art by Jake Johnson

Theoryland Resources

WoT Interview Search

Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.

Wheel of Time News

An Hour With Harriet

2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.

The Bell Tolls

2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."

Theoryland Community

Members: 7653

Logged In (1): canadaexpeditio,

Newest Members:johnroserking, petermorris, johnadanbvv, AndrewHB, jofwu, Salemcat1, Dhakatimesnews, amazingz, Sasooner, Hasib123,

Theoryland Tweets

WoT Interview Database

Home | Interview Database

Interviews: Central Library, Seattle, WA

Summary:

Entries

34

Date

Jan 7th, 2015

Type

Paraphrased

Location

Seattle, WA

TourCon

Firefight

Bookstore

Central Library

Reporter

WeiryWriter, Ian M.

Links

Firefight Tour-Seattle WA

Firefight Tour-Seattle WA

Firefight Tour-Seattle WA

  • 1

    WeiryWriter

    I'm a video game developer and the one thing that was running through my mind after reading the Stormlight Archive was ďI want to make thatĒ [...] video games[...]

    Brandon Sanderson

    Excellent question. So, other media. I like video games a lot. I remember (youíre going to get a lot of stories tonight, this is what happens, Iím a storyteller) I was 11 years old, my father shipped me off to visit my uncle for the first time on my own. Got put on an airplane and everything, went to Utah from Nebraska. My father gave me two hundreds, two one hundred dollar bills, he said ďPay for your foodĒ and things like this. (Youíre laughing you know what happens) I just got my uncle to pay for everything and at the end of it my conscience had gotten to me and I said ďUncle [???] my dad gave me money, I should give this to you to pay for the foodĒ. He just laughed and said ďNo youíre not going to do that. Weíre going to the mall right now. Weíre going to spend that money because if you donít your dad will take it backĒ And I bought a Nintendo, original NES, with my two hundred dollars at KB Toys. And I came back with it and my dad said ďWhere did you get that?Ē I love video games and I want to be involved, some of you may have noticed I did these novellas for Infinity Blade, which you can read online but if you donít play the games they wonít make any sense. Iím just going to warn you right there. We have sold the rights to Mistborn but we have entered some development problems, the video game industry is almost as bad as the movie industry when it comes to delays. Studios fall through, get divided, things like this. Iím still hoping but the deal was I got to write the story and all the dialogue for the video game. Itís going to be (we are going to do it) an action RPG, the model I told them I wanted to use was Infamous, which was one of my favorites from lately, in the Mistborn world. If we can get that working then I bet we can get a Stormlight book turned into a video game. As movies go, movies are even harder. I was on the phone with movie producers right before I came here. I got a phone call, and weíre doing a lot of that, a lot of discussion, weíve sold a lot of rights, weíve seen a lot of [...] So right now we have Legion, Emperorís Soul, Mistborn, and Steelheart all have significant motion but far from actually done. And the Wheel of Time is kind of off-again, on-again, off-again, on-again with adaptations.

    Tags

  • 2

    WeiryWriter

    I want to know what process you go through for building vocabulary. Also, do you use a thesaurus?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My vocabulary development comes through reading other peopleís books and seeing what cool words they use and writing them down. And I can often pinpoint who I learned which word from. Like miasma I learned from Anne McCaffrey. Just seeing the words they use and looking them up when i donít know them. Do I use a thesaurus? I do use a thesaurus but only to come up with a word I know I should be using. Thereís two times I use it. One, when I come to a word and I know thereís a word there but I donít know what it is yet. The other time I use a thesaurus, which is really useful, is when Iím naming something. Like when I was naming the Reckoners, I need a cool word for this team. One that Marvel or DC hasnít used yet *fake exasperated* They used everything *end fake exasperated* So I may use a thesaurus, but using a thesaurus is dangerous. Itís a good tool but itís a dangerous tool for a writer. Because you donít want to use a word because it sounds cool, usually you want to use the right word. That can be difficult to balance.

