Expanse of the densities = a world you know.
Expanse of the densities = a world you know.
Watch for what happens when something leaves a bendalloy bubble.
Far from the Central Dominance, skaa can hold land and get rich. The Lord Ruler doesn't let this be known.
Request that Brandon write a clue to the nature of the cosmere, specifically Realmatic theory.
Entities exist on all three realms that are only vaguely shadowed on the other realms.
You have seen entities who exist primarily on the Cognitive Realm + are shadowed on the Physical.
We usually see multiple magic systems in a world, are there more magic systems in Warbreaker that we haven't seen yet?
No, there's just the one system in Warbreaker, and it's also a world with only one Shard on it.
Why do Seons become broken when their person is taken by the Shaod?
A Seon has a Spiritual Connection with their user. When the Shaod takes the user, it messes up the spiritual nature of the user, and it really messes up the nature of the Seon.
Does the person being pierced in order to charge a Hemalurgic spike have to die?
Not necessarily. A spike does require you to rip pieces of a soul from the victim, but that does not mean they must die. They would be a very different person afterwards though.
How do Kandra decide gender? Is it just intellectual? Or are there subtle physical differences?
Kandra have a specific gender that is associated with scent- you can tell if a kandra is a boy or girl depending on how they smell. There is more to it than that. They also know who they are attracted to.
Are the usual quadrants (Physical, Mental, Temporal, Enhancement) preserved in Feruchemy and Hemalurgy?
No. In Ferchemy, it is based Realmatically. There is a quadrant of Spiritual, a quadrant of Cognitive and two quadrants of Physical.
The author of the Ars Arcanum is either Hoid or a member of the Seventeenth Shard. Brandon also pointed to an annotation on the map of Elendel that's relevant to this question.
The Ars Arcanum in the books were all written by one person.
Part of the Lord Ruler's motivation for setting up The Final Empire was revenge against the people he viewed as encroaching on his people's land. He was also obsessed with creating order, which Ruin later exploited.
Kelsier was not spiked.
With all the books you have planned, how many years of your life do you have planned out?
I’m intending to live till my 90’s probably, and I’ve got enough books for two books a year until then. But I also write quickly, so you’ll get books consistently and hopefully they’ll be funny and interesting. I really do try to work hard to make sure that they are each a self-contained story. The place where I stop doing that is in the last chapter and epilogue, where I really like to punch you, and I’m sorry, it’s just some sort of instinct that I have. It’s like “Oh, everything’s wrapped up—NO IT’S NOT!” So I’m sorry about that.
What do you do to keep yourself from burning out? What do you do to decompress?
I play with my Magic Cards. I go and sort them, I go build a deck.
Roll around in them?
No! I can’t do that! Then they get bent.
How did you come up with the Mistborn idea?
Boy, there’s so many different places this came from. The plot came from me wanting to tell a story about a world where the hero failed. You know, the Hero’s Journey a thousand years later, the sort of “What if Frodo had kept the ring?” or “What if Voldemort had killed Harry Potter?” That was one of my big concepts for it. Another big foundational concept was the desire to do a heist story, because I really love those, and I want to do one in the fantasy world.
What’s the difference between a Dawnshard and a Shardblade?
They’re actually, they… You will find out. (laughter) I can’t really reveal that right now, because that’s a RAFO.
With the Alloy of Law being more Steampunk-style, and your genre of choice being fantasy, what things have you done differently in this book than in your previous ones?
Just a quick caveat—I don’t really view Alloy of Law as being Steampunk, but they put goggles on the cover, because Steampunk’s really popular, but I don’t view it as being Steampunk because it doesn’t fit the Victorian feel. It’s much more Edwardian, it’s later era, the book is really based off of 1910 New York, the feel and the culture that is there, but it’s really a Mistborn book. I think when you read it, you’ll feel that it’s more a Mistborn book than it is a Steampunk, or a Western, or anything else. It’s Mistborn. It’s Allomancers with Guns instead. (laughter)
So what have I done differently? I really wanted it to feel like a Mistborn book, with some new elements. It’s really more of a Sherlock Holmes feel than anything else, because I wanted the mystery feel, and I wanted the character dynamic deal with things like that, so this was just a conscious choice to have two or three compelling main characters be in a more episodic story, and I was more focused on that than if it’s Steampunk, or whether this is what, I really want this thematically to feel like a Mistborn book.
