You said Cultivation is doing a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. So my theory is that she's completely responsible for the Diagram.
You said Cultivation is doing a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. So my theory is that she's completely responsible for the Diagram.
The Sleepless. If they got enough hordelings, how big could they get?
There is a limit. It is larger than you've seen on-screen before.
At the end of Way of Kings, when Taln shows up, he smashes on the door pretty loudly. Does he have super strength with his Surges?
Taln is extraordinary in many regards.
I know in Shadesmar, Syl has a physical form when they go there. Has there ever been, in the history of Shardbearers, any romance there?
...I will RAFO that for now. It is a question I have asked.
What drove Jezrien mad?
You will see firsthand in the series.
The metal of Shardblades. Cultivationspren versus honorspren, for example. Are they different metals?
No, but good question.
Are all orders the same alloy, essentially?
Yes. There's a little asterisk on there, but not in the way you're asking... You could call those all the same alloy. Because the mixture to different spren is different, I think that you could argue that each one is its own alloy.
So, different proportions of tanavastium?
Yes, but it doesn't quite work that way with these magics, right? I'm going to say that's up to the individual cosmerologist who is in the world, the arcanist, defining it. You would be able to find enough differences to legitimately call them different alloys if you wanted to.
Would you say different ratios of the same two metals?
Yes. They are not going to have a third one in them, if that's what you're asking. But it doesn't quite work that way. Like, if you were going to take brass, you could measure the exact percentage. In this case, it is a thing; it's not like you could divide it up and split them apart, because they are a thing. And that thing would be called one thing.
But you won't say what that thing is called?
No, I won't say what that thing is called. But I think you and the 17th Sharders and folks that are dividing them would prefer to call them ten different things, and I think their nomenclature would be relevant.
The Necromancer's Pizza. How's that going?
It's going really well. Though the pizza part is getting written out a little bit, because he's turning more into a necromancer heavy metal singer. And the pizza was so much fun, but it's not working as well as I wanted it to, but the book is working really well. So I would expect that one to come out sooner rather than later. It's turned into a really cool thing with a lot of interesting aspects to it.
Callsigns. Did you come up with those yourself?
I did. The callsigns in the back of all the beta readers, they came up with their own. But I came up with all the callsigns. One of the things I was trying to do, I tried to make the callsigns start with the same sound as their real names. And that was what be guidance was so that it would be easier to keep everyone straight.
Ash is a Lightweaver... The ten Knights Radiant books, and Ash is gonna be a character; she can't be a Lightweaver?
That's a RAFO. But you are noticing something real.
...Were the Heralds alive for the human exodus from Ashyn?
Yes. They were not Heralds then, but they all made that trip. I believe. My timeline-- You can't nail me down on that one, because it's possible that Ash was born after, but I don't think so.
If you could pick a director to direct the Cosmere novels, who would you pick?
Right now, the Russo brothers. I like how they consistently balance a large cast, and make sure they all felt part of and integrated into the story.
We're doing a piece of art for a friend that's a crossover between The Stormlight Archive and Harry Potter. How would you sort Dalinar, Kaladin, Jasnah, and Shallan...
Jasnah's a Slytherin. Hands down, very easy.
Dalinar's would depend on which Dalinar you're talking about. Dalinar is probably going to be Gryffindor either way, would be my guess.
Shallan's a Ravenclaw, straight up.
Kaladin's tough. You could Hufflepuff Kaladin. You could totally Hufflepuff Kaladin. I think that works.
You got one of each in that case.
What would be your advice in turning a short story that works great into a longer--
I usually attack this from two different directions. One is, more viewpoints. If I add another perspective to this, will it make it work? And then the other thing is, more complications. And that doesn't always work. Sometimes the format is strong without it. But more subthemes. Like, if it's a heist, there's something else they need to do. If it's a romance, an old flame comes in. Adding a subplot that can further-- Make sure it's not just spinning its wheels, though; it adds something to the characters by that experience. But try that. More complications, or more viewpoints.
