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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."

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  • 1

    Interview: Apr 3rd, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Now, a response to New Spring.

    As I mentioned, I've finished reading through the entire WoT series again and have moved on to actually working on Book Twelve. (Two chapters writing are done as of right now, by the way. Neither were chapters that Mr. Jordan left any actual prose for, as I'm practicing with writing particular characters, and want to get a feel for writing them. I'm writing them and sending them to the experts in Charleston for feedback as I adapt my style to writing in the Wheel of Time world.) Anyway, I'm behind on these blog posts, and so while I read New Spring a few weeks back now, I'm only now doing a response for it.

    I've said before that I think Mr. Jordan's greatest strength as a writer was his ability to do viewpoint with such power. His second-greatest strength was probably his ability to plot on the large scale, planning for things that weren't going to happen for several books, leaving foreshadowing for novels that wouldn't be written for years. As part of that, he knew what happened in the past with his characters to a far greater extent than I think most writers do.

    New Spring seems to me an experiment in showing off these strengths. Here we have two characters from the main series shown many years before. I am impressed at how well Mr. Jordan was able to make these characters feel twenty years younger, yet at the same time show them being the same people. Both Moiraine and Siuan exemplified this, and it was interesting to read from a writer's viewpoint, as I was aware of how tough this must have been to pull off.

    What happens itself is less interesting only in that we already know most of it. (The classic problem with prequels, after all, is that you generally already know how it will end.) While I enjoy a good prequel, the feeling is different than it is for a main-line story. Reading a book like New Spring is more of a fan experience for me, as I get to see how Lan and Moiraine met, and we get a record of the infamous river dunking. Despite what the cover says, I wouldn't say this is the "New starting point" for the Wheel of Time. That's why I read it here, when it was written, rather than when it occurred in the series chronologically. Half of the fun of this book comes from having read the other books in the series first.

    It was strange to read a book from Robert Jordan that was only 120k long, though. I remember when I first saw it, years ago. I thought "Man, that's barely a short story!" 120k. Barely a short story. That would be a LONG book in many genres. Here, it's tiny. (Like many of you probably did, I can remember being annoyed at getting a prequel instead of the next novel in the series. Now I'm happy to have it, though, as it's one of our only glimpses into the world pre-Rand.)

    Anyway, it was great seeing Siuan being a punk. I think her character in this added the most to my understanding of the series as a whole. Lan was pretty much Lan, and while Moiraine was interesting, I found myself liking Siuan more. Perhaps because I really enjoy her storyline in the main series.

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  • 2

    Interview: Apr 9th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    As you might have noticed, things have been a tad dead here this week. That's because I've been out here in Charleston visiting Robert Jordan's house. Harriet, Alan, Maria, and I have been working on things for Book Twelve, and there was also a panel at The Citadel (where Mr. Jordan went to college) about Mr. Jordan and his effect on the fantasy genre. Harriet wanted me to be part of it, and I was very happy to do so. (David Drake also flew in to sit on the panel. I know it was video taped; I don't know if it will get posted anywhere. If it does, I'll try to get a link up here for you all.)

    Regardless, it's been a busy few days. I flew out on Monday and have to be back on Thursday to teach my class. However, we've put our time to very good use, working out the outline for Book Twelve. (There were some holes in the plot and questions about characters we needed to work through.) Maria put it best with some of these holes: It's like we're putting together a jigsaw. We need to sift through Mr. Jordan's notes and figure out what he wanted to have happen, then figure out the best way to make it happen.

    This, of course, is only for the sections that are more ambiguous. We're doing our best to make certain this book has as much of Mr. Jordan in it as possible.

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  • 3

    Interview: Apr 13th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, I'm back from my trip to Charleston. We got some really good work done and I'm excited to get back to writing. Expect that percentage bar to go up a couple more points this week. Just so that you know, I've decided to use 400k as the wordcount basis for the progress bar. I'm still not sure how long the book will be—it could be longer than that, it could be shorter—but that seemed an appropriate base line. I'll be able to tell you more as the process continues.

    Look for a Knife of Dreams blog post soon, as well as some regular updates. For now, a couple of links.

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  • 4

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    You may have noticed that the progress bar on A Memory of Light moved up pretty quickly last week. That was due to a number of factors—one of which being that I knew I wouldn't be able to get as much done this week. I teach a class at the local university occasionally, and final projects just came in. That means I get to spend a lot of time this week grading. In order to keep up with my work on A Memory of Light, I decided to really push the writing hard last week.

    My goal is to get two or three percent each week done on the rough draft. Some weeks may go faster, others slower, depending on how much of Mr. Jordan's original material I have for a given week's work. Remember that the progress bar is based on 400k at the end (which is only a guess) and so 1% is equal to 4k writing on the rough draft.

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  • 5

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 2008

    Wilson Grooms

    Family, friends and fans of fantasy gathered at The Citadel on Tuesday 8 April 2008 to dedicate a permanent memorial to my brother/cousin, James Oliver Rigney, Jr. This was a celebration of Jim's life and his work. I would be lying were I to tell you I was looking forward to the event. We had assembled only a few weeks earlier at the Citadel to induct Jim into the South Carolina Author's Hall of Fame. That evening had propelled me back to the awful moments in September when we lost Jim. Both Harriet and I were in dread of the same happening yet again. It didn't. Rather the opposite.

    Harriet had told us all, Onward, still she and I (and I'm sure the rest of the family) were mired in that part of grieving that causes us to hang on, denial. Only a day before, Harriet had rolled up her sleeves and dove headlong into the first chapter of A Memory of Light. She, Jim's loyal staff and Brandon were hard at work on the book. She called me to share that and her excitement was obvious. She sounded like a new woman. Harriet told me that she finally knew that Jim wasn't coming back. That doesn't mean that she doesn't still hurt. The hurt will never totally subside, but now it doesn't interfere with going "onward". Indeed it helps to maintain purpose and focus.

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  • 6

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 2008

    Wilson Grooms

    I teased you before with A Memory of Light. You all know the timing, and that hasn't changed. But as I listened in on the exchange between Harriet, Maria (a walking dictionary of the books), Alan and Brandon, I couldn't help but get even more excited. You all know that Jim told me in great detail, the bones of the book and very vividly described the last scene. Still, listening to the team working collectively on the minute details, hearing the excitement in their voices, feeling the electricity in the room made me want to stay till we were done. I lingered for a moment before leaving watching them sitting around the dining room table where we had shared so many meals, stories and good times. As with most families, our family members have assumed places at the table where we normally sit. I smiled when it struck me that sitting in Jim's place was the man tapped to finish Jim's work, Brandon. I'm sure Jim was smiling too. Onward!

    Wilson

    Brother/Cousin

    4th of 3

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  • 7

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 2008

    Jason Denzel

    We also received some additional words and photos from Alan Romanczuk, one of Jim's assistants. Here's what he writes:

    Alan Romanczuk

    Jim's memorial case was put on permanent display in The Citadel library on the 8th of this month. It's a beautiful piece of work, and is probably worth more than some of the houses in the neighborhood. On display are a variety of artifacts representing different periods of Jim's life, and include photographs, articles of clothing and accessories, weapons, everything one would expect to give insight into the personality and experiences of this complex and fascinating individual.

    Jim's Harriet convened a panel to discuss his life and literary works before an audience that filled one large section of the library. The panel was comprised of [I'm doing this in order of position, from the left, in the photo shown above] David Drake, famous author of fantasy and military science fiction, and friend/admirer of Jim and Harriet's for many years; Brandon Sanderson, talented young fantasy writer who was selected to finish the last volume in the Wheel of Time series; Michael Livingston, Assistant Professor of English at The Citadel, specialist in medieval studies and author in his own right, who is dedicated to ensuring that Robert Jordan's work be recognized by scholars to be among the masterpieces of world mythology; and, standing, Harriet. The discussion lasted about a hour, and included questions and comments from the audience. All in all, it was a stimulating evening, a fitting tribute to Jim, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. It also gave Brandon the opportunity to say for the first time, "Read and Find Out."

    Footnote

    The photos are no longer available online.

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  • 8

    Interview: Apr 28th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Last week, with the pile of final papers I had to grade (thirty pages from thirty students, so around a thousand pages of reading material plus computations of final grades and all of that) I only managed to get 3k written. (My weekly goal is 10k.) Fortunately, with the previous week's extra writing (I think I did closer to 15 or 16k that week) I'm still pretty much on target. I did 1k earlier today, so that—with last week's—gets us one more blip forward on the progress bar.

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  • 9

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Revision on the Wheel of Time material goes well. I'm clipping along, and should be able to get it done by the end of the week. I've also been able to write a little new material, which is comforting, as that bar has been stuck at 25% for far too long. (We've moved to 26 now.)

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  • 10

    Interview: May 2nd, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, after about a month of procrastination, I'm finally getting around to doing the final blog post in my series of "Wheel of Time read through" responses. Thanks to all of those who emailed me reminding me I'd never gotten around to writing a post about Book Eleven. Also, those of you at LJ, it looks like my blog-posting software skipped updating the post I did earlier in the week, so here's a link to it on my own website. You didn't miss much, just a little update explaining that I was done with the grading last week and had moved on to continuing A Memory of Light. (Also, forgive any typos in the following. I wrote it really fast, since I've still got a thousand words or so of A Memory of Light I need to get done tonight.)

    I find several things curious about Knife of Dreams. First, the pacing. This is the first book I remember feeling was moving directly toward an ending of the series. We resolve Elayne's plot to a large measure, Mat and Tuon get married, and Perrin rescues his wife. Those three things all complete major, multi-book arcs and set us up for Book Twelve. I've gotten some emails from somewhat snide readers who claim that they don't believe Mr. Jordan was planning to end the series with Book Twelve, but even if I hadn't seen the notes (which DO prove this book was to be the last) I would have believed in good faith that the ending was coming. Though I enjoy the more lethargic pacing of the previous couple books, Book Eleven's more breakneck resolution of concepts was also refreshing, if only as proof that an ending WAS coming.

    I'm not sure if Mr. Jordan is responding to comments on Book Ten by doing so much in Book Eleven. My instinct says that he wasn't. None of these plot resolutions felt rushed; they were simply all paced in such a way that book ten ended up being the 'middle' book in a lot of ways. It wasn't introducing new plots and it wasn't resolving them. It was, however, building for what happened in this book.

    It was strange reading Knife of Dreams this time as I felt a little like it is directed specifically at me. This book was, in a metaphorical sense, the 'pitch' toward me. It's the lead-in, and it was pitched quit well, directly on line. It's my job to hit that perfect pitch and send it flying.

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  • 11

    Interview: May 17th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    I finally saw Iron Man the other day. I know, I'm a little slow to the party, but I did want to get to it eventually. I love a good superhero story, which is odd, since comics never managed to grab hold of me as a kid. My guess is that I like the archetypes they deal with, but don't necessarily like the comic book format. They tend to be very large offenders in the "This will never end" department. At least with a book series, the novels form pre-defined breaks. And even a very long series like the Wheel of Time or the like has an ending out there somewhere. All you have to do is convince me that there WILL be an ending, and I'm willing to read. Most comics convince me of the opposite.

    Regardless, the movie was great. Not fantastic great—I disagree that it's the best superhero movie ever, as I'm very partial to the first two Spider-man movies, the original Superman, and the Adam West Batman movie. (Okay, maybe that last one is a bit of a joke—but honestly, both Batman Begins and the original Burton Batman movie rank very high on my list. And I do have a silly fondness for the Adam West one, plastic sharks and all.) Against those, Iron Man didn't quite hold up—but that doesn't mean it's not a great movie. Thoroughly enjoyable, excellently acted, and not TOO badly offensive in the plot department. (Though, the ending bugged me just a little.)

    To be honest—and I feel a little guilty for this—I liked Forbidden Kingdom better. Yes, it was campy. But man was it fun to watch Jacky Chan and Jet Lee act in the same movie. Another one that isn't super amazingly fantastic, but was just a good movie.

    I'm scared to go see Speed Racer. I was really hoping that it would be good, and the reviews have me paranoid. Maybe if I go with low expectations. (That didn't help with Fantastic Four, though. . . . )

    As for the signing, thanks to everyone who showed up at the library today. Wheel of Time progressed well this week, and I'm right around the 70k mark, which earns us another point on the percentage bar.

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  • 12

    Interview: May 12th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    I really need to get some annotations posted this week. Sorry for all of you waiting! They're coming. As a consolation, you can see that my primary goal of getting 10k of A Memory of Light was accomplished last week, and I was able to add 3% to the counter.

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  • 13

    Interview: Jun 15th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Last night I finished a major plot arc of A Memory of Light. This is important, since it's one of the big pieces that Mr. Jordan didn't write himself. (I figured that I would write this chunk early, rather than one of the ones that had a lot of work done on it already. That way, if I did a terrible job, there would be plenty of time for Harriet to set me straight regarding it.) I can't tell you who or what it details, but it turned out really well. I wish I could say more, but . . . well . . . I'm also happy that I can't. I'm very open with the projects I work on; that is my style. However, one of the things about the Wheel of Time has always been that Mr. Jordan releases very little information about upcoming books. That adds to the mystery and the tension, and is part of the Wheel of Time process. I will promise you, though, that just like Mr. Jordan said . . . there are dead mules in the prologue.

    So why even mention this? Well, just to let you know that the book IS continuing. It's going to be awesome. (Also, you should note that I'm at a conference this next week, and will be focusing on revising this chunk of A Memory of Light and doing a new draft of Warbreaker. So, the progress ticker may stall for a week or two. It doesn't factor in editing or revising, only rough drafting.)

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  • 14

    Interview: Jun 23rd, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Folks! I'm hard at work this week on a Warbreaker revision. It's a fact of the business that you often have to stop what you're working on to do something else, and in this case, we need to have Warbreaker ready to go by the end of July. That means that I'll be getting only a little bit done on A Memory of Light, but I will probably have yet another draft of Warbreaker ready for download in a short while. This will probably be the last one for download, as all changes after this will be done on hard copy and not the computer.

