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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.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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PROJECT THREE: SCRIBBLER
Many of you have asked about this book. It is a very nifty gearpunk young adult book I wrote in spring of 2007, before the WoT came my way. Unfortunately, I can't justify spending time on it while I've got A Memory of Light to finish. People have been waiting too long for A Memory of Light, and now that it's three volumes, I need to make sure I don't delay those volumes. To those of you who were looking forward to Scribbler, I'm sorry!
PROJECT FOUR: DARK ONE
Another Young Adult book I was working on. It's about half finished, and hasn't been looked at since I was asked to finish the WOT. See the above explanation. This one's not coming anytime soon.
PROJECT FIVE: THE LIAR OF PARTINEL (A.K.A Dragonsteel)
This was the book I was working on for a 2010 release. Epic fantasy. I wrote it in 2007, then put it aside when the WoT was offered to me.
Frankly, I was never pleased with how this book turned out. It was a rough, rough draft—and though I finished it, it wasn't really ever 'finished.' I've tossed it back into the wood chipper of my brain. I can do better, and I just can't ask you to buy this book, as I don't feel satisfied with it. I could revise it, but that would take about six months of work—delaying the second WoT book for six months. That's unacceptable, particularly for a book I feel so unsatisfied with. You'll get a revision of this someday, perhaps.
So, that's it, right? I think I've talked about everything. Now, some of you may be wondering what this means. Is there going to be no solo Brandon Sanderson book released in 2010?
As early as last summer, Tom Doherty began asking me if there was any way I could get Tor a novel for a 2010 release. He doesn't like going years without releases, and he worried that my readers would feel dropped in favor of the Wheel of Time readers. Plus, he really wants to see something more from me.
When he first mentioned it, I laughed. He was asking me, essentially, to finish the entire Wheel of Time book by spring of 2009, then write him a solo book by fall 2009. Even then, I knew it wasn't going to happen. A Memory of Light was too big a project.
However, now that A Memory of Light has been split, Tom has asked more and more often about getting a Brandon Sanderson solo book to release between the WoT books. He's very worried about there being a period of three years during which I don't release anything of my own. And so, with his questions, he got me thinking. Was there anything I would feel comfortable releasing? Liar turned out poorly, Scibbler isn't epic enough, Warbreaker 2 isn't written. What else is there?
The answer was simple. The Way of Kings.
The Way of Kings was the book I had just finished when I first got offered a book deal for Elantris. I originally signed a deal for Elantris and for Kings. (And because of that, you can still find an Amazon entry for Kings—which has some amusing reviews posted by readers with too much time on their hands. Note that the book was never released, so these are all just made-up amusing reviews.)
Yes, the original contract was for Kings—but I decided that Kings needed to be put off. Kings is a great book, perhaps the best I've ever written. But it just didn't FEEL right to release after Elantris. The Way of Kings is a massive war epic of legends, mythology, and magical revolution. It's intricate, complex, and was a bit daunting for me when I thought about readying it for publication. Just to give you an idea, Mistborn has three magic systems, Kings has well over twenty. Mistborn has six main viewpoint characters across the trilogy; Kings has dozens. I wrote about 30k of background material for Mistborn. Background material for Kings is over 300k.
Difference in scope is only one of the reasons Kings wasn't the right follow-up to Elantris. After a stand-alone novel, I felt that I wanted to publish a trilogy, perhaps two, before I offered my readers the first of a big, multi-volume epic. I also worried that the initial draft of Kings just wasn't good enough—because my skill wasn't up to making it good enough.
Working on the WHEEL OF TIME has forced me to grow immensely as a writer, however. Over the last year, the more I thought about it, the more I itched to dive in and do a revision of The Way of Kings. If I could effectively use all I've learned, I might be able to make the book become what I want it to be. And so, I told Tom about Kings, and he eagerly offered me a new contract for it. I've warned him that it might not be ready in time to come out next year, but I'm going to give it a try.
Kings needs a solid rewrite. I've been tweaking it over the years, worldbuilding the setting and so forth. I've been planning, working on, and revising this book for eight years. I think that if I do a rewrite now with my current writing abilities, it would turn out very, very well.
The thing is, I can't be certain. Maybe it won't work as I want. Maybe I will just have too many things on my mind. Maybe I'm not up to doing this book yet. But, because of the pleading of Tom, my readers, and (most importantly) my own heart, I'm going to give it a try.
As I said above, writing and revising take different parts of the brain. I can only write new material for a certain number of hours a day, usually around four or six. But I can revise all day long. Perhaps it's the difference between mental heavy lifting and mental long-distance running. Either way, in order to give this a try, I've hired a full-time assistant, Peter Ahlstrom, to do all the things in a day that normally take my time away from writing/revising. Usually, when I'm not revising, the 'non-writing' hours of the day are spent doing all kinds of tasks associated with being self-employed. Peter is going to be handling all of this, theoretically freeing up a few hours each day during which I can revise The Way of Kings.
This will not take my time away from writing Shifting Winds. If it starts to look like it will delay that book, I will stop working on Kings—not because of any criticism I may get from readers, but because I feel a debt to Mr. Jordan and this project I have agreed to do. I like to keep my promises.
I explain all this because I want you WoT readers to understand that I do have a life beyond the Wheel of Time. I have obligations, both to publishers and to myself. I feel very strongly that the time has come for me to show readers what I've been working on behind the scenes for many years. And so, on my blog I will spend time talking about projects other than the WHEEL OF TIME.
