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    Skyward release party ()
    #2401 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    So I have never read this to anyone before. In fact no one has seen it in ten years. It is not canon, but it is where Taln as a character started. If you're not familiar, Taln is the crazy guy that shows up at the end of Way of Kings. And here is how his first scene went in the original Way of Kings.

     

    Taln awoke from a dream of agony and screams. Two things occurred to him immediately. First, as a Herald, he should not need to sleep. Second, as a Herald, he definitely shouldn't dream.

    He frowned, sitting up. The last few days were a blur in his mind. He had come to the city, and he remembered his arrival and his bursting in on some sort of feast or party. Beyond that, the Sign hadn't worked.

    Taln hissed in surprise, thrusting forward his hand, trying to manifest the Nahel bond within him. Nothing happened. What of his other powers?

    He analyzed his surroundings with a quick glance. He was in a long rectangular chamber set with beds along both walls. The room was set with stone pillars and the windows were shaped with triangular peaks. In fact, the architecture had a great number of angles and lines. He was probably in the Alethi section of the city.

    Many of the beds were occupied with the lame and the sick. And the men tending them wore undyed tan robes, some with the glyph Ele, the mark of the priesthood. There were two long doors leading out of the room and the windows provided an alternative exit. They looked wide enough to be broken with relative ease. A table would probably do it.

    There was a small chair beside his bed, and a chest with amber knobs. He reached out, blessing his fortune. He had the sourcestone of Stonewarding. He touched the amber, seeking to draw upon its power, and again, nothing happened. Taln withdrew his fingers, frowning. Something was very, very wrong.

    Why won't my Stonewarding work, he thought with frustration. And the Sign. I need information.

    He scanned the room again. His mind was far less fuzzy than it had been. Images, places, and thoughts were all becoming more clear. There were only two monasteries in this section of the city, unless new ones had been constructed. Lighthome and Mercyhome, of which Lighthome was a female monastery.

    One of the attendants noticed Taln was awake, and the man waved over an older monk. The elderly man regarded Taln with a displeased expression, whispering to his companion in a voice most men probably wouldn't have been able to overhear. But Taln was not most men.

    "Where's Brother Lhan?" the elder monk hissed. "He should be here!"

    "I'll fetch him," the other monk promised, bowing his head in deference, then rushing off.

    The older man cleared his face of displeasure, smiling reassuringly toward Taln. He had a large nose and grizzled features and his hands were callused.

    "I see you finally awoke from your slumber, traveler."

    "Yes, holy one," Taln replied, still bothered by the fact that he had fallen asleep in the first place. "Thank you for caring for me." He flexed his arm, testing his muscles against their extended immobility. "It seems I've been out of sorts these last few days. How long was I asleep?"

    "Four days, off and on," the senior monk explained. "You were awake for much of the time, but you seemed unable to focus."

    Four days. Taln shook his head. Yet he could feel the weakness in his mind, the whispers at the edges of his sanity. It was getting worse each return. Perhaps that was the reason for his apparent slumber.

    "I must say, traveler, you seem far more lucid than you were when we first brought you."

    "I feel far more lucid, holy one," Taln said with a smile. He raised his sheet, noticing he was still naked. Hopefully the monks would loan him some clothing, though he doubted anyone was going to give him a weapon any time soon.

    "Tell me, traveler, what do you remember of yourself?"

    Taln raised an eyebrow. "Are you asking if I still think that I am a Herald?"

    "In not so many words."

    "My problems of the last few days were not related to my identity, holy one," Taln said. "I am a Herald. I will not lie to you. That would do us both a disservice."

    "I see," the monk said, his disappointment apparent.

    "However," Taln continued, "I don't expect you to believe me. The Sign did, after all, fail. I'll have to solve that problem before I can move on to other items. For now, let's suffice to say that I was a traveler in need of your assistance and you provided it. The Almighty bless you for that."

    The monk smiled, glancing to the side as another brown robed form, looking a little disheveled, entered from the north hallway. "You're welcome to stay with us as long as you need, friend," the elderly monk said, gesturing toward the newcomer. "Brother Lhan has been assigned to care for you. He will travel with you and make certain you are acquainted with the city."

    In other words, he'll make certain I don't get in trouble, Taln thought, smiling and nodding his head as the elder monk backed away to care for other patients. Taln was pleased to note that this Brother Lhan was carrying a folded pile of clothing for him. Lhan was a younger man, probably in his early twenties. A bit on the pudgy side, with an unconcerned oval of a face.