You were talking before about how, when a book's not working out, you moved on to something else, and then it started to come together in your mind. Was that something that you-- you were moving on to something else and all these other ideas started popping up? Or were you revisiting your other book every now and then?
Every now and then I'm revisiting it, and I spend a few days on the outline saying, "How is this going? Are things working?" With [Skyward], it was starting to click, so I went specifically back to this one as things were clicking. I keep a folder of these half-finished outlines that aren't working for some reason or the time isn't right yet. And every time it's time to start a new book, those are all in the consideration.
Regarding the Trellium that Paalm was using. Before it was used for Hemalurgy, was that spike a uniform silvery color, or was it also rusty at the time?
You said that it's theoretically possible that Hoid could have alloyed the lerasium bead with another god metal to acquire another magic. Has he done so?
He has not. Because there are certain things that were preventing that from working.
So a Renarin question. Can we get <a little tidbit>?
You have seen spren that have not been touched the same way that Renarin's has. You have seen them. And I've been trying to very specifically show you, to give you contrast.
If you had aluminum in your body, say a hip replacement or something, would that interfere with the magic in some way?
It would indeed. It would interface with the magic, how about that?
Is it possible to replicate an Edgedancer's frictionless-ness with a fabrial?
This is theoretically possible.
Have we seen anyone use Connection to become immortal?
[If someone were] born like Vin, could they bond a spren, before they're even cognizant? 'Cause it's about being broken, right? So, I don't know if it's the same brokenness that Vin had from just being born.
Different spren will view this differently, and different people view the way that the Nahel bond works differently. So, Vin would certainly have been of interest to a number of spren.
What's a seon look like in the Cognitive Realm?
RAFO. Good question.
Reading Legion, my question was: do you think yourself a little mentally ill?
The way I think about psychology (and granted, this is just Brandon, this is not me saying "This is how it has to be") is that every person has their own mixture of things. And what might be a disorder in someone else is not in others, because of the way that it works in their life and the way they perceive it. So I do not-- I think my psychology is very healthy for me. But in other people, my psychology could be unhealthy for them. How about that?
[What is your favorite] disorder to write about?"
I don't know if I have a favorite. I have revisited dissociative disorders in multiple different ways because they make for interesting narrative... but it's not the disorder that's interesting to me, it's the person interfacing with the world and the challenges they deal with. And writing about that sort of thing is really interesting to me. I try not to let the disorder define the person, though it is sometimes a little harder, particularly with something like Legion.
Is there conspiracyspren? We have kind of a family joke about that one.
So, conspiracyspren... Let's just say this. I have purposefully not made spren of certain things that I think would undermine the very purpose of the spren. If that makes sense?
My question was going to be: What emotion would you never write a spren for?
Well there are ones that-- I would go with that. Things that undermine the very nature.-- But I wouldn't say never to anything. In the cosmere, particularly on Roshar, if people start to personify something, there's a chance it would become a spren, and that could be anything. The current vogue question to ask me is "will there be memespren..." And my response is always, "If people personify something, then there's a chance that a spren will develop out of it."
Saying that, "Odium did not leave his power behind on Sel. He left several other powers which are now, to a large extent, mindless." So, is another power- did he have some kind of *inaudible* under control or--
So I dodged that one very easily. I was talking about Dominion and Devotion, which he could have taken up and left behind. It technically answered the question. That was the answer. I even said on a tape later on "I wiggled out of that one real well," but they didn't know how I wiggled out of it. When they said "Did he leave behind any powers?" Those are the powers he left behind.
But they weren't his powers?
No, but they were-- As soon as he killed them, he could have had them, right? So it definitely gave me wiggle room.
Does Odium control/manipulate/possess Trell? As a pseudo-<counter?> philosophy on the modern era?
My question is - I am writing a paper in my *inaudible* and thinking about Plato's allegory of the cave and how America has created an echo chamber with the media, and I was wondering if you had any thoughts on that.
