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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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I've long been an insomniac. I think.
Insomnia is a hard one to pin down for me. I'm sure that there is an official definition somewhere in the psychologist's handbook. I just define it as "Those times when I want to sleep but I can't." However, it seems to me that a lot of those times happen when I'm trying to go to bed at what other people call a 'normal' time. I'll lie in bed for hours, just thinking or daydreaming. (Er, nightdreaming.)
Most of my life, this hasn't been much of a problem. In fact, I think it's led to a lot of the habits that turned me into a writer. Plus, if I'm having A LOT of trouble sleeping, I get up and do something else until I'm tired. That can take hours, but since I don't have a day job, I can sleep in if I want. No big deal.
The longer I've done this, the more I've realized that I rarely get insomnia if I'm consistently going to bed later at night, like around three or for am. Perhaps it's the regularity of the schedule.. Or, maybe the hour is important, and my body just likes to sleep from four to noon instead of normal hours.
The problem with this all is that it can be very difficult to get things done if get onto a schedule where you're sleeping seven to three, particularly if you have a family (which I now do.) My sickness last week (which I'm over with; thanks for all your good wishes) immediately sent me into a sleep during the day, be up at night schedule. Didn't get back on a slightly normal one again until today, when I managed to get up at 12:30. I spent most of last week either feeling really sick or feeling like I hadn't gotten anything done in FOREVER. So it was that somehow I managed to do a full-blown rewrite of ALCATRAZ 3, which was on my plate still (note the percentage bars on the website.) I'm happy to have managed to clear that away, though I do have to admit that I haven't gotten as deep into the Wheel of Time yet as I'd like to.
My worry is that, when I start A Memory of Light in the next month or two, I want to be DEEPLY entrenched in Mr. Jordan's world again. More and more lately, that's meant getting everything else taken care of completely. I want to be able to read WoT in a way that will bend my style toward Mr. Jordan's—but, with that as my goal, I don't want to be thinking about other books of mine during that time, lest I let them be influenced too much by Mr. Jordan's way of writing. (Not that it would be bad for me to learn a few things from Mr. Jordan. I just don't want to do it unintentionally. Writers have the danger of letting their styles imitate directly what they're reading at the time, and while I intend to do this on purpose with A Memory of Light, it would be wrong to do this to my other works.)
So, the second point of this whole rant? I'm about fifteen percent through a 4.0 rewrite of Warbreaker, which is the very last thing on my 'to do' list alongside writing A Memory of Light. I'm really digging the changes to the text so far, though I don't know if they're big enough for most readers to notice. Anyway, I should have 4.0 ready for download by the end of the week. Then, I'll start doing updates on my thoughts of WoT as I read it through some of the books for what I believe is the eighth or ninth time.
New Annotations tomorrow, I promise.
The latest Warbreaker revision is finished. I'm glad to have this one off my plate; I hadn't realized how anxious I was getting about this book until I sat down and worked on it. It's now been a year and a half since I finished it, and I worried that I was letting it dangle, pushing it off time and time again and not giving it the attention it deserves. This is partly due to the fact that I'm not sure if it will get a sequel anytime soon.
In the past, I've said that I was planning to write the sequel. (Tentatively titled Nightblood, though I worry that's too horror-sounding.) The problem is, I now have A Memory of Light on my plate, and it is going to need a LOT of attention. The question is, do I want to have Warbreaker come out in the spring of 2009, A Memory of Light come out in the fall of 2009, then have a sequel to a two-book series be my follow-up to that?
It seems to me that I'm in a unique position. A lot of fantasy authors dream of being able to launch something BIG. An epic series which will get a powerful marketing push and a lot of attention. It seems to make far more sense to me to launch a brand new series the year after A Memory of Light, rather than putting out an ambiguous sequel which ends a two-book series.
That doesn't mean I won't write book two. It just means that I'm thinking of starting a much larger story, then slipping in the WARBREAKER sequel sometime later.
Anyway, WARBREAKER 4.0 will go up early next week. It is my goal to post the downloadable version, then actually do an html chapter-by-chapter version for ease of reading. Would anyone (who hasn't read Warbreaker yet) be interested in this? Sound off on my LJ, my Facebook, or my forums.
You can also let me know what you think I should do next. You probably won't change my mind (it's not a vote) but I'd be curious to see what readers are wanting.
Elantris sequel (Different characters, same world.)
Big Epic (five or six books on a new project)
Random Stand Alone
Dragonsteel (Which is written, but now I don't know when to release it.)
More books in the Mistborn world
Also, for your amusement, two links:
As promised, here is the newest draft of Warbreaker; this is version 4.0. (Or, well, 4.2 since I tweaked a few things yesterday.)
If you've been waiting to read Warbreaker, I would like to note that I will—indeed—begin posting HTML pages of the chapters, making for easier reading. This will happen at a rate of one a week for about a year. Also, I soon intend to have a PDF of the entire 4.0 up for download. (Right now, all I have is the word document.) If anyone feels like making a PDF and sending it to me—or feels like sticking it into any of the various ebook formats—I'd happily include those here for download as well. As always, you can find the current and previous Warbreaker drafts in the book's portal on my website.