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  • 15

    Interview: Jun 23rd, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    And, as for A Memory of Light, I've been looking through what we have done and I'm very pleased with it. There will need to be edits done, of course, but I'm very excited at how this project is going. I'm still on target to get it done by the end of the year, I hope, but as I've warned before . . . this book is going to be LONG. I'm hoping to keep it to between 400k and 500k words in length, but I worry that it might stretch longer. We shall see. As everyone knows, there is a lot to tie up, and the more I work on it the more I realize that I can't place a hardfast limit on its length. It could end up at 350k,it could end up at 600k. Whatever it takes to write this story the way Mr. Jordan would have wanted it.

    Mr. Jordan promised that this would be one book, even if Tor had to invent a new binding method to print it! Well, I intend to write it as one book. However, I do want people to be aware that I have no power over whether or not this thing gets cut into two volumes after I've finished it. That will be up to the publisher and Harriet. It's really too early to tell if a cut will be considered or not. (And to be honest, I think it's unlikely that the book will need to be cut.) But I do think readers should be aware of the possibility. (Part of the reason Tor could end up having to cut it would have to do with bookstore pressures. They're already very upset with Tor at the length of its books, as they take up a lot of shelf space at the store and earn less money per inch for the booksellers than books in other genres.)

    Anyway, my job is to write the book at the length it needs to be to make the best book possible, whatever that length may be. We'll let Harriet and Tor decide how to present the final product! Keep an eye on the blog for future updates, as I'll know more about length once I've finished a few of the other sections.

    (Also, know that if Tor does decide to cut the book, I will lobby heavily for a couple of things. First, a special collector's edition with both books in one that can be ordered by the hardcore readers who want one volume. Second, to have both volumes released in stores around the same time, rather than waiting years between.)

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  • 16

    Interview: Jun 26th, 2008

    I got an email from a reader that I thought I'd share. (The email itself has been trimmed quite a bit.)

    I personally don't care if it takes you 10 years to finish A Memory of Light, time is not really important. Finishing the book as close to RJ's vision as possible is. You seem to be spreading yourself very thin while writing one of the most important pieces of literature in modern history (that might be an exaggeration, but not to me, or many others).

    I understand that this book isn't your life's work, and that you have many of your own creations that need attention, but please don't lose track of the importance of this project.

    Rick

    I was glad to get this email, as it gave me a chance to explain myself. I worried about June all the way back in January when I started this project—I knew that I was going to have to take several weeks off for the Writers for Young Readers and eventually do edits on Warbreaker and the Alcatraz books. (Though I was hoping to put them off a little longer.)

    My response (again, cut down) was:

    I just want to reassure you not to worry. I'm spread a whole lot less thin than it may seem. Actually, it's been refreshing how much time I've been able to spend writing these last few months.

    One of the things you learn quickly about being an author is the more successful you become, the less time you actually have to write. You just have to take all of these things—book tours, signings, publicity—in stride. Fortunately, since I am an author full time, I can do almost all of that and still put in fifty or sixty hour weeks working. If you'll notice the percentage bar on my website, I've completed 100k of writing since I started in March. That's over 30k a month, which is an incredible clip. Most books out there are under 100k long. Now, that's only a small dent in this particular book, true, but what that should tell you is that I've had a LOT of writing time these last few months.

    I've done WoT virtually exclusively for a good six months now, and it's not unexpected that I would have to take a few weeks to get some editing done on other projects. Don't worry, though, I'm treating this particular work with quite a bit of respect.

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  • 17

    Interview: Jun 26th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Expanding on that idea, I think it's interesting to point out just how much of a compulsive writer I am. It's what I love to do, and I spend quite a bit of my time doing it. Pretty much my whole life revolves around what I'm writing—any spare moments focus on planning, and when I take time off to relax, I generally just spend it writing. This actually worries some people who know me, who think I might need more balance in my life. I know they might have a point. (Hence my insistence to myself that I have a hobby, such as the Magic card game.)

    All of the other things—signings, conferences, writing groups—are also things I do to take time off from writing. Even if you love it as much as I do, breaks are important. Without them, you tend to rush plots and stories. Taking a week or two off after the completion of important plot sections like I just got done with in A Memory of Light actually helps the writing of the next section. Like the cracker between two tastes of cheese.

    Anyway, I just wanted to assure everyone. All of the 'other' things I do aren't taking much time away from this book that we all want to see done as soon as possible. (While still maintaining the writing quality, of course.) It's good that I have these things in life. Trust me on this one. ;)

    I do promise, however, that I've set aside REAL distractions. Namely, other books I want to write. (My readers know that I 'accidentally' write books that my editors aren't expecting. None of those for me this year.) Also, I haven't let myself play Halo 3 yet, since I know that will pretty much wipe out a week or two on its own. . . .

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  • 18

    Interview: Jul 17th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've finished through my big revision of the first section of A Memory of Light that I have done, but I'm leaving the percentage bar at 50%. I plan to turn my attention to writing the next chunk of the book, but will leave this simmering, and probably read through it one more time at the end of the month. I know that Mr. Jordan never let people read his material until he'd done several drafts, and I want to have at least read this over once more before sending it to Harriet.

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  • 19

    Interview: Jul 24th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm sorry to be so sparse with the posting this week. If you've been following the progress bar, you might have noticed that A Memory of Light jumped up one percent each day for the first three days of the week. I've been hitting the drafting hard, as I want to get a large chunk done before Worldcon distracts me in two weeks.

    I've been working on mostly material that Mr. Jordan left behind, which is the larger reason why I've been able to move so quickly. There's still a lot to do on many of these sections he wrote, however. Some are in outline form, others were dictated in an almost 'screenplay' format without anything other than dialogue. Some others are complete as-is, and I can just drop them into the document without changes.

    Overall, however, what has been left behind has allowed let me move at about double speed. We'll see if I can keep it up for another few days or so, as it would be nice to be at the 1/3rd mark by the end of the week. (Though that would take another 12k in another three days. Whew!)

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  • 20

    Interview: Jul 11th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Warbreaker 6.0 is done! I worked on it a good ten hours today, and managed to push through to the ending. I'm too tired right now to post it, but I'll get it up early next week. The revision took a little longer than I would have wanted—almost three weeks—but it feels very good to have it done and off the plate.

    That leaves only a couple of impending time-stealers from A Memory of Light. I'll need to do draft work on Alcatraz Three sometime in September, though that should be VERY quick. (It's one fifth the size of Warbreaker, and there is a lot less to do on it.) I'll also need to do the copyedit for Warbreaker; that should come sometime in November, and should take me about a week. Other than that, there are two convention visits (Worldcon and Dragon*con) and the book tour in October that will be bumps in the road. However, I'm confident that I can get a good chunk more written before Worldcon even arrives.

    Next on the plate is to do a couple solid drafts on the 25% of A Memory of Light which I've finished. I need to get it into a state that Harriet can look at and send it too her as soon as possible, as this chunk threatens to be the one that could need the most revisions. How well she thinks I did on these pages will be a very good barometer of how much draft work I'll have to do on the entire book once it's complete.

    However, I do intend to divide my time between that revision and—occasionally—dipping into writing some new words. So the percentage bar should start moving again next week, if slowly at first while I spend a lot of time drafting.

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  • 21

    Interview: Aug 9th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Brandon explains that he is writing the book according to viewpoint cluster. There are several groups of characters who follow their own plotlines until toward the end of the book—at the three-quarter or 80% mark—all the groups meet up. Brandon’s writing the book one viewpoint cluster at a time. The first cluster he focused on was Rand’s, with Rand, Nynaeve, Min, etc. Brandon has finished writing this viewpoint cluster from the beginning of the book up until that meet-up point. Now he’s working on the Perrin, Faile, Galad cluster. After this he’ll move on to Egwene and the White Tower, then Mat and Thom, and then he’ll work on a more unconnected cluster of viewpoints that aren’t as closely connected to each other, such as Elayne’s story and what’s going on with the Black Tower, etc. Then when all the viewpoints are all gathered together at the same place, Brandon will write the last part of the story up to and including the part that Jim wrote. For each group of characters there are detailed notes on who’s there and what secrets can be revealed.

    Including what Brandon has been writing during this trip (he even wrote in the car while his wife drove), he’s written almost 200,000 words so far.

    TOM DOHERTY

    “200,000?” Tom breaks in. “You told me yesterday you were a third done!” Everyone in the room does the math.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Brandon says the goal is not to leave out anything that Jim has written. As much of what he has written will make it into print as physically possible. Any manuscript words that Jim has written will go in the book. If Jim said that something has to happen, it will happen.

    TOM DOHERTY

    Tom says, “It’s sounding more and more like two volumes.”

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    This was Jim Rigney’s dying request: “Take care of the fans. Find someone to finish the book.”

    If the book does end up needing to get split, Brandon would prefer for the first half to be released in October 2009 and the second in November 2009, with a leatherbound special edition of the complete book.

    TOM DOHERTY

    Tom says, “I do not believe it’s physically possible to bind in one book.” [I’m interpreting this as a reaction to the possibility of the book being 600,000 words, and also not ruling out a special edition.]

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Brandon says, “By the way, Jim was not artificially inflating the series. He was writing what he loved.”

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  • 22

    Interview: Aug 9th, 2008

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Another fan question for Brandon: The partial first draft (approximately 25%) that he’s going to send to Harriet, will the prologue be included in that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Brandon says yes. He isn’t quite ready to send the partial draft to Harriet, but when he does send it, it will include the prologue. He did already send a single chapter of his writing of A Memory of Light to Harriet, so she’s seen some of what he’s doing with it—Moshe, who is Brandon’s usual editor for all his other Tor books, says that he has read that chapter and was impressed how much the writing to him did not sound like Brandon’s other books; he says that Brandon has really been able to adapt his style. Tom then complains that he hasn’t seen the chapter yet; “I have to wait like the rest of you!” he says to the crowd. Brandon mentions that when Jim Rigney wrote a Wheel of Time book, each book would be in a very complete and polished state before he gave it to Harriet. Brandon, however, knows that he needs Harriet’s input much earlier in the process than Jim would have—if there’s anything Brandon is doing wrong, he needs Harriet to point it out so he can fix it. For example, the feel of the characters, or if he’s not being descriptive enough—but Brandon has in the past tended to write rather rough first drafts for his own books, so he really needs to go back and polish even the first draft up before he shows it to Harriet.

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  • 23

    Interview: Sep 14th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Sending an email through a website like mine can be kind of a nebulous process. You click send, get a little "Thank you for your email!" response on the screen, then wonder where the little bits of data have flown off to.

    Here's how it goes. Whenever someone sends to me, I get an email sent directly to my inbox. It gets filtered into a special folder. I usually read the email the same day it was sent, but I don't often have time to respond immediately. Instead, I try to answer the emails in the order I got them.

    At various times, I have 'email overload' where I have trouble getting responses to everyone who has sent to me. One of these times, as you might imagine, came in December following the Wheel of Time announcement. I got hundreds and hundreds of emails that week, and felt them pile up.

    However, lately I've been doing fairly well. My response time for emails is about six weeks—however, I had an overload February-April, and so very few emails got answered through there. I still hope to get to those someday. . . .

    Anyway, if you've sent me reader mail, know that I'm answering emails from the first week in August right now. So it may be a little while before you hear from me, but you SHOULD hear eventually. (Unless book tour wipes me out again . . . )

    As for forum going, I'm still on forum hiatus. I'm too tempted by forums, and don't want to get drawn into long discussions when I should be writing A Memory of Light. I plan to return eventually. Until then, know that the best way to get hold of me is via email or posting on my LJ. I plan to do a Q&A on my own forum come October, kind of a 'virtual book signing' for anyone who hangs out there. (Also, we're working on getting a new moderator for my forums to keep an eye on things there.) I appreciate all of you who populate the forums and post such interesting thoughts and speculations; I do want to be able to respond to you in the future, but right now I'm just swamped.

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  • 24

    Interview: Sep 23rd, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Fifthly, I've finished the revision of A Memory of Light Part One, which tops out at around 250,000 words. I then sent that chunk off to Harriet for review. A lot of you have emailed to ask me what she thought of what I'd written so far. Well, this is the first sizable chunk of writing she's seen on the book, so the honest truth is that I don't know yet! I'm nervous, as can be expected. It could be months before she gets back on those pages, though. 250k is a LOT of writing. In a lot of genres, that alone would be nearly three books worth of material. Here, it's just one portion of the novel.

    Sixthly, that means it's time for me to zip on over and finish the two other edits I need to do this year. I warned you about these back in June. One is the Warbreaker Copyedit, the other is the Alcatraz Three final draft. I dove into Alcatraz last night, and the revision is going very quick and easy. I suspect that I'll be done with it by the end of the week, or early next week at the latest. The Warbreaker edit will take a tad longer, but I plan to be done with it by the time I leave on tour. That leaves me with two and a half months to finish the other 150k of A Memory of Light and meet my goal of 400k by December. It's doable, but will be close, with the book tour distracting me. Keep an eye on the website to watch and see if I make it!

    Tags

  • 25

    Interview: Sep 23rd, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Finally, I haven't posted one of these in a while, so here's an A Memory of Light relative progress list update! A Memory of Light has passed up Warbreaker, Winter's Heart, and Hero of Ages—and it's within one more percentage point of The Dragon Reborn. You can rest easy that, no matter what else happens, at least this won't be the shortest WoT book in the main series. :)

    A Memory of Light Relative Length Chart: 9/23/08

    Alcatraz/Evil Librarians 60,400
    New Spring 121,815
    Elantris 202,765
    The Final Empire 214,752
    The Path of Daggers 226,687
    Warbreaker 236,301
    Winter's Heart 238,789
    Hero of Ages 244,201
    —-A MEMORY OF LIGHT 248k So Far!—-
    The Dragon Reborn 251,392
    The Well of Ascension 252,739
    The Great Hunt 267,078
    Crossroads of Twilight 271,632
    A Crown of Swords 295,028
    The Eye of the World 305,902
    Knife of Dreams 315,163
    The Fires of Heaven 354,109
    Lord of Chaos 389,264
    The Shadow Rising 393,823

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  • 26

    Interview: Sep 30th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've begun to get pages back on the sections of A Memory of Light I sent to Harriet, and the responses are very encouraging. There are things I need to change, of course, but that's the case in any book. Mostly, she's asked me to be more descriptive in places. We've also got Alan and Maria working full time catching inconsistencies and the like. But I'm really enjoying the process. Harriet is a world class editor—she really is great at what she does.