Okay, clever. Boy, that is a really interesting premise. I agree 100% with that exploration. Do I have any thoughts on it? I think part of the purpose of fiction is force us to explore people who are not like ourselves and don't think like ourselves. And my biggest worry with the echo chamber is it's going to start crowding out the art that has anything you don't agree with, which I think are the most important things to be reading. And,at least, for me, that was always the most important thing to be reading, so, I would say, as an artist, this worries me, because it kind of undermines one of the most important purposes of art.
In the cosmere, other than Frost, have we been introduced to other dragons?
There have been others around, but I don't know if.-- There have been others around. I'll just say that.
Is Handerwym a duralumin misting?
Haha. RAFO. We'll see if I do anything with Handerwym in the future. I'm not sure.
Would somebody be able to use enough Investiture or Breath to achieve Shard-- Or to become--
When they are becoming the Vessel of a Shard, this is kind of what's happening. So it's a theoretically possible thing, but it would be basically indistinguishable from just picking it up.
Does Odium know about Glys?
Who? Oh, Glys. *sighs* Yes, he does. But.
Has Mraize ever Ascended?
RAFO. So it's not a yes or no. It's a yes or no or other.
What would happen if you burned an Awakened metal?
I'll RAFO that for now. It's very, very rare in the cosmere. Something interesting would happen. We'll RAFO that.
Are we going to learn any more about Syl's past, and her former Radiant?
Yes, you will indeed learn more about Syl's past. And her former Radiant.
Roshar's moons, do they have special spren associated with them?
Are any of your characters influenced or inspired by your immediate family, like your wife or kids? And if so, which ones?
My wife has asked me not to put her in a book. And so I haven't.
My children have inspired a number of characters, but they change so quickly. Steelheart is dedicated to Dallin from when he was, like, a two year old or whatever. And now he's an eight year old, and he's a very different guy. So basing characters on my kids is less basing them on a person and more on the experience of being a father and having young kids. Like, hero of The Rithmatist is named Joel. My first son is named Joel. That's not a coincidence. But when The Rithmatist came out, he was really little, and it's not like that character could be based on his personality at all, because he was crawling and eating his fingers at that age.
My good friends, particularly during the years when I was trying to break in, they have inspired a lot of characters. Sarene from Elantris is based on a friend of mind named Annie. A lot of Bridge Four, particularly the second string Bridge Four members. (Because I don't want them to have to worry that I'm gonna use them in a major way. It's more like they're getting cameos.) Skar is based on a friend of mine, Leyten is based on a friend of mine, Peet is based on a friend of mine, a bunch of the people from Bridge Four that aren't the ones that the main story is about, those are all my friends from college who were supporting me when I was writing these books.
As a writer, using someone in a book is less about basing a character on them, usually for me, and more about finding some interesting tidbit about their personality that I find fascinating that I spiral off into a new character whose seed was a little tiny aspect of somebody I know. Just like every character-- People ask me who my favorite character is. I don't have one. I don't have a favorite book either, they're all like my children. But every character is based a little bit on something I do and something that's very different from me. And I take those two seeds, and I intermix them, and build a character around it.
Was Drephrast at the Shattering, and if so, did he play a part in it?
Those are RAFOs.
You mentioned Star Wars, and you mentioned Elantris. I know you went back and did some rework on Elantris. How often do you-- How do you resist the urge to go back and rework your earlier books?
It's kind of a balancing act because-- There's a famous quote that people attribute to Da Vinci (though I don't know if it was really him) that says, "Art is never finished; it's only abandoned." Which is quite true. Every book could have taken another year, another two years, another five years, and become a different book as you're working on it. And I think there is a balance to be found between fixing continuity errors and improving the experience, versus changing the book into something else. With Elantris, when we did the tenth anniversary [edition], we tried to hold ourselves strictly to continuity errors. Things that were being fixed were language cleanups; kind of like the digital remaster of a DVD, where it's the same thing, but times where I misused commas or I used this word a little too much, we cleaned it up to make the experience better. Or, in one case, someone looks out and sees Elantris from a point in the city where they were facing the wrong way. Stuff like that.
