What is the stylization of the symbol of the Faithful in the Reckoners series
It's the Superman symbol, but I couldn't say that.
What is the stylization of the symbol of the Faithful in the Reckoners series
It's the Superman symbol, but I couldn't say that.
So why does Rand bow to the Empress when the actual prophecy was that she was supposed to bend to him, it was changed by one of the...
So that was actually in Robert Jordan's notes, that this is what he was supposed to do. It was to fulfill that prophecy, and so I don't have an explanation to that other than he made sure to include "this needs to happen", so I did it.
Even though the prophecy was not supposed to be that way?
Yeah. That one was very clear in the notes; needs to happen.
If you could choose to cast someone for Vin who would you pick?
Ellen Page from 10 years ago. Is that ok?
I think she would've been very good.
What's your favorite Magic card to use?
My favorite Magic card is Vesuvan Doppelganger, from the old days.
I'm just curious, there are 16 Allomantic metals, 16 Feruchemical metals, there are 16 Shards of Adonalsium. Are there 16 surges?
So there's no correlation?
10 is an important number on Roshar.
Where do you come up with your names for books?
It really depends on the book. Sometimes I'm using a real world culture's linguistics as inspiration, sometimes I'm building a linguistic trick for them, so it really depends. Listen to my podcast, Writing Excuses, look for the episode on, we're doing one on con-langs or naming. We've got some episodes on that.
I want to know if Nightblood can be killed in the same way as a spren.
Well, that's a RAFO. Nightblood does not have the same spren bond, and so the renouncing of Oaths is not going to affect him, but there are certain things that could.
We know the Moon Scepter helps to change Identity [and/or/of] Investiture? So in the case of Raoden using *inaudible* Elantrians off-planet, would the Moon Scepter allow them to...
So the Moon Scepter is part of a key that they are trying to figure out how to do this. Because, Elantrian magic can be really powerful. All of the Selish magics can be really powerful. Because they are drawing from the Dor the way that they do, you're basically hooked up to a giant battery.
So, none of the other Cosmere magics you've seen have that level going on. The closest you're going to get is when you've got a Bondsmith powering the magic for the Knights Radiant. Cracking how to make that work on other planets is a really important thing that people are trying to figure out.
Is there a reason, with 16 being such an important number, that there are only 10 orders of Radiants
That is relevant.
Am I going to have to read and find out?
Let's just say 10 is a number that is relevant to Roshar and its inhabitants.
And what's the significance of the number 10?
The significance is that it is very significant.
Will we find out by reading it?
Maybe, that's why you're getting a RAFO. Potentially.
So, in Oathbringer, you said that Hoid still has a god worshipping him. Can you give some back story to that?
I cannot, I mean I can, but I'm not going to.
It will be revealed later?
Maybe. I plan to get all of this stuff eventually into his memoir when he writes it. Or when I write his memoir for him.
I have to post the Pattern deleted scene some time because, whenever I see someone dress up as Pattern, which doesn't happen that often, I wanna quote that scene but it's not in the book anymore, where Pattern talks about how famous he is. Yeah, so, I need to post that scene.
I was wondering if an aluminum Feruchemist, if he stores up Spiritual Identity, could he survive a hit from a Shardblade?
I'll RAFO that. Identity is not the right place to go for that. Exact mechanics are RAFO, but that's kinda along the wrong path.
It sounds like Adolin's sword Maya might be able to be resurrected?
*presumably nods yes*
Is it possible that other swords could be resurrected as well?
Hmmmm, the coveted RAFO card.
Szeth has trained with all ten surges, is he going to also help train new Radiants?
That is something you can expect has been an advantage to them in the intervening time, so yes.
How's Nightblood going to react to Szeth's spren?
Hmmmm! I'll give you a RAFO on that, here's your card.
I know I mentioned my tattoo that I wanted to get yesterday, and I was wondering what, cause I want the planets that feature in that system to be colored and everything is black and white, and so I was wondering what color I could get for each of them.
