Not sure if you have answered this but would the events of Dawnshard be chronologically after Rhythm of War or between Oathbringer and Rhythm of War?
It is between Oathbringer and RoW.
Not sure if you have answered this but would the events of Dawnshard be chronologically after Rhythm of War or between Oathbringer and Rhythm of War?
It is between Oathbringer and RoW.
Who is your favorite minor Stormlight character?
There's a new guy in Rhythm of War who has a really cool name.
Is this the Tuckerization? Stargyle? That's Steve Argyle. It is a cool name. I'm like, "How can I put a 'Steve' in that doesn't sound... He's a Lightweaver; what if he just made up a really cool stage name for himself?"
Did you do anything for Way of Kings Prime?
I did not. I don't think I've even read that one. I did read Dragonsteel, but I haven't read Way of Kings Prime.
We had Kristy [Gilbert] look over it, who is a freelance editor friend of ours that we have do a lot of work because she's really good. She looked over Way of Kings Prime, but she's the only one, really.
You are getting this pretty raw. This has seen one editor, whose job was just to make changes. We just said, "Change things you think need to be changed to make it more readable." But it's still a draft.
In Sadeas's warcamp [in Way of Kings], we had this character named Laresh, who came and delivered some recruits for the bridge. And we decided that he was really kind of a prototype for a different character who does the same thing, whose name also starts with "LA" [Lamaril], so we essentially said, "Eh, these are really the same guy. We'll just make them the same guy [in revision]."
What is the biggest continuity error you've caught?
If he puts in somebody that's dead...
Once in a while, it usually happens with Bridge Four characters, the side characters. One of them, I had accidentally get resurrected.
Karen came to me yesterday, and she's like, "This guy is dead!" I'm like, "No no no, it's a different guy, it's okay."
They didn't write his name. But there is a character with that exact description that is dead, and Peter convinced me it could have been a relative of theirs. So I'll give it to you.
What cosmere location has the best tacos or equivalent? And is Hoid a regular visitor to that location?
It depends on how you feel about Soulcast meat. For people who are vegan, Soulcast meat involves using gemstones to make meat. Also, I would say that Soulcast meat has a certain flavor that is not bad, but it is acquired. And so, for some people, chouta is going to be, probably, the best street food in the cosmere.
But otherwise, like most things, if you want to default to "What has the most Earth-like of X," it is going to be Scadrial. Scadrial is the one that I intentionally kind of keep closer to Earth-style cultures and things. For various reasons; like, for instance, the fact that I want to do a computer programmer as a protagonist in an upcoming sequence, there are things like that that I've built Scadrial to feel more Earth-like.
Originally, it was said Way of Kings Prime had spoilers for later Stormlight. But we've released it now. Why is that? Do you still feel it has spoilers, or do you think it's safe or fine?
I think it is fine, though it still has minor spoilers. The whole thread with Dalinar and Elhokar, I felt, was a pretty big spoiler. Because a very similar relationship played out in the published books, just with different results. I thought that one's a spoiler.
I felt that some of the Taln stuff is slight spoilers. But one of the things that worked passably well in Way of Kings Prime is the question of, "Is this guy a Herald, or is he crazy?" That was a central theme for him. And that whole arc got transposed to Dalinar. "Am I seeing visions, or am I crazy?" Whole thing got transposed, and I knew by the time I was into the actual published versions of the Stormlight Archive, I knew by then that I couldn't do the same thing with Taln. We'd already had a plot cycle like that, plus I was going to be introducing the Heralds, and it was going to be very clear that the Heralds are back and that the Voidbringers are here. And so the question of "Are the Voidbringers actually coming back? Were the Heralds real?" Thats, like, a major theme of Way of Kings Prime. And that cannot be a theme of the published version. And so, for a while, I was still holding onto the hope that maybe I can do something like this with Taln. And eventually, I said, "No, I just can't." It would be too repetitive and what-not, and that's part of what made me realize it's okay to release Way of Kings Prime. The stuff that happens to Taln is going to be so different from where I'm going to be taking him moving forward that it's okay.
There's still some minor, slight things that are still gonna show up, but it would be hard to pick out what those are. And when they happen in the actual series, you'd be like, "Oh, I can see the resonance of this to the original." Just like the Elhokar/Dalinar thing (which is more overt) resonates through that one into this one.
Given that the 17th Shard picks through every word you say with a fine-toothed comb and argues over the tiniest details, what have you said in the past to most thoroughly troll them?
I try not to actively troll on those sorts of things. I like that people are interested in my work and are treating it with sincerity. It is far better than the alternative. So I don't do a ton of trolling. But I would call things like the Shardhunt and things like that that we did a bit of trolling. (If you weren't aware, that's where I was giving out codes you could find or could get from me that would unlock things. We did it for Steelheart, we did it for Wheel of Time, and I think we did it for one of the other books. And there's some trolling that goes on involved in that where I'm hiding these things and playing coy about what they would reveal, and stuff like that.)
I guess you would count, when someone asks me a question that a "yes" is a technically true answer but I know it's going to mislead them, I will still often say "yes." Because if they give me wiggle room on some of these very detailed questions, I will take it. So because of that, sometimes they grossly misinterpret things I say.
But I also, sometimes, am really tired and don't hear the question right and answer something, and then they don't grossly misinterpret it; I have just misled them. Both of those things happen.
Have you ever followed the cremposting subreddit?
I don't really follow it. I go to it when people tag me, and that's about it. I think it's hilarious, but it's not one that I track a lot.
That's for Cosmere memes, basically, and/or Brandon Sanderson memes. If you feel like going there and cremposting, you may do so. They tag me on some interesting things, now and then.
In your last Reddit update, you gave a good rundown of your future projects until Stormlight Five. Time permitting, could you talk about other side projects, like the non-Cosmere short works collection, Apocalypse Guard, Alcatraz, and The Rithmatist?
Alcatraz Six is done, being illustrated as we speak. We have the deal in hand from Tor to publish it. Alcatraz Six is a go. Should happen next year, I would suspect. And that is the actual ending to the Alcatraz series. Co-authored with Janci, who is amazing.
