Back in September Brandon went to Salt Lake City Comic-Con, and 17th Shard went as well. Josh and Mi'ch were able to get recordings of over 12 hours worth of signings. Unfortunately for copyright reasons we couldn't share the audio publicly but finally the transcription is done. It's a Koloss Head-Munching Day miracle!
I would like to apologize for this taking so long and I hope the rest of you are as excited as I am!
Special thanks again to Josh and Mi'ch for making this possible. Also thank you to Windrunner for proofing everything. There's some very cool stuff in here, so let's get started!
Q: I heard once that Robert Jordan had like 10GB of just pure text…
B: Yeah, now most of that was the sort of stuff that ends up in the glossaries... Most of it you wouldn’t want to read, ‘cause most of it is very boring stuff. They’re putting a lot of that into an encyclopedia that will be coming out next fall, they just released the date on that. Not this November but next November.
Q: My one question is how do you make it so writing isn’t work, because if I’m writing for work I don’t write as well. How do you get in the mind set?
B: You know for me, taking a walk before hand, listening to some awesome music, and just imagining why this scene is going to be awesome and the emotional impact of it really helps. But at the same time writing is always going to be a little bit work and there is no getting around that. I mean, it’s hard sometimes and so-- I don’t know. For me I’ve enjoyed it more as it has become work and I can devote more time to it and things like that. But… Try that.
Q: Just get in the mood…
B: Listen to music and put myself in that scene, what it feels like, what it sounds like, smells like. Just put myself here and think about what is going to make it incredible and I’ll get really excited about writing it. Excitement translates I think at least for me onto the page.
Q: What were these Szeth things for...
B:Those were little plastic things you snap out and he stand up. So he’s a little figure to have at your cubicle or something like that.
Q: I just saw you post about leaving them in places on twitter…
B: We will be doing things like that for other books as well so keep an eye out for that.
Q: I actually have a weird question. From the Mistborn series it says there are 16 allomantic metals but then you go into Alloy of Law and the 16 are listed there, minus the atium and another one, so are there really 18 metals?
B: Well, you see those two were not really metals. Those were pieces, fragments, of a god.
Q: I thought that might be it but the symbols are the same above them from-- the atium symbol is the same as--
B: No, it’s a different symbol, it might be reversed though.
Q: So was The Emperor’s Soul before Elantris?
B: It’s after.
Q: So are you going to write a book that explains what happened to the empire then?
B: You will find out more about it eventually, yes. But it’s not my main project right now. We’ll see how it happens eventually.
Q-f: Is Dalinar clean shaven or does he wear a beard?
B: It depends on the day, and the time. Dalinar is clean-shaven through most of the books you have seen.
Q-f: That’s what I thought but he [man with the woman asking the question] thought not.
Q-m: The audiobook reader just gives me an impression of a wizened person with a well-kept beard.
B: Let’s see if I’ve got… if I’ve got enough internet…
Q-m: I get the impression that Sadeas has a creepy mustache from the audiobook as well.
B:Beards are not in fashion in Alethkar right now.
Q: Which is why Kaladin shaves it off.
B: Let’s see, Way of Kings, I’ve got the artwork I used as-- [shows secret canon drawing] So there is the concept art we used for Dalinar.
Q: The magic in The Emperor’s Soul, is that the only magic you’ve written that there is a spiritual part to it in your magic trio?
B: Umm… All of them have some little dabbling in it, it is the most related to the Spiritual Realm-- Of the ones I have shown, certainly it is the most related.
Q: How many of the Mistborn do you plan on writing still?
B: Mistborn, when I pitched it to my editor, I pitched it as a spectrum running from an epic fantasy series eventually arriving at a space opera, with Allomancers on spaceships. So we have several hundred more years of history. So right now I’m doing a few more Wax and Wayne books, the Alloy of Law era. Then we will jump forward, I’ve got a modern trilogy that’s going to be like 1980’s level technology. And then maybe near-future and then full-blown science fiction space opera.
