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    Brandon Sanderson

    The publisher who's doing Isaac [Stewart]'s Monsters Don't Wear Underpants book came to use and said, "Hey, we really like this story in Oathbringer of The Girl Who Looked Up." And they said, "We think this would make a nice children's book." And Isaac knows way more about children's books than I do. And he suggested it needs some revisions to actually work as a children's book. And I suggested some revisions. And he's like, "These probably aren't actually going to work for the children's book." And he suggested some revisions which did work. And so I just said, "Isaac, you just take it over." So it's going to be co-authored by us. The first thing that's, like, officially co-authored. (Except we did get the Nicki Savage story.)

    Theoretically, we will sometime... still years away. But we'll have a picture book of The Girl Who Looked Up that takes my writing from the book, Isaac adapts it so it works as a children's book, and then art directs hiring out to get the artwork done. So that will be the first thing you can actually buy from the both of us.

    Isaac Stewart

    Probably, yeah. I think we're looking (and it may have been in the State of the Sanderson) some time in 2021. It really depends on when the art and when the writing comes together. But we're in the middle of that process right now.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've warned Isaac that Book Four has a really good one that'll work pretty well, as well.

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    Isaac Stewart

    If we ever see the Nicki Savage stories, one of the actors who played Vin shows up. On stage.

    Brandon Sanderson

    If you want to read some of Isaac's writing, he wrote the Nicki Savage story in the broadsheets.

    Isaac Stewart

    The broadsheets in Shadows of Self and the broadsheets for Bands of Mourning were probably 95% me.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I wrote the Allomancer Jak one in the first one. And the second one is Allomancer Jak also, but you wrote it. And then you wrote Nicki Savage, which is Allomancer Jak's protege. And we still kind of want to do a Nicki Savage novel, at some point. Isaac wants to do it. Isaac is one of the only people on the planet... like, I'm happy doing collaborations on non-Cosmere stuff with my other writer friends, but the Cosmere is so intricate that most people cannot write in it, we don't think. We even had trouble with the White Sand graphic novel. We had a fantastic novel on that, but they just weren't steeped in the cosmere in the way they needed to be. If there's ever writing to be done in the Cosmere that I can't do, it's probably going to Isaac, if he wants to.

    Isaac Stewart

    It'll go through all the same process to make sure that it's canonical.

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    What is the process for you to create a symbol or map for a book?

    Isaac Stewart

    Both of those have kind of a different process. If you look at the overview, the process is the same, and it's the same process that a lot of time is used for plotting the book, where you start macro and then go down to the micro level. So, I'll talk about each of those separately.

    For a symbol, it's usually Brandon coming to me and saying, "We need a symbol for this series." Or I realize we need a symbol for this series. Let's say the Nalthis one. We just came up with that, we put it on the spine of the Warbreaker leatherbound.

    So we said, "We don't have a symbol for Nalthis. What do we want that to be?" And I talked to Brandon, and we said, "Maybe a symbol of the Tears of Edgli." And so, we talk about, "What are the Tears of Edgli? What do we know that's canonical? What do you have in your head?" And we kind of came up with a story about them. And then I just start drawing.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, if you don't know what these, the Tears of Edgli are flowers that they get a specific dye for that are briefly mentioned in the books. But they are where the Shardpool is in Warbreaker. So it's actually pretty relevant, although in the first book, it doesn't actually pop up all that much. But they are Invested flowers, basically.

    Isaac Stewart

    So we thought that would be a good symbol for the world of Nalthis, you take one of its Investitures and make that into a symbol. So I draw a bunch of flowers at this point, and we say, "What looks cool? What is going to be symbolic?" So you can see there's five lobes sticking up, five lobes sticking down. There are references to the number five in this book that have different meanings. Like the Five Scholars, and there was five something else. Anyway. So you'll see that one is sticking up, and one is sticking down. And there's more symbolism in that, as well.

    But I do a bunch of symbols, I show them to Brandon, and I say, "Okay, which ones of these do you like? What don't you like?" And then we narrow it down. And then I iterate on that, and I do another version where we get a little bit closer. And once we get it close in the sketch realm, I take it into Illustrator, make some nice vectors so it can print out really well on the foil or as we're doing decals or different things like that.

    Another thing that I have in the back of my mind when I'm making is symbols is that I want them to be cool. Because we've noticed (and this was not something I noticed early on), but I noticed people will want to get stickers and put them on their laptops. Or they'll want to get them tattooed. And if somebody's gonna do something permanent like that, I want them to be cool. So that's something that's always in the back of my head, is: "This has got to look cool, in case somebody wants to tattoo it on themselves. I don't want to responsible for something dumb."

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    Brandon Sanderson

    A lot of you may know I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Korea, in Seoul. And missionaries have one day off a week, basically they call it P-Day. It's not a full day off, but it's basically a day off. Preparation Day. It's very common that missionaries will go play basketball or something. I'm not a sports fan; I appreciate sports. So I bought this sketchbook, because I wanted something that I could write in while watching my companions play basketball. And this is White Sand, my first novel. Handwritten. In '95 on these sheets of paper. And you can see me crossing things out, doing revisions, making my own kind of little dotted line here to do a scene separation, and stuff like this. And I just filled these things. With these tiny things. I can still read it.

    "He wants you to visit him today?" Kenton repeated. "Who?"

    "Regent. The Tower Seat."

    I wanted you guys to see this. If there's ever a Brandon Sanderson museum, that needs to go in it. And that's how I wrote my entire first novel that I ever finished. Though, I didn't have a lot of time. One day a week. I didn't finish it those two years on my mission.

    I came back and got a job. And the job was selling ties in a kiosk in the mall in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Because, while i was raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, my parents moved to Idaho while I was away on my mission. So I came back to a job selling ties. And it was actually a pretty good job, but you could only talk to people if they came up and started looking at your kiosk. Which was great; I'm not going to have to bother people; if they are interested, I can help them. But that also left me a lot of downtime to work on the stories. I had that. I also had a second job, which was selling corn out of a truck by the side of the road. (These are the great things my parents had lined up for me, when I got back.) And both of those left me time to keep working on the book. And then I eventually got it all done and typed it out and had my first novel finished. I think I finished typing that out after I'd gone back to BYU, and I finished the book. So, really, it took me from about '95 until '98 to write my first book. But part of that time was only one day a week.

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    How do you and Ben McSweeney collaborate on making illustrations for the Stormlight books? Does Brandon give you the ideas first, or do you both come up with your own concepts for your art?

    Isaac Stewart

    We're starting to settle into a way that this works with Ben, me, and Brandon. And it's usually that Brandon will say, "Hey, Isaac, this is what I'm thinking about for the book. I want to have this many pieces of plants, this many pieces of animals," whatever it may be. And he'll oftentimes tell me what those things are. I will give descriptions to Ben McSweeney. If they are hard descriptions, then we'll say, "Ben, we're kind of thinking we need something like this," and then he has a lot more leeway on those particular items. So, right now, we're working on some spren pieces. Ben has been drawing different kinds of spren.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Basically how all the Radiant spren look in Shadesmar, and in the Physical Realm. That's what Shallan's gonna be sketching for us in the next book.

    Isaac Stewart

    And then there's been some things where Brandon has told us, "This is what it's like," but he doesn't say what the clothing is like. So Ben will go on his experience on what he's read in the books, and he'll come up with something, and then we say yea or nay. And most of the times, we will go with some variation of what Ben has done. On these latest ones, there's only been one that we've really had to go back on and say "give us another concept," but that just speaks to how good Ben is.

