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    Boomtron Interview ()
    #3751 Copy

    Lexie

    Was Kaladin supposed to be Originally with the bridge crew or was that something that just built from while you were writing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It’s actually built at the planning, it was not originally, in fact I did an entire draft of the Way of Kings, in 2003, so seven years ago, the version of the Way of Kings I wrote then didn’t have him as a member of the bridge crews at all. In fact the Shattered Plains weren’t even in Roshar at that point. They were something I’d been developing for another series and when it came time to do this version of this draft I hadn’t exactly been pleased with the one I wrote in 2003, I wanted to do the book again, actually tossed all that and started from scratch.

    I was looking for a really strong visual setting location for Kaladin's story to take place. I was building him separately as the soldier, and the surgeon, with both two sides of him warring within him at this part. This part of this book for me is about the contrast between the sides of, different sides of people, people who have different things pulling on their insides trying to wreck them, so I was looking for a great setting location and the Shattered Plains through various- actually doing artwork, some of the concept art for the world. I was working with an artist, just to give myself a better visual handle on things. The Shattered Plains appealed to me, it worked and so I built it in and it all kinda came together.

    Boomtron Interview ()
    #3752 Copy

    Lexie

    In reading the Way of Kings a very Ben Hur vibe can be felt from Kaladin., was this intentional and what other genres were your inspiration?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I wouldn’t say that I was specifically shooting for that vibe, certainly I am influenced by all the things around me, I was just looking to tell a really great story, and this is the story that came out. It was Kaladin's story in specific, it was - the genesis of the story was actually the Shattered Plains themselves, the area. I write fantasy and one of the reasons that I write fantasy is I want to tell stories about places that don’t exist, that maybe couldn’t exist in our world and so the geography of the shattered plains is sort of what appealed to me. I’d actually been planning this for many years and extrapolated from there, how would warfare be like in this place and then I extrapolated from there, what are they going to need, what types of troops. And Kaladin as a person was growing separately, and I just wanted the best place to put in- the place of most conflict and it ended up being that.

    Plot-wise to be perfectly honest I was looking more at- when I was building this plot- underdog sports narratives. To be perfectly honest, I like to, when I look for inspiration in plotting sequences I like to look far afield to try and take things and pull them into my books so that we aren’t getting some of the same repeated dealings over and over again. But certainly historical works like the ones you mentioned are a big part of my make up as well.

    The Fringe Magazine: Author Interview: Brandon Sanderson ()
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    Scott Wilson

    Do you have a passion for short stories and have you had many published, and if so, what market did you send them to?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've had two science fiction short stories published, Defending Elysium in Asimov's Science Fiction and Firstborn on Tor.com. Both of my short stories are quite long, a bit shy of 15,000 words, and are technically novelettes. I can't compress my thoughts any farther. I guess I'm just a novelist at heart. That's the form I've practiced, and writing short stories is a very different art. I'm constantly in awe of what great short story writers (like my friend Eric James Stone) can do with just a few pages.

    The Fringe Magazine: Author Interview: Brandon Sanderson ()
    #3754 Copy

    Scott Wilson

    What advice would you offer to unpublished writers in approaching publishers for the first time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A couple things. Start working on something new while you're submitting what you've finished. That would be my number one rule—always be working on something new. Don't depend too much on just one story. Secondly, do more research than just getting out the Writer's Market book, looking up what publishers publish, and submitting to them. Instead, actually take some time to learn about those publishers. If you can, find out the names of the editors who work there, read their blogs, find out who they are and what authors they've worked on. Try to really understand the vision of every publishing imprint, and figure out what it is that they like and try to match your books to their books. Make sure you're reading their books and finding the ones that are the best matches. But other than that, just keep on going.

    The Fringe Magazine: Author Interview: Brandon Sanderson ()
    #3755 Copy

    Scott Wilson

    What are you reading at the moment and who are your favorite authors?

    Brandon Sanderson

    At the moment sitting on my shelf next to be read is The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. I also have a manuscript of Variant, a novel by a friend of mine, Robison Wells, which will be coming out in a year or so from Harper Teen.

    Favorite authors, in no particular order: Robert Jordan, Terry Pratchett, Victor Hugo, and Dan Wells. The list really depends on my mood at the time, who I've been reading a lot of recently. There are many authors from whom I'll love one book and not be as blown away by their other novels. Here's a sampling of single books I think are fantastic: A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge, Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly, Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, and Sabri El by Garth Nix.

    The Fringe Magazine: Author Interview: Brandon Sanderson ()
    #3756 Copy

    Scott Wilson

    You have really broken the mold and steered away from the usual races of the fantasy genre, is there any major reason why you avoided the standard tropes, such as elves and orcs?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A couple of reasons. Those are really two questions. Why did I avoid the standard tropes? For a long time I've felt that epic fantasy has relied too much on Tolkien, who did a wonderful job, but I feel that rather than doing what he did by creating races and mythologies and worlds of our own we've in some ways allowed ourselves to be strongly influenced by him and relied on some of the work he did. In other cases those tropes have just been overplayed and overdone by people who were very good writers and knew what they were doing. I certainly don't want to point any fingers at people like Stephen Donaldson who wrote brilliant books making use of some of the familiar tropes from Tolkien, but one of the things to remember is that when he did that they weren't familiar tropes. They were still fresh and new. The same can be said for Terry Brooks. I'm sure if I were writing back then that's what I would have done too, because we were still exploring the genre and trying to decide where it was going to go and what epic fantasy was and meant. But I feel that I belong to the generation after that. There was the generation who relied a lot on Tolkien and the generation who grew up reading those authors' books, and a lot of us in my generation of writers seem like we are reacting against the previous generations by saying, "Okay, that's been done, and you did a good job. Where else can we take this?" I have no interest in writing about elves or dwarves or any of these things that have been explored for the last four decades in intricate detail. I want to go my own directions.

    But personally, why do I include the races that I include? I'm just looking for interesting things that complement the story that I'm telling. The races in The Way of Kings come directly into the story and the mystery of what's happened before. If you pay close attention to what the races are, it tells you something about what's going to happen in the future and what's happened in the past. It's very conscious. This is just me trying to explore.

    I feel that epic fantasy as a genre has not yet hit its golden age yet. If you look at science fiction as a genre, science fiction very quickly got into extrapolating very interesting and different sorts of things. Fantasy, particularly in the late '90s, feels like it hit a bit of a rut where the same old things were happening again and again. We saw the same stories being told, we saw the same races show up, we saw variations only in the names for those races. For me as a reader, it was a little bit frustrating because I read this and felt that fantasy should be the genre that should be able to do anything. It should be the most imaginative genre. It should not be the genre where you expect the same stories and the same creatures. If we want to approach the heights of great storytelling and take it a few more steps so that we don't just copy what Tolkien did, we do what Tolkien did, which is look to the lore ourselves and build our own extrapolations. This is playing into what I like as a reader and my own personal philosophies and hobby horses, but it really just comes down to what I think makes the best story.