Apocalypse Guard has been kicked back to me from Dan, I think I mentioned before. I need to do a draft on it. Dan improved it wonderfully, but what he didn't fix is the ending, which is still broken, because endings aren't Dan's thing in the first place, they're kind of my thing. Which is part of why I pulled the book, is that the ending was not working. So, I need to fix the ending. Fortunately, I came up with a pretty good plan for doing it. So it's going to go on my list sometime during these next couple years, when I need a break between things I will do an Apocalypse Guard revision. It will probably only take me, I would guess, two to three weeks of work to fix it. So that's a strong plausibility that I will be fixing that book in the coming months.
Non-Cosmere collection. I have lots of stories for it; we actually commissioned all the art for it, but that's when we thought that Snapshot was going to get greenlit. It got really close to being greenlit as a movie, but then the option on that lapsed, as they didn't end up doing the greenlight last year. So now, we don't have a movie tie-in to push us to do that, which we still probably should do at some point, is get that collection out. With the couple of short stories I've written that would go in there that we're not gonna necessarily publish somewhere else. Though I did tell you guys, I am sending them out under a false name to see if I can get any magazines to pick them up. It's going to happen eventually; I don't know when. There's some new, cool talks that are happening around Snapshot, which is the most movie-friendly of the things for the non-Cosmere collection. We will see.
I know, for instance, in Spain, they want to take Defending Elysium, which is tied to the Skyward books, and do a Spanish translation of that, in conjunction with a Skyward book, so that might be happening. But I'm not sure how that's going to end up working.
This schedule for me does not include any little side novellas that I decide to write, or side short stories. It leaves some wiggle room, but not a lot, for me to do something like that. So we'll have to see. If some Secret Project pops up on the progress bars, you will know that I have felt too constrained by the schedule I have set for myself and have started writing something else. That hasn't happened in a little while, but it totally could happen. I think the last one of those was the Wizards of the Coast story, where I just had to write that.
I will feel bad if the [Dawnshard] ebook isn't out by the time that Stormlight Four is. You don't have to have read that before this one; it's not hugely integrated, because it's about Rysn. But there are some things that happen, that you'll get to Book Four and be like, "Wait a minute, wait a minute. They're mentioning a trip to Aimia. What happened there?" That the novella would help you with. And then, when you get to the Rysn interlude in this book (which is a little different from previous Rysn interludes), I wrote it in such a way as to not spoil the novella, in case people hadn't read it yet. And so it's a very different sort of interlude. But you would appreciate having read the novella when you get to it, I suspect.
Will [Dawnshard] be available to buy in hardcover later?
Yeah, it should be. We are probably only going to print for the Kickstarter, starting. As part of the Kickstarter, you get the ebook; everybody gets that. And then those who have ordered it will get the print book. I assume we'll have hardcovers on our store for sale. I assume we'll print enough that we can have some for sale.
One warning I'll make to you is that if I do an Arcanum Unbounded 2, we would put this as one of the anchor stories in that. So if you prefer to collect them in physical form in the collections, you can get the ebook now as part of the Kickstarter, and then you could wait for the physical form until later to get it in the collection. But we do have these nice ones that'll match the Edgedancer hardcover, if you'd rather have nice little hardcovers on your shelf. And my guess is that we'll do a printing with Tor as well to have bookstore distribution.
There probably will be an audiobook of it. My guess is that we would do an audiobook first, just of it, and then we would eventually do an audiobook of the full Arcanum Unbounded 2. If and when I end up writing that. The thing about Arcanum Unbounded 1, I had a bunch of stories waiting to be published in that. This would be the first, I think, new Cosmere story since Arcanum Unbounded. So it's probably a number of years away before we would get to a number 2. There will be a collection someday, I would bet; but I have to write a bunch more stories to go in it, first.
I will start writing [Dawnshard] on Monday. I'm almost through with my revision of Songs of the Dead. Takes a lot less time for me to do a revision on that, because basically instead of fixing problems, because I'm co-authoring with Peter Orullian, I get to say, "This is working. Maybe change this to be like this." And give Peter the chance to make the changes. The book is looking really good, this last revision.
I thought a lot about the title for this one, because I wanted to fit with the other two: Edgedancer, and Horneater (which I will write). So I was thinking I need some sort of classic Brandon mashup word. For a while, I was thinking of calling it Wandersail, because Rysn's ship is the Wandersail, but I thought that would be duplicitous because the story has nothing to do with the story Wandersail, from Hoid's stories. And in fact, I'm more and more thinking that I want to do some picture book versions of Hoid's stories that would make nice read-alouds, and I would call one of those Wandersail. So I'm like, this is just a bad title for this book.
So, I thought I would dig into instead one of the things that we were talking about in the book, which is the Dawnshards. So, it is named Dawnshard. For those who are deep lore cosmerenauts and are wondering about the Dawnshards, we are going to talk about them in this novella. So, yes, we will be going to Aimia.
Right now, Rysn, probably Lopen as a secondary viewpoint character is my guess. But I haven't written it yet, so I have to see how the viewpoints work out.
All right, so most of you were probably expecting this one to appear sometime today--and here it is. The Previous Update can be found here. As I announced over social media this weekend, I have finished the final draft of Book Four. Rhythm of War is finally done. (Or, rather, my part is done. At least for the prose text of the book. See below.)
I finished the revisions on Saturday, and then today wrote the ketek and the back of the book text. (The in-world text. Tor does the marketing blurb.) The only thing I have left to do is the acknowledgements, plus the ars arcanum. The bulk of the work left to be done will be handled by Peter, my editorial director, who will oversee the copyedit (which is like a really in-depth proofread that also watches for style guide changes and things like in-book continuity) and the proofreads. In addition, Art Director Isaac will be finalizing the artwork done by himself and his artists. (Including Ben, who now works for us full time. He usually drops by the comments to say hi.)
Peter/Isaac's work will take several months to complete, and then the book will be sent separately to the US, UK, and Australian printers for English Language distribution. Excitingly, for the first time, we're hoping to do a simultaneous Spanish launch for the book, and my Spanish publisher has been putting a lot of extra effort into trying to make this happen. So if you live in Spain, and meet my team over there--translator, editor, etc--buy them a drink. They've been putting in some heroic work to try to get this beast of a novel ready in time.