    Brandon Sanderson

    He's really in tune with these books. I usually have an idea of what I want Ben to do. And you usually have some leeway to do the things you want to do. Like, if we go to Oathbringer, I would have said, "Here's the couple things I'm planning for Ben." He does the bulk of the art. He does the Shallan sketchbook pages. But then Isaac came back and said, "I think I want to do this thing with the wines," or "I want to do this thing with how you write glyphs."

    Isaac Stewart

    Mythica, I don't remember if you or I came up with that idea. But I read the book, and then I just make notes, and then I come to Brandon and I say, "These are the ones you want. Here are some other ideas; what do you think is good for fleshing things out for this book?"

    Brandon Sanderson

    We have never found a place for the Ten Fools, have we? We've bumped that one from Words of Radiance, to Oathbringer, and still haven't done it yet.

    Isaac Stewart

    Yeah, we don't know if it will even be in [Stormlight Four], either. But eventually, we'll get there.

    I'm at the beginning of that process for Stormlight Four. I can tell you that we will have a second page of glyphs from Nazh, from his time in the ardentia.

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    Evelyn Basher

    Have you ever written something you regret because it misrepresented your personal values in books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    An example of violence being over the line actually got cut. This comes from Oathbringer, and it's during one of Dalinar's flashback sequences. And there is a sequence where, to not give too many spoilers, he ends up trapped beneath an avalanche of stone. And I wrote a scene where he comes out, he is consumed by the Thrill, and he goes to town on the people who are trying to kill him in some really graphic ways. (For me. Like, nothing maybe compared to what George [Martin] will write. But for me.) Man, there were heads being crushed, and stuff like this. I wrote this, and it was the mindset I was getting into, being Dalinar. And I got done, and I actually didn't come back to it until I was in the writing group, and the writing group was like, "Woah. We know Dalinar was brutal, but Woah! Do we have to see all this?" And I thought, "Wow, no. We don't have to see all this. I'm gonna trim that down." I can still release it online, if people want to see it. We'll try to get Adam to get a deleted scene of that put up, if you really want to see Dalinar go to town on a bunch of people. But, in this case, I'm like, "This just felt wrong" when I was going back to it. I went over a line I didn't want to cross in the level of brutality in the book. And this is not to be a commentary on anyone else's lines. You may hear this and be like, "Oh man, I wish that were in the book." But the books are a representation of what I want them to be. So, that's an example of when I went over the line.

    I do think the initial painting of Ash, in the front of Oathbringer, ended up... her clothing ended up being more transparent than I had realized when we were looking at the artwork. We asked a bunch of artists to paint, for the Heralds, basically the version of Sistine Chapel that might exist on Roshar, the ten Heralds represented instead of the prophets at the sides of the Sistine Chapel. And Dan Dos Santos is an amazing artist, and he painted an amazing picture of Ash, and I saw it, and Isaac's like, "Do you think this is a little too risque to put in the front of our book?" And I thought, "No, I don't think it is," because I was looking at the slit on her dress, and I'm like "Ah, it's fine." I wasn't realizing that he was saying, "Hey, this is transparent, and you can see kind of more than perhaps you might want to be seeing." And the book came out, and people were like, "Hey, why is there a naked woman in the front cover of your book?" Now, again, some of you may be saying, "Really? Brandon, that is super tame." And this all kind of depends on your own worldview, and things like that. I remember hearing a cool story once about speeding, where a comedian said, "Isn't it funny that anyone going slower than you is someone you're like, 'That's such a slow person! How come they can't just go the right speed? That person is terrible!' But anyone who passes you? You're like, 'That person's a maniac. Look at how fast they're going!' It doesn't really matter how fast you're going. You're still going to have this inclination that anyone going slower than you is obstructing the flow of traffic, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac that is going to cause bodily harm to everyone around them." Obviously, not 100% true. But it rang true with me. And I feel like that's how this sort of thing goes. And for me, Ash's outfit was too transparent. And we talked to Dan and said, "Can you just make the dress a little less transparent." And he's like, "Oh yeah, sure, absolutely." Had no problem with it. And in the second printing, the dress was where we would like it. Which still, to some people, is probably too transparent. And to other people, you're like, "You silly Mormon. Why do you even care about this?" But it is part of my moral compass, and so I want to release the books where I feel comfortable.

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    What was the hardest decision you've had to make as an art director?

    Isaac Stewart

    A hard decision that we had to make was with the Warbreaker endpapers. Dan Dos Santos gave us, like, six different sketches, and they were all gorgeous. And we had to make a decision based on that. Some of them were better pieces of art, if you were to just hang them in an art gallery. And some of them worked better for the book. And we chose what worked better for the book, which were still gorgeous. But there were some there that I think would have made really great pieces of art on their own. That was a hard decision.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's always hard. When we get the sketches from the artists saying, "Here are the five cool things I can do." And we're like, "I want you to do all of these!" But we don't have space for all of them.

    Isaac Stewart

    Most of the time, everything they send is great, and it makes it really difficult to decide on that.

    I'd have to think about if if it was, like, a heavy difficult decision. But usually, it's the everyday "good, good, or better" pieces of art.

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    Many People

    Inquiring about the sequel to The Rithmatist.

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's a couple things going on with The Rithmatist that make it difficult. The first one is that The Rithmatist was the book series I was working on when The Wheel of Time came along, and it is the biggest casualty of The Wheel of Time, in that when The Wheel of Time came along I dropped everything else. And a lot of authors have this issue. If you do a book, and then your career changes dramatically, it can be sometimes very hard to go back to that book and kind of recapture who you were back in that time. It's sometimes really hard to go back and capture who you were. When I tried to go back to the Ritmatist sequel, I had that problem. It was this sense of, "I have to make sure this sequel fits with the first one."

    Now, I'm going to be doing this with Elantris sequels pretty soon. (Pretty soon in Cosmere writing terms, which means in five years or something, probably. After Stormlight Five.) So I will have to kind of learn how to do it. But when I went back, and I had a shot to do Rithmatist 2, years later. Like, Rithmatist was written in 2007, and then we sat on it for years, because I knew getting to a sequel was gonna be hard for me. And finally, Tor's just like, "We need to release this book." And I said, "Okay, we need to release this book." And I wish I had had the foresight to go back and change the ending a little bit so it didn't promise quite so much in a sequel. I do still intend to do one, but it was just really hard to get back into it.

    And then there's some other things. Any time you're dealing with real world history, it requires a level of sensitivity that, particularly in the first book, I was not as aware of when I was writing during that part of my career. And I wrote some things that I now consider insensitive towards some Native American cultures. They aren't a big part of The Rithmatist, but they are there. So that puts The Rithmatist in this place where, if I go back to it, I need to be a little more aware of what I'm doing. It's rough, because it's alternate history, so there are things that I am changing about our history. But there are also things that I can change about our history that are insensitive to do. And, like I said, I don't think it is a thing that really ruins Rithmatist, but it's there when I see it now, and I'm like "Uh." I can do a better job, and I should. But that also means that I can't just rush into a sequel. So I want to be careful when I write that sequel, and be aware of what I'm doing.

    So, this will happen. But I don't know when. And I can't promise when. Because both of those issues make it difficult for me to get back to it, and have repeatedly made it difficult for me to get back to it.