I like to be open. I like you to be able to see what I'm doing, and so I feel I should be up-front with you about what I plan. I've shelved a lot of books for THE WHEEL OF TIME, and rightly so. But there are two projects I WILL be spending time on this year—Alcatraz 4 and The Way of Kings. I plan to add progress bars for each of them, and link the titles here so those who come to my site later can read this explanation.
Sorry to be long winded . . . again. Occupational hazard.
I started doing this early in my career before I got published, when I felt that writing sequels was not a good use of my time. Just look at the hypothetical; if I'm trying to get published and I write three books in the same, if an editor rejects book one, he or she is not going to want to see book two. But if an editor rejects book one but is optimistic about my writing, I can send them a book from another series and they can look at that.
During my unpublished days I wrote thirteen books, only one of which was a sequel. So I had twelve new worlds, or at least twelve new books—some of them were reexaminations of worlds. But I wanted to be writing big epics. This is what I always wanted to do; something like the Wheel of Time. So I began plotting a large, massive series where all these books were connected, so I could kind of "stealth" have a large series without the editors knowing I was sending them books from the same series. It was mostly just a thing for me, to help me do the writing I wanted to be doing. And then when publication came I continued to do that, and told the story behind the story.
I originally plotted an arc of around 36 books. The total has varied between 32 and 36; 32 would work better for the nature of the universe, but the question is whether I can fit everything into 32 books. I won't say whether Dragonsteel will be the last or not.
Both good questions. I've spoken before of the big changes that happened when I wrote The Way of Kings 2.0. One of them was bringing in the Shattered Plains. The problem was that there was a big hole in Kaladin's storyline, because in the original manuscript of The Way of Kings (major spoiler), he accepted the Shardblade. That was the prologue of the book; Kaladin—then known as Merin—saved Elhokar's life. They tried to take the Shardblade away from him, and Dalinar insisted that he be given it. So Merin was made a Shardbearer in the very first scenes of the book. And from that point, his character never worked. So in doing the second version of the book, I decided that no, we've got to build more into this, we've got to dig deeper, and he has to make the opposite decision, which is where the entire framework of him turning down the Shardblade and then being betrayed all came from. The problem was then what was he going to do? I knew I wanted him to have therefore ended up sold into slavery and have terrible things happen to him, but I couldn't figure out what Kaladin was going to do and was unable to write the book until I mashed in the Shattered Plains and said, "Ah, that was what he needed to be doing all along."
I really don't know what I'll do in Dragonsteel without that now. The problem is that it was the part of Dragonsteel that worked, but it was the part that was most at odds with the story in Dragonsteel. The story that I wanted to tell was the first half of the book, which is the more boring part. Hopefully as a better writer now I can make that part more interesting, but that was the core of what Dragonsteel was. The Shattered Plains was always just going to be a small diversion, but when I wrote it it was fascinating, and I ended up pouring tons of effort and time into it. In many ways it was a distraction, a deviation, a beautiful darling. So for a long time I've been thinking, "I can't kill my darling, because that's the most exciting part of the book." Yet it was at odds with what the story of the book was originally intended to be. I wasn't as good at controlling my stories back then, making them come out to have the tone I wanted. Anyway, we'll have to approach that when I actually write Dragonsteel.
Melissa, I think we have members from another forum joining us and they have information that we don't have. Maybe even advanced book information, like we know nothing about The Way of Kings and only heard about the book recently and know nothing of its content.
Could some of you newcomers introduce yourselves (maybe on our "Introduce Yourself" thread and not clutter up this one) and tell us where you are from? We love the information you are bringing and introducing on this thread but we are confused.
I posted on my website that I'd be doing this, and I don't often have time to interact on forums. (They are a delightful way to interact with readers, but have proven a HUGE time-sink for me in the past. As you might have noticed, I tend to write—and respond—in depth when people ask questions of me.) So I only appear on forums occasionally. Hence the involvement of those from my forums looking for some answers to questions.
Some backstory might help you all. I began writing in earnest in 1997. During those years, I shared the books I wrote with a group of friends. This group worked with me on The Leading Edge, a science fiction fanzine/semiprozine at BYU. Eventually, once we graduated, we founded the Timewaster's Guide, partially as a forum where we could hang out. (Tage and Ookla from the TWG forums—aka Ben and Peter—are among them, and are still very good friends of mine. Another easter egg is to watch how Ben Olsen and Peter Ahlstrom are treated in the acknowledgements of many of my books.)
The overarching story and theme of my books, what I wanted to accomplish as a writer, and how I approached the fantasy genre, all took shape during this time. These readers read many of my most important, and influential (on me as a writer) novels while in draft form. The biggest three of these during this era were White Sand, Dragonsteel, and Elantris. (On the tail end, I wrote—but never finished—the foundations of what years later became Warbreaker.)
The next era of my unpublished writing was when I worked on the worlds, stories, and themes that eventually became Mistborn, The Way of Kings, and a book called the Aether of Night. Many of my writing group friends have read these books, including the first draft of Kings (which is very, very different from the current draft.)
Anyway, these unpublished books are NOT canon yet. I don't canonize a novel until I publish it. But some of the hidden themes (including Hoid and Adonalsium) of my books are present in these novels. (Dragonsteel and Aether of Night are particularly connected—though of the unpublished Shardworld books, White Sand is probably the best written.) Again, none of this is canon yet. (For instance, I've taken chunks out of Dragonsteel to use in the revision of The Way of Kings.) However, these old books do contain clues that aren't available to the average reader.
