I am currently trying to write a book in which the world is drastically different from earth. Do you think it is too ambitious to start out with such a complex setting?
No, not at all. Just don't try TOO hard to describe every aspect of it. It's good to be ambitious. However, be careful to keep you number of viewpoints down for your first few attempts--that will spiral out of control faster than worldbuilding will. Don't feel the need to explain too much, keep the focus on the characters, and you should be fine.
Will you ever go into more detail about the dead original shardholders? I'd love to know what kind of people Tanavast, Ati, and Leras were.
They will all be characters in the Dragonsteel series.
Out of all your magic systems, which one would you choose to be a user of?
I'd be a Mistborn if possible. So many fun interactions. Not quite as powerful as some of those on Roshar, perhaps, but very fun.
Any advice for an aspiring fantasy writer? Besides the obligatory "Read a lot and write a lot!!!" Characterization advice is especially appreciated.
Well, I do have my lectures on this topic. Go to writeaboutdragons.com and listen to the characterization lecture. I think you'll find it helpful.
Do remember that your characters should have passions, goals, and flaws that are distinct from the plot of the story. They can sometimes align, but a character should have a life and passions outside of what happens TO them.
How did you portray Jasnah's atheism so well? As a staunch atheist myself, I think you did an absolutely brilliant job. Honestly, It made me happy that a religious person was trying to understand my mindset. Anyway, who did you ask to get such accurate ideas of atheist thought?
I found some really good atheist forums. Not the 'hate on religion' type atheist forums, but the kind with some serious depth. People asking one another about morality, talking about how they felt when people reacted to them being an atheist, and expressing their philosophy. I gained a great deal of respect for them during these readings.
From there, I went and chatted with some atheists I know to gauge if I had a good handle on things. It was important that I get this right, as it's different enough from my own worldview that if it went wrong, it would have gone VERY wrong and I'd have ended up with something insulting.
What has turned out better for you, starting with the characters, the plot, or the world when you are beginning the writing process for a book?
Any time I have the characters from the get go, I feel like I'm leaps and bounds ahead. Having a very strong ending in mind before outlining is also very, very helpful.
What is your favorite of your own books?
I can never answer this. It's like trying to choose your favorite child. :)
Where did you get the idea for your Adonalsium mythos? Did it develop in your head for a while, or did you have a sudden flash of inspiration.
Over time, particularly when building Dragonsteel as a novel. I was planning it as I wrote Elantris. Hoid has been around forever, long before Adonalsium became the central plot of his story. I have an old short story from the early, early, early days where he's on a planet trying to figure out how the local magic system works.
Lastly, less pressingly, do Spirit Points (Hemalurgic spots) apply to ever magic system, and through the cosmere at large? Ie. could Hemalurgy be used to take any other magic systems aspects, and do other magic systems also have these 'Points', such as Body Focuses, that work in similar ways?
Hemalurgy crosses magic systems. You could steal things from people on other worlds, if you knew the right places for the spikes.
Does the Spiritual power used in any given magic system come from the supporting Shard itself, or through it from the remains of Adonalsium and the Power of Creation?
From the Shard in most cases. But it's also often built into the world innately, and so the Shard (if someone is holding it) doesn't always have control over who can or cannot use the magic.
Can magic systems from one world work in any given other?
For some, it will take quite a bit of work, but it's possible to get them each to work. Sel's magics are regional, and so they are going to be tough. Scadrial's magics are the easiest.
So, firstly, is the Cognitive Realm the only way to access the Spiritual Realm from the Physical Realm, and vice versa?
What's your opinion on golems/constructs/robots? The Lifeless are a somewhat similar concept, but I was curious as to whether there's a world in the cosmere that might have a more classical take on ye ol' fantasy standby guardian, or are Awakened suits of armor as close as we can get? Is the Future Mistborn trilogy going to have Anti-Allomancer Alluminaughts?
Ha. I am fascinated the idea of golems, and when I play an RPG I'm often trying to make golems of one sort or another. However, I worry that the idea is a little overdone in fiction, so my takes on that sort of thing come in more unusual flavors.
Are there any plans for a world where the magic system operates through devices that transform and empower individuals with spectacular abilities? Like...say...a belt with an ornate buckle...a bracer..things like that?