Q: I had a question about White Sand, we both read the draft of it, it’s going to graphic novel. What’s your involvement with that? Are you kind of passing over the draft?
B: We passed the book to the writer, the writer is sending us scripts, and we are commenting on them and things like that. There are a few big changes I’ve made to the story, that it needed, and things like that. But we are letting the script writer write the scripts and then we are reading them over.
Q: What were the allomantic metals based on?
B: The allomantic metals were based on two main concepts, magic that feels one step science one step superstition so I was reading things like alchemy and I wanted something that was one half chemistry, one half alchemy. The idea of eating the metals and metabolizing them was really interesting to me because it’s kind of almost scientific but not really. That mixed with me wanting to have a thieving crew have different powers that would help different members of a crew and I built the powers to match people like Ham and Breeze.
Q: In Warbreaker how did you come up with the idea of using colors for magic?
B: You know it’s the goofiest story. A lot of them have really awesome stories and this one is just goofy. In this one I had written Elantris and written Mistborn and they are both kind of dark and my editor said to me, I kid you not, “Your next book needs some color to it” and I said “Oh I’ll do a color-based magic system then”. And that’s where it came from.
Q: I just started Part 3 and I actually went over to your booth to ask them because I was confused. There are different symbols for the allomantic metals but I only recognize one of them here. Why are there different symbols you don’t know about at the begining of different parts?
B: Part of it is they don’t know all the metals yet, in the books, and so that’s a hint. Part of it is because that their writing system is more than 16 letters and so there are symbols that do not represent a metal, necessarily, or an allomantic metal so they can-- They write with them as well. It is both a writing system and each symbol is a metal.
Q: I love that book [The Rithmatist], the world, I’m looking forward to those…
B: The sequel is going to be very fun, it’s called “The Aztlanian”, it’s taking place in South America.
Q: Where in South America?
B: Well, I’ve rebuilt South America so it’s kind of weird. The Aztek empire, which is the main name the Northerners have for it, they call it something else. The problem is I shrunk the planet, so I had to smash South America and Central America a little bit into each other so the islands that they are is it South America? Central America? What is it?
Q: So is it Spanish-speaking? Or…
B: No, the Spaniards got fought off, they actually speak Nahautl.
Q: No Portuguese or Spanish? It’s all…
B: There are a couple Portuguese/Spanish islands but-- They grabbed a few of them but the main empire speaks Nahuatl.
Q: My background is twenty years of military, and as I’ve been reading your Way of Kings, I’ve found that your insight into what it like to be a member of the service, all the mental trials including post-traumatic stress disorder is all very well thought-out and I’m curious how you came across that knowledge.
B: Lots of interviews and lots of reading on forums. People who post their hearts and souls on-- if you find the right forums, where people are among like-minded individuals, you can watch like a fly-on-the-wall and see what people are saying and how they are feeling. Because I strive for authenticity, that’s what I-- whenever someone is feeling I want it to be authentic, and the more far removed from my own experience the better it is, if that makes sense to me, to get it into my books. So I try very hard for that.
Q: In fact I’m going to be suggesting to the Veterans’ Administration to use the series for treatment for PTSD. There are literally some things in there I’ve never seen anyone actually understand or get before. Some of my military friends have just been in absolute tears after reading your book.
B: That is an honor to hear.
Q (different from above): Did you do the same thing with Kaladin’s depression?
B: Yes I did but that one is a little closer to home, [several people in Brandon's life have depression].
Q: I have depression as well, it’s pretty inspiring to me
B: I had never seen a hero who had depression and I was like “I need to do a real, legitimate that it’s not about their depression, they just have it” Does that make sense? Like whenever I read a book it is all about them having depression. And I’m like “No, your life is not about you having depression, your life-- that is part of your life but--” So it was very important to me that I get that one right.
Q: I just, yeah I just find your book so inspiring so I just really appreciate you doing all this for us.
Q: Hemalurgy, does the person having the metal shoved through them have to die?
