Was Nahel name of a person? (Gonna be RAFO'd right?)
I don't know, but I doubt it.
When is the second book of The Rithmatist coming out?
I haven't written it yet. I started doing the research, and it was so much work I realized I needed more time to do it, because I'm going to South America in it, and I just needed to know South American cultures better, so I decided I need to take another year to do research. So I'm doing research for it right now, I'm going to write it hopefully after I finish the next Stormlight book, and then we'll release it soon after. So it's a little ways away.
What are your plans with Legion?
We will eventually be doing a collection of those on my website, so if you want to wait on those, I'm going to do three novellas, and then we'll collect them into a three-novella thing, so it's a regular book size.
In the acknowledgements of Firefight you promised that if you ever became an Epic you would go after your alpha, beta, and gamma readers last. What would their best defense be, i.e what would your weakness be?
Mac'n'cheese? Well, No 'cause I like mac'n'cheese too much. Fish sticks. It would be fish sticks.
I thought you disliked fish sticks.
Exactly. That's why they'd be my weakness.
What do you think is the difference between SciFi and Fantasy?
SciFi works with the improbable becoming reality; Fantasy works with the impossible pretending to be reality. I think the line is between what could be and what can't be. By my definition, that kind of takes Star Wars into Fantasy. I don't necessarily like Asimov's definitions, just because he was very down on fantasy. A lot of the fantasy of his era was very Conan-ish. He was a great writer, I respect his fiction a lot, but I don't think he gave fantasy its fair due.
I would count Star Trek definitely science fiction, they're trying to talk about - even though they're using fantastical teleporters and stuff - they're trying to say this is what's possible. It's social science fiction, a lot of it.
But wouldn't you say Star Wars is really both?
I would say it’s a mash-up hybrid. It’s a fantasy magic system in a space opera science fiction setting.
In Sixth of the Dusk, it feels like it's a crossover...
That is true.
So is it a planet that we've seen before, or...
Yes. Well, you have seen the people they are calling the "Ones Above".
And you're not going to tell any more?
When will we know?
Yeah, fifteen years maybe? Hopefully it won't take me that long, but I only just finished the outlines for Era 3 Mistborn, which is now what we're calling the 1980s, so I haven't even at the moment got the sketches of the sci-fi one, I don't have the outlines and things. So in other words, we aren't to the science fiction era; we're a ways off from that.
What was the main inspiration for Elantris?
My main inspiration for Elantris was reading in the New Testament, actually, about lepers and leper colonies, and wanting to write a story about a magical leper colony. And that's where the idea for the people who got this disease, and the city, and everything like that.
Which is your favorite Epic to write?
To write? Obliteration, because he's creepy in the way I like people to be creepy.
When you started writing Cosmere novels, how much of it had you outlined? How far ahead had you thought?
When I started writing Cosmere novels? When I started started, I was a teenager. Totally hadn't thought very far ahead. When I was an adult and I was writing them, I wrote one when I was like 20, and I had an inkling, and I played around with things. The first one that I wrote with a real, conscious eye toward the cosmere was Elantris. So the ones that have been published, yes. But when I first started, I had a little bit of an inkling.
Have you ever backed yourself into a corner with it?
Not yet! I have backed myself into corners by saying things to fans that I've already changed in my notes and hadn't realized I had, and stuff like that - I do that all the time. But usually when I do that, I just tell them. "Ah, I'm sorry, I just changed this, guys." I'm still convinced that Stayer and Stepper - that [Robert Jordan] didn't know those were two different horses. I'm utterly convinced that he made the mistake, and then just covered it. Because that's the sort of things we writers do.
What was your involvement with the Infinity Blade franchise?
What happened there was, I came in when the first game was already made. They said we'd really like to do something, and I really like the guys, they're friends of mine, and I'm like, "You don't have a story here. You've got to have a protagonist and things like this." So then I said, "Okay, let's take what you have, tell me what you have for the world, and let's brainstorm together, and let's construct a narrative. And so we did it together. We spent a lot of time in their offices constructing the next two games, then I was able to write the novellas between the two.