    The Fringe Magazine: Author Interview: Brandon Sanderson ()
    #3757 Copy

    Scott Wilson

    Your battle systems are both complex and innovative. In writing these scenes, was a significant amount of research necessary, and did you encounter any difficulties when writing the sequences?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It depends on what I was trying for in the various different books. For instance, in Mistborn, I wanted the battle sequences to be very personal. One-on-one, allomantic fights, or one-on-small group.

    As a novelist, feel that I need to approach action sequences differently from how movies approach them. In a film you can watch Jackie Chan going through this marvelous fifteen-minute blow-by-blow fight, but I think that in fiction the same thing written out descriptively would get very boring. I can't compete with movies in that regard. So I try to make my action sequences character-driven and problem-solving-driven, as well as how the magic system works. I look at what resources the character has, what they are trying to achieve, who they are and how that influences their actions.

    For The Way of Kings it was a little bit different in that I was trying to do large-scale warfare, and in that case I needed to look to historical accounts and research and read up on how actual battles played out. Something that gave me a bit of leeway was setting the battles in scenery like the Shattered Plains. One of the reasons I did that is because it's fantastical scenery that couldn't exist in our world, at least not in the same way, and it therefore allows me to exercise my fantasy worldbuilder muscles as well as my historical warfare muscles, such as they are. Putting all of that together let me create scenes that are hopefully unlike anything others have written or that my readers have read.

    The Fringe Magazine: Author Interview: Brandon Sanderson ()
    #3758 Copy

    Scott Wilson

    How much time would you spend writing on a typical day, (if a typical day exists for a writer that is)?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A basic writing day for me: I get up at noon or 1:00, depending on when I went to bed. I play with my son for about an hour, giving my wife a break. Then I go downstairs for four or five hours, check my email, write for a while, go up and have dinner, play with my son some more, then go back down and go back to work until I'm done for the night. The last couple of years have been pretty much a lot of me with my laptop on my couch or in my beanbag chair writing books.

    The Fringe Magazine: Author Interview: Brandon Sanderson ()
    #3759 Copy

    Scott Wilson

    How hard was it to write the last 3 books in the Robert Jordan series? Inevitably, there would be those that criticized your work no matter how good it was just because it wasn't written by Jordan.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've said myself that I could never replace him—Robert Jordan should have been the one to finish the series. My main goal in writing the books has been not to imitate him, but to stay true to the souls of the characters. I think of it as taking over as director for a few scenes of a movie while maintaining the same actors and script. I can be proud of my role as director, but ultimately the end result still belongs to Robert Jordan—and to his fans. Part of me is sad that now I can't just be one of them; I didn't get to rush out and buy and read a new Robert Jordan book this past November like they did.

    When I was first offered the project, the fact that I could never write these books as well as Robert Jordan would have written them tempted me to decline. I knew that no matter what I did, it would not be the same as what could have been. I don't believe the books could be as good written by anyone else as they could have written by Robert Jordan. And so that was the main consideration for potentially saying no. But in the end, I decided if I did say no, and someone else got the book and screwed it up, that it would be partially my fault.

    I honestly and sincerely believe that I am the person who can do these books the best now that Robert Jordan is gone. I would rather he be here to write them, but if he can't be here to write them, I want to do it myself because at least I know they're in the hands of someone who has been reading them for decades and who sincerely cares about the series.

    The Fringe Magazine: Author Interview: Brandon Sanderson ()
    #3760 Copy

    Scott Wilson

    Thank you so much taking the time to chat with us here at The Fringe magazine. Like Stephen King's Dark Tower series, your worlds exist in the same universe and are linked somehow. Is there any particular reason to have this link rather than create a fresh and new world, with new systems and characters?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I started doing this early in my career before I got published, when I felt that writing sequels was not a good use of my time. Just look at the hypothetical; if I'm trying to get published and I write three books in the same, if an editor rejects book one, he or she is not going to want to see book two. But if an editor rejects book one but is optimistic about my writing, I can send them a book from another series and they can look at that.

    During my unpublished days I wrote thirteen books, only one of which was a sequel. So I had twelve new worlds, or at least twelve new books—some of them were reexaminations of worlds. But I wanted to be writing big epics. This is what I always wanted to do; something like the Wheel of Time. So I began plotting a large, massive series where all these books were connected, so I could kind of "stealth" have a large series without the editors knowing I was sending them books from the same series. It was mostly just a thing for me, to help me do the writing I wanted to be doing. And then when publication came I continued to do that, and told the story behind the story.

    Why not do separate worlds? Because it was more interesting for me this way. This is the story I want to tell. The big, overarching story that I've planned out. I've been talking recently about how my inspiration for this is the idea that in science people have for a long time been looking for a unified theory of physics, some theory that will explain all interactions of physics in a concise way. I wanted to tell about a universe where there was a unified theory of magic, where magic worked according to a unifying principle. Despite the magic systems looking very different and doing lots of different and interesting things, hopefully original for each book, there is an underlying rationale that is keeping them all together. I write what I find interesting, and that was interesting to me.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
    #3761 Copy

    Marc Aplin

    As a writer in the fantasy genre, but also a reader, how do you see it developing over the next twenty years? 

    Brandon Sanderson

    So how do I see the fantasy market going? Boy. You know...I'm really excited over what's happening in the fantasy genre right now. It feels like we're entering something of a golden age, where we are exploring the genre in new ways. I always talk about it as it seems like the generation after Tolkien was responding to Tolkien. Which is appropriate, because Tolkien was so awesome. And Tolkien changed the face of fantasy. And there were a lot of responses and perfecting of this type of story which I feel personally culminates in the Wheel of Time, which is kind of the majestic, best version of this sort of heroic arc story that was popular in the '70s and '80s. And then 1990, Robert Jordan starts the grand sort of culmination of them all. And after that, it felt like fantasy didn't quite know where to go. Certainly we had one branch that went into George R. R. Martin, which is kind of the new grittiness, which is great. There's a lot of cool things happening there, and that genre, the heroic gritty is still going strong. David Gemmell was a precursor to that, to what George R. R. Martin did, and certainly Moorcock and some of these also were doing it in the past. But there's a new wave of this.