B: It has to rip off a piece of their soul. That normally results in death.
Q: Because I’m thinking you’re going a bit into the future, surgery, precise things like that…
B: It’s plausible but-- I mean it would leave the person like-- it’s ripping off a piece of their soul. But the same thing happens when you give up your Breath. So you’re giving up a piece of your soul. There are-- It’s plausible you could take off pieces of a soul without killing the person.
Q: And all the different powers kind of run off the same type of power? Like Breath is the same as Stormlight.
B: Yeees, they have their own different sort of layers to them. It depends on the Shard that is there and things like that but yes there are little differences but it is more like the differences between alternating current and direct current, they’re both electricity. So if you know how to use them.
Q: ‘Cause Szeth’s not going to be getting any new Breaths on Roshar so I was thinking about that.
Q: I do have one question, A Memory of Light couldn’t be better, except for the Padan Fain thing.
B: Yeah, the Padan Fain thing is that I have a little bit of regret on that one. That’s the one thing-- You see he didn’t leave anything about Fain at all. Just completely blank. That was worrisome to me. The only thing he said was “Padan Fain cannot be Gollum” actually, he wrote that in the notes. So I was left with trying to figure out what to do and in the end I feel it just ended up feeling tacked on because there were so many other things *I* was interested in doing and Padan Fain I had never really enjoyed as a character that much. You are seeing my biases come through on that. Looking back at it I’m like “I really should have done something more with him”. That’s the big one that I feel I would change, if I could change something.
Q: Cause it’s kind of a threat that goes away…
B: The other one is I would’ve liked for the viewpoint chapters from Demandred to be in the book instead of separated out and put in that charity anthology, but I didn’t have any say in that one.
Q: How did you come up with Shardblades?
B: Here’s the thing, I’ve seen a lot of fantasy art-- I love fantasy books, right-- and people often depict these enormous swords, which are completely impractical. So one of my pitches for Stormlight was “I want a world where they had to have weapons like they depict in this fantasy art” and I retrofitted it, what would they need these to actually fight? So that was the pitch for myself on Shardblades. And I was also annoyed that the coolest magic swords were in a science fiction story, Star Wars, I want cool magic swords that are not in a science fiction story.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for the cosmere? Because I just think it is the greatest idea ever and the more I learn about it the less I realize I know.
B: It was partially me wanting to do a big fantasy epic that also had room for standalones, I wanted to do both and so the idea of the hidden epic behind the scenes was really appealing for me ‘cause it let me do everything I wanted to do.
Q: What differentiates a minor Shardworld like First of the Sun?
B: The amount of Investiture, and whether there is actually a Shard in presence.
Q: I’m assuming there is not one there?
B: There is not one there.
Q: So it’s like a Splintered one from something else?
B: No what you’ll find is that the worlds were all created with a level of-- a little bit of sort of ambient magic. What you’ll find in worlds like that is things like, Shadows for Silence and things like this, the magic, it’s not necessarily “people with magic” it’s you can interact with nature...
Q: So there is inherent investiture...
B: There is inherent investiture in every world created but you are going to see-- You aren’t going to find Mistborn on a world like that but what you might find is a way there are magic aspects to the setting. Spren could exist on a world like that but they would be like the minor spren, you wouldn’t find Syl, but you would find something like lifespren.
Q: Do you have other minor Shardworlds?
B: Yeah I have a bunch of them, and which ones are worth telling a story in will depend on when I get around to it whether they’re worth it.
Q: Who is Wit?
B: He is a character who has been in all of the books so far and is somehow getting between all of the different planets these are taking place on and is somehow surviving the fact that these books are hundreds of years apart.
Q: I have a good idea that he’s a Mistborn.
B: Well he did steal a bead of lerasium.
Q: And he has extra breath because he said it was easier with perfect pitch
B: He did indeed say that didn’t he… I will eventually write a book series that is about him, but it is a ways off.