Wow, ok, I don't know if I can answer that right here, you probably want to email that to us. I can give you an off the cuff answer. I don't know if it'll be like a canonical answer or something like that. Give them to me and I'll tell you what my instincts say.
I would do Sel as a blue color. Probably a light blue.
Nalthis i would do as like a vibrant pink, orange, or something like that.
Taldain I would do as yellow.
Would I do like the half and half or?
I would do half and half, yeah, or if you wanna do black and white. Black and white would work very well for them.
Scadrial I would do as a rust red, like a deep red.
Threnody, lets see.
I was thinking like a dark blue/green mix as well.
The problem is you would want to do Roshar as either a brown or a Kholin blue. Probably a brown for the stone, so in that case you could Threnody as like a dark blue and you could do Sel as light blue. You don't have a green in there, so Sel could go green if you wanted it to.
I forgot to ask about Sixth of the Dusk.
Oh, that would be mostly water, so that's a blue one.
Like a vibrant blue?
Vibrant blue. So we've got three blues. But you can change one of those to green, and I would say Sel goes green.
Like an emerald green?
Like a grass green. Because a lot of people are concentrating on the *inaudible*.
So Wayne is my absolute favorite character. What was your main inspiration for him?
Wayne started with a character, I wanted to do someone who changed personalities based on the hat they wore, and it actually started as a haberdasher, a hat maker, and as a character staring in his own story in the Mistborn world and it didn't work. He needed somebody to play off of and so I shelved it and started The Alloy of Law where he could have somebody to play off of. Wax actually grew out of Wayne.
I just found out today that you have a charity called the Lightweaver Foundation.
What are you trying to accomplish with it?
I'm trying to find ways to give away my money.
It's less that I'm trying to funnel money into it from other sources. Sometimes, we sell things or do things that I want to do for charity, but mostly it's, so far we've put a library in the homeless shelter in Salt Lake and we've donated a bunch of books to schools and prisons and libraries. When someone comes and says, "Hey, can you donate to this thing," I just funnel it through the charity. It basically exists to give away my money.
Book six is halfway done, Bastille is writing it. She's doing a very good job; I'm quite excited by her version. It involves lots of stabbing things and Bastille making fun of Alcatraz. It's turning out really well and I think you're going to like it.
Do you have any updates on the next Wax and Wayne book?
No updates right now; cancelling the Apocalypse Guard and writing a new book in its place has put me just a little behind, but it was the right thing to do *inaudible*. And so I'm just finishing up Skyward 2 and Skyward 1 is coming out in November and I have until January to write something else, because January I need to start another Stormlight book so if it doesn't happen before then I'll probably do it in breaks between chunks of Stormlight.
On your Tor.com release of Oathbringer, I made a comment, it was about the Windblades being powered by Urithiru. Would that be barking up the right tree or the wrong tree?
That is a, barking up the wrong tree. Good question. I don't think I've seen that question before.
Even [Alice?] brings it up in the next chapter.
Did she? No, that's a false correlation, the strata are more just there because of how Roshar works, than they are to make you draw a parallel there.
And only Shallan and others can really see the colors *inaudible*.
Mmmm. That is not a false correlation, right there.
How do you make good characters, good heroes, and good villains. How?
That's a big question. Best thing I can tell you is, try to look for the nobility in every person, even if you may not agree with them yourself. Listen to the character. Every person is a hero in their own story.
I was curious about how you see your writing and your job in context of your discipleship.
I think that making good on talents you're given is a very important thing. I think art is good for art's sake, and it is an innate and inherent good. Expressing who you are in fiction and exploring who other people are brings us together, makes us closer, makes us understand people when you read fiction written about people very different from yourself. I think pure religion will try to understand other people's viewpoints and listen. So I think that that is all very important, and I think that fiction is comfort in a lot of people's lives
I don't sit down to write a book and say, "My job is to convert anybody, or to preach." I try to present the world as it is through lots of different people's eyes, and I think that is an innate good. This is the big argument that C.S. Lewis and Tolkien had, though. They were on different sides of that argument. What is the nature of allegory in fiction. I err a little more on Tolkien's side.