I can't promise timelines for other foreign language editions; but if the Spanish experiment works, we will approach some of our other publishers to suggest trying the same thing with them.
Other random updates of note. The tour seems likely to go digital at this point because of the virus. We'll keep you in the loop. (This will likely include the release party.) Goal is to ship huge cases of books for me to sign so we can get them to partner bookstores for a signed launch, with talks/readings done digitally. Don't consider this an official confirmation of that yet, though. Tor is the one working it out, and we'll need to wait for them to figure out the details.
The kickstarter has been...well, a little crazy. We're in the process of adding new stretch goals; if you didn't see today's update over there, it has a poll of suggested new stretch goal rewards for you to mull over.
So, what's next for me? This week, I'm doing a quick revision of Songs of the Dead, the book-formely-known-as-death-by-pizza, which I'm writing with Peter Orullian. I plan this to take about a week. After that, I'm going to dive into the kickstarter novella, the official title of which I believe we'll be announcing tomorrow.
After that is done, I owe Skyward 3 to my very patient YA publisher, who has been sitting in the wings waiting for eighteen months or so for me to start it. Wax and Wayne 4 will follow, with my goal being to start it January 1st. Skyward 4 (the final book of that series) will follow starting about a year from now. After that, it will be time (already) for Stormlight 5, final book of this sequence of Stormlight novels. (Whew!) That will mark roughly the halfway point of the cosmere.
Thanks, as always, for your patience as I juggle all of these projects. Also, I'll be doing another livestream this Thursday, where I'll be chatting more about the kickstarter and this book (we keep it non-spoiler, so don't worry.)
I'll be turning off inbox replies to this thread, as usual, so I apologize if I don't see your questions here.
With that, I officially conclude my Book Four updates series. Expect to see me back in around eighteen months, January 2022, when I start updates for Book Five. (I do plan to do updates for Mistborn on that subreddit when I start the fourth Wax and Wayne. So if you're really hungry for more rambling posts about in-progress books, you can visit there.)
As always, thanks for everything. You folks are great. It's been quite the pleasure working on these books for you.
You've said that Darro, from Aether of Night, will be appearing in the Nightblood novel. Will he be appearing as a worldhopper (presumably from the Aether planet) or as a transplanted character, similar to how you've said Dalinar was in Dragonsteel before being moved to Stormlight?
And (probably entering RAFO territory) if he is a worldhopper, will he have a functional Amberite in the Nightblood novel?
It's a RAFO, as mostly I just haven't decided on a lot of things about this novel yet.
If it helps, my instinct is just to make him a local, as the Aether planet (though canon because of things in Stormlight) isn't one I've completely finished worldbuilding yet.
Who bullies whom: Jasnah or Cadsuane?
I would like to think that Jasnah and Cadsuane would very quickly determine that they should have mutual respect for one another and keep to their own spheres. They would meet, they would turn around, and they would walk the other way from each other and go on bullying other people.
In a Google video you once made, you talked about how you never knew Robert Jordan. You knew his family, friends, world, and characters; but not him. You wrote the end of his life's work. That juggernaut that is and was The Wheel of Time.
In The Emperor's Soul, Shai had to build up something new from journal entries from the Emperor as well as pieces from her to make what she thought was a better man. Long question short, is this analogy baseless? Or do you in some way see The Wheel of Time as your Emperor's Soul?
You know, there's an interesting connection there that I'd never thought about before, reconstructing the person from the lore of their life, rather than themselves. Where that falls apart is, I still maintain (and I doubt there's much contention on this point) that Robert Jordan could have done a better job of his ending than I did. This is in the definition, right? I couldn't reconstruct...
The whole goal of The Emperor's Soul is that she's creating a work of art that replaces the original, but in many ways is superior to the original. I don't think I did that. But I did have that experience of trying to recreate, in some ways, Robert Jordan from all the pieces, all the lore, all the ephemera.
So I love that you've made that connection, and I certainly think there's something there. But I don't know that the metaphor sticks in the large scale.
Can you talk a little bit about Dark One? Anything else that's going on here?
We are working on the audio version. We're doing it as an audio original, the actual prose version. I don't know when that will happen. Probably with that one, I'm gonna do it with Dan Wells, is most likely what's gonna happen. He and I together.
Television show, there's been no movement that I really know about. Joe Straczynski did email me a little while ago, talking about when he thought he was gonna have the pilot script ready, and things like that. There's still some progress there. Actually, he did send us the pilot, didn't he? He sent us the first draft of the pilot. That I did read, so I do know he sent it. But, basically, it's TV. Things are working along; it's coming along slowly. Who knows. If they start filming, I'll go out and and enjoy. Joe Michael Straczynski is a blast; he is quite the character, and I have loved chatting with him and going out to dinner with him. He knows his stuff. The show will be his thing. I will be involved, but gotta let the showrunner make the show that they want to do.
In Warbreaker, you dealt delicately with sex and sexuality, especially in the first half. How did you find that line of what was appropriate and what wasn't, especially given the culture of sex in the region in which you live?
With Warbreaker, with all of my books, basically I'm thinking less about the culture in which I live and more with my own personal lines on these sorts of things. And I've constantly said, and I still believe, that one can write mature fiction without graphic content. That is what I like to try to do. And Warbreaker is, in part, an attempt to explore where I would want to go with these themes and ideas, and a book where I was expressly not being explicit, but also going further across lines than I normally went, to see... "across lines" is probably the wrong term. Going further along a path. Because I don't think, really, that I have lines. I have paths I go on, and at some point, I'm like "This is as far as I want to go on this path." And it's not like I draw some line in the sand, it's just my own gut instinct. With Warbreaker, I just wrote what I was comfortable writing, and maybe even pushed myself a little further and said, "Am I comfortable with this or not?" as I was writing and I thought, "No, this is dealing with the topic in a mature way that I like" and it worked for me. It was an experiment and kind of a give-and-take, but every book that I write is that to one extent or another. This is just one of the areas that I was focusing on when I wrote Warbreaker.