So did you have any input on the game stories, then?
Yes, I did. I had a lot of influence, though I did not write the dialogue, so sometimes it's a little bit cringe-worthy. They sent me the script, but I just didn't have time to go over the scripts for them. Sometime I'd like to actually do a game with them, because they make great games.
Can you tell me anything about Kaladin's maternal grandparents?
Let's just say that his mother [Hesina]--you're asking a very astute question--gave up more than most people gave up in that city to go be what she became. She's definitely fallen in social standing since her childhood. She took a hit.
Do you have any word on the Mistborn video games that are coming out?
I have no official word, other than to say that we did option the rights to the film to the people who are making the video game, and told them, "You have to make the video game or you can't make the film." I actually really like them, and their script treatments on the film are great. And it's not their fault, really, that the game hasn't taken off. It's just that they've had - these things happen in video games. The studio they were working with went under, and another one split, and this sort of stuff happens.
Elantris, though, how you came out with The Emperor's Soul, it didn't involve any of the magic or anything, I have a feeling they're going to collide?
Yeah, there will be - you will see much more of that. Definitely.
So we'll be able to see the actual Elantris again? Shining and beautiful again?
Yes, you will.
It was very sad, to see them all in pain, the continual pain and...
One of the reasons I wrote Warbreaker was that I didn't think I could get back to Elantris yet, but I realized I'd written this entire book about the city of the gods, and you never got to see the city of the gods. So Warbreaker was another take on that idea.
So have you decided who is going to be the focus character for Stormlight 3?
I have not. What I've decided is that I need to actually write out, rather than just having the outlines, write out the three backstories that are left of the first five, and then compare them to the story as I'm writing it, and see which one works. Because any one of them could work, but as I'm writing the book... yeah. It's one of those things that I know I need the flexibility on, as I write, to make it work.
Warbreaker. Will we see more?
Yes you will. It is the project that is the most distant right now - the major project that is the most distant. Getting back to that, I feel like I have to do more Stormlight before I can get back to a different epic fantasy.
There was the poem at the end of Way of Kings. How long did that take?
It took an embarrassingly long amount of time. I am not a poet, so mixing poetry with a really rigid form... Yes, the keteks take a long time. Both of them.
Are you going to do that in every book?
A ketek? Yes, I probably will do that.
In Sixth of the Dusk, and where that fits in the timeline, are the visitors from anywhere we've seen before?
You have seen people from that place before.
And if I were to speculate more on which one, you'd say...
Then I would say RAFO.
When are you going to write the other Warbreaker book? Last time I came to hear you talk, you said you were going to, and now you have 3000 other projects!
I know, and the Warbreaker fans really get on my case about that. Well, I wrote Words of Radiance, and I got Vasher into it, so that would kindle interest, and make sure that you at least got to see your characters again.
But did you hear the story about that? So, I wrote The Way of Kings in 2002, the first version, and in that version Kaladin trained with a swordmaster, and that swordmaster, a guy named Vasher, had a mysterious past. After I finished that book, later on I wrote Warbreaker as a prequel to Way of Kings, to show Vasher's backstory. But then Warbreaker came out before Way of Kings, which was a really kind of interesting thing. So in my head, Warbreaker is the prequel, but to everyone else... Yes, it is a totally different world, different planets, people get around...
So how much of Vasher's backstory do we actually have?
Well, a huge chunk of it…! If you were reading Way of Kings, you would know nothing, and then you’d read Warbreaker and you’d be like, “Oh, here’s a whole past that he had!” That doesn’t mean it’s all of his past.
(He’s not giving any hints as to whether Vasher had any connection with Roshar prior to Warbreaker – or at least not without someone asking a much more direct question.)
In The Emperor's Soul - when did you decide to change the beginning?
