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    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4301 Copy

    17th Shard

    What percentage of the underlying Cosmere have we uncovered? Like five percent, fifteen percent?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The number of planets? Or…

    17th Shard

    No, not even that. Like how much do we know about the underlying metaphysics? Of the rules? You said that there's a lot more that we don't know.

    Brandon Sanderson

    There is a lot you don't know.

    17th Shard

    I was wondering if you could put a number on it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't know if I can put a number on it. If you've read Dragonsteel you have a lot more, because there's talk of philosophy in that book about it. But I can't give a percentage because I know it all. And I can't remember at times. I often have to go back and research and say, okay, what did I put in, what haven't I included and so on. I would say that you know enough to be dangerous, but not the majority by far. There is an underlying theorem of magic for all of these worlds, which I don't think has been mentioned before. But yeah, it's kinda one of the things that may amaze. People keep trying to look for a unifying theory of physics. You know, the great, unifying... I have a little science background and I wanted there to be a unifying theory of magic, which there is, in these books at least. It's not simple, it's not like one sentence, but you can map out how the magic all fits together in this kind of super theorem.

    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4303 Copy

    17th Shard

    Is Cultivation a Shard on Roshar?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, Cultivation is. Where did you get that word?

    17th Shard

    It's in the book.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Is it in the book? Okay, one of the Shards from Roshar is Cultivation.

    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4306 Copy

    17th Shard

    You hired four artists to contribute to this book and had their artwork included in the book. Why did you decide to do this?

    Brandon Sanderson

    When I say four artists I am including Michael Whelan whom I didn't hire, the company commissioned, so we really have three interior artists and then Michael Whelan who did the beautiful cover. Again, I wanted to use the form of this novel to try and enhance what epic fantasy can do, and downplay the things that are tough about it. One of the tough things about epic fantasy is the learning curve. How much you have to learn a pay attention to, how many things there are to just know. I felt that occasional illustrations could really help with that. For instance, how Shallan's sketch book, or uses of multiples maps, could give us a visual component to the book. You know, pictures really are worth a thousand words. You can have on that page something that shows a creature much better than I can describe it. And so I felt that that would help deemphasize the problem of the learning curve, while at the same time helping to make this world real. Epic fantasy is about immersion, and I wanted to make this world real since that's one of the great things we can do with epic fantasy. We've got the space and the room to just build a completely real world, and I felt that the art would allow me to do that, which is why I decided to do "in world" art.

    I didn't want to take this toward a graphic novel. I like graphic novels but it wasn't appropriate here to do illustrations of the scenes and characters from the books, because I don't want to tell you what they look like. I want that to be up to your own imagination. And so we wanted that "in world" ephemera feel to it, as though it were some piece of art that you found in the world and included.

    I think it goes back to Tolkien. There's a map in The Hobbit, and that map isn't just a random map, which has become almost a cliché of fantasy books, and of epic fantasy. "Oh, of course there's a random map in the front!" Well [Tolkien] wanted you to think this map was the actual map the characters carried around and that's why he included it. He wrote his books as if he were the archivist putting them together and translating them and bringing them to you, this wonderful story from another world, and he included the map because the map was there with the notes. That's what I wanted the feel for this ephemera to be. As though whoever's been writing the Ars Arcanum for all of the books has collected this book together, done the translation and included pieces of art and maps and things that they found in the world that had been collected during these events, and that's what you're getting.

    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4307 Copy

    Questioner

    You said it was because of your work on The Wheel of Time that you were able to do this story justice. What did you mean?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Wheel of Time forced me to stretch as an author and it forced me to learn to juggle multiple viewpoints. I hadn't had a lot of practice writing sequels or planning sequels, and then I had to write the twelfth book in a fourteen book series. This taught me a lot about working with sequels. Also, seeing what Robert Jordan did for foreshadowing really taught me a lot about how to foreshadow across a big long epic. But I would say mostly it's just juggling the viewpoints, learning how to make sure all the characters are making appearances and we're enjoying them all and everything is balanced all without losing track.

    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4308 Copy

    17th Shard

    Ok, fair enough. Do you have a scene you enjoyed more than the rest, and on the flip side, was their something that you did not enjoy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will say that I really loved doing all the interludes because they gave me a sense, when I was writing this book, of jumping to something new, which is part of what kept me going in all of this. Are they my favorite scenes in the book? No, but they were probably my favorite to write because it's like I get to take a break and write something whacky and looney, so to speak.