Dragonsteel can be ordered through inter-library loan through the university library system. There are only four or five copies in existence. The BYU library has one (the book was my honor's thesis.) I believe the honors department has one. My thesis chair has one. (And maybe the committee has one, I can't remember.) I've got one in my basement. And I believe Ben's sister may have sneaked a copy out of the trash when I was cleaning out old manuscripts. (That might be White Sand.)
I do have intentions of rewriting these books and publishing them eventually. They each have pieces of the story. (Though I may decide to shift certain themes from one series to another as I eventually write and publish them.) I've been known to email White Sand or Aether of Night to readers who email and ask. (Though it does make me cringe a little to do so. In many of these books, I was experimenting with magic, theme, and narrative style—some experiments were a success, some were failures.)
Dragonsteel is frozen; I don't send it out any longer, as to not spoil the parts of The Way of Kings that I decided fit better in that world. So the only way to get it now is to borrow it from BYU. I've been told that Dragonsteel is the only undergraduate BYU honor's thesis ever to have been be read so often that it needed to be rebound. (A dubious honor, I'm not sure how I feel about so many people reading a book of mine that is that mediocre.)
One other question, what is the name of the planet that Elantris is on?
Way of Kings: Roshar
White Sand: Taldain
There are others, but I haven't talked much about those yet, so I'll leave them off for now.
When will we see a Hoid book?
It’ll be a little while. He’s playing around with things in the Stormlight Archive if you couldn’t tell, he’s decided to—Hoid is fiddling with things, more than he usually does. But Hoid as a major part of things doesn’t really show up till the third Mistborn trilogy, which is the outer space Mistborn, the sci-fi Mistborn.
If you didn’t know, Mistborn was pitched to my editor as a trilogy of trilogies. I told him I wanted to do a trilogy of epic fantasy books, then the same world in a modern setting, which we’re not to yet, but it’s going to be Allomancers in the 21st century-equivalent technology. It’s an urban fantasy series. Then I wanted to do a Science Fiction series in the same world, using the Epic Fantasy world as kind of a mythology to this new world, and the magic system becoming the means of Space Travel.
And so that’s how I pitched Mistborn to my editor.
Alloy of Law is actually a deviation from that, because I didn’t want people to forget about Mistborn, I wanted them to keep reading Mistborn, so I wanted them to keep releasing things, and we’ll eventually get to that second trilogy—
Hey there you are Mark! I heard you got number one.
You’re crazy (laughter). You’re awesome though. He even beat the 17thshard people, which is really a hard thing to do. (oohs and aahs) Two hours. Beat them by two hours.
So Alloy of Law I wanted to set up things for the second trilogy. I didn’t want to do the second trilogy yet, because the second trilogy, like the first trilogy is kind of bigger books, with a very involved storyline evolved across three books, and I didn’t want to be releasing that parallel to Stormlight Archive, which is the same sort of thing. Very evolved books where you tie a lot of things together, and so I wanted a series of Mistborn novels that were more independent.
Alloy of Law is intended to be a “read it, have fun.” Eventually I may end up doing more with those characters, but when I do, you won’t have to remember that much about this one. It’s not like you have to remember a cast of 500 characters. You can just keep track of the main characters. They’re more of an episodic adventure. I kind of imagine Alloy of Law being—I’m not totally sure how to describe it. It’s like you have the giant movie that comes out, and then you have a TV show that’s based off of it, and then another big movie series, or something like that, if that makes any sense.
So that’s what Alloy of Law is. So Hoid is very involved in the third Mistborn trilogy, he’s also very involved in Dragonsteel, which is actually the first book in the sequence, long before Elantris happened. So eventually I will tell that story. You can read a draft of it at the BYU library. It’s the only copy that I know of in existence. It’s almost always checked out. It’s my Honors thesis, and it’s not very good. It really is not very good, but basically it’s involving the ideas that eventually will become Dragonsteel once I write it again. But I stole the Shattered Plains and put them in Roshar instead because the fit better there.
You said you were going to rewrite Dragonsteel? Is it going to be a one-book thing, or a trilogy, or what?
Dragonsteel is set to be seven books. I shouldn't tell you these things, because it scares people. The cosmere sequence is set at, what did I say, 36 books? Yeah, it's 36 books. A trilogy of Elantris, Two books from Warbreaker, ten books from Way of Kings, and the Mistborn series, and some other books. So anyways, this is a big thing, but don't get scared. You don't have to pay attention to any of this. Just go ahead and enjoy the books. This is behind the scene stuff, and in fact the reason why we don't have a book about Hoid is because I don't want you to have read all of those books in order to understand that book, does that make sense? As soon as Hoid becomes a main character, then you have to have read the whole sequence in order to get it. I don't you to have to do that. I don't want you to have to read Mistborn to understand Stormlight Archive. Hoid may be involved in these things, but he will never be a prominent character, changing things, until he gets his own sequence.
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?
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.
[You can read Ben's take on this story here. That's also where we got the images, which we've used with permission. —ed]
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 [a nationality, not a name. —ed] 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."
That's cool, so basically Inkthinker's responsible for the Shattered Plains?
Inkthinker is responsible for them moving to the new book, yes.
That's pretty cool.
