When did you first start playing around with the idea of Allomancy?
Sometime in 98-99.
Any advice for creating an editing plan, especially if a novel needs big changes?
Organize your list of changes by importance, and try fixing only the most important ones in your next draft.
Once you have the big things fixed, you can move on to smaller issues. Be goal based in your revisions.
Is the metal on Scadrial specially Invested? Can an Allomancer use metals from other planets?
Metal is a key, not the source of power itself. Most is not specially Invested. It glows because of the power seeking to come through it, not because of the power within it.
Why did Mat never meet up with the [Band of the Red Hand] again?
[Robert Jordan]'s notes had them going on separate paths, specifically because he wanted Mat to go to Seanchan.
But after events of A Memory of Light, you can assume he dropped in to check on them.
You have a couple of fantastic running jokes, such as the High Imperial.
How do you think of those things and when do you decide to commit to a great joke like that?
When do I decide to commit to a running joke. See Spook doesn't consider that a joke, he thinks it's awesome. So with this, I love-- I'm kind of going to expand this to not just jokes-- Which, definitely-- It's the sort of insider things. I love, in series that i have read a lot of books on, when there is something you will only get if you have been invested in the series. I love this stuff. It is part of the seed of the Cosmere, this idea that if people are reading my books they will start to see and make these connections. It's important to me that it never becomes the forefront, at least until I'm very clear to people that this is-- now you have to have the background of all of the books. That hasn't happened. There will be series that I do that with but I want you to be able to read Stormlight and not feel like you have to know a thousand pages of the wiki behind-the-scenes stuff before you can appreciate it. But I do like these inside references and things like that, and so it comes very natural to me. Some of it's planned out, some of it is something that I think of as I'm working on the story. Some of it's seeded, some of it just works. So you do it as it works. I wouldn't say that I-- With like High Imperial. High Imperial I knew about the time when I decided Spook was going to be a larger character in the series. But if you know Mistborn, my original-- I wrote the first book, did a quick outline of the second two, and then wrote the second two and Spook was the big discovery written surprise. He wasn't intended to be the main character that he became in the later books. And so once he-- I was writing the third book, I'm like "Oh, I know what's going to happen here. I know where this is going." And High Imperial grew out of that.
I have a question about process. When you start writing on a series how much of it do you have mapped out in advance and at what point does something that you're writing make you change direction completely?
What an awesome question. So how much do we have mapped out and how much-- before we start a series in specific-- and how often to we do something that makes us change, to do something else, or whatnot...
...See I had an advantage over Jason in that, when I was writing Mistborn I had just gotten married and my wife had a very lucrative job as a middle school English teacher *laughter* and so I quit my job, which was working at the front desk at a hotel and was able to write full time almost from the get-go. You can thank Emily for that. That she believed in the fiction, she took care of me while I did this work. And so I was able to write all of Mistborn before I had to turn in the first book. Just so that I could make sure that I could make these connections.
These days what I do-- Because I can't do that anymore-- I usually write the first book of a series just-- I write an outline for it and I write the first book without any sort of feeling for the rest of the series. This isn't quite what happened with Stormlight, that's the outlier, but for most things. Like The Reckoners, or the Wax and Wayne books, and stuff like that. Write one book and then with the book in hand and knowing the characters very well I can more accurately feel out what their arcs can be and things like this. Like the problem with being a planner-- I'm very much a planner-- is that if you over-plan your books, your characters feel stale, right? They feel wooden. And so, write that first book, let the characters have a lot of freedom to become who they need to be. And then I outline the rest of the series in great detail, so I can put into the first book any references that I'm going to need for future books in the series. Just so that I can know where things are going. I'll re-write the characters a little bit, so their arcs now match the over-arching arc they will have for the series, and things like this. So most books, it's "Finish the book, then write five pages about each book in the series, and then revise the first book and write the rest of the series."
With Stormlight I spent a lot of time planning the series. It's the one where I have the most time on. It's a different beast entirely. I went into Stormlight knowing what Dalinar's arc was, knowing what Kaladin's arc was, for the whole series and things like this. But I still did a lot...