    Hmm…is there anything that was harder? You know, revisions are always hard. In the next to last draft I changed Dalinar's arc very substantially, and that was a hard write. And, you know, Adolin was not originally a viewpoint character, so there was a lot of hard writing there. So, poor Adolin probably gets the badge for hardest to write. Not because he as a character was hard to write but because I was having to repurpose scenes and toss out scenes and rewrite them with Adolin as the viewpoint character and so on to add just a little more dimension to Dalinar's plot arc.

    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4309 Copy

    17th Shard

    How is The Way of Kings related to the rest of the cosmere? What point in time is it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, so far I have written the books/series chronologically. Though, I have skipped books. And so there will be jumping back eventually, but Elantris, Mistborn, Warbreaker and Way of Kings all happened chronologically.

    17th Shard

    Just in general, how is it related to the rest of the cosmere? Or can you say?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I, uh…officially don't know what you're talking about. I mean, what do you mean by "related to"?

    17th Shard

    For example, the letter…

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, just like the letter that I have no idea what you're talking about. I will tell you that one of the novels I skipped is actually set in the same solar system.

    17th Shard

    Oh…so this is the series that that book shares.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, this is the series that the book shares that I skipped. I was planning to do it first, but now was the time to do the Stormlight Archive. So you will eventually see a book set on a planet in the same solar system. You could just pick out in the sky of Roshar if you were watching, and it may even get mentioned because it's a fairly close planet.

    17th Shard

    Is that on Divine Silence?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Silence Divine happens there.

    17th Shard

    What is the name of that planet?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hmm…should I tell you? Oh, Peter says no. You got PAFO'd. Peter and not find out.

    Yeah, so, I will tell you the name of that planet once it is out like I've told you the rest of them.

    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4310 Copy

    17th Shard

    The Way of Kings has a very interesting format. Why did you decide to go with that format and what prompted you to include the interludes?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's another excellent question. You guys are really on the ball. Uh…so, what went through my head is one worry that we have in epic fantasy. The longer the series goes, and the more characters you add, the less time you can spend with each character. This gets really frustrating. You either have the George R. R. Martin problem where he writes a book and doesn't include half of them, or you get the middle Wheel of Time problem where he will jump to each character for a brief short time and no one's plot seems to get advanced.

    If you look back at Elantris, I did a lot of interesting things with form in that novel, and I wanted to try something interesting with form for this series that would in some way enhance what epic fantasy does well and de-emphasize the problems. And I thought that I could do some new things with the form of the novel that would allow me to approach that, and so I started to view the book as one main character's novel and then short novellas from other characters' viewpoints. Then I started adding these interludes because I really like when, for instance, George Martin or Tad Williams or some other authors do this. You'd jump some place and see a little character for a brief time in a cool little location, but the thing is, when most epic fantasy writers do that, that character becomes a main character and you're just adding to your list. I wanted to actually do something where I indicated to the reader that most of these are not main characters. We're showing the scope of the world without being forced to add a new plot line. And I did that is because I wanted to keep the focus on the main characters and yet I also wanted to have my cake and eat it too. I wanted to show off the interesting aspects of the world.

    When you read Way of Kings Prime someday you'll see that there are six major viewpoint characters, all in different places, with all different plots, because I wanted to show off what was happening in different parts of the world. That spiraled out of control even in that one book. Keeping track of who they were because there were such large gaps between their plot lines was really problematic. Instead I condensed and made, for instance, Kaladin's and Dalinar's plots take place in the same area as Adolin's. And so, even though you have three viewpoints there the plot lines are very similar. Or, at least they're interacting with one another.

    And so the interludes were a means to jump around the world. They're essentially short stories set in the world, during the book, so when you get this book, maybe you can think of it this way: Kaladin's novel with Shallan and Dalinar each having shorter novels or novelettes or novellas, with occasional, periodic jumps to short stories around the world. And then of course Kaladin's flashbacks. As we've mentioned, every book will have flashbacks from its main character to enhance the main plotline.

    I'm hoping that form will do a couple things. It'll show the scope of the world without us getting too overwhelmed by characters we have to keep track of. You know when you hit interludes that you aren't going to have to pay attention to most of them. You can read and enjoy them, but you aren't going to have to remember them. How about that? You can want to pay attention but you don't have to remember them. By the end of the book, the main characters' arcs and flashbacks should have been resolved and you should have a feel of a completer story from that main character. And then we have other characters that are doing things that are essentially just starting plotlines.