    Tags

  • 27

    Interview: Sep 9th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    In A Memory of Light news, you might notice a little slowdown on the percentage bar these next few weeks. I need to do a revision of what I've done already and send it off to Harriet. I'll still be writing some new material, but not as much as during the break-neck speed of July and August. I'm still thinking I'm on schedule to have 400k by December 31st. Now, as to whether or not that will actually be the full novel . . . we'll see. (Hint, I'm betting it's not.)

    Tags

  • 28

    Interview: Sep 3rd, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've updated the percentage bar for A Memory of Light to reflect the work I did during the day before my departure to Dragon*Con, my days back, and the time I spent in Atlanta when I managed to do some work on the book. I figured I should also update our comparison chart, so here you go:

    A Memory of Light Relative Length Chart: 9/03/08

    Alcatraz/Evil Librarians 60,400
    New Spring 121,815
    Elantris 202,765
    The Final Empire 214,752
    —-A MEMORY OF LIGHT 224k So Far!—-
    The Path of Daggers 226,687
    Warbreaker 236,301
    Winter's Heart 238,789
    Hero of Ages 244,201
    The Dragon Reborn 251,392
    The Well of Ascension 252,739
    The Great Hunt 267,078
    Crossroads of Twilight 271,632
    A Crown of Swords 295,028
    The Eye of the World 305,902
    Knife of Dreams 315,163
    The Fires of Heaven 354,109
    Lord of Chaos 389,264
    The Shadow Rising 393,823

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  • 29

    Interview: Aug 25th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    I got a lot of feedback to my previous post about hitting the halfway point. Thank you all for your good wishes and support. Some of you had questions, and rather respond directly, I thought I'd post answers here for everyone to see.

    How do I get my wordcounts? Well, early on, I was trained to do the old "250 words per page" method which has been the historic method of doing it. To get this, you write in Courier New 12pt font with 1" margins (I think) and you generally end up getting about 250 words per page. I actually still type in Courier because of this training. Then, you can just estimate word count by how many pages you've written. (And in this method, a "word" is being defined as around six characters, not an actual full word.)

    The problem with this is that it's not really that accurate. People's computers, for some reason, often paginate the same document in different ways. Plus, I soon learned that not everyone does it this way. (And not everyone likes to write/read in Courier.) The longer I've been working in publishing, the more I've had editors and publishers just say "Use the Wordcount function on word processor." So that's actually how I go about it. Easy and simple, though it has its own problems (it counts actual words, not number of characters, so a person who uses a lot of big words can have a smaller wordcount than the size of the printed book would indicated.) Still, I think it's consistent enough for my purposes. (Note that I got the wordcounts for the Wheel of Time books on the list from Wikipedia.)

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  • 30

    Interview: Aug 25th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    The other question that popped up several times is this one: Am I including the pages that Mr. Jordan wrote in that wordcount? The answer is yes and no. What I'm doing is writing through the book by viewpoint grouping. That means I start at the beginning, then write through to near the end with a certain set of characters. Then I begin again with a new set of characters. This helps me focus in on those characters so that I don't have to keep track of QUITE so many things at once.

    When I reach a section that Mr. Jordan finished, I insert it, then keep going. So the 200k that I've "written" so far includes chunks that I didn't write. However, the unfinished portions also include large chunks of Mr. Jordan's writing that AREN'T yet included in the 200k. I'll include them when I write those characters and get to the parts he has finished. Does that make sense?

    And now, since I finished another chapter on Saturday, we have an update to our list below!

    A Memory of Light Relative Length Chart: 8/25/08

    Alcatraz/Evil Librarians 60,400
    New Spring 121,815
    Elantris 202,765
    —-A MEMORY OF LIGHT 204k So Far!—-
    The Final Empire 214,752
    The Path of Daggers 226,687
    Warbreaker 236,301
    Winter's Heart 238,789
    Hero of Ages 244,201
    The Dragon Reborn 251,392
    The Well of Ascension 252,739
    The Great Hunt 267,078
    Crossroads of Twilight 271,632
    A Crown of Swords 295,028
    The Eye of the World 305,902
    Knife of Dreams 315,163
    The Fires of Heaven 354,109
    Lord of Chaos 389,264
    The Shadow Rising 393,823

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  • 31

    Interview: Aug 22nd, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    I crossed the 50% mark on A Memory of Light last night. I still worry that this book will go longer than 400k, which means this wouldn't actually be halfway. However, it's 200k words, which is a nice milestone.

    I know that a lot of people don't know how to judge wordcounts. When I use wordcounts to say how long a book is, readers will often say "So . . . how many pages is that?" I'm never sure how to respond to this, because page counts can be rather variable. Typesetters can work some real magic with font and layout to make a page count come out the way they want, which is why a lot of industry professionals end up using wordcount instead. (Of course there are also a variety of ways of arriving at Wordcount, depending on how you count . . . )

    Anyway, I figured that I would come up with a list of books by myself and Mr. Jordan, give their wordcounts, then periodically place where this book fits into the list by comparison. Maybe that will help place where this book fits in so far.

    A Memory of Light Relative Length Chart: 8/22/08

    Alcatraz/Evil Librarians 60,400
    New Spring 121,815
    —-A MEMORY OF LIGHT 200k So Far!—-
    Elantris 202,765
    The Final Empire 214,752
    The Path of Daggers 226,687
    Warbreaker 236,301
    Winter's Heart 238,789
    Hero of Ages 244,201
    The Dragon Reborn 251,392
    The Well of Ascension 252,739
    The Great Hunt 267,078
    Crossroads of Twilight 271,632
    A Crown of Swords 295,028
    The Eye of the World 305,902
    Knife of Dreams 315,163
    The Fires of Heaven 354,109
    Lord of Chaos
    389,264
    The Shadow Rising 393,823

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  • 32

    Interview: Aug 13th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    People have already started emailing me about this.

    My response is . . . huzzah! Congratulations Harriet! I know that things have been stalled for a long time on this front, and while she mentioned to me that something like this might be coming, I didn't think it would be so soon.

    I'm afraid I'm not the one to ask about specifics, however. Even if I knew them, I wouldn't be comfortable sharing them. But I'm sure more will be coming in the future. All I will say is to remember that things like this tend to move very slowly. I hope that won't be the case here, but chances are good that it will be many years before we actually get to see the movie.

    Now, back to work on Book Twelve. . . .

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  • 33

    Interview: Oct 29th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    I managed to get through my re-read of Knife of Dreams earlier in the week, with a focus on certain characters I'm writing on right now, and so I've found time to get a few thousand words in on the rough draft. Our percentage bar ticked up by 1% for the first time in a couple of weeks.

    Remember, each of those percents means 4k words, which for a lot of writers is an entire week's worth of writing. I have a goal of 10 during good weeks, but these last few weeks I've felt very good when I've managed half of that. Usually on tour, I don't write at all. It's just too grueling to be driving to a new city each day, signing and meeting people, then spending the days visiting other bookstores and signing the books on the shelves.

    Anyway, we're still inching away toward my goal of being to 400k words by the end of December.

    Tags

  • 34

    Interview: Oct 25th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    A Memory of Light: I've had a couple of inquiries about the percentage bar here. I think I warned you way back in June that October would be a rough month for progress on the book, since it's hard to write when I'm on the road. But I'm still trying. Right now, I feel that I need to refresh my memory a little on the series, since I finished my read-through way back in March. So I'm re-reading Knife of Dreams at the moment. The progress bar doesn't reflect this, but I AM making motion through the book. I want to be careful to do the novel right. But I still anticipate being able to finish by the end of December. You may see the percentage bar tick up a few more points during the next few weeks of tour, but it's not going to go at the speed it did during August when I was pulling twelve and sixteen hour days writing because I knew that October was going to slow me down.

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  • 35

    Interview: Oct 12th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    A lot of people have been emailing me, asking about the progress of the Copy Edit for Warbreaker. Many are curious at just what a copyedit is, and whether I've hit a rough spot on the Wheel of Time book since the progress has been so slow lately.

    Don't worry—work on A Memory of Light is going just fine. No rough points here! I just had to cut back for a few weeks to take care of other obligations. (I believe I warned you about them back in June.) I pushed very, very hard through August and early September on the Wheel of Time book because I knew that I needed to get ahead in order to have a chance of hitting my deadline by December. There were weeks when the percentage bar went up four or even five percent. Lately, it's gone up one percent. Remember, however, that my normal writing goal is 10k a week, and so cutting down to 5k these last few weeks hasn't been as big a stall as it might look. (It's just a big one in comparison to the 20k I was often doing the weeks before.)

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  • 36

    Interview: Oct 12th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Anyway, for you Wheel of Time readers waiting for me to turn full attention back to A Memory of Light, this copyedit is the last big thing that I had on my plate. I still have to do an Alcatraz 3 copyedit in February or so, but it will be very short. I'm polishing off the last few bits of the Warbreaker copy edit now. The only question now—and it IS a big question—is how much I'll be able to work on A Memory of Light during book tour. I'm hoping to get back to 10k a week by writing in the car during Dave's turns driving or during points when I'm in the hotel waiting for a signing later in the night. We shall see! I'm going to give it my best shot.

    As always, folks, thanks for reading! And please consider picking up a copy of Hero of Ages this week. ;)

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  • 37

    Interview: Nov 5th, 2008

    And, speaking of A Memory of Light, I've updated the book by another percentage point, and it looks like it's time to look at our comparison chart of lengths again.

    A Memory of Light Relative Length Chart: 11/05/08

    Alcatraz/Evil Librarians 60,400
    New Spring 121,815
    Elantris 202,765
    The Final Empire 214,752
    The Path of Daggers 226,687
    Warbreaker 236,301
    Winter's Heart 238,789
    Hero of Ages 244,201
    The Dragon Reborn 251,392
    The Well of Ascension 252,739
    The Great Hunt 267,078
    Crossroads of Twilight 271,632
    A Memory of Light 272k So Far!—
    A Crown of Swords 295,028
    The Eye of the World 305,902
    Knife of Dreams 315,163
    The Fires of Heaven 354,109
    Lord of Chaos 389,264
    The Shadow Rising 393,823

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  • 38

    Interview: Nov 8th, 2008

    Alex C. Telander

    And then, A Memory of Light is due out next fall. You said, was it November, I think?

    Brandon Sanderson

    November's the goal. November is the goal. Understand that there are a whole lot of different factors going into this. It will depend on how much editing it takes, how quickly I'm able to get the characters right. I'm going to work on it, I'm working on it more than full time. I'm pulling big long hours, I'm trying to get this done as soon as possible. But, it also has to be the best book.

    ALEX C. TELANDER

    Right. So that's going to be back and forth with you and Harriet, right?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yeah, back and forth with me and Harriet. I will have the rough draft done probably by December. Right now it's October. But how long it takes to get the rough draft polished and perfected, that's the uncertain quality here. And so, the goal will be November.

    ALEX C. TELANDER

    Okay.

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  • 39

    Interview: Jan 2nd, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    Before I get into rambling, I just wanted to mention that it looks like Barnes and Noble.com sold through their copies of Mistborn Three at the 50% off sale. I don't know if they'll get any more in stock. However, my agent has said that he's seen them in bookstores at that price. The sale is supposed to run until January 20th. So if you were waiting for the paperback, you may want to consider grabbing a hardcover from your local B&N for a few bucks more. (And if they don't have any left, you can probably have them order one for you. They make great gifts! For . . . uh . . . (grabs a calendar and searches for next holiday coming up) Martin Luther King day!)

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to the new year, and what it will contain. These times also make a person retrospective about the past. It wasn't so long ago—six years now, I guess—that I had no real assurance of what the future would hold for me. I can still remember the holiday season of 2002. I had just finished doing draft work on a book called The Way of Kings during NaNoWriMo in November. It was the longest, most ambitious book I'd ever written. (More info here about that book, which I'm now calling The Way of Kings Prime, as I'm going to rewrite it soon.)

    I was pleased with it. Very pleased. But I'd spent years trying to get published with no success, and I'd just written a 300k word book in a time when everyone was telling me that 150k was too long to publish from a new author. I'd had nothing but nibbles on every novel I'd sent out, and I had no current dating prospects.

    I'm not the type to get down. I have one of those even-keel personalities, and I have a generally optimistic outlook on life and on humankind in general. But I can remember the transition that year being a tough one for me. I was in the first year of my master's program, and soon I would have to decide whether or not to apply to Ph.D. programs. That would take my life in directions I wasn't certain I wanted. A master's in creative writing can be a good shelter for someone hiding from the world and working on their writing, but a Ph.D. in literature wouldn't leave as much time by writing. I knew I couldn't keep working at a low-wage graveyard shift job for much longer, even if it gave me a lot of writing time. I would have to move on.

    I wouldn't have stopped writing. Nothing would have stopped me from that. But life was looming, and I knew it was going to steal time from my writing.

    Three months later, I got a call from Tor, and everything changed. Two years later, I met a very special woman who—finally—'got' me. That had never happened in my dating life before. I snatched her up as quickly as she would let me.

    Six years have passed. I'm helping complete the Wheel of Time. I've hit the New York Times Bestseller list. I have a movie deal. And I've got a wife and family. Life is like a flame. Sometimes it flickers along, but sometimes the right fuel comes along, and you get an inferno.

    What am I looking toward this year? Well, the release of A Memory of Light (or a part of it, if that is what Tor decides to do.) That will be a strange experience. I'll have to think a lot about how to do my signings. Right now, I draw good crowds—but nothing like what I'm sure the Wheel of Time will draw.

    Tor really wants me to complete one of my own novels this year too, otherwise there won't be a Brandon Sanderson solo release next year. That's going to be tough. Wheel of Time comes first, and I won't let myself stop and write something else even if Tor and Harriet decide to break A Memory of Light into multiple books. I will work on nothing else until at least the rough draft of this book is done. That's been my promise to myself and to the other fans. We've waited long enough for this book. I'm pretty certain I can have it done by summer, even if it goes longer than the 750k I'm anticipating. (And that really doesn't seem likely.)

    But that leaves me working very hard the second half of the year to get my next project ready. I can't rush it, either. I plan to launch a large, multi-volume epic of my own. That sort of thing requires groundwork. Fortunately, I have a 300k 'dry run through' of the book that I wrote those six years ago. It has to be scrapped entirely, of course. But six years of thinking on the book I wrote—along with many years of planning before that—have left me with the most dynamic, powerful story in my head that I've ever developed. We shall see.