    Lhan blinked tiredly as he approached, and his left cheek was still imprinted with the lines of whatever he had been lying on before they woke him. Lhan yawned as he pulled a stool up beside Taln's bed, resting the clothing on the floor in front of him.

    "Greetings traveler. Welcome to the glorious Mercyhome monastery."

    "Thank you," Taln said, reaching immediately for the clothing. "I assume these are for me?"

    Lhan nodded, yawning again.

    "I'm sorry they woke you," Taln said, picking through the clothing.

    Lhan shrugged. "It's my own fault, I really should get a better place to hide."

    Taln raised an eyebrow at the comment as he examined the clothing. The cut was unfamiliar to him, though fashion changes between returns were normal. The trousers were loose through the legs and ended in wide triangular cuffs halfway down the calf. The shirt was equally loose, probably intended to be worn tucked into the pants and tied with a sash. There were undergarments as well.

    The most important article, however, was the thick brown cloak. A piece of Rosharan fashion that would never change. Cloaks were necessary even in the summer to ward off highstorm rains. All the clothing had been crafted from <shanaw>, a plant whose bark was stringy and fluffy enough to be spun. It made for rough fabric. Fortunately all of the cloak had been treated in such a way to make it soft to the touch. Taln nodded in satisfaction.

    "Brother Lhan," Taln said, "Please run and fetch me some thread and a needle."

    "Excuse me?" the monk asked.

    "You and I are in a forced relationship,"Taln said. "Your superiors obviously expect you to keep me from causing serious trouble. If you want my cooperation in this, you'll want to make yourself useful."

    Lhan raised an eyebrow. "How very economical of you."

    Taln sighed, regarding the man. "I'm not trying to be difficult, Lhan, I'm just trying to save the world. A needle and some thread would be very helpful."

    Lhan rolled his eyes, rising from his stool. "All right."

    "Oh and bring me some rocks," Taln added. "Small ones, maybe half the size of your fist."

    "Rocks?" Lhan asked.

    "Yes, rocks. This is Roshar. Last time I checked, which admittedly was several centuries ago, they were fairly prevalent here."

    "Rocks," Lhan mumbled again as he walked off.

    Taln was dressed by the time Lhan returned. He accepted the thread, needle and rocks from the monk, and began sowing the flap of the hem of his cloak.

    The monk sat down, regarding Taln with curiosity.

    "The second thing I'll need from you, Brother Lhan, is information," Taln said, pulling the thread tight.

    "Ask away."

    "What year is it?"

    "Tenth Epoch, 980," Lhan replied.

    Taln paused, needle halfway through his stitch. "980?"

    "Yeah," the monk said. "Not that I've seen the daylight for the last ten years or so, but at least that's what they tell me what year it is."

    980. Nearly a thousand years since the last return. That's a long time. Something must have happened to the <cofen> That was the old name for the voidbringers]. They had never waited that long between returns before. "What happened to the epoch kingdoms?" Taln asked

    Lhan didn't respond immediately. "You're kidding, right?"

    "Pretend I'm not."

    "They fell, right after the beginning of the tenth epoch."

    Taln closed his eyes, sighing to himself. He hoped it wasn't true but.. "What about Alethkar," he said. "It obviously still exists."

    "Well a lot of the kingdom is just a name," Lhan explained. "It's always a good idea to use one of the old names when you found a kingdom. Makes you seem more legitimate."

    "Which ones still stand then, even if only in name?"

    "Alethkar, of course." the monk said, "And as the king told you, we've expanded a bit over the last few years. Thaylenah still stands, by itself on that island over there. So its borders stay pretty stable. Vedenar is now called Jah Keved, though it's ruled by three Veden houses with a figurehead as its leader."

    "That's it?"

    "Well Shinovar is still there. But no one really pays much attention to them. The rest is gone. Kingdoms sometimes try to claim their names, but mostly they're uninhabited. Especially <Rianat>. There's enough bandits over there to form their own kingdom."

    Taln nodded. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but... "Vorinism is still strong, I assume?" Taln noted, reaching for the rocks that Lhan had brought him.

    "Always will be, Almighty willing," Lhan said in a beautiful monotone, his piousness weakened slightly by the extended yawn he made in the middle of the sentence.

    "If the Vorin religion is still in power, " Taln said, "How is it that no one takes my claim to be a Herald seriously? Have you forgotten about the cycle of returns, the coming of the cofen? The religion was founded to prepare for such things."

    "Well, we've kind of had to change our focus during the last epoch. You did, after all, promise that you weren't coming back any more."

    "What?!" Taln froze, glancing up.

    "At the end of the last return," Lhan explained. "The Heralds disappeared and said they weren't coming back. That the cycle of returns was through and the cofen had been defeated."