Q: Stormlight, I know it heals wounds and stuff like that but can it heal illnesses like colds?
B: Yes it can.
Q: So if Kaladin suddenly contracted brain cancer...
B: It’s plausible-- it depends, see what it does is it takes your body and makes it align with your spirit, and partially through the filter of how you view yourself. So if you view yourself as sickly, then you won’t.
Q: Who is your favorite character you've written, if you had to pick one?
B: That’s a hard question, I can’t pick a favorite character. Dalinar is what I normally say, just because I’ve been working on him the longest. Honestly, I don't know. It’s whoever I’m working on at the time.
Q: Dalinar is a good character, I like Kaladin a lot too.
B: Kaladin has really worked out well. It’s interesting because Kaladin-- the first time I wrote The Way of Kings, in 2002, did not work and I had to rip him out and try a completely different personality and things for him. So it’s cool to see it finally working.
Q: So there is one part in Alcatraz where he notices that Bastille has red hair and goes “No that’s important I can’t tell you until later” Is there any significance to that?
B: Yeah, her dad has red hair so it’s a clue that she’s the princess because she’s the daughter of the king and she dyes her hair because she doesn’t want anyone to know.
Q: Where do you come up with your leaders, because they’re phenomenal
B: It takes a lot of reading and thinking and coming up with who the character is. I don’t know how do any of the characters-- they just kind of come, but there is a lot of hanging out on forums where people are talking about leadership positions in the military so I can kind of get a view on how they’re thinking. Sun Tzu was very helpful as well.
Q: What’s your inspiration?
B: It really depends on the book. If you want to know the inspiration for the Mistborn books, you can google Sanderson’s First Law. It’s an essay I wrote about how I came up with the magic system. That’ll help you see where some of the ideas came from and how I take them and use them.
Q: What about The Stormlight Archive?
B: Stormlight, the original inspiration was the storm of Jupiter. The big storm that rotates around Jupiter, and I wanted to do something that had a perpetual storm like that.
Q: So I’ve been told there is one character who is in each of the series.
B: Yes there is.
Q: Is that Wit by chance?
B: It is.
Q: Does he show up in some of the others?
B: Yes, in this [TFE] he shows up briefly, Kelsier meets with a blind beggar at one point who is introduced by the name Hoid and that is the name Wit uses through most of the books. If you read Warbreaker he’s in that one, there is a storyteller who uses dust and sand. He’s in most of them WoK is where you see him the most he's not in the other ones nearly as much but he’s mentioned by name in most of them.
Q: What is your favorite color?
Q: My brother and I disagreed, at the very end of WoR, the sword that-- Is it the same as in Warbreaker?
B: Yes it is, in fact Vasher is in the book.
Q: Is that Vasher?!? [Presumably referring to Nale]
B: No, look for somebody making color metaphors and when they are waking up they feel like they can sense other people’s presence and things like that. There is one character who is Vasher. He doesn’t go by that name anymore.
Q: Do you have a definite number of how many worldjumpers there are?
B: There are not a set number, I know all the main ones though.
Q: But you are not going to [audio obscured]
B: You’ll know them all better by the time you have read more books.
Q: So at the end of Words of Radiance, was that Nightblood?
B: It is Nightblood! Vasher is in there too if you look for him.
Q: Are they going to be in the next…?
B: You will see a lot more of Nightblood, you’ll see a little bit more of Vasher.
Q: Miles Hundredlives, is he possessed by a svrakiss from Elantris?
B: *long pause* That’s a RAFO, you are onto something… I wouldn’t say possessed, but influenced by something is definitely a possibility. You are not 100% on.
Q: How does Nightblood work on Roshar?
B: Well Nightblood feeds on Investiture, which is the general life-force/magic-force in the cosmere and so he can feed on basically any source of magical energy.
Q: And do other magics work on other worlds?
B: I’ve been describing it lately more like you see DC current and AC current, where they’re similar things but slightly different. It is possible to make magics work on other planets, some it’s easier than others.
