When the Shards all Ascended, did they all have roughly the same power level?
When the Shards all Ascended, did they all have roughly the same power level?
If Nightblood was to attack one [a Shard] and decided it was evil, could he destroy enough of that Shard to seriously weaken it compared to other Shards or not really?
I mean it would be such a drop in the bucket. To actually weaken the Shard. Like, there is so much out there. This would be hard to do. I won't completely nix it, but let's just say there's a lot that Nightblood would have to...
A while back I asked about, have you developed your equivalency system for Breath to...
No. We're still working on that. I actually have some people. I just got some physicists and mathematicians and said, "I'm gonna have you guys do this, and then you'll keep me honest." That's where we are right now.
And they're like, "It is such a big job." And I'm like, "I know. That's why I'm paying you to do this, so that I don't have to do it. So do your best, it's okay."
What was the name of a Shard that you choose not to use? Like the Shardic intent you decided not to use?
I can't confirm those because I still might use them. Mostly, the things I've discarded are names that are too simple, or too on the nose.
Maybe I'm not not... People are like "oh they're just synonyms, hatred and odium are synonyms" but I see more nuance to Odium. So like it feels more deep.
Yeah. If it's got a different history as a word.
But I haven't 100 percent eliminated any of them. Like, some of them are similar enough that at the end of the day, I might be like "you know what, this is better as this name instead of this name" and that would change the intents.
So you have...
I have a list of all 16 but I haven't settled on the actual name for each of them.
Oh! I decided not to do the Shard Levity. I did move away from that completely.
Your languages in Stormlight, do you have a way you do names and such?
Usually there's two different ways that I approach it. If I'm going to spend a lot of time in the linguistics, I'll look for linguistic themes like in Stormlight it's names that are symmetrical or things like that. If I need to shortcut, I'm going to look for an Earth culture and I'm going to use the language kind of based on more themes from that culture and the sounds they have and try to replicate that but not using the actual words from that culture.
Are you still planning on Death by Pizza after...
So Death by Pizza is now called Death without Pizza. It's actually called Songs of the Dead. I've been working on that with Peter Orullian who's a singer in a metal band. Some parts of it are really working, some parts aren't, so we're doing another draft. Basically, I did the outline and the world, he's writing the book. The first revision, there were some things that needed to be done in the first draft. So, we'll see how it goes. It's an experiment for both of us. Neither of us have co-written a book before.
So Iyatil, is she from Scadrial?
Her heritage is Scadrian but she actually wasn't born on Scadrial. But yes and no in that way.
So she has a relation to the Hunters then?
Yes, that's her heritage but she's actually from a city in the Cognitive Realm.
Was Adolin and Shallan always the endgame, or did you ever shift to Kaladin?
I did shift, back and forth. So, what I do with a lot of my relationships is, I don't usually plan them out. A lot of characterization, I have to leave the characters kind of their own volition. So I write my way into relationships and I write my way into the character elements. I plot my world, my setting, and my plot out ahead of time but I let the characters go where they're going to go. I know some people would rather she made a different decision, but that is the decision that felt right to me going forward.
I've just validated all the Shallarin people on the internet saying, "Aw, he changed his mind!"
Is "Trell" Odium?
That's a RAFO. I'm sorry. The cheeky thing for me to respond would be, "Which Trell," but the answer is just it's a RAFO.
Which Trell, huh?
Yeah. The name Trell has shown up multiple times in the Cosmere. But the Trell specifically you're asking about is the one who is invading Scadrial during the second Era.
Is that the same one in Era 1?
So that's a RAFO also but there's also a Trell mentioned on Taldain so the name has shown up multiple times.
Is the landmass the stretches from Shinovar to Alethkar the only continent on that planet?
It's the only continent. It's not the only land but it's the only large landmass.
Hoid's ability to hurt Kelsier, is that due to his perceptions and beliefs or those of an external entity?
It's going to be a bit of both but more his perceptions and beliefs. This is how a lot of things work in the Cosmere, particularly if you're where they were.
If you take a coppermind that has stores and you take a zincmind that has stores and you melt them together to form brass, what happens?
