowhere, with unforeshadowed powers or advantages, can be unsatisfying, sometimes just having problems happen out of nowhere in a story can be unsatisfying.
If a dam breaks, risking flooding the city, it's much stronger if we know the dam is there--if the characters have walked along it, or if something similar happened somewhere else in the story in parallel. Likewise, having the magic create problems unexpectedly, if handled without some measure of foreshadowing, could be unsatisfying. (For example, if the One Ring suddenly started--three quarters of the way through the series--melting your friends if they crossed their eyes.)
Just as I think you can create a great magic system that doesn't have explicit rules, I think you can have the magic be a huge problem in the books if the reader/characters don't understand it. Doing so in this case is probably going to be about making sure that the major conflict is not FIXING the magic, but overcoming it.
For example, if the magic in your world--when used--causes rainfall that floods and kills crops, one story (the explicit rules story) would be about finding out why, and learning to use the magic safely. But another story would be about surviving a terrible flood, and another about hunting down and stopping the people who use the magic. All three can use the magic as a huge conflict, but only one would probably need deep explanation of the magic system in order to have a satisfying resolution.
If you had a pet animal that you could communicate with (just like dæmons in the trilogy His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman) which animal would you choose?
Can I cheat and make an animal that doesn't exist? Because if so, I'd pick a dragon. Because then I'd have a cool animal to talk to AND I'd be the only person around with a DRAGON.
If it has to be an animal that's real--a kind of spirit dragon--I would pick some kind of intelligent bird. A parrot or a raven. Something that can fly, do things I cannot, and look totally awesome sitting on my shoulder and glaring at people.
Are Hemalurgic spikes fabrials? Is a body that has been spiked a fabrial? Are koloss and kandra also something similar?
Fabrial means specifically a bit of Investiture that has been trapped by a gemstone and then modified to do something else. Hemalurgy is its own thing--though there is a slight similarity. In most Hemalurgy, Investiture keyed to the Identity of someone (a bit of a soul) is ripped off, and then magically grafted onto someone else's soul. Not the same, though I can see the confusion.
Koloss and kandra are similar, though in this case, the soul is mostly just being distorted by using an Invested spike. In the cosmere, the body will attempt to match the soul, and so a twisted soul (Spiritual aspect of a person) can have profound effects on both mind and body.
So how tough a decision is taking on Wheel of Time?
It was very tough. It uhh-- Man, I was-- I was scared. But I realized, after being offered it, if I said no and somebody else screwed it up, it would be partially my fault for being too cowardly to take it, right? Or too frightened or whatever. I don't know if it would be cowardly, but too timid? So I had to-- I eventually said yes because I figured, if someone is going to write it I want it to be me. Because at least I knew then a fan was in control.
In Shadows of Self Paalm tells Wax she hasn't killed his father-- she hasn't killed his father yet. Is Wax's father still alive?
Uh, that was not who she was referencing.
Was it Marasi's father?
Because that's who Wax assumed.
It was what he assumed?
It is what he assumed, yeah-- No no no no no! It's not what he assumed, sorry.
Then she tells him she's not talking to him, so--
Nope, no, no. She is not talking-- she was talking about something else completely. Not Wax's father and not Marasi's father.
Yeah, sorry. I had to work through that scene, that's why-- yes. There is a different reference there.
Is it the one that it turns out to be? Is that what she was talking about, or is there more trick there that we don't know yet?
Um-- It's-- No, don't work to hard on this one.
Okay, so I think the question everybody wants to ask you all the time is, what are you working on right now?