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    Is there any specific instance where you hid something in one of your books that only other Mormons would recognize?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, I don't really do this that much. Because my heritage and my faith are both LDS, there are certain things that other people have come to me and said, "Hey, was this influenced by your religion?" I'm like, "Ha, yeah, probably was." But I didn't sit down and hide things in there. Most of those are, people notice it and come to me and I'm like "Yeah, that probably did come from that." I'm sure there are some things.

    Like, you asked specifically for members of the church, but there is a point in the Wheel of Time where Rand basically quotes a line in the Bible where God basically says, "Before all these other people, I AM. I existed then; I still exist." And one of the things that Jim liked to do was put references to Rand kind of echoing or fulfilling or starting mythological things that you can find in many different religions. And I put this thing where he says, "Before Lews Therin was, I am," into the Wheel of Time. That was less to be an Easter egg, and more because it's the sort of the thing that Robert Jordan did, and I wanted a few of those. Of course, I also have Rand perform one of the Buddha's famous miracles, which is being able to release both fire and ice from his body at the same time, which is one of the famous things of Siddhartha, the Buddha. So I was just kind of looking for things like that to put into the Wheel of Time for Rand.

    But I'm drawing a blank on this. I'm sure there are some things that I've written that come from my heritage, that as I wrote them I'm like "Oh yeah, that's kind of like this," and that other people would notice. But I don't hide things like that, generally.

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    Brent Mulvey

    Would you let Magic: The Gathering do a Stormlight Archive series expansion?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, absolutely. It is one of my dreams. In fact, I've been really excited to see them doing now... they're only Hasbro properties, which Magic is owned by parent company Hasbro, but they're doing some of this. They did some Transformers card; they even have their own kind of new Transformers game that is tied in with Magic, like it's compatible with Magic but has its own rules and things, which I think is really cool. And they did some My Little Pony cards. Which we made sure to get, because we have some Ponies fans in house at Dragonsteel here, and they were for charity. And so, if they were ever interested, at all, then I would jump at the chance.

    Now, I don't know how likely that is, because in these days, the philosophy for a lot of companies (which is a pretty wise philosophy, and Magic is one of them) is: build your own IP, rather than relying on someone else's IP. And Wizards of the Coast has experience with this. They have made in the past (and lost) the rights to various different IPs, including the Pokemon card game, and I think they did the Star Wars one for a while. And I can see how it would smart to have access to this, to do all this work on something, and then just have the license lapse and get pulled from you. And you would say, "You know what? I would rather just make my own." And they are pretty good at making their own.

    So, if there were a chance to do this, I would absolutely jump at it. It would be one of my dreams, to have it happen, because it is my favorite game. But I'm also not holding my breath, and I'm not going to be offended if this is not something that they ever want to do.

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    How was Perfect State born? Will you come back to develop the idea?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Perfect State grew out of me wanting to... a lot of the classic sort of cyberpunk idea, Matrix sort of idea, is: we live in a simulation, and this is just a terrible thing. And that's a pretty cool story, right? I don't know that I would want to discover I'm in a simulation. But, as often is the origin of some of my stories, I am thinking about, "Well, can I reverse that trope? What if living in a simulation, there was a really good reason for us to do it, and it actually turned out pretty well?" The idea of being: we solve overpopulation by giving everybody their own perfect place to live, in which they get to be some sort of cool hero and/or political figure. That felt like it was a cool thing to explore, where the story was not talking about how terrible this was, but was instead talking about the natural problems that arise. And I consider those two different things. Like, if I espouse a specific political philosophy (not to make this political), it is not me saying that political philosophy is without problems. (Because it probably is.) It is just I feel like the problems that philosophy has are ones that I would rather deal with, and are easier to deal with, than the problems another political philosophy might have. So, with Perfect State, the point of the story was not, "Hey, this would be perfect!" (Even though it's called Perfect State. That's kind of the irony of the title, right?) It's that "This is gonna have some problems. Let's explore what those problems would be and how the people who live in the system deal with it."

    I could see myself coming back. Like, the two main characters of the story definitely have different goals and philosophies, and that is not resolved at the end of the story, even though the story itself is resolved. So I can see coming back even to those same characters. But there's a lot on my plate, so I can't promise when or if. I do know where the story would go. But that's very common for me.

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    Stubble McShave

    You say that fantasy can be any genre, with dragons. However, you've never had dragons in your book. Can you see yourself putting some classical fantasy monsters into your fiction?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. There are dragons in the cosmere. The very second Cosmere book I wrote was called Dragonsteel. Dragons are the one classical fantasy thing that will make an appearance in the cosmere. You haven't seen any dragons that actually look like dragons in any of the books yet. Because dragons in the cosmere are shapeshifters in kind of the classic D&D trope style of thing.

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    John Dean

    Inquiring about the possibility of new things coming to the Reckoners world?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Actually, yes, I am working on something new with the Reckoners right now, that I can't quite announce yet, but it is likely to be audio original. I think I talked a little bit about that in State of the Sanderson.

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    Kai Ellie

    If you bonded a spren, what do you think its personality would be like?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Boy, I have no idea. I like it when spren contrast. So it would probably be hyper-emotional, would be my guess. 'Cause it would make for better storytelling that way.

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    Emma Mensinger

    How did you decide the forms that spren will take when they appear? For example, rainspren looking like melted candles?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Part of this is just, I wanted interesting visuals. Part of this is kind of playing a little with mythology. So, the spren started as personifications of weather, and things like that. The earliest version of Syl, she was just the personification of the East Wind, and there were four Winds, which is a very classic idea. And that evolved over time into all of these spren taking a little more of a shinto approach to it than a classical Greek mythology approach to it, where it started. But a lot of these were then me looking for things that would be bizarre, interesting visuals, and somehow reinforce what I was trying to do.

    For example, rainspren are a great example. The way they stare up and look like a candle are both reinforcements. During the Weeping, when they are most common, spheres stop working, and you've gotta start using candles. The way they stare at the sky unblinking, it's unnatural. You're staring at the sky, and the rain hits your eyeball, you're going to blink. And they just look up at it, and I like that kind of contrast, that dissonance.

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    Blaine Lasarr

    How did you decide which human personality aspects to assign to Shards? I feel like there's a real-life story here.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's a little less real-life story, and a little more like how I divided up the metals in Mistborn. More along the lines of, "I need each of these emotions or attributes to be distinctive, and I need each of the characters, the Vessels, to be distinctive who hold them." And so, because I am building sixteen of these things, it means that I have to do a lot of work to make them all individual, and things like this. And my worldbuilding in that area was less along the lines of "story I had in my life causing me to do this" and more "man, I have to do sixteen of these, let's try to make them all distinctive. No, those two seem too similar; let's do a different one there." And lots of trial and error along those lines.

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    Austin Alager

    How much of the cosmere did you plan ahead when you started? What advice would you give for writing an extended universe, aside from making each book stand on its own?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You've got the most important one there already, so good for you.