    In the next book, you'll get another character with a big arc and flashbacks. The major characters from previous books will still have parts and viewpoints; Kaladin will still be important in the next book but it won't be "his book". He'll get a novella-length part instead.

    17th Shard

    Will the next Stormlight Archive books have interludes as well?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, all of them will have interludes. And you will, very occasionally, revisit people in the interludes. I'll let myself have one interlude that's same between each part like we did with Szeth in this book.

    Ah…Szeth's a little bit more of a main, major character, so you'll get, like, one four-parter and then you'll get what, eight just random [characters/viewpoints] around the world. And you may occasionally see those characters again, but you don't have to remember them; they're not integral to understanding the plot. They should add depth and they should be showing you some interesting things that are happening in the world while we're focused [on a few important plot lines]. I don't to travelogs in my books; my characters are not going to be sweeping across the countryside and showing you all the interesting parts of the world. I tend to set my books in a certain place and if we travel someplace, we skip the travel.

    But that means the chances of us ever visiting Gavland, um…or Bavland I think I ended up naming it…

    17th Shard

    Was that the place with the grass?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Shinovar is where Szeth's from. Bavland is where Szeth is owned by the miner and things like that. I can't remember what I renamed that. Originally I called it Gavland, and then we had a Gavilar and so my editor insisted that it be changed. I think it's Bavland now.

    And so the chances of us ever visiting there with a major character and a long plot are very low. But, you know, being able to show just a glimpse of Szeth there allows me to give some scope and feel to the world.

    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4311 Copy

    17th Shard

    Please explain the arches and symbols that are seen at the beginning of each chapter and why you decided to do them.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The arches and symbols are a series of arches and symbols at the beginnings of chapters. There's an explanation for you. They rotate and change for every chapter. What they mean should be intuitively obvious to the casual observer, as Robert Jordan used to say.

    I decided to use them because I wanted to have interesting things at the start of each chapter. These were done by Isaac. I originally sat down with Isaac and said, "I want to be able to build symbols at the beginning of my chapters. Something like in The Wheel of Time, which I really like, but I don't want to imitate them, I want to go somewhere different. I want to have different pieces that interlock together that form some stonework symbol that's at the beginning of every chapter." I also told him what I wanted the symbols to mean (among other things) and he actually transmogrified all that into an archway. I had originally been planning it to be some sort of inscribed rock stamp or something like a little relief at the beginning of each chapter, but he persuaded me that an archway with a different kind of symbol in the center [would be better]. So, they became arches through Isaac's working with the art and changing things and deciding what would look good visually.

    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4312 Copy

    17th Shard

    What can you tell us about the Knights Radiant?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um…what can I tell you that's not in the books? There were 10 orders of Knights Radiant. Each order was based on a combination of two of the "smaller" magic systems in this world, so to speak. You combine two of them together and they each had something kind of "their own". So if you look at the map in the front of the magic system and you mark circles that include one large circle and two of the smaller circles in between, you can find the 10 orders right on there. The mini circles are the powers and the big circles represent the orders and the essences and things like that. So one big circle, two little circles equals an order of Knights Radiant.

    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4313 Copy

    17th Shard

    You've told us that you took the idea of the Shattered Plains from Dragonsteel into Way of Kings and reading Way of Kings it's hard to imagine the book without them. What did Roshar look like without them? Can you walk us through the process of moving that concept from that series to this one?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, it looked pretty much like it looks in the books, but Way of Kings Prime takes place mostly in Kholinar and in a location that has not yet been talked about in the books.

    Ah…it took place in another location, how about that?

    One of the big things with this book is, as I was saying, that I think I started [Way of Kings Prime] in the wrong place. I moved some things back in time and some things forward in time. For instance, if you ever read Way of Kings Prime, the prologue to Way of Kings Prime is now the epilogue to The Ways of Kings. You know, the thing that happens in the epilogue with the thumping on the door and the arrival of a certain individual? That scene is now from Wit's viewpoint which it wasn't before. Pull Wit out of that scene and you'll get almost exactly [what happened] in the [original] prologue. So, the timing has been changed around a lot.