The only time I have done more than that was experimenting with the end of Words of Radiance. And because-- My big concern with that is, I made some tweaks for the paperback, and then it raised lots of questions of "Which one is the canonical answer?" Which was too confusing for fans. I don't care if fans get confused on "What's the canonical answer of which direction this character was facing in this scene?" It doesn't really matter. But which is the canonical answer of what big decision a character makes does raise enough concern that I probably won't do it.
But I don't know. Grandpa Tolkien went back and changed The Hobbit to match Lord of the Rings. And when I read The Hobbit, that improved the experience for me, because I was reading it years and years later. I can see how it'd be confusing if people loved The Hobbit beforehand. But it ended up making a better story overall. So, I don't know. It's more about just finding the balance that we think is the right balance as we release these tenth anniversary editions of my books where we're cleaning up the language and things like that. I don't anticipate doing large-scale changes, unless they're for continuity reasons, moving forward.
How about the Way of Kings board game?
...Too early to say. There have been some hiccups, how about that? Reckoners board game, though, came out and is really a lot of fun. So if you're looking for Brandon Sanderson themed board games, we do have two of them for you. But the Stormlight one, we shall see. Right now, we are being very cautious with that one.
There's a Mistborn pen-and-paper RPG. Are you gonna add other magic systems, a la Rifts, where we're connecting the cosmere?
I have floated the idea to Crafty, who made a really great roleplaying game. They have been a delight to work with. They came to me and said, "What are your favorite RPGs? How can we make one that you'll be happy with?" And they took that and ran with it, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. And I really think they did a good job with [Mistborn: House War]. So they have been an excellent partner.
When I mentioned it to them, they said something that I respect a lot. They said, "Let's make sure that Mistborn is really good before we add other things." And I think, in the years intervening, watching how different film properties have not taken that same philosophy of "Let's take the thing we're doing and do it really well before we ask where else it'll go." I think that Crafty was very wise in that. I think it is likely we will do more, but they wanna make sure they are supporting the game they released and the IP that they've released before they do anything more.
So, I can't promise, but I do think there will likely be more.
Are there plans for another thing like Arcanum Unbounded?
Yes. But it's gonna be a ways off.
Where Arcanum came from is the fact that, early in my career, I would have an idea, I would sit down, I would write a novel. That is how I trained myself to be a writer. That's where I came up with thirteen novels before I sold one. That turned into my greatest advantage, and one of my greatest liabilities as I have progressed as a writer. The reason it was an advantage is, having spent all those years learning to write and learning my process, I knew what to do when a book wasn't working. I knew what to do with a book when it worked, but I wanted to make it better. I knew how to build an outline that would really make me excited about a story. But I also was really, really good at telling a new story and opening things up, and I had not practiced closing things off. All thirteen of those novels were basically all standalones with series potential, where I was hinting at something larger. And so early in my career, I was very good at, "Let's write a book. And of course, because I know what came before and what'll come after, I will make those things open for me."
And then I ended up-- The Wheel of Time came along, and kind of slammed into me like a freight train, and left me with all these first books that I had started. The Rithmatist. I had started, at that point, working on Legion. I had been doing Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians. And I found that what I needed to learn how to do was write a self-contained novella to get some of these ideas out of my head, rather than writing a novel that promised sequels. Because I also had promised sequels to Elantris, and sequels to Warbreaker.
And so Arcanum Unbounded is my attempt to kind of do like the interludes in Stormlight in my own career. Little interludes where I take an idea and I dig into it and I explore some part, often of the cosmere, without promising sequels. And part of my goal right now as a writer is to make sure I'm closing off more things than I open, or at least at the same rate. So that's why I finished Legion this year, which is done, and why I'm trying to finish Alcatraz for next year. If you're waiting for Rithmatist--which is the one I get the most requests about--eventually. It's gonna take a little while. It's been a really hard one to figure out how to do the sequels to.
But, closing things off. What you'll see me doing are more novellas like that, as time progresses. Eventually, I will start collecting them, like I did with Arcanum. But it's gonna take me a few years to get enough of them written that then they'll be worth another collection.