The fact that Vorinism was partially inspired by Judaism and [???] means a lot to me, as a Jew, especially because there's not that much [???] other than dwarves. So thanks for that. I wanted to know if you could elaborate a little on some of the specific Judaism had on Vorinism.
Yeah, sure. Specific influences of Judaism on Vorinism. There are a couple of things. And I can go on this one for a while. I will pick Numerology which-- Jewish Numerology is really cool, particularly if you go back-- Like we always focus on alchemy and astrology as kind of the pseudosciences that were really interesting to scientists back in the day. If you don't know, Newton thought that alchemy was real and he could figure out how to make it work. I love these things that people approach scientifically but have supernat-- superstitious roots. And Jewish Numerology is really cool because the letters and numbers are basically the same thing, so a name can actually mean numbers, and vice-versa, and stuff like that. Which leads to some really cool and interesting attempts to understand the world by taking things from the Torah and transferring them back and forth between numbers and things. That sort of thing is very prevalent in the Vorin religion. To the point that it was really important to them, and then got forbidden. Because they were spending too much time on it. And you will find out roots about that. But that was an inspiration for Vorinism. Of course the Sephir, from the Tree of Life, were an inspiration for the Double Eye of the Almighty, and the idea behind all the different connections and philosophy going in that. The language. Kholin is actually pronounced /χolɪn/, and things like this--
Was that-- Sorry... Was Kholin supposed to be kind of close to kohen? Because--
So yeah, you're going to find all kinds of things like that in linguistic roots. And there is of course more but I will move on from that because I can talk too long on that. But yeah, there's some very fun stuff.
Alright, who would win in a fight: Rand al'Thor or Vin?
Who would win in a fight, Rand al'Thor or Vin. I'm going to go with the person who's a pseudo-diety and held the powers of creation. Which is gonna be-- Yeah. I'm gunna say Rand on that one, pretty safely. With the caveat of "You have to pick when". If Vin where able to get to Rand while he's still on a farm, I think she'll do a better job than the Trollocs did. If you replace Narg with Vin, Rand is in trouble. If at the ends of their respective series, I still think Rand would win, even when Vin is at her most powerful., because he is able to bend reality. But I don't know, Jason?
Oh I definitely agree, but I'm a little bit biased here. But yeah it really does depend on the time. Like if you take Vin at the last few pages of Mistborn, I don't know because she's--
Yeah, certain spoiler-rific things happen there. So she could give him a fight at that point, but I'm going to side with Rand on this. I'm going to side with Rand versus any character in most pieces of fiction.
On the nature of shardblades, to an extent, can a live blade be split without harming it's source, so to speak?
Can a live blade split? What do you mean, split?
Make itself into two weapons.
Oh, can a blade be forged into two weapons. A shardblade.
Does it absolutely need a connection, or can it become two?
So, shardblades becoming two shardblades would require slicing in half a soul, which would not be very fun for the spren. Okay?
So it's possible. *laughter*
So it's technically possible to take hydrogen and to turn it into plutonium with our current technology. It would cost more money than, like, the budget of NASA to do it for, y'know, one atom. So there are things that are possible, but-- Yes it is possible. This is not something that would be easy or very useful to do.
I was just wondering, is Joel going to become a Rithmatist?
Is Joel going to become a Rithmatist. You get a card too! *laughter* For those who don't know The Rithmatist, my Young Adult book, the pitch for it, to myself, was "A Muggle at Hogwarts". It is the story of the son of the cleaning lady, who gets free tuition to the magic school, but doesn't-- has no talent-- He just doesn't have the ability himself. So he gets to go to this school, but can't use the magic. So you will have to see what happens in future books, and how it plays out.
Is-- Would you consider Szeth an official Skybreaker? And will he have spren or will he just use Nightblood as one?
So, would I consider Szeth to be a Skybreaker. That is definitely also a RAFO for the next Stormlight book.
Why was Hoid drinking perfume when he met Wax [in The Bands of Mourning]? And where did he get it?