    As I was playing with this book I found that, like I said, one of the big things I had a problem with was that I felt that Kaladin had taken the easy route when he needed to take the hard route. I was really looking for a good plot cycle. I needed something to pull this book together. I had characters but I didn't have a plot and I've mentioned before that sometimes things come [to me] in different orders. In this book world and character came to me, in fact character came to me first, world came second and then I was building the plot around it. I knew the plot of the entire epic and the entire series but I needed a much stronger plot for book one. Because of the various things that are happening I wanted to deal with a war.

    So I was planning a war away from Alethkar, and I'm trying to decide what I'm going to do with this war. Meanwhile I have Inkthinker, Ben McSweeney, doing concept art for me to use in my pitch to Tom Doherty at Tor and he says, "Hey, I just drew up this sketch of some creature that lives at the bottom of a chasm, what do you think?" And he showed me this.

    I told him that we were looking for kind of above water coral reef formations, and he sends me this brain coral, which is essentially the Shattered Plains with a big monster living at the bottom and I'm like, "Wow!" I actually did a book where this was essentially the setting. I looked at that, and that's actually what made me say, "Wait a minute, could I transpose this and would the Shattered Plains actually make more sense on Roshar than they ever did on Yolen?" I started playing with that concept and I absolutely fell in love with the idea. Unfortunately for Dragonsteel, that was the only really good plot cycle from that book.

    So, I ripped it out of that book and I put it here, and that means it brought with it a few side characters who no longer live on Yolen because they now live on Roshar. Rock is one of them, though he's been changed. When he came along the Horneaters were born; they had not been in the books before. For those who have read Dragonsteel, he was Ke'Chan in that book. I couldn't bring that culture because that culture is extremely vital to [Dragonsteel]. I can bring a plot cycle or a little region, and there's certain things you can pull out of a book without ruining the soul of what the book is. I couldn't take the Ke'Chan out of Dragonsteel; they're just part of what that book is and so Rock had to change nationalities. I had to build him his own nationality, a new culture essentially just for him. And yeah, it worked wonderfully.

    Someday I'll let you have that art, and if you remind me to ask Peter you can probably post it with the interview. As you can just see it's not the way that it ended up being because it looks different from how the Shattered Plains turned out, but it was the spark that made me say, "Let's move this over."

    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4314 Copy

    17th Shard

    On later Stormlight Archive novels will there always be one character we get to see flashbacks for?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, and it should rotate to different characters. I have not yet decided who gets book two yet. It's really between Dalinar and Shallan and I go back and forth on whose story I want to tell next.

    17th Shard

    So, does that mean there's going to be 10 different characters that would be seen?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's very likely there will be 10 different characters. The only caveat on that is that part of me really wants to do a second Kaladin book. And so I haven't quite decided who gets flashback books. You can probably guess from reading this book some of them who do. But there are some that don't necessarily absolutely need them, so Kaladin may get a second flashback book.

    17th Shard

    So, fingers crossed, fingers crosses, will Szeth get one?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Szeth will get a book. Yes, Szeth will get a book. Shallan and Dalinar will get books.

    17th Shard

    Adolin?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um…I'm not sure on him yet. He's one that could, maybe not. I mean he's got some interesting things going on but we'll see how the series progresses first. There are characters who will get flashback books that you haven't yet met or at least not spent much time with.

    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4315 Copy

    17th Shard

    What's it feel like to finally have your baby released to the public? It's probably a very different feeling from any of your other book launches.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    17th Shard

    Are you more nervous than usual or have the positive ARC compliments made you feel fairly confident?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm more nervous than normal. It has been my baby for a long time, and I got Tor to invest so much into it, what with the cover, the interior art, the end pages, the really nice printing, and the sheer length of it. Tor would really rather not publish books of this length. The rest of the series will be shorter; I promised that to them. I do want to warn readers that the 400,000 word length is not going to be the standard for the series. They're probably going to be more like 300,000 words, which is what this one should have been, but I just couldn't get it down. It was right for the book for it to be this length.

    I'm worried about it for a couple of reasons. Number one, it is a departure for me in a couple of ways. I've been planning a big massive epic for a long time but I only wanted to have one or two big massive epics. My Adonalsium mythos couldn't support multiples of something this long and so a lot of my other books are much more fast-paced and I do wonder what readers are going to think of a much larger more epic story, because it is going to have a different feel.

    It's happened every time I've released a book though; Warbreaker felt very different from Mistborn, which felt very different from Elantris. Way of Kings feels very different from all of those as well so I'm worried that there are a lot of readers who are not going to like it as much. I hope that there are a lot of readers who are going to like it more, but we'll have to just see what people think of it.