What makes fantasy creatures good and how do you go about creating them?
I try to build mine from the ecology of the world of the world I'm building. I try to extrapolate from that and this is just because I have this sort of "one foot in fantasy, one foot in science" approach to writing the cosmere in particular. And because of that, I want the flora and the fauna to feel integrated with the world that they're on and to be interesting in that aspect. Obviously, I have not done this in most books to the extent that I did in Stormlight. But one of the fun things for me to do is to ask, "What have I changed about this world? What would that do to the ecology?". What do I look for other than that? I want something that's visually interesting. I want something that'll draw well. I want something that'll not just be what I've seen before and that will be a nice take on what I've seen before. That's the thing, I mentioned before: human creativity is about recombining things in interesting ways. That's how we seem to work. We don't come up something we've never seen before, we put a horn on something we've seen before and call it something new, which is cool. We're remixers, is what we're really good at doing. And I ask myself, "What can I remix that I haven't seen remixed before?"
How much do you have to show about the past of your characters in a flashback?
There are no rules. There's nothing you have to do. Flashbacks, though, they can be great, they can be a minefield. Let me talk about some of the minefield aspects of a flashback.
First is, you're gonna have to decide how you're gonna do your flashbacks, because there are a lot of different ways. I do my flashbacks in The Stormlight Archive as a separate narrative line and basically we have multiple timelines in the books, where you're getting a character's timeline catching them up to the start of The Way of Kings. This works very well in an epic fantasy because I have lots of space and I can separate these chapters off that are flashback chapters completely on their own and they can be isolated. More common, the type of flashbacks you'll see from a lot of people is the "stop and think about it" flashback, and then cut to a new scene and you are seeing actively what the character's remembering at that time. This is the Lost method, the TV show Lost, a lot of television shows and movies use this, and they actively show the character thinking about it. I rarely do this. Once in a while, in The Stormlight Archive, you'll see a character start to tell a story about their past, and I'll make it a line with the next flashback chapter that you're going to get, but really what's happening is a character's telling another person a really shortened version of events, because when you're getting the flashbacks, it's actually not a flashback, the characters thinking about it, that's a separate timeline.
Another way to do it is the kind of, in the middle of a chapter, you're not doing a scene break, you're just flashing back to what happened, and there it gets tricky with tense. Tense can be really a challenge with this. The "I had done this" or whatnot, or if you're not gonna use the tense, it can get really confusing if you're not gonna do a tense change, you're just gonna put that past tense too, both of which are viable, I've seen them done very well. But those in-scene flashbacks can get really "tell-y" and really hard for readers to track and kind of uninteresting for them to read. The danger with any flashback -- this is the one that has the most trouble -- is that the reader will feel like the story is not progressing and instead they're wasting time doing something else and that they're not interested in attaching to this. And this is a challenge even with The Stormlight Archive ones. There are people who just do not attach to the flashback sequences, because they are, by nature of their story, prequels. And that's a challenge of writing them.
What do you gain? Why would you do this? Well, it's a really cool way to build motivation for your character, depth for your character, and to show a different place and time in your story so that you can show how much has changed. We talk about show versus tell, and you can use a flashback to show a character's changes quite dramatically in this manner. You can also get information to the reader in ways that would've been really "tell-y" otherwise. Sometimes, flashbacks are really "tell-y". And when I say "tell-y", they're boring, because they're infodumps and they're just giving you a whole bunch of information. A lot of times, if you do a flashback right, it feels more active and more interesting way to get the same information across to the reader, rather than having the character sit and explain about their lives to people, you just get to experience and see it. But that's just one tool, right, and like all of them, gauge for your own story if this tool is going to enhance the story you're trying to tell or if it's something that you should save for a different story.
How is the Mistborn screenplay going? What's it like adapting your own work from over a decade ago?
I've been running the screenplay through my writing group, and they've got some great feedback. The biggest challenge right now with the screenplay is actually with Vin's character. This is because a lot of what you get to know about Vin in the course of Mistborn is really internally motivated. She's actually pretty quiet, rather shy for someone who does what she does. And keeps a lot of her emotions and thoughts close to her heart. That is hard to show in a screenplay. And really difficult to pull off in an action/adventure screenplay, where you need people to be moving and things like this. And the danger is having Vin come across as just an Artful Dodger. As this confident street thief. Which was the first version of Vin that I wrote, trying to pull of in the books and then failed. This is just one chapter, before I wrote the book. She was kind of your more generic street thief, your Aladdin, your Artful Dodger. And Vin didn't work that way. It, partially, was too generic. Not that those characters are generic; they've just been genericized, they've been done so much. So I tried this other version, this non-self-confident version of Vin that had this really interesting dynamic going on inside of her about wanting to trust, but not being sure if she could. And that really made the book work. Getting that across in the screenplay: super hard. So that's been the challenge.
Fitting it into screenplay format has actually not been hard. I haven't written the screenplay yet; this is all in the treatment stage.
How is it adapting something that I wrote over ten years ago now? It's actually been, in some ways, liberating. Because I have enough distance from it, I can see structurally the things that I can change, I think, easier than if I'd been closer to it. But also a little bit hard, because it is something so long ago, I have to keep going back to the book and reading sections of the book and reminding myself of things that I wrote in the book. Like, the scene where Vin and Elend meet is one of my favorite scenes in the book, but I still had to go back and reread that scene to get it into the treatment, because I had forgotten the actual dialogue cues, and things like that.
So, yeah, it's a challenge, but it's also liberating.
You said earlier that Rhythm of War includes a key sequence that you have envisioned for years. How does it feel to have captured the sequence? And are you personally happy with the result?
Feels great to finally write that sequence. And now that the beta reads are in, I can say the sequence works. Really, really pleased. Really happy that it came together. There were other things that needed to change, but that one worked. There almost have been no edits or revisions to that whole sequence through all the drafts. I've been planning it for so long. It's one of those things that I wrote, and it was as I imagined it, and it came together. And you will be able to read it in Part Five of Rhythm of War.