    New year's resolutions? I don't really tend to make them, not in so many words. But if I were to make one, I think it would to be to keep giving that flame fuel. I'm enjoying the inferno.

    But being who I am, when that flame returns to a peaceful candle, I'll probably enjoy that as well.

    May all of you have a period in your lives like these last six years have been for me.

    Brandon
    (And sorry for the typos. Didn't have time to proofread this one before posting it.)

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  • 40

    Interview: Dec 24th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    In other news, progress on the Wheel of Time continues at a good clip. It's been a surreal, incredible year working on one of my favorite book series of all time. It still feels odd to think of myself as a fifteen year old boy, reading the beginning of Rand's story and wondering how it would end. And now I get to write that ending, or at least part of it. You may have noticed that I hit my 400,000 word goal for A Memory of Light. So, for you Wheel of Time fans, here is an updated relative lengths chart. Think of it as my Christmas present to you. A Memory of Light is now officially the longest book in the Wheel of Time Series.

    A Memory of Light Relative Length Chart: 12/24/2008

    Alcatraz/Evil Librarians 60,400
    New Spring 121,815
    Elantris 202,765
    The Final Empire 214,752
    The Path of Daggers 226,687
    Warbreaker 236,301
    Winter's Heart 238,789
    Hero of Ages 244,201
    The Dragon Reborn 251,392
    The Well of Ascension 252,739
    The Great Hunt 267,078
    Crossroads of Twilight 271,632
    A Crown of Swords 295,028
    The Eye of the World 305,902
    Knife of Dreams 315,163
    The Fires of Heaven 354,109
    Lord of Chaos 389,264
    The Shadow Rising 393,823
    A MEMORY OF LIGHT 408k So Far!—

    Looks like that chart needs some more goals on it, eh? How about this:

    Alcatraz/Evil Librarians 60,400
    New Spring 121,815
    Elantris 202,765
    The Final Empire 214,752
    The Path of Daggers 226,687
    Warbreaker 236,301
    Winter's Heart 238,789
    Hero of Ages 244,201
    The Dragon Reborn 251,392
    The Well of Ascension 252,739
    The Great Hunt 267,078
    Crossroads of Twilight 271,632
    A Crown of Swords 295,028
    The Eye of the World 305,902
    Knife of Dreams 315,163
    The Fires of Heaven 354,109
    Lord of Chaos 389,264
    The Shadow Rising 393,823
    A MEMORY OF LIGHT 408k So Far!—
    The Stand: 464,218
    Lord of the Rings: 470,000
    Les Miserables (French): 513,000
    War and Peace (English): 560,000
    Ten copies of Alcatraz: 604,000
    Atlas Shrugged: 645,000
    Entire Mistborn Trilogy: 711,692

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  • 41

    Interview: Dec 24th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    We're going to have to face facts, though. The longer the book grows, the greater the chances of it being split. The choice isn't mine on this one, I'm afraid. I feel I need to write the book at the length it deserves to be, even if that leaves it needing to be divided up by Tor and published in sections. We're nearing the time where we'll have to turn something in if we want it out by November, and while we'd like this to be one book, it might make more sense for all parties to give you some now, rather than make you wait another year to get the whole thing. (Though Orbit in the UK has decided, inexplicably, to make a new Amazon posting for A Memory of Light. Uh, that's very optimistic, folks. But we haven't even turned anything in to Tor yet. How do you know the page count? How do you even know what the title will be? If the book gets split, Harriet will have to decide what to call it. it could be A Memory of Light part one, or it could just have its own title, with A Memory of Light going to the final book after the split. The UK publisher for the WoT seems to know the answers already. There's only one conclusion I can draw from this. Orbit UK is populated with TIME TRAVELERS.)

    Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you happen to prefer to celebrate this season!

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  • 42

    Interview: Dec 19th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    A few things to point out. First off, we are at 99% (!) on A Memory of Light as of last night. We'll see if I can get some more writing done tomorrow and bring us up to the 400k mark. However, THIS IS NOT THE END. We will soon see what happens in the system when I type in 101%. I'm honestly not sure how the code will regard that.

    I'm expecting to go to 150% or so on this book, maybe 175%. It won't go to 800k, I don't think, but 600-700 seems likely. I might just keep the same progress bar and have it inch higher, since if you're following the blog, you know what that means. And if someone sees the bar for the first time, there's a chance they'll interpret it right if it shows 110% or so. Once I'm into revisions, I'll have a separate progress bar for those.

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  • 43

    Interview: Dec 17th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    As the one year anniversary of my official involvement in the Wheel of Time series came and passed last week, I thought it might be interesting to do an update of the original interview I did with Dragonmount last December. Now that I've had a chance to re-read the series and write a good chunk of the last book, have my thoughts changed? I was as curious about this as anyone, so I decided to do a quick revisit to the interview, answering the questions again in order.

    Note that I wrote this rather quickly. I assume you would all rather have me working on Book Twelve, as opposed to spending hours on blog posts. So when I had a few moments in the evening, I ran through the questions again. There are bound to be typos; please forgive them. (I hope I didn't spell any character names wrong, but where my ability to spell is involved, you never can be too certain. I live and die by my spellchecker.)

    This is intended to be lighthearted and informal. As always when I wrote blog posts, I did it in a conversational style. That's part of what allows me to do posts as often as I do; they don't require the same 'piece' of my writing mind that crafting novels does. I can relax, so to speak, and not worry about the lyricism of my words. Or even if I spelled them correctly. . . . ;)

    Enjoy!

    Footnote

    The original Dragonmount interview from December 2007 has been eaten by a Trolloc and is no longer available online.

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  • 44

    Interview: Nov 12th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Just a few little updates. Sorry the blog has been so infrequently updated lately. This touring has me exhausted, and any free time I get I need to take to work on A Memory of Light.

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  • 45

    Interview: Nov 12th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Also, many of you have asked if I'd gotten a response from Harriet on the pages I turned in. I have, but it's not that exciting to hear about. You see, I wanted to remained focused on finishing the book, and I know that if I start getting revision notes, it will draw my focus back to the parts I've already written. I can't afford that distraction unless the parts I've written are so terrible that we need to rethink how I'm approaching this book. So, I have asked to not get any revision notes until I've at least hit the 400k mark. All I wanted to know was "Should I keep going, or are there big troubles?" The response was an enthusiastic keep going.

    This book is going to take a LOT of revision. I know ahead of time that there are going to be big swaths that will need to be rewritten. But as long as what I'm turning in is pleasing enough to be workable, it's important to keep moving forward. I'm like that in writing; I like to have a rough draft to work on, rather than turning my attention back to previous sections before finishing. I need to keep momentum up. So, honestly, you know as much as I do at this point. She's pleased, but undoubtedly has large revision requests.

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  • 46

    Interview: Dec 17th, 2008

    Question

    In what ways do you think you'll have to shift your writing style to match Robert Jordan's? Will you be trying to write in his "voice", or will you approach the novel with your own?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Last year I explained the theory; now I can talk about what it's actually like. I think the blend I discussed is going very well. I'm writing through this draft as I would normally, with a focus on making the characters sound right. That's most important to me right now, followed closely by making certain the plot flows well.

    In revisions I'm being careful to enhance my descriptiveness and write the book in a way that feels correct for the Wheel of Time. This is going to take a lot of drafting—let me warn you readers, when you see that progress bar hit 100%, we're still nowhere close to being finished.

    However, I'm extremely pleased with how the book is going. I think the blend of my style with that of Mr. Jordan is proceeding very nicely. It's going to be a fantastic book.

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  • 47

    Interview: Nov 26th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've officially hit 300k words on A Memory of Light. This is an important milestone, and it's probably time to pause and answer a few questions as frankly as I can.

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  • 48

    Interview: Dec 17th, 2008

    Question

    We know that Robert Jordan left extensive notes, as well as some audio tapes and actual written parts for this novel. We know your intent is to tell his story. Having seen the outline, how much of the actual plot (the plot points, character arcs, intrigue, etc.) do you think you'll have to come up with on your own?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Another one I can answer now that I couldn't before, as I hadn't seen the notes.

    However, it's still a tough one to answer. How much do I have to make up? A lot in some places, very little in others. The interview mentioned an 'outline' above. That's a little bit of an understatement regarding what was left. The things mentioned in this question itself are more accurate.

    My goal is to retain as much of his own writing as possible, and then fill in the blanks myself. As I've promised Harriet not to talk about these things until the book is out, I feel I can't give specifics right now. Know that there are large swaths of writing to do on my own, and yet even then I feel his hand on my shoulder. Every hole has an entry point and an exit point. I know where the characters are, and I know where they have to go. Sometimes it's my choice on how to get them there. Sometimes there are notes, sometimes there are actual chunks of writing. Sometimes there isn't anything but a quick notation in that character's file explaining their final state at the end of the book.

    But this is Robert Jordan's book, not my own. I keep saying that, and I don't want the readers to think I'm approaching it any other way. It's his story, his writing, and his vision.

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  • 49

    Interview: Nov 26th, 2008

    Question

    Does it really feel like 300k is 75% of the book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. Not at all. I've said from the beginning that I'd write the book as long as it needed to be to tell the story the right way. My progress bar has always been set at 400k words, which is roughly the length of the longest Wheel of Time books. Very early in the process, I had thought that maybe I could bring it in at that length, but I realized the truth very quickly. There's just too much going on in this novel to constrict it to any artificial length. It will be as long as it needs to be.

    How long will that be? I still can't tell for certain. For a while (since July) I've been saying 600-700k. That still feels right to me. The point I've reached right now does feel vaguely halfway, perhaps just a tad less. It's hard to tell because I've never done a book like this before. I also don't know how much we'll be adding or editing out in revision even after I get the rough draft done.

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  • 50

    Interview: Dec 17th, 2008

    Question

    Which characters or plot threads are you most looking forward to writing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I said Perrin last year. This year, I'm not sure I can claim that any more. Not that my affection for Perrin has waned. I've simply spent too much time writing through the characters' eyes.

    One of the spectacular things about the Wheel of Time was the depth of characterization. No matter who's eyes you were seeing through, they felt real and lively. To each character, they are the most important person in their own story.

    As a writer, you can't play favorites. At least not when you're actually writing. When I sit down to write Egwene, she's my favorite. When I sit down to write Rand, he's my favorite. And when I sit down to write Perrin, he's my favorite.

    Through different points in the books, different characters are my 'favorite' to read about. Rand dominates my interest in books one and two, but I find myself leaning toward Perrin and then Aviendha in the next few books. Nynaeve's story in the middle end, with the rescue by Lan, is a personal favorite. Mat takes center stage after that, and Egwene is my favorite to read in Knife of Dreams.

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  • 51

    Interview: Nov 26th, 2008

    Question

    Will it be split into two books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    As I've always said, this isn't my call. Harriet and Tom will decide this. My gut instinct says yes, but I don't know how that process will proceed. I think that the best thing I can do for the Wheel of Time readers is FINISH the book, no matter how long, with as much speed as I can manage while still maintaining the highest of quality. That way, even if the novel gets split, readers can be reassured by the fact that the book IS done and that it is not going to continue on endlessly.

    One of my biggest fears is that readers will assume I'm artificially inflating the length of the book in order to keep the Wheel of Time going and bring in more cash. I promise you in all sincerity that this is NOT the case. I'm writing a single book, following the outline where I can, filling in holes where I must. We are not going to keep you juggling forever. I will finish this book as quickly as I can, so that even if the first half is released on its own, you can know that the second half is done and coming soon.

    Remember. Robert Jordan DID write the ending himself. I just have to get us there.

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  • 52

    Interview: Dec 17th, 2008

    Question

    Are there any particular aspects of the book that you think will be especially challenging for you?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Last year I mentioned the depth of the worldbuilding, and this really has been a challenge. I know there are some of you out there who can name every single Aes Sedai, their Ajah and relative strength in the Power. But I've never been that kind of reader. I've loved these books, and I've been through them a number of times (currently, I've read The Eye of the World nine times.) I know these characters—I know how to write them and how to think as them. But the side characters are a challenge to keep track of. I don't have a trivia mind. I forget the names of my OWN side characters sometimes. I know who they are, but I can't name them.

    (Fortunately, I now know that Mr. Jordan himself had trouble sometimes keeping track of them all, which is why he had assistants to help him.)

    Other than that, there have been a few characters that have been more difficult to get 'right' than other characters. The Aiel, for instance, are a challenge to make sound right. They're such an interesting people, and they see the way in such a peculiar way. I've had to spend a lot of time working on making them sound right.

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  • 53

    Interview: Nov 26th, 2008

    Question

    So . . . release date?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Sorry, but I really have no firm idea on this. I'm still hoping to get to 400k by December 31st. (Watch the website and see if I make it—it's going to be very close. I could make it still, but it will take some hard core writing through December.) At that point, I think it will be time to fly out and see Harriet again to go over the outline for the remaining portion of the book. (What we talked about during my last visit in April will bring us right up to about the point where I'll be ending in December.) At that point, we'll decide whether to press forward with the rough draft until the book is done or do some heavy revising on the first 400k to stabilize it before moving on. We'll have to talk this through, as I can't really decide which would be better. I'm of two minds on it.

    If I press forward, I could have the book finished by March or April. If we revise, it will probably be until June or July. But even that is probably an optimistic guess, since I have no idea how much time the book will need to spend in revision.

    I keep saying that I'd like to have the book out by November next year, and that's not outside reason. But we'll have to see. The last thing we want to do is release a book that feels rushed and thrown together. One thing I do know is that Tor is poised to get it through production at record speeds once we turn it in.

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  • 54

    Interview: Dec 17th, 2008

    Question

    Do you have a personal message for all the Wheel of Time fans?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Thank you for your support. The response has been fantastic. I get emails each day cheering me on.

    Thank you for your understanding. I can't replace the man you lost. But I'm doing my best to give you the book you've been waiting for.

    And finally, thank you for your patience. I'm working hard, I promise. But this book is a HUGE undertaking, and will likely be three times the size of previous books I've written. Even considering the parts Mr. Jordan finished, there's just a lot to do, and I don't want to rush an imperfect product to production. We hope to have something for you in stores by November 2009. But if it takes longer, it takes longer.