It's mostly going to destroy your ability to recover any of it, unfortunately.
Are you going to be able to store any more?
You're probably going to end up, if it was already full, with it being full but you not being able to access it. So it would not be very handy to do. Not be very useful for you.
Are all the planets on the same timeline? Is the time the same on all of them? Like a thousand years on Roshar is a thousand years on Scadrial?
They aren't. The years on Roshar are longer. They're different. So the way they count them is different. Basically, if you took a clock that was set, the time would pass at the same speed on most of them, but the time that it is a year on different ones are different.
I was just curious if like Anno Domini was the same for all of them like year 1 is year 1 on...
Nope. They are not. The calendars are all different. And Roshar for instance, if I say someone is 20 in the Stormlight books, they'd be 22 in Earth years and Scadrial uses a very-close-to-Earth year so they'd be 22 in Scadrian years. I keep them mostly very similar just for the reasons of trying not to be super confusing.
Is M-Bot intelligent and sentient?
Yes. M-Bot is, I would say, above animal intelligence but not quite human level intelligence. Oh no, M-Bot? I thought you were saying Doomslug. I would say M-Bot is above human intelligence and is sapient, is sentient.
Does gender play a role in how a spren chooses a Radiant?
It does but it is not a strict... It's just spren are going to have preferences like people have preferences and that does play into it but there's not really any sort of strict...
If you want to know narratively, behind the scenes, it tends to work to pair opposite genders together, because it just makes for better conversations and things like that. And it makes the cast fill out a little bit better with a little more variety. So that's why you see the writer side of me doing it, but in-world my kind of explanation is they have preferences.
I have a question about Shadesmar. What inspired the beads where everything in the actual reality is a bead in Shadesmar?
If I were being truthful, it probably goes all the way back to a Michael Whelan painting I saw when I was a teenager. But at the end of the day, I thought it was a really interesting image and a good reflection. I want things to reflect the real world—the Physical Realm—but in a different sort of way. So I like the kind of crystalline nature of it and things like that.
Is "Doomslug" Doomslug's real name?
"Doomslug" is not Doomslug's real name but Doomslug will accept that name from Spensa. Doomslug would have a name in Doomslug language.
Are you going to try and pronounce that for us?
In your underground lair, will you have a secret room that has another secret?
*Laughs* We should. We will have a secret door so we should have a secret door that has a secret in it. Good suggestion. If we do that, then you can say you inspired it.
You have a Twinborn. It doesn't matter what Allomancer he'd be. The aluminum Ferring. They've stored up a lot of aluminum before all this happens.
Well, aluminum was really hard to come by.
I know. Theoretically, and they've filled it up and then they become a savant.
Hard to do without being a [Compounder].
I'm saying Twinborn in the other metal they become a savant. Then they tapped the aluminum.
Yeah. I could see that having some very weird effects.
Basically my thought is, is it a toggle switch?
So I'm going to RAFO that for now. You're theorizing around really cool lines, but I'm not going to answer it yet because I have plans for what I'm going to want to do and I don't want reveal it yet.
I was reading Starsight and then I remembered you wrote the novelette Defending Elysium a while ago.
So when you wrote that, were you expecting to make a series based off it?
I had plans for where it would go with the series. It did not involve Spensa in them. It involved some of the evolutions that ended up in this book. Particularly early in my career, everything I wrote, I planned, if it was the thing that took off, where I would go with it if I were doing sequels. So I had a whole bunch of ideas but it's been 15, almost 20 years since I wrote that. So when I sat down to do Starsight, there were something that were from those original plans and some things that weren't.
With Jason, he was blind and stuff?
Is Spensa going to develop those powers?
So what I've been kind of doing is, I'm kind of taking a lot of the different powers that Jason had and I'm kind of moving them into specialties that different people could have. So you could theorize that someone could learn them all but more likely you're going to see people specializing.
So, like her grandmother has like the sensing power.
Mhm. Just read the new book and see what happens there.
If I have a Hemalurgic spike, can a Shardblade steal my soul? Don't the spikes ground your soul?
They basically staple pieces of things on your soul that can still be cut. No they couldn't steal it but they could still cut it.
