You wrote a short story called [Defending] Elysium? The Phone Company? Are you ever gonna revisit that?
It's possible, but I have no specific plans in the near future.
You wrote a short story called [Defending] Elysium? The Phone Company? Are you ever gonna revisit that?
It's possible, but I have no specific plans in the near future.
When you have written, did you ever write with other people in pairs? Or do you focus on writing solely as a...
Do I ever write with other people in pairs? I've tried it once, and it didn't work so well. So it's not something I'll probably do again. It works very well for some people, and it just didn't end up being something that worked really well for me.
Was there something that caused it to fail?
No, there wasn't something specific that caused it to fail, other than the fact that I kind of like to be in control of my stories. And not being in control of my stories just didn't end up working out for me. It didn't save me any time, and it didn't save the other writer any time. It made both of us have to do more work.
You do a lot of insider *inaudible* and you have *inaudible. How does that inform your process going forward *inaudible* the new books, knowing that you might someday have to tell people-?
So, how does it inform my new books, knowing that I put so much stuff on my website? On there, I have annotations for a lot of my books, chapter-by-chapter. I have a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. I grew up in the internet era. Well, at least I became a writer in the internet era. So I'm used to having extra information. I remember waiting for Wheel of Time books, and like, "When is this gonna be done?" And nobody knew, it was all hearsay. So, when I developed my website, I'm like, "Let's put a progress bar on so that it's right there, and you can go to the source and find out when the next book is gonna be done." So I just started, from the get-go, doing this extra bonus material. I feel like in this genre... Science fiction and fantasy people are very tech savvy. I'm willing to bet that every one in this room could torrent the books for free if they wanted to. And instead they buy them and support me. It's a genre where I am directly supported by fans as a conscious choice on their part. So I feel that it's my part to give them everything I can as this sort of additional content with the book. Because it's not just the book, it's everything surrounding it that you're buying into. And that's just kind of a personal quest of mine. It does make me more aware of my process. Because I'm like, "Oh, they're gonna ask me where I came up with this character. Where did I come up with this character as I'm designing it?" And I'll write down some notes on, "This is what inspired me here." It gets much harder for me to talk about Elantris and Mistborn, 'cause I can't dig so deep into my my influences, even Way of Kings sometimes, because they go back so far. But books that are newer, I can be, "Hey, this is exactly where my influences came from." Because I am <so conscious> now. Good question.
With regards to the audiobook, how does it feel hearing Rand and Egwene, and Kaladin and Shallan?
Yeah, that's really weird. In regards to the audiobook, how does it feel to hear some of the same voices coming out from my characters that are in the Wheel of Time. That's really weird. But after just a few minutes, my mind shifts over.
At what point in the progression of a Radiant do they develop Shardplate?
A point you haven't seen anyone reach yet.
How many books do you read per year?
Not as many as I want. Maybe twelve or fifteen.
Do you ever stop reading something, or do you always finish a book?
I stop reading nowadays, if it's just not working for me. I couldn't do that when I was younger. But now that I'm a writer... I hit this moment, a lot of writers hit this, where reading becomes less fun for you for a while, while you're becoming a writer. And then, a lot of us just push over it, but it changes you. And what changed me is, I just don't stick with a book that I'm not enjoying. I do always give them twenty percent. 'cause I figure, you need to give a book enough time to get its hooks in you. You can't judge it based on the first little bits. But if by about a quarter, it's just not working for me, I will abandon it.
Out of all of the covers for any of your books, anywhere in the world, what was your favorite cover?
My favorite cover of all of my covers is the first cover of The Way of Kings by Michael Whelan. Because I have this, kind of, emotional connection to Michael's work. The first fantasy book I ever read was Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly, with its gorgeous Michael Whelan cover, and I didn't even know the genre really existed, I just went to the bookstore and found the next book in the card catalogue, and it was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, also with its gorgeous Whelan cover. And I read all of those. And so, it went hand-in-hand. The next one I started was Melanie Rawn, which was another Whelan cover. So, the first three series I ever read were all done by him, and were all done by these feminist fantasy writers. And those two things have kind of shaped how I see the fantasy genre. But I would recommend all three of those series, by the way, to you guys, they are fantastic. Dragonsbane, in particular, is still very close to my heart. The first one, in particular. Barbara was kind of depressed when she wrote the rest of them.
Is there any genre that you really want to do a book for, but you haven't had the opportunity yet?
If I really wanted... you know, I haven't. I've had stories that I haven't had time to do, that I haven't had a chance for. But I've kind of hit the genres I want to, because Legion let me dabble in the police mystery thing, and Emperor's Soul let me dabble in a little more literary. I've done science fiction, I've done fantasy. I'm sure there are other genres, but, you know...
I was wondering what happens when you compound copper?
I will reveal this eventually. You're getting a RAFO. Do know that not all compounding does cool stuff. Not all of it does cool stuff, but a lot of it does cool stuff.
When designing the Aons for AonDor, how many did you intentionally sneak in sneaky hints about the universe in them, or were those happy accidents?
