I'm planning on doing a cosplay of a Parshendi warrior for DragonCon this year. Are they barefoot or do they wear shoes?
They wear shoes or boots.
You've done a lot of books; you've been writing for a long time. At this point in your career does it feel like more like a work job than play?
No. Telling the story still gives me the same feeling. You have to remember that by the time I broke in, I'd been doing this for ten years already. I've been doing it another ten now, so the breaking-in point was only the halfway point so far in my career. I still do what I used to do, which is jump to wacky new stories as they occur to me.
I think when you should start to worry is when I stop doing that--when I stop coming up with some weird thing that I have to do instead of writing the next book, or when I decide I'm going to write two Mistborn books because I have some great idea for the second one. When I stop doing things like that, worry. So if you start getting Stormlight books only--as you all want--that's when we are actually in trouble.
Or if you go to a convention and don't play Magic.
Yeah, if I don't play Magic, that would be bad!
I think everyone would just be truly concerned.
That is my reward for coming and doing publicity and things like that at the convention: I get to go play Magic.
I remember when you were at Polaris, we left a bunch of Magic cards on your hotel bed as your welcoming gift.
That was one of the best gifts I've ever received.
I'm glad you liked it.
The graphic novel we are working on right now is White Sand, which is one of my early unpublished novels. We felt we could adapt that to take the poorly written stuff out and leave the awesome stuff.
Do you have any updates for the progress of that?
Yeah, it's going really well. We just got a sample of the cover art for the first volume. I think they are collecting 6 chapters in a book, and there will be 18 chapters total. So three volumes, and I think we are almost done with the first six. One of the things that I told them is that I really want to be far along in this project before we release anything. Because The Wheel of Time fans got burned on their comic.
I think that there have been enough instances of things like that, so I want to be able to produce something complete and say, "Look, we've got this much of it done and this much more to do. We've at least got the first 6 chapters, a complete book you can read."
Or it's like, we've got all this and it's only six months to the last one, it's not 2, 3, maybe 4 years.
The Reckoners, it's got a lot of a comic book feel with superheroes. Are there any plans at all for that to be adapted to graphic novel or anything?
Not right now. The graphic novel rights would be owned by the people doing the movie, and if they ever get the movie off the ground then I would say they probably will do a graphic novel. I toyed with graphic novels for many years when I had the original idea for it, but the fun of Steelheart was me trying to take comic book tropes and do them in the novel form. You've seen how movies have taken comic book tropes and turned them into films, and I really have enjoyed that. But they do very different things; it's like its own new genre, the comic book film.
I wanted to do the same thing for books, thinking, what are the strengths for a prose narrative as opposed to a more visual storytelling method?
It's just one of those novels that when you're reading it, it seems like it could be easily adapted and it would suit either.
The electricity-based one, is that relating at all to the novella you just put out [Perfect State]?
No. The electricity one is Dark One. The original idea for the setting for that book is how Nikola Tesla wanted to provide wireless energy to the world, and the experiments he did. I want to have a planet where that is just the natural state of the world. The ground there has an electric current you can harvest; you can set down a lantern on the ground and it will glow, drawing a current up through it into the air or down from the air into the ground. I haven't decided which way it's going to go yet.
Along with that I want to have interesting ecological features. Big toad monsters shoot out a taser tongue, they use spittle that somehow conducts electricity back and forth. Stuff like this. I want to have electricity be my fun theme. The problem with that again is that is very science-based. When I make a big change to the world, like that you can draw an electric current from the ground, then I have to try and figure out the science of how that works.
Yeah, especially because you have bodies of water. That seems like it would be fun. You'd suddenly become 10 times more scared of rain.
Yes, if it rains, lightning is going to happen constantly. So how do we deal with this? I'm tempted to make it not rain, -but then making it not rain is yet another big change, so where do we go there? So that one's got lots of extrapolation to do, but I have some friends who are much better at these physics questions then I am. So I'm going to them, and they are pointing me in the right direction.
And do you have to do a lot of research for the magic systems or is most of it just imagination?
It really depends on the magic. For instance with some of them I need to work out the physics. For Mistborn, I often have to go my assistant and say, "Peter, go do the math." I used to have to look at the math myself and things like that. Mistborn magic is very science-derived, so looking at the math is essential.
How much time do you spend during the initial planning stages of writing your novel, developing your magic systems and going through the laws and such?