In this draft, I read through doing mostly medium-level fixes. Some character tweaks, some better world explanations, some pacing work. I've now sent this to my editor, who will print it off and make line-by-line notations on it as he reads through it. 5.0, then, will be the draft where I incorporate these changes. Somewhere around 6.0, I'll go through looking for smaller changes mentioned on my forums by readers. Right now, I've been making larger changes that have been suggested and that I agree with, but I haven't done many smaller, paragraph-by-paragraph edits.
This marks the turning of my full attention to A Memory of Light, and I will be doing updates relating to my read-through of the series in the coming days.
Also, I want to leave a note for all of you who wrote me about Lightsong and Warbreaker over the last couple of days. It has been extremely helpful, and while I can't write an individual response to every one of you, I can leave a very large—and humbled—thank you here. So far, this project has been very fulfilling and successful. I don't know if that will help or hurt sales, but it has been useful in ways that sales can never indicate.
One last note. Alan Capps, you wrote me an email a few days ago and I just wrote a very long response—which bounced from your email box and came back undeliverable! So, if you'd email me again, I'd appreciate it. ;)
I was planning to post Warbreaker 6.0 today, but my editor is getting back to me with just a couple of line edits on some of the rewritten scenes, so I figured I'd wait until he got to me, then post 6.1 instead. For those who are fans of Lightsong, there's an entire new scene with him in this version. Only ten pages long in manuscript form, so by no means expansive, but it is completely new. I think you'll enjoy it.
Anyway, because of the lack of a Warbreaker update, I posted two new Mistborn: The Well of Ascension Annotations.
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!
A lot of people emailed me with alternate formats of Warbreaker, which I really appreciate. Here are just a few of them. A lot of you have also sent me proofreading errors and the like, which I intend to input sometime soon. For now, here is 6.1 in several formats. (I'm posting two of each just in case one doesn't work for you for some reason.
There were others who sent me versions as well, but these were the ones that happened to be at the top of my inbox when I did this. Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to convert the document for me!
Mistborn Two: New Annotation Chapter Forty Eight
Warbreaker: Copyedit is done and turned in. I actually got this done earlier in the week, but was bouncing around too much doing other things to get the percentage bar updated.
Mistborn Three: Finding the book is still spotty, since the bestseller list spiked another round of sales. Right now, my agent says that Borders stores are slightly more likely to have copies than B&N. However, the best place to find copies are places that I've visited recently on my tour. I think Sam Weller's may even have a few numbered copies left, though those may be gone by now. (Call them first, I'd suggest, to see if there are any still there.)
Note that I'll be signing in San Diego this evening, and Mysterious Galaxy is well known for its willingness to get books to people. (They have a webstore which sells signed first editions across the world.) I'll bet if you call them today before 2pm Pacific, they'd be willing to get you a copy personalized and then ship it to you. Heck, if you call between 2 and 4, I'll bet that Dave and I are there signing still and you can tell me personally what you want me to write in your book.
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92111
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.)
One of the big time eaters lately has been the Warbreaker Copy Edit. This is the last chance that I, as a writer, get to look at and change a manuscript before it goes to press. After this, the text is locked into place, and it's very difficult to make changes other than little proofreading tweaks. So I like to take my time on a copyedit and make sure everything is how I want it. I also take a lot of notes during this point for the Annotations, as this is generally my last time reading straight through a book.
The copyedit arrives in a loose leaf form, having already been to a copyeditor. Their job is to do very in-depth line edit, meaning they're not editing for story or character, but instead trying to make sure everything is consistent, properly formatted, and grammatically correct. One of the big things I have to do in a copy edit is approve or reject any changes made by the copyeditor. (Of course, there are rarely things to reject here—but occasionally you do something for stylistic purposes that might not be standard. For instance, in Warbreaker, I wanted to have Kalad's Phantoms capitalized, despite the fact that the copyeditor wanted to make the Phantoms lower case.)
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. ;)
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.
PROJECT SIX: WARBREAKER, ELANTRIS, MISTBORN SEQUELS
Maybe someday. Time isn't right for any of them, I'm afraid. You'll see some of them in the future, though, and will probably get some Mistborn short stories sometime this year.
I love epic fantasy, but I’m of the generation who grew up reading Robert Jordan and Tad Williams and are now trying to say, what else can we do with the genre? I want to write books that feel like the great epic fantasies of the past that you’ve read, but don’t use the same, familiar stories. In Mistborn, for example, the idea was to turn the standard fantasy story on its head–what if the prophesied hero failed and the Dark Lord took over and has ruled the known world for the last thousand years? My books are also known for their spectacular, interesting magic systems that are very rule based and almost a science unto themselves. But of course none of that matters without characters whose motivations you can understand and who you can care about as a reader. In Elantris I have three very different main viewpoint characters, and readers are fairly evenly divided on who’s their favorite–in writing as in anything else, it’s impossible to please everyone all the time, but I’m happy that my books have shown so many different people a character they can relate to and root for.