    But epic fantasy didn't seem to know what to do with itself, for a little while. And now we're recovering and we have new authors that seem to be approaching it in new ways and expanding. Epic fantasy can have wonderful, inventive worlds to the extent that no other genre can do. Science fiction can do great worlds, but we can add added levels of magic upon it, to give us this wholly original sort of thing. And hopefully we're seeing more people take more risks in their world-building and their narrative structure, like you see in Hundred Thousand Kingdoms or the Patrick Rothfuss books. The narratives are getting very interesting and the worlds are getting very interesting. I see in fifty years from now, people looking back and saying, "That's where fantasy hit the golden age." And I hope that's the case. I hope we continue to explore and to innovate and to just have fun with this.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
    #3762 Copy

    Marc Aplin

    So this question I think was quite difficult for Brandon. I hope I didn't cause any kind of offense when I asked it, but I think it's a question that... It's a good question, because it shows a lot about Brandon, not only as a writer, and as the kind and respectful guy we know he is, but also it shows the feelings and kind of commitment he has to you fans as well, which I think was really great. I'll start by reading a quote which I'll read to you now. "I think the concept of anyone else working on the Wheel of Time series was very painful for Robert Jordan." Just to put it in context: he did go on to say that he was eventually happy that someone was continuing his series, so there's no issue with that. The question I wanted to ask Brandon was, for any reason if he couldn't write tomorrow, how would he feel if someone else was to continue his Stormlight series? Is it something he would allow, is it something he would be happy someone else is doing? And what are his thoughts?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. I certainly would. If I were far enough along in it. If happened tomorrow, it were only one book in. At that point, I'd say, "You know what? Scrap the project. Don't make people... You know, don't..." I don't have enough notoriety for it to happen. But let's say I got seven books in and there were three books left. At that point I would say, "Definitely, it needs to be finished." I do keep very good notes. And so, basically, I would trust my editor to find somebody, and I would want them to work very closely with my assistant Peter who has known me for many years and is very... He's the one that knows the most about my books and my worlds, aside from myself. And there are lots of very talented authors. There are plenty of authors who are even more talented, you know...more talented than I am, certainly. Plenty of authors. And so, finding the right one, I would leave that up to editors and people like that. I mean, most people that I would want, that I would pick, are too popular in their own right to want to go write this dopey guy's books. I think Brent Weeks and I write very similarly, and I think he would be a fantastic choice, but there are plenty of authors out there that I think could do the job if I left the right notes.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
    #3763 Copy

    Marc Aplin

    Okay. So Brandon writes very fast, something people always point out. Something we wanted to know though from Brandon was, what in his mind is it he looks for in order for a book to be ready for release?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's an excellent question that's going to be very difficult to answer. I will say on my speed that I'm not a really fast writer; I'm a persistent writer. I don't take time off. I just write, and I write every day. And that piles up. I think I'm just very fortunate—I have an advantage over a lot of authors in that I don't get writer's block. I don't necessarily write any faster than those authors, but I don't stop; I just keep going. And if you write ten pages a day—which is about what I do, which is not a ton—a lot of authors produce ten pages a day when they're writing, then they hit hang ups, they hit writer's block and things; and that doesn't happen to me, certainly not very often. And so I just write consistently, and I just love to do this, and so... But that's not an indication of quality really, in either way. One of the things I found becoming a writer is some books go fast, some books go slowly. And the reader can't usually tell because a lot of good quality books happen really fast and a lot of good quality books happen very slowly. If you look at Pat Rothfuss' books, Wise Man's Fear took us years to get and is a fantastic book worth every moment of the wait. But some of the great classics like... A Christmas Carol is a famous one—took only a few days to write. And that's happened with various books and classics through history, so we don't really...yeah. Speed is one thing.

    What makes a book ready? For me, a lot of whether a book is going to be ready or not comes in, 'Can I fix the problems?' 'Cause every book has problems when I write them. I do write very... I write my drafts beginning to end, pretty quick drafts. And then I need to spend a great deal of time tweaking them, fixing them, going over them again. I write my books much like a sculptor might create a sculpture. And we start...you know, the first pass over doesn't make it look much like a fix; you're just chopping off chunks. And then you refine, and then you refine, and then finally you're sanding. Get these little tiny imperfections out. And that's how I write. My first pass through is...I'm laying down character, dialogue, and plot. I'm not doing description. And in a lot of cases, I'm not doing—for instance, I'm doing a lot of telling rather than showing, because I'm getting on the page what needs to happen. And then I need to go back and take out huge chunks of, you know, people standing up and monologuing. Instead make this actually interesting. If that makes sense. So you get the whole story in the first draft, but it would be boring. And the first draft also often introduces lots of big problems. And when I do my revisions, I need to fix those problems. Primarily, can I get the characters right? Almost every time I write a book, one of the characters, there's something wrong with them. And I need to finish the book before I can figure out what it is that's wrong with them. And the book is ready when I've got them right. At that point, it's a matter of polishing, and the polishing, though it takes time, is easy. No, it's not easy... That's the wrong term. The polishing is expected; it can be done. If I take the right amount of time, I will polish it correctly. But...it's those pieces right before that need to be fixed.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
    #3764 Copy

    Marc Aplin

    Something I found interesting between Brandon Sanderson and other writers. Peter Brett, for example, when he finished his Painted Man/Warded Man book—depending on which country you're in—his agent did like it, but he said that there was some things in it that didn't quite fit the market. So Peter went away, he read this book—Writing to Sell, I believe it was called—and he came back and gave his book back to the agent after having kind of revised it from this book. And the agent loved it, and you know what happened with that one. It's one of the most popular fantasy series going on at the moment. Something similar happened to Brandon. When he sent his work out to publishers, they thought it was good, but they weren't really sure how it met with the market's expectations. Brandon went away, he started writing stories that he thought the market would like, and in his own words, he thought it killed his writing. So, what I wanted to know from Brandon is, what is it about his work that means he can't write towards the market successfully; instead he has to, in his own words again, write from the heart to make his story successful.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's an excellent question, and there are different viewpoints on this. For instance, I remember talking to John Scalzi, and he said, "You know, when I wanted to publish, I went and looked and saw what was cool, what was selling. And I went and I wrote my own take on some of that." And that worked fantastically well for him. And I think for me part of the problem was—now, one thing I'll add as a caveat to this: yes, write from the heart, but make sure you are reading widely. Read widely what you want to write, but also read a lot of things from varying different genres and whatnot.

    I just found that if I tried to anticipate what people wanted, rather than writing what I wanted, I wrote terrible books. And when I gave no care to what people wanted and only gave care to what I thought made a fantastic book, I did a good job. And this might have to do with the fact that I was just bad at judging what people wanted. That could be it. But probably it has more to do with the fact that I naturally write... A lot of my books added a big, long epic length. And what people kept telling me is, you need to write shorter books. You need to write books like so-and-so. Or like so-and-so. And that was wrong advice for me. I didn't need to write books like so-and-so, or like so-and-so. I didn't need to write books like George R. R. Martin, as fantastic a writer as he is. I didn't need to write books like him; I needed to write books like me. And that's what worked for me.

    Different writers will have different things that work for them. And certainly I can write...I can write things that...like for instance, I write on the Wheel of Time. And in those cases, I'm taking very...I'm taking a lot of pain to make sure that what I'm writing fits with the genre, with the stories that have come before, and what the readers expect these stories to be like. And so I can do it. But I love doing it on the Wheel of Time. And I don't know what the difference is between doing it there on the Wheel of Time and those early days that I spent trying to write toward the market and having a horrible experience.