    "That's not possible."

    Lhan raised an eyebrow.

    "I wouldn't be here if the cycle of returns were over." Taln explained. "Trust me. Which of the Heralds proclaimed this?"

    "Well I'm not sure. It didn't become the official doctrine until about the fifth century, I think."

    "Why so long?"

    "You're kind of asking the wrong monk, actually. Actually, the wrong monastery. The order of Ishar contains all the history experts. This all happened a thousand years ago."

    "But it's your theological heritage!" Taln said.

    "So the senior monks are fond of telling me."

    Taln stood, putting on the cloak.

    "You sewed rocks into your hem. How very odd of you."

    Taln spun, turning a few times to judge the motion of the cloak. Then he turned to the side in a quick motion, pulling the garment off with a smooth gesture. He nodded to himself, putting it back on. "For weight." Taln explained "A weighted cloak is more easy to position in battle and more easy to remove quickly." You could also use it as a surprise weapon, though he didn't offer that bit of explanation.

    "Oh," Lhan said.

    "What did you think I was doing?" Taln asked with amusement, sitting down on the bed without removing the cloak.

    "I wasn't sure," Lhan replied. "I figured you were confused. You are, after all, crazy."

    "You're not a very subtle one, are you, Brother Lhan?"

    "I make up for it in sheer laziness," Lhan replied. "What are you doing now?"

    "Pockets," Taln said, getting out of the cloak again. "Do you mind if I cut up this blanket?"

    Lhan shrugged. "It's the kind of thing they expect crazy people to do, so I guess it's okay. But you'll have to tear it. I'm certainly not giving you a knife."

    Taln frowned but did as requested. "You seem surprisingly flippant with regard to my supposed lunacy. Aren't you afraid I'll become violent?"

    "You're not the violent type. I've seen your type come through the monastery a lot. I also know you can't be talked out of who you think you are. My job is simply to make certain you don't accidentally hurt yourself or anyone else, especially not me."

    "You have experience with my type, then?" Taln asked.

    "I tend to get the more undesirable assignments"

    "I wonder why." He fell silent as he worked, turning his thoughts to a topic he'd been avoiding. What was he going to do? Normally he had the other Heralds to decide the plan. But he appeared to be the only one who'd reached the city. He needed to find the others and that required one thing. His sword. It had been taken from him. He remembered that night of the feast only vaguely.

    "My sword..." he said.

    "That was confiscated," Lhand said. "You didn't exactly make a good impression on the king. Enduring perhaps, but definitely not good."

    "There was a woman," Taln said. "She saved my life."

    "Lady Jasnah" Lhan agreed. "The king's sister. Don't assume she protected you out of fondness. Lady Jasnah is about as compassionate as a sleeping chull. Even her breathing is politically motivated. No one's certain why she pled for you, but most think it was some kind of stunt."

    "Either way, I owe her my life," Taln said. The loss of his weapon was troubling. With it, he could sense the location of the other Heralds. It would be the easiest and fastest way to find them. Assuming, of course, he thought, that the Blade's power still worked.

    Taln paused. A feeling of dread struck him. Stonewarding didn't work, and he couldn't manifest the bond. If he'd lost the sword as well...

    The window light turned red. Taln gasped, feeling dizzy. An expression of concern actually crossed the monk's face.

    "Are you all right?" Lhan asked.

    The monk burst into flames. The windows melted. Bloodred fire ripped up the sides of the building, pooling at the top and bearing down on Taln with its heat. Smoke rose from the suddenly ignited beds, curling ominously, bringing with it screams, sudden, formless screams, that came from the far edge of the room.

    Taln looked up. Fire roared and something moved within it, something dark. The screams mounted, pulsing in his ears, searing him, flaying him.

    "What's wrong?" Lhan asked, still in flames, his flesh melting from his face.

    Taln closed his eyes, grabbing the sides of his bed, pushing the screams away. He shivered, exhaling a long, demanding sigh. When he opened his eyes, the room had returned to normal. He sat for a few minutes, breathing deeply.

    "I'm fine," Taln finally said, forcing himself to stand up and look at his new cloak. It had one large pocket and two smaller ones, and a small ribbon at the back to hold a hidden dagger, if he ever managed to get his hands on one.

    "I assume I'm allowed to leave the monastery?"

    "So long as you take me with you," Lhan said, "but.."

    Taln raised an eyebrow.

    "You're kind of expected to go work in the royal mines, "Lhan explained. "To help pay for your keep."

    "No one is going to force me?" Taln clarified.

    "Well, no."