Do you have particular Inspirations from classics that you brought in your books? I felt like Dalinar was heavily influenced by Constantine.
Well, I did have a degree in English, and so I read lots of stuff, but my favorite classics are Moby Dick, Les Miserables, and depending on the day one of the Jane Austen books, it changes. And so those are definite influences. You can probably see some Les Mis influence, a lot of it, in the Mistborn books. There were several places where I kind of consciously let myself be influenced there. I wouldn’t say that Dalinar though. The thing is, I started writing Dalinar when I was 15. He was my first character. In fact, I posted at Tor.com when Way of Kings came out a page from my very first novel that I tried to write when I was 14, and it was really really bad, and it has Dalinar in it. He is one of the few characters that survived through all these years from maturing, growing, and things like this. The story of the brother of the king who dies, and the brother must decide: does he take control, or does he let his nephew take control. So a lot of things have influenced Dalinar, but I can’t point to one specific thing.
How many magic systems have you gotten rid of, and how do you decide which ones to keep?
It’s an ever growing process. I mean I’ve started tons of magic systems, dozens, maybe hundreds, and I keep them based on how viral they all are, against the other magic systems I’m thinking of, how well this one appeals to me. Sometimes it depends if I have a book that will fit that magic or not.
For instance, some books are very action-oriented, and some magic systems are not very action-oriented, so the magic needs to fit the book, so they just keep on kind of spinning there till they work.
What’s the future for the Alcatraz books?
I am actually in negotiations right now to bring the Alcatraz books to Tor, because we want to recover them, and rerelease them. So it’s kind of in a little bit of a limbo until I can get it to Tor, they were at Scholastic, and we’re in negotiations. There’s some things that I very much like about Scholastic, but at this point we’re kind of want to have all of my books at the same publisher, so if we do that, we will do a rerelease with new covers, then I will do the last book.
How can you rerelease a book with a new cover when sometimes you have references in the book to the covers?
Then I can just add a little addendum to say that the rereleased cover makes sense.
Who’s going to be the focus for the next Way of Kings?
I spent a long time deliberating this, and eventually, in my plotting, I came upon one of those moments where you’re “Ah, this is what I need to do”, so it is going to be Shallan. So the focus for the next book is Shallan, and half of you want it to be Dalinar, and half of you want it to be Shallan, Dalinar will get his book, Shallan will get her book, but there’s a funny story here. In my original outline, I named many of the books, like Dalinar’s is named Highprince of War. Shallan’s book was actually named after the book that Jasnah gives her, which is very thematically important to her. But then I started telling it to people, and they started laughing, because the book that Jasnah gave her is called the Book of Endless Pages.
So, I thought that was a really cool title, but apparently, that’s going to give the reviewers too much fuel. So you can pretend in your head that it’s called that, but I’ll come up with a different name.
Can a Drab Return?
A Drab can not Return as the Returned are known, and there are things about the Drab that are not completely understood. But a Drab without a Breath, it’s going to be very hard. Drabs do not Return. Good question, by the way. No one has ever asked me that before.
Have you ever done NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month], and would you?
I did it several times before I got published [But he never actually did it; see the link at the bottom for more info]. Way of Kings, I wrote during NaNoWriMo, a big portion of it. I actually wrote the NaNoWriMo pep talk this year, they asked me to, and so you’ll get an email from me in your inbox.
Usually, I can’t do NaNoWriMo officially because I’m in the middle of a book, and I can’t stop a book and write another one, I will eventually be able to do that, but the Wheel of Time, and other things have been so busy lately that my schedule doesn’t allow me to in November stop writing. And I’m usually touring in November, almost always. And that’s really tough for getting 50,000 words. If you haven’t done NaNoWriMo, it’s awesome.