Between writing Mistborn 2 and Mistborn 3, I wanted to try something new, and my series of humorous middle-grade novels beginning with Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians was the result. I love epic fantasy, and don’t intend to ever stop writing it. However, sometimes we all need a diversion toward something more lighthearted. If you want to get a taste of what my writing is like, because Alcatraz is so different from my other books I recommend that unless you’re between the ages of ten and thirteen you start with the first Mistborn book—or Elantris or Warbreaker. Mistborn is a good entry point for people who like trilogies and series (and the writing is better in Mistborn than in Elantris; I can see how much I have improved over the years). The other two are good entry points for people who prefer standalones–and Warbreaker is available for free on my website (as well as coming out in hardcover in North America from Tor next month), so it may be the most convenient starting point of all.
Thank you! During the early days of my career—before I got published—I found myself naturally creating a new magic system for each book I wrote. I'm not sure why I did this. I just found the process too involving, too interesting, to stop.
For Mistborn, I came to the book wanting several things. I wanted a great magic system that would enhance the graceful, martial-arts style fights. This was going to be a series of sneaking thieves, assassins, and night-time exploration. And so I developed the powers with a focus on that idea. What would make the thieving crew better at what they did? I based each power around an archetype of a thieving crew. The Thug, the Sneak, the Fast-talker, etc.
At the same time, I wanted to enhance the 'industrial revolution' feel of the novels through the magic system. I wanted something that felt like an industrial-age science, something that was a good hybrid of science and magic. I found myself drawn to Alchemy and its use of metals, then extrapolated from that to a way to release power locked inside of metal. Metabolism grew out of that. It felt natural. We metabolize food for energy; letting Allomancers metabolize metal had just the right blend of science and magic.
For Warbreaker, I was looking back a little further, shooting for a more Renaissance-era feel. And so, I extrapolated from the early beliefs that similarities created bonds. In other words, you could affect an object (in this case, bring an object to life) by creating a bond between it and yourself, letting it take on a semblance of your own life.
Moving beyond that was the idea of color as life. When a person dies, their color drains from them. The same happens when plants die. Vibrant color is a sign of life itself, and so I worked with this metaphor and the concept of Breath as life to develop the magic. In this case, I wanted magical powers that would work better 'in' society, meaning things that would enhance regular daily lives. Magical servants and soldiers, animated through arcane powers, worked better for this world than something more strictly fighting-based, like in Mistborn.
To further the above question by Nadine: How did you ever keep the unique power systems all straight and use them so well for your readers to understand?
The powers, to me, were just so fascinating, well developed, and unique on so many levels! I think with a lesser artist than yourself the powers might have been too much to take in, but I found them quite easy to follow and understand. Just amazing! You seriously are one of my favorite authors. I'll be in line for all of your books!
Thanks! It took a lot of practice. Keeping them straight for myself isn't so difficult—it's like keeping characters straight. The more I've written, the easier it's become.
What is more difficult is keeping it all straight for the readers. This can be tough. One of the challenges with fantasy is what we call the Learning Curve. It can be very daunting to pick up a book and find not only new characters, but an entirely new world, new physics, and a lot of new words and names.
I generally try to introduce this all at a gentle curve. In some books, like Warbreaker, starting with the magic system worked. But in Mistborn, I felt that it was complex enough—and the setting complex enough—that I needed to ease into the magic, and so I did it bit by bit, with Vin.
In all things, practice makes perfect. I have a whole pile of unpublished novels where I didn't do nearly as good a job of this. Even still, I think I have much to learn. In the end of Mistborn One and Warbreaker both I think I leave a little too much confusion about the capabilities of the magic.
The man who died before Vin took over was named Leras. (I've occasionally written it as Laras. I've said the names in my head for years, but I'm only now writing them down as people ask me on forums.) Leras, like Ati (aka Ruin), were NOT Adonalsium. (Sorry about the typo on that one in Mistborn 3. I wrote it down on the manuscript, and it didn't get put in quite right. We'll get it fixed.)
Adonalsium was something or someone else. You will find out more. There are clues in Warbreaker and The Way of Kings.
Well, here's the thing. What Sazed is right now is something of a god in the classic Greek sense—a superpowered human being, elevated to a new stage of existence. Not GOD of all time and space. In a like manner, there are things that Sazed does not have power over. For instance, he couldn't bring Vin and Elend back.
Where Tindwyl exists is beyond space and time, in a place Sazed hasn't learned to touch yet. He might yet. If you want to add in your heads him working through that, feel free. But as it stands at the end of the book, he isn't yet with Tindwyl. (He is, however, with Kelsier—who refused to "Go toward the light" so to speak, and has been hanging around making trouble ever since he died. You can find hints of him in Mistborn 3 at the right moments.
Well, what was going on here was a clue established and set by Leras before he died. He wanted something to indicate—should he be unable to inform mankind—that what was happening wasn't natural, but instead something intentional. He worried that men wouldn't be able to realize they were being made into Allomancers.
And so, the mist was set to do something very specific, as has to do with the interaction between the human soul, Allomancy, and the sixteen metals.
Each of the 'Shardworlds' I've written in (Mistborn, Elantris, Warbreaker, Way of Kings) exists with the same cosmology. All things exist on three realms—the spiritual, the cognitive, and the physical. What's going on here is an interaction between the three realms. I don't want to bore you with my made up philosophy, but I do have a cohesive metaphysical reasoning for how my worlds and magic works. And there is a single plane of existence—called Shadesmar, the Cognative Realm—which connects them all.
