Recent entries

    Ad Astra 2017 ()
    #12652 Copy

    Questioner

    I was wondering what made you so interested in the super rules-based magic system. Because you're probably one of the best at that, and in every different universe you manage to create a complete unique set of rules-based magic and they're all completely unique.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So there's a panel on magic tomorrow, so I hope I don't repeat myself too much. But the whole rule-based magic thing came about mostly because I was looking for holes in the market, right? Like, things people weren't doing that I wish they were doing. I often say to new writers, "Find the books that nobody's writing, that you want to read, and try to write those." That sounds-- I mean, that's just very vague. I don't know how useful that is, but that's kind of what I was doing.

    But at the same time I like-- there are lots of soft magic systems I like. Uprooted which came out a couple years ago. It's a really great book with a very soft magic system. So it's not like I feel like magic has to be done this way. But I found something I was good at, that I didn't think people were doing enough of, that I felt like people would want to read, and so that kind of became my thing even before I published. Like when I was writing my books only for my fri-- I wrote thirteen before I sold one, if you guys know about that-- And so when I was writing those books it was, "What weird setting is Brandon going to do?" Because fantasy through the 80s and 90s-- I mean, there's lots of great writers. I love them. But I felt like they were really safe with their settings, and they didn't-- they explored other directions really well. But it-- we had a lot of these kind of faux-Medieval, elemental-base magic systems, and cultures that were very "England, but not England." And I'm like, "Well, fantasy should be the most imaginative genre. Where can we push it? Where-- what different things can we do?" And so I tried that during those years. The magic systems kind of grew out of that. Like, "What are people not doing?"

    I will say there are some people who have done it even in the past. Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner books. I've really liked those. Those kind of have-- it's not scientific, but it's rule-based, which is kind of-- are two different things. Being consistent is one thing, and then trying-- like I try to play off of physics and make it feel like it's playing off of physics when it's really not, because I'm a fantasy writer, right? Like.--

    Questioner

    In Mistborn it's pretty physics.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Pretty physics-- But even in Mistborn, right like if you-- the time bubbles-- speed bubbles. Like I have to fudge some things. Like I spoke with my assistants, like, "Alright, what would happen if we build these?" And we're like, "Well first thing would happen is that it would change the wavelengths of light and irradiate people." You know, like this sort of thing. We're like-- we just have to make a rule that it doesn't irradiate people. You can't just take a flashlight and melt people. Yes, you just have to come up with some-- And so for me, a lot of the big difference, I say, between a fantasy writer and a science fiction writer is, the science fiction writer is forward-- each step trying to be plausible-- and the fantasy writer a lot of times drafts it backward. "Here's a cool effect. Can I explain this in a way that makes it feel like it's real and logical?" But I'm working backward from the fact, not forward from what's happening here.

    Ad Astra 2017 ()
    #12653 Copy

    Questioner

    I just noticed stylistically the cover for Oathbringer is a little bit different. Is that still Michael Whelan?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's still Michael Whelan. Yeah, Michael is really-- Michael is my favorite illustrator. I don't know if you guys know-- have read what I've written-- but I got into fantasy and science fiction because of Dragonsbane-- the cover of that. They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but it was Dragonsbane and then I went to the card catalog and found the next book closest to it that looked-- that was a dragon book. So I didn't know dragon books, and I found Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, which also had a Whelan cover at that point. And I just kind of-- Whelan became my go to. He's gone through various art stages, you can go look. For a while he was doing these really sweeping landscapes, as you see some of the Dark Tower covers have that, and Way of Kings-- the original-- has that. And he's occasionally done figure studies, through his career. And then with this one we're getting like a color study really, it feels like to me, which is another thing that he's done. So I kind of feel like I've gotten three different styles of covers from Michael, which I really like. I actually think his Shallan painting from the inside cover of Words of Radiance is my favorite. But that one came about because he's like, "I felt like painting Shallan," and he just did. *laughter* "Do you guys want this? I just painted it." It's really funny because Michael Whelan, like, it's really hard to get him for a cover. I mean, you know his prices are way higher. And then when he just accidentally does another cover for you. It was very cool but kind of weird. I own The Way of Kings, like the actual original. I'm so happy, like I-- after all these years of admiring Michael Whelan I had to buy that one. So it hangs in my office above the fireplace.