I snuck in a whole bunch of stuff, but then there's a whole bunch more stuff that was happy accidents. A lot of the cosmere stuff was intentional. Because, when I sold my first book, I had already written drafts of Dragonsteel, which was Hoid's origin story. I had written drafts of the Way of Kings. I had written drafts of Mistborn. I had written all of these things, so I could sit down and say, "Okay, I've got this whole work, let's get it together." So I kinda was able to cheat, because I'd finished all these books before, so I was able to release Elantris with a lot of really cool hints built into it.
But there are always things that fans point out and say, "Wow, you did this cool thing." And you don't want to say "No, I wasn't that cool." I'll do that one occasionally. Mostly, I'm like, "Ooh, yes. Hmmm." I was smarter than I thought I was, that's okay. Reader response literary criticism means I can say, "Yes, you are right!"
If you could write a story from another author's character and point of view, who would it be?
It would be Wheel of Time. And I say that a little bit cheekily, and a little bit not. We are not gonna write any more Wheel of Time books. This is because I don't feel Robert Jordan would want it to happen. But if I had my wish, I would summon him back from the dead, and he'd say "What the heck," but I'd say, "Can I really just write this one more?" And if he said yes then I'd love to write it. I would love to tell some more stores, but I'm not going to; knowing what I know and having read the interviews I read with him, he would not approve of it, so I'm not gonna do it. If I were able to make *inaudible* happen, that's the one I would pick.
If you want something more realistic, I don't know, because all my favorite writers, I'm like, "I want to read what they are working on, I don't want to do it myself." The whole idea of loving it is that they're do it. I have turned down writing for the Marvel universe. They came to me and said, "Hey! Pick a character, write a book on him. We don't care who. Please?" These are the sort of weird things that start happening to you when you're in my position, and you have to say no. 'Cause I'm just like, "I've read comic books. I like comic books. You guys are doing great stuff. I'm doing my own great stuff. You don't need me." Robert Jordan needed me. So, I don't know that I would do anything else unless there were a friend or a series that needed me.
For people who are not familiar with fantasy and science fiction novels, what novel would you suggest they start with?
People who are not familiar with your works, which novel would you suggest first, and why?
This is a hard question to answer because, usually, when I run into this, I try to talk with the person and see what they like in their fiction. Because the great thing about fantasy and science fiction is it basically does everything that every other genre does, plus has dragons. That's the definition of fantasy: whatever you love from any other book, we will do, and we will add dragons. Naomi Novik, right? It's Master and Commander, and everything you love about those, plus dragons. So, if someone is on the more literary side of things, I'll find something more literary. Like, I'll give them Urusla Le Guin, probably. But if someone's like, a teen, who just is like, "I don't know what I like, I just like cool stuff," then I'll try to dig out one of the great teen books, like The Blue Sword (which really got my wife into fantasy when she was a teenager) or David Eddings, or one of these things that, you know, if they were published today, they'd probably publish as YA books, but back then they just were published however. So, it depends on the person. If someone likes big historical epics, like they're reading stuff like that, 'cause the big historicals are thick, then I'm gonna give them Wheel of Time. Be like, "This is a historical epic in a world that doens't exist"
For my own, I kinda do the same thing. If someone is more literary, I give them Emperors Soul. If somebody likes more romance or humor, I'll give them Warbreaker. And if someone likes action adventure, or is kinda like, "I just like all kinds of things," I'll give them Mistborn, 'cause it kind of touches on everything. And if they are masochistic, I'll give them The Way of Kings. Way of Kings is my best work, but it's also the one that hits you in the face the most, particularly at the beginning. I'ts like, "Oh you wanna read this book? Haha, BAM BAM BAM BAM." And then by the end you love it because you're not getting hit anymore.
On the subject of audiobooks, was there every one you listened to and heard something that was read really differently than the way you imagined?
You know, every time I listen to an audiobook, there are certain interpretations that are different. And I like that. It's like getting cover art that is a different art form. I really like how this different art form goes. So it's not, like, "Oh, they shouldn't have done this." It's a, "Oh, here is how he interpreted it.
Is there one in particular that springs to your mind?
When Michael Kramer made the Herdazians from Way of Kings sound Australian. That was kinda different because they're Hispanic. But it's okay, it's a fantasy world. So, they actually aren't Hispanic, and they actually aren't Australian. But, the Herdazians came, because my wife, who teaches ESL, and speaks very fluent Spanish, says, "Why does everyone always put cool Asian cultures and cool western cultures into their fantasy novels? Where are the Hispanics?" And that stuck in my head for, like, five or six years, until The Lopen popped out.
How tall is Alcatraz in relation to Bastille?
Oh, boy, it's been a while since I wrote these. I think they're about the same height. If she's in heels, she's taller.
When you're having a hard time writing some of your... for example, the Rithmatist, you said came out of struggling to finish something.
Yeah, I was struggling to finish another attempt at Hoid's origin story that wasn't working. So I jumped over and wrote something else.
I was wondering if you could talking a little bit about how working on another project... Is it the fact that that idea is sitting around in your head that's keeping you from...