Why was Hoid drinking perfume when he met Wax and where did he get it. This is an answer-- You are getting RAFO'd-- But this is one I do intend to talk about eventually. There are lots of seeds of things in the Mistborn series that I can't promise I'm going to be able to get to, that I hope I'll be able to get to. Secret History, which is in the Arcanum Unbounded that hopefully many of you have. If you haven't read through to the end of the released Mistborn books, don't look at that story, because it's a behind-the-scenes story of things that are happening, that I put seeds in the original trilogy for. That's another seed, and it might be one I can take up. I might just have to explain it someday.
What is, specifically, with regards to media that's based on novels, like television based on writing like Game of Thrones-- or something based on your works. What is the talos of that?
So what is the talos of media based on books. I actually think I can answer this. Because my whole, kind of, thought process that led me through this was that-- the idea of "art as springboard for more art", right? That is-- That is really what I think the purpose of art is. It's to inspire people and make them create more art. I am a writer because I read great books by Anne McCaffrey and Robert Jordan and Barbara Hambly. And they springboarded me into perpetuating this. And so I think that the talos of the films is to be a new piece with some seeds of inspiration from the old piece. I don't think that a film should be a one-to-one recreation. You can see this in the Harry Potter films, right? I think the best ones are the ones they adapted. The third movie is the first one where they really had to take some liberties to fit it into a film, and it's a stronger film the the previous two were. The previous two were scene-by-scene reproductions, so they were very faithful, they just made worse films than when the director said "I'm kind of going to do my own thing". And I think that it makes for a stronger film. I think that the Peter Jackson movies, you can-- It's okay to dislike his interpretation of The Lord of the Rings, but you can't deny that he did something cool taking The Lord of the Rings as a script-work. And I know that, like, Christopher Tolkien doesn't like what he did. I like what he did because I'm accepting that this is a different piece of art from the books. This is not simply the books translated into film, this is the books taken to a different medium into a transformative, different work. So there you go. There's my philosophy...
...The talos of art can also be a very active thing, like, for example, it can result in the sail or a boat, or attendants at a service or something like that. It can be a thing to produce behavior. So that's a very concrete thing. In a way very measurable, demonstrable thing that art can do.
And I do think the hard thing about talking about art is, is you can't boil it down to one thing. Because each individual piece of art could be created with a different talos, right? And in fact, each individual piece of art can have a different talos to the different people. This is where talos breaks down. Where that chair I described, that you can't sit on but is a magnificent work of art-- It's okay to have a chair whose talos is not for people to sit on it. I think. It's where this idea breaks down, but it's a fun one to talk about.
What was your favorite scene to write ever, and why?
What was my favorite scene to write--
The one you enjoyed writing the most.
The one I enjoyed writing the most? The one I enjoyed writing the most did not end up in the books. I was writing The Wheel of Time, and I was writing a scene where a certain character's on the slopes of Dragonmount, and I chuckled to myself and then wrote a scene where this character destroyed the world. *laughter* It was awesome. And then I wrote "The End" and I laughed. And then I took a screenshot of it . And then I deleted it, and I wrote the scene.
So your Mistborn leatherbounds went out tonight.
Yes. Mistborn leatherbound is coming out.
Are there any other plans? When would the next edition be coming out?
Yes, let me talk about these a bit. So, I love the leatherbounds that were released for The Wheel of Time, but they were very limited print-run, and they were very expensive. They were 250 bucks. And so I don't have many of those. I have the ones that I had published, but when I was a kid getting them I would just... drool over these things. When I was a college student. So I went to Tor and said "Would you do leatherbounds of my books?" and they're like "They're just so hard to distributed. Not a lot of bookstores want to carry them?" and I said "Well do you mind if I do one?" for Elantris last year. And we did a leatherbound for $100, which had-- We tried to pull out everything we could do to make something awesome. So these have 24 full-color pages, with all of the different covers from the different foreign editions around the world, some fan art we really like, new color versions of some of the maps, and stuff like that. And so we print those and we did Elantris last year and people really liked it, so we did Mistborn. The fun thing is, some bookstores told me "Yes, we want to have those. No, it's not a pain to carry them..."