You describe the mistcloak as being a hundred tassels from the shoulder down and yet there are pockets.
Yeah. You could put a pockets right up in there and plus different people have different designs on their mistcloaks. It's not modern era. They're not mass produced. You go and you get yours made how you want it to be. A lot of people put there's down here when they're actually making them and trying them on. They find it works better.
So on the cover for Alloy of Law, is it Wayne standing next to Wax?
Yes and Wayne has a gun. So, we saw that. We didn't think it was worth changing. We recognize that that's the way it is but it's mostly just because the covers aren't meant to be an illustration of the book; they're meant to be evoking the feeling of the book and we liked the feeling of the book. We didn't want to have to go back to do reshoots because that's an actually photography shoot. All of those books, he has actors dress up and do the shoots and then Photoshops it.
It wasn't bad enough to make us say, "Ooh you have to go reshoot this whole thing." But Wayne has just not realized he's holding a gun yet and dropped it. Someone handed it to him and he's like, "What? Oh!" but they got the shot right before.
Has Hemalurgy been used outside of Scadrial that we've already seen?
You haven't seen someone using it, but there are effects of it that you have seen, I believe.
What if you had a Twinborn who had atium for both and he burned atium that was stored?
So, I'll RAFO that. I believe I've RAFO'd that in the past so I'll RAFO it again.
What philosophies do you feel like inspired you the most? Philosophies, or mysticisms, religions?
I like a lot of different things. You'll see a lot of things in Way of Kings of Pantheism. You see all the old Greek dudes. You'll see some Cartesian stuff. It's kind of everything. You'll see a lot of Shinto. Yeah, probably the most has been Shinto or actually more of the kind of Buddhist and Jainism sort of idea.
You know, Taravangian I feel like is embodiment of compassion versus seeing the world for what it really is.
Yeah. Right. And then there's the whole Utilitarianism versus altruism and I just find all of that stuff fascinating. I don't know if there's any one. Shinto, that idea of animism, the idea of everything having a soul, is probably... Yeah.
Do you have the endings of all of your books already pre-planned or does that kind of evolve as you go along?
I have the ending of Stormlight 10. I have the ending of the Mistborn series. But I don't have all the endings of all books.
The main core line of the Cosmere, I do have, but those are subject to change as I go. I don't necessarily have the ending of the Threnody book. Like, that I would have to outline and sit down.
I was just curious about how time works for worldhoppers.
So worldhoppers' time is going to pass normally unless they can stay near to large collections of Investiture. They can warp time in the same way that gravity, large masses, can warp time.
Phenax, which Shard do you think he is most like?
God of Deception. I don't know. I'd have to think about that. I'm not 100% sure. It might be one I haven't revealed yet which...
Obviously that's the whole RAFO deal.
Yeah. Phenax is an interesting character in the lore. I like all of their gods of the underworld that they do.
So the Parshendi Rhythms. They talk a lot about them as like music. So do you imagine them as rhythms where they talk like this or is their a melodic quality to it?
That is what they're doing. There's not very much melodic quality to it. They set songs to the Rhythms. The way I have it in the books, in my mind, and the canon, is there is Connection between them and the songs of Roshar. That they can pick up a Rhythm when there's actually not enough of it, even in a sentence, because of the intent of the Rhythm and what the other person's hearing. So they can hear a Rhythm even if it's only a couple words being said, that you couldn't learn, if you were just a human listening. No matter how good you were. Some you wouldn't be able to pick up because there is not enough information there.
So they're just like kind of complex rhythmic things that you could write out musically.
You could. You definitely could write them out.
What was the thing you that you researched for your books that you were most interested in?
Ooh. That's a great question. Probably alchemy, because I find that fascinating that they believed like almost science but not. I loved that sort of stuff.
In Stormlight Archive, how are they paying for the wars before the one on the Great Plains? How was Dalinar funding his armies?