    I did not have most of the cosmere (in fact, any of the cosmere) really ready when I wrote Elantris. I have a big advantage in that my early books were terrible and didn't get published, and so when I did get published, I knew what I was doing, I had already written a bunch of these books, I had already started putting them in the same universe, and I was able to do a reboot, basically, from the beginning by releasing Elantris and Mistborn. If those early books had been published, then the cosmere would be a lot less cohesive than it is, because I was able to say, "Wow, someone bought Elantris (which was the first book I wrote back in the Cosmere sequence, back before I really knew it was going to be the Cosmere sequence)." When I put the pool in, I had no idea what the pool was. I just put it in. I'm like, "This is a cool thing. I'll figure out what to do with it." But, by the time I was writing Mistborn, I had put pools into things like Aether of Night, and I had the whole of Adonalsium (I came up with that while writing Dragonsteel, which was the book I wrote after Elantris). So, it was really fortunate that I was able to basically do a reboot and restart continuity by publishing Elantris and then writing the Mistborn trilogy, knowing by then about the whole cosmere and things like that.

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    John Robert Dax Dyson

    Where did the inspiration for Kaladin's fighting style came from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Classic spearman fighting is based off of rank and file spear formations. Nothing too spectacular. I did mix it with a little bit of Eastern spear-fighting, specifically some Chinese spear-fighting, but really your classic spear-fighting technique is pretty multicultural, what you're gonna want to do with a spear. I add flourishes, which come more from katas now and than than they do from actual real-world fighting.

    Though a good resource for this is Matt Easton's channel on YouTube, Schola Gladiatoria, because what he will do is he will have people doing historical martial arts, and they will do ten bouts of a person with a spear versus a person with a spear. Most of these are European, but spear-fighting tends to be pretty similar across cultures. And just watching some short spear fights, or spear versus sword... I specifically watched a bunch of those bouts for Adolin's spear-versus-knife fight that we had in Oathbringer. Just really handy, the fact that he films large bouts like that and puts them on the internet.

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    Stephen Kundy

    If you were to write Elantris now, with all the writing experience that you've gained over your career, would you change anything?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, there are a lot of things I would change about Elantris. I have an autistic character in Elantris that I did not do a very good job with. It's more of a pop science version of autism than it is an actual in-depth look at what it is to live with autism. My prose is pretty rough, back then. Prose has never been my strongest suit, granted, but I do think I've gotten a lot better over the last twenty years. (Published fifteen, but twenty years ago, I wrote it.) I think my prose has improved dramatically over the years, and I think my ability to do dialogue has improved, and a lot of things like that.

    Would I change any major plot features of Elantris? No. I'm actually fairly pleased with Elantris, plot-wise. There are aspects to it, right? I mean, Raoden's character arc is primarily externally driven. He is not a character who is going through a big change internally. But that was intentional. When I sat down to write it, the book I had written right before was about a deep and angsty character who had one of these very, very dramatic character arcs. And I was tired of angst, and I wanted somebody who dealt with external pressure in a fantastic way and was put into a very extreme situation externally and was someone who was kind of a little more like me in that that didn't really faze him, and he did his best with the situation. And I like that aspect of it. It does mean that some people who read it think Raoden isn't as deep as someone like Kaladin. Which you are perfectly fine in thinking that, but I think they are just different types of characters. I wasn't trying to write somebody angsty in Raoden, and I am pleased with how he turned out.

    Sarene, as a character, was always kind of me trying to write someone who was a little more confident than they, perhaps, deserved to be. And that's a personality trait of Sarene. I actually, when I was plotting Stormlight, I once described Jasnah to someone in my writing group as "the person that Sarene thinks she is." And I like that about Sarene. She's young. She's got gumption and grit. And she's not quite as capable as she thinks she is, but you know what? Thinking you're capable can get you a long ways, as long as you have a minimum level of capability. And she does.

    And I'm very proud of Hrathen as an antagonist. It has taken me until The Way of Kings and Taravangian to find someone that I feel is as strong an antagonist as Hrathen from my very first book. I'm still very pleased with how he turned out.

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    If you were basing a magic system in part on real-world physics or chemistry, how far down the rabbit hole of science would you go at making it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Most of mine are based on real-world science and physics, but with a hefty dose of fantasy.

    The Rosharan magic systems are based on the fundamental forces, right? That's where they started. That's not where they ended, right? You can really only recognize gravitation from the fundamental forces as actually still being a thing in the Rosharan magic system. But the idea of fundamental forces. I'm like, "Well, what would the weak force look like as a magic system?" And I just kind of went crazy off from that.

    So, I tend to use the real-world physics as a very squishy springboard from which I go some direction off on some weird tangent and come up with a magic system. Allomancy was based, in part, off of vector physics. But, I mean, I write fantasy. I do not write hard science fiction.

    And so, if I were gonna take one and really try to stay close, then I could see myself going pretty deeply down the rabbit hole. But then, I just kind of ask myself, "What am I breaking? What am I changing? What am I trying to achieve? What's the affect I'm going for in doing this?"

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    Untamed Banana

    I'm very curious about who writes the Ars Arcanum?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ars Arcanum are all written by Khriss. She is a character from White Sand, which was my first novel. Never got published, but we did the graphic novel versions of it. She appears on-screen at a party with Wax in the third Wax and Wayne book. She dances with him.

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    If you could have one of your characters made as an android and unleashed upon the world, who would it be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's an interesting phrasing.

    Lift. Unleash Lift upon the world, and see what she does.

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    If you had to choose a creature from Roshar to be your pet, what would it be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It would be a larkin, obviously. This was the little beasty that was given to Rysn in the second book. They are very cool in that they feed on Investiture, and that turns out to be a really handy power to have. If you're not going to have magic of your own in the cosmere, then having the ability to eat other people's magic is really handy. Plus, they are the closest thing that I've had appear on-screen in a non-humanoid form to a dragon so far in the books. They're little lizard wasp dragons. Yeah, wasp-dragon, I would say, is what a larkin is. And that would be a really cool thing to have.

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    Bruno Veil Fernandez

    Which character had an easy concept, but was harder to translate onto paper?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Sazed was harder to translate to paper. I often go back to him, because his arc in the third Mistborn book is one of the hardest that I've ever writen. It took a lot of revision. And on paper, it was pretty easy. "Character gets depression, because everything he's believed in turns out to potentially be a sham." That is really hard to write. Turns out that a mental affliction that encourages you to not get out of bed, not do anything, and tries to push you to be inactive meshes really poorly with trying to write characters in a novel. Getting depression right can often be soul-crushing for the reader and really boring, which is quite a challenge, because we do want to get it right if we're going to include characters with depression. But, at the same time, a person who has trouble getting out of bed every day can wear on you to read. And it's one of those things where being realistic adds a whole host of challenges.

    And my advice, if you are doing this, is to make sure that there is either some external force forcing them to keep going, or some sort of sense of progression, even if it's downward progression, that the reader can watch and feel a sense of motion to the character's arc.

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    Eric Culver

    How do you feel about fans naming their kids after your characters? My wife knows two people with kids named Kaladin?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I find it a mark of great respect and honor that people are naming kids after my characters. It also means that, maybe, some of my names aren't terrible. My very first book, Elantris, when I published it. Elantris was the book where I kind of went out there with my linguistics. And several of the reviewers noticed. They were like, "These names are just so hard to say and so weird. Sanderson needs to calm down on the naming!" So, when people name their kids after characters then I'm like, "Oh, good. At least they're not so weird that people won't name their kids after them."

    It's really cool. I remember when I met my first Rand, my first Perrin, which both happened before I was working on The Wheel of Time. It's always been really cool to me. I like it. I like meeting Arwens. I wish that fantasy names were a little more frequent in our society. I think that they're very cool.

    So, it's awesome. I will try to live up to the respect you have shown me by naming children after my characters.