You will never need to know any of this to read and enjoy my books, but there is an overarching story behind all of them, going on in the background. Adonalsium, Hoid, the origin of Ati, Leras, the Dor, and the Voice (from Warbreaker) are all tied up in this.
Hey, all, there are several things I want to talk about, so I'm just going to attack them in order. (And if you work at Adobe, or know someone who does, make sure you read the last thing on my list.)
I doubt you need a reminder, but the launch of Warbreaker is only about a week away! Barnes and Noble has kindly decided to put it into one of their big summer promotions, and has ordered a LOT of copies. This is fantastic, since—if you've been reading the blog for a few years—you know that we've consistently had troubles with distribution at Barnes and Noble. Well, they've thrown themselves behind this book a great deal. Finally. So, of course, my natural panic rises that now we won't sell any copies, will prove them right for not supporting the Mistborn books to the extent we wanted, and go back to the old model of never having enough copies out. (Sigh. Sorry, it's hard to not worry about these things.)
Anyway, if you want a numbered/personalized edition, I'm happy to comply—so long as supplies last. But know that if you want to buy the book at your local B&N, Borders, or independent bookseller, I'm going to be touring a great deal over the next two years—so the chances are good I'll be able to get that copy of yours signed.
There WILL be audio editions; I suspect they'll be out a few weeks after the hardcover. There WILL be an official ebook edition to buy, if you want one—and in order to sweeten that deal, we're probably going to be selling the ebook directly through Tor.com with ALL of the annotations included months, even years, before I get them posted on my website. There should be a special deal of some sort for those who bought the hardcover to get the ebook (with annotations) for a fraction of the regular price, but I'm not sure what it will be. You might have to order both through Tor.com, or maybe there will be a rebate. So if you're thinking of getting both editions to grab the annotations and bonus content, then save your receipt on the hardcover just in case. No promises, but maybe there will be something Tor does to promote.
The edition in stores does have new scenes that aren't in the edition posted to my website. I will eventually post the pdf to my website of the final edition, though I'm not sure when I'll do that, as I don't want to undercut all of the special effort Tor.com has put into coming up with really nice ebook edition with bonus content. We'll see.
I think I've mentioned the possibility, Dave, but never given anything firm. Well, I've been doing some asking, and it seems that Harriet and Tor are all right with this. So, I'm about 95% sure that this is going to happen with the The Gathering Storm. We'll probably do signed/personalized/numbered editions from Sam Weller's by mail AND will do a release party at BYU Bookstore again. The release party will probably be a midnight release, followed by me flying to Charleston to do another event in the evening of the release day.
I can't say how many books we'll release to Sam Weller's to sell this way. The numbered editions I do at these release parties aren't to replace the leatherbound collector's editions that Tor does. (I think they're doing one for The Gathering Storm, though I don't know.) My numbered editions have no cap—I number as many, generally, as there are people. (Note that Sam Weller's still has some Warbreaker copies that I'm going to go in and personalize for people tomorrow, so if you want one, give them a call.) Mostly, the numbers are just to say "Hey, I got the book from one of the release events. Isn't that cool?" But I could see so many being requested from Sam Weller's that we have to cap it to save my hand (and my sanity.)
Anyway, that's a long way to say yes, Dave. Keep an eye on the blog. We'll try to get the announcements for these events up earlier than we did for Warbreaker.
So first and foremost, is there going to be a second Warbreaker?
Yes, but I can't promise when. I want to do a book that deals more with the Lifeless and Nightblood, following Vasher and Vivenna a little further. But the WoT made me shelf this project for now. We'll see. It should happen eventually.
Also, how did the experiment with Warbreaker turn out, and are you planning to do this with any other things you write?
It's so hard to tell, sales-wise, how it helped or hurt. I don't, honestly, think it hurt—and I think it could only have helped, as more and more WoT readers turned their eyes on me and were able to grab a book to read for free. I do plan to do it again in the future, most likely with the Warbreaker sequel.
I've got a few Warbreaker questions: Is Clod a Lifeless Arsteel?
The Divine Breath can be hid. Essentially, you have to view yourself NOT as a god at all, using a very specific bit of mental gymnastics. As a Returned, your body changes based on how you see yourself. (This, by the way, is an indication that Lightsong was more pleased with himself than he ever let on.)
You don't lose your Divine Breath, but it does go into hiding, making you look like a normal person. But you're still Returned, and are consuming a Breath at one a week. If you give away your other Breaths, you retain this hidden one, but your body will still consume its own spirit if left to do so. So you still need a Breath a week to survive, and will die the week you don't get one.
I left this as an intentional place to explore the magic in the sequel, which I had planned to be writing (and posting on my website) by the time Warbreaker was out in stores. The WoT has diverted me, and so I feel bad, since this ends up being a confusing question that a number of readers have had. The hints toward how this is working are very difficult to find. (The biggest one is probably in the opening, where Vasher thinks about how he could reach the Fifth Heightening instantly, if he wanted to.)
It involves the God King having a child. (Yes, it's possible.) I talk a little more about this in the annotations, but don't want to give too much away here.
Backup plan is to have a Returned heal him, like actually ended up happening.
First of all, I want to say how awesome your books are. The Mistborn series, in particular, is on my list of "best fantasy books ever read".