He didn't talk about Shards, but he did mention that it was very likely we wouldn't find out who Hoid was even in the tenth book of the Stormlight Archive. If anything, it would be in his thesis, of which at this moment only 8 copies were printed. He said he might publish it as a book at a certain point, but not right now.
Is the recipient of the letter in Way of Kings also in Dragonsteel?
Yes. (Good question.)
If so would it be the person that Topaz gets mad at?
RAFO on the second one. I've already given you too much!
A manifestation of Ruin's gathered consciousness, much like the dark mists in book two. The lake was still around in Vin's era, but had been moved under ground. (Note that the Well is a very similar manifestation. You've also seen one other manifestation like this....)
The "lake" was barely ten feet deep—more like a pool. Its water was a crystalline blue, and Raoden could see no inlets or outlets.If that's what you're hinting at...I never thought of the connection before! I just kept thinking of Aether of Night, and never thought of this pool at all.
Both are accurate, but the first is what I meant, as most people here don't have access to Aether.
I'm also thinking that the Dor in Elantris is another Shard of Adonalsium. Certainly in the Elantris world, where the Dor came from is rather ambiguous, which I expected it would be. Of course, if other Shards of Adonalsium do exist, the Dor could have come from that source.
I will RAFO from here on the other Shards of Adonalsium, as it would be better for me not to give spoilers. Please feel free to speculate. Readers have met four shards other than Ruin and Preservation.
Have we met these four by name, or just by influence? I can't think of a name that would go with the one that the Elantris lake is a manifestation of.
Hoid could be one? I know nothing his purpose other than that he shows up in lots of different books, sometimes begging and sometimes telling stories. Since most of these series happen on different planets (though two of them may happen on the same planet as each other), I'm assuming he has mad planet-hopping skills.
Ookla, I'm going to be tight lipped on this, as I don't want to give things away for future books. But I'll tell you this:
You've interacted with two directly.
One is a tough call. You've never met the Shard itself, but you've seen its power.
The other one you have not met directly, but have seen its influence.
I thought Nightblood was explained sufficiently for my tastes in Warbreaker, so I doubt that it is a Shard, but I've been plenty wrong before. Also, I don't know if Hoid could even be a Shard. Certainly he has mean planet-hopping skills, but I don't know what purpose a celestial storyteller would have in this universe. He doesn't really have the same kind of power as Ruin or Preservation did, so normally I would rule him out right off the bat. But it is possible that these Shards come in many shapes, not just in the near-deific quantity Ruin or Preservation had. I think it's a bit of a stretch to say Hoid is a Shard... but, then again, I don't have any ideas for what those four other Shards are.
Maybe Hoid is just a traveler trying to find remnants of Adonalsium and stories about them. He doesn't need to be a shard, I suppose.
This is slightly a tangent, but here is a relevant chunk from the Warbreaker Annotations. As this won't be posted for months, I'll put it here as a sneak preview.
This whole scene came about because I wanted an interesting way to delve into the history. Siri needed to hear it, and I felt that many readers would want to know it. However, that threatened to put me into the realm of the dreaded info dump.
And so I brought in the big guns. This cameo is so obvious (or, at least, someday it will be) that I almost didn’t use the name Hoid for the character, as I felt it would be too obvious. The first draft had him using one of his other favorite pseudonyms. However, in the end, I decided that too many people would be confused (or, at least, even more confused) if I didn’t use the same name. So here it is. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about. . .well, let’s just say that there’s a lot more to this random appearance than you might think.
Brandon, I believe in one of Sazed's epigraphs, he actually called it "Adonasium" rather than what you are referring to here, which is "Adonalsium". I'm thinking that's just a typo, right?
I don't suppose you could tell us which book series of yours will tell us more about Adonalsium, would you? You know, just so us theorizers on the forum know when to properly theorize about these things...
Well, I guess this means that the proofreaders did not add the "L" when I marked the error on the manuscript.(sigh). Yes, the correct spelling is Adonalsium. I will try to get this fixed for the paperback, but I've been trying to get that blasted steel/iron error in the back of book one fixed for two years now. . .
If it helps, Sazed would probably under-pronounce the "L" as that letter, like in Tindwyl's name, is said very softly in Terris.
As for your other question, you will have to wait and see. Now, you could search my old books for clues, but I would caution against this. While there are hints in these, they are not yet canon. Just as I changed how things were presented in the Mistborn books during editing, I would have fixed a lot in these books during revision. Beyond that, reading them would give big spoilers for books yet to be released. White Sand, Dragonsteel, and Way of Kings in particular are going to be published some day for almost certain. (Though in very different forms). Aether of Night should be safe, as should Final Empire prime and Mistborn prime, though of those three, only Aether is worth reading, and then only barely. (It is still pretty bad).
This essay I just posted:
Started as a blog post for this thread, talking about the old books I wrote to give context to my previous post. It outgrew the length of a proper forum post, so I put it on the site instead. But this might help you understand some of my history as a writer, not to mention explain the origin of all these old books Ookla that references all the time.
I remembered a thread from ages ago in which Brandon posted a list of the books he'd written, I looked it up when I realised it wasn't in the article, and I figured you guys might be interested too, so here it is.
1) White Sand Prime (My first Fantasy Novel)
2) Star's End (Short, alien-relations sf novel.)
3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime)
4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy.)
5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Far future sf involving immortal warriors)
6) Elantris (You have to buy this one!)