    Tags

  • 3

    WeiryWriter

    We hear a lot in The Final Empire about various titles and such in the Steel Ministry. Can you give a little as to their actual structure and what they do?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah I can talk about this. [They only thing you canít is the ranks] So the Steel Ministry, in the Mistborn books. The interesting thing I considered when I was writing was ďWhat is the purpose of the priesthood when god is there in the palace and everyone knows it? And if you disobey you just get your head cut off.Ē So I made the Steel Ministry more government, like the post office is run by priests. A lot of what priests do is witness official business, take your money in doing so and give you a stamp that ďYes I witnessed thisĒ but they also run all the public works. Itís not like theyíre cleaning the sewers themselves but overseeing the sewers, overseeing engineers, most of the engineers who designed the cities would be obligators. Which by the way you named didnít you? There he is [???] who was in my writing group for many years. We were driving to writing group once and I wanted a cool word for a priest, because I was just using priests in the original version of Mistborn. Iím like ďI need a great wordĒ and he--

    WeiryWriter

    How did you come up with that word?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You really want to know?

    WeiryWriter

    Yeah.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Thesaurus. So you can congratulate [Nate?] for coming up with obligator, and was it you that came up with Conventicle or was that Peter? It was Peter.

    Tags

  • 4

    WeiryWriter

    Question about Brandonís outlining process.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh good questionÖ You picked the hardest one to outline, by far. Normally the outlining process for me, I sit down and write Plot, Setting, Character in a new sheet. [...] And then I put all the things that I have been thinking in my head for a while, that Iíve been brainstorming with friends or-- Every book that I write I spent a long time planning it out, itís when ideas connect together that you know you have a great book. One idea is not enough, multiple ideas that influence each other in cool ways is a book to me. So I write all this down and start looking for structure and what are peopleís plots. Now the way I outline Iím goal-based. Say I want to have an interesting relationship between these two characters, how can I achieve that? What is the result at the end and what are the steps to getting there? [...] Somebody wants to learn to use the magic, whatís my end goal, what are my steps to get there, what cool scenes will there be. Those are all separate in my outline, itís not like in my outline thereís ďChapter one: this, this, this, and thisĒ. Itís Goal and how to achieve, Goal and how to achieve, Goal and how to achieve. Now the Stormlight Archives is a strange beast, it is plotted as ten books, each focusing on a character, and for that what I did was sit down and lay out more in prose form by vision for the whole series and then I wrote a paragraph for each book. Then I did what I just told you for the first book, then I wrote the first book. Then I went back and did a bigger, much more detailed outline for the rest of the series. The interesting thing about the Stormlight books is that I actually plot each one like I plot a trilogy. So for instance, Words of Radiance you can find breakpoints between quote-unquote books, that this volume is actually written as three books with a short story collection as the interludes woven between. Thatís how I approach those books. My publisher has a love/hate relationship with the Stormlight Archive because they feel they could publish them as four volumes and make four times as much money but I wonít let them. But they donít want me to write other things because they really want more Stormlight because Stormlight is the one that sells the best out of everything. So they are like ďWrite more Stormlight, but can we split it please?Ē and I say ďNo you canít split itĒ and they go *arghhh* [...]

    Tags

    ,
  • 5

    WeiryWriter

    Whatís your favorite magic system?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If I could pick anything Iíd probably be an Allomancer, just because there is so much metal around us in our daily lives that I think it would be a lot of fun. That may not be the smart choice but it is the choice I would make.

    Tags

  • 6

    WeiryWriter

    So I know your kids are probably too young to have read your books but are they familiar with your characters and if so do they have favorites?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Theyíre not familiar with my characters, 7, 5, and 2. The seven-year-old is getting old enough that I could read him books, but I donít want to read him my books first. I want him to read stuff like Dragonís Blood by Jane Yolen or something. Weíll let him read my books if he wants to. I remember I was reading an interview with Tad Williams once and he said ďPeople ask, youíre a famous author, how do you stay humbleĒ and he said ďWell the other day we all went out as a family because I finished a book. And my son said ĎWhatís the celebration?í and I said ĎWell I finished my bookí and my son said ĎThatís a good job, finishing reading a book.íĒ

    Tags

  • 7

    WeiryWriter

    Are some of the [interlude] characters going to be making re-appearances?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes some of them will, Iím seeding characters who will become main characters later in the series by what Iím doing in that book, in those interludes. Not all of them will be. I have ten characters that are forming the spine for this series-- and like Lift is one of the ones who is going to be in the back five books which will take place-- After Book 5 of Stormlight we will have a break, in-world, for about fifteen years. Not out of the world, not in our world, but we will have a break and when we come back fifteen years or so will have passed and we will start on the back five characters.