    Question

    How should fans get in touch with you?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Same as before. Through my website. As always, thanks for reading.

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    Interview: Dec 17th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    And, for fun, an update of the relative lengths chart as of today:

    A Memory of Light Relative Length Chart: 12/17/2008

    Alcatraz/Evil Librarians 60,400
    New Spring 121,815
    Elantris 202,765
    The Final Empire 214,752
    The Path of Daggers 226,687
    Warbreaker 236,301
    Winter's Heart 238,789
    Hero of Ages 244,201
    The Dragon Reborn 251,392
    The Well of Ascension 252,739
    The Great Hunt 267,078
    Crossroads of Twilight 271,632
    A Crown of Swords 295,028
    The Eye of the World 305,902
    Knife of Dreams 315,163
    The Fires of Heaven 354,109
    A MEMORY OF LIGHT 384k So Far!—
    Lord of Chaos 389,264
    The Shadow Rising 393,823

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  • 56

    Interview: Dec 10th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    One reader emailed me, noticing that the A Memory of Light progress bar has been zipping up quite quickly lately. They were wondering if I'd hit a section where Mr. Jordan had done more writing. (I can't find the actual email right now, it's buried in the inbox.) The answer, my astute reader, is yes. I've hit a section where Mr. Jordan did more work before he passed away than he did on other sections. Much of it here is in outline form or dictation form, and so I'm having to do a lot of the physical construction of the chapters, but having a detailed outline makes the process move much more quickly. That's part of why I felt I could leave 20% to be done in December and still feel I could meet my self-imposed deadline.

    We're getting much, much closer to my goal, by the way. Over 350k done so far, with less than 50k to go. Another reason it's going to well is that I was forced to spend much of the last two months doing other things. I still got some writing done, as you probably saw with the progress bar updates, but with all of the traveling I did, I had to work hard to simply get the 10k minimum goal I set for myself in a week. Now that I'm back, I'm eager to get back to work.

    This is how it often happens with me. I started writing books because . . . well, I like writing books. It's what I love to do, and those who know me will tell you that I'd probably spend sixteen hours a day working on my books if life would let me. October/November is always hard for me, since the touring keeps me from writing. It's great to tour and meet the readers, and I think it's an important part of the writing business. It helps keep me grounded and in touch with those who read my works. If I DID spend sixteen hours a day writing, with no contact with the world around me, I think my writing would become more and more insular and less relatable. (Pemberly and Limebaby's jobs, in part, are to constantly remind me that there are things to write ABOUT by making me get out of my basement and experience them.)

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  • 57

    Interview: Dec 10th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Anyway, here's a pair of updates for you.
    For the Mistborn readers, a new annotation. Chapter Fifty-One
    For the WoT fans, an update to the long-languishing relative wordcounts comparison chart.

    A Memory of Light Relative Length Chart: 11/05/08

    Alcatraz/Evil Librarians 60,400
    New Spring 121,815
    Elantris 202,765
    The Final Empire 214,752
    The Path of Daggers 226,687
    Warbreaker 236,301
    Winter's Heart 238,789
    Hero of Ages 244,201
    The Dragon Reborn 251,392
    The Well of Ascension 252,739
    The Great Hunt 267,078
    Crossroads of Twilight 271,632
    A Crown of Swords 295,028
    The Eye of the World 305,902
    Knife of Dreams 315,163
    A Memory of Light 352k So Far!—
    The Fires of Heaven 354,109
    Lord of Chaos 389,264
    The Shadow Rising 393,823

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  • 58

    Interview: Jan 19th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    As for A Memory of Light, I've been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes revisions lately. I didn't put up a progress bar for them, since they're scattered revisions here and there, and it's harder to judge when they'll be finished. It seems odd to put up a progress bar for something I know will only take one day—which some of the revisions do—but I don't know exactly how long they will take all together, or even how many there will be. I do occasionally find time to write some new material, and so I'll keep updating the main progress bar.

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  • 59

    Interview: Jan 22nd, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    The work proceeds nicely. The Wheel of Time book is interesting in that I've got a LOT of different types of feedback on it. There's Harriet, of course, but also Mr. Jordan's two assistants, Maria and Alan. They are continuity experts, and have been going through the pages I've done and have been fact checking and giving feedback on general issues as well. I had worried that having three editors on this project would make it more difficult to work on, but so far it's simply been a big help. There is SO much going on in this book and this world that having the extra sets of eyes is very helpful.

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  • 60

    Interview: Jan 23rd, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    And a little reader mail item. WoT reader Colby wrote me and asked:

    Just curious. When will you start releasing the names of some of the chapters of A Memory of Light?

    Well, Colby, I'm honestly not sure. These could get tweaked and edited right up until the book release, and so letting them out too early would be a mistake. I'm forbidden by contract on this project from posting anything specific like that on my blog. Beyond that, Harriet will be doing most of the actual chapter naming. She mentioned she'd done this on a lot of the previous novels, and so I'm happy to let her do it on this book. It will help give the book the right feel.

    If anyone were going to release chapter titles ahead of time, it would be through Tor's website, not my own. The same goes for the prologue. In the past, it has been released early, and that might happen with this one too. But if it does, look toward Tor.com for the appearance. Sorry to be so clandestine on these issues, but it really is for the best. Everyone's excited about this book, but there are a LOT of readers who don't want anything spoiled. We have to respect their wishes, and the wishes of the Jordan Estate, which would prefer most of this be kept under wraps until later this year.

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  • 61

    Interview: Feb 21st, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    My new computer came, which means it will be much easier for me to update. Sorry for the outage.

    I'm just in time to warn you about a signing I'm doing at the BYU Bookstore at 12:00-1:00 pm today. If you're in the area, feel free to stop by!

    I'm still neck-deep in A Memory of Light revisions. They will probably take until early April, so don't expect the progress bar to do much of anything in March. After that, it will begin to inch upward again.

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  • 62

    Interview: Feb 24th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    My new computer is shaping up quite well. I'm sorry, Mac lovers, but I'm firmly gripped by Microsoft. I don't philosophically oppose your OS, but Windows is what I know, and I've never had cause to change. (My wife loves her Mac, though.) Beyond that, I've got a shiny new version of Office 2007 courtesy of a certain individual that I've been playing with lately.

    Though if it sates any of you Mac folks, I DID work on a little of A Memory of Light on my wife's computer during some outages where my computer wasn't reliable. So you can content yourselves that a portion of the book was indeed written on your beloved OS.

    Annotation coming soon. I've got a big deadline on these A Memory of Light revisions coming in April, and so I've been pulling some long hours working on revisions. I can't really talk about a release date or anything else right now. Harriet has asked me just to focus on the revisions. I think she'll be making a specific announcement about these things come April, perhaps at JordanCon.

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  • 63

    Interview: Mar 3rd, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've been getting a lot of reader mail like the following lately:

    Mr. Sanderson, I'm sorry if I am a little behind on the news, but I haven't heard anything about A Memory of Light and was wondering if it has already been finished and we're waiting for a release date or if it has already been released. Please let me know, I'm very eager to finish the series, thank you.

    There's been a lot of buzz going around about the book lately, particularly since Tor released this widget which makes some implication about the release date of the book.

    I asked Harriet if I should say anything about all of this, and her response to me was essentially "Keep on working. We'll worry about announcements."

    So . . . well, I'm going to leave it to her and to Tor. Nothing official has been said yet, though I think that's probably because the best way to make WoT-related announcements is being discussed. JordanCon is coming up next month, and I think it's likely that Harriet and Tor would rather wait until then to make any big revelations.

    Here's what I can say: I have not finished the complete manuscript. I've got about 450k words done of what I still plan to be an eventual 750k (or more) manuscript. I've spent most of January and all of February doing revisions. Harriet is pleased with what she has seen so far, but any manuscript needs a lot of work revising. Right now, we are focusing on making what we have done as good as it can be.

    I will post here when official announcements are made. They'll probably appear first on Tor.com or Dragonmount. I wouldn't expect anything to appear until the first week in April at the earliest. (Third week, during JordanCon, being even more likely.)

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  • 64

    Interview: Mar 13th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm making progress on these A Memory of Light edits, slowly but surely. It's a lot more time-consuming than other books I've edited for several reasons. First off, I've got a lot of input coming in from Charleston. I receive feedback on every chapter not just from Harriet, but from Alan and Maria as well. It's all very good advice, but it's like juggling three editors on the same project, each with different specialties. The sheer organization of it all can be daunting sometimes.

    Recently—today and yesterday—I spent producing some new material for the first time in a while. One of the issues with revisions like this is that sometimes, Harriet and the others point out holes in the story which require new scenes to patch properly. As such, I've been 'spot writing' so to speak, crafting new scenes. Some are holes I knew were there and intended to patch, others were holes I left thinking that they would be all right—that readers would make the leap from one scene to another without the bridge scene. In one case, it's a scene I hadn't realized everyone would want to see, but they really do, so I've started work on it. I expect this to continue for the next few days, so you might see the main "A Memory of Light" progress bar inch up a few points. It's at 110% right now. (Which means 440k of completed manuscript, not counting some scenes that Mr. Jordan worked on that haven't yet happened in the chronology.)

    The basic estimate for the final length remains the same as it has since about last summer. 750k words. I'll let you know if I think that needs to be revised, but I really won't be able to guess until I've completed more of the manuscript. As I've warned, also, keep an eye on Dragonmount and Tor.com for official announcements related to the Wheel of Time. I'd guess that something will pop up in the next several weeks.

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  • 65

    Interview: Mar 24th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    A Memory of Light revision work is moving right along. I'm afraid there's not much that is interesting to report. What I'm doing right now is probably the most boring part of a revision—line editing. I'm going line by line, trimming the fat, making it more readable, cutting the passive voice, making the scenes more visual, trying to cut out redundancy. There is a LOT of material here that I'm working with. It shouldn't be long before I'm back to writing new scenes, however. Probably next week or the week after.

    Tor is readying a press release about the release date of the book. I suspect you'll see that next week as well. Watch Tor.com and Dragonmount; I'll link it here when it goes live as well.

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  • 66

    Interview: Mar 25th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    A few hours back, people started sharing links regarding a few places outside the US who have begun posting news related to A Memory of Light. I'm getting some emails about this, so I thought I'd go ahead and post something. Likely, this will all get overwritten soon, as soon as Tor and the Jordan estate release official reactions and/or announcements.

    I can't say much. Why? Well, it's not my right. I'm loving being part of the Wheel of Time, but it is Harriet's world, not mine. And so I feel it right to let her make any announcements at her pace. I don't even feel right linking some of the websites making news about this, though you can find a thread about it on Dragonmount if you look.

    A very small cover image has been floating around, and people want me to say if it's a hoax or not. Well, to be honest, I haven't yet seen the cover art for the book. Things have been so busy for me these last few months editing that I've let Harriet handle all of that. So I don't know if the cover is the real one or not. It certainly looks like Mr. Sweet's work, and it could be a scene from the book. But it looks rough, perhaps not the finished art. It's too small to tell. And the lettering on it is suspect to me—it mentions this book being the sequel to Crossroads of Twilight, for instance, which is a flat-out error. I certainly didn't approve that on cover copy, and I doubt Harriet did either. Most likely, this is a mock-up done internally that is being used as a placeholder. That's just one of the several things that bothers me about this cover image.

    A lot of people are wondering on the number of volumes this book will be. I'll be honest, this is a big, big project. I stand by one promise to you, no matter what else happens. I will NOT artificially inflate the size of this book. It doesn't matter to me how many volumes Tor decides to make it; the story is the same to me. One volume, as Robert Jordan planned it. Enormous.

    If it is split into chunks, I will push Tor to release them as soon as is reasonably possible and I will push hard for an omnibus edition at the end.

    More soon.

    Footnote

    This is the mock-up cover in question:

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  • 67

    Interview: Mar 26th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've had some emails from Harriet and company and can give you some more solid facts here.

    First, an email Harriet said I could post:

    Dear Brandon,

    Whatever the "art" is that was posted on Dragonmount, I have not seen it, and from what I hear I would certainly not approve it.

    Rest assured, no art will go on the cover until I have seen it and approved it. Best, Harriet

    This was before Harriet saw the link on Dragonmount itself, showing the thumbnail of the artwork. The fact that she hadn't yet seen the real cover art makes this all seem even more fishy to me. Looking closely, that posted art really lacks detail. After getting some internal emails from Tor, I'm really thinking that my conclusion last night was true. This is not the cover, but a rough mock-up done quickly by production to have something to show at meetings. It was never supposed to go outside of Tor, and is NOT the final cover, not even close to it. I'll bet this is just a sketch Mr. Sweet did showing potential cover ideas. It might not even be him doing the art—it's too small to tell.

    Tor is planning a press release about A Memory of Light talking about the title, the number of volumes, and that sort of thing. We won't see it until early next week, however, because of issues of timing with the major news sources. They moved it up from late in the week to early in the week, but that's the best they could do. Until then, don't panic. There is truth to some of the rumors, but there is also a lot of bad information going around.

    Footnote

    This is the mock-up cover in question:

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  • 68

    Interview: Mar 30th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    All right, now that the press release is out, let's talk about some things. I like to be transparent with my readers, whenever possible, and I feel it's time to let you in more fully on what has been happening this last year.

    Pull up a chair. Get some hot cocoa. This is going to take a while. I'm a fantasy author. We have trouble with the concept of brevity.

    In order to explain to you how this book came to be split as it did, I want to step you through some events of the last sixteen months. That way, you can see what led us up to making the decisions we did. You might still disagree with those decisions (many of you will.) But at least you'll understand the rationale behind them.

    Before we start, however, let me explain that I only saw one piece of what was going on. As I've stated before, Harriet and Tom are the ones making decisions when it comes to publication issues. I've deferred to them. My input has by no means been ignored, but often I was so focused on the book that I didn't have the time or energy to do more than say "Harriet, I trust your decision. Go with what you feel is best." Therefore, some of what I say may be distorted through my own lens. I don't have the whole story, but I think I've got most of it.

    Let's hop back to November of 2007. That's the month where I'd discovered for certain that I'd be the one finishing THE WHEEL OF TIME. I was excited, nervous, and daunted all at the same time—but today's blog post isn't about that aspect of the experience. Perhaps I'll have a chance to write more about it later.