7) Dragonsteel (My most standard epic fantasy
8) White Sand (Complete rewrite of the first attempt)
9) Mythwalker (Unfinished at about 600 pages. Another more standard epic fantasy.)
10) Aether of Night (Stand-Alone fantasy. A little like Elantris.)
11) Mistborn Prime (Eventually stole this world.)
12) Final Empire Prime (Cannibalized for book 14 as well.)
13) The Way of Kings (Fantasy War epic. Coming in 2008 or 2009)
14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (Coming June 2006)
15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (Early 2007)
16) Alcatraz Initiated (YA Fantasy. Being shopped to publishers)
17) Mistborn: Hero of Ages (Unfinished. Coming late 2007)
18) Dark One (Unfinished. YA fantasy)
19) Untitled Aether Project (Two sample chapters only.)
Thanks for posting that. Note that I can never quite remember which was first, Aether or Mistborn Prime. I always feel that Aether should be first, since it wasn't as bad as the two primes, but thinking back I think that the essay is more accurate and I wrote it between them.
This would be the new list:
1) White Sand Prime (My first Fantasy Novel)
2) Star's End (Short, alien-relations sf novel.)
3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime)
4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy.)
5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Far future sf involving immortal warriors)
6) Elantris (First Published)
7) Dragonsteel (My most standard epic, other than the not-very-good Final Empire prime.)
8 ) White Sand (Complete rewrite of the first attempt, turned out much better.)
9) Mythwalker (Unfinished at about 600 pages. Another more standard epic fantasy.)
10) Aether of Night (Stand-Alone fantasy. A little like Elantris.)
11) Mistborn Prime (Shorter fantasy, didn't turn out so well.)
12) Final Empire Prime (Shorter fantasy, didn't turn out so well.)
13) The Way of Kings Prime (Fantasy War epic.)
14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (Came out 2006)
15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (Came out 2007)
16) Alcatraz Verus the Evil Librarians (Came out 2007)
17) Mistborn: Hero of Ages (Came out 2008)
18) Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones (Came out 2008)
19) Warbreaker (Comes out June 2009)
20) Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia (November 2009ish)
21) A Memory of Light (November 2009ish. Working on it now. Might be split into two.)
22) The Way of Kings Book One (2010ish. Not started yet.)
23) Alcatraz Four (2010. Not started yet)
Will elements of your untitled Aether project be worked into the Dragonsteel series?
The Silence Divine (Working title. Stand alone Epic Fantasy. Unwritten.)These titles are news to me. You described two potential YA or middle-grade books to me and Karen when you came out to Book Expo, plus Dark One, but now I can't remember the plots except they were cool (and that one of them involved superheroes). Are they among this list? Also, is that really Harbringer or is it supposed to be Harbinger?
Steelheart (YA Science Fiction. Unwritten)
I Hate Dragons (Middle Grade fantasy. Maybe an Alcatraz follow up. Unwritten.)
Zek Harbringer, Destroyer of Worlds (Middle Grade Sf. Maybe an Alcatraz follow up. Unwritten.)
Bah! That's what I get for typing so quickly. Yes, Harbinger. It should be "Zeek" too. Short for Ezekiel.
Steelheart would be the superhero one, though that's a working title, since I'm not sure if it's trademarked or not. Haven't had much time for thinking about any of these books lately.
Brandon, here you said Alcatraz 4 is called Alcatraz vs. The Dark Talent; is that still the working title? Also, you mentioned Dragonsteel: The Lightweaver of Rens, but now you say The Liar of Partinel is a standalone. Change of plans? (I know you can't get back to Dragonsteel for a while.)
The Alcatraz titles are in flux because I need to know if Scholastic wants the fifth one or not. (They only bought four.) Dark Talent will be one of them for certain.
The Liar of Partinel was part of a two-part story told hundreds of years before the Dragonsteel epic. However, since I've dropped plans to go with Liar anytime soon—A Memory of Light has priority, followed by Way of Kings—I don't know what I'll end up doing with the second book, or if I'll ever even write it. I was planning on not calling either of these "Dragonsteel" in print, actually, and just letting people connect the two series on their own. It wouldn't be hard to do, but I didn't want the first actual book in the main storyline to be launched by Tor as "Book Three" since there would be such a large gap of time.
How did the whole cosmere come about?
Oh that's a good question, the cosmere came about because- there's really two genesis' of it. First off I'm a big fan of Asimov's work and if you know Asimov's work he tied his two universes together later in his life and I thought he did a brilliant job of it, though patching it together later in his life as he did there were certain continuity problems in doing it and I always thought "Boy, I bet he wished he'd done it from the beginning".
So, as I started to work on things, I thought "Well why don't I try something like that from the beginning." Once again I got to see what one of the masters did and learn from them, stand on their shoulders.
The other thing is early I realised that if I were writing mini-books then writing them all in the same series would be a bad for getting published, let's say I wrote five, I'm gonna write five books and a publisher rejects the first one. If the other four are in the same series, it's going to be very hard to convince that publisher to read book two if they've already said no to book one. However, if they are five standalone books, set in different worlds, then I can say if someone says "I liked this book but not enough to publish it," I could send them another one and say "Hey this one is different but similar maybe you'll like that." It just increased my chances.