Why do the Shardblades in The Stormlight Archive have the effect on flesh (human tissue) that they do?
He originally wrote the scene in the prologue with the assassin Szeth using a traditional sword, but it was so bloody and gruesome that Brandon was actually disgusted. He had to find a way to avoid that and so he came up with a new way for the swords to behave.
How many marks to a broam?
Uh, Peter—take out the … It’s been so long. I had it at ten, but then I think he came in and said “it can’t be ten”, and so it’s actually in our wiki. Peter—hey, where’s Peter? How many marks are in a broam? Is it ten or 25? Email Peter, and he’ll tell you.
I know that Tolkein hated allegory in his story. What is your belief?
Tolkein hated allegory. He thought that his stories should just be stories, and I actually feel similar to him. I do have themes in my books, but I let the theme come as an outgrowth of what the characters are passionate about. And certainly, there are certain things, you’ll read Way of Kings and Dalinar’s very interested, a very big theme spiritually in the book (I know, that sentence doesn’t make any sense). But, it’s not me going in and intentionally writing an allegory. I like the story to stand as a story, I like telling stories. I’m not big into writing metaphors.
Certain people are very good at that. C.S. Lewis did a great job of that, it’s not what I try to do.
What’s your schedule like as a writer with so many projects?
Well, what I do is I get up really early in the morning—noon. I get up at noon. This is hard sometimes! Maybe I’ll get up at 11. Usually I write until 5, and that writing is interspersed with a lot of email, and things like that and kind of distractions. Then I go hang with my family, and then I go back to work, depending on the day, at around 8 or 9, and then I work until about 4, and then I go to bed.
Usually I’m only writing one book at a time, while outlining another, and I’m often revising a third. I can’t do new material usually on two projects at once, I can only do new material on one thing at a time. But I can be doing some revising on one, and some planning on another, but the truth is I’m very much a segmented writer, and work on segments on things. Right now, with the Wheel of Time, I’m usually not working on anything else or planning, I’m all gung ho on this one thing, and then I’ll shift modes and do something else eventually.
Have you ever thought about making your writing class open?
Yes I have. There are some back and forths here. One thing, about the classes, I really do like teaching at BYU. I like being a BYU teacher, I like being involved a little bit in our Alma Mater, I like coming here, and if I were to make the class open, basically, what I would have to do, I would have to stop teaching at BYU and go to a library or something like that, and just do it in an Auditorium, and I like the class as it is. BYU has policies that say “You have to be a BYU student to go to the class” and that’s not something I can influence or change. So as long as I have it at BYU, it kind of has to be that way. Does that make sense?
Though I’ve tried to let them get me to record it and like Webcast it, but they have requirements and rules that so far we haven’t been able to make that work. But Writing Excuses is basically the way that I do my class without doing my class, if that makes sense.
If a native of Sel or another Shardworld traveled to Nalthis, would they be a drab?
No, they would not be a drab. But, no one would be able to take their Breath.
If such a person died on Nalthis, could they Return?
No, they cannot Return.
If such a person received breath, could they use BioChroma?
How do you get the different personalities for all your characters?
With the characterization for me is a very organic thing. I acutally plot my plot in detail, do my worldbuilding in detail, before I start on my characters though, if I plan them out too much, they don’t have enough life to them. It’s a very weird thing to explain, but for me, what I have to do is I have to try writing through this character’s eyes, and if it doesn’t work, than I actually have to toss that chapter and try again, and often times you’ll see me start a book try a character a couple of times to get them right. And then they just grow into what they are as the plot goes along. And in fact, the characters have veto power over the plot, and so if I get to a point that I feel like a character would not do this, I have to either go back and cast a different person in this role, or...
If you are very interested in how I write, I do a podcast called Writing Excuses. And what it is is it’s through your browser, so you don’t do anything special, you just go there and press play, and it’s me and Mary Robinette Kowal who writes these books, they’re like Jane Austen with magic. (laughter) Yeah, she’s good. And it’s Dan Wells, who writes these really scary creepy books, but they’re really good, and it’s Howard Tayler. So anyways, Writing Excuses, all you aspiring writers, it’s Hugo-nominated, it's very well received, I think you’ll really enjoy it. You can look by topic, and find where I talk about writing characters, and we’ll give you a ton of advice. There’s two hours of advice on characters you can listen to.