But the question is, what are we doing next. So we will do these one a year. They're a lot of effort to put together. We have to contact some twenty different illustrators and buy rights to the covers to include in it. Peter goes through and does a really detailed copy-edit, fixing typos and trying to do stuff like that, making sure that-- Like in Elantris I had said something that-- people traveled a distance that was impossible to travel in the time given, so we tweak things like that. And so it takes a while. We'll do Mistborn 2 next year, then Mistborn 3, and then we'll see where we are. And they should match very nicely on the shelf...
I can't take credit for this, because it is a friend's question, but he has this little theory that your more quiet and reserved characters end up being super important or just interesting characters somehow and he has this theory that Dabbid from Kings is like a worldhopper that just went there and like "I'm just going to stay quiet and watch what's going on."
The question is: Is Dabbid from The Way of Kings, who you may not quite remember, he is the bridgeman who is very quiet and displays some very strong signs of PTSD, and things like this, even though he was healed. Is it-- Yeah, what's going on with him. And that is definitely a RAFO. But it's not a RAFO-- Like sometimes Read And Find Out means "I'm going to reveal it eventually", sometimes it means "I don't want to crush any fans' theories" and I won't tell you which one it is until the end of the series...
I really enjoy the Graphic Audio versions of your novels. I really like the Way of Kings and the Words of Radiance. I'm wondering, how long after Oathbringer comes out would Graphic Audio be able to get their hands on it?
So the question is about the Graphic Audio. So for those who don't know, we do two editions in audio of most of my books. We do a straight-read edition, which is one, or two, narrators that just read the whole book and they'll do voices and things but it's a traditional audio book. The Graphic Audio instead does a slightly abridged version, where the abridgement is only taking out the he-saids and she-saids and things like this, and replacing it with a full cast to do the dialogue instead. So it's like one step toward a radio drama, or something like that. It's not fully there but they do add in a few sound effects and do the full cast audio. So they're fun sort of ways you can read the book. They're not abridged in that there are no scenes taken out, but they do cut out a word here and there.
And usually what happens is we do the straight edition first and eventually do a Graphic Audio edition because they take longer to get the full cast together-- to make the proper abridgements and things like that. I can't-- I have no idea how long it will take them, but I can ask. I actually haven't gotten this question, because we only just started doing dual editions. We started by doing some of them Graphic Audio, some of them not, and then figuring out what fans liked. And it turns out that what fans like is having both. So then we started Mistborn and caught Mistborn up, and then are doing the Stormlight books as well. So I'm hoping we will get to the point where we can do them simultaneously in both editions, but I can't promise that that will happen.
At the very front cover of the Arcanum Unbounded there is a constellation map, that has a lot of the cosmere stars on it. What point-of-view is that from?
So the question is, in Arcanum Unbounded... Yes, the cover of Arcanum Unbounded has a star chart in it, a map. And the question is, is this from a specific viewpoint, and if so, what is that viewpoint. So, yes, it is from a specific viewpoint. It's the sky as seen from-- Some of the stars are enhanced a bit-- But it's the sky as seen from a specific point of reference that Isaac came up with when I told-- gave him this assignment. He's my illustrator for a lot of the interior art of the books and he RAFO'd it when we were asked at the release party. So I'm going to RAFO it until he decides he wants to reveal it.
If you starred in a buddy cop movie with Pat Rothfuss, would you be the good cop or the bad cop?
If I starred in buddy cop movie with Pat Rothfuss-- If you know anything at all about us, I'm the good cop and he's definitely the bad cop. Oh yeah, oh yeah. Definitely. I mean come on. Good question though.
I don't know if this counts as a question but, Elantris.
*pauses* Elantris! I don't think that is a question. Yeah…
So did the Lord Ruler ever have children?
Did the Lord Ruler ever have children? Yes he did.
What was your favorite Mistborn character to write? Personally I hated Elend and Vin but loved Zane.
Oh wow, hated Elend and Vin and loved Zane… *stumbles over words* I'm going to stay away from you. *laughter* I'm just joking. Who's my favorite? *sighs* Picking a favorite character is almost impossible, it's who you're writing at the moment but I kind of have a weird personal connection in a weird way with Sazed so I'll say him. And it's okay if you say "Sah-zed" I say "Say-zed" but I don't say everything right, I say "Kelsi-er" too and his name is "Kelsi-ay".