    Ad Astra 2017 ()
    #12656 Copy

    Questioner

    I was wondering with Emperor's Soul-- it's in the same world as Elantris.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Questioner

    But it's a completely different magic system.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    Questioner

    Do you ever see The Emperor's Soul, like, that magic system in further Elantris books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, you will see more of that. Elantris-- So what Elantris is very-- is interesting-- is Sel, the planet that is, that each region has basically a way of accessing the magic, and they're all, in my mind, programming languages. And you use different things to program, and call functions basically. And some people etch into bone, some people draw in runes, some people make the soulstamps. You can do it through a tai chi-like thing in one of world-- in one of the lands. So it's like a-- region-based for reasons that cosmere magic experts I think have figured out by now.

    Questioner

    Well it's like there were two deities, I think, Invested in that planet?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yep... The reason is-- and we have announced it-- the reason it is is, so on Sel-- somebody killed the two deities there, right? And then stuffed their corpses, which are just huge magic reservoirs, just *inaudible*. So all their power stuffed up into what we call the Cognitive Realm, the realm of the mind, which is location dependent. So all the magic is getting filtered through that, it does weird things to it, it makes it region-locked. So yeah.

    Questioner

    Is it the only world that has many different ways that magic is--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well a lot of them have different ways. For instance, for-- on Scadrial we've got Feruchemy, and Allomancy, and things like that. So most worlds have different interpretations, and things like that. Sel's the only one you've seen where it's region dependent.

    Ad Astra 2017 ()
    #12658 Copy

    Questioner

    In the fifth book of the Alcatraz series, you wrote a whole section where there's mixed-in punctuation and capitalization.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Questioner

    Do you do that specifically to annoy the reader?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh yeah! Oh yeah! In the Alcatraz books every book I try to do specific things to annoy the reader just because it's so much fun. So, yeah, there's in-- the fourth book has chapters all quotes from Shakespeare.

    TheHunter

    That wasn't annoying!

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, yeah. And every line of dialogue is a Shakespeare quote. And so-- And there's one in the fifth book that's all onomatopoeia. Like they only-- it only speaks-- yeah. And they are weird books. I don't know why I wrote books for twelve year olds that use Shakespeare quotes, but I-- they just had to be written.

    Paris signing ()
    #12659 Copy

    Demiandre (paraphrased)

    I wondered about Shallan's eidetic memory, and about the possibility of trapping a spren. Could a bonded spren be trapped inside a gemstone and trapped in a safe? If so, would something else - not Investiture related - fill the "crack in the soul"? Could that be linked to her memory or her need to draw before Lightweaving?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    In and about, he answered that what Shallan does isn't out of the ordinary, and it is possible to trap a bonded spren inside a gemstone.

    Paris signing ()
    #12663 Copy

    Narkac

    At the end of TWoK, in the last Dalinar's vision, he stands "in a place of smoke. He turned about, wary. The sky was dark and he stood on a field of dull, bone-white rock, jagged and rough, extending in all directions. Off into eternity". Is this place Damnation/Braize ?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That will be explained in Oathbringer. So RAFO.

    Paris signing ()
    #12665 Copy

    Narkac

    KR seemed to have opposite gender spren. Why is Glys male then? Is there something hidden there?

    Brandon Sanderson

    More naturally, the spren is opposite gender but it doesn't have to be. It's not a indication necessarily of homosexuality, but sometimes it is, sometimes it's not. More often, you'll attract spren of the opposite gender, but spren genders are very fluid anyway. You're not supposed to read anything specific into that.

    Paris signing ()
    #12672 Copy

    Question

    When writing Stormlight, did you get any inspirations from the Chinese Confucian system? The Azish government really reminds me of that.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So... Yes. Um... Chinese. 新年快乐? This is my only Chinese. [It means] Happy new year. So yes. Living in Korea for several years, I became very interested in the Confucian system. When I returned back from Korea, I studied in college about Chinese history and I found it fascinating. So the Azish are partially inspired by the Chinese Confucian system.

    Ad Astra 2017 ()
    #12674 Copy

    Questioner

    I enjoy the audiobooks. Michael Kramer is awesome.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, he's great.

    Questioner

    Ramon De Ocampo is awesome. So I have two questions. One, when you give the books to the readers.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh-huh.