    The first discussion of length came in late November, early December during the contract negotiations for A Memory of Light. I say negotiations, though those 'negotiations' were really nothing more than Harriet's agents saying "Here's what we offer." And me saying to my agent "Sounds good. Say yes." I wasn't about to let the chance to work on this book slip away.

    The contract stipulated that I was to provide a completed work which (including Mr. Jordan's written sections) was to be at least 200,000 words long. This sort of length provision isn't uncommon in contracts; it's there to make certain neither author nor publisher are surprised by the other's expectations. It's generally a ballpark figure, very flexible. I hadn't seen any of the materials for A Memory of Light at that point, so I essentially signed blind, saying yes to produce something "At least 200,000 words" in length.

    I'm not sure what Harriet was expecting at that point for length. She was still coping with Mr. Jordan's death, and was focused on finding someone to complete A Memory of Light so that she could rest easier, knowing that it was being worked on. Remember, this was just months after Mr. Jordan passed away. I honestly don't think she was thinking about length or—really—anything other than making certain the book was in the right hands. She left it to my decision how to proceed once I was given the materials.

    Around January or February, I posted on my blog that I was shooting for a 200k minimum. This surprised a lot of people, as 200k would not only have made A Memory of Light the shortest Wheel of Time book other than the prequel, it seemed a very small space in which to tie up the huge number of loose ends in the book. I wasn't focused on that at the moment; I was just passing along my thoughts on a minimum length. I think that I, at the time, hoped that we could do the book in around 250k. That was naive of me, but I honestly didn't want to drag this on for years and years. I wanted to get the readers the book they'd been waiting for as soon as possible.

    At that point, I started reading through the series again. I did this with the notes and materials for the final book at hand, taking notes myself of what plotlines needed to be closed, which viewpoints needed resolution. The read-through took me until March of 2008. As I progressed through the series, I began to grasp the daunting nature of this book. How much there was to do, how many plotlines needed to be brought back together, the WEIGHT of it all was enormous.

    April 2008. I had to make a decision. I realized that the book would be impossible to do in 200k. I'd begun to say on my blog that it would be at least 400k, but even that seemed a stretch. I looked over the outlines, both mine and Mr. Jordan's. I stared at them for a long time, thinking about the book. And this is where the first decision came in. Did I try to cram it into 400k? Or did I let it burgeon larger?

    To get this into one book, I'd need to railroad the story from climax to climax. I'd have to ignore a lot of the smaller characters—and even some aspects of the larger characters. I just couldn't justify that. It wouldn't do the story justice. I cringed to consider what I would have to cut or ignore.

    Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps readers would have preferred a single, condensed volume so that they at least knew what happened. But I just couldn't do it. The Wheel of Time deserved better.

    This was not an easy choice. I knew it would anger some readers. I knew it would take a lot of time, and I would end up dedicating a great deal more of my life (and my family's life) to the Wheel of Time than I'd initially anticipated. At the very least, I was contemplating writing a book three to four times the length of the initial contract—essentially, doing four times the work for the exact same pay.

    But this had never been about the pay for me. I'd been put in charge of this project. I wanted to do what I felt Mr. Jordan would have done. I felt, and feel, a debt to him for what he did with this series. He had promised readers a big, big book—not big for big's sake, but big because there was so much to do, so much to tie up. I decided that I would do whatever the story demanded, no matter how many words it would require, no matter how mad it made people. I would not artificially inflate the book—but I would treat each character, even the minor characters, with care and consideration.

    I flew to Charleston that month and outlined my feelings on the various outlines for the different characters. The Charleston camp was cautiously enthusiastic; I don't know if they realized just how much work this would all take. I'm not sure if I even told them how many words I was starting to feel it would be. At this point, Harriet was pretty much letting me call the shots when it came to the actual drafting of the novel. Harriet is an editor; she works best when I provide material to her, then she works her magic to turn it from good to excellent. That meant I was in charge of getting material to her as I saw fit, then she would tell me if I was on target or needed to try again.

    I had already set the progress bar at 400k words on my website. I started writing in earnest, and also started warning people that the book was likely going to run longer than my initial estimate. Perhaps much longer. Soon, I was saying 750k.

    By this point, I'd already warned Tom and Harriet that I saw the length being very large, but I hadn't told Tom the 700-800k number. When I'd mentioned 400k to him once, he'd been wary. He explained to me that he felt 400k was unprintably large in today's publishing market. Things have changed since the 90's, and booksellers are increasingly frustrated with the fantasy genre, which tends to take up a lot of shelf space with very few books. There is constant pressure from the big chain bookstores to keep things smaller and thinner. When I'd turned in Mistborn 2 (revised and already trimmed) at 250k, production and marketing had nearly had a fit, complaining that the book would cost more to print than it would make. Tom approved the publication of the book anyway. (And fortunately we managed to fit it into enough pages—and sell enough copies—that it was still profitable.)

    Anyway, Tom implied that 400k was what he saw as a cut off for length. Anything 300-350 could be one book, anything over 350 should be cut. (That's me guessing on things he said; he never gave those hardfast numbers, and I know there was probably some flexibility.) Anyway, Tom—like Harriet—wanted to wait and see what I was able to produce first. At this point, it was too early to begin talk of cutting the book. I'd barely written any of it.

    I wrote all summer, and the next point of interest comes at Worldcon. Tom and I were on a panel together, talking about A Memory of Light. I noted that (by that point) I had around 250k written. He said something like "Ah, so you're almost done!" I looked chagrined and said "Actually, I feel that I'm only about 1/3 of the way there, Tom." He blinked, shocked, and then laughed a full bellied laugh. "It's happening again!" he exclaimed. "Jim sold me one book that somehow became three, and now it's happening again!"

    Well, that was the first hint I had that this might be three books instead of two. I started to lobby Harriet subtly, pointing out that previous Wheel of Time books had been 380k, and perhaps that would be a good length for each Volume of A Memory of Light, if it was cut. I also indicated that I felt it would be really nice to keep volumes of the book published close together if, indeed, the book had to be split.

    What I didn't realize was just how taxing this process was going to be. There's only so much one person can write in a year. Before working on A Memory of Light, my average wordcount for a year was around 300k. One 200k epic fantasy, then 50-100k on other projects. During 2008 I wrote over 400k—fully a third more than usual, and that was done with three months of my working time spent re-reading and taking notes on the Wheel of Time series. (Yes, it was easier because of materials left by Mr. Jordan. However, that was offset by the need to become an expert on thousands of characters, places, themes, and worldbuilding elements. All in all, even with outlines, notes, and written materials Mr. Jordan left, I'd say this was the most difficult 400k I've ever written.)

    By December, after my book tour, I was pushing hard to even get 400k done. I still had this phantom hope that somehow, I'd be able to spend January, February, and March writing harder than I'd ever written before and somehow get to 750k by the March deadline that Tom had said was about the latest he could put a book into production and still have it out for the holidays.

    In January, Tom called Harriet and they talked. At this point, I'd hit my 400k goal, and I knew that I was only about halfway done. (If even that far along.) Very little of that 400k had been revised or drafted. Tom and Harriet chatted, and several things came up. One of the most dominating points was this: it had been four years since the fans had been given Knife of Dreams. Tom felt that we NEEDED to provide them a book in 2009. They couldn't wait until I finished the entire volume to publish something.

    Harriet called me and I finally agreed that I needed to stop work on writing new material. It was time to begin revising. That was, essentially, the decision to split the book. And I wasn't certain that we could simply print the 400k that I had written. There were scenes all over the place, and if we printed that portion as-is, it would cut off right in the middle of several plot arcs. The book just wouldn't be any fun to read. Beyond that, editing 400k would take too much time to have it done by April.

    This is the second big decision. Perhaps you would have chosen differently. But let me outline the options as I see them. Pretend you're Tom Doherty or Harriet in January 2009, making the call on how to publish the book.

    1) You can decide not to print anything until the entire novel is finished. That means letting Brandon write until the end, then revising the entire thing at once, followed by printing the book (either as one enormous volume or several chunks, released in quick succession.) Last summer and fall, this was what I was hoping we'd be able to do.

    If you make this choice, the readers don't get a book in 2009. You're not sure when they'll get a book. Brandon took a year to write 400k words, and feels that he's around halfway done.

    So, if you choose this option, let's say Brandon writes all 2009, delivers you a rough draft of a full, 800k book in 2010. 800k words would take roughly eight months to edit and revise. Production would take another eight months or so. (Minimum.) You'd be looking at releasing the book somewhere in summer 2011. Perhaps one volume in June and another in August.

    2) You could publish the 400k as they are done right now. If you do this, the readers do not get a book in 2009. 400k would take roughly four months to revise (and that's rushing it), and you'd have to put the novel into production with a January or February 2010 release date. That's not too far off the November 2009 date you'd promised people, so maybe they would be satisfied. But you'd leave them with a story that literally cut off right in the middle of several plotlines, and which did not have tied up resolutions.

    In this scenario, Brandon writes all through 2009, turns in the second half sometime around April or May 2010. It takes roughly four months to edit and revise that portion, and you're looking at a summer 2011 release for the second half. Maybe spring 2011. (This way, you get the whole thing to the readers a little bit faster than the other option because you have the luxury of putting one half through production while Brandon is writing the second half.)

    However, in this scenario, you end up releasing two fractured books, and the bookstores are mad at you for their size. (Which may translate to the bookstores ordering fewer copies, and fans being mad because they can't find copies as easily as they want—this is what happened with Mistborn Two, by the way.). Beyond that, you missed releasing a book in the holiday season, instead putting one in the dead months of early 2010.

    3) You could do what Tom did. You go to Brandon (or, in this case, to Harriet who goes to Brandon) and you say "You have 400k words. Is there a division point in there somewhere that you can cut the book and give us a novel with a strong climax and a natural story arc?"

    I spent a few days in January looking over the material, and came to Tom and Harriet with a proposal. I had what I felt would make the best book possible, divided in a certain way, which came out to be around 275,000 words. It had several strong character arcs, it told a very good story, and it closed several important plot threads. I felt it would be an excellent book.

    Now, this was longer than they'd wanted. They'd hoped I'd find them a cutting point at the 225k mark. But I didn't feel good about any cuts earlier than 275. In fact, I later took that 275,000 word book and I added an extra 25k in scenes (one's I'd been planning to write anyway, but decided would work better here in this chunk) in order to fill it out and make of it the most solid novel possible. Right now, the book sits at about 301,000 words—though that will fluctuate as I trim out some excess language here and there. I suspect the final product will be right around 300,000k words.

    Now, let's assume you made this decision, just as Tom did. This is the ONLY case in which you get to keep your promise to the Wheel of Time readers and deliver a book in 2009. (Though, it took a LOT of work to get it ready. I've been pulling 14-16 hour days six days a week for the last three months.) In this scenario, you get to deliver them a solid book, rather than a fractured one.

    But you are also splitting a book that Robert Jordan intended to be one book. (Tom and Harriet both have said they don't think he could have done it, or would have done it, given the chance.) A bigger problem is that you're releasing a book without knowing when you'll be able to release the next section. You aren't certain what to tell people when they ask how large a gap there will be between the books; it will depend on how long the next chunk is and when Brandon can finish it. (Plus, Brandon keeps increasing the final estimate, which—now that I've added some material to this book—indicates that the final product will easily be over 800k.)

    So . . . how big will the gap be? Well, the honest truth is that I don't know. Tom has been telling other publishers and retailers that November 2009, 2010, 2011 seems like a safe bet. But that's just an estimate, erring on the side of caution. I'm pretty certain that we have to divide the book in three parts because of where I chose to make the split. There will be another good split at around the 600k mark.

    If I had the next 300k or so done already, it would take me 4 months to revise it at the shortest. I feel that the next chunk is going to need a lot more revision than this one did. Partially because I cut into the 450k completed portion with the hacksaw and pulled out 275k. What's left over is ragged and in need of a lot of work. I'd say five months of revisions is more likely. So, if it were all done, we'd have the second book coming out five months after the first.

    But it's not all done. It's around halfway done. I've got a lot of writing left to do—four to six months worth, I'd guess. By these estimates, we'll have another book ready to go to press, then, in February next year. That means a fall 2010 release. And if things continue as they have, the third book (none of which is written right now) would come out summer 2011 at the earliest.

    And I guess that's what I'm trying to show you with all of this: No matter how the book is split, cut, or divided, the last portion wouldn't come out until 2011. Why? It goes back to that first decision I made, the one to write the book the length I felt it needed to be. And so, it's not the greedy publisher, stringing you along that is keeping you from reading the ending. It's not the fault of production taking a long time. The blame rests on me.

    I am writing this book long. I'm writing it VERY long. Most books in most genres are around 100k long. I'm shooting for eight times that length. And one person can only produce so much material, particularly on a project like this. Writing this book, keeping all of these plot threads and characters straight, is like juggling boulders. It's hard, hard work.

    You're getting a book this year. You'll get one next year. You'll get one the year after that. I don't know which months in 2010 or 2011 the books will come out. You can keep hope they'll be sooner, but you might want to listen to Tom's November, November estimate, as I feel it's the absolute latest you'd see the books.

    I know some of you will be mad that it is getting split; I feel for you, and I hope to be able to persuade Tor and Harriet to publish a special edition omnibus some day. But . . . well, they're both convinced that it will be too long for that. I'm not going to fight for it right now; I'll wait until the books come out.

    I will continue to fight to get the books released as quickly as is reasonable. But I have to write them first. You've been able to watch my progress bar; you know that I'm working and the book is getting written. I'm not going on vacations and living it up. I'm working. Hard. Sixty, seventy, sometimes eighty hour weeks.

    I won't make you wait an undue amount of time. But please understand that some of the things you want are mutually exclusive. You want a high quality book that is of an enormous length published quickly. Get me a time machine and I'll see what I can do.

    George Martin and Patrick Rothfuss have both spoken on this topic already, and both did it quite eloquently. Books, as opposed to a lot of other forms of mass media, are unique in that they rest solely on the production capabilities of one single person. A good day of writing for a lot of authors is about 1,000 words. And you're lucky to get 200 days of writing in a year, with all of the other demands (edits, copyedits, book tours, publicity events, school visits, etc.) that come your way. I tend to scale higher than the average, partially (I think) because of all those years I spent unpublished getting into the habit of constantly writing new books.