    For me, I need complete creative freedom; otherwise my books have no life to them. And even with the Wheel of Time, Harriet is giving me complete creative freedom to do whatever I think needs to be done to tell great stories. And I think I thrive in that situation. If I instead had come into the Wheel of Time and they would have said, "You have to do this exactly, this exactly, this exactly, this exactly," I think I would have done a poor job. I would have been the wrong author. But that's not what they wanted; they wanted someone they could turn it over to, who would really take ownership of it. In a small part; of course it doesn't belong to me, but you know what I mean. I take real pride and say, "I'm going to do this the best way that I know how." And not just write a book and be done with it, but say, "No, this is..." I can't even explain the difference. This is me now. The Wheel of Time, I am inexorably linked to it, and my soul is linked to it. And those aren't those books I wrote for these people. Those are books that I am deeply, deeply, emotionally involved in. And I can only, I think, do that because I've reading them for so long since I was a kid.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
    #3765 Copy

    Marc Aplin

    So, Brandon's always been a big fantasy fan, and he calls his characters from other fantasy novels that he's read buddies of his from college and university years. We wanted to know from Brandon, what five epic fantasy series would you recommend to the Fantasy-Faction.com readers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Five epic fantasy series I recommend people to read. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay is my go-to recommendation; I think it's one of the most brilliant standalone epic fantasies ever written. Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner books are nowadays a little less known than they used to be, and I think that they are fantastic and people should read them. I really enjoyed Jim Butcher's Codex Alera books, and I would heartily recommend them to any reader of fantasy. Let's see. Other great epic fantasies...there are so many. I just finished The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin, and I really, really enjoyed that. I think I can recommend that one whole-heartedly; it's a Hugo Award nominee, so I'm not the only one that's really enjoying that. And fifth...let's see. Let's pick one more. Well, you know, I can recommend Pat Rothfuss, but you've all already read that. I can recommend Brent Weeks, but you've already read that. Let's see if I can find something you haven't all already read, that I think is great. Um... Well. I mean, I mention Dragonsbane all the time, and so people have already heard that recommendation from me, but that's a fantastic book. I absolutely, highly, strongly recommend that you read Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly if you haven't.

    Marc Aplin

    This was the first, one of the first fantasy books...

    Brandon Sanderson

    First fantasy book I ever read, and the book that turned me into a fantasy writer, just simply because it was the one that...you know, it was the first. And I still very much love that book. So...I think that's a good list. Those are always the ones I recommend, though. And so...it's hard to think of new things, because you guys all read so much, you are already aware of all of them, but there you are.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
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    Marc Aplin

    So obviously Twitter... Brandon's a huge Twitter user, and most of you will know that and probably follow him. If you don't: BrandSanderson—that's his Twitter account. We have a great question from one of the forum users that I think deserves some time. What's the oddest, harshest, and most uplifting thing that someone has said to you over Twitter?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Man, that's rough. I do...you know, I see more than I can respond to. And I do apologize to people who tweet me on Twitter. I try to respond when I can, but I can't always respond. There's just too much happening. But I try to do batches where I respond for a little while to people. The most interesting things I see...oh, boy. The Internet is a weird, weird place, and you see... The most interesting would probably be some of the fanfiction ideas that I've seen passed around involving my characters in very strange situations. Uh, I won't go any further than that. The most uplifting is when a book of mine helps someone who is having just a hard time. I would say that, or even the book's... You know, I became a writer in part because of how much I loved what the great books that I read when I was younger did to me, what they did to me inside. I'm not naturally an emotional person, and stories are one of the few things that can evoke strong emotions in me. And so when my books do that for someone else, it's very humbling and gratifying. The harshest things that people say...it's really harsh when I let people down. When, you know, when someone has built up my books so much, loved them so much and give them to someone else who reads them and they just don't work for them. You know, not every story is going to work for everyone, and I understand that, and I know that logically, but it still hurts to know that I've let down readers who were expecting something wonderful and for them isn't

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
    #3767 Copy

    Marc Aplin

    So, Mistborn, as you said, was originally planned, and I think still is, a trilogy of trilogies, and also you've got the Stormlight at the moment that you say is one to watch. Can you give us any insight to what's to come in the future, and is it in some ways hard to let go of the original trilogy? I know you've done the standalone, but then to really move on.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Letting go of the original trilogy will be kind of hard. But in some ways, it'll have to. Because the original trilogy has become the mythology and lore of the world, which is really fun to work with as a writer. Beyond that, there are continuing characters. There was always planned to be continuing characters. I can't say much without giving spoilers, but there are characters from the original trilogy appearing in this book, several of them. Some of them are hidden. You're going to have to search and figure out who's who. Some of them are less hidden.

    In the future, the second trilogy's going to be one that deals with a... By this point, in the world—and Alloy of Law is the same case—there are no Mistborn anymore. There are only Mistings, for various reasons that I don't want to give spoilers on, but there are Mistings. The second trilogy happens in a modern setting when we get to that. Alloy of Law is in an industrial setting. In the modern setting, there we will be doing a story eventually about a Mistborn serial killer and a SWAT team of Allomancers who... We're talking people with machine guns and, you know, Navy SEAL Allomancers whose job it is to hunt down Allomancer criminals, and then they'll reveal something, um...unexpected, how about that.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
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    Marc Aplin

    Okay, I'll go on to the next question. In January 2010 it was, you said that a Mistborn film had been optioned. There was also a game in progress. What's the state of this, I know a lot of people were excited to hear about it.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Mistborn RPG game is a go, for sure. We've got cover art, they're trying to release it by GenCon—which is a big gaming convention this year—and have it available for purchase by fall. It is certainly happening; it's 100% now. The film—the producers have finished the screenplay, which is quite good; I'm very pleased with it. And they are pitching the film in Hollywood right now. We don't know what will happen, what will come of it, but they are pitching it in Hollywood right now.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
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    Marc Aplin

    Right, so Brandon's new novel is soon to be released, and it's obviously another Mistborn novel—it's a standalone. And we wanted to know, what can we expect?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's Alloy of Law. Alloy of Law takes place several hundred years following the events of Hero of Ages. This was always the plan with the Mistborn series; I pitched it to my editor as a sequence of series set in the same world with an evolution of technology, which is not something I'd seen done very much in fantasy books—letting the technology process and seeing how magic interacts with it. Alloy of Law is the story of a man named Waxillium who has spent the last twenty years living out in the Roughs being a lawman. And his uncle dies, and we find out that Waxillium is actually the heir to his house. And back in the city of Elendel, they've got this sort of half lordship, half elected body that leads the government, and he has inherited a seat in this body and responsibility for thousands of people who work in his house. And so he has to leave the life of a lawman and come back to the city—which is patterned after 1910 New York—and live among, you know, the elite of the city. And yet he's kind of an unpolished sort of guy, having been out in the Roughs all this time. And it's his story, trying to make sense of this world. It's also a mystery; it's a very fast-paced sort of mystery, kind of... Imagine it this way, as I have been describing it lately. Imagine the Sherlock Holmes story. Now replace Sherlock Holmes with Clint Eastwood and add magic. And that's what you've got.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
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    Marc Aplin

    And that, again, fits in kind of with this question. Final one in this section. Could we ask... The pictures and the maps and the illustrations used are absolutely fantastic, and for me as a reader, really kind of added... Especially the way you kind of put pictures after you'd described them, in a way, because then you could compare what you thought to what you saw. How do you think that added to the book, and was that something you planned or was that something the publisher or...