    "Good," Taln said. "We're leaving."

    "Umm...Where are we going?"

    "To get some information."

    "Oh, you mean my wealth of accumulated wisdom isn't good enough for you?"

    Taln turned, eyeing the monk with a suffering eye, then waved for him to follow.

    Skyward release party ()
    #2403 Copy

    Questioner

    You see, in a few places, Shards that can read people's minds, or send thoughts to people's minds. What, in other settings, would be called telepathy. Do we have, in any Shardworlds, a magic system where ordinary people have telepathy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've actually designed one that I think is interesting, whether I will make that work or not, I'm not sure. But there is a very interesting world, one that i have right now in the Cosmere, that we will see. I try not to canonize these things till I actually write the story. As happened with Silence Divine, where people have been for six years, "When are you going to write this story?" Because I wrote one chapter of it.

    But yes, I do have something that works that way.

    Skyward release party ()
    #2404 Copy

    JoyBlu

    How old is Taravangian?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Taravangian is in his 80's, I believe. He is not immortal, he has not lived an extra long time. He might be 70's local time.

    JoyBlu

    How many kids does he have? If he has all these granddaughters running around.

    Brandon Sanderson

    He has a number of children, but I have not defined it.

    JoyBlu

    Were they all with the same wife?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. That, I have defined.

    Questioner 2

    Were they all by a wife?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A better question. RAFO.

    R'Shara

    Was he as much of a stud as Spook?

    Brandon Sanderson

    RAFO.

    Skyward release party ()
    #2405 Copy

    R'Shara

    A long time ago, where you said that Pailiah was the elderly ardent in Kharbranth that Shallan saw, is that right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes? If you say I said that, then I did.

    Questioner 2

    Does that mean it is still true?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Let's just say there is a Herald in close proximity to Taravangian.

    R'Shara

    It was in a signed book but we never got a picture of it.

    Brandon Sanderson

    There is a Herald in close proximity to Taravangian. I'm not being sneaky about that.

    R'Shara

    Is there more than one?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There have been in the past, but there is only one that you would call influencing him right now. But there have been others in the past.

    Skyward release party ()
    #2407 Copy

    Stormlightning

    Where you *inaudible* Hoid as a Lightweaver in Era 2?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hoid was a Lightweaver in Dragonsteel.

    Stormlightning

    I mean a spren Lightweaver. Unless the timeline's still, really--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Meaning was I planning for him to become a Lightweaver?

    Stormlightning

    Before Era 2 since we thought Era 2 was going to be Era 3.

    Brandon Sanderson

     Hoid has never quite stopped being a Lightweaver. He is very happy to be fully empowered with things.

    Stormlightning

    Does that mean he was not fully a Lightweaver?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You will find out someday. His magic was not fully functional, but he was Lightweaving in Way of Kings

    Skyward release party ()
    #2411 Copy

    JoyBlu

    Both Tien and Kaladin are Radiant, you talked about how that wasn't hereditary, and how that was more because of where they were with association. Was it because they were associated with the same person, or the same place?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, Connection influences spren.

    JoyBlu

    Right, but was the Connection to a person that they were around?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Connection to people.

    JoyBlue

    So not necessarily the place where they were?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Right.

    Joyblu

    Because my way of thinking it might be with the people is because, like with the Purelake on the Cognitive Realm there would be more spren hanging out there because that was more land, right; so if you spent more time on that you would have more spren around you. So if you're closer to more water, you're closer to more spren.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is not an irrelevant observation.

    Skyward San Diego signing ()
    #2415 Copy

    Tiek00n

    What would happen if Lift ate aluminum or other Allomantic metals? 

    Brandon

    Lift would not be able to do anything with Allomantic metals. Good question.

    Tiek00n

    Does that include turning them into Stormlight?

    Brandon

    Yes, that includes turning them into Stormlight.

    BookCon 2018 ()
    #2416 Copy

    Dissentinel (paraphrased)

    Is Spensa's race left intentionally vague in Skyward?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Yes, it is.

    Dissentinel (paraphrased)

    So how do you feel about the new US cover, which depicts Spensa as white?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    That's something the publisher decides, it's out of our hands.

    Footnote: Note: The last thing Brandon said is extremely paraphrased. This WoB was compiled almost six months after it was given. 
    Skyward release party ()
    #2419 Copy

    Questioner

    You pulled Apocalypse Guard, will it ever come back?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I sat down with Apocalypse Guard and looked it over and since I couldn't decide what was wrong with it, I actually gave it to Dan Wells, who's a friend of mine, and I said, "Dan, can you figure out what's wrong with this?" We broke in together, we've been in writing groups together for a long time, and he read through it and he's like, "Yeah, I've got some ideas." So I actually, you know, wanted to work with him, so he actually jumped in to try and do a draft of it himself, and he fixed a lot of the problems, but he didn't fix the biggest problem, which is that the worldbuilding doesn't work.