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    Glen Castergene

    Where did you research addiction, and what made you put a character into your books who was battling addiction?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, this character that was battling addiction actually started, first appearance was in Mythwalker, which is the book that became Warbreaker. It was my ninth novel. (During those days, for those who don't know, I wrote thirteen before I sold one.) This character really stuck with me; it was me trying to do something that is very different from my own personal experience, looking to try to make a character sympathetic who struggles with something that a lot of people struggle with in our world. And one of my goals in putting characters like this into my books is to try to help humanize, because we all have these issues we deal with, and we all have different things to our psychology, and some of them can be pretty difficult to deal with. Some mental illness can just be a real kick to the head. And I see a lot of fiction that does a poor job of humanizing people like this.

    And this was a character that, when I wrote him, I didn't know what I was doing, but the character really connected with me. And so, I put the character back in, I added them to the Stormlight Archive, and then I started to do my research. You can read, in the acknowledgements, some of the people that have been very helpful in me understanding addiction to the point that I hope I can get it right in the stories. But it is really important to me. There was something about writing this character that made me understand addiction, and people who were dealing with addiction, in a way I hadn't before. And that's something that I love about writing.

    The other thing is, I didn't want magic to become a panacea, to get rid of hard things in people's lives. That's kind of important to me, because I think it can be very dangerous to write, "Well, the way to get over this sort of thing is just to get some magical powers!" (Which, of course, doesn't work in real life, in the real world.) And I don't want to not give people who deal with things like this the escapism that some of us will get my being able to read a book about someone who has a magical cure to an affliction they're dealing with. That is part of why they read, is this ability to escape from our problems into a world where the problems become different, and perhaps more surmountable. I acknowledge that what I'm doing does make that difficult, but I feel like the humanizing of people who are, maybe, not psychonormative or who deal with serious issues like addiction is more important to me.

    And the writing felt right. At the end of the day, there's all these reasons that we can give for why I do things, that are intellectual reasons. But at the end of the day, it just feels right. The characters I'm writing feel like themselves, and that's who they are. And to not write them well would be a betrayal of trying to tell this character's story.

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    Deana Whitney

    Why aren't there more pets in your worlds? Will we get more in future books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    One of the reasons there aren't more pets is because my main series is The Stormlight Archive, and there's just not room for both spren as companions and pets. They kind of lfill a similar roll. You can say, for the same reason, we don't have them in Elantris. And in Mistborn, we basically have OreSeur the wolfhound filling that role. And so, I kind of slotted into that role in the story these sapient companions to the main characters. And there're just too many things to juggle sometimes by adding too many (even characters that are obviously just pets) into stories.

    Now, that doesn't mean I won't do it now and then, but that's the main reason you're not seeing as many. But, I mean, you could argue that the aviar are pets. But you could also argue that they're not, that they are these sapient companions, because aviar have more than animal intelligence. But, at least I've written a couple of stories with pet-like entities.

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    What changes, if any, would you like to see in the fantasy genre for this upcoming new decade?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I get asked questions like this on occasion, and I do have trouble answering, because if there are changes I want to see, I just kind of do them in my writing. And it's hard for me to feel that I should speak for an entire genre, particularly one so varied as fantasy.

    I have been very interested by some of the trends that have been happening lately in fantasy. I think fantasy has gone some really interesting places, with different types of stories and different types of backgrounds leading to fantasy novels. I would certainly like to see that continue. It's been very good for the genre, I believe. But I don't have, really, any axes to grind about where the fantasy genre should go. Which is very different for me now than when I was young, trying to break in.

    Maybe that simply comes down to the fact that right now, I am the establishment, rather than the person looking to buck the establishment. So, for someone like me, the fantasy genre seems like it's in a great place, because people are buying my books! But, when I was young... I don't want to say I was more self-righteous, but I think in my desire to see my style of fantasy do better, I was less willing to acknowledge that, as far as taste goes, it doesn't matter what you love in stories (within normal limits), as long as they are books that people are writing with passion and you're enjoying reading, right? So, when I was younger, I might have said, "There are too many Tolkien-esque fantasies being published!" Where now, I say, "Hey, people, they like Tolkien-esque fantasies. That's great! Everybody loves Tolkien!" What's wrong with fantasy being Tolkien-esque if people enjoy it?

    So, I'm much less likely to try to say what fantasy should be, and just more enjoying the fact that I feel like we have, in fantasy, the single most interesting and diverse genre on the vast face of the planet. It is the genre where anything can happen, and your imagination is unlimited. And I love that about the genre, and I certainly would like to see that continue and to see where it goes.

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    Does the term Brightlord/Brightness have anything to do with eye color? Or is it related to the fact that money and artificial light are synonymous?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. The problem here, answering this, does it have only to do with eye color? No, of course not. But eye color, and the fact that money glows, are both things that have been themes in Vorin culture for thousands of years now. And because of that, the two are very closely interlinked, it would be hard to pick which one is causing this and pull the other one out.

    So, it is both. If you would an Alethi, they would probably say it has more to do with eye color. But culturally, the fact that money glows is just really deeply embedded into the way they think about light and the way they think about wealth and that sort of thing.

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    If you had to write a nonfiction book, what topic would it be about?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Writing. That is a bit of a softball.

    I have considered it. One of the reasons I do things like Writing Excuses and my class is because they use different parts of my brain than writing does. If I sat down to write about writing, I could just be working on one of my stories, most likely, and I'm most likely going to just start doing that, because I'm behind on everything. So, a writing book is unlikely to happen. But if it did, it would be a writing book of me talking about motivation, and stuff like that, which I don't know if anyone wants to read, but I find very fascinating.

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    Cody Skomauski

    I've struggled with mental illness my whole life. Reading about your characters like Shallan, Kaladin, and Dalinar, that all have some degree of mental illness, start their path to recovery after forming a Nahel bond is very interesting to me. Is it a requirement for a Knight Radiant to be broken in some way prior to the bond? Where did you get this idea? Or was it just how it turned out?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's a bunch of different answers to this, a variety of directions I can go. Part of it is, this is how it turned out. As I was developing the characters, I knew very early on, after the 2002 version didn't quite work, I knew what I wanted to do with Kaladin. And Shallan's character has always been a central feature of who she was, even before I came up with her modern version of the character. So there was a theme building there on its own. And when I notice a theme, I ask myself, "Is there a reason I'm looking at doing this? Why is it a theme?" And I realized this is something that was very interesting to me. I have several loved ones who have mental health issues that they deal with. It was something I didn't see done a lot in heroic or epic fantasy, and it felt very natural as a place to go. That the Knight Radiant bond is about making this bond with this spren and striving to become a better person.

    It is not required in-world. A lot of people, even in-world, think that it is, because it was so common. My kind of external answer to that, even though they don't know this in-world, is that people who have struggled with these kinds of problems are more open to walking the path that one needs to walk to become a Knight Radiant. The two go hand-in-hand, the kind of self-awareness, and the ability to see yourself, to be reflective, just goes hand-in-hand with working on some of these issues. And at the same time, I felt it just worked really well with the themes of the story, the themes that Dalinar has of redemption. And also, I think that the extreme circumstances that a lot of characters put through stories like the ones I write do lead people to have some difficulties, right? Even PTSD, and things like that. There's just a lot that goes hand-in-hand together with this.

    So the answer is, yes, it happened to be that way. But once I noticed it happened to be that way, I asked myself, "Is this a theme I'm doing on purpose, even if I haven't noticed it?" And the answer to that was, "Yes, it is."