    Questioner

    Do you also, like, record for them the actual names so they know to speak... *inaudible*?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, yeah, so naming-- names in the audiobooks. So I get-- I send them a recorded-- recording of all the names. It doesn't always get to them in time. Because the production-- You can imagine, like, I'm not turning the final book in to Tor for probably another month. And then they have to get that thing recorded, and produced, and out by the-- simultaneous with the book that we are recording. So, sometimes they get them wrong. But I don't really mind too much, because I figure-- this is kind of my philosophy-- there are no really right ways to say the names. The right way is how you say it in your version of the book when you are reading it. You're the director; I provide the script. I could tell you how I pronounce the names, but I pronounce names wrong. Like, I say "KEL-see-er", right? And in world they'd say something more like "Kel-see-AY". And stuff like this. Like I say "KAL-uh-din"; they would probably say "kuh-LA-din" in Alethi. And so, I mean, I'm American. We-- I say things like Americans.

    Ad Astra 2017 ()
    #12678 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    So my method of plotting-- I've been asked about, "Do I use seven-point story structure? Do I use three act format?" I actually don't use any of these things. So they're tools that I think are good to study. For me I use just a very simple: Promise, Progress, Payoff. This is what I focus on for plot,and I subdivide my stories into subplots and things and say, "What's the promise? How do I early on promise what type of plot this is. What's the progress? What's the payoff?" And you're asking how do you make sure that the hype lives up to the promise, and that is dangerous. The longer you go between books, the more that hype almost like-- I feel part of the-- If you're looking at The Wheel of Time, there were books when we fans were waiting for them to come out, that we were super frustrated by when they came out, that when I reread them in the whole series I didn't-- were less bothered by. It felt like, when I waited three years for something, the hype of what that needed to deliver was way different than when it was book ten bridging between book nine and eleven. And so that is a consideration.

    My job-- I think that if your progress is right, if you can kind of-- like if you say, "We're moving towards something here," this is the sort of emotional reaction you're going to get from it by showing-- for instance, an easy way to talk about this is a mystery, right? If you want the mystery to be really cool, then it's your progress toward the mystery that's going to indicate what kind of reveal and surprise that's going to be. If, you know, the characters discovering clues and getting more and more horrified, then the payoff at the end has to be something horrific, right? But if they're like, "Ooo! This connection and this connection together are making something really interesting. If I can just figure this out then it'll click together." Then the payoff is, instead of discovering horror, the payoff is then, "Oh, this comes together and I understand now." So you need the reader to understand that's their kind of payoff, is it clicks for them like it does for the character. And it's really-- that progress is the most important of those three in a lot of ways. If you can indicate to the reader, "This is just going to be satisfying. This character is finally going to let down this burden. That's the progress we're working toward. It's not going to be a surprise, it's just going to be satisfying. That's how you do that.

    There are certain things that there's just no avoiding the hype on. In fact, the further the series gets the more I'm worried about that, because-- in part because I'm such a believer in this kind of progress and things like this-- there are very few things, like in the Stormlight for example, that you'll get to that you will be super surprised by if you've been reading the fan forums, because the clues are all there in previous books. And so you just, I think, as a writer have to be okay with, if you're going to lay the foreshadowing, people will figure it out. And I can talk more about like, the third book has some big reveals about the world that I think the casual reader's going to be like, "Woah, mind blown!" where the people who have been on forums are like, "That's it? We've know that for years Sanderson!" But, you know, if you don't-- the only way to really surprise people is to do something completely unexpected. Which is, sometimes can be really nice, but a lot of times it just makes for a twist just to twist for twist's sake, so. I don't know that I've figured this one out a hundred percent across a series, but within a given book, yeah.

    Ad Astra 2017 ()
    #12679 Copy

    Questioner

    So is this [interludes] your way of kind of introducing more world details, worldbuilding--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. This is a way of me introducing more worldbuilding. Because-- See, one of the differences between myself and the previous generation of epic fantasy writers is I tend to be very-- I tend to stick with one location, alright? The generation before me-- and I love these books, but the generation before me-- the Tad Williams, the Robert Jordan, and things like this-- tended to be quest epic fantasy. You'd go one place-- It's kind of following the grand Tolkien tradition. "We gotta get over there. We're either chasing somebody or being chased by somebody." Right? And you then travel across a varied landscape, meet lots of interesting people on your way to the place. Well I don't like to do that. I think it's partially because I grew up reading those. I'm like-- Those authors covered that really well. Or maybe it's just my natural inclinations. I write a little more Anne McCaffrey style, right? She would pick a really interesting location and spend a lot of time on it. And that's what I like to do as well. So you don't get to travel as much in my books. A lot of times in my books it's like, "We're traveling!" Chapter 1: "We're going to go on this trip!" Chapter 2: "Hey, we're there!" We cut out the, you know, the boring stuff in the middle, and we go to an interesting location. And I really like to dig into this interesting location. It let's me as an author really explore various parts of the setting. But what that does is it means you don't get as much of the breadth. Like when you have to traipse with Frodo and Sam all the way across Middle-earth, you feel how big Middle-earth is. And you don't get that in Mistborn, where it's like, "We're going to stay in the city!" and things like this. And so, in Roshar, being able to say, "Here's what's happening across the world in a different culture," is really valuable to me in the interludes. But I also know that some people just don't want to read that, and I wanted to give them a clue that this is the scene that you can skip and read later if you just want to get back to the main character.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #12680 Copy