I wonder if you got the inspiration for Doomslug's character from your parrot Magellan?
I wrote Doomslug before i had Magellan. However, I have had pet birds since I was a kid. I love parrots. Other people are dog people or cat people; I am a parrot person. So, I basically always had a parrot. There was a period in my life where the kids were young that my cockatiel Beaker went to live with my mom because the kids were tormenting him. Now they're old enough, and they're afraid enough of Magellan that we can have a parrot again. So, parrot behavior influences a lot of how I treat animal behavior because of that. So, yes.
Maybe talking about your process about picking chapter titles for the Stormlight books?
It's been really fun. I wouldn't say I really pick them, because the betas come up with a fantastic list of possibilities, and Peter has a lot of say about what really fits. But with... did I start in Words of Radiance? In Words of Radiance, I think, it was just Brandon and Peter were both just too busy. And so I got on the beta document and looked at everyone's suggestions, and kind of skimmed back. Because I'd read the book before; but I skimmed back through the chapters and chose a chapter title that would fit.
And it's been really fun to be involved in that way. Both to see the test audience reactions and... I get impatient, and as soon as Brandon will let me, I read the whole book. So when I choose chapter titles, I reread it again more slowly, and you always get different things out of it when you read it slowly.
What Order do you belong to? What Order does Emily belong to?
I got (and I can't remember which one was on top and which one was second, but they were very close) Elsecaller and Bondsmith. Which are the places I would have sorted myself. That's when I knew the test was doing a good job.
And my top is Bondsmith. I don't remember what my second one was.
Will you ever consider writing a TenSoon or kandra book or series?
I could see doing a novella. Will there be a full series? There are way too many full-series things that need to happen already in the Cosmere. Chances that you get kandra viewpoints in upcoming books or that you get a novella, is much higher than an actual book series. That said, there's also the experiment we're planning to do; we're having Isaac write some Cosmere stuff. It's gonna start as graphic novels and things like that. Isaac has been in this from the very beginning, and he's one of the few people I would trust to do Cosmere stuff. Maybe Isaac will do this.
You asked the question, and I wrote a note down here. Because we're playing with Mistborn stuff. Knowing what people are interested in seeing might spur something cool.
I got a really cool kandra character that I'm waiting to slot into a book eventually that's going to be a lot of fun when I can find a spot for him.
How do you decide what scenes get depicted in the books?
With the Alcatraz books, I read it, I would fill out a list. The editor read it and filled out a list of different scenes that we would want. And then the artist would do that, as well. And then we would discuss and kind of narrow it down from there.
On these leatherbound books, I will usually approach an artist, and I may have a scene in mind. If the artist is already a fan, I will ask them, "Are there any scenes that you particularly like?" And we'll go from there. But I can't do that with every artist, because they all want to paint Dalinar freeing the slaves, things like that.
Beyond that, I start looking at moments that haven't been depicted before, but ought to be depicted. One of the examples in this one was Navani's painting of the thath glyph. We hadn't seen that done before. (And of course, about the same time, Brotherwise was doing their own version of it, as well. So ours and theirs came out at the same time, and they're both fantastic. Another one of those that's like that is, we had Micah Epstein paint the Heralds leaving their swords behind. And then Brotherwise also did a fantastic rendition of that, using our canonical Blade designs, which turned out really nice, as well. And it was so cool to see the same scene, painted in different ways by different artists.) But that's one of the things I do. And of course, there are these candy bar moments that you want to show somehow in the book.
One of the challenges with these books is that we already had, like, thirty pieces of art in them, in the form of grayscale pieces. For these books, they're two-color pieces. The same artwork that is in the other one; there is one replacement. You'll know which one it is. We'll talk about that one. We do have a few new ones. Ben McSweeney did a Sadeas's bridges piece. I think this is one that we probably should have had in the original book, anyway. We also, in the trade paperback of the Way of Kings, Ben did a piece of the cryptics. And we have taken that and added that into this one as a canonical piece by Shallan. And then we have a replacement for one of the old pieces.
That's sort of the process. I also go to Brandon and say, "Hey, are there any scenes you want to see? If there's something that he feels really strongly about, then we find somebody to do that. So, it's kind of approaching it from all these different angles., and then narrowing it down. Because there's always more pieces than we have time or funds to do. Or even space.
As we said, we're not gonna do Kickstarters for most of our leatherbounds. But we will probably do one for Words of Radiance.
How intertwined are the two halves of The Stormlight Archive? Will you need to read the first half to know what's happening in the second half? If you read the first half, will you need to read the second half to get that sense that the story has come to an end?
I've never done something like this before. They are less intertwined than, say, Mistborn Two and Three. But maybe equivalent intertwined to Mistborn, as Mistborn is intertwined to Mistborn Two and Three, if that makes sense. It depends. Maybe even a little less than that, actually.
I think that you are going to want to view them as one big series of ten books. And we are going to come to an ending, and there will be some very satisfying things about it. But it's definitely going to be a promise there is more to come. I've never done anything quite like this. Less final than Mistborn Three, certainly.
So, I don't know. I didn't think anyone would read the Wax and Wayne books without reading the first ones, but I get emails all the time from people who started with those because those are the ones that appealed to them. I think you could start with Book Six of The Stormlight Archive, and it wouldn't feel strange. I think it would be harder to stop with Book Five, if that makes sense. Of those two options. But it's all gonna depend on your personal preferences, and things like that.
It's an excellent question. Plus, I haven't written the fifth book yet, and that's gonna inform a lot. These things change and morph as I'm going; every one of them does. So, who knows. I can explain better after Book Five is done.
If we do more of these sort of books in the future [like Way of Kings Prime], they'll all look nice on the shelf next to each other. We're calling them "Sanderson Curiosities."
Theoretically, our Stormlight Kickstarters, we'll add on things like a copy of White Sand Prime. Or a copy of Dragonsteel. Or these sorts of things. That are those books I wrote before I got published, the ones that are still good, but we've never done anything with. If you want the ultimate curiosity, then having all of these unpublished books on your shelf, you can get them this way.