It was Mary, from the podcast with me, is very good at short fiction. She read it, and she said, "This intro is just holding the story back." And I read it again, and I'm like, I really feel that she's right. I felt at the end of it that the intro was interesting for people who liked Hoid already, but for people who didn't, it was just distracting and confusing. So at the end of the day, I cut it out, and I think it was a good move, even though it was sad. If you google the phrase "killing your darlings". it's a phrase we talk about in writing and storytelling. That scene was what made me want to write the book, it's what started me off in writing the book, and then I cut it out. But sometimes you have to end up doing that.
At the end of A Memory of Light, it mentions that Rand is no longer ta'veren - does that apply to Mat and Perrin as well? And if it does, how does it apply to Mat's luck?
Everything I'm saying right now is not 100% canon, because I'm only working off of my guesstimates based on his notes. I believe that Mat's luck is a soul attribute that is independent of him being a ta'veren, but enhanced by his ta'veren nature. Part of the proof of this is the Heroes of the Horn knowing him as Gambler, which means in other Ages when he's been born and not been ta'veren, he's still had luck and attraction to things like that. Plus things in the notes, I'm basing on that. So it does not necessarily mean they aren't ta'veren right now, but even if they weren't, I think Mat would still have his luck.
So you don't know whether they're ta'veren or not?
I do not know. My suspicion is that if he would have written the outriggers, Mat still would have been, and maybe Perrin, because Perrin was going to be in the outriggers, we know this. But I don't know for sure.
But I think it would have been fun, if in some parallel dimension if I were to have written them, which I'm never going to, I would have not made Mat ta'veren, or Perrin, I would have made Tuon ta'veren, and forced Mat to deal with someone else who was ta'veren, which I think would have been interesting.
Can women be ta'veren? Because in the entire series there is not a single female ta'veren.
There is not, but I'm very sure that they can be, based on things that I read in the notes. So, that's what I would have done, but I don't know if that's what Robert Jordan would have done. Can you just imagine that, Mat having to think that he's in someone else's story now?
How do you keep it all organized when you're doing so much at once?
A wiki. An internal wiki is where I keep all the cosmere and all the notes on that. The other things, I don't have to worry about as much. For instance, Reckoners, I've got one viewpoint character and one major plot; that I can keep in my head. I've got note files and things like that, but the Cosmere? Big old wiki full of stuff.
In The Rithmatist, you mention that Joel actually sneaks into the classroom, is that a spin-off of what you did?
I actually had a teacher once ask, "Who are you?" One of them actually picked me out. Fortunately, that was one that my roommate was going to, so I was able to [pretend I was just there with him].
If you drew a stick figure of a chalkling, would it be able to spike other chalklings and get their powers?
*laughter* No, because no one in this world knows what that is, because they're separate universes, but it is very clever. If you were doing it, I'd probably let you get away with it.
What was your inspiration for Sixth of the Dusk? It feels so, Polynesian or Hawaiian...
I love Hawaiian and Polynesian culture, and it was basically me reading some stories about Kamehameha, and his unification of the islands, and all this stuff, and I'm like, "Ah, I've got to use this someday." It was years later before I got to use it, but I did find a time to use it. And then we got Kekai [Kotaki] to do the illustration, and he's Polynesian, so...
Do you ever have trouble keeping your characters straight? How long does it take to get back into them?
If I stop writing and go back, it is hard. It takes about a month to get back into a story after I stop. I don't get the characters mixed up.
I try to, but I don't always manage it, because of deadlines and things. It's always going to cost me, and I know it will, sometimes you can't avoid that. In the old days, I never did it, when I didn't have a publisher, but now it's my job. When they say, "We need this revision done," I stop and do the revision, but it costs me.
I read online, something about one of your original drafts, [I think it was about] Gavilar, and it was where he was blind?
Yeah that was actually Taravangian, in the oldest version. One of the very first things I wrote was that, though Taravangian had a different name then, and was very different. Szeth has stayed the same through all the revisions. Kaladin has changed wildly, and almost everybody has changed dramatically, except Szeth is the same person. Him and Dalinar are the same.