    Brandon Sanderson

    This was all me. In fact, the publisher was kind of skeptical, because it's not something you see in epic fantasy. And publishers, you know, they have this weird sort of mix inside of them—they want to do what's been successful in the past. And yet, unless you innovate a little bit, you won't continue to be successful. And that's a hard balance. And to Tor's credit, they decided that what I was pitching on this book with all these illustrations was in the right direction. That it would be evolving, and it would help with the sense of immersion, rather than fight against it. But they really worried it would feel like a graphic novel. There's nothing wrong with graphic novels, but we don't want the audience to get the wrong opinion of the story.

    And one thing I was very careful to do is I don't illustrate the characters. I want the characters to be how you imagine them, and I don't want to give you a picture of them. So these illustrations I really wanted to be in-world illustrations done by someone...done by Shallan. And this was something I've wanted to do for a while, and I felt was integral and important to the book. And that without it, the book wouldn't work as well because Roshar is a pretty weird place. It's got some pretty bizarre feelings to it, and I wanted to give some illustrations to help the reader get a real sense this is a real place. So that was me. I'm glad that people are enjoying them; we did dedicate quite a bit of work making them all come across—there are four illustrators that worked on the book. And so...yeah.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
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    Marc Aplin

    Okay, another question that's kind of similar to that one. Why are so many Alethi point of views used as opposed to others?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Why are so many Alethi point of views used as opposed to others? This was basically one of the changes I made as I was working on the series. I originally had planned to show all of these viewpoints, from all across the world, and I found that, when...the original time I tried this book, that since people's plots weren't interwoven together, the book was very difficult to read. Because people weren't connected to one another, emotionally and spiritually. And so because of that, when I rewrote the book, when I started again, I made sure to put Dalinar and Kaladin and Adolin in proximity of one another. So that this story...their stories would play off of each other. And so you would have a consistent storyline.

    That said, we do have...you know, those three are all Alethi. But Shallan is not, and Szeth is not. And those two have fairly significant parts in this book. Most of the characters will be Alethi for that reason, that their stories are tied together. But you will....see, this is one of the reasons why, with this book, once I pulled everything back and was telling Alethi stories, I felt I needed to show the breadth of the world, and that's where the interludes came from, was me wanting to jump around the world and show all these different other characters and cultures, but shown in bite-sized portions so you didn't get overwhelmed with all of these different characters, that you knew when you go to an interlude, you can read this person and then you can kind of forget about them. You don't have to follow who they are, because they're there to show you the breadth of the world and what's going on, but not necessarily to show you...to go on a big distracting tangent.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
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    Marc Aplin

    Okay, the next question we have (I think this one you might have answered before) but have we met all the main point-of-view characters yet? Or, if not, what percentage are we talking?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You have met almost all of them. Let me do a count... Let's see. The main characters in the book are (in the series) Kaladin, and Dalinar, Adolin, Jasnah, Shallan, and Navani, whom you all met in this book and most of them had viewpoints. Szeth, Taravangian, and Taln. And one of the other Heralds; I'm not going to tell you who that is. But I think you've met...you have, I'm sure, met that person; I know which scene they're in. And so, I think you've met them all, basically. Taln is the person who shows up in the epilogue.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
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    Marc Aplin

    Okay. So The Way of Kings. The question that we had from the forum: Is The Way of Kings the rediscovery of old magic or the invention of new technology? Or maybe a combination of both. Could you elaborate?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's an excellent question—somebody's been reading my mind. First, I do want to say, thank you, guys, all, for reading the books; thank you for all you're doing supporting me as a writer. With this series, one of things I wanted to approach was...both of those concepts, actually. A lot of fantasy has the feel of magic's going away. Magic is dying. This goes back to Tolkien, with the idea that, you know, the elves are leaving and magic is going to leave the world, and that's always made me a little bit sad, that these books have this theme. And so I did want to write a book about the return of magic. But beyond that, I'm very fascinated with technology, and the development of technology, particularly as it relates to magic. And so this series is about the rediscovery of magic and how magic interacts with science, and the treating of magic in a scientific way on a large scale. You know, you see that in each of my books, with magic being treated scientifically, but I really wanted to do it in a way that changes the lives of everyone. The common people—magic changes their lives as much as technology changed the lives of the common people in the technological revolution we went under. And so that's what I'm going to try to approach in these books.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
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    Marc Aplin

    Okay, so Way of Kings...the people who don't know the background, I'll just give you a little bit. The book was written actually before pretty much anything else of Brandon's was published. I think it was 2002, 2003 he finished it. Obviously he went on to publish Elantris, Warbreaker...Mistborn as well, of course. And the Wheel of Time books. Has his experiences with these other books changed the way that he sees the Stormlight series continuing from this point?

    Brandon Sanderson

    When I finished Way of Kings the first time in 2002, it wasn't ready yet. And I knew...when I finished it, I knew something was wrong. My skill wasn't up to writing a book of this length yet. I was very proud of it, but proud in the way that, you know, someone who finished their first marathon but with a horrible time would be proud of having run that marathon; and I knew I needed to get better as a writer before I could actually do it justice. And so, yes, it's evolved. There were flaws in the original book. The character of Kaladin was just boring, in the first write of it. Dalinar stayed about the same. Dalinar's plot changed the least, and who he was changed the least. But both Shallan and Kaladin had deep flaws in how I had written them, and I just wasn't...I wasn't creating characters deep enough yet. And so I set it aside, partially because I knew I needed to get better as writer. When I wrote it again in 2008—actually it was 2009, I think—I started over from scratch. I threw away everything and did it again. And my skill had increased by that point to the point that I could do it justice, I think.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
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    Marc Aplin

    So the series, people are presuming it's going to be ten books long because of a comment you've made, is that correct?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is correct; it's going to be ten books. Ten is a holy number in the series. It's related to the Order of Knights Radiant and the number of magic systems and things like this. So ten books.

    Marc Aplin

    Is the 1000-page format something that's going to continue throughout the series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Each of the books will be medium long. I'm not sure...you know, I can't tell you exactly how long they will be. Instinctively, looking at my outline, I feel that the first is probably one of the longest in the series, which is a bad way to do it, honestly. You really want to have the first ones be the quick pow, and the middle ones get to be the thick, meaty ones. But I'm expecting... This one was about 400,000 words; I'm expecting them all to be around 300,000 words. There may be some that go a little bit longer. It'll depend on the book and how many characters I decide to deal with in that book, and the plot structure of the books.