    Tags

    ,
  • 8

    WeiryWriter

    I really like Alloy of Law, do you see yourself making anymore of those in-universe novellas? [...]

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes I do see myself doing many more novellas. I enjoy the process, it helps me get stories out of my brain that are itching at me without having to start another 7 book series or whatever. What I reading to you tonight is from a novella but it is not cosmere. Though I do have several more cosmere novellas going. [discussion on currently released novellas and where to find them] Iím planning to do many more, I really enjoy it. I think short fiction is fun and exciting-- short for me.

    Tags

    ,
  • 9

    WeiryWriter

    Do you know whatís wrong with Stephen Leeds?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes I do know whatís wrong with Stephen LeedsÖ Legion is another novella Iíve done thatís got a fun story behind it. I was in a writing group with a mutual friend Dan Wells, he writes twisted books about people who are messed up, and he was doing a book about schizophrenia. He was deep into a schizophrenicís mind, he put in lot of research into these things and meanwhile I'm over here being me and Iím like ďOh this would make a great magic systemĒ and like ďNo, no, no, really if you had a schizophrenic and what if they heard voices and saw hallucinations, but the hallucinations helped them. Like there superpower was seeing hallucinations. You should write thisĒ and I tried to convince him to write it and tried until finally he said ďBrandon, write the dumb book, itís not my book itís yoursĒ So I wrote it and itís called Legion. [explains a little about the concept of Legion]

    WeiryWriter

    So is he getting worse?

    Brandon Sanderson

    *hesitates* Over the course of the series he is getting worse and worse, despite what he says.

    Tags

  • 10

    WeiryWriter

    Are you going to write a sequel to Sixth of the Dusk?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Iím not planning to write a sequel to it, though you may see people from that world, or even Sixth himself, in other books if you keep your eyes open.

    Tags

    ,
  • 11

    WeiryWriter

    Can you talk a little about flash fiction?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think flash fiction, micro fiction, is awesome. Iím terrible at it. Iíve tried it a couple times. Iíve got a good friend, Eric James Stone, heís one a Nebula Award, and his business cards have a story on the back. Thatís the coolest thing ever. I want to steal that and use it but every one I come up with is junk. It takes like eight pages to write a name, soÖ

    Tags

  • 12

    WeiryWriter

    This is one you probably arenít going to answer, but how old is Hoid?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hoid is older than [???] He is very old.

    Tags

  • 13

    WeiryWriter

    Can you talk a little about your editing process? In your acknowledgements thereís this huge team of people that have been pouring over this thing.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hereís my drafting process. First draft I just write straight through, I donít stop, if there is something major I need to change I just change it in the chapter and keep going forward. And then I can change it back later, like two chapters later if I think ďNo that was the wrong thingĒ. So there will be a new character sometimes in my book that will just pop up for three chapters and everyone acts like theyíve always been there and then they vanish and no one talks about them not being there anymore. Thatís just so I can keep momentum and see what works. Draft number 2 I fix all of those things. Draft number 3, polishing draft. Line by line trying to cut 10%, get rid of the passive voice, make descriptions more active, and that Iím finding the right words and things like that. So Draft 4 is where it turns into true drafting, and by that point Iíve given it to my editor and my alpha readers which are basically my assistants, my good friends, people like that. They read it and they come back with comments for me and Iíve been thinking about the book, working in my writing group with it and I make a goal-based document, where itís like ďHere are the major issues. Here are the medium level issues. Here are the little things I need to fix.Ē And I start on page one, read through with this [document] on the screen next to the book when Iím working on it and I try-- Itís almost like a bug report for programmings, IĒm trying to clear things off the list. Major things I have to re-write the whole way through so I canít clear them off until the end. Medium issues are things I can put in two or three times to fix a few chapters where they are wrong and then clear it. Little things are just fix this one little thing and itís easy to clear off the list. I do that, I donít get to everything. [...] Then I send the book out to beta readers, who are gathered by my assistant, he handles this Peter Ahlstrom. Then they do a thing with us on a Google Doc, where itís chapter by chapter there is a document for each chapter and they all put their comments and interact with each other. Itís like having a very large focus group, with like 15 people who are all reading the book at the same time and working on it. Once that is done and Iíve heard back from my editor on the new draft I will then make another draft. I will do this as many times as necessary to make the book good. Last draft is proofreading and those people are often drawn from fandom, my assistant picks them off forums and things like that and people weíve used before. At that point we canít change anything bigger than a line or two. They are looking for continuity and things like that. But my process is that goal-based ďI want to fix /this/ letís see if I can do a draft where I fix this.Ē And IĒll do a couple more polishing drafts as I go along.