Can you tell us anything about perpendicularities?
Can I tell you anything about perpendicularities? No. *laughter*
Particularly in the Mistborn series, is there any-- Do you have a favorite emotional moment that you have written?
Do I have a favorite emotional moment that I wrote in the Mistborn series. I am an ending person, so I would say endings of various books, and endings of series in particular, are among my favorite. I'll just leave it there.
Is Dalinar's wife really dead?
Is Dalinar's wife what?
Is Dalinar's wife really dead? That is a Read And Find Out, and you will discover it in the third book.
For the Wax and Wayne series, how do you come up with all of Wayne's little wisecracks?
How do I come up with Wayne’s wisecracks. Here's the deal, it’s kind of hard to write people who are more clever than you are, but it's one of the tricks you have to learn as a writer. The big difference is, they make it off the cuff in the moment, and you can spend like a week or two trying to find the perfect thing to say in that moment. And that's really how it does. Often the characters who are more humorous, or something, that are more-- Like Wayne's a great example, it's very natural for him how he says things, it can take me weeks to come up with a couple of lines of dialogue for Wayne. Where other things get written very quickly. My favorite Wayne-isms are when I can have him use a word that looks, when you're reading along, you just assume it's a word but if you go back you go "Wait a minute, did he actually say 'defecation of character'?" or something like that. So you don't even notice it on the first read through. The things where a copy-editor is "Oh, you used the wrong word here" those are my favorite Wayne-isms. Those take forever.
With all the characters that you design-- And what you just about putting a character in and spinning a story around them. Are there any that you keep on a backlog to try and mix to see if--
Oh yeah, good question. Are there any characters that I keep on the back burner that I'm like "Eventually I'll find a place for this character they haven't worked yet". Totally. What I have is this notes file, it's literally called "cool stuff that I need to use sometime" *laughter* and it's like when I see something in news or I see some-- I meet a person and I'm like "I'm going to use that someday" and it can be years before I end up sticking them in. One of the-- Let's see if I can remember, there was a cool example of this actually, from one of my book. Oh I'm trying to remember what it was that I eventually managed to stick this into a book it was years later. But it happens all the time, I'll try to think of it. When you come through the line ask me and I'll try to remember it.
If you took somebody-- an Allomancer and them in a different one of your worlds, could they still burn metal there?
Could Allomancers burn metal on other planets in the cosmere, yes they could. Good question.
I want to say that I really admire that your characters are people first and not gender first. And I want to ask if anyone calls you Branderson? *laughter*
She gave me a very nice compliment and asked if anyone calls me Branderson, and yes, it is starting to kind of catch on among the community. I don't know-- I don't know if it'd be my first choice but I will accept being called Branderson as opposed to-- People have called me BS since I was a kid *laughter* This is a step up.
So in The Stormlight Archive series--
The Stormlight Archive? How old are you? *laughter* How old are you?
Nine?! You're reading The Stormlight Archive? You are awesome! *cheers*
So the character Lift, for her powers, why does she have to eat food instead of sucking in--
So why does Lift have to eat food instead of sucking in Stormlight. So Lift is a really weird one, she visited the Old Magic and asked something very strange. And the Old Magic didn't know how to treat that and answered with something equally strange. So you will eventually see what happened with Lift and things like that but suffice it to say some really weird things are going on with Lift.
What level of completion do you write your novels and then submit to editors?
What level of completion do I write my novels and then submit to the editors. So here is a quick look at my drafting process. Draft 1, hopefully no one ever sees. That-- I'm a momentum writer, a lot of writers are like this, where I can't stop in the middle and revise unless something is really broken. So if there's something I want to change I just keep going and try it out for the next chapter. "Oh I needed another character in here" I will just add them in and everyone will act like they've always been there. And I'll try it out for a chapter and if it works I'll keep going that way, and if it doesn't I'll cut them out and try something else in the next chapter. So first drafts can be really weird, right? Like "Am I supposed to know this person that everyone else knows? Have I forgotten who this was?" and things like that, characters just vanish, or I'll leave out the foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is really easy to put in later on, you're just like-- Stuff like this.