The problem with that is I grew up reading the big epics and I love big epics and they are the books of my heart, like the Wheel of Time. I wanted to write big epics and so I started writing a secret big epic. It started with Elantris, which is the first one that I wrote in the Cosmere and right after it Dragonsteel, which is actually a prequel but in a different universe. I started putting characters from each of these books in the other books to have what I call a hidden epic, mostly for myself, because I had all these books I was going to be selling and marketing separately. But when Elantris sold, all of that stuff was buried in there, and I said "Well, I love it, I'm not gonna cut it, I'm just gonna put it in there to see if people notice." I'm going to keep telling my hidden epic because eventually I will be telling the greater story with Dragonsteel and the third Mistborn trilogy dealing with these things and so that's where the idea for the cosmere came from, those two pieces.
In reading the Way of Kings a very Ben Hur vibe can be felt from Kaladin., was this intentional and what other genres were your inspiration?
I wouldn’t say that I was specifically shooting for that vibe, certainly I am influenced by all the things around me, I was just looking to tell a really great story, and this is the story that came out. It was Kaladin's story in specific, it was - the genesis of the story was actually the Shattered Plains themselves, the area. I write fantasy and one of the reasons that I write fantasy is I want to tell stories about places that don’t exist, that maybe couldn’t exist in our world and so the geography of the shattered plains is sort of what appealed to me. I’d actually been planning this for many years and extrapolated from there, how would warfare be like in this place and then I extrapolated from there, what are they going to need, what types of troops. And Kaladin as a person was growing separately, and I just wanted the best place to put in- the place of most conflict and it ended up being that.
Plot-wise to be perfectly honest I was looking more at- when I was building this plot- underdog sports narratives. To be perfectly honest, I like to, when I look for inspiration in plotting sequences I like to look far afield to try and take things and pull them into my books so that we aren’t getting some of the same repeated dealings over and over again. But certainly historical works like the ones you mentioned are a big part of my make up as well.
Was Kaladin supposed to be Originally with the bridge crew or was that something that just built from while you were writing?
It’s actually built at the planning, it was not originally, in fact I did an entire draft of the Way of Kings, in 2003, so seven years ago, the version of the Way of Kings I wrote then didn’t have him as a member of the bridge crews at all. In fact the Shattered Plains weren’t even in Roshar at that point. They were something I’d been developing for another series and when it came time to do this version of this draft I hadn’t exactly been pleased with the one I wrote in 2003, I wanted to do the book again, actually tossed all that and started from scratch.
I was looking for a really strong visual setting location for Kaladin's story to take place. I was building him separately as the soldier, and the surgeon, with both two sides of him warring within him at this part. This part of this book for me is about the contrast between the sides of, different sides of people, people who have different things pulling on their insides trying to wreck them, so I was looking for a great setting location and the Shattered Plains through various- actually doing artwork, some of the concept art for the world. I was working with an artist, just to give myself a better visual handle on things. The Shattered Plains appealed to me, it worked and so I built it in and it all kinda came together.
We also meet three other people who can travel between the worlds, two of whom we've met before (one in Elantris and one in Mistborn), who are apparently trying to track Hoid down.
Brilliant, just brilliant.
This really makes me excited to meet Blunt from Dragonsteel.
Blunt is NOT from Dragonsteel. :)
Are you planning to revise these books that haven’t been published and to reinvent them, so to speak?
If I do, I will write them from scratch. That’s what I did with Way of Kings when it came time to actually publish it—I sat down and wrote from page one to the end again, and threw away what I’d done just because my skills as a writer have gotten better. There is one book in that era—I guess there are two—that I will do for sure. But I will write them over from scratch. I always want to be releasing new stuff; I don’t want to—as my agent puts it—pull a novel out of the trunk and say, ‘Here, read this.’ But they are part of this grand story that I’m telling, so we will get to them.
The thing about it to remember is that I want each of my stories, series and books to stand on their own. Even though there is this behind-the-scenes story, that won’t come to the forefront unless I do a story dedicated entirely to it. I don’t want you to have to have read Mistborn to read Way of Kings. They’re the Easter eggs; they’re all going to be Easter eggs unless I write a series all about them. In which case you’ll be brought up to speed very quickly, because the series will be out about them: you won’t have to read everything to understand that series.
That sounds great.
I've read a bit online about how you have an overall storyline covering all of your novels, but I really don't know much about it. I was wondering if you could expand and explain.
Okay. The overarching story of all of my novels. This warrants some backstory. If you weren't familiar, I wrote thirteen novels before I sold one. I spent a lot of time practicing and learning, and I love big epic grand series. However, you know, you can't grow up reading the Wheel of Time without loving big series, but advice I heard early on was, selling a big series is actually pretty hard from a new author and if you, for instance, spend your life and you write like six books in the same series, and you send off the first book to someone and they don't buy it, you can't really send them the second book because, you know, they've already rejected that, and so it's really putting all of your eggs into one basket, and that doesn't end up working out for some people. I didn't want to do that; I wanted to expand my chances, and so I wrote thirteen novels in different worlds, all with their own different magic systems and own characters. But secretly I loved the grand epic, and so I started connecting all these worlds during my unpublished era, and telling a hidden epic behind them all that I was setting up for.
Well, eventually I sold book number six, and embedded in book number six was a bunch of this stuff for the hidden epic, of course, and six is actually one of the ones where I first started doing this. My first five were kind of throwaway novels. It was six, seven, eight, and nine that were really involved in this. Six was Elantris; seven was a book called Dragonsteel; eight was a book called White Sand; and nine was a book called Mythwalker, which eventually became Warbreaker, which I eventually rewrote and released as Warbreaker. So that four-book sequence was very ingrained in this kind of hidden story behind the stories. When I started publishing these books, I just kept it going, the hidden story, the hidden epic.