Q: I’m not sure if it was duralumin or something but the Feruchemical ability to store connection, is that how Hoid worldhops? It stores Connection to another world?
B: It’s a good question, it doesn’t have anything to do with worldhopping *but* what it does do is once you have worldhopped you can change your Connection to which planet you are on, which helps you with magic systems.
Q: So do Inquisitors, when they use Allomancy, have to actually ingest the metals?
B: They actually do. So what is happening is Hemalurgy rips off a piece of one person’s soul and spikes it somebody else and so it is basically taking off the piece of someone’s soul that makes them an Allomancer and adding it to someone else instead and so then they act as an Allomancer just as it would happen.
Q: So Stormlight and Breath are both just different manifestations of Investiture.
B: That’s correct.
Q: So Nightblood and Shardblades are both kind of powered by Investiture?
B: Yes, in fact you can call Nightblood kind of a miss-made, evil Shardblade… more miss-made than evil but yes.
Q: But a Shardblade wouldn’t shear through Nightblood.
B: Yes a Shardblade would not shear through Nightblood. In fact a wrote Way of Kings first and then I wrote Warbreaker and Way of Kings came out after Warbreaker but in my mind Warbreaker is a prequel to Way of Kings, where I was telling Vasher’s backstory.
Q: Oh really, so the Warbreaker we know takes place after Way of Kings?
B: No, it takes place before, it’s a prequel meaning I wrote WoK and then I went back in time and told Vasher’s backstory but Warbreaker ended up coming out first because Way of Kings wasn’t ready yet.
Q: Dragonsteel, where in the universe is that going to take place?
B: It’s actually first.
Q: Oh really? So it’s like a prequel to everything
B: Yes, to the cosmere.
Q: So is it going to do the breaking of the Shards?
Q: Is Odium mad about Sazed having two Shards?
B: Yes, and scared.
Q: Can Shallan be my best friend?
B: You’ll have to ask her, just somehow get to the planet and you can hang out.
Q: Okay, tell me how to do that?
B: Well… you’ve got to get one of the magics or find one of the Perpendiculars-- the Perpendicularities…
Q: So I’m reading AoL right now, do you have a date for the sequel?
B: Yeah November next year.
Q: Is that one going to be a trilogy as well? Or just two books?
B: It’s probably four.
Q: Oh four, okay, wow.
B: But it depends, that’s what I’ve plotted right now. But it depends on how long it takes me to write The Stormlight Archive, because I want to do them in between Stormlight Archive books.
Q: For the space Mistborn are we going to have more elements?
B: The base 16 are basically it. But the interactions between them and things. And there is one more metal, there is harmonium, so you will hear about that later on.
Q: In The Wheel of Time at the end when they start to use Gateways to spy on the other battlefields, was that your idea or Robert Jordan’s idea?
B: I had for years wanted them to use Gateways for things like that, because I’m kind of a magic system guy, right and it’s like I’m writing these books now, they are going to use Gateways smart.
Q: Aether of Night, aethers also show up in Liar of Partinel…
B: yeah, that was...
Q: Was that cannibalized…
B: That was a cannibalization, it’s an attempt at repurposing and I didn’t like it so it probably won’t go forward that way but it was an attempt because it worked so well to mash Allomancy and Feruchemy into the same system and I didn’t like how it went but…
Q: Is the level of burning a continuous distribution, can I burn 0.1 level of steel all the way up to flaring? Or is it just I burn or I flare?
B: The more skilled you are, the more you have the ability to moderate that. For most people it is burn or flare. But you can kind of burn up to a flare, does that make sense? Going below is really hard.
Q: Can you push a flare?
Q: I asked a question at the panel, I asked if the person you refuse to say who he is, I was trying to talk about Taln
Q: Not Hoid
B: So what about Taln?
Q: Is there anything you’ll tell us about him?
B: What do you want to know? Ask me a specific question.
Q: Is he Rosharan?
B: Is he Rosharan? Taln is Rosharan.