Good question. So, the question is, "Working on another project. What makes me jump? What makes me excited? What's going on?" It's very dangerous to get in the habit of jumping projects. And I've trained myself not to do this except in extreme cases. But once in a while, you just hit a funk on a book so much that you don't want to let it become a theme, you don't want it to let it become momentum for you, or the lack of it. And so I would jump to something else that it's just repeatedly, it's just not working for me. And I know my writing style enough to know that that's not common to me. If it happened every project, then it would be a problem I'd need to push past. In that case, the book just wasn't working, and I'm gonna work on this other thing that I'm really excited about, just to make sure I'm recapturing my love of writing, and not getting into a funk. And that, actually, is kind of how I manage my writing overall. I will jump projects after I finish something to make sure I don't get burned out on writing. As soon as I finish something, I look for something very different to do, in order to keep myself fresh. And that's why you see these lots of different things for me, is because that is how my psychology works. I always need to be doing something new.
When you're designing your magic systems, what is it you typically go into?
At that thing I said, brandonsanderson.com/writing/advice, I've got three essays on magic systems that can cover it way better than talking about it right now. That'll get you really into it. I would suggest those, they're called Sanderson's Laws, because I'm really humble. Asimov has them, and Clarke has them; so I can have them, there's not fantasy guys who have laws. So go read those, and they will talk you through how I develop a magic system.
I was wondering about the background behind one of them. Stormlight.
Background behind the magic system in Stormlight traces back to my early history as a science major. I was a biochemistry major in college, before I jumped ship to English. And I've always been interested in the sciences quite a bit, and you'll see that in writing as a theme through my magics. The magic system of Roshar is based on the idea of the fundamental forces. I love the idea of the fundamental forces. This idea that there are certain interactions between parts of matter and energy that transcend everything else and rule how our entire world works was fascinating. So I wanted to come up with this idea of ten fundamental forces that worked with the magic system of the cosmere. Because there are extra forces, because there's weird stuff in the cosmere. Some of them are one-to-one. Gravitation is just one of the fundamental forces. And the strong and weak forces, I played with and came up with some things for that too, so you'll see that. But on the other hand, we've got things like transcending between the Physical Realm and the Cognitive Realm, which is a very cosmere-type thing. So, I built ten fundamental forces. And then I was playing with the idea (which I have in the cosmere) of pieces of energy becoming sapient. You've seen it happen in Elantris, you've seen it happen in Warbreaker. Way of Kings is one of the places I really wanted to show off how this works. So, the idea of the spren connecting a bond to the force that they're related to in certain ways, that just grew out of that.
If Patrick Rothfuss dropped dead tomorrow, would you finish the Kingkiller Chronicles?
So... if there were no other options. The thing is, I'm not sure how good a match I would be for Kingkiller. I might be able to do it. Thing is, Pat and I have... some similarities; our use of magic is very similar, and our use of viewpoint. We're very similar in those two things. Pat is very different from me in narrative structure. And more importantly (because I could do his narrative structure), he is a prose stylist, that has a lyricism to his writing that is very different from what I try to do. I have spent my life practicing something that in the industry we call Orwellian prose, which is... George Orwell would talk about how he wanted his prose to be a window pane. That through which you saw the story, but didn't distract you in any way. And I try to move my writing, most of the time, away from anything that draws attention to itself. Except for the occasional flourish at, like, the beginning of the chapter, or something like that.
Pat, every one of his lines is gorgeous. It's part of what makes the Kingkiller work so well. And that is not a skill I have practiced. I would think that somebody like Guy Gavriel Kay, or Nora Jemisin, who are fantastic prose stylists, might be a better match, because that's something you can't just fake. You can maybe work with a bad plot, but voice, it's so different.
I was a very similar voice to Robert Jordan. I had studied his things. While he's more flowery than I am, I knew his style enough that it was a good match. So, someone like Brent Weeks, who writes like me, then that's something that I could do. But someone like Pat... Pat would be a really tough one for me to pull off.
One of the weird things is, people joke about me taking over George Martin. Which you shouldn't joke about, we totally want George to make it through... My prose is much closer to George Martin's, but my thematic content is way different. People talk about this like, "Let's just give it to Sanderson." I'm like, "Really? Do you want all these Game of Thrones people to stop swearing and get married, because that's what I..." *inaudible* You don't want me taking over George. You'd rather me taking over Pat.
You mentioned networking. Which, I've always wondered, for things like this, is there any point in me trying to make a connection with you *inaudible* ten years?
It's very hard to make any kind of meaningful connection with the established authors. If you want to network, you can try, but I just don't have the time. People will ask me out to dinner on tour, and I've already got, like, five friends and family I've got to say no to. I can't even go to dinner with Jason. (Hi, Jason.) One of my long-term friends, because I'm just popping all the time on tour. At a convention, you can usually grab an author, if you're at a con, and be like, "Hey, can I ask you questions for a few minutes," and it's less about networking then, and more about getting information. People you should be networking with are your colleagues.