    But even I can only do so much. We'll get these books to you. At the slowest, they will be November, November, November—meaning that they all come out in the space of two years. Perhaps it will be faster. If we can do them more quickly, and keep the quality up, I will continue to advocate for that. But I honestly don't know if I can do another two years like these last sixteen months. I'm exhausted. I've pushed very, very hard to get you a book in 2009 because you've been waiting so long. But I can't promise that I'll be able to keep the same schedule. Plus, I do have other commitments, contracts signed to other publishers, fans of other writings of mine who cannot be ignored. I'll need to write another Alcatraz book this year sometime. And I will have to do revisions on The Way of Kings, which I've stayed pretty quiet about. I'm planning to do these things during down time on A Memory of Light, when waiting for revision notes or the like. But I also can't afford to get burned out on The Wheel of Time. You deserve better than that.

    Now, some words about titles. Where did The Gathering Storm come from? Well, in January where it was decided to split the book, I continued to advocate for something that would indicate that this was ONE book, split into three parts. (I still see it that way.) And so, I suggested that they all be named A Memory of Light with subtitles. I love the title A Memory of Light; I think it's poetic and appropriate. Plus, it was Mr. Jordan's title for the book. That alone is good enough reason to keep it.

    And so, I suggested smaller, shorter, more generic sub-titles for each of the parts. With a long, evocative title like A Memory of Light as the supertitle, the subtitles needed to be shorter and more basic, as to not draw attention. The first of these was named Gathering Clouds by Maria's suggestion. Book two would be Shifting Winds, book three Tarmon Gai'don, all with the supertitle of A Memory of Light.

    We proceeded with that as our plan for several months. And then, suddenly, Tom got word from marketing that the titles needed to change. The bookstores didn't like them. (You'll find that the bookstores control a lot in publishing. You'd be surprised at how often the decisions are made because of what they want.) In this case, the bookstores worried that having three books titled A Memory of Light would be too confusing for the computer system and the people doing the reordering. They asked for the supertitle to be cut, leaving us with the title Gathering Clouds.

    I shot off an email to Harriet, explaining that I never intended that title to be the one that carried the book. It was too generic, too basic. She went to Tom with some suggestions for alternates, and The Gathering Storm was what they decided. This all happened in a matter of hours, most of it occurring before I got up in the morning. (I sent her an email at night, then by the time I rose, they'd made the decision out on the east coast.) Some materials had already gone out as Gathering Clouds, and I wonder if The Gathering Storm was chosen because it was similar. I know it was the one out of those suggested by Harriet that Tom liked the most. It's somewhat standard, but also safe.

    That title swap came at me rather fast. I plan to be ready for the next one, so hopefully we'll have the time to produce something a little more evocative. I don't mind The Gathering Storm, but I do realize that it is one of the more bland Wheel of Time titles. (My favorite title, by the way, is Crossroads of Twilight.)

    I think that brings you all up to speed. The question many of you are probably wondering now is "What did you decide to put in this book, and what did you decide to hold off until the next one?" I can't answer that yet—perhaps when the time gets closer, I'll be able to hint at what was included and what was saved. But know that I believe strongly in the place where the cut was made, and I love how the final product has turned out.

    I also want to mention that one of my main goals in division was to make certain that most (if not all) of the major characters had screen time. Some have more than others, but almost everyone has at least a couple of chapters. (In other words, it wasn't cut like A Feast for Crows/A Dance with Dragons with half the viewpoints in one and half in the other.) However, some of the important things you are waiting for had—by necessity—to be reserved for the second book.

    I'm almost done with the revisions on the first part. I expect to start writing new material for part two sometime in April. The progress bar will inch forward again when that happens.

    Anyway, that's the story of how this all came to be. I don't expect you all to be happy with the choices we've made, but I do want you to understand where we are coming from. I have to trust my instincts as a writer. They are what got me here, they are what made Harriet choose me to work on this book, and it would be a mistake for me to ignore them now.

    Those instincts say that we've made the best choices, and I think The Gathering Storm will vindicate those choices. So, if possible, I ask you to hold back on some of your worry and/or anger until you at least read the book this November. As always, the work itself is the best argument for why I do what I do.

    Brandon Sanderson

    March, 2009.

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    Interview: Apr 4th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    Now, how about some Reader Mail:

    I read your post about splitting A Memory of Light and thought your reasoning was very sound. It seems obvious that you care very much about putting out something of quality. I'm concerned though, that you won't end up changing what you write based on reader's reactions to the first book. How do you make sure the book/volumes you end up writing at 800k a year or so from now isn't different from the book you would have written if you had just done the whole thing in one big chunk?

    Excellent question. The answer is simple, yet may not be very satisfying. Honestly, I don't know if the book will turn out differently.

    It's rarely fruitful to second-guess decisions based on what might happen in the future. Every novel I read, every review that comes out, every day spent pondering . . . these things all influence my writing. Each day we make hundreds of decisions that nudge us in this direction or that. Scenes are influenced directly by events that occur in my life.

    Would Mistborn Three have been a different book if I hadn't stopped and written something else between it and Mistborn Two? Probably. Would it have been better or worse? I don't know. Will A Memory of Light Three be different because A Memory of Light One will be released before it comes out? Perhaps. Will it be better or worse? I don't know.

    I can say this. The second chunk should be done before the first comes out. And the third chunk saw a lot of work by Mr. Jordan before he passed away. So the structure isn't going to change, regardless. An author also has to learn not to let reviews or reader reactions influence him/her TOO much. Writing is a very solitary art, and the writer learns to trust their instincts. One of the early lessons to learn in writing is that feedback is good, but must be held at arm's length.

    If anything, knowing that there is one part out for readers to enjoy will take some of the pressure off of me and, hopefully, allow me to work more smoothly on the next two sections. Thanks for the question!

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  • 70

    Interview: Apr 13th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    This weekend I'll be in Atlanta for JordanCon. I'm expecting to be so busy with the convention that I didn't set up any kind of external signing. I'm still thinking of heading to Atlanta for DragonCon this year, though, and if I do, I'll try to do an off-site signing for those who are interested. However, if you really want something signed—or want to hear about A Memory of Light (including, I believe, an advance reading from The Gathering Storm) come by JordanCon. I think it's going to be very fun.

    The Gathering Storm goes very well; I'm still working through last-stage revisions from Harriet, Alan, and Maria. I finished Alan's today and sent them off to him for commentary. Harriet's are almost all inputted, and I'm about 3/4 the way through Maria's. I should have this all wrapped up by the time JordanCon rolls around.

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  • 71

    Interview: Apr 13th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    And, in all the fervor, I forgot to mention that Mistborn: The Hero of Ages is coming out in paperback at the end of this month. I thought the date was May, but it looks like Amazon has it for April 28th. They've been known to be wrong before—rather frequently, actually—but I have no reason to doubt this number. So look for it in stores then.

    Actually, we look like we're finally getting the support in B&N for my books. Their orders on Warbreaker are very large . . . intimidatingly so. As I've mentioned before, I'm paranoid about this book. Stand alone novels, no matter how good, have a larger chance of getting orphaned in the fantasy genre. Beyond that, we have yet to see what kind of impact giving the book away for free will have on the sales numbers. Anyway, it's coming early June. I'll be doing a release party and numbered copies, like on Hero of Ages. In fact, I think I've got the process far more streamlined, so there will be far less waiting in line this year. We're also hoping Sam Weller's will be able to do the mail-order numbered copies like they did before.

    I'll have more news on this in the coming weeks, once I have a chance to take a few deep breaths after getting A Memory of Light One turned in for good.

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  • 72

    Interview: Apr 15th, 2009

    Patrick

    How long does it take to write a book? (Just guestimate . . . )

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, it honestly depends on the book. It's not just a matter of length, it's also a matter of complexity. The more viewpoints I'm trying to balance, and the deeper the setting, the longer the book will take. Also, it depends on what you call 'writing' a book—do you include all drafts, or just the rough? What about the planning? Here are a few estimates based on some of my books, drafting and planning time included.

    Alcatraz Vs. The Evil Librarians (50k words, one viewpoint.) 2-3 months.
    Elantris (200k words, three main viewpoints.) 6-8 months.
    Mistborn: The Hero of Ages (250k words, 5 main viewpoints.) 8-10 months.
    The Wheel of Time: The Gathering Storm (300k words. 21 viewpoints. Chunks outlined and written by Mr. Jordan already.) 16 months, pulling extra hours.

    So . . . imagine if I HADN'T had outlines and materials left by Mr. Jordan. It would probably have taken around 2 years to write a book that length. (Which, actually, was about how long it took Mr. Jordan to write a lot of his books.)

    Every author is different, however. Some write in bursts, some write slow and steady, a little each day. It's hard to judge exactly how long it will take you to write a book. There's no 'right' way to do it.

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  • 73

    Interview: Apr 22nd, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    Now, on to The Gathering Storm news. The last few weeks have consisted of entering final tweaks, as requested by Team Charleston as they read the final (but not really final) draft of the book. I got these all in (doing the last of them on the flight to Atlanta—note to self, next time get Business class, as writing on a full sized laptop in coach is killer. When I got to Atlanta, I found that Harriet had brought me line edits. This is where the editor goes line by line in the book and tweaks the language, fixing typos but also revising for clarity, detail, and general readability. Harriet is very good at this, but it meant another few solid days of revision for me, as I needed to enter the changes into the manuscript. It's better for me to do this myself, rather than just having a typist do it, as line edits are often meant to be suggestions or nudges, rather than always just straight revisions. In almost all cases, I just enter the line edits as marked—but there are places where a revision from Harriet sparks me to do a tweak in a different way that I think will help more, and I also can make arguments for certain changes not being made if I feel they change the meaning too much or do something I think Harriet might not have expected. (In some places of a manuscript, a certain phrase will be used intentionally in order to connect to a different phrase somewhere else, and you have to watch how you tweak these.)

    Anyway, I finished these yesterday, then made a few spot changes and sent the book off to Charleston. So, in short, the final, final edit is in—though now it goes to copyedit. Copyedit is where a different editor reads through focusing specifically on continuity and looking for typos. Very little is actually changed editorially. I can still make changes when the copyedit comes back, but I'll have to do them on-paper rather than electronically. (Actually, Robert Jordan's editorial assistant Maria will probably handle the copyedit herself, so I'll send any last-minute changes I want to her for insertion.)

    That's probably more detail than you needed to know. I guess the thing that it would be good for you to know is that the book is now officially 'In production.' That means we've hit our deadline, and the boulder—so long perched on the peak—has started rolling down the cliff. You no longer have to worry if some phantom problem is going to delay it. It is in, and it is coming.

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  • 74

    Interview: May 5th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    Anyway, the reader mail:

    I know that you have all but finished The Gathering Storm, and this may sound like a stupid question, but will it really take until November for TOR to finalize, print and publish this book? Could TOR release it earlier or is November a set timetable? Thank you for your time.

    —Jeffrey

    Well, Jeffrey, I can understand where you're coming from. It does seem like a very long time, particularly when you hear that for most books, it's far, far longer. What's happening during all of that time? Well, a number of things.

    First off, the books have to get printed. Often, this is done overseas and shipped here—and usually that shipping has to be a slow method for cost reasons. Tor can't really afford to airlift all of those thick WoT books from China, not unless they want to charge and extra twenty bucks per book. . . .

    I honestly don't know if Tor prints these specific books overseas. Some big houses have their own printers, but a lot do it this way. Either way, keep the printing in mind when you consider the time it takes to publish. Even if the printing is done here, it takes time—imagine printing a million copies of a hardcover book. It's not something that happens overnight.

    However, before the book can be printed, time needs to be copyedited. A copyeditor is a person who reads through the entire book in very minute detail, making certain all of the proper terms are italicized, making certain the names are all spelled right, and that the book is consistent with itself and others in the series. This takes a while. Plus, once the copyeditor has made all of these changes and fixes, someone needs to go through them (usually, it's the author, though in many WoT books it's Maria) and make certain that they are all good changes. Together, this can take several months. I don't know if the WoT book will be faster; we'll see.

    After that, there's proofreading. We have to allocate time for the proofreaders to go through and do their job. That adds on another few weeks. Trust me. You don't want an unproofed book. Some might complain about the number of typos in the books that get printed; imagine how it would be if you had to read one that hadn't gone through this process.

    So, we've got copyediting and proofreading. Let's say that takes us two months, since we're rushing things. And let's say, for sake of argument, that printing takes one month. The book was turned in mid April, so why not release the book in July? Well, that would probably be the absolute fastest Tor could get the book out, but there are a lot of other factors to consider.

    One is the bookstores. You see, with books like this, bookstores tend to be timid because they've often been promised books that never materialize. (Or ones that take years past when they were promised to actually get published.) And so, booksellers aren't going to make any orders on the book until they're sure that the book will be published. Now that the book is in, the Tor sales force has to go to the big chains and the independents and say "It's coming out! For real this time! So . . . how many copies do you want to order?"

    This is very important. You see, no book gets printed until the publisher knows how many are being ordered. In general, announced 'print runs' in publicity materials are a fancy, impressive, yet very imaginary numbers. Nobody knows how big the print run will ACTUALLY be until the bookstores all put in their orders. The publisher will look at those orders and extrapolate sales. THEN they'll print. So we have to wait for the big chains, at least, to commit to ordering the book, see how many they order, then print somewhere around twice that number. (From what I've seen, printing double the number ordered is the rule of thumb, though the WoT book may be different.)

    I should give the caveat that I'm not an expert on any of this. What I'm writing is not, by any means, meant to be a detailed exploration of the publishing industry. It's just what I've noticed (perhaps inaccurately at points) from watching on the sidelines.

    Okay, so let's add on a month for the bookstores. We're now in August (best case.) That's still three months off of October. What's the hold up?

    First off, there's the fact that Tor announced that date—trying to be conservative—not knowing for certain if I'd even turn the book in on time. There's a lot of momentum behind that announcement, and changing it would take a lot of effort. It can—and does—happen. But in this case, it's good to have those extra months. You see, we haven't even talked about publicity and marketing. Only now (with the book in) will it be safe for Tor to start spending marketing and publicity money. Those of you checking these websites and watching Dragonmount are the 'in the know' readers—the hardcore. However, the vast majority of readers don't do that. They don't know that the WoT book is coming out this year. It's time for Tor to start publicizing that it IS coming out. And they don't have very long to do it.