    Fantasy Faction Interview ()
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    Marc Aplin

    So, Way of Kings. Absolutely huge book, standing at 1000 pages. Even then, the book is taller than your average kind of novel. So, the question I had for Brandon was, with people like Patrick Rothfuss kind of realizing their works were too long—The Kingkiller Chronicles for example was one big book that he split into three parts so that it was publishable—what was it about Way of Kings that meant even though it was so big, it still had to be just that one book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I couldn't do that same thing with this particular book because of the way the plot arcs work. It worked very well with Rothfuss' book—of course, I loved his books—but what he's got going on is sort of an episodic story where Kvothe does this and Kvothe does that and Kvothe does this. And you can kind of separate those as vignettes. With Way of Kings, what I was doing is...I've got three storylines for three separate characters who are each going through troubled times. And if we were to cut the book in half, for instance, you would get all of the set up, and all of the trouble, and none of the payoff. And so what'd happen is you'd have actually a really depressing first book, where nothing really good happens and people are in places that they...mentally, they haven't come to any decisions yet; they're struggling with problems. Essentially, you'd only get the first act; you'd get all of the setup and none of the payoff.

    Marc Aplin

    I see. The two books in front of you here, obviously being re-released... Which point is it that this cuts off at?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This cuts off... We decided we had a fairly good break point, because Shallan's storyline comes to...there's a resolution. And some decisions have been made, and it's kind of... We broke it right at the kind of middle point where people are deciding, you know, we've had these struggles, we've had these struggles; now we have some sort of promise of victory. But the victory or things haven't actually happened yet. And so I do strongly recommend that people read both books—have them both together to read together—because there is a certain poetry to the arcs that are built into this. The second half is lots of massive payoff for the first half. But we did find a decent break point. But conceptually it's one novel, even if you can break for a while and then pick up the second one. Conceptually, to me they are one.

    Epic Games interview ()
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    Epic Games

    What are the benefits of people becoming more comfortable consuming their books, games, etc. digitally?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Certainly there's just a convenience factor. In book sales, we lost a big convenience factor during the 90s and early 2000s, and that is that we lost mall stores. A lot of the bookstores in malls went away. And a lot of the distribution to little gas stations and corner stores went away, for various reasons that I can't explain in the length of this interview. Basically, our science fiction and fantasy books lost a lot of the places where readers could pick them up. As I said before, a lot of people when they run across a good book and start reading it, they love it. Yet now they don’t have as many opportunities to come across books. Recently they've been having to go to one of these big box stores, they have to make reading a destination. Because of that, all the people who would pick up a cool science fiction book that they would see in their corner store aren't reading anymore. Hopefully if we can show them books on their phone or in their game, they'll be reminded, and we can replace those distribution methods we lost with these new distribution methods where we can sell books for half the price and deliver them right to you in the moment of super convenience. I'm hoping this will encourage more people to look into our stories.

    Epic Games interview ()
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    Epic Games

    How do you think the digital space is changing the publishing industry?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's doing a lot of things. It is making it easier for people who don't frequently read books to run across books. I'm hoping that people who love to play their Infinity Blade games will see the story there and download it, and remember that they once loved to read books. Because a lot of people who are playing games read occasionally. I've found that most people, when they read a good book, say, "Wow, I really do like reading great books. Why don't I do this more often?" It's just a factor of that it slips our mind or we don't find time, or video games and movies are really flashy and books are anything but flashy. But there's just a wonderful experience to reading a book. I think there's space for all of these things, and I hope that more people can discover and be reminded of why they love books.

    It's also taking away some of the constraints. Book length is no longer as much of a factor as it used to be. You can have a really long book or a really short book, and the binding doesn't dictate the length of your story, which I really like.

    Epic Games interview ()
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    Epic Games

    What are some of your favorite videogames and why?

    Brandon Sanderson

    When I was growing up I always really enjoyed the Final Fantasy games because they felt like they spent more time on story. I would list Final Fantasy 10 as one of my favorites of all time. That said, the last few installments I've found myself getting more and more bored with. I guess maybe you can only do the same thing so many times, I don't know. I haven't been excited about the most recent ones as much; maybe I played 10 and just loved it so much that after that, where does it have to go?

    Recently I've liked the game Demon Souls, in part because of the fantastic sense of immersion that everything went into in that game—the ambiance, the level design, the solitary feel. That is a way you can tell a great story without a lot of dialogue and a lot of forcing cutscenes down your throat. Batman: Arkham Asylum was just brilliant, for all of the reasons I stated above. And I've really enjoyed the games that ChAIR has made—Shadow Complex, Infinity Blade of course.

    Epic Games

    What is your most memorable gaming experience / best gaming memory?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably Final Fantasy 10 as I mentioned. At that time I was working the graveyard shift at a hotel, and I was doing a lot of writing on my own trying to get published. I would come home every morning at seven a.m. and play for a couple of hours alone in the quiet apartment, thinking about my own stories, experiencing the story of the game.

    Other than that, I would say, honestly, the game that sucked most of my time was probably the original X-Wing game, which really made me feel like I got to be an X-Wing pilot, which, you know—Star Wars geek! That was so much fun! In a lot of ways every space game since then has failed to live up to the sense that I got from that game.

    Epic Games interview ()
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    Epic Games

    How do you think games can improve their approach to storytelling?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, this is an interesting question because as a writer, I have to admit something about games. At its core, a game with great gameplay and a terrible story is still going to be a fun game. But a game with a great story and terrible gameplay is going to be a horrible game. There's no getting around the fact that first you have to have a very fun game. It just can't go the other way. So there's a reason why, historically, some of the writing for video games hasn’t been that great, and that's because you have to make sure you have a fun game first.

    That said, the more money that's being involved in video games, the more production time we have, and the more opportunity we have to really be taken seriously as a large mass media experience, the more time I think can legitimately be and should be devoted to the story. You've seen some really awesome games with great stories come out like the Infamous series, for example.

    I feel that the dialogue in video games tends to be cliched, and this bothers me because when you have cliched dialogue, you end up with cliched characters, you end up with cutscenes that are just jokes that people skip, and you lose a lot of depth of immersion for these stories. So I would like to see the dialogue get better, and I would also like to see character arcs get better. I frequently see video game characters making big decisions and changes in their lives based on very poor foreshadowing, or very poor character growth, where it's just—suddenly now I'm a bad guy, or suddenly now I'm a good guy, or whatnot. I would really like to see video games put more rigor into it, to let us experience a character's growth.

    Epic Games interview ()
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    Epic Games

    Which of the characters do you find most compelling and why?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Siris, our main character. I felt I really needed a protagonist who was compelling, so I did everything I could to make him fit the bill. I also think that Isa, the character I created to go alongside him, is very fun and very interesting, but certainly Siris is the most compelling.

    Epic Games interview ()
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    Epic Games

    How does the novel, Infinity Blade: Awakening, fit within the game universe?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is a bridge directly from game one to game two. It begins basically right at the end of game one, and then game two overlaps. You get to play through the ending of the story, for the introduction to the game when you're going through the tutorial and whatnot. Then the game heads to new ground. This was actually really fun for me—I liked writing something and then having them say, "Wow, we're going to make this part of the game. It'll be our prologue."