    Tags

  • 14

    WeiryWriter

    Question about preferred reading formats for Brandonís books.

    Brandon Sanderson

    He doesnít care, whatever people like whether itís borrowing from cousin bobby or audible or ebook.

    Tags

  • 15

    WeiryWriter

    Did you like to write as a child?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Actually no, I did not like to write as a child. Iím one of the few people who are a writer who was not a kid writer, I didnít like books when I was young. It was a teacher who taught me to like books when I was in eighth grade, Ms. Reader, thatís her real name. She just emailed me a few weeks back, Iím still in touch with her. Ms. Reader, sheís now a professor taught me to love fantasy books, she gave me the book Dragonsbane by Barbara Hamley and I became a reader.

    Tags

  • 16

    WeiryWriter

    Favorite video games?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Dark Souls series, I started on Demon Souls when it was actually hard, but I like them all. I like the level design, I like that theyíre not coddling you. Iíve always loved the Civilization games, I play those quite extensively. In fact when I was in college I spent many a long night in my friends room playing Civilization, until he was like ďGo to bedĒ. I just played Skyrim, i tend to wait a few years on those games so I can get mods and things l like. I thought Skyrim was the best of the Elder Scrolls games, Iíve played them all since Daggerfall and they fixed a lot of the problems like the leveling was always bad and some of the dungeon designs were so repetitive. This one they fixed all that and I had a blast.

    Tags

  • 17

    Question

    My first question is about Shallan and whether what she does with her drawings and the deserters in Words of Radiance, kind of changing them, at all similar to what Shai does in The Emperorís Soul?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Umm, thatís a good question. There are similarities, but only in that The Emperorís Soul is cosmere and is relying on the same foundation of magic. But good question. [...] somebody do it before. So you have seen what she does before, but that is not what I was pointing at. No one is going to expect it.

    Tags

    ,
    ,
    ,
  • 18

    Question

    My other question is about the phrase ďShadows of SelfĒ. Itís mentioned in the last Mistborn book [...] so are we ever going to see the shadows in Shadows of Self?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We are not going-- Well yes and no. What it is referencing in this book is the different roles that each person plays in their life. That is the core meaning of Shadows of Self. But there is also, there is a kandra involved, which they change shape and become different people, so ďwho are you?Ē and identity is a big thing.

    Tags

    ,
  • 19

    Question

    And my last one, Obliteration, the Epic, is based on an author.

    Brandon Sanderson

    He is based on an author. Q: Itís Jim Butcher, right? B: I couldnít say if it were, with these handsome locks and wearing a trenchcoat, and the goatee. Q: Itís totally Jim Butcher. B: Well Jim Butcher doesnít have hair like this anymore. He cut his hair.

    Tags

    ,
    ,
  • 20

    Question

    Will we find out soon where Shardplate comes from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You will eventually, but it is not the next book.

    Tags

  • 21

    Squirenonny

    So my friend wanted me to ask you, after we both read Firefight, is there anything you can say about Instabam? Powers or anything.

    Brandon Sanderson

    See facetiously in my head I had Instabam have power over instant potatoes, but Iím probably not going to do that. But that is what I had in my head when I wrote that name. Yeah, instant potatoes ďPoomĒ can cook food at the snap of fingers. I donít know what their powers are. I didnít work that out. You can say instant potatoes if you want.

    Tags

    ,
  • 22

    Squirenonny

    Also is there any reason why you are looking at doing Mistborn in the 40ís?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Just because I want to see-- Itís where I feel excited by a story and if I go all the way to the 80ís, which Iím going to do eventually, we lose the Age of Exploration, my last shots at it. I think in the 40ís we could still have a shot at Age of exploration even though itís well past that, you know what I mean? [...] but by 80ís theyíre launching satellites, right? The world is known. So if I want to do one more thing before then I could do-- The thing about the Mistborn world is that it is mostly uninhabited. Itís like an Earth-sized planet but most of the continents have no people. thatís really exciting from a storytelling aspect.