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    Chapter 36: Hero

    Dalinar thinking about Evi.

    With that pale hair and light golden skin, she was like a glowing gemstone.

    Now, maybe I am confused about Iri looks, but shouldn't it be other way around, pale skin and light golden hair?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Evi is Riran, so she has blonde hair rather than actual golden. The skin here is how we might describe someone in our world that way, rather than literal golden.

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    Are there any Dark Souls Easter eggs in any of your books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't think I've put any Dark Souls Easter eggs in. Maybe I should at some point. I don't think I've intentionally -- I stay away from pop culture Easter eggs in the Cosmere books. I do do Easter eggs, but they're usually like people that are my friends and family and things like that. There's a bit of a fourth wall break that happens.

    Not that I don't do it in some things. Like, the Krell are an Easter egg from Forbidden Planet. That word comes from that, which is one of my favorite old school sci-fi movies. So I do things like this all the time, but I don't go into it thinking, "I want to find an Easter egg to mention this!"

    Even stuff like where Wayne is reading a book about talking bunnies, people are like, "Ooh! It's an Easter egg reference to Watership Down!" I don't really mean it to be that. I mean it to be that talking animal books are just a thing that happens in a lot of cultures, and I felt like it felt natural for this timeframe, there. It wasn't me even referencing -- I try to stay away from references to our world, but I do it on occasion, so it's a very valid question. And maybe there are some things I've done that I don't even remember doing.

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    Dane Brown

    Hypothetically, if Kelsier were to meet Kaladin, what would he say?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably "don't be so hard on yourself, kid." That would probably be what Kelsier says. He would do some version of "I've been there, don't be so hard on yourself. You can't fix it all." That's what my gut says.

    Kelsier would really like Kaladin. He's the sort of person that Kelsier just... Kelsier loves to see and recognize the people who are just innately good and trying to do good. He's drawn to that because it's not something that is natural to him, if that makes any sense. He can recognize it, though. And it's one of those things that he kind of wants to preserve in the world. And he would really like Kaladin.

    Adam Horne

    Would Kaladin like Kelsier?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably not. But Kelsier would probably be just fine with that.

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    Is it bad that I don't want to start reading stormlight until after you've finished it all. I hover over the buy button all the time, but can never bring myself to do it. Do you ever have the same problem reading a new series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I do--and I understand how you feel. As someone who spent years always waiting on the next book of the Wheel of Time, I certainly can't complain if you decide to wait.

    My goal is for book five to come to a kind of "mid-series climax" wrapping up several of the main plot arcs, so you could read there. But there WILL be things after that book, still dangling, that I won't get to until the back five books. So I could see someone wanting to wait until they're all done.

    Until then, there are plenty of finished series worth a read. Malazan book of the Fallen is done, for example, and is really well done.


    For the back 5, is it gonna be the same structure as the originals? Example being, interludes, 3 primary POVs, Keteks, etc.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mostly the same. Prologues should all be on the same day, but a different day from the first five. Will included flashbacks, in the same style, but will probably have more than three primary POVs. Not sure on Keteks yet.

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    When will the Wandersail ebook come out?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ballpark is October. In a perfect world, here is my process:

    Write it mid-July to mid-August. Beta read late August. Revisions early October. Copyedit done mid-October, to get to people a month before the new book.

    That's my goal, at least. Things can always slide--and I'll try to be up-front about that, if it happens.

    Note that I've been toying with a variety of different names. Wandersail might not be the best title, since that's the ship name--but it's not doing anything that has to do with the Wit story from book one. So I might call it something else, to prevent confusion.


    Sorry to distract you from everything else to ask another question, but I think previously you said you may revise The Apocalypse Guard in July as well. Will that still be the case?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I just went through my schedule, and realized that with Stormlight 4 taking a week or so longer than planned (current turn in date is expected to be the 10th) I'd need to push back AG a little bit. I still hope to get to it before the end of the year, but timing is going to be tight in July with the kickstarter and the novella, so I want to keep my attention on those. I also need to do a quick draft of Death by Pizza, which is still coming along. (Though the co-author and I call it Songs of the Dead now.)


    I literally 4 days ago found out about Songs of the Dead, and being a Heavy Metal fan, got so hyped.

    Brandon Sanderson

    One of our biggest challenges in the book so far has been to make it feel like it's sincerely about someone who is part of the culture (as my co-author is) without it turning into either a) sounding elitist or b) sounding like we're just Ready Player One style name-dropping a bunch of metal references. I think we're getting there, but there's a lot of nuance to writing something like this that is deeply entrenched in a specific sub-culture.


    Please don't forget Wax and Wayne 4!

    Brandon Sanderson

    I won't. Goal is to start that January 1st, after Skyward 3. Then I'll do the fourth (and final) Skyward book, on target (hopefully) for Stormlight 5 the following January.


    Can you give us a rough timeframe for the release of The Lost Metal?

    Also, can you give us a little tiny piece of non important information from the book so we can something to hold on until the release?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Goal: Finish by one year from today. Release date: Following spring/summer.

    Tidbit... Probably going to lead with a Wayne flashback, instead of a Wax flashback, in this one.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Herdazian food is very different [than Mexican food], there's just a few aspects that I used. The food, actually, I'm doing in Stormlight is more based off early 20th-century American street food, and the change to mobile cuisine. It's one of those fascinating things you can read about. And that's where the food like chouta is coming from, this idea of: as cultures intermix, and as Industrial Revolution stuff starts to happen, food starts to be portable. And I like that idea.

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    Mario Zekal

    We know heist movies like Sneakers were inspiration for Mistborn. Are there other genres or specific movies/TV shows that inspire you, and that you would want to give a fantasy/sci-fi twist?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've done most of the ones that I've thought of. I'm still waiting for the right place to do Count of Monte Cristo. I think that is a plot archetype that is not done quite as often, and can lend to some really interesting storytelling. So, you can be on the watch out for when I find a place to use that. I actually know exactly where it's going to go, but I'm not going to tell you. So, there's that one.

    I've used the underdog sports team. I've used the "get the team together" Avengers style thing. There's just so many plot archetypes out there that I'm watching for. So, yeah, I'll just tell you that: watch for the Count of Monte Cristo style of story, because I have a really interesting take on it. And if you're looking for another example of this, obviously Skyward is based on the "boy gets dragon egg" story, but turned on its head to a different style.

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    What inspired Lopen?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A couple things inspired Lopen. The first, and kind of most important thing, that inspired Lopen, was: I knew Bridge Four needed more light. Like, it needed somebody who just refused to be beaten down at all. Because things were so dark in the Bridge Four sequences, I knew I needed to add in somebody who just had a different personality. And I developed Lopen around that idea. Lopen is the guy that's going to be shoved into Hell and be like, "Hey, guys, what's going on? Wow, it's kind of hot here, huh. Well, we'll deal with that!" Just refuses to let it get him down.

    The Herdazians, in general, came from me wanting to reach to other cultures that aren't often seen in fantasy novels for some of my inspirations. So a few of the Herdazian inspirations come from Hispanic culture. I think that's probably pretty obvious. But just not something that you see a lot in epic fantasy, for whatever reason. If people are writing epic fantasy, and they're reaching for cultures to base things on, they are usually going to go to Europe or to Asia. You're going to see a lot of Japan and China. You're going to see a lot of Germany. You're gonna see a lot of classical Europe, Hellenistic, things like that. You'll occasionally see the Persians because of like, the accumulated Persian inspirations and things like that. Then we have a "Cyrus the Not So Great" earlier - that was the Persians, right? Yeah ... But you don't see Mexicans, right? You don't see South Americans. And there's a lot of really interesting things to go there.