I've started a lot of little things of literature, but I've never been able to finish, 'cause I start on one thing with all these ideas, and then I get all these ideas about something else, and I don't see the two worlds fitting. So I start on something else. So, how do I...?
So, this is Professor Sanderson saying, "You need to make yourself do it." You won't learn how to finish stories until you start doing it. And doing that, learning to keep on a story, even when it starts to get hard, and you're more excited about something else, and this one's not turning out the way you like, or things like that. Learning to finish it anyway is the only way you'll learn how to do that, and make it good. So, you have to finish stories. Don't stress too much about them turning out right. Books that you write are all practice. Even for me, right now. Practice at getting better. You want to be a better writer. Rather than a person who wrote a book, you want to be a writer who can write great books. So, practice like you're practicing piano, or whatever it is. Just tell yourself, you've just gotta finish.
Do you agree with, "You should know the ending?"
It depends on... everybody's different. Some writers are better if they don't. Some writers are better if they write toward an ending, get there, and then revise so that ending matches. You'll have to do that. Some writers are better if they have a strong outline. Go watch my university lectures, on YouTube. In the early lectures, I talk a lot about discovery writing versus outline writing, the advantages and disadvantages.
How do you build all your characters?
Characters are the hardest for me to explain. The answer I can give you is, I usually try writing and just experiment with the viewpoint and voice, and see if that works. And if it does, then I start working them into the book. But often, I'll do freewrites. I'm looking for conflict, looking for an interesting perspective of seeing the world. I'm just looking for something different about them.
So, like, in Mistborn, do you create your characters individually, and then you add them to the story?
A lot of times. Like, Kelsier was created before I started writing Mistborn. Vin was also, but Vin changed a whole bunch, to the point that, really, I started writing the book, experimented with different voices, and found the one I wanted for her.
How were you able to diversify the amount of characters you have? Like, Shallan, she had such a dark past. How do you get that so accurately?
I've had some help on Shallan. I've got some friends who have dealt with similar issues that I interview, I get notes from, and I have read the books and tell me where am I going wrong, where am I going right. That's really handy. Listening to people, interviewing people, using primary sources. Invaluable when doing characters. Even the newest book I'm working on, Skyward... Like, in that one, it's nothing about a deep, dark past, but the main character's a fighter pilot. And I got a ton of stuff wrong. But fortunately, I found some fighter pilots to read the book and tell me where I was going wrong. So it got right.
I'm curious, how did you get the inspiration for putting lights in spheres that give people powers?
So, I bet, if you track back where the origin of this is, a lot of the ideas like this goes back to Dune, where magic as part of the economy was really fascinating to me when I read it as a teenager. And so, I've always looked for economic components to my magic. And I loved the idea of coinage being useful for something. So, the idea that you have these spheres that act as light was really fun for my worldbuilding and things like that. It means people just don't use fire as often, and you have an economy that can go late at night without burning candle wax to go late at night. You're just using a side effect of your money that you already have. And this led some really cool worldbuilding directions. I would say the origin probably goes back to Dune.
Where did it come from as Stormlight? Partially, it's just, the way I built the Cosmere, I wanted commodifiable magic that you could use in an economy and trade, because of the way the Cosmere worked and the greater, larger where I was going for the future books, that just made it a lot more interesting to me.
Do you think you would ever teach a class at the Storymakers conference?
I do, every once in a while, teach at Storymakers, yeah. I really like that conference. I think it is probably the best writing conference in the region. I can't make it every year, though. But every three or four years, I go in and I teach one.
I wanna know how many series you're working on right now.