The Bulgarian cover for Rhythm of War is the result of a contest. Despite how great Michael Whelan's covers are, would you ever consider such a contest for an American Stormlight Archive edition? If not Stormlight, maybe any other series?
It would be very hard for me to not have a Michael Whelan cover (you guys know me and Michael Whelan stuff) for Stormlight Archive.
For anything else, I could imagine that happening. Thing about it is that, in a market as big as the United States, it seems like it would be a tougher sell, both to the marketing market. And to an extent, it's a little bit... not "insulting," but imagine being an artist who's worked their whole life, and then we're like, "Yeah, we're gonna open this to a contest to people, instead." Just doesn't work the same way. So, I would be hard-pressed to imagine that happening in the States. There are so many fantastic illustrators earning their livings doing these covers, that asking people to submit free covers?
It works in Bulgaria because they have a very small print run. They are a small country. They do a thousand copies of a lot of the things. And they engage the fan community, and I think it's wonderful, and I think it's delightful what they did. And I was fully approving it. But it just doesn't feel like the right thing to do here. Where we have a huge budget, right? Like, that's the difference. In Bulgaria, they can't pay very much for a cover. I mean, they don't pay me very much for the books. That's okay. But here, we have an actual art budget. And that's what employs professional artists, a lot of them; that's where they earn a living.
You mentioned previously that you regret making Vin the only woman in Kelsier's crew. Is that something you're planning to change in the Mistborn screenplay?
It is; I actually already did it. Both Dox and Ham are female in the screenplay. And actually, Ham in particular works really well as a woman, because one of the things that I wanted to do was play with Vin's conceptions of how a thieving crew works, because she worked in bad ones, and not understanding how a great team can work. So I have a great scene where she misinterprets everybody's job in the crew from glancing at them, making a quick judgement, and saying "Well this person's this, this person's this." And the only one she gets right is Spook. It works so well.
Like, in the book, I can take pages and pages to show you, "This is how this crew is different from ones you might have read and ones that Vin has been part of." And in this, the movie, you need to have scenes do a lot of heavy duty lifting, multiple things at the same time. So in this scene, Vin can do that, and then we understand her judgement of why she said all these things, and then Kelsier can be like, "No. That right there is our Thug," pointing at Dockson [Ham], who is now a shorter woman. And with the powers of Allomancy, doesn't matter. And it becomes kind of a big moment, both for the audience and for Vin to understand "things are different here."
I do have to warn you, there isn't a lot of time in the screenplay for the crew. If I'm gonna do this as a film... Which it's not set in stone; it's possible that I'll move to a show. But right now, what I'm planning is: film, television show for Well of Ascension, film. Which means that mostly in the first film, it is focused on Vin, Kelsier, Sazed, and Elend. That's gotta be the core of our film. With Shan as an antagonist. And that's the movie. And I can't spend as much time with each of the crew members, like I did. But what we can do is, we can then move into Well of Ascension as a show, and with that being a show really show the crew and the things they're doing. And kind of write a heist with the crew where the crew is trying to heist keeping the kingdom from collapsing. A thieving crew has been put in charge of a city; let's see if they can keep this empire going. And I think that will work really well in television show format. And that's where we can get into some the things with OreSeur and TenSoon and character arcs for some of the crew members, really get to know Ham and Breeze and everybody.
That's the big cost by doing it in a film. That's the thing you're gonna have to understand, as it becomes really Vin and Kelsier's story. And I think it's gonna work. I think it is great. But if it doesn't, we do have the option of just doing a television show. Which I know a lot of you would rather see; I just see Mistborn as a film. I've always seen it as a feature film. So I'm hoping I can make it work.
If Earth had two or three Shards, what would they be?
That is not something that I feel confident answering right now. So let's RAFO that one. Maybe I'll think about it, but I honestly don't know.
Will there be a greatsword (montante style) in Stormlight Four, or does the longsword still get all the love?
I am probably changing that. The scene I rewrote today, there was a greatsword added to. So you can look forward to it. I'm gonna try it out; it's possible that I'll trim it out. But I'm going with it for now. I thought you made some very good arguments along those lines.
And for those wondering, most of Shad's arguments are along the lines of "Wouldn't this be awesome?" And he sees things the same way I do in a lot of ways of "Let's do what's cool, and then make it work."
Had the Stormfather sent visions to Jasnah instead of Dalinar, how would that have changed her?
That's an excellent question. I think that Jasnah and the Stormfather would not be a terribly great match. But I think her coming to understand a very powerful spren like the Stormfather and seeing all of this, I think it would have really helped Jasnah build her philosophy of life. Because, what's going on in the cosmere, is that the gods are lowercase-g gods, right? And this is a really fascinating thing that I like when fantasy deals with. I'm certainly not the only one. But at what point do you worship a being who is pretty flawed, but super powerful and able to help you in your life? And what kind of worship is that, right?
There's a level between atheism and theism in fantasy works, where it's like, "We can see that someone legitimately has supernatural powers, and following that person makes some logical sense. But does that make them God?" Certainly not as the church teaches, where there is a perfect being who is concerned with the lives of people and doesn't make mistakes.
So I think Jasnah would have arrived at some of the conclusions that she made, probably, faster if she had had these visions to see the past. She would have known some things that she was suspicious of and hoped would be the case. She probably could have gotten to Urithiru much faster. It would have made a big difference in a lot of different ways. But it was not a good match, let's say. She was not the person the Stormfather was looking for for these sorts of things, to continue the legacy of Honor and things like this.
Can you talk about your influence for Steris?
I remember one of the things that really inspired me for Steris is actually Karen Ahlstrom, who is my continuity editor. Karen once was at a writing group talking about how she loves character who are like her, who always are ready. The person who saves that scrap. People call them hoarders, and in her head, she's like, "No no no. A hoarder is someone who doesn't know what they have or why they have it. I have this thing that I have saved. So I know I'm gonna need it someday." And someone's gonna say, "Man, I wish I had a cape for a seven-year-old that would go with this costume." And Karen is the person who says, "I've got one of those. Here, let me get it for you." Karen just loves being prepared to help people. And I thought, that is a brilliant and amazing character attribute to give to a character. The kind of Boy Scout "be prepared," but more in a "I'm ready to help. I do the research, I find out what people, and I am ready there with it. Maybe a little too much."