    Now, it strays into dangerous areas when you're just like, "I'm going to lift this culture wholesale" and plop it in you're book, which is dangerous because you risk, really, misrepresenting that culture, appropriating it, things like that. But I think where fantasy comes from is going and actually doing deep dives into Earth's history and looking for inspirations for cultures. And with the Herdazians, I spent a lot of time in that direction. Because I was already reading on some of that for Rithmatist.

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    I've you say in other interviews that the Stormlight Archives was your go at a big epic everything's-on-the-table fantasy series. But was there any particular series or religion or myths that inspired the story?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's a whole bunch going on. You will find a whole lot of Eastern shamanism, like shinto or things like that, built around the idea of everything having a spren. That is one obvious influence.

    Another one is Plato's theory of the Forms (from the Phaedrus, I believe it is), and this idea of different realms of existence directly became Realmatic theory, which is the Physical, Spiritual, and Cognitive of the books. He just had two; I ended up with three. But you can directly trace that to Plato.

    A lot of the Alethi culture came from me wanting to build something based off of my research into the Mongol people, particularly during the time of Genghis Khan. But I took away the horses; you don't have cavalries on Roshar to the extent that you would on Earth. And I thought that was really interesting, because most people who base anything on the Mongols go with the whole horse lords things to the point that it's become a cliche. So I'm like, "What if I strip that away, and I'm forced to look at other nuances of their culture?" Particularly, I love the moment (trying to remember what the name of the dynasty was) where the Mongols conquered China, and then basically became a dynasty in China and became basically another Chinese government. The Chinese were used to this idea, that different people take over, the bureaucrats start serving them instead, and the big machine that is China keeps going with a new Dynasty in charge; now they're Mongols. That's really cool to me. And this idea of the Alethi as this famous infantry, this conquering infantry, that (also kind of you see this in Dalinar) have to, in some ways, settle down and rule an empire now that they have one. That's really cool to me, that's really interesting. And that's probably one of the most direct things you can point to Mongol culture for, is this idea. But also kind of, I feel like when people do a warrior culture in fantasy, too often 1) they all feel alike in some ways, and I didn't like that. I wanted to do where you were reading through the eyes of people who were from what I thought was a nuanced, realistic warrior culture. And you didn't realize until you were partway through the book, you were like, "This is a warrior culture! This is, like Klingons. These are the bad guys to a lot of people's eyes!" But it's more nuanced, it's not one note, and so you've got a lot of variety in the culture and a lot of people to it, and a lot of different opinions and perspectives that you may not even notice.

    I love doing stuff like this. Like, Elantris is a zombie story. The original premise for Elantris is a zombie story. And I hope that a lot of people don't even realize that. Because I'm trying to strip away some of the trappings and use some of the core concepts. I like it when people get done with Elantris, and they're like, "Wait, zombie story? Oh, yeah!" And I like it when people are reading the Alethi, and they get to the end and they're like, "Oh, those are the Mongols? This is a warrior culture? I didn't even get that! I was through their eyes, and I didn't understand that these are the scourge that everyone else is afraid of, because I was seeing through their eyes and just seeing them as people." That's a greater sort of worldbuilding and storytelling philosophy that I have.

    The highstorms came from tidal pools. A lot of the ecology on Roshar was, "Can I create something that looks like a tidal pool or a reef that's, like, a break for the waves, where things are crashing into it a lot." Just kind of building this idea around that.

    There's a few of them for you. There are tons more. Stormlight Archive, it's hard to point out one idea for. In fact, it's really hard to point out one idea for the plot premise at all, because telling people what The Way of Kings is about is really hard. Mistborn's easy, right? This is why I think it would probably be wise, if we're going to do any media, is to start with Mistborn. Because we can pitch Mistborn. "Hero failed. Gang of these rob the Dark Lord." Easy pitch. What is Way of Kings about? "Uh... it's about this guy who's trained as a surgeon and he finds out he's really good at killing people and he goes to war but he doesn't actually get to fight, he gets put in the bridge crews, but it really about him building a team of friends among these people in this terrible situation... But it's actually about restoring lost Orders of Knights from long ago... But it's actually about an impending war that they were set up to fight, these Knights, that they told everyone that they'd won, but they really didn't win, but they kind of did..." It just gets really convoluted. It is hard to explain what The Way of Kings is about. This is why The Way of Kings has three prologues. (Don't do that, by the way. One prologue is bad enough; you don't need three. Unless you're writing Way of Kings. Then it was totally necessary.)

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    How do you research the physics elements of your books? How much would you say you later the laws of physics, and how much do you respect them?

    Specifically wondering about Skyward?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I, these days, am able to cheat on this a little bit, because I know I have a really good support structure of people who have actually studied physics, rather than myself, where I have flirted with studying physics. I am not a scientist, but I love pop science, if that makes sense. I'm the person who loves to read a book about someone doing science, but when I was a chemistry major in college, the actual physical labor of running experiments was mind-numbingly boring to me. And so I like to know. I like to know what rules I'm breaking, and how to play with them. But these days, I'm really able to trust my basic pop science studies. So, I'm not going to go read seven textbooks on physics. What am I gonna do? I'm gonna go to YouTube and say, "All right. What does it actually look like for someone to pull X number of g's." And I will watch those videos. (There's actually some really good ones on YouTube about that, specifically.) I'm going to go read blog posts, because our internet is so great, from pilots talking about their experiences. That's what I'm looking for. I'm not looking for what the physicist says happens. I'm looking for: how does a pilot describe it, and how is it presented for a layman.

    And then, I am going to do my best and find experts to read the book for me and tell me where I'm wrong. I often say that you can get yourself most of the where there in research as an author with a minimal amount of time. You just need to find an expert, who spent all the extra time that it takes to become a true expert, to read your book and tell you where you're wrong. Preferably, a couple of people, because it turns out people in any profession disagree with one another greatly on some points, and it's good to know which points those are.

    So, that's literally what I did for Skyward. YouTube videos, firsthand accounts, and a couple of pop culture essays. Stuff that's only, like, two to five thousand words long, about what the experience feels like and why it's working like it's working. Followed by getting some physicists and some fighter pilots both to read my early draft and tell me what I was doing wrong.

    How much do I try? Sanderson's Zeroeth Law says "always err on the side of what's awesome." What this means for me, realistically, is: I want to tell a good story. And telling a good story takes precedent over basically anything else. That means that I don't want to break laws for physics for no reason, and I want to know when I'm breaking laws of physics. But I am going to find a cheat that lets me tell the story the way I want to tell it, if there becomes a conflict. The most famous one for me of this is the redshift that would happen when you make time bubbles in Era 2 of Mistborn. When I was working on this and researching it and be like "what would actually happen," turns out that a lot of the research I was reading said that you would redshift the light, and you would really have a chance of irradiating everybody outside or inside the bubble, depending. And I just had to say, "You know what? I've gotta come up with a law in the magic system that fixes this and makes it not happen. Because otherwise, I just can't do the magic, right?" That was good for me to know, but it's also a place where I just decided to cheat. And we can, as fantasy authors, cheat.