How do you go about jumping from something like Stormlight into a science fiction instead, of something like Skyward?
This is an interesting question for me because, as a writer, I don't look at genre trappings perhaps the same way that you might. I look at story structure and genre trappings as two very different things. Two very important things, but two very different things. And story structure is different.
For instance, the Bridge Four sequence from Way of Kings and the movie Hoosiers and the book Ender's Game are all what we call underdog sports stories. And those are three different stories in three different genre trappings. Modern-day, science fiction, and fantasy; and yet all three of them use the same plot archetype as the core of their story. And you'll find, for instance, that a buddy cop movie and a regency romance will sometimes use the exact same plot archetypes, despite being different subgenres. And so, as a writer, one of the things we do is we start to learn to divide plot archetype, character archetype, genre trappings, and all of these things to build the story that we want to with the feel we want to.
So that's kind of like, when people ask me, "Star Wars. Science fiction, or fantasy?" Well, it's a fantasy plot archetype. (Really, it's a western plot archetype, but they both use the same idea.) The plot archetype is fantasy, it's the hero's journey epic; and the genre trappings are science fiction. So I would place it in science fiction, but with fantasy underpinnings.
So when I'm moving from Way of Kings to Skyward, it's not so much about how the shift between fantasy versus science fiction is. Really, the things I'm looking for that are the big shift are: a narrow focus on one character, versus a wide focus on a large cast. That's the biggest difference for me. Also, the kind of setting-as-character in Stormlight Archive, where you're going to get to know this deep setting, versus setting-as-mystery, which is the setting archetype I'm using for Skyward. We don't know what the enemy is. We're trying to figure out what's going on. We don't know our past.
So those sorts of things, I look as very differently as a writer than I think maybe a reader might look at them.
Does bronze detect Investiture or only Allomancy?
Investiture. It can be used for other things. But like most detection methods, it doesn't look for wells of power, it looks for power that's being used, generally. You get enough power together, and bronze will be able to find it no matter what.
Allomancy is a conversion from matter to energy... Is it inherently an unreplacable resource or is there a process by which it's replaced to propagate?
There is a process by which it is replaced.
Steris and Marasi. Did you plan the love interest to be [Steris] from the very beginning?
I did... Very beginning is a weird thing as an author to explain. Because the very beginning of that story, Wax didn't exist, it was only Wayne. Then I built Wax in, then I started building Wax's back history. Then I started building Marasi. Then I started building -- right? By the time that the outline for the four books was done, but even before that, when I was only writing the first one, I knew what I was doing, there.
In Elantris, there's the three ways that AonDor's manifested. Through the Aons, through the Dakhor, through the ChayShan. With Emperor's Soul, there's two major ones that we see with the Forging and Bloodsealing. And also that parallels with, there's one -- kind of like, in Mistborn where there's one that's positive, one that's neutral, one that's negative. Where does the third one fit in on the Emperor's Soul side?
Emperor's Soul, there are way more. It's not a split of the three.
In the original Knights Radiant, when they had squires, were all of the squires destined for bonding spren?
No... Many stayed squires forever and that was okay.
The people on Scadrial have innate Investiture from Preservation. If someone from another planet, say Roshar, were to get Allomancy, from Hemalurgy or Feruchemy, would that person have to have Stormlight as well as the metal in order to do their--
No, good question. They would just need the metal if you were Hemalurgically getting the ability. Remember, Hemalurgy is basically ripping off a piece of someone else's soul and stapling it to yours. Short circuiting the soul, so to speak... All the pieces of the soul you would need, it is giving you. It has dangerous ramifications, but you wouldn't need Stormlight also.
Yesteel from Warbreaker. At the time of Oathbringer, is he still at large?
RAFO, I'm afraid... I will let you know the fates of all Five Scholars, probably, in Nightblood, the book, when I write it. The ones you don't know already. It's a RAFO-- Well, if I write Nightblood... Of the cosmere books, it's probably the... most in jeopardy, other than maybe the Threnody novel.