Here's an interesting story. So, I took a class in 2000 at BYU as an undergraduate. And it was taught by David Farland, who's a fantasy novelist. I'm like, "Oh, there's a real novelist teaching a class. I'm gonna take that." Some of my friends felt... people I didn't know, but other people like me, went and took this class. In this class, I met a man named Dan Wells. I met another man named Peter Ahlstrom. A woman named Kaylynn ZoBell. A group of our friends, the people who became my friends, I started a writing group with them. Well, I sold a book, went full-time. Dan sold a book and went full-time. Peter became an editor at TokyoPop and went full-time. And Kaylynn sold a book. She hasn't gone full-time because that panics her. But, of the people in that class, we are the only ones who went pro. And all of us did. Which should tell you something. And that is, having a community of people who support you as writers... I don't think we were the best writers in that group. I think we're the ones that supported each other, kept practicing, and we became the best writers. But that's that support group. And what happened is, Dan came up to me at a con, and said, "Hey, I found this guy, Moshe Feder. You should come talk to him." So Dan pulled me over and I talked to Moshe. I sold a book to Moshe. Years later, Dan had written a book I thought Moshe would like, and I called Moshe and said, "Hey, the guy who introduced us has a book. You should read it." And Moshe bought Dan's book. And you kind of help each other out, and things like that.
You should be networking with those people. And the other people are the editors and agents. They're at conventions and conferences to work with new writers. That's the purpose. They're always hunting for new talent there. An editor and agent, because they love science fiction and fantasy, and are looking for people to bring out to the world. Every editor wants to be Hugo Gernsback, who discovers these new writers, and things like that. So those are the people to network with.
So, [Shadows of Self], when they were doing the PR for it, Tor put out, like, six or eight free chapters. At some point, don't you feel you're just slowly...
So, here's the story behind that. They're like, "We're gonna start our PR!" and they released three chapters in July. And I wrote to them, and I'm like, "The book comes out in October. And if you want to get people excited about the book, why did you release all the chapters in July?" And they're like, "Oh, yeah... Right." So, then they said, "I guess we'll just release three more in October leading up to the launch. I'm like, "Okay, sure." You now, I'm the one who released Warbreaker for free on my website. If you haven't read that one, it's just there for free under Creative Commons, because I figure people who enjoy my writing are going to start supporting me as a writer, either by giving my books to their friend or buying them or coming to events like this, so... Part of me wouldn't mind if Tor just gave away every one of the books, because more people would actually go buy them if the people who wanted to buy them could try them out for free. We've got this weird thing in with books entertainment where you don't know if you're gonna like it until you get to the end. But we expect you to pay for it up front. You know, that's not unusual, but at the same time that's like going to a restaurant and having a big list of things that you don't know what they are, and not telling you what they are, just saying "Oh, you'll love them." And then expect you to order a meal kind of randomly. Once an author has his track record, I think that it's a little bit more... makes sense for people to say "Oh, I trust Sanderson, I'm gonna like this book. I can buy this book and enjoy it and read it." When they came and said "We're thinking of giving The Way of Kings away free for six months on Amazon," I said, "Yes, give it away. Get people to read the book." That's kind of the opposite of stopping people from reading it. I'm for it.
How did the name Bridge Four [come about]?
So, I stole Bridge Four (there's an interesting story to it)... Dragonsteel was my seventh novel, and it's Hoid's origin story, and it takes place... the series is Hoid's origin story, though that book doesn't really get into it. We have a few viewpoints from him, but it's not really about him. And the idea was, I was gonna kind of lead into this epic fantasy, and then start talking about this mysterious character who was a big part of it. And the main character I decided to lead in with that was this person who got stuck in a bridge crew. It's not Kaladin, it's a very different character, but the idea of the bridge crews. Well, eventually, I took Dalinar out of... even before I was writing Dragonsteel, I pulled him out, set him for a different book. And eventually it became clear to me that I needed to pull the bridge crews out and move them to Roshar because they just worked better. I had this great idea for these bridge crews, but the world they're in just didn't match. And the chasms and things matched very well. So I moved them out and made them a part of Kaladin's story. What I'm getting at is, I came up with the bridge crews, like, twenty years ago, and I have no idea why I picked four, other than... I have no idea. Bridge Four has been Bridge Four to me for years. In fact, if you read Dragonsteel, you can still find Rock in Bridge Four from twenty years ago, acting kind of the same. And a few of the other characters are still there, as well.
A little while ago, you had a little competition thing with James Dashner... I was wondering, is there some secret writer club where you guys all send each other emails saying, "Oh, in my book, my newest character does this cool thing."
The truth is, there are kind of some things like that. We have some listservs. But more, it's not on email, it's having dinners, things like that. Particularly people who broke in when I did, like [Patrick] Rothfuss, [Joe] Abercrombie, and some of these guys, we end up at cons kinda the same time, running the same rounds, and end up chatting with each other, and just-- We've become friends that way, and also slightly rivals. You see us doing things like this.
My Abercrombie story. Did you guys see on my Twitter feed? ...I was in Amsterdam, I was running to catch a plane in Amsterdam. I started in London, I had a signing in Calgary. I don't know how that happened, but I needed to do a signing in Calgary. So, I'm through passing Amsterdam. This sounds a lot more glorious than it is. I'm passing through, and I found my book at an English language bookstore in the airport in Amsterdam. So, I did my normal thing, I hurriedly signed it, I stuffed some goodies in it, I took a picture, and tweeted my fans, "Anyone passing through Amsterdam airport, look what you can find!" And then I get a text from Joe Abercrombie where he's like, "Dude, my book was next to yours." I'm like, "Oh, great, nice. Great." And he's like, "No, no. Go sign that." *laughter* Pardon my French but, he might have said, "Go sign that bitch." (That's not me. I don't use language like that.) I'm like, "I'm gonna be late to my flight." He's like, "I don't care, go sign that book!" So I had to run back-- He'd done this over Twitter, so everyone knew he was doing it. So, I had to run back to the bookstore, sign Joe Abercrombie's book. You know, people ask me a lot, when I do these stealth signings, do I ever get caught? No, they never-- If someone starts signing a book, if they see me, what they say is, "Oh, are you the author?" They're used to authors coming through. I've had to show ID once, and it was my picture in the back of the book. But I was sure that this time, they were gonna be like "Oh, Mr. Abercrombie!" And then see the picture in the back of the book and be like, "What are you doing?!?" But that didn't happen, and I made my flight, though I had to-- I was so late, I had to check my bags, there wasn't enough space. That's Joe Abercrombie for you.