Now one aspect of this was that I didn't want people to have to know all the books that came before to understand what was happening in any one of them. So, for instance, if you read these you don't need to know anything about the hidden epic. It is back there behind the scenes for some day when I actually write a series dedicated to it, that there will be all this foreshadowing, but it will never directly and in really important ways influence a given series. For instance, you don't have to have read Elantris to understand Mistborn even though technically they're sequels; Mistborn is technically a sequel to Elantris, just set on a different planet.
There is one character who has appeared in all of my novels, and several other characters who have jumped between novels. For instance there's a character from Elantris who is in The Way of Kings—one of the main characters from Elantris shows up in Way of Kings under hidden auspices, but it's pretty obvious; the fans found it really fast, those who were watching out for it—but that sort of thing. So, there is a story going on behind all of this that I will eventually tell, but what do you need to know about it right now? That all of these things are basically Easter eggs right now. None of them are dominating the storyline at all; it's just a bunch of cool Easter eggs that eventually will mean something to you. So the character to watch out for is called Hoid; it's a pseudonym he usually uses—pseudonym is I guess the wrong term; the alias he normally uses—and he's all over in the books, so if you watch out for him you'll see him.
He's referenced in The Emperor’s Soul, but he got cut from the book. I actually wrote the scene with him in it, but it didn't fit so we had to cut it.
Are we ever going to get his origin story, or learn more about him?
Yes, we definitely will learn more about him. A book that has more of him is Dragonsteel, which I wrote when I was undergraduate as my honors thesis. It's not his origin story, but it's one he's mostly part of. We will find out everything, and get the complete story for him. It will happen eventually.
Well, I look forward to reading more about him... He's an interesting character.
I didn't write down specifics on anything that I hadn't heard discussed before in the reread or on Theoryland or that I didn't feel was new information. Here's a quick summary:
There were approximately 4 "process-type" questions;
There were 2 Mistborn questions and 1 Mistborn game question;
Harriet was asked a generic question about RJ;
There was one question that was RAFO'd (The Tuatha'an and the finding of the Song);
There was a question about Hoid and when he started appearing in Brandon's books (Brandon's 6th book, Elantris was listed as Hoid's first appearance; his next was in BWS's 7th book, Dragonsteel, then in his 8th book, White Sand);
Brandon recommended the works from authors Brian McClellan and Brent Weeks, and the novels A Fire Upon the Deep and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms;
Harriet told the story of how she heard about and ultimately selected Brandon to continue RJ's work;
Finally, Harriet read the "Wind" passage from A Memory of Light.
I’ve been fortunate enough to read White Sand and Aether of the Night and I enjoyed them very much. Will they ever be published? I also managed to read Dragonsteel and I enjoyed that too.
White Sand will definitely eventually be published. Aether of The Night, not so sure on, because Aether is two halves of two books that didn't fit together. The two pieces didn't mesh. White Sand is part of the sequence and will be done. Dragonsteel is part of the sequence and will be done, but it will be very different now that the Shattered Plains have been used in Way of Kings.
BOOKS YOU WILL SEE SOON: (The books that are done.)
The Rithmatist (once named Scribbler): Summer 2013
Steelheart: Fall 2013 or spring 2014.
BOOKS YOU WILL SEE SOMEWHAT SOON: (Working on right now.)
Stormlight 2: Hopefully Fall 2013.
Shadows of Self (New Wax and Wayne): 2014
Alcatraz 5: I own the rights again now, and hope to write this book sometime in the near future.
Stormlight 3: Goal is to write this soon after Stormlight 2
Steelheart and Rithmatist Sequels: I will probably try to do one of each of these between Stormlight 2 and 3.
Elantris 2: I'd still love to do a sequel for 2015, the 10th anniversary of the book's release.
Warbreaker 2: Long ways off.
Dark One: Unlikely any time soon.
The King's Necromancer: Unlikely any time soon.
I Hate Dragons: Unlikely any time soon.
Death By Pizza: Turned out mediocre. Won't be released anytime soon.
The Silence Divine: Will be written someday.
White Sand: Will be written someday.
Mistborn modern trilogy: Will be written during the gap between Stormlight 5 and 6.
The Liar of Partinel Didn't turn out well. Scraped.
Dragonsteel: Won't be written until Stormlight is done.
Not a lot of changes from back then, except that Steelheart got finished and Rithmatist got a release date for certain.
What time period do they all fit in, do they all fit in time- at the same time?
No, like for instance, Way of Kings and Alloy of Law are pretty close to one another but Elantris is fairly far before them. So far I’ve written them chronologically basically, except I’ve skipped certain stories, like there’s a series called White Sand which is in the middle there somewhere which will actually be a jump back in time when I end up doing it and some things like that. And Dragonsteel is like way at the beginning which I’ll eventually do but I’ve done them chronologically so far.
The origin of The Rithmatist
Six years ago, I was writing a book that I hated.
Now, that's both rare and common for me at the same time. I tire of pretty much every book I work on at some point, usually during the revision process. I push through and get over it. That's what you do as a writer. By the time I'm done with the process, I'm tired of the book—but it's the good kind of tired. The "I worked hard, and now have something awesome to show for it" tired.