    Tsidqiyah

    On Sel. It costs about 50 sacrifices to become immune to Aons. Is that number essential? Or if someone with 50 Breath was sacrificed...?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That number is not essential. But you would have to hack the magic system. You need that much Investiture. So, 50 peoples' souls worth. But if you knew how to hack the magic, Breath could substitute there pretty easily.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #12682 Copy

    Questioner

    With Warbreaker and Stormlight Archive, Vasher and Zahel. How does that transition occur?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He went to Roshar because he knew ahead of time, that you could get Stormlight, and how easy it was. So he made his way there because he was tired of sucking people's souls to stay alive.

    Questioner

    How did he know?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He, as part of a group of scholars, stumbled upon the nature of worldhopping long ago.

    Questioner

    Could he be the same group of scholars as Jasnah?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, it's a group of scholars on Nalthis who were studying magic, Investiture, and stumbled upon the means by which you transition into the Cognitive Realm. So, he actually had experience with Shardblades before, and that was part of how he built... well, he was part of it, but really...

    Questioner

    So, is Nightblood kind of like a Shardblade? Is a Shardblade?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Nightblood is an attempt to make a Shardblade using a different magic. And it turned out poorly.

    Questioner

    Speaking of Nightblood, how did that transition from Nalthis?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have not answered that yet. Eventually, you will find out how they ended up on Roshar.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #12683 Copy

    Questioner

    Demoux. Him, also being in the Interlude. How is that one...

    Brandon Sanderson

    He is part of a group called the Seventeenth Shard. [They] are cosmere-aware and travel around the planets and have a kind of pact of non-intervention. Which they aren't doing a very good job on, because they brought the common cold to Roshar.

    Questioner

    How did he actually find out about this?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will give you [a RAFO card], because I will answer about the Seventeenth Shard eventually.

    Questioner

    So all these questions are actually going to be answered?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Seventeenth Shard will have a big role to play in future books.

    Questioner

    Is Hoid part of the...?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hoid is not part of the Seventeenth Shard. They're trying to chase him down.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #12684 Copy

    Questioner

    In Stormlight, Dalinar mentioned that <if he can die, he's no longer a god>, so to speak. And throughout the cosmere, gods died *inaudible*. Is there an omniscient, omnipotent, actual God in the cosmere?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Is there an omniscient, omnipotent God in the cosmere? Some people believe that there is. You guys laugh about this, but I don't mean it to be a laughing thing. There are certain questions I will not answer in the cosmere, specifically because it would too much undermine some of the characters' beliefs. And I want to treat characters respectfully. So whether there is life after you pass into the Beyond, and whether there is a God of gods, an omnipotent, as we would define "monotheistic God," are questions that I don't answer, and I let the characters deal with. Because if I answer that, then the character discussions about this are meaningless. Not really, but they kind of are. So there are a couple things I won't answer about the cosmere, because the characters don't have these answers.

    Questioner

    <Do you know the answer>?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I know the answer, yes.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #12685 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you have any idea what the ratings on the movies are gonna be? Like, is it gonna be R, or...

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will push for PG-13 with the bit of power I have. I mean, they know, like... I don't have power over that. But that's part of the discussion, when I say, "We can't do Game of Thrones with this. It is not appropriate for my books and audience to have content like that in the books." So, like I said, they know. I can't guarantee

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #12687 Copy

    Ward

    At the beginning of Way of Kings, when Kaladin thinks he's being irritated by a windspren, he's like, "Oh, windspren are all like this." Are there other types of spren that have similar personality quirks, that elemental spren...?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, there are, like flamespren. A lot of the elemental ones have quirks, you'll see more quirk to them than the emotional ones. And the difference between them will come up a little more obvious as the series progresses. You're more likely, for instance, to find quirk to a riverspren or a flamespren than you are to a fearspren.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #12688 Copy

    Ward

    When Harmony Ascends, he admits he doesn't have a good view of the Spiritual Realm. Does he develop a better one over time? And are there other Shards that already have a very good view of that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. But it is still something that is hard to grok, so to speak, in-canon, *inaudible*, hard to understand. But he has a much better understanding, and the other Shards, some of them have a very good understanding. The thing is, the difference between the Spiritual Realm and the Beyond is not something that is immediately obvious.