    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4316 Copy

    17th Shard

    We know it's not your job to pick cover artists, of course, but do you have any idea if Michael Whelan will make additional Stormlight Archive covers, or will it be different artists each time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Another good question. This one I don't quite know the answer to. The thing is, Whelan is so busy and does so few covers that it'll come down to whether he has the time and is willing to. We would certainly like him to do more, and I've heard news around Tor that they're optimistic for him doing the rest of the series. But, like I've said, I felt like it was incredibly fortunate that we got him to do one. You'll notice that he doesn't even do whole series for some of his favorite authors anymore. For example, Tad Williams's latest in the Shadowmarch series. He did the first cover in the series, and they had someone else do the other covers. I don't know the details of that but I suspect it had something to do with the fact that Michael Whelan likes to do his fine art. As a favor to people he'll do the occasional brilliant, beautiful cover but then he wants to go back and I can't blame him for that. So we'll see what happens when the second book is ready for a cover.

    17th Shard Interview ()
    #4317 Copy

    17th Shard

    Why did you change the main character's name to "Kaladin" in the final draft?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Excellent question. I see you're stealing all of my annotation questions that I would ask myself. For those of you who don't know, the character's original name was Merin. The change was a very hard decision because the history of Way of Kings goes back so far. You know, I started writing about and working on Merin as a character in the year 2000, so he'd been around for almost a decade in my head as who he was.

    A couple of things sparked the change. Number one, I'd never really been pleased with the name. I had been doggedly attached to it, despite the fact that all of my alpha readers on the original Way of Kings, Way of Kings Prime we'll call it now, said, "This sounds like a girl's name." I'm like, "Well…you know, sometimes in different cultures names sound like girls' names. I've recently discovered that Bilbo and Frodo's actual names are "Bilba" and "Froda". Those are their actual names; that's what they say in-world and in the appendices. Tolkien in one of his appendices said, "I english-ized them to make them sound more more masculine for the 'translation' of the Lord of the Rings books, but they would actually call themselves Bilba and Froda." So, anyway, Merin sounded a little bit feminine, but still I dug in my heels.

    One of the concepts for the new Way of Kings is Kaladin's arc as a character. In Way of Kings Prime he makes a decision very early in the book, and in The Way of Kings I wanted to have him make the opposite decision. There's a big decision that comes to him and it's almost like these two books are branching paths from that moment in a lot of ways. And so it's going to be a very interesting process when I eventually let people read Way of Kings Prime, which I won't right now because it has spoilers for the rest of the series, but you can see how all the characters go in different directions from that moment and they also change slightly. It's like an alternate world version of the book you're reading.

    So, point number two was that I started to feel he's changed so much as a person I can no longer think of him as the same character. Point number three was that, as I am now working on The Wheel of Time, having a character whose name sounded a lot like Perrin started to be problem to me. Particularly since in Way of Kings Prime Merin was not the main character but in this Way of Kings he is. Way of Kings Prime was much more evenly divided between the characters, but in the published book he gets essentially double the space, and so he becomes the main character. I felt I wanted the main character of this book to have a much stronger, perhaps a little more mythic name. I tried lots and lots of names before I eventually settled on "Kaladin".

    17th Shard

    Kaladin does sound like a much more powerful a name.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, it's a much better name. I'm very happy we did it, but we changed it on like the last draft, so it was very surprising to my editor and to my writing group when all of a sudden he changed to a different name.

    West Jordan signing ()
    #4318 Copy

    Josh

    Why was AonDor forbidden around the pool ascent? If the pool is the essence of AonDor, why can't the power be used near it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Did I... it doesn't say that it can't be used, it's just forbidden there.

    Mi'chelle

    Why is it forbidden?

    Brandon Sanderson

    RAFO.

    West Jordan signing ()
    #4319 Copy

    Josh

    When non-god metals are burned Allomantically, what happens to the metals? Are they crushed into tiny specks? Do they disappear?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The metals become a key conduit through which the power is delivered. So they are actually sort of vaporized, and the atomic code is a key by which the power is drawn in.

    West Jordan signing ()
    #4321 Copy

    Josh

    The Allomantic metals are separated into four quadrants. Do the Shards have classifications as well, in groups of four?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This division, the Allomantic division is a thing researchers and scholars placed upon it.