What the heck is [Feruchemical] Investiture?
I’m not going to say that because it would be a spoiler for those who haven’t read the Ars Arcanum yet.
How many Feruchemical powers have you revealed in the Alloy of Law?
In the Ars Arcanum in the back, I have revealed them all. I have not explained them all. But I have revealed them all, they are in the back, so you are free to theorize what they mean.
You said you were going to rewrite Dragonsteel? Is it going to be a one-book thing, or a trilogy, or what?
Dragonsteel is set to be seven books. I shouldn't tell you these things, because it scares people. The cosmere sequence is set at, what did I say, 36 books? Yeah, it's 36 books. A trilogy of Elantris, Two books from Warbreaker, ten books from Way of Kings, and the Mistborn series, and some other books. So anyways, this is a big thing, but don't get scared. You don't have to pay attention to any of this. Just go ahead and enjoy the books. This is behind the scene stuff, and in fact the reason why we don't have a book about Hoid is because I don't want you to have read all of those books in order to understand that book, does that make sense? As soon as Hoid becomes a main character, then you have to have read the whole sequence in order to get it. I don't you to have to do that. I don't want you to have to read Mistborn to understand Stormlight Archive. Hoid may be involved in these things, but he will never be a prominent character, changing things, until he gets his own sequence.
How did you keep Legion straight?
"I cheated a little bit in Legion and based each personality off an actor." He pointed out that his favorite personality was JC, who was based on [Adam] Baldwin from Firefly. He also related that Ivy was based on Gwyneth Paltrow. The fan commented that he envisioned Brandon having a folder on each personality, which Brandon confirmed.
When asked how he approaches writing a novella as opposed to an epic, Brandon reiterated that he was an "architect" style writer, and viewed novella writing as an opportunity to practice his pre-writing skills and his "discovery writing."
"I don't know if it's something I can answer, simply because I don't know how." He went on to relate his feelings when reading Asimov's Foundation, and how cool it would have been if Asimov had known from the beginning that he was going to be tying all these things in, and the subtle hints he could have left in the earlier stories.
When asked by a fan about the third Mistborn trilogy...
"The third Mistborn trilogy [Era 4] is going to involve a lot of tying things together." "Allomancy has built into it faster than light travel." The fan mentioned the speed bubbles after that, but Brandon replied noncommittally.
One fan asked about the exact locations of the Inquisitor spikes.
A Hemalurgic table with a list of spike locations, including the Inquisitor spikes, will be forthcoming.
A fan asked about the versatility of the Royal Locks.
He replied that "they could go to non-natural colors." However, he pointed out that this would require a greater understanding of the power.
Dalinar is the first character I ever wrote.
If you didn’t know, Mistborn was pitched to my editor as a trilogy of trilogies. I told him I wanted to do a trilogy of epic fantasy books, then the same world in a modern setting, which we’re not to yet, but it’s going to be Allomancers in the 21st century-equivalent technology. It’s an urban fantasy series. Then I wanted to do a Science Fiction series in the same world, using the Epic Fantasy world as kind of a mythology to this new world, and the magic system becoming the means of Space Travel.
So Alloy of Law I wanted to set up things for the second trilogy. I didn’t want to do the second trilogy yet, because the second trilogy, like the first trilogy is kind of bigger books, with a very involved storyline evolved across three books, and I didn’t want to be releasing that parallel to Stormlight Archive, which is the same sort of thing. Very evolved books where you tie a lot of things together, and so I wanted a series of Mistborn novels that were more independent.