What am I working on right now. Well--
*assorted cheers of Stormlight and other title*
This isn't a vote. *laughter*
Yes, I think they say that because they all know-- they watch the progress bars on the website. Which I actually put there early in my career, before I was-- As Dan, my friend Dan, Dan Wells-- he says "You used to be Brandon Sanderson. Now you're BRANDON SANDERSON." So before I was BRANDON SANDERSON I put those bars on the website because I was a Wheel of Time fan. And it helps so much to know how far along a book is, if you're waiting for it. I know not all authors work that way, so don't go harass other authors who do that. Some-- I have some friends who, y'know, if they-- The more they talk about the book to people, the harder it is for them to write. And so they get very closemouthed and quiet. And I am not that way, I am a very open person, so posting that up there gives me some kind of accountability in some ways. Like, alright the fans get to know what's going on--
So I'm working on the third Stormlight book. *cheers and applause* That is currently 330 thousand words long. *cheers* Which, for comparison, the original Way of Kings was around 300 thousand and Words of Radiance was around 400. And so-- And it's only three-quarters the way done... *laughter* So I've prepared the publisher that they have to go through this again. Maybe I'll be able to get the future books in the series a little shorter. But this one is going to be a big one. Which I know you guys are so sad about. *laughter* I anticipate it being published about one year after I hit 100% on the first draft. So if you watch that progress bar, right when that ticks to 100, you're looking at about a one year period. I've been doing really well, momentum's being really good lately. And so I'm expecting that to be October, but just watch as that goes. It will slowly tick up. It's not ticking up right now because I'm actually doing revisions for Part 3 of the book. Which I'm doing the revisions as I write the book this time to get my editior-- Who's bipolar-- I give him the cha- parts when he's manic, so he revises them, and that let's us get through the periods where he's not manic. And he's manic right now, so I'm going to send him a part and be like "Okay Moshe, time to work on this." You just have to learn how to work the business this way when you've got an editor like Moshe. Book's going really well. This will have, most likely, Dalinar's flashback sequence in it, and I will be reading one of those at my reading tomorrow. *cheers*
Which I like to read from those, because they take place before the first book so it's not a huge spoiler for people who haven't finished, like, Words of Radiance, or anything like that yet. Because it takes place before the series, but they're also very self-contained sequences. They read very well.
Alright, so you guys all know who he is but I need to explain why I'm sitting next to him, for the majority of you who have never seen me before. I'm Jennifer Liang, and many years ago I was the Track Director for the Wheel of Time track here [at DragonCon]. *cheers* Awww... I've moved on to other things, I chair my own Wheel of Time convention [JordanCon] now, so if you are interested in that go look that up somewhere. But the reason that Brandon was first at DragonCon, eight years ago, was because I told him to be here.
I was really scared. *laughter* See I knew Wheel of Time fandom, as a fan, and I knew how crazy they were. And so when, basically, the queen of Wheel of Time fandom wrote to me and said "You're going to come to DragonCon and talk to us." I was super nervous. I still remember it, I was talking to Jenn about it. I walk in and it was a room, pretty big, not as big , but packed with people. And I walked in and I'm like "I've never been in a panel this size before." right? "I'm used to going--" It was only that same year, I think it was, that I went to WorldCon and did a reading and there was only one person at my reading. *laughter* And it was Eric James Stone, my good friend. *laughter* They did schedule it opposite Lois Bujold's main address, which was part of the problem. But still, I went from one person in my reading to walking into a room like this. Full of a whole bunch of people who are like "You're not my real dad." *laughter*
It was very weird hearing somebody who was not Robert Jordan talk about writing The Wheel of Time. Like it was really flipping us out at the time. But he-- you were good.
You were all very nice. Except for the-- The did this thing called... Darkfriend games, right? Are you a Darkfriend. Which is basically like Assassin, one of those party games where you sit around-- Except it's Wheel of Time themed. And they always murdered me, like first. *laughter* Right? Like that's how I knew there was a little bit of subconcious agression going on. We'd look up and they'd say "Who did the Villagers want to kill? Brandon." Every time. I was never the Darkfriend, but they killed me every time.
It was funny. *laughter*
There's a group of three of them in particular, that I remember, who kind of ganged up and got me. So I actually put them in, I think as Dreadlords, in the books and got them murdered. *laughter*
They're extremely proud of themselves.
They're very proud. They got in and murdered. So if you look for a conspicuous group of Dreadlords that get killed in a very terrible way, that's them.
Do you have another magic system that you haven't written about yet?
I have a ton. And, yeah, so there's some that are in the cosmere that I haven't yet gotten to, that I've got planned out. And there's some that I started writing a story on and didn't have time to finish. And I've got some weird settings. And-- yeah. So yes, there are a ton.
Wow, that's so cool. Would you be able to share a little bit?
Well the most famous one that I've talked about before, so fans already know about it, is the one where people-- you gain magical talents based on diseases you catch. Like you get the common cold, you can fly while you have it, when you get over it-- it's the bacteria and viruses have evolved to give-- to interface with the magic to try and, you know, they want to keep you alive to let you spread the disease so they-- you get these powers. And that one's going to be very cool when I can write it.
Last question: Are you planning to come back to Poland somewhere soon?
Yes but I don't know when, but I have to come to Warsaw Book Fair, my publisher has made it very clear I need to eventually, and you guys do keep bugging me so-- I'm sure it won't stop now that I've actually come. I have been to Spain like four times so--
It's closer to States.
Yeah it's so much closer.
We'll definitely come back with some weird questions
Ok great. We need a direct flight to Warsaw, that's what we need.
From Salt Lake.
From Salt Lake. Yeah, not gonna happen. There is a direct flight to Paris so I'm in Paris and there’s a direct flight to London, so I end up both in London and Paris all the time.