    West Jordan signing ()
    #4322 Copy

    Mi'chelle

    I know that you've answered this before, but we don't have citation yet. Was the earthquake caused by Odium's visit to Elantris? You've answered that one before, I believe.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don’t know if I have. I think I’ve given implications without a strict, direct answer on that one.

    Mi'chelle

    And what are the implications, so I can know if I'm thinking of the right answer?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What do you think I've said?

    Mi'chelle

    I think you've said, no it isn't.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Seons existed before the earthquake.

    Mi'chelle

    But was the earthquake caused by Odium?

    Brandon Sanderson

    When Odium visited there were no Seons.

    West Jordan signing ()
    #4328 Copy

    Josh

    Is the focus for Surgebinding the Body Focuses?

    Mi'chelle

    Is the body the focus for Surgebinding, I think is what he meant.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, okay. The Physical? Surgebinding is... Yeah, kinda. That's a "yeah, kinda."

    West Jordan signing ()
    #4332 Copy

    Josh

    Is Aona's Shard name Devotion?

    Brandon Sanderson

    RAFO, but that's more of a "Email that question to me" because I would have to look at my computer to see which term I settled on, but you're basically there. I think it actually may be Devotion. So I'll have to look. It may be a synonym.

    Josh

    Is Skai Unity?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um, RAFO.

    Josh

    Passion?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What? RAFO. I'm not going to tell you. You already kind of pulled out of me what Aona was.

    West Jordan signing ()
    #4334 Copy

    Questioner

    Are there any author's skills that you envy, besides Robert Jordan?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah! (laughter) No, there are. There are things that Pat Rothfuss does that I think are wonderful. Mostly, his poetry of language, that, I envy his ability to do that. Jim Butcher's ability to pace is just fantastic, and so, I look at him and say, wow, I want to have the ability to pace like that. You know, there are a lot of authors that write really good books that I look at and say, wow, I want to learn from that. And then you do, because that's what you do as a writer. You're like, I learned from this.

    West Jordan signing ()
    #4335 Copy

    Questioner

    I'm just getting back into reading in general, and I'm compiling a list of books I want to read after the Wheel of Time, and going through them, there's a lot of sex in them. You know, you and I as members of the Church, how do you deal with that when you come across that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't know. It depends on the book and how it's treated. I personally couldn't read Game of Thrones, I tried it once and put it down, and tried again because he's such a good writer, and I finished the first one and decided "I can't read more of these." they were too graphic for me, despite him being a brilliant writer. Other writers... [loudspeaker obnoxiously covers sound]... has very tastefully done. So it just depends on the book. I've never been pushed to put anything in my books. I think it's a myth that publishers do that. People always worry, but, well, they just want you to write great books and they're looking for greatness. They don't say "this will sell more, this will sell less". In fact, they actually like it when there's less of that because it has a broader audience. Publishers do, at least. Same reason PG-13 movies sell more than R movies. I just write what I want to write and people seem to like it.

    Questioner

    But books, something to read, you know?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I've put down books before and I think that's just a personal choice. You know, everyone's line is going to be in a different place. There are certain books I won't read, and so, yeah.

    West Jordan signing ()
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    Questioner

    Your class that you teach at BYU, can you tell us more about it, like writing, when do you teach it...

    Brandon Sanderson

    I teach it Thursday nights, one night a week, for three hours. It is half-lecture, half-workshop, so, an hour and a half (supposedly) of lecture (it goes long sometimes) and an hour and a half of workshopping. It... you can get most everything I lecture by listening to Writing Excuses, which if you haven't listened to, is my podcast. I cover a lot of it on there, but it's just, you know. I do a lecture on magic systems. I do a lecture on sympathetic characters. I do a lecture on plotting and my goal is just to give you a bunch of tools that a bunch of different writers use, and to just say, "here is how they do it, you can try these different tools and see what works for you" because not every tool is going to work for every writer. In fact, a lot of writers have opposite processes from one another for accomplishing the same goals.

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    Questioner

    In the prologue in The Alloy of Law, it talks about how the guy actually spikes people to the wall. Is there going to be Hemalurgy involved?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's a RAFO. Hey, RAFOs! I will say, in Alloy of Law time, Hemalurgy is not well-known and that's not been spread around, and Feruchemy as an art moved like Allomancy did in that you can have just one of the powers. And we decided... Chemings? What did we decide, Peter? Oh, Ferrings. We decided Ferirngs. We couldn't decide between the two of those. It's in the book somewhere.  But anyway, you can have one Allomantic and one Feruchemical. But not a lot of Mistborn and not a lot of full Feruchemists anymore.