    Which is a really weird thing for a Brandon Sanderson book, but it's part of the reason we can't release it. I can't release a book with bad worldbuilding. I just can't. So while he fixed the characters, I still need to fix the worldbuilding. If I can, we will release it. If I can't, I'm sure even if I don't ever release it, I'll find a way to put it on my website or something like that. So you would be able to read it, and if we do release it, I'll make sure to release it in the failed version too for those who are interested so you can compare. So I think it's really illustrative to see how a professional fails.

    Skyward release party ()
    #2420 Copy

    Steeldancer

    What happens when you flare copper?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What happens when you flare copper? Various different things can happen when you flare copper. I'll RAFO that for now. [...] I'll delve into that more, I don't want to delve into it too much right now, you'll find out, probably in Era 3, some of the things that can happen with copper.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2422 Copy

    UppityDarkeyes

    Would you be willing to confirm that the use of 'they' pronouns for the Sibling is because the Sibling is non-binary? Since apparently some people are confused on this point.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The sibling did not view themselves as male or female. (And considered it odd that so many spren would adopt human genders.)

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2425 Copy

    XMikethetrikeX

    A question regaurding Feruchemical iron:

    So, while Sazed was guarding one of the gates to Luthadel, he tapped weight to compensate, he had to tap pewter as well. Also, when he was climbing a tree, his strength to weght ratio rised, making it easier for him to climb it. Wax doesn't have to do this- when fighting Miles on the train, he's fine without any sort of muscular enhancement, and when he is climbing in the sets base, he notes that he does not make himself lighter because it would simply decrease his weight and strength equally (in contrast to Sazed climbing the tree).

    So, is this difference for the same reason people can push/ pull on atium, being the you hadn't fully developed your idea for the cosmere yet? Or is it some other reason?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hmm. I think the mistake is more on me writing the Wax scene than in the original. (For him climbing, specifically.) I'll put Peter on this and see if it's a continuity error we want to fix.

    Publishers Weekly Q & A ()
    #2426 Copy

    Michael M. Jones

    What's next for you with this series and in general?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My outline for Skyward calls for four books. The sequel will come out a year from this November. Starting in January, I plan to work on the fourth [book] in The Stormlight Archive, and that'll take about 18 months. I split my time between that series and other projects to prevent myself from getting burned out. When I finish a big epic fantasy, I need something different to get excited about for a while. So I'll jump back into this series after the next Stormlight.

    Publishers Weekly Q & A ()
    #2428 Copy

    Michael M. Jones

    Are there any particular messages that you hope readers will take away from this book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't really go into books with a message. I like to explore the characters and their passions, and the theme, without any overt agenda. I just want readers to be able to see through the eyes of people who are different from them, to see that our biases do affect how we perceive the world—and that's both a good and bad thing. I just want them to come out of the story saying, "That was great, let me think about this some more."

    Publishers Weekly Q & A ()
    #2429 Copy

    Michael M. Jones

    Something noteworthy about your work is the massive interconnectivity. Is Skyward connected to any of your universes or continuities?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's connected to a novella I wrote, which explored an interesting premise in faster-than-light travel. I prefer not to publicize which one, because the spoiler at the end of that story related to a twist near the end of Skyward. This isn't connected to my big epic fantasy universe, the Cosmere, for several reasons. First, the way space travel is possible here doesn't work with that setting. Also, this incorporates lore from Earth, and I try to keep Earth and the Cosmere very distinct and separated.

    Publishers Weekly Q & A ()
    #2430 Copy

    Michael M. Jones

    What kind of research did you do?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mainly, it was about fighter pilots and what they go through, what g-force feels like, stuff like that. I'm indebted to a couple of real-life fighter pilots for helping me to get it right. Also, I had to research what it's like to live in societies where the machine of war grinds people up out of necessity to keep the country alive, what it does to them. I took inspiration from real-world regimes to create an amalgamation, which still doesn't go as far as it could have. I just included subtle markers to the reader to suggest the sort of stress they live under.

    Publishers Weekly Q & A ()
    #2431 Copy

    Michael M. Jones

    One thing we tend to expect in YA is the presence of romance. There's no real sign of it in Skyward, though. Was this your intention from the start, or did the characters just not work out that way?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It was more the characters. In my first draft, I tried to shoehorn a romance in. I like romance; you'll find them in my adult books. But here, it didn’t fit the characters or the theme, and it felt inappropriate. This is a very traumatic time for Spensa, who's focused in every way on becoming a pilot and finding out the secrets of her past, and romance just didn't work. So I revised in the direction the characters demanded.