If you really wanna know, go Google "State of the Sanderson.' Every December, I go through all the series that I'm working on. I say where they are, and what I'm planning to do with them, and which ones are done and which ones aren't. So just Google that.
Another question on that is, how do you keep your characters straight in the different books that you write?
Keeping characters straight isn't tough. Keeping events, which things I've said and which things I haven't... and in that case, it's a matter of having a good continuity editor. Or rereading the books before you write the next one. Once in a while, I will have changed my mind in the middle of writing a book, and I forget. So, I go trying to write the sequel, and my continuity editor's like, "You explained this already. You have this whole thing." And I still, like... Mistborn, I changed silver to tin, and I still have just never been able to remember that. My fingers want to type "silver."
I have to say, I find more gospel conversations after going through The Stormlight Archive with people than any other fictional book I've ever read. Does that intentionally bleed in, or is that just part of who you are?
It's a little of both. I don't preach in my books. What I am determines part of what I find heroic. But I'm very fascinated by religion. So I like to have lots of different people in the books who have lots of different viewpoints on religion that talk about it, like we kind of do in real life. So, you know, you have someone like Dalinar, who is kind of very... almost revolutionarily faithful. And you have Kaladin who's just straight-up agnostic, "Don't know, don't care." You have Jasnah, who's an atheist. You have someone more like Navani, who's a classic conservative faithful. I just like having all of these different people interacting.
When you kill characters, how do you make them dramatic?
There are lots of different philosophies on this. Certain authors do it certain ways. It depends on the emotion you're going for. Usually, it depends on if it's a tragedy or not. A tragedy is, they don't fulfill the character arc that they're promised. They make wrong decisions at the wrong moment. And you, the reader, are left disappointed in them. And the opposite, like a heroic story, they make the decision. It might have consequences, so you're left sad, but also thrilled. And it depends on which emotion you want. And some writers prefer a method where they want you to never know who's safe and who isn't. And those writers will often kill a character in the middle of a plot arc, out of nowhere. And those are three different ways. I am way more likely to use the first two. A character who makes the wrong decision, and then dies because of it, as a tragedy. Or a character who makes a hard decision, fulfills their character arc, and may not make it anyway, still can feel very uplifting despite the loss.
Are you planning on doing a sixth Alcatraz?
Yes, from Bastille's viewpoint. She is currently writing it. We are just waiting for her to finish. That shouldn't be too long.
And things aren't as bad as Alcatraz made them seem. He's a little melodramatic, if you can't tell.
Where would you suggest a beginning writer start writing? Like, novellas? With short stories?
I'd recommend you start with the format you read the most. Once upon a time, short stories was the way to begin. But that's because a lot of the readership read short stories, got used to reading them, and magazine subscriptions were a big deal. Once the novel became the dominant form... I don't feel like you should write something you don't read. We use, in writing, a phrase: "Write what you know." This doesn't necessarily mean you can't write about someone very different from yourself. But your experience is part of what's gonna make your story unique. And so, putting part of yourself into every book is important. And also, writing in genres that you are familiar with, that you know the tropes of so you can use them in new ways. So, start on novels if you read novels.
Have you ever wanted to write an alternate ending to a book or a series?
I actually did that with Words of Radiance. There's some small tweaks that I made. The end result was too much confusion among fans, which one's the canon, even though they were just minor things, that I feel like that was an experiment that I just don't ever wanna go back on.
Like Mistborn One, there are things I don't like about the ending of that. It's a little too deus ex machina. A little too unforeshadowed, some of the things that happen. But that's just my lack of skill as a writer during that era. And you just learn and grow. You learn how to do things right by doing them poorly on occasion.
Have you ever regretted killing off a character, or not killing off a character, in your book series?