    Questioner

    Do you explain how the Feruchemists came back, because at the end there were a lot of eunuchs and...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, well, that's one of the reasons why Feruchemy has been split because it's very diluted now. The Terris people did survive because they made it. And so, the genetic code is there.

    Questioner

    And so, every once in a while, hereditarily, the gene will come up.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. But that's why there aren't very many full-blooded Feruchemists anymore. A thousand years of the Lord Ruler trying to breed it out of the population followed by a cataclysm that destroyed most of the population of the world did them in, yeah.

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    Questioner

    Are they any new fantasy novels that you'd recommend?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, this year I've been reading pretty much exclusively Wheel of Time. Other than Wheel of Time I've only read three books. Two were Terry Pratchett books, and one was The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which is a really solid book. So, Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a really good book. I... it's been nominated for the Hugo and for things like that so you don't need me to tell you that. But, yeah, that's the only one I've read. Oh. And Wise Man's Fear. But I started last year on that, I think, because I got that early. But really, I haven't read a ton this year because I've committed to rereading the whole Wheel of Time, and when you do that, your reading time just kind of vanishes and I also wanted to read for the Hugo awards, so I read all of their short fiction, for the Hugo awards, and so... I did vote.

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    Questioner

    Do you have any considerations for ever turning any of your works into a movie?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I've sold rights on Alcatraz and those eventually lapsed. They had the option for three years. I've sold rights on Mistborn. That's still going strong. I've had inquiries about a couple of others. I can't say, though, because there's nothing sure. Though we did do the Mistborn video game and the handshake, is essentially a done deal now. We've just got to get the contract, fine details nailed down. Yes. Mistborn video game is a go. It's for sure.

    Questioner

    Tentative dates?

    Brandon Sanderson

    2013. Fall.

    Questioner

    Which company?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I can't say that, though it is going to be cross-platform, all three major platforms, so PC, 360, and PS3. The plan right now is that it is going to be a prequel. So it'll have new story and I'll be writing the story.

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    Questioner

    Is there ever going to be a pronunciation guide for your work, perhaps? I argue with my brother on how the cities of Mistborn novels are pronounced.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah... maybe. I'm not so strict on pronunciation as some other authors are, because when I read books, I just pronounce things however I want in my head, and then I ignore what they said, how they should be pronounced.

    Maybe eventually... there is one for Elantris, I believe. Or at least, there's a linguistics guide. Elantris names are easy, though. That's mostly predictable. Yeah, the Aons.

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    Questioner

    Is there a link with the fact that we know that Szeth is truthless and the fact that Honorspren are what cause Surgebinding? Is there a connection there?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There may be. I won't say. That's a RAFO.

    West Jordan signing ()
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    Questioner

    Isaac, how closely do you work with someone like Brandon when you make the maps?

    Isaac Stewart

    Pretty closely. Brandon has a lot of say of what's on there, because of course it's his world. So I defer to him or Peter in everything as far as the maps come out.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, but he adds a lot himself. He's really good, so we give him free reign. My favorite thing that he did in Way of Kings, there's actually a map that is of the warcamps, the ten warcamps if you look at that one. And it's actually done in the style as if a famous artist came and toured them and then went home and did an idealized representation of them, and so you can read, you know "done by the artist blah blah blah". But the fun thing, Isaac kind of just did this, is yeah, I figured since he's probably got this big ego he's going to name stuff after himself, so there's a river that's named after the artist. That's not really, the artist just put it in his artwork as being named after him and you just have to notice this. You have to look and say, "by the artist such-and-such" and then at the bottom in the description is "and that goes past the mighty river..." what's his name? Vandonas, yes. Stuff like that where he's just naming stuff after himself. Yeah, Isaac gets a lot of free reign to do things like that because all the art, particularly from Way of Kings we wanted to be in-world and so the different artists doing them have different personalities and different goals. One is, you know, an official survey and another is an idealized representation, and everything in between. So you have to wear a bunch of different hats like I do when I write a book. He was becoming different artists.

    Isaac Stewart

    It's also fun too because Brandon will say things like "eh... there's a bunch of cities over here. Why don't you name them and I'll see if they fit." So there's some cities on the Way of Kings map I wrote down and he let them stay there. Who knows if people will actually go there.