And that really melded together with seeing her personality. She is based partially on a friend of mine who, when I first met this friend, it was very off-putting at first, getting to know them. What we took for being stuck-up was really just them being a little socially awkward, like most of us in this community are. But the way a lot of us express it is through being kind of goofy. And this person expressed it through being a little bit aloof. Which, when we got to know this person, we're like, "Wow. This is one of the most amazing people we've ever know." But very hard to get to know them, because mostly of us, our own prejudices against people who are a little more quiet. So, I put that into Steris.
Does a metal need to be swallowed to be burned? Or can it be injected or snorted?
It could be either of those two things. Yes. Basically, metal into the body in any way is going to work, generally. There's nothing magical about the stomach, even though it works the best when we talk about it. It's just more intermixing the nature of the metal with your soul in the cosmere, your Spiritual entity, is what gives them that ability.
When coming up with the powers of the Metallic Arts, was there a magical effect you wanted to include but couldn't, for whatever reason? And what power would you have added if you could?
The one I most wanted to get was steelpushing and ironpulling. The others are all based around the things that I thought a gang of thieves would use. And that's the one that I'm just like, "This is cool. I'm gonna make this work. I'm gonna fit it in."
There weren't any powers that I really wanted that I couldn't fit in. There are a lot of powers I considered and didn't get around to. Like, there is often a disguise artist in a thieving crew. But I knew Lightweaving was gonna be a big part of the cosmere. (Even back then I had written Dragonsteel, which had Lightweaving in it, and I was contemplating using that in Stormlight.) And I thought, "Too much disguise/illusion, too many uses of Lightweaving, is gonna become a problem."
Plus, the moment you add that to a story, it does things to the story. From then on, you have to be playing weird espionage games. Which I like, don't get me wrong, but it changes the tone of things when anyone could be someone wearing a different face. So I just didn't put that into the books. I did a little bit of that with the kandra, in order to make a nod toward that, but I put some really strict requirements on it so that I could use it in the second book the way that I did. The kandra were designed for this; they weren't in the original (I don't believe) version of Mistborn before I came up with this story.
Who would win: Dalinar with his Shards, or Szeth in Stormlight?
Young Dalinar with his Shards, Dalinar in his prime versus Szeth? I think, long run, Szeth wins. The reason for this being, Stormlight is just an unfair advantage. You take away the Honorblade from Szeth and Dalinar does win. Szeth is good. But Szeth doesn't have experience with Plate nearly as much. He has been trained almost exclusively on Honorblades and Surges. His fighting styles are all built around them. He is an expert at using Surges, but if he doesn't have those, he's got nothing. Dalinar is good at a lot of different fighting styles, has been in war a ton, and even if he didn't have Plate and you put the two of them without powers against each other, Dalinar's probably going to win. But if Szeth has an Honorblade... being able to heal and being able to fly, these are two almost insurmountable advantages in a one-on-one combat.
Do the Purelakers get pruney feet because of the water? If not, is it because they have special feet or does it have to do with the magic fish?
They have adapted over time and they do not have magic feet. They have special feet, but they have adapted over time to the situation. Now, let's make the note that most natural selection does not work on the timescale of the cosmere and so there probably have to be some magical foundations for this. The fact that everyone on Roshar is Invested with a bit of Investiture more than average is going to push people over time in a way. Kind of the rationale I give myself on this is because Intent and these sorts of things are so important cosmerelogically that we get evolution on a faster scale in most of the cosmere. And so you can see this just by adaptations that have happened since the history of Roshar itself and the arrival of humans on Roshar and things like that.
For the Shards of Adonalsium, which are basically the deities of the cosmere, I have picked things like Odium, Ruin, and Preservation, to be words that are really easy to... they mean something, you understand exactly what they are, there's going to be sixteen of them, so trying to remember all sixteen different names if they weren't something like that is going to be really hard. It makes it easier to keep which is which, it has an ominous feel to them, and they regionalize, translate into other languages really easily. So that's what I've done.
Was utilitarianism the inspiration or part of the inspiration for Taravangian?
Is there a particular subgenre of fantasy or sci-fi that you would like to tackle in the future?
Well, I do know what I am going to be tackling in the future, and it's this sort of... I don't know if there's a good name for it. A lot of people call it magepunk. I don't know that I like that as much. It's this fusion of fantasy elements and science fiction elements. As I move the cosmere more towards science fiction, it's moving more toward space opera science fiction. I love The Fifth Element. One of the things I love about The Fifth Element is this idea of this space religion. That kind of throwback fantasy religion mashed up with far future science fiction is so much fun to me. This is what we love about Star Wars, right? It's the everything-but-right-now. All the past stuff that's cool, all the future stuff that's cool. Now, do this poorly and it can feel like it's a story that's just throwing everything and the kitchen sink at you. What I'm hoping I'll be able to do is have realistic extrapolations, where things that aren't present in our world are natural to be present in the future of the cosmere. But I do like that idea, I do like when magic becomes the foundation for science fiction. Other than that, subgenres of fantasy that I would like to tackle, what haven't I tackled that I would like to try some time... I don't know. I haven't really done a true Weird West. Wax and Wayne kind of touches on that, but I haven't done what I would consider a real authentic Weird West story. That I could totally see as being something that I do in the future. Maybe if anyone thinks of cool ones, they can put them in the chat and we can throw those out.
A question for SanderMom. Which character of Brandon's do you think is most like you?
I would guess that Navani is a combination of you and Emily. And Navani is very like you. Very pragmatic, very "I'm gonna see things get done." There's probably a bit of you in Navani, I would say, for sure.
Any time an accountant shows up in my books, you can guess where that came from. People have pointed out there a suspicious number of accountants in my books.
Did you do any research into the Knights Templar when you were preparing to write about the Radiants?