Yes. In the middle of Words of Radiance, there is a character who dies, but comes back. And in my original draft, it was very clear. (Wink wink, reader; this character's coming back.) And I think that was actually the version I wanted. Because I felt like, when I did the original draft, and I sent it to beta readers, they're like, "Oh, well this character's obviously gonna come back." And I'm like, "They figured me out!" And I made it hardcore, so they had real worry the character wasn't coming back. But that was not a major moment in the series, it was removing a character so another character could shine. So, I should have just been okay with them knowing that character was coming back, because there are... I feel like I faked out the readers for no big gain. There wasn't really reason to try so hard to fake out readers on that thing. Where there are some legitimate characters where, you know, either, really they're dead and I want people to mourn their deaths. Or there are other characters where their return, I want to be very dramatic. And I feel like you've only got a certain amount of that energy from readers that you can play with them that way. And I shouldn't use it for things where I just want a character out of the way for a while.
What's the book that you've enjoyed writing the most?
Probably Bands of Mourning. I basically, for Bands of Mourning, just kind of took the "I am just gonna have fun with this" route, and it turns out it worked really well for those characters.
Who's been your favorite illustrator?
Probably Michael Whelan. When I grew up, I just loved Michael Whelan's art. So, getting him to do a cover for me was a lifelong dream.
Why is it that - even though we don't see this often - you've chosen to have some of your characters swear and some of them not?
You know, a couple of reasons. One reason is, I honestly don't think swearing is that bad. Using the Lord's name in vain is a different thing, which you will see me not doing. I think, as a writer, words, part of me is "It's a little silly that we associate two words that mean the exact same thing." Another reason is, I feel like there are certain places I have to let my characters go further than I would. Because otherwise, every character is gonna act like I would. I tried writing Mistborn books with made-up swear words, like I use in Stormlight. It just didn't fit the world. This is a really dark world where terrible things are happening, I'm like, "I can let them use a few Biblical swear words." And it felt right to me when I did it. My fourteen-year-old sister, when she read them, she went through and crossed them all out and wrote her own curse worlds in. Mostly "poopyhead," and things like that. But, you know, it's kind of a balance, I think, every writer has to make a call on themselves. Where you kind of stand on that line. Certainly there are certain words I haven't used, even still.
I think, maybe, we're a little too focused on some things, like language, and a little less focused on... Like, I'm far more worried about the violence in the books. And I've been actively trying to decide how much I pull my punches on that, versus not. Because I think that in our society, there's too much of a tendency toward glorifying violence. But that's the cool stuff, right? I love a Jackie Chan film. So where's the line between a Jackie Chan film, which is kind of showing off what the human being can do, and a glorifying in the killing of others. And that line is one that worries me, and that I'm far more concerned on, then whether or not I let Wayne use a little bit of colorful language. But that's my personal... everyone can make their own decision.
What would you say is one of the books you're most proud of writing?
Probably the final Wheel of Time book. That was the hardest book for me to write. Someone else's world, someone else's characters, keeping it all straight. Doing a good job of releasing something for so many people that they'd been waiting for for so long, the pressure was just really high.
So, question about the Reckoners. In the beginning of Steelheart, Deathpoint kind of lazily points his finger at Steelheart. So, it didn't seem like he feared him very much at all. So, my question is, if he didn't fear him, then how come Steelheart wasn't affected by it?
So, he didn't. He was trying to act cool. But that fear was there. At least, that's my explanation to myself. And it's part of why Steelheart makes the entrance in the way he does.
If you Hemalurgically steal a Shardblade, what <entropy takes place>?
Like, if you were going to steal someone's Connection to that Shardblade?
The bond with the Shardblade.
The bond with the Shardblade?
Would it take longer to summon?
Well, no, you just wouldn't summon it anymore, the person who got it Hemalurgically would summon it. That would be kind of a wasted use, to get a dead Shardblade. Lot easier ways to do that.
I was just wondering if it would take longer to summon if somebody used Hemalurgy to steal it.
Oh, yeah, there's a little bit of leak to it, so probably.
It wouldn't make sense for it to be less sharp.