So, yeah, we just kind of end up in the same circles, and things.
How much do you see your family every day?
So, my family is at a hotel right now. All of them, including the two-year-old. So, I had a very fun airplane flight. Normally, when I'm tour, I'm in first class. I'm not ashamed to admit that because I can write in first class. In coach, I just can't get that done. So I'm up there in first class, typing away. This time, I was in coach with a two year old on my lap, watching Elmo.
You know, it's not as bad as it looks, because every day that I'm not on tour, I'm home all day. And my schedule still being what it is, I still generally write at night. So I get up at noon. And I go the gym, I check my email, and I only really get, like, three hours or so of good writing in before 5:00 rolls around, and I go out and I play with my kids, and I spend time with my wife. And at about 8:00 or 10:00, depending on the night, I go back in to work, and I work from 10:00 to 4:00. And that's when the real work happens. My wife, being a more morning person (she was a schoolteacher; I did marry an eight-grade English teacher, as well), she, more of a morning person, goes to bed at, like, 10:00 or 11:00. So she can go to bed, and I can go to work. And it's pretty awesome, honestly. Once she got used to the idea that I'm gonna go to bed at 4:00 AM (I tried to go to bed at her time, and I just laid there at bed; I'm a night person.) But it can be pretty awesome. For instance, when the kids were babies, we didn't have the whole sleep-deprived thing. Because I would stay up with the kid, I would just stay up a few extra hours, and I'd do the 2:00 feeding and the 6:00 feeding with a pumped bottle or whatever, and then she would get up and take over. And we both got full nights of sleep. So, it was pretty awesome.
I do see my family quite a bit, although I do feel I've been touring a bit too much lately. It's the idea of having two publishers, because Random House does my teen books, The Reckoners, and Tor does the rest of my books. So when I go on tour for one, the other one, like, shows up on my doorstep, like a sad puppy, like, "We want a tour, too." And then the Brits show up, and they're all, like, charming and stuff. And they're like, "Chip chip, wanna go on a tour?" A free trip to London? Okay. It's kind of hard-- I shouldn't make fun of the Brits, but the fun thing is, when you're touring there, all of the Sarahs, every Sarah that I had to sign a book, I'd say "What's your name," they'd say "Sarah with an haitch." Every time. I got used to saying "with an haitch."
I tour too much, but I like going to these places. It's the awesome part of my job, that we get a phone call, like, "Do you want a free trip to Taiwan, because we'd love to have you sign here." I'm like, "Taiwan is cool. Dumplings..."
Did you, in Wheel of Time, at any point, want to just change something?
You know, when I got The Wheel of Time, when I was offered it... one of the things they were looking for-- that Harriet (Harriet was Robert Jordan's widow. She was his editor first, then she married him. And we always joked that's how she made sure her editorial advice got taken. So, she discovered him, basically fell in love with him, and they got married. It's actually a really cool story. She was Tor's editorial director. She was the person who edited-- found and edited Ender's Game. Glen Cook's Black Company. She is amazing as an editor. And she discovered Robert Jordan, as well.) So, she was the one looking. When she called me, she found me when read Mistborn. I didn't know I was being considered, it's not like I sent in an application or something. She came to me, and she said, basically, after she decided she wanted me for sure, she said, "I need somebody to be the writer on this. That means complete creative control." Now, she was going to edit it, and her word was gonna be final. Which is not normally the case with an editor. But in this case, what Harriet said, she told me, "Whatever you feel needs to be done, do it, and sell me on it. And if I'm sold on it in the writing, then we keep it. And if I'm not, then we'll talk about how to revise it and fix it."
Because the notes and the outline were very free-form. Robert Jordan was not an outliner. He just had chunks and little bits of scenes here and there, and interviews with his assistants where he said "I'm thinking of doing this, or this thing that's completely the opposite, and I might just do a third thing that I can't decide on yet." Like, there was a ton of that. Going in, one of my mandates to myself was, when we did have something from Robert Jordan, we wanted to be sure to keep it. When we had something firm from him. And in that case, we kept basically all of it, except where it contradicted itself. Because his notes sometimes, he would change, he would be working on Book, like, Nine. And he writes a note for what he wants the ending to be. And then by Book Eleven, he's like, "I want this to be the ending." And those two, we don't know which one he would have settled on, so sometimes I'm just like, "I'm gonna strike this out and do a different thing." Like, he wanted to use the Choedan Kal in the ending. Both of them. But one, he destroyed. So, that note was from a previous... he'd written that before he decided to destroy it. Stuff like that.