Alloy of Law is intended to be a “read it, have fun.” Eventually I may end up doing more with those characters, but when I do, you won’t have to remember that much about this one. It’s not like you have to remember a cast of 500 characters. You can just keep track of the main characters. They’re more of an episodic adventure. I kind of imagine Alloy of Law being—I’m not totally sure how to describe it. It’s like you have the giant movie that comes out, and then you have a TV show that’s based off of it, and then another big movie series, or something like that, if that makes any sense. So that’s what Alloy of Law is.
I [NutiketAiel] didn’t hear the question that led up to this answer, but my ears perked up when I heard Brandon say the word "Feruchemical." He said that the spiritual Feruchemical powers are "very interesting," and that in future books "mostly I’m going to play around with the different types of Twinborn."
When will we see a Hoid book?
It’ll be a little while. He’s playing around with things in the Stormlight Archive if you couldn’t tell, he’s decided to—Hoid is fiddling with things, more than he usually does. But Hoid as a major part of things doesn’t really show up till the third Mistborn trilogy, which is the outer space Mistborn, the sci-fi Mistborn.
So Hoid is very involved in the third Mistborn trilogy, he’s also very involved in Dragonsteel, which is actually the first book in the sequence, long before Elantris happened. So eventually I will tell that story. You can read a draft of it at the BYU library. It’s the only copy that I know of in existence. It’s almost always checked out. It’s my Honors thesis, and it’s not very good. It really is not very good, but basically it’s involving the ideas that eventually will become Dragonsteel once I write it again. But I stole the Shattered Plains and put them in Roshar instead because the fit better there.
How does Hoid know where to go when?
He has his ways! He may be capable of a little bit of foreseeing of certain events, not what’s going to happen, but he may need to be in a certain place in a certain time.
Does Iron store mass or weight?
Excellent question. The thing is it really does involve mass, but I’m breaking some physics rules, basically. I have to break a number of physics rules in order to make Magic work in the first place. Those whole laws of Thermodynamics, I’m like “You are my bane!” (laughter) But I try to work within the framework, and I have reasonings built up for myself, and some of them have to be kind of arbitrary. But the thing is, it does store mass if you look at how it interacts, but when a Feruchemist punches someone, you’re not having a mass transference of a 1000 pounds transferring the mass into someone else.
So there are a few little tweaks. You can go talk to Peter, because Peter has the actual math. Oh Peter’s back there. Peter is dressed up as Allomancer Jak from the broadsheet. In fact we’re giving some out broadsheets, aren’t we Peter. So when you come through the line, we’re giving out Broadsheets. Please don’t take fifty—I think we might have enough for everybody. The broadsheets are the newspaper from the Alloy of Law time. It’s an inworld newspaper. It’s actually reproduced in the book in four different pages, and we put it together in one big broadsheet.
So anyway, you can talk with him, he’s got more of the math of it. I explained the concept to Peter and he’s better with the actual math, so he said “We’ll figure it out.”
So what happens if you have a Bendalloy bubble, and then another Bendalloy bubble inside of it?
It will compound and double, and it will multiply. Bendalloy is one of the metals from Alloy of Law if you haven’t read it, as this person obviously has, or has read the Ars Arcanum, you’ll find out what it does.
What’s your favorite fantasy/scf characters that you haven’t written?
Excluding my books and the wheel of time, Sam Vimes from the Discworld books, I really, really like. I have a strong affection for Harry Dresden. I really am fond of Lesa from Dragon Riders. Dragon Riders was one of the early books that I really really liked. Let’s see, who else. That guy from Dragon Prince. Dragon Prince is one of my favorite all-time books. Who else? Who else is good characters? The Fool from the Assassin books by Robin Hobb that she wrote is really awesome. That’s a good place for you. I would like to say Kvothe, because I love those books, but I don’t think he and I wouldn’t get along. I love the books and think that Kvothe is a jerk, and that’s part of why I love Name of the Wind, because Kvothe is kind of a jerk.
All of the females in your books seem to be very independent, strong women; do you believe that you write them that way from your perspective, or is that your experience, or...?