I was taking (and this is honestly true) a linguistics class when I wrote [Elantris]. And I was like, "So far, all the worlds I've come up with have had really normal pronunciation. What if I actually used my linguistics knowledge?" And then, of course, that's the first book that gets published, and one of the big reviews was like, "Sanderson's terrible at names. You can't pronounce these." I'm like, "Uhhh..."
My take is, apparently nobody read the pronunciation guide.
No, no one really did. But I pronounced it all wrong, too. I pronounced everybody's names wrong. I'm American, I can pronounce these like Americans.
Are we gonna get leatherbounds of everything?
The theory is yes. Some of them will be combined. Like, I'll probably do the Wax and Wayne Mistborn books as two in one book and two in one book, so there's two volumes. But I think the plan is eventually to do them all.
Just all the Cosmere? Or, like, every single one?
We should do everything. It depends on what interest is, for people. We will definitely do every Cosmere book. That, you don't have to worry about.
Was there a character where you just had a really hard time doing a bad thing to?
No, that doesn't really happen to me. I've got it all planned out ahead of time, so I'm well prepared for it.
Y'all are makin' movies, right?
I don't really have control over that. I can nudge it along, but Hollywood is a weird place. And it is very hard to get movies made. I like the people who have the rights, I think they're doing right by us, but I don't know when and if they'll ever be able to make it happen.
Who's your favorite, and who do you think has the most of your own personality?
You know, every character I write is part me, and part not-me. So I'm not sure if there's really a Brandon stand-in. Alcatraz is *inaudible*, my mom says. So, perhaps that. I feel a real kinship with Sazed. But every character is a mix between me and not-me.
Something I've noticed, 'cause I've been watching your videos, which I'm super grateful for. What I was wondering is, something I've noticed is that you're very good at asking the right questions. Like, when you're teaching your class, then you ask questions that garner great ideas. So, this is probably a really hard question, but how do you get your questions?
Instinct, I think. Looking for the questions that are not yes-or-no questions, that's certainly part of it. Practicing deconstructing stories, so that you start to learn, like the whole chef versus cook thing. It's very cook question to say "Why does this tastes good?" It's a chef question to ask "What does putting this spice in do."
Like, "Why does this work?"
"Why does this work?" I think that really leads you on the route to the right questions. A lot of instinct, a lot of practice. Practice makes instincts. The hardest thing about teaching my class is acknowledging that a lot of what I do, I do by instinct, and breaking it down may not be that helpful, even though it sounds really smart, if that makes sense?
And something that you said is that a lot of it is just sinking into your unconscious, because you do it so many times?
Putting things into your unconscious so that you can consciously think about new things until you're familiar enough with those that they sink into your unconscious, and you can focus on something else.
What's the Secret Project you've got going?
I'm contractually obligated not to say.
My wife is really excited and hoping for Alcatraz <super fast>.
Alcatraz is in in the process. I've made some really decent progress. It shouldn't be too much longer on Alcatraz.
Is it still the plan to write Dragonsteel last?
Next-to-last. Mistborn final Era will be... yeah, Mistborn 4 will be last.
Is there any way to get the novel version of White Sand, or is all just graphic?
If you want a novel version of White Sand, if you sign up for my mailing list, we send you the ebook. And you are welcome to print your own copy (as long as you don't distribute it) that you make for yourself. That's the best way to get White Sand. I don't have any plans to print them right now. It's possible that someday I will. So if you wanna be patient, maybe we'll do some Dragonsteel Edition, or something like that.
Is there any way I can get a physical copy of the Infinity Blades?
We are planning to do (we have for a long time) a nice little kind of Collector's Edition that has the stories and the scripts and the concept art for the video games. So, eventually, yes. Right now, we don't have any more copies, I don't think. You can email Kara, or the Brandon Sanderson store, and see if she has one lying around. If she does, then we can get you that one. I mean, there were only, like, a hundred of each of those printed.