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    Questioner

    With your writing, what is the most difficult thing and has it evolved as you've grown? 

    Brandon Sanderson

    Most difficult for me was to learn how to revise. I was not a natural reviser, and my books didn't start getting to publishable level until I learned actually how to do that. I didn't know how to take something good and make it better.

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    Questioner

    How much influence do you have over audiobooks? I know some authors that get really good audio...

    Brandon Sanderson

    You can replace that question with: how much influence do you have over X? You can replace the X with anything and the answer's going to be the same: how many books do you sell? Nowadays, I have a lot of influence over what happens with stuff. I can ask for things. Early on, I had very little influence over these things.

    Questioner

    Did Michael...

    Brandon Sanderson

    I asked specifically for Michael Kramer and Kate Reading, yes. I like their style, and I know, I've met Michael and I really like him. So, yeah.

    West Jordan signing ()
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    Questioner

    So, apart from writing the short story for the Mistborn RPG, how involved were you in developing it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Mistborn RPG? I sat down in several brainstorming sessions with them and gave them all of my notes from the world and now they have sent me what they have come up with and it's actually half rules, half world book, is the idea. Now I'm going to go through and revise it to make sure there's nothing wrong with it. But, you know, I did a lot of brainstorming with them, but they're the game designers so I let them kind of design the game as they wanted to.

    West Jordan signing ()
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    Questioner

    I was just wondering how you organize and plan such huge worlds and how you get about planning and writing your books.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I do an outline and a lot of worldbuilding. I use, most recently I've found a wiki software most useful. It's called wikidpad. I use that to keep my setting in because there are hundreds of thousands of words of worldbuilding that I do. So, it's between those two things. Organizationally, I work from an outline, a bullet-point outline meaning: here's a list of things I want to have happen, and they don't always have to happen in this order, and that's how I approach it.

    West Jordan signing ()
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    Questioner

    Just real quick: the short that's in the RPG, the short story. Is that ever going to be available outside the RPG?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Maybe eventually. The idea is that we gave it to them exclusively for a certain period; I don't know how long the period is. It's probably a couple of years. The idea being: the short story is there as a goodie for the RPG. You know, the RPG guys, RPGs are not big sellers. These are an independent company making it because they love it. It's not their day job. They all have other day jobs. Though, we wanted to put something in there that would attract people's attention to look at it and be interested in it. They will eventually, probably be available elsewhere. If you can read other languages, it'll probably be in the translations of Alloy of Law. But that's only if you want to read it in translation.

    West Jordan signing ()
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    Questioner

    Do you have any plans to write any type of science fiction...?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've got lots of ideas but I have no plans in the near future. I have done one military science fiction coauthored with my buddy Ethan Skarstedt, my buddy in the military. We'll see if that ever coalesces into a book that we can ever publish. We did write a cool military SF together. Nothing big, epic science fiction. I've got enough on my plate right now.

    West Jordan signing ()
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    Questioner

    With Elantris, is there something happening to that with a second book or...

    Brandon Sanderson

    I had the second book planned for 2015, at the ten year anniversary. We'll see if I still manage to make that or not. If it's going to do that, I'm going to have to write it in the next couple of years here. But my goal is to release a nice trade paperback edition of Elantris and a sequel at the same time. With maybe a redo of the map done by Isaac or something like that.

    West Jordan signing ()
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    Questioner

    In (?) someone told me about the switching over from Scholastic to Tor. I know you've mentioned before with Alcatraz you were unhappy how Scholastic portrayed the covers. So is changing the covers what you wanted it to be, or just to differ the Tor versions?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We're going to try and get them to something more like I envisioned originally. I originally wrote the Alcatraz books with Alcatraz at fifteen, and Scholastic pushed for him to be thirteen, and I'm not completely convinced that that was the right thing for his personality. So I may actually move him up a little bit in age. It would probably be Peter doing it: go find all references to 'thirteen'!

    Questioner

    Would Bastille's age go up too?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. They were both fifteen in the original draft. In the book they bought, they pushed it down to thirteen.

    Questioner

    With changing the covers, will Alcatraz have different comments on the cover of book two?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Boy, I don't know. I’ll have to watch that one. Maybe we'll have to put the original one in there, the original cover of book two. Oh boy, that cover... it was like: this in space! This is a fantasy book. Why are they in space? O...kay.