There's a couple of things behind that. The first is that my mother graduated first in her class in Accounting in a year where she was the only woman in the entire Accounting department. That was in an era where that wasn't something that a lot of women did, and so I've had quite the role model in my life. But beyond that, it's kind of an interesting story. I discovered fantasy with a book I mentioned earlier, Dragonsbane. Wheel of Time was my *inaudible*, but I discovered Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly, and my teacher got me to read this, and I came back to my teacher, and said, "People write books about dragons?" She's like, "Yeah, there's a lot of books about dragons; go read them."
And so I went to the card catalog, which we had back then in the Stone Age [laughter], and I flipped to the next title in the card catalog, and it was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffery. And so I'm like, "Well, this has dragons; maybe this is good." And it was fantastic! If you've ever read Dragonflight, it's amazing! So I read through all of those in the school library, and I'm like, "Well, what else is there?" The next title in line was Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn, and so I read through all of those, which are also fantastic books, and one of the best magic systems in fantasy, in Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner books.
And so I got done with those, and at that point, a friend came to me, who'd heard I discovered fantasy, and said, "Here, you'll like this book." It was by David Eddings. And I told him, "I don't think guys can write fantasy." [laughter] That was—honest to goodness—that's what I told him. I'm like, "I don't know if I want to read a guy writer; I don't think they can get it down." And so, I did end up reading Eddings, and enjoying Eddings, but my introduction to fantasy was through three women who have at times been called feminist writers—all three of them have worn that mantle—and that's still with me as part of what makes a good fantasy book, and I think that's just an influence.
My very first novel that I tried, which was not Elantris—White Sand—the female character turned out really bland, and I was really disappointed in myself, and I thought, "the book is terrible." And it took me a long time to figure out—like, several books of work—what I was doing wrong. And what I was doing wrong, and I find this in a lot of new writers across the spectrum, is I was writing people specifically "the Other"; people who are different from myself, I was putting them in their role, rather than making them a character, right? And this is an easy thing to do—like, you get into the head of your main character. They're often pretty much like you, you can write them, they're full of life, they've got lots of passions, and then, the woman is like the love interest, and the minority is the sidekick, right? Because that's...you know, how you do that. And you stick these people in these roles, and then they only kind of march through their roles, and so while it's not insulting, the characters don't feel alive. It's like one person in a room full of cardboard cut-outs, like "Stereotypes Monthly" magazine. [laughter] And then your main character.
And women are just as bad at doing this as men, just doing the men in that way. And so it's just something, as a writer, you need to practice, is saying, "What would this character be doing if the plot hadn't gotten in their way?" Remember, they think they're the most important character in the story. They're the hero of their own story. What are their passions and desires aside from the plot? And how is this going to make them a real person? And you start asking yourselves questions like that, and suddenly the characters start to come alive, and start to not fill the role. And you ask yourself, "Why can't they be in the role they're in?" And that makes a better character, always, than "Why should they be?"
Flop roles, too, if you find yourself falling into this, you say, "Okay, I've stuck—" You know, Robert Jordan kind of did this. The natural thing to do is to put the wise old man into the mentor—you know, the Obi Wan Kenobi, the Gandalf—role, and instead, Robert Jordan put a woman in that role, with Moiraine, and took the wise old man and made him a juggler. [laughter] And these two...you know, and suddenly by forcing these both into different roles, you've got... they're much more interesting characters. And you know, Thom is named after Merlin; he could have very easily been in that role, and instead he wasn't. And so, it made even the first Wheel of Time book so much better by making characters not be the standard stereotypical roles that you would expect for them to be in. So, there you go.
Also, stay away from tokenism. If you force yourself to put two people in from the same culture in your book, that will force you to make them more realistic as characters, because if you only put one in, you can be like, "All right, their whole race and culture is defined by this person." And putting in multiples can help you to say, "Look, now they can't both just be defined by that." Anyway, I went off on a long diatribe about that; I'm sorry.
The person who wrote the Ars Arcanum in AoL, is that the same person who wrote the Letter in WoK.
Its not confirmed, but its either Hoid, or someone in the 17th shard.
The person who gave Wax his earring was the kandra, MeLaa.
Also, that Kandra are working as "Sazed's Angels".