Second draft is to fix all that stuff. I can sometimes send that on, but what I really like to send is third draft which is the first polish. Where I actually try for the first time to make it pretty, or at least non-cringeworthy. So that's what I send to an editor. That's what also I'll send to alpha readers, which are my writing group, my agent, my friends and family, and things like that. Once that gets back I do a bunch of revisions until it's good, and then we'll get beta readers, who are usually community beta readers… If you want to be one of those I'm not the person to convince, Peter is the person to convince. He is the executi-- editorial assistant, not executive--I've three assistants, they all have different titles--He's my editorial assistant. He's the one who picks the betas, and they do a bunch of reads and then I do a bunch of drafts based on what they say. And then it goes to like proofreads and things like that.
So with the depth of the novels, and the number of novels, that you create, do you have an assistant, or some sort of system--
Do I have an assistant--
Well I mean--
A system to remember everything... Yes I do. What I use is a wiki. I use a personal wiki, just like Wikipedia that is called-- I use an open-source software called wikidpad... and I have someone whose job it is to read my books after I write them, go make all of those notes into the wiki with page references so when I write the next one I can look them all up in the book and things like this. They have a very fun, yet tedious, job.
As a writer that has written a lot, do you still struggle with certain aspects of writing, like punctuation slip-ups or--
Do I still struggle, as a writer who has written a lot, with certain things. I would say my biggest weakness as a writer is repeating words or phrases, which is a very common thing for writers to have who are not really-- There are people like Pat Rothfuss who don't have this problem because they slave over every sentence. For years. *laughter* I love you Pat, you know I love you. But for most writers that's one, and that's one that is mine. And one way I try to fight this is I try to highlight the ones I use a lot, I have my assistant watch for them and do a search and replace in Microsoft Word for the word with brackets around it, so it leaves the same word, it just brackets it, so I can really decide, do I want to use that word or did I just use it because that's the word I always use? So there's that. The other big thing as a writer is I still don't like revision. I still get-- Revision-- I want to be writing a new story not revising an old one. But fortunately this is a battle that revision won like twenty years ago. More like fifteen. But I've gotten used to how I have to do it and when a book is done, and the number of drafts it requires to really make a great book. So I do it even though, you know.
Do you have any ideas for characters in different series meeting each other?
Do I have any ideas for characters in different series meeting each other. Yes I do. You will see a bunch of that. And if you haven't seen the little behind the scenes Mistborn novella I did called Secret History... that involves characters from different stories meeting each other.
Is there any connection between Odium and Trell?
Is there any connection between Odium and Trell. This is-- Yes there is some connection. That is a question about-- If you understood it then great, if you didn't then don't worry.
One of the things I really appreciate about your series in general is the depth of your magic systems, whether it's Investiture or-- Whatever the rules are, they're very detailed, very internally consistent. There's never anything where I can point out "Oh that contradicts something that somebody said two books ago". To what degree do you come up with--I guess--the universe before you write the novel or the--
Good question! So he's talking about my magic systems and how internally consistent they are. And the question is, do I do the worldbuilding first and then write the novel around it or do I do it the other way around. And the answer is: Yes! Which is one of those unsatisfying authorly answers. It depends on the story. For instance with the Wax and Wayne books, I already had the world built and so in that I'm building a story around a setting that already existed. With The Reckoners what happened is, I had the idea for people who gain superpowers all going evil and that concept spun me into building a story about it. And so that's more of an idea that spins a story rather than a setting.
Sometimes I've had a character that I really want to tell a story about, like Raoden or something like this, and then I build magic to match. It happens all different ways, and really what it is is a give and a take. Once you start with a character, you start building a story around them, and then you stop and work on the magic for a while and then you go back to the character and then you go back to the magic and then you go to the setting, then you go to the plot. As you build an outline you weave all these things together, you're not just spending time on one until it's done, and then the next 'til it's done, and then go. But it's happened all different ways for me.