    The obvious pairing was Spensa and Jerkface. That’s where I was trying to go, but it felt like a cheesy romance in the middle of an action-adventure story about finding out who you really are, and about going into battle, and all of that stress and pressure. Maybe someday I'll release the deleted scenes and people can see how poorly it worked.

    Publishers Weekly Q & A ()
    #2432 Copy

    Michael M. Jones

    Spensa comes across as overconfident and bombastic at times, while her AI sidekick, M-Bot, is both comic and tragic. What else can you tell us about developing characters?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They really play off one another. With M-Bot, I needed both a friend and a foil for Spensa, since there's a lot of conversation between them. I also needed an outside perspective. Spensa's culture has problems. Humankind crashed on this planet decades ago, and has been subject to these alien invasions and air raids for so long, that their entire society is built around the machine of war to protect themselves. The technology and temperament revolve around getting pilots into the air at all costs, and it’s skewed everything as a result. I needed an outside voice to ask questions and raise concerns, even if it's through humor.

    Because Spensa is such an extreme character, one of the challenges was to depict that a person who's spent most of her life alone, hunting rats, while imagining herself to be a great warrior, is going to have a warped perspective on what it means to be a fighter pilot, weirder than the rest of the society might.

    In a way, she's a stand-in for someone like me, who enjoys larger-than-life action movies but has never experienced real violence. She’s like the person in the seat with the popcorn, who’s confronted by the reality and discovers it’s not what she imagined.

    Publishers Weekly Q & A ()
    #2433 Copy

    Michael M. Jones

    What was your inspiration for Skyward?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ever since I was young, I’ve loved the quintessential "boy and his dragon story." My favorite is Jane Yolen’s Dragon’s Blood. It was one of the very first fantasy books I ever read, and it left a lasting impression on me. But there was also Anne McCaffrey’s The White Dragon, Christopher Paolini’s Eragon, and the How to Train Your Dragon film series. I love this archetype of story, and I’ve always wanted to do one, but I held off until I could find a new direction in which to approach it. Eventually, it drifted away from "a boy and his dragon" towards "a girl and her spaceship."

    About four years ago, I hit on this idea, but I only had the framework. I still needed setting, characters, things that would really make me excited about the entire story. As a writer, it’s always about digging down deep into what I love about certain stories—what are the essential elements, what are the concepts that thrill me, and can I build those back up into something new? The more I built this back up, the more excited I became.

    For most things, like worldbuilding and plots, I do outlines. But characters develop by instinct, as their voices emerge. The character of Spensa came to me almost fully formed. I was intrigued and enthralled by the idea of this girl who had been raised on stories from our world, the myths and legends, even ones we know are fiction like Conan the Barbarian. She sees herself as the latest in a long line of warriors, except her actual job is hunting rats and selling them for meat on the street. She has this idea of who she should be, what her destiny is, but in real life she’s just barely getting by. Characters come out of conflict, and hers is the contrast between what her life is like and what she thinks it should be, the difference between perception and experience.

    Subterranean Press Interview ()
    #2434 Copy

    Gwenda Bond

    Is it really the end? Could you ever potentially come back to Legion?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'd like to do more with Legion—though it's likely to be in the form of other media. We have a television show in the works, and I've toyed with doing some original audio stories with Stephen in the lead. (Though the Marvel show Legion probably means I'll need to change the name of mine if we do get the show off the ground.)

    Subterranean Press Interview ()
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    Gwenda Bond

    You've talked a bit elsewhere about how this is some of the most personal storytelling you've done. What do you think you've discovered or uncovered through exploring mental health and the mind through the story of Stephen Leeds? 

    Brandon Sanderson

    I am often quite certain I know (in general) what a reader's reaction will be when I release a story.  That's part of my job—to create something that produces an emotional response. Art is the act of inspiring emotion. Once in a while, however, I do something for the emotion it inspires in me, with less regard for how I think it will be received. Of course, usually these two are one and the same—the emotion it gives me will be the emotion most readers will feel.

    This story is different. It is partially about mental health, yes, but it's also about the voice of a storyteller finding balance between all the voices crying for his attention.  It's about the unwritten stories.