*Something incomprehensible about emotion* Do you like to connect with your reader on an emotional level?
I do. So here's the thing: I am not an emotional person by my nature, and one of the only things that makes me feel very strong emotions is fiction. A really good piece of fiction makes me feel like the characters do, and the rest of the time, I'm just kind of - I won't say emotionless, but not emotional. It's not that. It's like some people have wild mood swings; one day they're a 20 and one day they're an 80, on a scale of 1 to 100, right? I'm always a 70, right? Like almost consistently always pleasantly happy. I don't know what depression feels like. I don't know what it really feels like to be sad. I've never really felt that - except when I'm reading a book. Does that make sense? So that's one of the reasons I write, because I want to be able to [go through] those emotions with people.
I've gotten both Legion books from Subterranean Press, and I was wondering if you've planned on doing any more through them.
I would like to. The thing is, it is kind of a hassle, just because working out release dates and things like that, part of the reason to do - I think they do gorgeous editions - but part of the reason to do the e-book things is so that I can be a little bit more spontaneous in releasing them and things like that, and so I'm likely to continue, but it is a bit hard. This time, we were like, "Why don't you guys just release a limited edition, and we'll do a print edition," but then they were like, "No, please don't do one." So I think I'd go back to letting them do a cheap edition and a limited edition if I did another one with them, I don't know.
What was the book that was the hardest to write for you?
It would definitely be A Memory of Light, the last Wheel of Time book.
Well, number one, I had been following that series for 20 years, and I was finishing off the writing of an author I respected a lot, and trying to fill his shoes, and not being able to do it because no one could, and the end of a journey. Every other book I've finished, I know if I wanted to I could go back and write more about those characters. Wheel of Time, I can't. It's done. It's not mine; I can't go write another book about Mat or Perrin or anything like that. So there's a finality to finishing that book that I haven't had with any of my other books. And then in addition, logistically it was a very difficult book to write.
What was your inspiration for coming up with Szeth?
So... I designed his culture first, one of the odd cases where I was working on the culture, and out of that grew his character, at odds with his culture. So I wanted somebody who was both the paragon of his culture and the person who was at odds with it. That concept just worked for me.
Infinity Blade - are there other plans to continue with that, and are they going to release a print edition?
What the plan is right now, if I can convince them to do it, is to do a nice print edition that will include the script of the first one, annotated by the guys who wrote it, my story in between, then the script for the second, then my story, then the script of the third, so it's a complete story, with the cut scenes illustrated, and things like that. So even a graphic novel, then prose, then a graphic novel - something like that.
In the Mistborn trilogy, was it hard to write the final twist, or had it been planned that way?
This is always the way it was planned. There are some smaller things that I'll allow spontaneity to change the book, but the general structure of the book is always planned out. And if something changes while I'm writing I go and throw away the plan and rebuild the plan, so I'm always writing with a plan.
One thing when I was reading The Alloy of Law, in Mistborn, all the [Feruchemists] were the Mistborn version of [Feruchemy], and then it changed to the Misting version of [Feruchemy]. Is there...
Yeah, there's a reason for that, and I'll delve into it a bunch more later, but basically, there's two things going on. Number one, the bloodlines have thinned, and that's the reason they're talking about [here]. Also, full-blooded Feruchemists mixing, like the populations mixed, is really dangerous, and Sazed knew this. So, I'll just leave it at that.
*Exact transcription impossible as everyone is talking over each other* Basically a couple of fans were talking with Brandon about making Legion into a TV series; one person thought that in the pilot, the aspects need to be actors, while the other thought that (for the pilot only) they should not be seen, so Stephen looks like a wacky eccentric talking to himself about solving mysteries, and then the episodes would reveal the individuality of the aspects.