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    Stevie B Art

    We're studying King Lear in English, and I noticed that the character of The Fool is very much like Wit. I was wondering if you've ever read King Lear, and did you write Wit to be like him?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, Wit comes from The Fool from King Lear, and Twelfth Night also has one. The jester character in Shakespeare is a direct inspiration for Wit. I love them. Particulary, the fool in Lear. Lear is one of my favorite stories, and even to this day, maybe The Fool... it might be Kent who says it, says "See better, Lear." That line is one of those succinct, beautiful, powerful lines that's burned into the back of my brain that I read way back when I was in high school, and I have since experienced King Lear. Usually, I like to go to Shakespeare, rather than read Shakespeare, for obvious reasons.

    I would say, though, I was already writing Wit at the time, the fact that Robin Hobb did such a fantastic fool character in The Assassins books, that fool definitely had an influence on my as well. One of the things I always wanted to do with Wit was to make sure that he felt different from just another court jester, because I'm assuming I'm not the only one inspired by Shakespeare to create a character similar. And I spent a lot of time early in my career, in the unpublished days, saying "What's gonna make Wit, what's gonna make Hoid different from just another jester?" And I spent a lot of time on that. And when I publish, eventually, I'll let you guys read Dragonsteel. He reads way more like a Shakespearean fool in Dragonsteel than he eventually became in the later Cosmere books, once I was getting published.

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    Cyrus the Not Too Bad

    You are known for being extremely meticulous in planning out the structure and details of your stories before writing. That being said, are there any times you have come up with a new idea or plot point as you are writing and just went with it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, it happens all the time. I am, as I've come to learn, relatively detailed in my outlines compared to a lot of my contemporaries. (I am not the most detailed; I think that prize probably goes to Kevin J. Anderson. His outlines tend to be just basically the book, but shorter.) If you've seen me talk about my outlines, there are a lot of bullet points in there and goals; I don't know exactly what's gonna happen in each chapter, I'll know what I want to achieve in each chapter, which is a little bit different. I'll know, "these two characters need to interact, this information needs to come out, and this event happens to end the chapter." I'll know things like that. However, as I'm writing, as you're putting the book together, as you're getting in the zone and really getting to understand how the book is feeling and flowing, you start to change things, just from the first chapter. Not even it comes out exactly like planned most of the time. And this is just a part of the process.

    Now, I am an outliner, which means that when one of these things happens, I will often go with it, but I'll also be revising my outline. I'll take a little bit of time to just go with it and see how it goes, often. But a lot of times, I'm already working on my outline. I'm already saying "oh, this is a much better idea, this is working way better." Trying to remember... from a first book, a time where that happened. Famously, Adolin wasn't a viewpoint character in the original draft of The Way of Kings, but that didn't happen during the drafting, that was during the revision process, so it's not quite what you're asking.

    The personality that Doomslug ended up having in Skyward was not something I had planned out. I just kind of went with it as it came along as I was writing. A lot of the personalities of the side characters in Skyward are a good example of this. Like, even Jorgen's personality is quite different from what I had imagined in the outline. This happens a lot with characters for me that I'm writing, and who they are becoming is a much different person than who I maybe imagined them. Until I write through their eyes, I'm not 100% sure who they are. And this is the big thing that throws my outlines off. I know that my characters are going to grow to become different people than I imagined when I started, and the outline just has to adapt to that.

    Unless it goes too far. Some of my fans who were watching back in the time, I added a character to Warbreaker just kind of on-the-fly as I was working on the beginning. And I really liked this character, they were great. So I'm like, "Wow, I want to bring this character on the adventure." And I wrote them into a couple of chapters, because they were just fun to write, and it just ruined the other chapters. The chapters no longer worked in the structure I was making, and it was a worse structure, and this character being along was taking away from the sense of isolation, which was a major theme for Siri in that book. And I was posting these chapters online as I wrote them for Warbreaker. I just eventually said, "This character is no longer coming on the adventure" and pretended they hadn't been there in the next chapter I posted. That happens sometimes, too, where you just decide to edit something down.

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    As I understand it, red is a sign of corruption in the cosmere. I just reread The Emperor's Soul, and it mentioned wisps of red smoke when Shai tests the Soulstamps. Does this mean she is corrupting Gaotona's soul?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, that is what that means. Corruption doesn't have to have the negative connotation, right? Basically, it means an outside influence is changing the Spiritual nature of the soul. And, yeah, that's exactly what is happening right there. Now, I would call that a pretty good thing, but... like, all of those things, where she is playing with someone's soul, and changing it, and changing their past, and things like this. This is, by cosmere definition, corrupting someone's soul. That's expressly what it is.

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    Christopher Paolini

    Will we ever get anything from Wit’s point of view? Maybe an interlude?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Each book has an epilogue from Wit’s point of view. You will eventually get his backstory. That’s a three-book series that I’m planning after the Stormlight Archive narrative is done, so I’ve gotta keep moving! I actually think it would be fun some time to write a novel of him telling a story.

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    Ben McSweeney

    It's a Larkin [on the back of the Stormlight-themed playing cards]. It's based on a design we worked up for the icon in the book and on the cover of the novella, but I worked out the anatomy the same as I do for all the other critters. Bear in mind, any artwork you're seeing at this time remains subject to change.

    It's sorta like a wasp, but the wing profile and the flight dynamics (such as they be) are more like that of a hummingbird.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    So, the goal is to write the [Kickstarter] Novella in July, and have it ready to print soon after--but printing can take six months in the current environment. So while I could see (hopefully) people being able to read the novella as early as October in digital form (we'll send it out as soon as it is ready) I worry that the physical version won't be ready until early next year.

    I can't say 100% when the other goodies will be ready, but I have a suspicion that the novella hardcover will take the longest. For all the others, we just have to know how many to order and have the kickstarter money in hand to order them all. For the novella, we have to wait for me to write it, edit it, and then have it shipped from the printer.

    But if all you're worried about is me finishing the novella sometime this year, you should be fine. I bet the first draft is done by August. You can follow along while the kickstarter is happening, as I'll post updates.

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    Are shardblades uniform metal, or do they have different colors on the handle/hilt or whatever? Could you paint a shardblade and have it retain the paint when disappearing/reappearing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A Blade won't retain ornaments when dismissed, I'm afraid, including coloration. HOWEVER, they could be made to change colors when alive, and even their texture. So many Blades in the world have multiple tones, and the grip tends to be of a different texture. They're uniform metal, but don't always feel/look like it.

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    In the hotel scene [in Bands of Mourning] there is mention of possible danger of a cattle stampede through the lobby as an outside possibility. Any chance this is a reference to blazing saddles and the mention of "stampeding cattle through the Vatican"?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I love Blazing Saddles and Brooks in general, but that was not an intentional reference.

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    If atium is a metal that is relevant throughout the Cosmere, which seems to be the case from your comment, then it could have special properties that go beyond its use in allomancy, so that this metal that is relevant to everything doesn't only feel useful in Mistborn.

    I'd be interested to know, for instance, if it's at all useful in the forging of weapons or whatever. Anyway I dunno I'm just a very early reader and I'm already trying to give the author ideas, but from my perspective I don't see why atium not being used by all allomancers is a big problem. The usefulness of atium could go way beyond allomancy perhaps.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It does! And yes, atium weapons would be very useful (even atium alloy) for doing things like resisting Shardblades. So there is quite a bit of application.