    Beyond that, when Tor announced and 'staked claim' to November 3rd, you can bet that other publishers made certain to stay away from releasing other big books that day. Just like movies try not to compete with others that are too similar, moving their release dates around, books try to keep from competing too directly. So if Tor began shuffling now, it would cause a lot of people to get very angry.

    There are other factors too. November is the biggest month for a book release, as it maximizes on the holiday season. Also, we'd like time for people in-house at Tor to read the book and see if they catch any errors or continuity problems that we didn't spot. There has to be time for the publicist to set up a book tour. There has to be time to get the interior art (maps, chapter ornaments) finished. The cover art isn't done yet either. All of these things take time.

    The WoT book COULD probably come out as soon as August, but it would be a big rush job. Better to give Tor the extra few months to make the book as good as possible. I know it's hard to wait, but at least you can rest easily that the book IS coming, and from here, there's virtually no chance of it being delayed past November. Here, that publicity, marketing, and bookstore momentum will work in your favor to keep the pressure on Tor and keep any delays from getting the book pushed back.

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    Interview: May 7th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    All right. I've had a few weeks to rest after the marathon working of Feb, March, and early April. So, it's time to start thinking about the future. The Gathering Storm is turned in. (Quick answers on two questions: First, I don't know if there will be an electronic copy released. Tor doesn't own electronic rights, these belong to Harriet, and I don't know what she and her agent have decided yet. Second, there should be an audiobook released, very close to the initial release of the hardcover.) With The Gathering Storm done, it's time to look at the projects on my plate.

    PROJECT ONE: A MEMORY OF LIGHT PART TWO (The working title is Shifting Winds, which WILL change.)

    I've gone ahead and added a progress bar for this one. As I've said before, I've got a large chunk of it written—but that writing needs quite a bit of work. I pulled a lot of the cleanest, finished sections to use in The Gathering Storm. The progress bar says 49% completed, but I'd actually put that closer to 25%, if we look at work to be done and not just raw pagecount.

    Obviously, Shifting Winds is the most important project for me to finish. It will be getting the largest share of my attention during the next year, and I'm going to do everything in my power to turn it in a little earlier than the previous book, perhaps even allowing for a release earlier next year than November. (I don't know if getting it in early will help that or not, but I'll try.) My self-imposed goal for finishing Winds is November 3rd, so I'll have the rough draft done and turned in before I leave on tour.

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  • 76

    Interview: May 19th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm hard at work and neck deep in revisions and writing. Copyedits for The Gathering Storm are going to be hitting soon, so that will distract me for a little while, but the progress bars should inch up here at a good rate this week.

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  • 77

    Interview: May 15th, 2009

    Dave Brendon

    How has finishing (and it’s not completely done yet, guys and girls) A Memory of Light changed your life? Are you still the same Brandon Sanderson you were before A Memory of Light?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It’s far from completely done! The first part of the three, The Gathering Storm, is turned in and in production, and I’m only about halfway through the second part’s rough draft. There’s a lot of writing left to go. But working on the Wheel of Time has forced me to grow immensely as a writer. Back when I sold Elantris to Tor, they were interested in following that with the book I was working on at the time, called The Way of Kings. But I felt my career and writing skills weren’t yet in the right place to pull off the ten-volume epic fantasy series that I wanted that book to lead into, so I wrote the Mistborn trilogy instead. Now, after working on the Wheel of Time for over a year, I finally feel ready to dive in and do a revision of The Way of Kings. If I can effectively use all I’ve learned, I might be able to make the book become what I want it to be.

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  • 78

    Interview: Jun 1st, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    WRITING I NEED TO DO

    And, speaking of that writing, things are going very well. The Way of Kings rewrite is proceeding quickly, and I should be done on-target. I'm feeling very good about the rewrite, though I won't be certain about my plans for it until I get through a few trouble areas later on. As for The Wheel of Time, I just got the Copyedit—which is the final part of The Gathering Storm that needs to be done. This will distract me for another week or so from doing new material, but we'll see.

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  • 79

    Interview: Jun 23rd, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    If you're following along at home, The Gathering Storm is now in the proofread stage. I got an email letting me know that the manuscript will be coming back after the proofreads in July, and we'll need to have it back by the end of July. Then it's on to production officially. Things are getting close now.

    I just need to remember to get new photos taken for the jacket. The ones on my books are now six or seven years old . . .

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  • 80

    Interview: Oct 16th, 2009

    Maria Simons

    In January of 1996 I went to work for Jim to answer fan mail. And the job just kept evolving and evolving, and I became what he called his right arm.

    Alan Romanczuk

    My name is Alan Romanczuk. I started working for Jim about eight years ago. I was brought on for continuity. By the time I came on, there were well over 1500 characters in the Wheel of Time world.

    Maria Simons

    I know what happened to whom and when. I can amaze people by remembering people's eye color and hair color. And if there's something we need to check happened, I can find it pretty quickly; pick up a book, flip to the page, and get it.

    Alan Romanczuk

    Developing timelines, coordinating action and characters. Measuring distances from one location in the world to another. All of that nitty gritty detail that has to be done, someone has to do it. This translated in his filing system to something I had never encountered before. He had what I could only describe as a maze-like hierarchical system of files.

    Maria Simons

    Brandon has been great. And he's got three of us that are emailing him, and we're doing this constantly, now for over a year.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Poor Brandon, who is an enormous gentleman as well as a very, very good writer. The material that Robert Jordan left begins with the outline for what will now be the final three books. Notes, some scenes, and more words in unpublished notes than have been published so far in the entire Wheel of Time.

    Brandon Sanderson

    And he left behind tapes, recordings, which were then dictated and transcribed and given to me, of him just talking about the last book and what he wanted to be in it. And the important events, and the important scenes, and all these things. All these materials were. . . you know, you've got a file here that's only got a few paragraphs in it, and a file here that's thirty pages long, and a file here, and a file here. Dozens of different files, just scattered all over the place, some about all these characters, and some about 'oh this scene needs to happen'. And then lots and lots and lots and lots of notes of how everybody ends up. The thing we have I think the most information on is, the two things: the world itself, everything in the world, all the characters. And then, how everything has to be. We know very specifically lots about how the world is going to end up.

    Maria Simons

    It picks up where Knife of Dreams left off. As for the rest, read and find out. I've always wanted to say it.

    Alan Romanczuk

    I think there's one thing we can safely say, though. The Last Battle is coming.

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  • 81

    Interview: Oct 20th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    Just to give you an idea of the depth of what's going on in these books, and the level of detail that Robert Jordan put into them: there was one point where I was working on a character, working on a scene. And I was just having trouble keeping track of all the characters that were involved in the scene, just all the different names and all the different personalities, and things like this.

    So I emailed one of Robert Jordan's assistants, and I said, "Is there a file or something that explains everybody who's here that's going to be in the scene so that I can keep them all straight?" And a few minutes later I got back an email from Alan who said, "Well I found this, buried in some notes somewhere." And it said 'with. . . ', and then it listed the name of the character. And I’m like, oh good, it's a file called 'who's with this character'. That's exactly what I needed.

    I opened it up, and what this file contained was a list of dozens and dozens, maybe hundreds, of names of people who hadn't yet appeared in the books, who were just members of this character's army, who were just there. Robert Jordan had named them all, and in many cases he'd listed their profession, a little bit about them, what they looked like. Now I had to keep track of all these other people who he hadn't even named yet. They hadn't even appeared in the book, fans didn't know about them, and I've got dozens of names of people to keep track of that he had spent the time to go through and say, all right, what are the names of all these people who might just walk by in the background.

    So much detail, so much depth to these books, that really when you read these books you don't even know how much there was behind them, filling this out. Robert Jordan knew this world, he knew these people. He knew them so well that they were real to him.

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  • 82

    Interview: Oct 27th, 2009

    Matt Hatch

    —skipped question of how he keeps track of all of the characters and plots...it’s a very involved answer—

    Brandon Sanderson

    Note: Brandon said that he wrote seventeen drafts of The Gathering Storm trying to get it right.

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  • 83

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    Ryan_G

    I have a very specific question about The Wheel of Time series. One of my favorite characters has been MIA for way too long. I'm assuming Moiraine Damodred returns to the playing field. I'm just wanting to know if it will be in the upcoming book or further on?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is exactly the sort of thing I've been asked by the Jordan estate to stay quiet about, I'm afraid. (Sorry.) Some things the fans are expecting will happen in this book. But some things had to be saved for the next two volumes. And of Mr. Jordan's instructions were quite surprising, when seen in the light of what everyone expects will happen.

    That's really not an answer, is it? Well, let's just call it a RAFO.

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  • 84

    Interview: Apr 22nd, 2009

    Richard Fife

    After that, I went, like a proper hobbit, and had second breakfast with—ready for it?—Tom, Harriet, and Wilson, amongst a smattering of others, including a few Tor.com readers/posters. That was great conversation as well, but hey, when is it not? After that was done, I sat in on another Brandon Sanderson panel, and now, finally, for "How is A Memory of Light being organized?".

    Brandon Sanderson

    OK, I’ll start by saying Brandon did not tell us any names/characters who are going to be where, so I will have to be as vague as him. Although, I think I saw a chart somewhere that will give us an idea, if someone wants to be investigative.

    So, the story as stands at the end of Knife of Dreams has four "plot arcs" that are more or less related through "geography, fate, thought, etc." At the end of each of those arcs was a giant chunk of joined material that was "Tarmon Gai'don" and made up roughly 1/3 of the story. Brandon started writing these plot arcs like four separate novels with the intent to intersperse them. He had finished the third arc and hit 400k words when they decided they had to split it.

    So, what they are doing: the first two plot arcs he wrote are going to be MOSTLY included in The Gathering Storm, as well some set-up/teaser of the other two. Then, in the second book (Working title The Shifting Winds, by the by, but we were promised it is going to be changed) is going to continue from that set-up/teaser of the third and fourth plot arcs, and including the final setup of the first two so that everyone hits at the same point and is ready for Tarmon Gai'don. Book three (working title is Tarmon Gai'don, but it might be A Memory of Light), will be, yes, Tarmon Gai'don. So, there ya go.

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  • 85

    Interview: 2012

    Mateo (13 October 2011)

    How many drafts do you normally write for an epic novel like A Memory of Light? Just curious as to how long the process takes.

    Brandon Sanderson (13 October 2011)

    The Gathering Storm had twelve drafts, I think. Towers of Midnight nine.

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  • 86

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Virginia

    Now that…obviously no one can fill the hole that Jim Rigney did. I mean, no one can take his place. But we have Brandon now, and you're working with Brandon, but now it's a long-distance relationship. How is that working out? And he's such a maniac for work; I cannot imagine how any human being gets the amount of writing that he does done, and all the other things that he does.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I'm convinced he's a robot. [crosstalk]

    VIRGINIA

    He's an android, yeah; he's an android; I'm sure of it. He's a big cuddly android, but I think, you know…really suspect!

    Maria Simons

    He's pretty amazing, I mean…but the work ethic he has is just incredible. I mean…The Way of Kings and Towers of Midnight, the same year. It's amazing.

    VIRGINIA

    I know! And Alcatraz too, I think…and a tour! Two tours!

    MARIA SIMONS

    Oh yeah! Two tours, and a couple of cons—or more, actually, than a couple. But the long-distance thing…you know, living in the future makes it easy, and we actually, here, all of us, um…older farts in Charleston made the jump to digital editing for Towers of Midnight which made it a lot easier than The Gathering Storm when we were still doing everything on paper.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Oh, wow! I didn't realize you guys did that all on paper!

    MARIA SIMONS

    Oh yeah…oh yeah.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I can't even imagine how complicated it would be to do it on paper.

    MARIA SIMONS

    It was pretty, uh…it worked. We got it done, but we made [?], and it was still kinda complicated because I had no idea how to do some things, and I have to email, and Peter—Brandon's assistant—would tell me how to do it. Peter's great; Peter is fabulous, and…

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I know; I heart Peter.

    MARIA SIMONS

    I wish I could have been at DragonCon, just so I could have met him.

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, me too.

    MARIA SIMONS

    But, um…you know, it's…it works. You know, we've got email, we email back and forth; occasionally we do the phone call; occasionally we actually get together, and it's...

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Yeah, probably the most difficult thing is the time difference, and…not only is he, what, three hours behind us, but Brandon does so much of his work, ah, in the evening, and in the early hours, and consequently doesn't get up at five in the morning…

    MARIA SIMONS

    That's usually when he goes to bed.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    …and so, if he has to ask us something quickly in the middle of work, or if we have to ask him something quickly, you know, we might have to wait for one or the other to wake up and get to the office.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah. [laughter]

    VIRGINIA

    He might as well be in New Zealand, as far as the time overlap.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Exactly.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah. But, you know, we made it work.

    VIRGINIA

    Cool. Well, I think Peter's probably got Dream Job #2.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah.

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, I dunno, how do you keep up with somebody who's like that? He's just…I mean, just talking to him in person—and I'm sure that probably Robert Jordan was the same way—I think it's a little overwhelming. There's so much creativity going on, and you can see that the mind is working so fast, it's almost like two or three different things going on at one time. And you know it's not, but it just almost seems that way, and you can almost get a little overwhelmed just trying to keep up with the flow of ideas, you know.

    MARIA SIMONS

    And that's very true, with Jim, and especially Jim and Harriet talking together sometimes. [Alan laughs] You know, it would be like, "Wow. What…what? Wow." Because they're just so incredibly bright, and it was just…very cool.

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  • 87

    Interview: Oct, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson (20 October 2008)

    Folks,

    This essay I just posted:

    http://www.brandonsanderson.com/article/55/EUOLogy-My-History-as-a-Writer

    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.

    LIGHTNING EATER

    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.)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    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)

    PETER AHLSTROM

    Will elements of your untitled Aether project be worked into the Dragonsteel series?

    The Silence Divine (Working title. Stand alone Epic Fantasy. Unwritten.)
    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.)
    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?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    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.

    PETER AHLSTROM (OCTOBER 20)

    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.)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    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.

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