    Epic Games interview ()
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    Epic Games

    What did you find most interesting about working within the Infinity Blade universe?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I was really interested by something that may be surprising to you, and that is the constraints that I had. I find that good creativity commonly comes from having really interesting limitations. I often say this about magic—the best magic comes from what the magic can't do—and the best characters are the ones who have really interesting limitations. In the same way, a lot of times the best stories come when you have some really interesting constraints. You can't have too many—but let me give an example.

    I saw that they have healing magic in this world, and it works like standard video game healing—boom, you just drink a potion or cast a spell and you've been healed. If you look at that from a real-life perspective, that is way too easy to be interesting narratively, and it also has all kinds of wacky ramifications for the way society works. So I took this and said, "How can I make this work in the actual framework of a story, in a way that's interesting, different, that people haven't seen before, that does not contradict the video game, and yet also doesn't break the economy of this world?" So I built things so that drinking a potion or using a magic spell heals you but it also accelerates your metabolism and ages you for as long as it would have taken you to heal naturally from that injury. So what we've got here is something that doesn't really affect the video game at all, but if you look at it world-wise, yes we've still changed the world somewhat, but now there's an enormous cost. You don't want to heal every time you get a little cut, because you're taking weeks off your life. Taking the chance to heal yourself is only going to be something you're really going to do if it's life or death for you.

    Epic Games interview ()
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    Epic Games

    What was the process of working with ChAIR like?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I met with them, wrote down all of their ideas, and then spent several weeks doing some hardcore brainstorming and reworking, where I kind of had to break apart the outline of their world and rebuild it from the ground up. Then I would bring things to them and say, "What do you think of this, what do you think of this?" I built for them a story bible, essentially a world book for their setting, and then constructed what I thought would be a really great narrative to bridge the two games. I was like an outside expert they brought in to consult on their story.

    Epic Games interview ()
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    Epic Games

    What do you think you were able to bring to the story of Infinity Blade?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm a writer. This is what I do. One thing I've noticed—and I'm a big gamer, I enjoy video games—is that a lot of video game people have great ideas. They have excellent storytelling instincts. What they don't have, often, is a lot of practice doing it—you get better at telling stories by telling stories. A lot of the video games out there will have this core of awesomeness but a little bit of roughness around the edges when it comes to dialogue, making sure that the worldbuilding is rigorous, making sure that the characterizations are smooth and have nice arcs. I think that's something I can bring expertise to.

    One of the nice things about video games is that it's a big collaborative effort. There are certain things that a writer like myself should not be involved in. I don't have any practice coming up with fun ways to play games. I know some writers who assume that because they know how to tell stories, they'll be able to make a game that's interesting, but that's certainly not the case. The developers at ChAIR are experts at making really fun, awesome games. But I can help them with their worldbuilding, making sure it's consistent; with their dialogue, making sure that it's both evocative and interesting without being cliched and overdone. I think that the more people with skill in various areas you have working on a project like this, the better the outcome will be.

    Epic Games interview ()
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    Epic Games

    Have you ever worked on a video game before?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is my first extensive experience working on a video game. I have sold video game rights on one of my other books, but I haven't begun working on that yet.

    Epic Games

    How did you get involved with Infinity Blade?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They approached me. The developers of Infinity Blade were fans of mine. They tell me they spent some six months trying to get hold of me, going through different channels. But they kept trying because they really wanted to work with me. Eventually they realized they had a contact with Isaac Stewart, who has done a lot of art for my books and is a good friend of mine. So through him they eventually got me to dinner to pitch working on this project with them.

    San Diego Comic Con 2010 ()
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    Shawn Speakerman

    Since [Robert Jordan] obviously is one of your heroes, what kind of influence has he had on The Way of Kings?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, it's so hard to pick out my influences in different ways. I mean, Robert Jordan's had a huge influence on me. I was looking back at my very first book that I wrote back when I was nineteen, and I read the beginning and I realized (I'd never realized this before) I started with a wind scene. I don't know if you know this, in Wheel of Time, all of the books start with this omniscient perspective of the wind. I did that. And I said, "My goodness, I didn't even think..." You can call it an homage, but it really was unintentionally ripping him off. And I started, I had three or four pages of just the wind blowing through and looking at things in the exact same way. And I never realized that until I looked back at that.

    I was deeply influenced by Robert Jordan's use of viewpoint perspective. I think that's the thing I've learned most from him that you can see distinctly in my fiction nowadays is how deeply he was in viewpoint. When you read Aviendha, she is so different from when you read Mat that it's night and day. And that's something that I hope that I learned from him, that I wanted to learn from him, so that when you read Dalinar, Dalinar feels very different from Kaladin who feels very different from Shallan because they all see the world in a different way. Use of the third person limited is just... he was wonderful at that.

    San Diego Comic Con 2010 ()
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    Shawn Speakerman

    If Robert Jordan had been able to read [Way of Kings], what do you think he would say about it? What would he really love about it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, Robert Jordan loved (at least, from what I can tell in the notes, and listening to him talk) this idea of blending technology and magic in a lot of ways. If you read the Wheel of Time books, it's about the Industrial Revolution happening at the same time as the end of the world. We have steam technology and things appearing, and this is all background. It's not what the story was about. But I think he would be fascinated by that concept.

    Because I was always fascinated by the Age of Legends in the Wheel of Time books, where I wanted to... that influenced me in telling a story about worlds where we are seeing the beginnings of things like this. So, that might be something he would latch on to.

    I have no ability to speak actually for him. I never met Robert Jordan. I saw him once at a convention, I still feel stupid for not saying hello to him. There are so many people who know him better than I do. To me, he's kind of like this heroic figure, he's the Odysseus who came before. And he still remains that to me, because I never really got to know him personally. Whereas all the people I work with know him personally, I just know him as this hero.

    San Diego Comic Con 2010 ()
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    Shawn Speakerman

    So, obviously, since you spent ten years developing that kind of magic system for The Way of Kings, it can't be just a one-off book.

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, it's the start of a large series. I originally pitched it, and I said, "This is ten books." And the publisher said, "Oh. Make sure you don't tell too many people that." (Which, it's already too late.) "Because either they'll hear that and be scared off because it's too big. Or eventually you'll be getting near the end, and you'll wanna extend it a book or two, and you'll have locked yourself in." But ten is a very mythological number in this series, and it is based on these ten Orders of Knights, and I'm pretty sure it'll be the ten books.

    One of the things I'm playing with is trying to figure a way that I can make a long series like that feel like individual books. You know, I want to have an epic series, but one of the problems with epic series is that you get a few books in, and you start to lose track. And it's hard to keep track of everything. I want each of the books to feel individual. And the way I'm doing that is, each book is essentially about one of the characters. And there are other characters that appear, other viewpoints and things, but in each book, we delve into one character's past and tell a complete story, beginning with having some flashbacks to what happened in their history, and having a full arc for that character. So each of the ten books... they take place chronologically, it's not like we're always jumping back and things like that, but in each character's book, we will see one character's past and history as it's influencing what's happening with them in the present. So, hopefully, that'll work something like Lost, or one of my models is the old Highlander TV series, with their wonderful use of blending flashback, where we can see a person's past and watch their present, and get a cohesive feel for each book. Hopefully.