In the end, there was only one thing I wanted to change that I didn't, and that was the spanking scene. With Cadsuane and Semirhage. Which, you know, I'm not big on the whole spanking thing, but he said write it, and I'm like, "All right, Robert Jordan, I'll write it."
What was your favorite bit that you added?
Probably Aviendha going through the glass pillars, or Perrin forging his hammer. Those were both things that I felt the story needed. Perrin, there was very little on. He didn't leave any notes for Perrin, basically, at all. And so, Perrin, throughout the whole thing, I basically had to do. But Perrin was my favorite character, so I was very excited about that. He left a ton on Egwene. She was the one he'd almost finished her whole plot through the whole thing, and he was about halfway on Rand and Mat.
What was the first magic system that blew you away as a reader?
As a reader, the first magic system that blew me away would be Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner magic system, which I-- still to this day is one of my favorites. I think the pieces of it came together very well, and it has metaphors for art, and it was well worked in society. Anyway, it was really cool.
Just a random piece of worldbuilding, could be big or small, from the Final Empire, that we did not get to see in the books.
There's a whole bunch of stuff. Let's see what's good. Have I told people this one yet? There used to be very little water on [Scadrial]. In fact, it was mostly a dry planet; if you saw it from space, it looked like Mars, with little patches...
Did Preservation change that?
No, that was just the heat, and the things that were going on with moving the planet boiled off a lot of water.
I mean, putting the water back?
Oh, with Sazed? Yes, Sazed did. So, like, with the bodies of water you see in the map, are actually not really oceans... I mean-- like, that is the extent of it. Like, it's not actually-- I know people think that's a sea, but it's not. Well, it's an inland sea.
It's just not that it's very habitable beyond that point?
Is Lopen a squire?
Lopen is a squire. Good question! That'll probably settle some debating on the website.
How would you have changed Steelheart from Young Adult to Adult.
More viewpoints. I probably would have shown other peoples-- like, a Prof thread would have been a big part of it. The big difference for me, for the Adult and the Young Adult is the characters you're focusing on, and the number of viewpoints. That's the basic thing I change.
Not so much about violence, or anything along those lines?
No, not really. For a middle grade, I will probably hold back a bit. That's why Rithmatist, which I consider middle grade, is a little less. But Steelheart-- Generally, in the business, we consider YA to be the genre that is not edited for content, and middle grade to be the one that is. And that's just-- Based on what's going on with teens, and things like that.
Could [Sazed] also bring back lerasium beads, if he wanted to?
It would be within his power to do so, yes.
So, did Sazed change that no more Mistborn are born? Because I noticed that--I know he made Spook one-- in Alloy they talk about Mistborn...
The idea is-- I won't say absolutely no to Sazed's manipulation. But, there weren't any Mistborn other than him that survived. The Allomantic lines were very diluted. So, his direct descendants-- you might be able to even find one potentially now. Someone might be born, or one might have been born that didn't tell people about it. But in the general public and population, it's just, there's not as much Allomancy around... He did also change Snapping, which had an effect on it.
When is the official timeline gonna get released for the whole cosmere?
So, I only gave it to Peter, who is my continuity editor, like, in September. And that's the first time he'd seen it. I think it's gonna take a little while, he says he wants to go through in minutia and make it work. Plus there's major spoilers for things that Odium has done, and stuff like that.
The Mistborn RPG. How involved are you still in that? Are they still making-- I got the two supplements they made.
The first one, I was very involved in. The second two, I let my assistants take over. Because I just have too much to do. So, I'm only involved as much as I like-- the original core, and then I've given the okay to go forward. But I made them put, particularly for the second two, the disclaimer at the front that says "This isn't canon, guys. It's canon for your version of the universe, that you're roleplaying." And I think that's just fine, because your roleplaying stories are only canon for your group anyways. I mean, I will have to have the freedom to come up with things I need to come up with, and I told them that. I said, like, Alloy, I was not planning to do this era, so I don't have the detailed notes I can give you on the other ones about all the houses and things.
Are they looking to do Elantris and Stormlight?
No, right now they just want to do Mistborn. I think Stormlight would be the next they would do, but I think they want to cover Mistborn.
There's stuff in their forums where people I've seen are throwing stuff out, like "Here's what I would do for Shardplate." I didn't know if there was anything official that they were--
Nothing official. No, we are doing a Shattered Plains board game. War game board game things. Someone came to us with a really cool proposal. It's a little ways off, 'cause we just signed on it in September. They had a great proposal, it's gonna be so much fun. One of these German style, with all the pieces and things.
I can't really remember very well, but I think only Kaladin really says Radiant Oaths in the books, at least. So, for Shallan to have as many powers as she does, has she already said one of the ideals, and we just don't know?
...You have her glyph whisper one. And you have seen Dalinar say one. So, most of them say them. Shallan's Order, they admit truths. Their Oaths are a very different sort of thing.
'Cause I know, I did read that, but I was wondering-- it said somewhere else that all the Knights Radiant have to say the First Ideal.
Yes, they do have to do that.
So, she has said that.
Oh, yeah, she has said that. That is somewhere in her past.
Which, presumably, we'll find out about some other point in time?