There is loads of flights from London to Warsaw.
To any city in Poland.
Yeah but if there is no direct flight then I have to change planes.
Yeah, I know! Actually I changed this time in Amsterdam, that's a good airport, so easy to get around.
How many hours did you spend traveling here?
Yeah-- Oh nine hours-- Sorry, nine hours on that flight to Amsterdam, and then two hours to Warsaw.
Yeah, not that bad. Two hour layover, so total of 13 hours.
I wrote a really bad short story that I don't think I will ever release. It's kind of dumb. So that still happens to me.
How many more secret societies are on Roshar? What-- More of them?
There are a few but most of the ones you haven't found out about are either in countries you haven't gone to and spent much time with or they are offworld societies that are involved in Roshar. You know most of them.
I need to ask, Dalinar lost his wife's name. I was talking about it with Klaudia yesterday and I need to ask, is it punishment or it's-- was it his wish?
When will it be revealed?
It will be revealed in Oathbringer. You will get flashbacks of Dalinar going, you actually see him visit the Nightwatcher.
Do you have your favorite fan theory? You don't have to say if it's untrue or not, but--
Favorite fan theories. Oh wow. I'm always really curious about which two characters people like to "ship" together
That one would be pretty interesting. What else-- Favorite fan theories-- I've read a bunch of them that I just chuckle about, but some of them-- I mean it's a mark of pride for me when somebody gets it right. That means that I have done my foreshadowing well. The unfortunate part of that is, when it actually happens in the books there will be a whole lot "I knew it" rather than "Oh I'm so surprised". It's getting so hard to surprise you people. If I do my job right and I put in the foreshadowing then you will be able to guess things even though sometimes you guess things you are not supposed to be able to guess yet, because there is no foreshadowing. But yeah like there will be big revelations in Oathbringer that I think will blow the average reader's mind and the people who have been reading closer "Oh yeah, that. What they don't know that yet?"
My favorite fan theories-- I can't think of one of the top of my head, I've heard some really good ones though.
I think you are really active on the subreddit for The Stormlight Archive?
I am fairly active, the problem is every time I post I get like 300 hundred responses and I'm like "I can't respond to all of that I have to write books".
OK another one about programming the AonDor. Could you go lower-level, like assembler, so like you-- The AonDor would be higher so you go even deeper--*waves arms to illustrate*
That's gonna be more of a RAFO because to go deeper you have to know what's going on with the magic on Sel and I haven't revealed all of that and things like this. Like why the Aons or why the various symbols-- What's going on with all of that, I mean I think people are starting to guess it but I haven't really talked about it a lot so you would have to go, to get to that level I would have to give you information I don't wanna talk about right now.
So that's a RAFO
That's a RAFO.
Do you think that Oathbringer will be released faster than Winds of Winter?
I guarantee it will be, because I have a publication day. Now I guess can't guarantee it because George could always just decide it's done and call the publisher and then they would probably-- they would publish it and they could probably pick the same day as mine and I'd have to be like "Oh no." But I think the chances that I will beat it are pretty good, I just hope that I don't beat the next one too, cause George's fans really deserve to get-- to get those last two books.
This might be a really weird question, but how do you feel about killing your characters in books? Are getting sad, or angry, or you are just like you feel it just has to be done and "sorry, not sorry"--
It's kind of the last one, it has to be done. It's more along the lines of, this is what the character has been pushing toward and kinda demanding all along, and I will let them do what they feel they need to. I rarely feel like I actually kill off characters, I more feel like, characters take risks all the time and I can’t always pull the punches, once in a while I've just gotta let them pay the consequences.
Who's your favorite character to write?
Usually the characters I look more-- forward to the most are the ones that are goofy.
So like Wayne and Lift. Like, but not up to like-- Wit I-- is hard to write, right? It's the kind of wacky but don't have to be too clever characters that are most fun to write.
As a writer I love world building. However the detail and culture of your stories are so incredibly thought out. Do you storyboard and document all the family lines, kingdomes, traditions, languages, ect before hand or do these things evolve as you write them?
It depends on the book and the worldbuilding element in question. I do some of each, and do more for longer series. I've done a lot more work on the languages of Stormlight, for example, than did on something like The Rithmatist, where I outlined the magic in detail but discovery wrote other parts of the setting.
My big question right now, mostly because of wiki reasons, is whether the Team Sanderson has a system for naming Core Possibilities in the Reckonerverse. The reason I ask is because we on the Coppermind would just refer to different versions of Earth as "Earth (series name)" but that kind of broke down in Calamity where two Earths are relevant, and I'm guessing Apocalypse Guard will also have that issue. Can you help us out?