Unfortunately, that wasn't happening for this book. Called The Liar of Partinel, every chapter was a chore to write. Though it had started very well, it continued to spiral farther and farther down the drain. I was familiar enough with my own writing by this point to realize the problems with Liar wouldn't work themselves out. The characters were boring, the plot forced. The worldbuilding elements never quite clicked together.
It had been years since I'd had such a bad feeling about a novel. (The last time, in fact, was Mythwalker—my sixth unpublished book&mdsah;which I abandoned halfway through.) Part of the problem, I suspect, had to do with my expectations. Liar, set in the same world as Dragonsteel, was to be the origin story of Hoid, the character who has appeared in all of my Cosmere novels. (Information here—warning, big spoilers.)
I needed Hoid's story to be epic and awesome. It just wasn't. And so, I ended up "hiding" from that novel and working on something else instead.
The Rithmatist. It started with some drawings and a purely creative week sketching out a world, characters, and magic. That week is the exact sort that turned me into a writer in the first place, and was a distinct contrast to the grind that had been Liar. I abandoned the book and dove into The Rithmatist (then called Scribbler), and wrote a book where everything just came together. It happens sometimes. It just works, and I can't always explain—even to myself—why.
I finished the first draft of the book in the summer of 2007. In the fall, I got the call regarding the Wheel of Time, and my world transformed forever. The Rithmatist, though an awesome book, languished for years because I didn't have the time to devote to it. Doing a tour or contract for another teen book was impossible at that time, and beyond that I couldn't commit to writing any sequels or even doing any revision for the novel.
I did tell Tor about it, though, and they started to get excited. The publisher tried several times to get me to release it, but I didn't feel the time was right. I couldn't let my attention be divided that far. I was already stretched too thin, and I wanted my attention (and that of my readers) to be on the Wheel of Time.
The month A Memory of Light was done and turned in, however, I called Tor and told them it was time to move forward. I'm pleased to be releasing the book now, when I can give it the attention it deserves.
And hopefully someday I'll be able to fix The Liar of Partinel. (At this point, I'm feeling I need to rewrite it as a first-person narrative, though making that switch is going to cause an entire host of problems.)
Anyway, thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoy The Rithmatist.
How old is Hoid? Or better yet (to avoid any trickiness), how many years has he lived through?
He's been alive since Dragonsteel. However, he may not have spent all of that time awake and alert.
There's a number of your early works like White Sand and Dragonsteel which haven't actually been published. What's your take on them? Will they eventually be published? Are they fine to read, or are they effectively spoilers for plot elements you might reuse in other books.
White Sand is fine to read—it is part of the shared universe of my books, and I will eventually be writing it. It's not a terrible book, but not fantastic either. If you email me, I'll send it to you. Dragonsteel, however, has some major spoilers for various books, and I prefer not to send that one to people quite yet.
Over-arching thing with the Shards of Andonalsium: Brandon told me tonight that he actually has a chart/list thing with all of the books that he's planned in the shards universe. His exact words were something about having an arch over thirty-six books involving the shards of Andonalsium. Which makes me wonder if we're going to get some of the story about Andonalsium. He also said that there were only a few lines in each book to give us clues. Apparently there's something in the HoA, but I didn't notice anything when I read through it. Of course, I wasn't looking for it. He mentioned that there were 36, or possibly 38 (he couldn't remember which) books that would be in this universe. They included all of the Mistborn books (all 3 trilogies), all of the Stormlight Chronicle, all of Dragonsteel, Elantris, Warbreaker, White Sands, the other book that I mentioned but can't remember the title of, and others. I'm excited.
A question that has it’s roots in Dragonsteel. When Ruin changes words, is he actually changing words,or is he changing what people see?
Did we canonize this question Peter? I’m pretty sure we did. I thought we answered this one already.(It’s not in our records if he did)
Let’s just say that most of the time, Ruin was searching for a place to transition, where he could change what was being trans-transcribed. Or what was being heard, or what was being said.
That’s pretty interesting.
So the easiest time for him is when a scribe is writing in a new book, he’s copying a new book down, and he just pops in and changes the words.
Okay. That makes sense.
Yes. You eventually know his real name, but it depends on what you define as real.
So also, regarding the magic systems and stuff, I hear you have another book that's unpublished and that you can send it to people.
Yes, just drop an email, say that you want a copy of White Sand. It's okay. It's not great.
I also heard he was part of your unpublished Dragonsteel.
And is that a series you are going to be publishing?
I will eventually rewrite it, it is not up to my current standards. I consider the events that happen in it basically to be canon. With some exceptions, like for instance when I originally wrote Dragonsteel the Shattered Plains were there and Dalinar was there and I split off Way of Kings into its own book. I took half of what had been Dragonsteel and made it into the Stormlight Archive and I split half of it off onto a separate planet. If you were to read it, you can check it out from BYU, half of it will be a less well-written version of the Shattered Plains sequence of Way of Kings and the other half is Hoid's story. And Hoid's story stuff is still kind of canon but the rest...
It's actually first.
Oh really? So it's like a prequel to everything?
Yes, to the cosmere.
So is it going to do the breaking of the Shards?
Yes, I smile inwardly as I say that, because I know that--indeed--I don't use a lot of dragons. I do like reading about them, but I haven't found myself eager to put them into my works. I think it's because I've read so many excellent dragon books, I figure, that area of fantasy is being covered by others--and I should try different things.
That said, Dragonsteel has dragons, and so you will eventually see them there. I don't know that I'll do them before.