Possibly. I think that can be inferred.
Shards. Is it possible for them to think outside-- without having a person they're working through?
The power left alone around people will eventually gain a kind of sentience.
Kind of like the Stormfather?
Yes. So it is possible. It doesn't always happen, and sometimes it takes a while. For example, the Dor? Basic, rudimentary, feeling only. It's not-- you know.
Do you actually know exactly the map of the whole Cognitive Realm?
I have one, it's not a really great one yet. Isaac is working on a better one.
When are we gonna get to see that?
Mistborn Era 4, far future era.
How far does Sazed's power actually extend?
It is mostly limited to his immediate sphere of influence, so the planet.
...But doesn't he move stars at the end?
No, he moved the planet. His solar system, he can definitely have influence on the whole solar system. But none of the other planets around Scadrial are inhabited.
I know you're doing a lot of sequels, and stuff like that, like other worlds. Are there gonna be any books about new worlds?
Yes, there are still a few major worlds important to the sequence that I need to squeeze in somewhere.
Assassin in White. He's still working for the bad guys, right? Because he doesn't have a spren attached to his sword? *pause* You don't know?
I know. "Bad guys" is an interesting definition in the cosmere. Right now... he is directly under the influence of the Skybreakers. Who were an Order of Knights Radiant.
In Words of Radiance, there's a fragment that says that the Bondsmiths have a power that none of the other Orders have.
That will be answered in a future book... *discussion on RAFOs* Basically, each of the Orders actually had their own quirks and individual things. Some of them were more dramatic than others. But if you watch through, you'll be seeing that they kind of have some different effects that aren't related necessarily to the Surges.
So, then follow-up question, the reason that the Bondsmiths don't get Shards is because they have that extra power?
The reason is because the Stormfather is particularly-- how he is. And he's more cantankerous than he was, even in the past...
Each of the Orders, I wanted to have a lot of individuality. I didn't want them to all just be different copy-clones. You'll also find that they also have very different philosophies on even things like honor and what is good and things like that.
At one point, you mentioned that Kelsier scared you. Could you talk a little more about why?
So, Kelsier is one of my favorite characters. I like them all, whoever I'm writing, right? But one of the things that makes Kelsier tick is (and this was my original pitch for him to myself) in another story, he'd be the villain. Kelsier has this hard edge to him. He's one of those people that, when channeled wrong, he becomes the best and most interesting villain. But he happened to be in a situation that pushed him the other direction, and he became a hero. But he still has that edge to him. And there is a darkness to Kelseir that doesn't exist in most of the heroes in my books. Someone like Kaladin has a darkness to him, too, but a darkness that they're fighting against. Whereas Kelsier has embraced this darkness. It is part of what makes him him. So, Kelsier is a little frightening to me as a writer, just because he's a character that I can't guarantee will make good decisions.
When you have an idea, how do you decide if it goes in a book, or if it gets split off into its own story? Specifically, Edgedancer.
For those who haven't read it yet, Edgedancer... a lot of people are expecting Edgedancer to be light and fluffy because it's about Lift. They're not expecting the deep Stormlight Archive relevance that the story has. So they're surprised, they're like, "This is almost like required reading for the Stormlight Archive." But, this is part of my philosophy for the Stormlight Archive specifically, which is that I will focus on a set of characters, and I will try to avoid the problem that happens in epic fantasies that I've read. I love Wheel of Time, but Wheel of Time very much felt like in some of its books that it got bogged down by side character stories. And this got the fans very frustrated. And I have an advantage on Robert Jordan in that I've read Robert Jordan. So I can say, "Okay, you did that. I can maybe stand on your shoulders a bit and say, 'This is really dangerous territory.'" And so, when I wrote Stormlight, I said, "I am going to keep the focus for the first five books on these characters. And I am not gonna let the side characters, even if they're important later on, become too dominant."
And so, things like Lift. Lift, during the first five books, I am not gonna put in a 50,000 word, 40,000 word sequence for her, because it would take the focus too much away. So in that case, I said, "I know what happened to Lift. I might be able to write all the stories about her. I might not be able to, but either way, they can't end up in the book." Because otherwise, we end up with a book that is ten of these side stories, and no progress on the main characters."
So, you do lose something int hat. You do lose some of the side stories. Which is why I'm happy I've learned to write the novellas. And when I'm writing the story, I'm looking at pacing, theme, what is moving us through the story, and what are the problems of the main characters. And anything to the side of that, I can put some in, but most ends up being cut and used for other things.
So, zinc increases the speed of your thought. So, if he did that, he would spend eternity in a moment. And that would be, actually, a bad thing. That would basically make him look brain-dead to everyone else. So, he did occasionally speed up his thought, but that only gets you so far. It doesn't actually... like, speed of thought... you're still the same person. It feels like everything else is slowing down around you, but you don't move any faster. So, anyway. Zinc is not capable of doing that, at least, not in the way that you're hoping for it to be.
Is there any systems of Investiture of magic that you thought of and discarded?