    Tags

  • 23

    Question

    What do you want to know about Frost? Everything.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Iím not going to tell you everything about Frost. Heís still alive. He can be killed, heís just functionally immortal, he just doesnít age. He was born as one. It is a race.

    Tags

  • 24

    Question

    Is Investiture universal? By that I mean, if an Allomancer got Stormlight somehow could they use that to fuel Allomancy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is always possible, so yes. But in some case it requires some quote-unquote hacking, like an AC vs a DC current or weíve got a 120 Volt and theyíve got 240. [...] I guess hacking is the wrong term, adapters.

    Tags

  • 25

    Question

    So with the cosmere, do you come up with stories and see if they fit? Or does the cosmere lend itself to stories already?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Itís mostly the first. [...] When I come up with a story Iíll ask, ďDoes this fit the cosmere?Ē and if not [...] I donít want to be doing far-future science fiction stuff in the cosmere, yet [...] Or the Rithmatist which I bounced back and forth with, I eventually decided it just didnít fit the story. If things do fit, I put them in.

    Question

    Is that a really exciting moment[when things fit]? OrÖ

    Brandon Sanderson

    )No, itís just nice. I like all my stories. The cosmere-- Part of my rules for myself is ďThe cosmere is not my entire body of workĒ because then I would try to shoehorn more things in and Iíve found sometimes when authors create a multiverse they shoehorn everything in. Stephen King did this, [Asimov] it doesnít work. I think if it is a deliberate thing I'm intentionally doing, then it gains more cooler than if I tried to make everything connected.

    Tags

  • 26

    Question

    Is Cultivation the same thing as the Nightwatcher?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, they are related but it is more like the similarity between the Stormfather and Honor.

    Tags

    ,
  • 27

    Question

    Do Allomantic Pushes and Pulls generate friction?

    Brandon Sanderson

    SoÖ *sigh* Iíve had to ask myself this because if they didnít generate friction certain things that I do in the books wouldnít happen. I assume if youíve seen the physics of it youíve noticed. I have to go with-- Yes but the physics of it Iím a little wishy-washy on. I mean itís pretty obvious from the way I do things that they do. You have? Youíve seen the science of it, you Push things up in midair. If they didnít two Allomancers couldnít both push on a coin and hold it in place, but it does get held in place. I do have to say that Peter is going to break his brain trying to figure out how that works. But itís canon, I put it in the books so itís not like we can just ignore the fact.

    Footnote

    Questioner's comment: Yes, Iíve won a 17 page argument.

    Tags

  • 28

    Question

    What about the theory that if youíre really good at iron and steel you can Push and Pull on something in the same space?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes you can.

    Tags

  • 29

    Question

    What is a sparkflicker and what is it used for?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh good question, are you 17th Shard as well? Youíll be interested in this. Sparkflickers are [...] Herdazians, their fingernails are stone. A sparkflicker is so they can start fires. Theyíre actually flint-and-steel-ing. So itís a fire-maker using their actual fingernails.

    Question

    So they donít have a martial application?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Not really [... males yes if your fingernails are rough]. but there is a deep implication to that that I donít think people have picked out yet.

    Tags

    ,
  • 30

    Question

    Could someone bond with two spren and wield two swords?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is theoretically possible, but the spren arenít going to like it. So you wonít see it very often.

    Tags

    ,
  • 31

    Question

    Is Hoid a dragon?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh I will give you a RAFO card. Have you read Dragonsteel? Donít read it, itís bad. He is one of the oldest people in the cosmere, but he is not the oldest. The person he is writing a letter to is indeed older than he is.

    Tags

    ,
    ,
  • 32

    Question

    [references the conversation between Hoid and Dalinar where he says he would watch Roshar burn if it got him what he wanted] Has he seen any worlds die?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, he has.

    Tags

  • 33

    Question

    Is the guy he took his name from related? Blood related. (talking about Hoid)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Iím going to RAFO that.

    Tags

  • 34

    Question

    So I heard that one of the worlds, Yolen, has disease related magic. How does that work?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Itís not Yolen, itís Ashyn. Viruses and bacteria, various strains of them, evolved in-line with the investiture of the world to grant you magical abilities when you catch the disease, because they want you to stay alive long enough to-- To transmit it. So it becomes a transmission vector. So you can fly when you have the common cold, but when you get over it, you canít anymore.

    Tags