It really depends on the book. For Steelheart, I didn't need very much. On that I'm using a superhero-themed story, and all I really needed to know was: How did people start getting their powers? How are their weaknesses developed? How are these things interrelated? From there I can just look at each power set and say, "Okay, this person has this power set."
You don't have to extrapolate quite as far with superheroes. At the same time, they are very limited magics that only work within a certain small realm, so the reason you don't have to do as much extrapolation is because there isn't as much to do. In that case, it was the matter of a week.
With something like The Stormlight Archive, it was a matter of months or years of working on the magic systems. It really varies.
What would you say your proudest moment has been along this journey of 10 years so far?
There have been several of them, the same type of moment. It's when people come up to me, and they say to me, "Brandon I was not a reader, and your books turned me into one." Because my story, which people can find because I've told it a thousand times, was that I was a reluctant reader. I didn't like books until fantasy novels changed me. I got into this because I thought, "I have to learn to make people feel like Anne McCaffrey made me feel." So in those moments when they say that, that's when I know I'm doing what I set out to do.
A close second is when they tell me I kept them up late at night. I feel nice and evil when I've done that.
You have caused me many many sleepless nights. Like the moment I got Words of Radiance--I think I finished that in two or three sittings. Coincidentally, I did not finish my assignment that was due the next day.
Excellent. Corrupting the youth again. That is the theme of what I do in my life.
Anyway, your first published book Elantris came out 10 years ago next month. You've had quite a journey since then; you've published 15 novels and half a dozen novellas. What's been the most surprising or interesting thing you've learned along the way? I'm going to exclude anything pertaining to The Wheel of Time.
One of the most interesting things was how fast the fans became experts in the world. Bigger experts than I thought they would become, and faster. But I knew that was going to happen, because I was a Wheel of Time fan and I knew what the fans did for The Wheel of Time. So it was more of a mark of honor to me that they actually doing this for me. I'm surprised to see it happening for my books, though I'm not at all surprised that they can do it.
I think the biggest surprise is how little time I would have to actually write, after I became a writer. I had more time to write when I had a full-time job than I do now, because then I was working a graveyard shift at a hotel, and I could write overnight. I had a good six hours of writing time every day despite being a full-time student and having a full-time job.
Now that I'm full-time as a writer, I travel and tour and do interviews. These things are all important, and I enjoy them. But what it means is that I just can't work as much as I used to. I became a storyteller because I love doing the storytelling part. It's like I have to squeeze it between the cracks sometimes, the thing that actually is my job.
I'm going to skip asking you to tell us about yourself, I think you're already fairly well known. But are there any stories about yourself that readers wouldn't know?
Oh, I'm sure there are tons of stories about myself. The one my dad told at my wedding is a fun one. My parents, like any normal people, will occasionally let certain words slip through their lips around their children that they probably don't want their children repeating. I was 4 or 5 and I had learned to say, from my father, certain expletives. And I walked around saying them all the time. So my parents had to sit me down and say, "Ok we don't say these words because they are bad words." So I said, "All right, I got it."
I'm a Mormon, and in the LDS church children are assigned to talk in their own meeting. Your talk is like 30 seconds when you're a 5-year-old, and you're just supposed to get up and say, "I like Jesus," and that's the end. But I decided I would talk about these words, with nobody knowing, even my parents. So I got up in front of all the little primary kids and I said, "We don't say 'oh rust' because it's a bad word." And then I proceeded to talk about all the bad words I knew-to the other kids. That was my talk.
So there you go, Brandon swore from the pulpit in Mormon church when he was a kid.
Well done, corrupting the youth.
And just touching on this again, do you have any tentative dates for the sequel to Elantris?
I really don't. I was wanting to try and do it for this year, but the fact that I have Stormlight on my plate means that I won't. The time to have been able to do that would have been last year, but I wrote the new Wax and Wayne novels instead. It is going to happen, in the timeline of the Cosmere it needs to have happened by the time that I am doing Mistborn Era 3; the 1980s-level-technology trilogy. We need to be caught up on where Elantris is, so that the whole Cosmere timeline can happen. So it will happen, but I know it won't be for at least another few years.
I asked what planet we have seen the kandra worldhopper on.
He said "You have seen her before".
I asked if she was an agent of Sazed
He said yes.
I asked if Gaz had been replaced by a kandra.
He said no, that Gaz is still the real Gaz.
I asked him to tell me about one of the Herald's innate powers.
They have none.