*paraphrase* Brandon agreed that the second approach would be very clever, but that it would be very hard to convince (someone - not sure if it was himself, or the aspects, or who!) to do that, because he has them all cast in his head.
*verbatim* Normally I don't cast actors in the roles in my books, they're just who they are, but each of the aspects is an actor to me. If you look really closely, you might be able to guess who they are, because they're all famous actors.
We sold it to Lionsgate, and they never made it, and the option lapsed. We've sold it to somebody else now, but we’ll see if it ever gets made.
Any more [Pen & Paper] RPGs in the works?
I know that Crafty [Games] is planning another supplement to go in line with the new [Mistborn Era 2] books I'm releasing, because there are various things that are important to the new books that would make another good supplement.
So do you ever put a page length limit on yourself?
I don't, but I know by gut generally after I start writing how long a book feels.
Does the publisher ever put any limits on you?
No, they actually haven't. They do ask me if I'll write them shorter, but it's always an ask, and I usually ignore them. In fact, Words of Radiance is the largest book they can physically print with their printer, but the font is not the smallest font they could do yet. So I could actually get about another 100,000 words longer before it gets unreadable.
So by the time we get to Stormlight 6 or 7, they'll have to go buy a new printer?
Yeah, I've warned them. I will write it at the length that feels right.
Why do you have so many series going on at once instead of finishing one of them?
A couple of reasons. The main one is that it's the way I stay fresh as a writer, I find that I get burned out on things. Another main one is that I feel if I'm not practicing different styles, I'll get into a rut, and my writing will repeat itself. It's kind of like a philosophical reason and an instinctual one. I tell people who are annoyed that I'm not writing Stormlight that you wouldn't get Stormlight any faster if I weren't writing these other books in between - you might get it more slowly, because it's working on other things that really rejuvenates me as a writer. So I would be writing at a [Patrick] Rothfuss speed if I weren't jumping between things.
Why couldn't Joel be a Rithmatist? He wanted it so bad.
I will explain as the series progresses. That is a plot point. Every book like that, they get the power in the end, and I thought it was a much more interesting story if he has half - the knowledge - and Melody has half - the talent - and together they create a whole. It just worked, and it was much better for me as a story. I knew going into it that he wasn't going to be able to by the end of the book, but the reasons for it you'll find out as the series progresses.
I was wondering if you were thinking along the lines of a movie of Alcatraz?
We tried really hard. We actually even got storyboards and things with Dreamworks Animation, which was going to be awesome, but then they eventually let it die. So if you buy the big art Dreamworks Animation book, there's actually Alcatraz concept art on one of the pages, which is kind of excruciating that it never happened.
Second question, if completely hypothetically, and forbid! - somebody had to do for you what you did for Robert Jordan, who would your choice be?
I would probably either pick Brent Weeks, who has a very similar style to me, or Brian McClellan, who is one of my students who is now publishing books, and writing very good books. Those guys, either one, I think would do a fine job.
I read McClellan's book on your recommendation. Can you let him know that he needs to put women in his books?
Yeah, that's what I actually told him. My number one criticism when he called me and said, "What do you think of my book?" I said, "You only put one woman in your book, and she's a cliche." She's the friendly cliche, *audio obscured*. The first thing that happens is you get the cliched damsel in distress, then when people realize "Oh, that's being sexist," they then make the girl awesome, but have no personality. That's like step two. Then step three is real characters, and so I did let him know, and he promised he would do better with future books. I think it is the most legitimate criticism of that book, is that he's just bad with women. But you know, my first book I was terrible; I just didn't publish that one. He's unfortunate that he published it. But even in Mistborn, I only had Vin, so we all fall into this trap, and I've read many women who only put one guy in the book, and he's perfect. It's just something that new authors have a problem with very naturally, so hopefully he'll catch on the same way I caught on.
First of all, how confident are you in your race with [Patrick] Rothfuss for use of the word "Stone" in your title?