Now my question: is Warbreaker going to be the start of a series?
I've talked about the sequel. I wouldn't call it a series, though, since I'm only intending it to be two books. I actually plotted it at one, then during drafting decided that some of the things I wanted to do would be better in a sequel, and started calling it a two-book series. Tor signed me for two, and have put the second one on infinite hiatus, allowing me to turn it in whenever I want.
Is Adonalsium going to be mentioned by name in Warbreaker and The Way of Kings or is he going to be an underlining "God"(I don't know what to call him yet) idea? I am curious now, so I will have to keep my eyes open for him.
Adonalsium (Ahy-doe-Nahl-see-um) will be mentioned by name again. Ruin and Preservation were what have been called Shards of Adonalsium. (The Voice from Warbreaker is another Shard.)
Mi'chelle is wanting to know for a fanfic she's wanting to write if when you cut/break an object that has been Awakened if the object then "dies", or if the pieces will try to carry out the command. Also, either way, can the breaths be recovered from it?
The object does not die, and will try to continue its purpose. The level of damage will determine just how well it can continue. The Breaths are recoverable. (Though there could be some loss of Breaths, depending on how the item is destroyed.) There's a scene near the end where Vasher Awakens some clothing, then it gets cut down and he recovers the Breath.
Peter said if we did enough begging, we could see some Nightblood replicas. Can you give us more details? And exactly HOW much more begging would be necessary (Mi'chelle says keep it below $100...I say below $50, but I suppose if you must go higher, I might be able to compensate...)?
I've had an offer from a swordsmith who was at JordanCon. These would be more expensive replicas, though, as they be hand-made by the swordsmith himself. He does very good work, but the price he mentioned was $200, I believe.
I've put Peter in charge of looking into this and seeing how viable it is. The cost might be too high for the readers to want to buy them. What we'd do is take pre-orders, and then do a limited edition run of maybe ten or twenty swords, hand-made by the swordsmith. If we had ten or so preorders, we'd be able to do it.
This month I'll be answering questions over at GoodReads' fantasy book club, following up on their discussion of Warbreaker. Have something you've been dying to ask me, particularly about Warbreaker? Head on over there.
Rob Bedford sent me a note to let me know he'd named Warbreaker a standout book in SFFWorld's fantasy review of 2009. Over on his own blog he also named me his MVP Author of 2009. Thanks, Rob! Unfortunately, this does not come with a trophy.
Speaking of audiobooks, over at Fantasy Literature they've posted reviews of both audio versions of Warbreaker. There are also reviews of my other titles on that page, and many other reviews throughout the site.
In the most recent podcast episode of Writing Excuses, Dan, Howard, and I brainstorm story concepts using ideas from science. We started out by using a New Scientist article called "13 More Things We Don't Understand". Check it out.
In the most recent Mistborn 3 annotations I talk about the beginning of Vin's climax and her fight with the Inquisitors, Marsh and the earring, and cinematic writing. We're getting close to the end . . . I guess I should start putting up the Warbreaker annotations soon.
Finally, my good friend Janci Patterson just got her first fiction sale: her YA novel Skipped was bought by Christy Ottaviano at Henry Holt. I couldn't be more pleased for her; I gave her some comments on the book (I basically thought it was brilliant). Janci also gave me some comments on The Way of Kings that proved invaluable in writing the final draft; if you're following me on Twitter or Facebook you heard a little more about that. You may also recognize Janci from the Mistborn 3 chapter 30 annotations. Anyway, I assume Janci's book will be out in 2011 or 2012, after which you can all buy it and find out for yourself how great it is.
A couple of weeks ago on Writing Excuses, Dan, Howard, and I did some example line editing on the beginning of the first novel I wrote. It went over very well, so in this week's episode we return to White Sand and line edit the dialogue. You want to listen to it, right?
Yes, it was. That's a very astute question. I've written a blog post that I'm not satisfied with, but that I'll probably be revising and posting very soon, that is going to talk about this. When I finished the Mistborn trilogy and Warbreaker, I felt that there were a few things that were becoming Brandon clichés that I needed to deal with. I don't mind being known as the magic system guy. But when I become known ONLY as the magic system guy, that worries me. It isn't that I sat down with this series and said, well, I'm gonna show them, I'm not going to do a magic system. But when I planned this series, it was not appropriate for me to shoehorn in a lot of the magic system in book one. Though my agent suggested that I do just that. He said, look, this is what you're known for, this is what people read you for; if you don't have this it's going to be glaringly obvious. My response was that I would hope that story and character are what carries a book, not any sort of gimmick—well, gimmick is the wrong word.
Something that I pondered and wrote about a lot—just to myself—is that Mistborn was postmodern fantasy. If you look at the trilogy, in each of those books I intentionally took one aspect of the hero's journey and played with it, turned it on its head, and tried very hard to look at it postmodernly, in which I as a writer was aware of the tropes of the genre while writing and expected readers to be aware of them, to be able to grasp the full fun of what I was doing. And that worried me—that was fun with Mistborn, but I didn't want to become known as the postmodern fantasy guy, because inherently you have to rely on the genre conventions in order to tell your story—even if you're not exploiting them in the same way, you're still exploiting them.