And I was trying to figure out how jazz could possibly develop on Scadrial in Alloy of Law.
How jazz could develop on Scadrial.
*audio obscured* Would it be appropriate to compare the Steel Ministry to the Catholic Church? Not so much in doctrine but...
Sure, that would be appropriate. I mean when I'm writing Alloy of Law era they are only hitting big band stuff.
That's what I figured.
Their music would lag behind ours.
'Cause big band stuff started around the 1920's.
They're not even quite there yet. In the second or the third... anyway one of the Alloy books Wax hears someone and they've added to a band brass and he's like "that's not right" he's expecting violin concertos or a pianoforte and he's hearing brass.
Will we ever find out the when, how, and why Vasher and Nightblood moved to Roshar?
Yes, but I don't know when it will happen. I will get around to it.
And does [Odium] control the Voidbringers through the spren in the same way that the Inquisitors were controlled by Ruin?
There are definitely-- In fact what you have just seen with Eshonai shares an awful lot with what happened in Mistborn.
Have we seen a physical personification of Odium like how Vin was...
You have not.
I assume I'm going to learn a lot more about this in Stormlight 3 but Nightblood, is he more dangerous or less dangerous now that he-- obviously he needs Investiture that is why *audio obscured* any Investiture?
I'd say more dangerous, a little bit easier to get the Stormlight.
I assumed I'd learn a lot more about him...
You will, and he's pretty dangerous, but he is also less dangerous because other people have Shardblades, if that makes sense.
How many different kinds of magic does Hoid know how to use? I know you can't tell me exactly but is it hundreds or like dozens?
It depends on your definition of types of magic, in some ways you could say they are all one. He knows multiple varieties, but not hundreds.
How much involvement does the other planet in the same system as Roshar have with Roshar?
*long pause* Your question has a fundamental flaw to it.
And that is?
That there are multiple planets that have an influence on Roshar.
I thought there were multiple planets in the system that...
There are, but you said "the other", there are more than one so the phrase, "the other" doesn't make sense.
How much influence do the other planets have?
A great deal.
What are the other books in The Stormlight Archive going to be about?
Well each one is going to cover a flashback sequence for one of the characters and each one will focus on a different order of the Knights Radiant. And that's not always the same, like the flashbacks for the first one were Kaladin and it was also Windrunners, but we won't always have them be the exact same.
Is there any reference material for doing cosplay?
It depends on the costume that you want to make. We have lots for Stormlight Archive, less for other books. So if you want reference material for Stormlight costumes you can write us and we'll send you the concept art we are using.
Is there anything in the works right now roleplaying-wise for any of your other works?
Not yet, the response to the Mistborn rpg has been good so I do think we'll do something eventually but right now we just want to support that. It takes a lot of effort to keep one of these supported, because they make it but we have to read everything and talk about continuity and stuff. Maybe eventually.
That is the bead of metal that Elend finds at the end of Book 2, that Vin finds and gives to Elend.
Oh so there were only two and the Lord Ruler kind of left it there?
There actually were a bunch of them, and the first Mistborn came from people who ate that. The Lord Ruler took one for himself and he left others there to use if he needed them.
I asked a question at the panel, I asked if the person you refuse to say who he is, I was trying to talk about Taln.
So what about Taln?
Is there anything you'll tell us about him?
What do you want to know? Ask me a specific question.
Is he Rosharan?
Is he Rosharan? Taln is Rosharan.
Define Rosharan, how about that?
Native to Roshar.
That I have to RAFO.
Are the Heralds...
The Heralds are from the same place that Taln is from.
Is the level of burning a continuous distribution, can I burn 0.1 level of steel all the way up to flaring? Or is it just I burn or I flare?
The more skilled you are, the more you have the ability to moderate that. For most people it is burn or flare. But you can kind of burn up to a flare, does that make sense? Going below is really hard.
Can you push a flare?
So I've recently been able to absorb a lot of your library via audiobooks, and I was wondering how much involvement you had in the acting in those.
I try to pick voice actors that I like, because I do like audiobooks. So Michael Kramer and Kate Redding because I asked them to *cheers* We do try to send them pronunciation guides but sometimes we're so slow they have to record first. So, for instance, a lot of the changes in pronunciation between Way of Kings and Words of Radiance were because we got them a pronunciation guide too slowly. They did it the best they could starting out, and then-- yeah. But I love their interpretations, and I tell them "Interpret the characters how you feel they should be interpreted, rather than how I tell you" because just like with the cover artist, if you give them too much you stifle their inspiration.