    You see, as a young writer, I never worried if I'd have time to get to all the stories I wanted to tell. I was far more focused on whether or not I'd even have a career. I wrote assuming that if a story didn't work now, I'd eventually find a place for it. But as I've grown older, the realities of aging have begun to whisper to me that I need to stay focused—that if I want to complete my life's work, some other stories will simply have to be abandoned. That has been a hard realization. I don't know if anyone else will see that meaning in this story, or how this even relates—but it is certainly part of Lies of the Beholder for me. That's the part I say is very personal, but which means it's more difficult to gauge how readers will respond—because so much of this is a very individual story.  

    Subterranean Press Interview ()
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    Gwenda Bond

    The mysterious Sandra plays a big part in this final story—did you know from the beginning what her role would turn out to be or was this ending a surprise to you? (Without spoiling anything, of course!)

    Brandon Sanderson

    With my shorter works like this, I tend to let the story evolve over time more than I do with longer stories. This means more discovery, as I'm not sitting down with a framework—the goal, often, is to practice other skills in my writing. (Things that my novel writing doesn't teach me.) In this case, I had ideas for Sandra, and some of those ended up going all the way through—but some I discarded over time. I'm not one who is "surprised" by my writing, however. I don't generally like that phrasing. Sometimes as you're working on a piece, you discover a thread or theme that intrigues you—so you dig into it further, then develop it. Sometimes this means the final piece of art doesn't match the outline. It's not really a surprise so much as a common side effect of the writing process.

    Subterranean Press Interview ()
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    Gwenda Bond

    I'm curious how you develop Leeds' aspects. Do they come to you fully formed? Did you get attached to any of the aspects in particular as you write them? Do you have a favorite?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Generally, I don't play favorites with characters. If they all haven't been my favorite at some point in the writing process, then I'm doing something wrong. But creating characters, at the same time, is the most difficult part of the process for me to quantify. No character comes fully formed; it's always a struggle to find their voice. Yet I always know that voice is out there to find, and have an instinct for when it's wrong. So the process of finding it is more a search than it is a building project.

    Subterranean Press Interview ()
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    Gwenda Bond

    Lies of the Beholder finds Stephen Leeds in a more precarious place—psychologically and otherwise—than we've ever seen him. What are the challenges of writing a character like this with so many aspects? Was this a difficult story to write?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This was a very difficult story to write, but not because of all the aspects. They've always made the story easier, not harder. Being able to take an individual's personality and split it into various themes and ideas...well, that was fun, and helped me understand him a great deal.

    The challenge of this story was finding myself wanting to explore the more philosophical and conceptual side of what it means to be Stephen Leeds—and why I related to him specifically as a character. I had to decide if I wanted this ending to be like the other two novellas—pretty straightforward detective mysteries—or if I'd let myself go off into something more conceptual.

    In the end, I went more conceptual, which I felt was appropriate to ending this series. However, it does mean this story was a challenge in that I was dealing with some heady themes while trying to do justice to the actual mystery. I'm not 100% sure if those two ever ended up balancing right, but I do think this was the correct way to go with the ending.

    Subterranean Press Interview ()
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    Gwenda Bond

    Before we jump in on the third installment [of Legion], can you tell me a little about where this idea came from and how it developed into this novella series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I was talking with my friend Dan Wells, who was writing a story about a schizophrenic. I started brainstorming this idea about a person whose hallucinations helped them, kind of turning it into a super power. Dan laughed and said, "That’s much more a Brandon story than a Dan story," and he was right—so eventually, I decided to write it myself.

    Miscellaneous 2016 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    [Discussion of Lightweavers manipulating other forms of electromagnetic radiation]

    But the ultimate form (That Brandon said would be too much to be practical both in needed stormlight and application) would be the control of Gamma Radiation. If this could be harnessed, Lightweavers could literally become mini nukes, or death guns. The biggest downside to making Gamma radiation would be the damage the lightweaver would most likely suffer. So gamma radiation is impractical but its a fun thought experiment. 

    The best part of this whole speculation was how excited Brandon was about my train of thought. I don't know if anyone had brought up this train of thought before. But he was happy to remind me that things will get pretty interesting when Lightweavers discover lasers and start using them in combat.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    unchainedt

    [The Oathgate map] can't be a very early Rosharan piece, because it lists the Shattered Plains, which weren't shattered when humans came. It also list all the current kingdom names, and the human kingdoms wouldn't have existed anywhere except Shinovar during the early days before humans ventured out elsewhere.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Anything on the artwork that uses that font is an annotation by Nazh.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    LoneWarmonger

    Can you write me something about Dalinar, who's my favorite character, that'll make me happy?:)

    Seriously, I'm very sensitive and Dalinar has to deal with some rough stuff in this book. My heart aches for him constantly, and I need a few words for comfort.:)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Dalinar has indeed dealt with some rough stuff, but most of that comes from the fact that he is willing to turn and face it down--which is sometimes, the only way to deal with it long-term. So while you can let your heart ache for him, also let it be the ache of someone who was willing to pull the thorn from their foot instead of continuing to walk upon it.