For that reason, I didn't want to write The Way of Kings as a postmodern fantasy. Or in other words, I didn't want to change it into one. And I also didn't want to change it into a book that became only about the magic, or at least not to the extent that Warbreaker was. I like Warbreaker; I think it turned out wonderfully. But I wanted to use the magic in this book as an accent. Personally, I think it's still as full of magic as the others, but the magic is happening much more behind the scenes, such as with the spren I've talked about in other interviews, which are all about the magic. We haven't mentioned Shardplate and Shardblades, but those are a very powerful and important part of the magic system, and a more important part of the world. I did intentionally include Szeth's scenes doing what he does with the Lashings to show that there was this magic in the world, but it just wasn't right for this book for that to be the focus. I do wonder what people will say about that. I wonder if that will annoy people who read the book. But again, this is its own book, its own series, and in the end I decided that the book would be as the story demanded, not be what whatever a Brandon Sanderson book should be. As a writer, that's the sort of trap that I don't want to fall into.
Common advice to writers is to write what you know. But in science fiction, fantasy, and horror, things happen that no writer has experienced or ever could experience. So in this week's episode of the Writing Excuses podcast Dan, Howard, and I talk about writing what you don't know.
In the most recent Warbreaker annotation, I cover Siri's requirement to produce an heir, and viewpoint characters interacting for the first time. I also discuss whether Warbreaker is an antiwar novel. Check it out.
We've got two new things up for you on the Writing Excuses podcast site. First is the newest episode on creating suspense. Next Dan, Howard, and I recorded an acceptance speech for our Parsec Award. Once again we missed the awards ceremony, though Dan and I were both there at Dragon*Con . . . (And don't worry about the way I sound; my voice has since recovered.)
In other news, the most recent Warbreaker annotations cover Lightsong hearing petitions, Denth talking to Vivenna about Breath, the relationship between Lightsong and Blushweaver, and converging viewpoints in the Court of Gods.
Two more episodes of the Writing Excuses podcast with Dan Wells and Howard Tayler have gone up. In the first one we're joined by Bree Despain to talk about character quirks. In the second, we again talk with Bree about writing in first person. Check it out.
First some updates. In the most recent Writing Excuses episode we cover the excuses that keep you from writing. And recent Warbreaker annotations talk about Vasher infiltrating the palace, Lightsong playing Terachin, and Clod's identity.
I confirmed in the Warbreaker annotations that Clod is Arsteel.
Clod is more self-aware than most Lifeless. There is something left of Arsteel within Clod. The Breaths that Vasher gave him when he killed him do have an effect on this.
I mention this in one of the Well of Ascension annotations.
After I came up with the idea and had Sazed mention it, my desire to explore it more was one of the initial motivations for Warbreaker's setting.
The answer to your question is yes and no. There are shadows.
The Dragons & Fairy Tales bookstore has a 30% off sale on all Brandon Sanderson books through December 17th. They have copies of almost all of my books (they sold out of Alcatraz 4, but they do have a bunch of the first three Alcatraz books), and some of them are signed. They will ship. Call them at (801) 789-5014 or stop by the store.
I'll be signing in Murray this weekend and in Bountiful the weekend after that. Details are on my events page. Unfortunately, it looks like the Murray Borders will not get any copies of Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens, but the Bountiful Barnes & Noble already received at least 35 copies. If you plan to come to the Bountiful signing but want to buy the book now, stop by the store and pick it up, then bring it back to the signing. They also have a large number of the previous Alcatraz books and my other titles.
This week on the Writing Excuses podcast, Howard Tayler and I are once again joined by Scott Westerfeld to discuss steampunk. And recent Warbreaker annotations talk about Lightsong trying pottery and Vivenna meeting with the slumlords.
There are a couple episodes of Writing Excuses up that I have not yet mentioned. First Dan, Howard, and I did another brainstorming episode covering urban fantasy. Then at Penguicon, Howard and I sat down to record an episode with Nebula and Campbell nominee Saladin Ahmed to talk about non-traditional settings. Check them out.
Things are mostly working on my website after its recent server move—the library, annotation, and store pages are all accessible and functioning—but there's still some work to be done in the site's backend. The upshot is that I can't yet add new annotations or library items. So the Warbreaker annotations are on hiatus until that gets fixed, as are the Warbreaker html chapters, and the expanded "I Hate Dragons" short will also have a delayed posting in the library.
This week's Warbreaker annotation covers the biggest climax chapter. It's chock-full of spoilers, of course.
In The Well of Ascension I had to come up with a bunch of different religions for Sazed to study. One he mentions in chapter fifty revolves around color. It was such a fascinating idea that I decided to weave it into Warbreaker. The Awakening system uses color as both a cost and a benefit; using Breath drains color, and holding Breath increases perception of color. Awakening itself grew out of a common concept in tribal and shamanistic magic.
In fantasy, we can often approach things like this in a way that is non-threatening. We can change things a little bit and focus in a little bit more on the issue that is interesting to us. I won't say that I never do this, though again character and story are most important, but what I write about grows out of what I'm interested in.