Q: [audio obscured]
B: Define Rosharan, how about that?
Q: Native to Roshar.
B: That I have to RAFO
Q: Are the Heralds…
B: The Heralds are from the same place that Taln is from.
Q: What’s lerasium?
B: That is the bead of metal that Elend finds at the end of Book 2, that Vin finds and gives to Elend.
Q: Oh so there were only two and the Lord Ruler kind of left it there?
B: There actually were a bunch of them, and the first Mistborn came from people who ate that. The Lord Ruler took one for himself and he left others there to use if he needed them.
Q: Is there anything in the works right now roleplaying-wise for any of your other works?
B: Not yet, the response to the Mistborn rpg has been good so I do think we’ll do something eventually but right now we just want to support that. It takes a lot of effort to keep one of these supported, because they make it but we have to read everything and talk about continuity and stuff. Maybe eventually.
Q: Is there any reference material for doing cosplay?
B: It depends on the costume that you want to make. We have lots for Stormlight Archive, less for other books. So if you want reference material for Stormlight costumes you can write us and we’ll send you the concept art we are using.
Q: What are the other books in The Stormlight Archive going to be about?
B: Well each one is going to cover a flashback sequence for one of the characters and each one will focus on a different order of the Knights Radiant. And that’s not always the same, like the flashbacks for the first one were Kaladin and it was also Windrunners, but we won’t always have them be the exact same
Q: How much involvement does the other planet in the same system as Roshar have with Roshar?
B: *long pause* Your question has a fundamental flaw to it.
Q: And that is?
B: That there are multiple planets that have an influence on Roshar.
Q: I thought there were multiple planets in the system that
B: There are, but you said “the other”, there are more than one so the phrase, "the other" doesn’t make sense.
Q: How much influence do the other planets have?
B: A great deal.
Q: How many different kinds of magic does Hoid know how to use? I know you can’t tell me exactly but is it hundreds or like dozens?
B: It depends on your definition of types of magic, in some ways you could say they are all one. He knows multiple varieties, but not hundreds.
Q: I assume I’m going to learn a lot more about this in Stormlight 3 but Nightblood, is he more dangerous or less dangerous now that he-- obviously he needs Investiture that is why [???] any investiture?
B: I’d say more dangerous, a little bit easier to get the Stormlight.
Q: I assumed I’d learn a lot more about him…
B: You will, and he’s pretty dangerous, but he is also less dangerous because other people have Shardblades, if that makes sense.
Q: Have we seen a physical personification of Odium like how Vin was…
B: You have not.
Q: And does he control the Voidbringers through the spren in the same way that the Inquisitors were controlled by Ruin?
B: There are definitely-- In fact what you have just seen with Eshonai shares an awful lot with what happened in Mistborn.
Q: Will we ever find out the when, how, and why Vasher and Nightblood moved to Roshar?
B: Yes, but I don’t know when it will happen. I will get around to it.
theravenchilde: I have one question from Feather, she’s one of the mods on 17s, and she’s dying to know what Renarin’s eye color is, probably so she can write poetry about him.
B: Right, right, right, right, right. Send me an email, I can’t say because it might be different in the wiki.
theravenchilde: And I was trying to figure out how jazz could possibly develop on Scadrial in Alloy of Law.
B: How what?
Q: How Jazz could develop on Scadrial.
B: Jazz? Okay.
theravenchilde: [audio obscured] Would it be appropriate to compare the Steel Ministry to the Catholic Church? Not so much in doctrine but...
B: Sure, that would be appropriate. I mean when I’m writing Alloy of Law era they are only hitting big band stuff.
theravenchilde: That’s what I figured.
B: Their music would lag behind ours.
theravenchilde: ‘Cause big band stufff started around the 1920’s
B: There not even quite there yet. In the second or the third… anyway one of the Alloy books Wax hears someone and they’ve added to a band brass and he’s like “that’s not right” he’s expecting violin concertos or a pianoforte and he’s hearing brass.