Aether of Night, aethers also show up in Liar of Partinel...
Yeah, that was...
Was that cannibalized...
That was a cannibalization, it's an attempt at repurposing and I didn't like it so it probably won't go forward that way but it was an attempt because it worked so well to mash Allomancy and Feruchemy into the same system and I didn't like how it went but...
In The Wheel of Time at the end when they start to use Gateways to spy on the other battlefields, was that your idea or Robert Jordan's idea?
I had for years wanted them to use Gateways for things like that, because I'm kind of a magic system guy, right and it's like I'm writing these books now, they are going to use Gateways smart.
For the space Mistborn are we going to have more elements?
The base 16 are basically it. But the interactions between them and things. And there is one more metal, there is harmonium, so you will hear about that later on.
In Mistborn Elend carried dueling canes.
And I didn't understand why people would be scared of sticks. So is a dueling cane a deadly weapon, a melee weapon, *inaudible*
Yes, they use dueling canes in martial arts on Earth, so you can look up-- look for these. They are sticks about <two feet?> long, made of a hardwood, and, I promise you, if hit with one of those, it's going to hurt. So yeah, I mean you can go find my references for various types of dueling canes in various martial arts. They are real things. But we needed a weapon that was not metal and that was the best one, I felt.
How do you come up with all the different worlds, the magic systems, the religions, the-- everything. How do you come up with it?
Good question. It's a bigger question than I can really answer right now. But I can give you a few tips and I can point to places where I've answered it better. I've written three essays called Sanderson's First Law, Second Law, and Third Law... Those explain my theories on magic systems, that'll help you a lot. The real thing I'm searching for is conflict. I want to have interesting conflict to each world element that I'm spending my time on. Spend your time where there is going to be conflict. If you've got a story where the conflict is all religious and the character's religion is kind of an intersection between religion and something else, spend your time building your religions. Make them interesting, work things into them. But maybe you don't need to spend all your time building the linguistics for that world. Spend your time as the author on the things that are going to be full of depth and conflict and importance to the characters and don't worry about everything else. Unless you want to pull a Tolkien and spend twenty years preparing. Which-- I mean, you can do. I can't complain about the way Tolkien did it. But I prefer to be able to release a book every year as opposed to every twenty years.
So you've written a lot of books. Of all the books that you've written, which do you look back gives you as the writer the most personal satisfaction?
Oooh, wow. Satisfaction. See I like all of my books for different reasons so picking a favorite is impossible, but you were smart and asked for something more specific than favorite. I would say finishing The Wheel of Time brought me the most satisfaction. Starting reading those books when I was fourteen and then having it be such an enormous challenge and then having it be well received and not screwing it up-- because I was really worried I would screw it up. And for the majority of people I didn't screw it up, for some I did, there are a few that really didn't like it. That's fine. But for the majority of people I didn't screw it up and for myself I didn't screw it up. So at the end of the day I'm very satisfied those books turned out as well as they did.
My question is, your stories are so intricate and huge and I-- maybe it's because I'm not as genius as you are *Brandon makes a funny face* but where do you come up with these ideas in the first place. Like are you given a vision by the Stormfather, or-- *laughter*
So here's what I say to this, if you think I'm naturally a genius go read the story I wrote in high school. I posted it on my website and it is terrible... It's a matter of practice and a lot of spending time working on these sorts of things. This is kind of what I wanted to do my whole life now, so I practiced to be able to do it. And it's a good thing I took off because I would be worthless otherwise. I mean I did go to college, I did get a Master's degree, but all the other people in the Master's degree were running right and left to get into PhD programs and being on Student Council/Government or things like that. And meanwhile I was just writing stories. I didn't do any of that stuff. And so I'm very lucky that it took off.
I do have my own wiki, which you can't find, it's only on my computer and my assistants' computers to keep track of all this, because it has grown to the size that we need tools like that. In fact Peter Ahlstrom's wife, Karen Ahlstrom is the keeper of the wiki and her job is to go through my books and keep the wiki updated and make sure that I'm not contradicting myself.
So we know a Shardholder who used up his mind to imprison another Shard.
Can a Splinter use up its mind?
Something that small probably will not be able to accomplish the same thing.
Okay. But it could...
There is possibility that it could for something smaller.