I will once I write Apocalypse Guard, which will have these notations. I don't want to canonize it right now, though, because I'm still working on the right terms.
The part of Mistborn Era 1 that I absolutely loved was how the flower drawing made its way among characters, eventually allowing the Hero to place them on Scadrial again. How early was that little plot piece put into the outline? Did the idea for it come from somewhere in particular that you remember? Little details like this are what make me love your work and I just want to get an idea of where they came from.
The flower plot started as a way to characterize Kelsier. As I've talked about before, I generally start an outline, then write my way into characters with some actual chapters, then go back and finish the outline with these characters in mind.
I knew I needed a way, after writing a few chapters of the book, to indicate to readers who might have missed it that this world has some strange ecology. Providing the picture of a flower, and talking about how strange it was to them (and the legends of it) became a method of showing this, but also showing Kelsier's feelings about Mare. Once I had it written into the book, I planned for it to show up other places, as a kind of visual reminder of what the characters were fighting for. (Even if the reader didn't quite understand how far it would go.)
There isn't anything story specific I'd want to ask, I wish to discover by reading. I was wondering if Stormlight Archive books are going to get a special edition limited prints from Subterranean Press, like some of your other work?
Our plan is to do tenth anniversary books of all of the cosmere novels, though right now I plan to put the four Wax and Wayne books into two volumes. (So, sell them as two-in-one.) Likewise, it's possible that the Stormlight books will be better as two volumes each, sold in a slip case together, so that you don't risk ruining bindings by reading them.
Is there anything from one of your published books that you would go back and change/remove if you could?
Tons of stuff.
I'd better foreshadow Vin drawing on the mists at the end of Mistborn 1.
I'd take another stab at Mat in Gathering Storm.
I'd see if I could come up with something better for Fain at the end of AMoL.
I'd change some things about Words of Radiance that would be spoilers to mention.
But yes, there's lots I would change. I think it's best, for right now, to just let them be. Constant revision leads to madness.
What is the origin of the name Kaladin?
My wife and I recently had our first child and that's what we named him. Just curious if there's any story behind the name.
I use Arabic in some of the creation of Alethi names, and Kaled (or Khaled) was the root I started playing with to come up with a new name for Kaladin, as I didn't like the one I'd used in 2002. I'd already designed Kalak after this, the Herald, and wanted a common name version of this.
When I arrived at Kaladin, it sounded right to me--likely because of the similarity to Paladin, as others noted below.
So if Kaladin's name is derived from Khaled, is it fair to assume that the Alethi language sounds similar to Arabic?
Alethi has some Hebrew to it too. I used Semitic language roots for the Dawnchant, which had a huge influence on Rosharan languages. While there are a few oddballs rules, and some linguistics that stand on their own, both major language groups on Roshar (the Azish family and the Vorin family) would probably sound very Arabic to you.
For example, the Alethi Kh is a voiceless velar fricative. The Azish kk or q sound is a voiceless uvular, sometimes stop, sometimes an affricate. Sometimes a uvular ejective.
No, I can't make those sounds on demand. Peter can, though. It's helpful to have a linguist on my team.
Shin is its own language, as is Iriali.
What can't Peter do? He seems to be an expert on everything!
He is amazing. But, in this case, he was a linguistics major in college. So there's a little extra amazingness from him in these areas.
Given the chance, what stories would you like to write in the Wheel of Time universe?
If I felt it appropriate, I'd choose to finish the prequels. I'd write one about Tam going to war, and one about Moiraine and Lan's adventures leading up to visiting the Two Rivers. Those were two things Robert Jordan had talked about writing.
He didn't leave much in the way of notes, though, so I don't think it would be right to do them.
Would you ever consider writing "The Spotters Guide to Spren"?
Whenever Stormlight Archive is finished, a comprehensive guide to the little guys would be awesome.
This is a good idea. We'd probably mix it with a general Roshar worldboook, though I can imagine doing it on its own.
I've always wondered, how do you determine where the line between "Word of Brandon" and "Read and Find Out" is? Has it ever caused issues where you've said something, but later that thing changed when it went into a book making your first statement now false?
Thanks so much for writing as much as you do, I'm looking forward to all your upcoming books, keep up the great work!
Boy, this one is an art, not a science.
I've several times said something that I later decided to change in a book. I've always got this idea in the back of my head that the books are canon, and things I say at signing aren't 100% canon. This is part because of a habit I have of falling back on things I decided years ago, then revised in notes after I realized they didn't work. My off-the-cuff instinct is still to go with what I had in my head for years, even when it's no longer canon.