Yes and no. I find the Knights Templar fascinating, and I've often read about them and been interested in them. When I was coming up with the Knights Radiant, the origins of them didn't have... I didn't even call them the Knights Radiant in the first draft, the first version of Way of Kings. So some of these connections that now seem pretty clear with the ancient order that has fallen away and is being restored, and even the titling, didn't really exist in the early ones. I would say they're there in the back of my brain, certainly, and would be an unconscious influence. But a lot of the things that you might say, "Hey, these came from the Knights Templar," didn't. But were more of a parallel evolution sort of thing as I figured out what I wanted the Knights Radiant to be.
Can you talk a little bit about why you changed Khriss's personality so much between the White Sand prose and the White Sand graphic novel?
I felt that the biggest weakness to a lot of my early writing (this encompasses White Sand, Dragonsteel, and Elantris) is that my worldbuilding was really working, my magic systems were really coming together, and my characters were flat and kind of boring. And this early work of mine, I look at and there's a lot of external conflict to characters.
And it works in Elantris. Raoden is a bit boring, compared to some of my other characters. But he has an enormous external conflict to deal with, and that actually kind of works. There are lots of movies, I mentioned Mission Impossible earlier. Like Tom Cruise's character in those: not the most interesting character. But he doesn't have to be, because in fact it would probably make the movies worse if you spent a lot of time on that. That's not what those movies are about. So if you have lots of tension and lots of external conflict, then you can have a character who doesn't change as much, who doesn't go through big character arcs and things. And it's not just fine; it's a selling point of the story. It's just a different type of story.
But the problem with mine is, they were all kind of the same person. They're all kind of the same level of boring in a lot of my early works. And so, when we approached the graphic novel version, one of the things I wanted to do was see if I can liven up the characters a little, if I can make them more like I would write them now. And that's what happened with basically all the changes in White Sand were attempts to do that: make the story more like I write right now. And I'm pleased with those changes.
The only thing I don't like about White Sand is, as we were new into doing this, we did not get the worldbuilding across in a visual medium the way we wanted to. I don't think that the worldbuilding made the leap. And we're trying to fix that with future things that we're doing. We're hoping that we can play to the strengths of graphic novels and not have them lose some of the coolness. Some of the things that were working in the White Sand prose didn't make the jump to the graphic novel as well as we wanted them to.
You mentioned in a previous stream that you envision the three Era 1 books as a movie, TV series, and another movie, respectively. Do you have an idea for what subsequent eras would look like in another medium?
Wax and Wayne is a television show. Straight-up, that's how I envisioned it. I've only started to think of Era 1 as movie/television show/movie as I've worked on the screenplay and seen that the second book, pacing-wise, works so much better as a television show. So that's how I started to envision that. I've always envisioned Wax and Wayne as a television show.
Era 3. I have to write. I have to see how Era 3 turns out. As I've told you before, I envisioned them as Mistborn spy thrillers. Mistborn Tom Clancy, Mistborn Mission Impossible kind of mashup sort of things. So, they're probably going to be paced and plotted more cinematically, which would mean features.
I know a lot of people talk about animation, and that's totally on our radar for some of these things. There's cool things happening in animation right now. I actually was talking with my people and saying, "Do you think we can get anyone on board for the idea of a Reckoners animated show?" Because I think that would be awesome. So, it's totally on our radar. It's things we're thinking about doing. And I imagine it will happen for some of our properties going forward.
A lot of people ask me about video games. We tried for years on Mistborn with a really great group of people who I still really like, Little Orbit and Matt Scott. Just top-notch folks. They treated me great, they treated the property great. But it just didn't come together. Video games are such a hard world.
Can you talk a little bit about the inspiration of Wayne, and if that was perhaps based off someone you know?
The fun story about Wayne, the beginnings of Alloy of Law were a short story that I wrote where Wayne was the protagonist, and MeLaan was his trusty steed in a horse's body. It was a guy who put on different hats to change personalities, riding into a small town in the Roughs, talking to his horse. Who, then, at the end of the first scene, talked back to him. It was a fun scene. It was way too weird. After I finished that scene, I'm like, "This guy is great. But this guy needs someone else to play off of. And it can't be his talking horse, because this story is just too out there."
Why did I start writing that story? The initial idea is a person who changes personalities based on hats. You put on a hat, and it lets you kind of have a focus for your acting, to get into a role and become someone. That was really fun to me. In fact, in the original story, he was a hatmaker. He was a haberdasher. And he understood people by the headgear that they like.
Which, if gonna be honest and trace it back, probably goes back to Thrawn. I love Thrawn, from the original Star Wars books by Timothy Zahn. And Thrawn was somebody who would look at the art that a culture produces and use that to come to understand them in ways that he could then use to conquer them. Which was just always so cool to me. Like, that's one of the coolest villain concepts, is this art appreciation villain who really gets to know a culture by studying their art, and then crushes them and dominates them. Just wonderful. I'm always kind of looking for characters who see the world in an interesting way. That's probably it. I don't think I was thinking that when I came up with Wayne.
But then, Wayne needed someone to bounce off against. Wayne needed a straight man, so to speak. And he just wasn't working. So that's when I started plotting Alloy of Law, the actual novel. The short story did not become the novel. The short story taught me that there was enough there that I was interested in that I really wanted to tell a story in this era. And it told me that there's something about this character that's gonna work if I can find the right vehicle to include them in a story.
That's our origins of Wayne. I think I can probably also look at the Sherlock Holmes dynamic, Sherlock and Watson. Any time I'm building a mystery duo or team, there's a bit of Sherlock and Watson going around in the back of my head.
Where did the inspiration for the delvers in Starsight come from?
Came from me wanting to do interdimensional eldritch horror, basically. It was a mashup I was looking to do. I'd always like space Cthulhu, space cosmic horror. Cosmic horror is a fun sort of storytelling attribute that I like. And it felt right to have these kind of interdimensional beings. I wanted something that did not see our reality and understand it. And something that was, in many ways, unknowable or couldn't be understood because of that. I wanted a true clash between something alien, and the way that we see the world. Because I knew I was going to have aliens in the books. But the aliens in the books were going to be weird, but relatable. I wanted to try to build something that was much harder to relate to.
So, cosmic horror. Interdimensional cosmic horror.