You know, it's looking more and more like this might not even be Szeth's book. And if it's not Szeth's book, I may not even name it Stones Unhallowed; I might name it something else relating to another character, but then again, Kaladin's book was named after the book Dalinar was reading, so anyway. We'll see. I'm pretty sure I will... He has said his "isn't coming out next year," as in coming out this year, and so... I'll have mine done by the end of this year, and it will be coming out next year, so it'll just depend
If Vin and Elend hypothetically each blindly ingested equivalently sized beads of lerasium, would Vin be a stronger Mistborn than Elend, or would they be equal?
Yes, Vin would be stronger. It is additive, not just an overwrite.
Do you have any, or will you ever write a gay character into any of your books?
There are several. Drehy, in The Stormlight Archive, the bridgeman is gay, because he's based off a good friend of mine who's gay. Ranette in the Wax & Wayne books, the woman that Wayne's in love with, she's gay, and it's hinted at in the first book. By the second book, they're like "Dude, she's gay, just leave her alone." So yes, I have written gay characters. I've never written a gay main viewpoint character, maybe someday I will, it's not something I've done yet.
I loved the ending of Words of Radiance. When you come up with an idea for a new cosmere book, do you have to go "Oh, now I have to figure out how this fits in with everything else", or do you have it pre-made?
I have a few little holes that I can slot things into, and I try to get them to fit the roles, like I know there are certain things that need to happen, and if it doesn't fit the role, I just go ahead and make it a minor planet, like Shadows for Silence, where I can write a story, but I can't put as much magic into those books. So I've got a few restrictions on me, but I think that's important for maintaining the continuity.
Human, spren, Splinter, Sliver, Shard, Adonalsium - which of these is most similar ontologically to Nakomi?
*laughter* I can't say anything about Nakomi! Robert Jordan did not want anything said about Nakomi! I can't say anything at all about Nakomi! Dig into the notes when they are released, and then you can find out things said about Nakomi. The little tiny hints we have, I told you he wrote that thing at the end, and I'm like well, okay. So.
How much time elapses between the beginning of the main part of the story [where they start out at the Shattered Plains] and the end of the series?
And the end of the series? Because the end of the series, um, we have a 15-year gap between [books number] 5 and 6. So, the first five will probably be Wheel of Time-ish, sort of, each one picks up where the last one left off; we have a little more time, maybe, than Wheel of Time, but not terribly much, so it will probably be just a couple of years for the first ones, but then we will jump.
Have you actually written out the Diagram, and Words of Radiance, and so on?
Oh, heavens, no. That's the sort of thing that falls into the worldbuilder's disease thing; there's no way that writing those out is worth the effort, so no, I have not. Definitely not the Diagram. If I were going to write any of them, I would write The Way of Kings, but even that, it's probably 30 or 40 thousand words in-world.
The bit with the bandits out there, and the deserters, and she [Shallan] convinces them to all go... Was she doing Lightweaving? Was she doing Transformation? Was she doing some combination?
She was... You have seen what she was doing before, done by another character.
When Shallan does Lightweaving, is that a combination of Illumination and Transformation, or is Lightweaving just of Illumination?
Lightweaving is just of Illumination. Lightweaving is a long-established power in the cosmere. Very early books, in fact one of the very first stories I ever wrote, Lightweaving was the magic. (That story is unpublished, written long ago - long before Liar of Partinel) And so, this stems from my own personal affection for illusion and my feeling that it had not been used as well as I wanted it to be used in fantasy fiction. So I consider it only Illumination truly in The Stormlight Archive.
In addition to the two abilities given by each Surge, does a Knight Radiant Order have a third blended ability, the interaction of its two given Surges?
Not specifically as phrased there, but each Order has quirks that are unique to it. They are magical quirks, but it's not necessarily a blend of the powers.
So Shallan's Memories is kind of a...
Is associated with her Order, yes.
It's not just because she had that wonderful ability, and Pattern came along and went, "Oh, I like this one!"
No that is not necessarily what attracted Pattern.