With Idris and Hallendren, I noticed in my own work that I'd been painting religion in a somewhat less than favorable light in recent books; this is partially because I as a religious person think that the misuse of religion is one of the most purely evil things that can happen in the world. So I thought I wanted to play off of some of those sensibilities, and I built what I did in Warbreaker in part to actively show a different side of things. And when I was writing that book, the politics of the United States' invasion of certain countries and other things going on were not something that anyone could really ignore. So I would say that there are themes that grew out of that.
I didn't write the book to make a political statement. Yet at the same time the potential political statements of "Think twice about what you're doing" and of the nature of war and what it can do is something that I'm sure grew out of my own thoughts on the issues.
This week's Writing Excuses podcast has another of our microcasting episodes. Mary, Howard, Dan, and I fielded questions from people on Twitter and answered them briefly. We discussed the following topics:
* How do you hold the whole story in your head when it's a thousand pages long?
* What steps do you use when creating a character?
* As an outliner, when do you start putting in the details?
* How do you patch plot holes?
* How do you come up with names?
* Is there one writing skill you'd like to get better at?
* Writing groups: what do you look for?
It was. It was released in June, so I've really been on tour for both that and the Wheel of Time at the same time. Warbreaker is a book I wrote back in 2006. It is a stand-alone single volume epic fantasy. I wrote this before I was even aware that I would be asked to work on the Wheel of Time, and so it's kind of coincidental they've ended up coming out the same year. But that's because the Wheel of Time book which I wrote in 2008 got fast-tracked and came out as soon as they could get it through production, where the other one had been waiting in the queue for a little while.
And so Warbreaker is my solo work. It's about a number of things. Any good book, it's about more than one idea coming together. People always ask me, where do I get my ideas? Well, I find that it's hard to explain because you have to track down so many different ones to talk about where a book comes from. A lot of new or aspiring writers try to write a book with just one idea, and that never works for me. I've got to have a good dozen or so.
But what is Warbreaker about? It's about me reacting against other things I've written, in a lot of ways. The Mistborn trilogy, which you mentioned, is what I was best known for before the Wheel of Time. And it is a series about a group of thieves struggling in a world where evil has won. A lot of epic fantasy deals with the same concept: you know, a young unknown protagonist discovers he has a talent for magic or a destiny and goes on this quest to defeat the dark evil. It happened in Harry Potter, it happened in Lord of the Rings, it happened in The Eye of the World, some of my favorite books. And when it came time to write my own books and break in, I was wondering. . .you know, these stories have been done so well, I want to go other directions. And so Mistborn became the story of what happens if good loses. What happens if the dark lord wins? What happens if Harry Potter would have gotten to the end of that story and Voldemort would have killed him and taken over the world? Or what if Sauron had gotten that Ring? And so that became the history of this book series, and the stories then are about a group of so-called rejects who aren't the prophesied heroes, who aren't following what's supposed to happen, who are working in this world to try and overthrow this empire. So it is a very. . .it's kind of a dark, oppressive series. I think it's very good. People find it very exciting and enjoyable. But there are certain themes: the darkness certainly is one, and the instigating a rebellion against an oppressive force, and these sort of things.
And when it came time to write Warbreaker, I wanted to try something different. I felt that I'd spent so long dealing with darkness, I wanted to use color instead as a focus. And so one of the themes became color and how color represents life, and the magic in the world is based around the concept of color. Beyond that, I'd been thinking for a long time that anarchy and setting up a rebellion and these sorts of things could actually be a lot easier than the concept of stopping a war. Starting one, in many ways, could be easier. And I wanted to tell a story about someone who's working against a ticking time bomb to try and stop two kingdoms which are just bent on going to war with one another because of different factions, and seeing if he could dig out what's really going on and get to the root of it, and stop it.
And that's part of the theme, but there are so many other things. In part, it's about an agnostic god who doesn't believe in the religion that worships him. It's about two sisters who have to exchange roles in life. It's about a sarcastic talking sword who really likes to kill people. I mean, there are a lot of things going on in this book.
Number one, and most important, is just to keep doing it. Make good habits. Set aside a time, at least once a week, where you can spend some time writing and working on your craft. And don't worry about publishing. In fact, don't be afraid of being bad at it. A lot of people who begin writing, they assume because they've been taught writing, how to write, the actual physical mechanics of it, that storytelling will come to them naturally. And it will over time, but it's as hard to learn as maybe learning to play the piano or something like this. And most people don't expect to sit down and play the piano beautifully their first try. And in the same way, most people who sit down to write books aren't great their first try. So just remember to learn to fall in love with the process. I do have a podcast about writing. It's called Writing Excuses. You can go there and listen in, I've got some advice there. You can find that also linked through my website, brandonsanderson.com.
And Warbreaker, which we talked about, actually I released into the creative commons. When I published the hardcover, I released an electronic copy for free. So you can go to my website and actually download the PDF of Warbreaker completely for free to give a try if you want to try out my work and see what kind of writing I do.
Is Adonalsium going to be mentioned by name in Warbreaker and The Way of Kings or is he going to be an underlining "God"(I don't know what to call him yet) idea? I am curious now, so I will have to keep my eyes open for him.
I've just read Warbreaker twice now and really enjoyed it both times.
I read that although you've planned another book in the Warbreaker world you're not certain of when you can begin writing it. As it is the only book of yours that I've read to date, I've had to skip some of your answers to other questions that contain spoilers for your other book One thing I noticed in my skimming was that the character Hoid has turned up in other books of yours.