An example of this are Shardblades. In the first draft of TWoK in 2002, I had the mechanics of the weapons work in a specific way. (If you wanted to steal one from someone, you knock off the bonding gemstone, and it breaks the bond.) I later decided it was more dramatic if you couldn't steal a Shardblade that way--you had to kill the person or force them to relinquish the bond. It worked far better.
But in Oathbringer, Peter had to remind me of that change, as I just kind of nonchalantly wrote into a scene a comment about knocking off a gemstone to steal a Shardblade. These things leak back in, as you might expect for a series I've been working on for some twenty years now--with lore being revised all along.
So...short answer...yes, I've contradicted myself a number of times. I try very, very hard to let the books be the canon however. So you can default to them.
As for what I answer and what I RAFO...it depends on how much I want to reveal at the moment, if I'm trying to preserve specific surprises, or if I just want people to focus on other things at the moment. Like I said, art and not science.
In WoR, Navani muses to Dalinar about how the gemstones in the Blades could be the focus that allows the bond with the Blade to exist. If this theory is correct, it would follow that someone could damage that gemstone and thus be able to steal the Blade with it then having no intact bonding mechanism, right?
I guess I'm having trouble seeing how the example you describe isn't possible.
The gemstone is needed to create the bond and operate the bond's functions. If you remove the gemstone, the person the sword is bonded to can't summon it or dismiss it to mist. But neither can anyone else. If they eventually pop another gemstone in and try to bond it themselves, they will fail, and the original person can then resummon their Blade. The bond is with the dead spren of the Blade, not with the gemstone. The stone facilitates the bond.
So, you can haul around a de-gemstoned Blade with you all the time and successfully steal it that way. But this makes it very easy to steal back. You'd have to kill the holder of the bond in order to rebond it. Which is no different from usual.
And in general, if you can get close enough to a Shardbearer to steal their Blade, you are also close enough to kill them anyway.
So that scene where Dalinar crushes the gemstone and hands the Shardblade over, he's also doing some sort of mystical de-bonding?
Or is it just 'if you WANT to give it up, you gave it up'?
Yes, if you want to give it up, you gave it up.
If nobody is currently bonded to it, does the attuning still take a week?
Otherwise it seems weird people would figure out putting a gemstone in hilt lets you summon it, since nothing would happen without a week of bonding time.
Not that weird. One of the books (WoK, I think) mentions that many years passed before the gemstone bonding was discovered. Shardblades were still really valuable, though, and even more vulnerable to theft, so it makes sense that people would have kept them close at hand long enough for the bonding process.
Other than that, all you need is someone to accidentally decorate the blade correctly, which is something that took a long time to happen, but was probably bound to happen eventually considering how key infused gemstones are to the world.
Hi! I just finished Warbreaker, and I caught my mind that they have animals that exists on Earth (at least by the name, like monkeys, panther, and so). Is this a common thing in the all the planets of the cosmere?
It is common on many of the planets, though it is more likely to happen on a planet (or an ecosystem on a planet) created by Shards, as they're often basing the animal life on creatures they've seen before. That said, some planets with life predating the splintering had Earth-like ecosystems too.
The writing answer is that this was a way for me to control learning curve in my series, so that I could have some (like Roshar) that take a lot of effort to get into, and others that are a little more easy to get into. This lets me save the really crazy worldbuilding for a few specific series.
Thank you for finishing The Wheel of Time. How do you think it influenced your writing style? Did you adjust your writing style through The Wheel of Time to the original writing style of Robert Jordan?
What an excellent question! So, when I first started working on The Wheel of Time, I tried to imitate his voice exactly, and it came off like parody. So, instead, I backed off on trying to imitate every word and instead I tried to match the character voices as best as I could, and this ended up working a lot better. I often say, it’s like the same actors, but a new director. It had huge effect on my writing as well. I had to lift heavy weights, so to speak, and I feel like I came out of The Wheel of Time being much better at juggling a lot of different smaller viewpoints and combining them into a whole.
OK, so I haven’t read all of those books, but, judging by the books that I've read, one married couple is particularly important to you. Is it true?
Yes, I would say. This is in part because I think that stories ignore family a little too much. Too often, I feel that stories that I've read either ignore the family by making someone just an orphan with no family or ending the story when the heart stuff starts, such as being a couple.
What does that have to do with Legion?
Oh, Stephen Leeds. Stephen Leeds has a very, very large family, he just makes most of them up.
Is Khriss on Roshar during The Stormlight Archive?
Khriss is... RAFO.
I'll follow up on that: Does that mean she's in Shadesmar?
Ehhhh... There's some trickiness with answering that.