    Ward

    So, the Spiritual Realm is not the Beyond?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, Spiritual Realm is not the Beyond. There are three Realms of existence. The Beyond, some would say... There are philosophers would would say, the Spiritual Realm and the Beyond are one, that the soul gets sucked into and joins the Investiture. That's the idea of the One. But, most people would say the Beyond is not...

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #12689 Copy

    Questioner

    First of all, on the [Arcanum Unbounded] endpapers, what's the position of... Where is it from? What's the reference point?

    My friend asked (and I was there with him asking my own question) Brandon and Isaac at the Provo release where the perspective on the end papers is from – Brandon confirmed that it was from Silverlight, after checking with Isaac. There was some wonkiness in the response though – Isaac said something like as it was “imagined” from Silverlight, and I tried to get clarification for what that meant (is that because Silverlight is mobile?), but stayed pretty vague (got the impression he was maybe saying there was some sort of artistic license taken?). I consider it confirmed that it is from the perspective of Silverlight, but that that there is more going on there. 

    Brandon Sanderson

    Reference point in this, I believe, is Silverlight. But it's not how they would exactly see them all. But it is done by someone from Silverlight. Right, Isaac? This is done by someone from Silverlight? And that's gonna be kind of our reference point, but they are imagining a place... right?

    Isaac Stewart

    They're imagining a place where the constellations would look like this. There iss an actual place where it looks that way. *talking over one another*

    sillyslovene

    Is that because Silverlight is mobile? Or is that because...

    Brandon Sanderson

    No.

    Questioner

    You say "imagine." I just wondered what "imagine" means.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm saying, I'm not sure-- *to Isaac* Did you set that from Silverlight?

    Isaac Stewart

    No, no. It is set from a point in the cosmere itself.

    Questioner

    So that they can say they can see all of them in one--

    Isaac Stewart

    So, that is an actual night sky somewhere in the cosmere.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Okay, okay. Yeah. I now know what he's talking about.

    *inaudible* [1:11]

    Isaac Stewart

    *inaudible* [2:12]

    Questioner 2

    I've been meaning to ask, *inaudible* in the same solar system, no? And more than one planet can see it? *inaudible* [1:28]

    Isaac Stewart

    There's actually, there's a planet in the habitable zone *inaudible* [1:33]

    Questioner

    *inaudible* [1:46]

    Isaac Stewart

    *inaudible* [2:12]

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #12690 Copy

    Viridian

    Why did Hoid give the memory coin to Wax? What was his intention?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He thought that certain information was being kept, and certain lies were being perpetuated. And Hoid was a fan of that information being out.

    Viridian

    I'm still suspicious.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, you should be suspicious of Hoid's motive. He and Kelsier do not get along. Let's just say... Kelsier did not want that information to get out.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #12693 Copy

    Sunbird

    Alcatraz, the Dark Talent. How far ahead did you decide that specific ending? I know you always knew it was gonna end up at the altar, but at what point did you decide Attica's fate?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That was right at the beginning. I was using some mythology, and things like this, and that was the big part. So, if you go back and look, I knew Alcatraz, when I wrote the first book, before I outlined the rest of them, something terrible happened. Something actually terrible happened, which is why he refuses to accept... 'cause he failed in some major way. It had to be a real and kind of awful thing in order to justify the way he is. Because otherwise, you're just like, "You're an idiot." And this turns him into something that had really traumatic, and so you could understand it. And I was worried about that being in a kids book, but I'm like, "It says what it has to be." I knew it was infiltrate the <library>, altar, Attica. But I didn't know all the details, just like I usually don't for the Alcatraz books. Those are supposed to be improv.

    Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
    #12700 Copy

    Lightning

    If you have a metalmind, you have, like, weight stored in it, and you want to transfer it to a different metalmind, can you just transfer it directly? Or does it pass into you, and then you lose some of the power, and then it goes...

    Brandon Sanderson

    You don't have to draw it completely out. You are gonna lose a little in the transfer. But it's not as much as you probably think. You can kind of do a little hack thing where it goes through.