Usually they have an almost feudal system on Roshar where the city lord's in charge of collecting taxes and sending them in but a lot of the taxes from out around are going to be goods. It's going to be basically feeding the armies and things like that. The people who are living in like Hearthstone and stuff like that aren't paying any taxes other than in grain. But in the cities, they are and you can also see the more important the lighteyes, the better of a city they will get with a higher population because they get a percentage of those taxes. Like Roshone doesn't really get anything. He's basically taking care of someone else's lands.
Now is that like on a property tax basis or is it more of a sales tax?
More of an income tax.
Does Detritus have a sun or a moon or something?
It does have a sun but it has no moon.
If you could do a fourth Allomantic [Metallic Arts] magic system. Have you thought about that?
I actually hadn't even thought about it. You'd think I would have but I haven't. Those three interlock so well. I'd have to think about it. I really don't know that I have one. I'm sure I could come up with something but I'll put that in the back of my brain. They interlock so well that I've never even considered what I'd do for a fourth.
What character have you written that you felt is most inspired by your own personality?
My mom says it's Alcatraz, my middle grade series, is most like me so I trust her. Other than that, it's hard for me to say. You have to go to my friends and things. I feel like ever character's part of me and every character's not. Stephen Leeds, from the Legion series, has a lot of writer-ish stuff in it. Particularly the last of the three if you've ever read that one. That was kind of a very personal book and it was getting into kind of the way... So maybe Stephen Leeds as a middle manager. I feel like a person who's controlling all of these characters. Rather than this person having the adventures, I'm keeping them organized.
So we were trying to guess what your next book's title would be for this series. If you were to stick with alliteration, it could be Solbound.
That's a pretty good idea. I actually had the next one being the Aztlánian because Aztlán is the mythical home—like the heaven—of the Aztec people, but I don't know if I'll go with that or not.
Are there enough perfect gemstones on Roshar to capture all of the Unmade?
Yes, there are.
Does the "M" in M-Bot stand for mushroom?
Yes. To me it does. I'm not sure how I will canonize it in the books, but that's what I intend it to be.
I have a bit of a problem with the first Desolation timeline. I'm wondering how old were the Heralds when they became Heralds.
The age that you would see them as when you met them. They basically are the age they look. When they became Heralds, they are the age that they appeared.
So they were like in their younger middle age?
Some of them. I mean Ishar is older.
So that means that the entire timeline of the first Desolation happened within a single lifetime?
A lot of the ancient chronologies are wrong and you won't get the actual answers until the Heralds themselves explain it in their flashback sequences in the back five.
You've said that the Heralds came over from Ashyn.
Okay. How old were they then?
Younger than they were when they became Heralds.
What's the longest you've spent revising a single sentence?
Usually, the longest I spend revising single sentences would be the keteks in Stormlight, which are the poems I write that go along with it. I'm not so good at poetry so it takes a lot longer for me to get poetry right. Followed by humor scenes. Witty lines, and things like that, take a long time for me to actually write.
Will you write a novella on Silverlight?
Someday I want to, but I can't promise it. It's if it fits in. I've got a really good, nice Silverlight story that I want to tell, but whether I can get to it... There are just so many things competing, and the only things I will commit to are the core Cosmere stories.
Are you doing any more novels for White Sand?
You can read the prose version that this was based on—that I wrote—just by getting it from us. Someday, I'll probably do some prose for these short stories, but right now, they are going to be graphic novels. In fact, we'll do a sequel series—now that we know what we're doing—that is designed specifically to be a graphic novel. That's our goal there.
Will we see more of Rysn in the Stormlight Archive books?
Yeah. I plan to... She never becomes a main character. I plan to have an interlude with Rysn every time.
She won't be out of the interludes?
No, she won't be, but I might write a novella with her. Like I did with Lift.
I was just kind of wondering how long the art process takes like would Alcatraz be out next year?
The art places is really going to depend on how long Hayley takes. It's probably going to take at least a year. I think the earliest you would see it would be around the time we release the next Stormlight book. That would be my guess.
With the latest maybe May of 2021. Yeah. Like mid-2021.
It's going to depend on her schedule for doing the art now that we have the book. You could give it to her, if you haven't already, to read.
Yeah. I talked to her about it today.
I gotta ask, are you going to give us any sort of backstory prior to Dragonsteel coming out? Of Hoid?