Yes. I tried for a long time to do one that was sound wave based. And I couldn't find anything that felt interesting to me. Maybe eventually I'll manage to make it work. The problem was, everything I came up with either had been done a hundred times, or happened too much in a way that was only in the character's head, and I couldn't actually write about in an engaging and interesting way. So I discarded that one. The Rithmatist magic was originally cosmere, and then moved out of cosmere, because there were certain things that were breaking continuity, and I just decided I can't have that in the cosmere. So, I do that occasionally, where something that was meant for the cosmere goes out of it. But equally often, I start writing something, and say "Hey, this magic would benefit from the underlying rules of the cosmere," and so I move it into the cosmere.
Can you tell us something about the Order of Willshapers that hasn't been mentioned?
No, I can't. Because, too many spoilers, in that sort of area. And plus, I don't want to lock down some of the things that... because I'm not sure how I'll represent them yet in books. I know what I'll probably do, but I have... there's certain things about it that, until I write a scene from someone's eyes, using the magic, that then is kind of when it locks down for me. So, we will stay away from that.
So, Mistborn RPG books. There's a side section that is written to help explain the book. But, the narrator's name is Brandon. Did you actually do that?
It's not always me, I'm afraid. The sidebars are all me. I wrote the sidebars. But, for some of these things, I just didn't have time. So we talked it through, and my sentiment is in there, but it wasn't me writing the campaign. Sorry. I have actually played it. In fact, I've got a good story about this. The Mistborn RPG, pen-and-paper RPG. We played with fans one time at GenCon. One guy didn't get into the game. He was so sad, because he had come in his Terrisman costume. And it was a really good one; he had shaved his head and everything, right? He was awesome. But he's also, like, five-foot-five, which is a short Terrisman. So, he was this awesome Terrisman, and I so said, "Don't worry. You can come and be my steward." So, as I played, he brought me water rolled my dice and did all these things. And I named him Tellingdwar. And then I put him in the books. So if you read them, Era 2, Tellingdwar is in there. That is my Terrisman steward from the Mistborn RPG game.
How long did you keep the whole High dialect being Spook... How long were you waiting to do that?
How long was I waiting to do High Imperial? Which is Spook's dialect, turned into a pseudo-religious ancient language. Oh, man, that was so much fun. And you know what, that was one I came up with pretty late in the process. Because, if you know about the Mistborn trilogy, Spook became a larger character as I wrote him. The biggest deviation between my original outline for Mistborn and the final of the Era 1 trilogy is that I added a big sequence with Spook in the third book that had not been in the original outline. So, it was pretty late that I decided that Spook would have an influence over that. I just laughed uproariously when I came up with it, so I knew it belonged in the books. But if you haven't read the new Mistborn books, High Imperial is an ancient and important language.
In the Well of Ascension, Kwaan says that Ruin changed the words in the Feruchemists' metalminds. Ruin can't *inaudible* metal plates. I was wondering what the difference was?
Because they're in the person's head before they're going in the plates. And he can affect the power as it's transcribed between. Because the power is partially him, the Power of Creation of that world. So there is a bit of him inside of every person, and as the power is going from person into plate... It's kind of like how people can hack your phone through your wifi. Does that make sense? So, that's what's going on there.
If you could have any actor play Kaladin, who would it be?
The thing is, I don't usually cast my movies, right? No, they are who they are in my brain. So this is one of the reasons why having somebody who knows the Cosmere make the films... My favorite films are, when the person gets chosen, you're like, "Really? Heath Ledger?" And then you watch it, and you're like, "Ooh, he really, really, pulled off the Joker. In his own way." And so, I don't have anyone that I would choose. It's really hard with Stormlight. Stormlight's the hard one, because... And I'm hoping they'll do this right, because they are a Chinese company. The Alethi are not Caucasian. They are, in my head, a blend of something Middle Eastern and Asian. My model for Kaladin (I chose a headshot, just so I can have it in my head, just to get the general feel), is part Hawaiian, part Japanese, part Arab. And so... we'll see what they can come up with. I'm interested. But I don't have a specific actor chosen.
Your favorite character, and your least favorite character?
See, this is a hard one to answer. Robert Jordan would pull a complete cop-out when people would ask him this. He ways say, "My favorite is whoever I'm writing at the moment." This is because, as the author, you have to get into a wide variety of characters' heads and write them. But, since you didn't say in my works, I can just tell you my favorite character of all time is probably Jean Valjean. I'm a big fan of morality as it is portrayed in those books. What I love about Les Miserables in particular is this idea that different people can be moral in different ways. It's kind of the anti-Game-of-Thrones, which is about how you can sympathize with people who are basically immoral. That's kind of part of the series. And this is about how people who are basically moral can still not get along. Which is a cool idea, and I love that. My least favorite character? Who is the protagonist of The Dead? From James Joyce? I don't know. That'd probably be my least favorite. Yeah, I copped out, too.
[The Cosmere symbol] does have a lot of... I don't think there's any spoilers of there. First off, we just drew a lot of things to find something that looked cool. The star in the center has sixteen points, representative of the Shards. And then, it's just kind of like, they're spreading throughout the universe. At least, in my mind, it's a representation of the Shattering, and then beings spread throughout the cosmere. That's kind of what that is.
What is the Aon for communication.
I don't know it, but there is one.
The thing I do is, if somebody asks me those, I go and look at the Aons that we already have, and see if there's one that is close.
If it's not named yet, and then we give it to you. So we can do that.