Are there any worldhoppers that we should recognize as worldhoppers in anything other than [The Way of Kings] beyond Hoid?
They aren't recognizable, and aren't intended to be, as of yet. There are some around, however.
Is there a magic system that best allows people to worldhop between worlds?
Yes, but it isn't needed. Some do help more with understanding how to traverse the Cognitive Realm.
Are there any ramifications beyond leaving one's world behind when they worldhop to other worlds? IE physical ailment, aging, time travel lag X1000
Is Hoid's base magic system Lightweaving?
Is it possible for a non-native being to use a Shardblade?
Is there any ramifications to the holder of a Shardblade for using a Blade in a manner that it wasn't intended?
Depends on the type of Shardblade. (You have seen three different kinds in [The Way of Kings].) For most, no. For some, most certainly.
Would a Breath imbued object stop a Shardblade?
Could a Shardblade holder potential drill a hole through the planet by using his Blade like Dalinar?
Uh... I think that you'd hit the core and that would not be a good thing for you.
What is your favorite world of the cosmere?
Favorite world? Probably Roshar, as it's the most unique.
Is there a way to harvest BioChromatic Breath from a planet, if it holds any? (If a person dies, and their body turns to dusty he dust of the earth, then doesn't [Nalthis] therefore hold thousands, if not millions, of BioChromatic Breaths?)
Possible. It would be the same thing as harvesting the nature of Preservation or Ruin, which--on Scadrial--took the form of nuggets of metal.
Are Surgebinding and Awakening related?
All of the magic systems are related, and these two do share some defining fundamentals.
Can people from one area of the cosmere Return to the place in the cosmere where Awakeners are from?
Meaning, can they travel to Nalthis, where Warbreaker takes place? Yes, they can.
Does Szeth-son-son-Vallano's Surgebinding require an honorspren like Kaladin's?
No, it does not. (Hm....) Gold star to you.
What did Jek and Szeth do to become Truthless?
This will be answered in his book, during his flashback sequences.
Is Jek-son-son-Vallano important?
Is Jek-son-son-Vallano Szeth-son-son-Vallano's brother?
He is the same person as Szeth; I just changed the name. Sorry, no hidden truth there.
Did Cultivation come to Roshar with Honor, or was she already on Roshar when Honor arrived?
Good question. They came together.
Having to do with Legion, if you could take a picture of any historical event what would it be?
Wow, tough question there at the end. Hmmm.... So many choices. Sermon on the Mount, perhaps?
I love Wax as a Skimmer and a Coinshot. Is that your favorite Twinborn combination? If not, what is?
It's certainly one of my favorites. However, some of the characters in the modern day trilogy have some really neat combinations as well.
In what ways do you feel that finishing The Wheel of Time helped to prepare you for The Stormlight Archive and how did it change your writing in general, if at all?
I gained three things, I feel, by working over the years on [The Wheel of Time]. (And, in particular, by studying [Robert Jordan]'s work in depth.) I learned how to better balance lots of different viewpoints, I got a better grip for foreshadowing and subtlety over many books, and I gained a deeper understanding of how to write a really sold third person viewpoint.
Are any of your books' locations (barring Legion) based on real-life places? If so, where? If not, what propels your creative drive to make new worlds?
All of the keeps in the Mistborn series are based on real structures I've visited. The mists are based on a trip to Idaho, were I drove through a fog bank at high speeds.
Warbreaker's setting was inspired, in part, by a visit to Hawaii.
Much of Roshar is inspired by tidal pools and coral reefs.
Do any characters from Nalthis appear in The Way of Kings?
Can you give me a hint about Nafti, the Uvara girl that Derethil brought with him when he left the Great Abyss?
There is more truth to that story than some may think.
Do all Shards have some sort of Shard-induced weakness, like how Ruin and Preservation can't see metal?
When Shallan is appealing Jasnah, Jasnah reveals that she has heard about Shallan's step-mother, Malise Gevelmar. Has Malise Gevelmar ever met Jasnah or one of her associates (excluding Shallan)?
No, she has not. You'll learn more about Malise in [Words of Radiance]. She really is just a rural lighteyes of not much consequence. Shallan's mother, however...