You will get little snippets here and there but really it's when you get his story that you are going to get the fully story of Adonalsium shattering. I have to leave it at snippets until then, because anything I give you is as a snippet now is canonizing something that I'm going to write later on. So I have to leave it at the stuff I know is going to be in there.
Let's say you wanted to be the Mistborn equivalent of a Surgebinder, having all ten Surges, would the best way to do that to bond at least five Honorblades or can you bond more than one spren?
You could bond five Honorblades. That'd be the easiest way by far. Because convincing multiple spren to bond you is going to be really tough, so by far the easiest way is just to get... you'd actually need all ten Honor... No, you'd need five Honorblades for the five... Yeah.
You'd have to get the right ones.
You'd have to get the right ones and then you'd have all ten.
And then, there's nothing wrong with bonding five individual Blades? You don't have to have five arms?
You do not have to have five arms. You could bond five Blades if you wanted to.
Really cool. Thank you.
Do you have, for Starsight and Skyward, aesthetic touchstones that you bring to these different books? Or does it just all sort of emerge from the storytelling as you get into your characters?
I do, and it depends. Sometimes, as I'm working on the book, I develop those. Sometimes it's ahead of time.
My cultural touchstone for Skyward was me saying, "All right. These people are in just this terrible situation. And they are constantly being fought by this unknown enemy. What kind of society would grow out of this?" And I pushed it towards a little bit of an authoritarian, martial dictatorship. Using, actually, North Korea as one of the touchstones, and some of the Axis powers as touchstones. And a little bit, in places, of communist propaganda, and things like that. Some of the visual touchstones was Italian futurism, and things like this, just to kind of give this same sort of feel that I was looking for. If you read the book, there's just little hints of it here and there. You're gonna see cubist designs in the architecture, and you're gonna see the paintings and things they describe have this sort of Italian futurist feel to it. There's a little post-Art Nouveau. You've probably seen the art style. It's, like, ships flying into the air leaving lines of red and yellow light in the sky, and very very almost Art Deco-ish feel. These were my visual touchstones for myself. Just because the society, I thought, this might be the closest thing that we have on our planet to how I feel this would really arise with the military being completely in control and lots of people being lost in battle but them needing to keep morale up, and things like this.
So this whole aesthetic of speed and force and martial unity and finding themes of, there is a particular beauty to those kinds of things. There's art that reflects it.
There's also this kind of, "Desperate times call for desperate measures." And one of the things Spensa butts up against in the books is, "Have we gone too far on this? Have we become so focused on this that we're losing track of what it means to be human? But, at the same time, is this what kept us alive? Maybe the fact that we can even think about being human exists because of how extreme our society had to become." And these are really interesting questions that are fun for writers to deal with. Part of the reason that I write sci-fi and fantasy is it allows me to pluck some of these things from our world, separate them from some of the cultural baggage, and try and approach them and talk about them in story form. So I can just explore what it might feel like and how some of these questions might be explored, potentially, by us in the future.
If you were to use Hemalurgy on a Surgebinder, would it steal the Surge or the actual spren bond?
It's going to steal the spren bond, but you've got to remember the spren has power over that bond. So what you're doing is (1) incredibly evil, even more evil, but (2) you may not end up with what you want, because that spren has free will in most cases. You may go through all this trouble and then they may break the bond, and you would be left without it. So you would need something else to force them to be unable to break the bond, which would be even more evil, but it is possible in Hemalurgy.
The two paintings--The Battle of Twilight Falls, and the one that Kaladin sees in Shadesmar. Are they the same?
I believe that they are, but I could have...When I wrote the original scene, I intended them to be, but I might have changed something later on. They would be by the same artist. You can say yes, unless I changed something. There was something I was thinking of changing. I'd have to go back and look at them side by side.
But they sounded different. One has black in it, that the other one doesn't.
The thing is, that artist, and people seeing it, I intend them to each see something different in the paintings they see. But I don't know that I actually decided to make that the same painting. But the same artist.
What's Morningtide's real name?
Morningtide's real name? I don't know it off the top of my head, so I'm just going to give you a RAFO card.