    And if you want something that might make you happy, in the original version of the book I forced Dalinar to have to kill Elhokar. I backed off from this when I rewrote the book for publication, realizing (I think rightfully) that I didn't need to push him into that, and the story worked better if he could help Elhokar instead of destroy him.

    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
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    Maya

    Before I read Oathbringer, I decided that if I had to pick an Order, I would be an Edgedancer. And then we got to the very end of Oathbringer, Mayalaran. It was very interesting, because my name is Maya, and I'm an Edgedancer, and I have long brown hair. And it kind of threw me for a loop. So I have to ask, who did you base that character off of?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That character is not based on anyone specific, but maybe I was channeling you somehow.

    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
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    Questioner

    Can you tell me something about Hoid that nobody really knows?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, I get asked this enough that I've run out of the easy facts. So usually, I have to RAFO that, just because rattling them off is really hard to do, the random facts ones. I used to be able to 'em, like early, I'm like, "This, that." But now, what do I say that won't be a spoiler? That's not known by anybody?

    Questioner

    Let me ask you this. Is Hoid basically collecting these different Investitures from all the different planets?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You have definitely seen him trying to do this on multiple worlds. You have seen evidence of him using Breaths and Allomancy, and you have seen him... do something like Lightweaving that he calls Lightweaving, and you have also seen him try to get AonDor and fail. That's in the extra bonus scene in Elantris.

    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
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    Questioner 1

    [Warbreaker] ends on, you could totally write a second one. Is that in the works?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is, but it's kind of a distant plan. It's kind of just more for fun. I wrote this-- I had already written Way of Kings, and I wrote this as a prequel to Way of Kings on a different world, and then it got published before Way of Kings got published. But the characters from this were already continuity in Way of Kings, so I just kept using them, because I figured it works out. Really, Warbreaker, I see it as Vasher's (and Nightblood, the sequel), the prequel, to where he came from, who was Kaladin's swordmaster in the first version of Way of Kings back when Kaladin was training to be a Shardbearer in the first book. Vasher was a major part of that, and Warbreaker was a flashback to where he'd come from.

    Questioner 2

    Vasher is Zahel, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, Vasher is Zahel from The Stormlight Archive. Who is still kind of the swordmaster, but he's no longer Kaladin's, it didn't work out that way. But he ends up as Renarin's instead.

    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
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    Questioner

    In between the first five [Stormlight books] and the second five, are you personally taking a ten-year break?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, it shouldn't be ten years. I do plan to write the third Mistborn trilogy. (Second trilogy being four books. But, you know.) I do plan to write the second Mistborn trilogy before I do that. But those should be 200K words, which means I should be able to write one, do a novella, write one, do a novella, write one. So we're talking about probably that taking me five years to do all those. And then I come back. So it's probably a five-year break, would be my guess, during which you get a trilogy of Mistborn books. We have to work in Elantris there somewhere, but I have to stay focused at the same time, so it's kind of hard.

    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
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    Questioner

    Matrim Cauthon, Kelsier, and Vasher all decide they need to get together and run a heist on Hoid. How do they do it? Why? And what are they looking for? Assuming they know where his "hideout" is...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mat has to be persuaded. He doesn't think this is worth it. Once he knows about Fortune, he'd be interested.

    Kelsier wants to beat him to a pulp.

    Vasher is very utilitarian about it, and agrees that having access to him would be smart, but dangerous.

    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
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    Questioner

    I also had a question about Sazed. When you were writing him as a character. So, I noticed he says "I think" a lot, which is a very Japanese thing to do.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. So, I've used this before; Galladon does it too, "kolo." A lot of Earth languages do it. Japanese is one, Korean does it. And it is one of these things-- we don't do it the same way in English. "You know?" But it is one of those things, and it is a cultural thing from the Terris people, and should be a tick that will help you pick out people who have been socialized like Terris people.

    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
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    Questioner

    At the end, Wit, with the little girl and the doll and bring the doll to life, it reminded me of Warbreaker.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, he was using Breath for that. He was using Breath he had gotten from somewhere, I'll say, but it was actually the other world's magic system. Vivenna was using them, too, in Oathbringer. When you see her fighting with her cloak. That's an actual fighting style people would do; her cloak's doing some extra stuff.