    San Diego Comic Con 2010 ()
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    Shawn Speakerman

    You brought up the magic system [of Way of Kings], and it's fairly unique. It's hard to wrap your head around it at first, but once you get into the story it actually makes a lot of sense. So, how long did it take you to develop that actual aspect of the novel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It depends on the book. For this one, it's been going for a long time. This is one of the magic systems I've just been playing with forever, the idea...

    Now, I describe the basics of the magic systems, and I'm worried that that will scare people off, because you don't need to know any of this stuff. The magic is fun, it should be just part of the story. But if you really wanna dig deeply, this one is based off the idea of fundamental forces. The [four] fundamental forces. Gravitation and electromagnetics and strong and weak nuclear forces. Those are the concepts that built this magic system, where I built an idea of a world with essentially ten fundamental forces, and built ten orders of Knights, each who learn to manipulate a type of these forces. So that is a growth over about ten years of work, to build this magic system with these ideas of "How can I make these fundamental forces manipulate them, what can it do? How can I make surface tension into a magic system? Or how can I make pressure into a magic system? Or gravitation that works in a magic system?"

    But in other ones, it's just a quirky idea that occurs to me. Warbreaker, I spent only about four months building the magic system for that; an idea, you know, sympathetic magic of bringing things to life and using Breath as a metaphor for someone's life just kind of fell into place and worked together, and I did it. It depends on the book.

    San Diego Comic Con 2010 ()
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    Shawn Speakerman

    Tell us a little about The Way of Kings.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Way of Kings is... it's many things. And I once heard Robert Jordan, someone ask him to describe the Wheel of Time. And he said, "Well, I can't say it in a few sentences. If I could, I would have written the books that length. You'll just have to read them." And part of me wants to say that for this book. I just don't even know how to describe it. I've been working on it for something like fifteen years. It's kind of the project of my heart that I've wanted to do for a long time but I didn't feel I had the momentum to do it until this point in my career.

    And it's about many things. On one hand, it's about Knights in magical platemail power armor that punch through walls and jump off buildings. There's that aspect. On the other hand, it's about the age of discovery in a world where magic is real. It's the dawning of an age of technology, but magical technology. It's the beginnings of something like that. So, for Wheel of Time fans, I describe it as the beginning of the Age of Legends. A story about something like that in a world where people are just starting to apply scientific reason to magical experience. And on the other side, it's a very individual story about a young man who gets recruited into, is essentially pressed into a terrible war where he's part of this crew of men who run siege equipment. He doesn't even get to fight, he runs this siege equipment and lives this terrible experience of people dying around him, and learning and growing and surviving in this terrible place.

    So it's all of those things. On one side it's the fun action; on the other side, it's me trying to deal with the ideas of magic and science blending. But really, it comes down to a story about character. Who are these people? The young man who's trapped, and the young woman who's essentially Pliny the Elder mixed with a little bit of Darwin. She's a scholar who's just kind at the beginnings of this age of discovery, who's sort of sketching these weird creatures she sees and applying reason to them. So, it's all over the place, but hopefully it coalesces into one awesome story. I hope.

    Idaho Falls Signing ()
    #3792 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    When I spoke with EUOL he was pretty firm on the overarching shards books being 36 in number. I had actually asked him about Hoid's connection with White Sand as I had noticed something during his story. (Those of you who have read the preliminary White Sand will see the connection.)

    He also mentioned that he has a diagram of how the books relate to each other and the shards. He said that he may eventually publish it so we can see the connections, but that many more books would have to be written first.

    Idaho Falls Signing ()
    #3794 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Over-arching thing with the shards of andonalsium: Brandon told me tonight that he actually has a chart/list thing with all of the books that he's planned in the shards universe. His exact words were something about having an arch over thirty-six books involving the shards of andonalsium. Which makes me wonder if we're going to get some of the story about andonalsium. He also said that there were only a few lines in each book to give us clues. Apparently there's something in the HoA, but I didn't notice anything when I read through it. Of course, I wasn't looking for it. He mentioned that there were 36, or possibly 38 (he couldn't remember which) books that would be in this universe. They included all of the mistborn books (all 3 trilogies), all of the Stormlight Chronicle, all of Dragonsteel, Elantris, Warbreaker, White Sands, the Other book that I mentioned but can't remember the title of, and others.

    Idaho Falls Signing ()
    #3797 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Some as of yet unwritten book that I can't remember the title of, but know that it included the word Divine. Anyway, it has a magic system in which the magic is caused by bacteria. Basically, the bacteria and parasites want their hosts to survive as long as possible, so they give them magic. The example Brandon used was that if someone caught the common cold, they could fly until they got over that cold.

    Idaho Falls Signing ()
    #3798 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Way of Kings: Is set on a strangely awesome world. Apparently, a super large storm (like hurricane size) passes across the Earth every few days. This happens in a very predictable cycle. Because of this, there is no soil anywhere, everything is stone. The plants and animals have adapted to this environment, so they are also pretty strange. The plants, for instance will be much like a coral reef. They have shells, or can withdraw into the ground, and do so when the storm comes. They also will do the same thing if you try to step on them and such. So like, as you're walking, the grass around you shrinks into the ground, and pokes back out again when you pass.

    I also found out that the Way of Kings is largely about the birth of magic, since Brandon was tired of fantasy books talking about the death of it. As such, most of the magic systems are largely unknown, and will be explored. There was at one previous time, several hundred years past, magic on the earth. However, it's been gone for a while, and is being rediscovered. There are a total of 30 planned magic systems, and the books will jump around chronologically between the present and character's pasts. The technology level is a typical fantasy, Renaissance minus gunpowder. At least I think that's what he said.

    He also mentioned these awesome suits of armor and like 6 foot long swords that he called "Shard Plate" and "Shard Blades." Apparently, they are the only relics left over from the time when mankind originally did have magic. Also, in the mythology of this world, mankind originally lived in heaven. However, a race of beings called (I think) the Voidbringers conquered heaven and basically cast mankind out to the earth. They made war on them again and tried to cast them out to hell, but mankind devised These Shard Blades and Shard Plate as a method of fighting the Voidbringers and were able to push them back. He also mentioned that the world is currently basically dominated by those who have these magical items, and one person with a suit of shard plate and a shard blade is basically the equivalent of an army. When I asked him if these were related to the Shards of Andonalsium at all, he said, "Maybe." He also confirmed that the Stormlight Chronicle (Way of Kings) takes place in the Shards universe.

    The reason Way of Kings is called the Stormlight Chronicle apparently has to do with the massive hurricanes that come through every few days. If you leave a gemstone out during the storm (and affix it to something so it won't blow away), it will gain magical properties. One of these is that they give off light, called stormlight. The other that he mentioned is that they can be used kind of like a battery, and are used to power the Shard Plate Suits.