The Lord Ruler, sixteen-- all sixteen metals, full metalminds, and can compound versus Rand at the end of A Memory of Light *laughter/cheering*
...At that point probably Rand. Sorry. *cheering*
But the Lord Ruler has luck, he can Compound luck.
He can do a whole lot of stuff. Now if it's the Lord Ruler during the moment of Ascension, it's the Lord Ruler, but post-Ascension? No.
Can Shallan be my best friend?
You'll have to ask her, just somehow get to the planet and you can hang out.
Okay, tell me how to do that?
Well... you've got to get one of the magics or find one of the perpendiculars-- the perpendicularities...
Is Odium mad about Sazed having two Shards?
Yes, and scared.
Dragonsteel, where in the universe is that going to take place?
It's actually first.
Oh really? So it's like a prequel to everything.
Yes, to the cosmere.
So is it going to do the breaking of the Shards?
So Stormlight and Breath are both just different manifestations of Investiture.
So Nightblood and Shardblades are both kind of powered by Investiture?
Yes, in fact you can call Nightblood kind of a mismade, evil Shardblade... more mismade than evil but yes.
But a Shardblade wouldn't shear through Nightblood.
Yes a Shardblade would not shear through Nightblood. In fact I wrote Way of Kings first and then I wrote Warbreaker and Way of Kings came out after Warbreaker but in my mind Warbreaker is a prequel to Way of Kings, where I was telling Vasher's backstory.
Oh really, so the Warbreaker we know takes place after Way of Kings?
No, it takes place before, it's a prequel meaning I wrote Way of Kings and then I went back in time and told Vasher's backstory but Warbreaker ended up coming out first because Way of Kings wasn't ready yet.
So do Inquisitors, when they use Allomancy, have to actually ingest the metals?
They actually do. So what is happening is Hemalurgy rips off a piece of one person's soul and spikes it somebody else and so it is basically taking off the piece of someone's soul that makes them an Allomancer and adding it to someone else instead and so then they act as an Allomancer just as it would happen.
I'm not sure if it was duralumin or something but the Feruchemical ability to store Connection, is that how Hoid worldhops? It stores Connection to another world?
It's a good question, it doesn't have anything to do with worldhopping but what it does do is once you have worldhopped you can change your Connection to which planet you are on, which helps you with magic systems.
How does Nightblood work on Roshar?
Well Nightblood feeds on Investiture, which is the general life-force/magic-force in the cosmere and so he can feed on basically any source of magical energy.
And do other magics work on other worlds?
I've been describing it lately more like you see DC current and AC current, where they're similar things but slightly different. It is possible to make magics work on other planets, some it's easier than others.
Miles Hundredlives, is he possessed by a svrakiss from Elantris?
*long pause* That's a RAFO, you are onto something... I wouldn't say possessed, but influenced by something is definitely a possibility. You are not 100% on.
So at the end of Words of Radiance, was that Nightblood?
It is Nightblood! Vasher is in there too if you look for him.
Are they going to be in the next--
You will see a lot more of Nightblood, you'll see a little bit more of Vasher.
Do you have a definite number of how many [worldhoppers] there are?
There are not a set number, I know all the main ones though.
But you are not going to *inaudible*
You'll know them all better by the time you have read more books.
My brother and I disagreed, at the very end of Words of Radiance, the sword that-- Is it the same as in Warbreaker?
Yes it is, in fact Vasher is in the book.
Is that Vasher?!?
No, look for somebody making color metaphors and when they are waking up they feel like they can sense other people's presence and things like that. There is one character who is Vasher. He doesn't go by that name anymore.
So I've been told there is one character who is in each of the series.
Yes there is.
Is that Wit by chance?
Does he show up in some of the others?
Yes, in this [The Final Empire] he shows up briefly, Kelsier meets with a blind beggar at one point who is introduced by the name Hoid and that is the name Wit uses through most of the books. If you read Warbreaker he's in that one, there is a storyteller who uses dust and sand. He's in most of them Way of Kings is where you see him the most he's not in the other ones nearly as much but he's mentioned by name in most of them.
What's your inspiration?
It really depends on the book. If you want to know the inspiration for the Mistborn books, you can google Sanderson's First Law. It's an essay I wrote about how I came up with the magic system. That'll help you see where some of the ideas came from and how I take them and use them.
What about The Stormlight Archive?
Stormlight, the original inspiration was the storm of Jupiter. The big storm that rotates around Jupiter, and I wanted to do something that had a perpetual storm like that.