You've confirmed that several Heralds have appeared or been mentioned in the modern (non-prelude, non-vision) parts of The Way of Kings. Have any members of the Knights Radiant (the one from the days of Urithiru, not near-Radiants like Kaladin) appeared in the modern parts of The Way of Kings? And if you have to RAFO me, could you give me a hint about the Heralds?
I can answer that--no, no Radiants from those days have appeared on screen in [The Way of Kings].
A Coinshot able to store weight can, as you showed us with Wax Push in a ridiculously powerful manner, as the weight/mass is the largest factor which controls the Push strength.
I'm wondering if the same can be done with soothing(or rioting). If you where to increase your identity, that may/should increase your emotional imprint(or whatever you might call it), would your soothings/riotings become vastly more powerful in a similar way as weight makes steelpushing more powerful?
And if it does, is this how the Lord Ruler improved his Soothing in such a spectacular fashion?
Well, the Lord Ruler--don't forget--could compound any Allomancy he wanted. That creates some crazy effects. As for what you discuss in your first question, I don't want to touch too much on Identity yet as I am saving it for later books. Talking too much here might undermine my ability to reveal interesting and cool things in books when the time is right. I like your theory, and it has merit, but I'm not going to give you a yes or a no as it delves too much into what Identity, as an attribute, can do.
If I used a Hemalurgic spike charged with Allomantic powers on a person on say Nalthis, will the focus of Allomancy change because the power is being used on another planet?
Would it be fair to describe the three realms as the Spiritual Realm providing motivation/general directives (gravity, desires, energy, etc.), the Cognitive Realm interpreting and applying those directives, and the Physical Realm as where these directives--as interpreted by the Cognitive Realm--are actually implemented? All of this with interactions/change flowing back and forth between the Realms as well (Physical phenomena affecting thought affecting the spirit, for example).
Ha! That's a very interesting way to look at it. The theory isn't all there, but it's thinking along the right lines.
You have told us there are more than 30 magical systems on Roshar. I am assuming there are 10 Surgebindings and 10 Voidbindings. Do the next 10 belong to another such classification? If yes, can you give us the name for it.
Fabrials are part of it.
How is Harmony balanced when a part of Preservation's power is expended on human sentience? Isn't that what caused all the trouble to begin with?
Indeed. Hm... What could Sazed be doing with that extra power...
We know that there are 10 orders of Radiants and 10 different powers, with each order having access to 2 of them. Any reason why this "class restriction" exists (they are lot more combinations possible with 10 powers)?
There is a reason. I don't know when I want to get into it, however.
Can Hemalurgy be used to steal Shardblades directly, transferring ownership from the victim to the spike's recipient without a need for the recipient to physically take the Shardblade first?
A novel use of Hemalurgy which is not outside the sphere of its powers.
Is Wax's hemalurgic earring in Alloy of Law giving him slight Allomantic pewter, enabling Harmony to fuel pewter Allomancy directly in the final fight sequence?
What is/was Endowment's gender? Is Endowment the same being as Austre (making him male)?
If you are standing inside of a time bubble, and throw a spear out of the bubble, what happens to that spear as it traverses the border of the bubble? Are different parts of the spear ever in different "time zones," going fundamentally different speeds?
On that line of reasoning, what would happen to a train and its occupants if Marasi stood next to railroad tracks holding up a Cadmium bubble while that train sped by?
In general, a large object going through a time bubble is not going to notice. An object is either in or out, and it depends in part on how the object views itself. People inside the train would be inside of its influence, and wouldn't notice the bubble. The spear would go from one to the other, but would never be in both.
Do Breaths inherently possess the ability to interpret and carry out commands, or does the Awakener need to impart that decision making ability on Awakened objects?
If the Awakener does need to impart the decision-making ability, then does Awakening consist of an Awakener copying a portion of his/her Cognitive aspect (as determined by his/her visualization and verbal Command) onto the Cognitive aspect of the object being Awakened, with Breath then providing the "juice" for the object to actually follow its Command: powering both physical motion and "cogitation" based upon the copied Cognitive aspect?
If so, is that copying what drains color?
You're very close here.