He's very intriguing and at one point I thought he might be Vasher in disguise. Is he a Returned or is he not constrained by the magical construct?
Well, he's certainly not Vasher in disguise. Keep an eye out for him in other books of mine you read. He's constrained by magic like everyone else, but he has some extra experience, so to speak.
One other question, what is the name of the planet that Elantris is on?
Way of Kings: Roshar
White Sand: Taldain
There are others, but I haven't talked much about those yet, so I'll leave them off for now.
Yes, I will be.
Wait... what!? We already have Warbreaker 1 to recommend to friends as a free trial of your work.
Not that I'm complaining, but why make W2 free too?
Because it was a part of the experience of writing the book for me. It is something I'd like to try again. (Releasing the book chapter by chapter as I write it.)
Was the Warbreaker experiment successful? By which I mean, were there more, less, or as many sales as, say, Elantris?
More than Elantris or MB1/MB2 initially, not as many as MB3. Now it's about even with Elantris. (Expected. Mistborn has the series boost, which makes the entire trilogy sell about double what Elantris or Warbreaker do.)
Yes, there is. You've been...are you a 17th Sharder?
That's a really smart question. [laughter] If you're not aware of this and you're kind of baffled by this, people have figured out that all of my books are connected, and there is a continuing character who was in Elantris who shows up in Mistborn who also is in Warbreaker and The Way of Kings. This person is trying to figure out some of the connections between the worlds.
Guess I will get things started. Thanks for visiting Brandon! You write such wonderful, believable female heroines, who are your role models and influences?
Apologies for my late arrival, folks. I'll try to answer a couple questions per day, and I'll answer everything that gets asked up through the end of the month, though it may take me a while!
Writing believable female heroines — I should probably back up and point out that I wasn't always good at this. In fact, in the first few books I wrote before Elantris I was terrible at it. That disconcerted me because it was something I wanted to make a strength in my writing. This is partially due to the fact that so many of my favorite fantasy novels growing up, when I first discovered fantasy, were from female writers with really strong female protagonists. So there was a piece of my mind that said having strong female protagonists is a big part of fantasy. I don't know how common that viewpoint is, but because those were the people whose books I read—writers like Anne McCaffrey, Melanie Rawn, and Barbara Hambly—I wanted to be able to do that in my own fiction. Even beyond that you want every character you write to be believable, and it's been a habitual problem of men writing women and women writing men that we just can't quite get it right, so I knew it was going to be something I'd have to work hard at.
I took inspiration from women I know, starting with my mother, who graduated top of her class in accounting in an era where she was the only woman in her accounting program. She has always been a strong influence on me. I also have two younger sisters who were a lot of help, but there were several friends in particular who gave me direct assistance. Annie Gorringe (who was a good friend when I was an undergraduate — and still is) and Janci Patterson were people I sat down to interview and talk to in my quest to be able to write female characters who didn't suck. I would say specifically that Sarene from Elantris has a lot of Annie in her, and Vin from Mistborn has a lot of Janci in her. In Warbreaker, Siri and Vivenna don't really have specific influences but are the result of so much time working at writing female characters that it's something I'm now comfortable with. (Their personalities arose out of what I wanted to do with their story, which was my take on the classic tale of sisters whose roles get reversed.) It's very gratifying to hear that readers like my female characters and that the time I spent learning to write them has paid off.
I really loved the character Lightsong, he was my favorite and probably one of the most interesting characters I've ever read about. Did you have anyone in particular in mind when you came up with him? How did go about developing him as a character?
Rupert Everett was sitting in the back of my mind.
Actually, in order to develop Lightsong's character well, I didn't want to imitate any one voice. That's something we always stay away from. But I had been wanting to work on writing humor in a different way from what I'd previously used. I spent a lot of time watching and analyzing the movie The Thin Man, the old comedy/mystery/crime film with an emphasis on very witty characters making wisecracks as they investigate a murder. If you haven't seen it, it's delightful. Along with An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, those were my three sources of inspiration. I was trying for a blend of those two styles—and then of course added my own sense of humor.
What made you decide to release Warbreaker on your website? Was Tor at all irked by this plan? What about your agent or those who purchased international rights?
I must say that I've purchased the Mistborn trilogy and Elantris, but that I read Warbreaker on your website.
That's all right. I knew that people would do that. I would hope that those who really enjoyed the book will pick up copies, but you know, I don't mind if they just read it and don't pick up a copy—I mean, it's there for free!
I like the idea of a free sample, and for a writer I feel that a free sample needs to be an entire novel so that you can get a real feel for how that author writes and tells a story. When I listen to music, I would like to be able to listen to an entire album and say, "Okay, is this an artist that I like?" Before I pay money for it. I want people to be able to do that with my writing. And what that means is if Warbreaker doesn't sell any copies, but it has tens of thousands of people read it who are then willing to buy and read my next books because they know they like my writing, then Warbreaker is incredibly successful.
Was Tor irked? I wouldn't say that; I mean, I got approval from them first. I don't think it's what they would prefer for me to do, but they were certainly willing to let me do it. My agent didn't like the concept at all, and I listened to his counsel, but I'm very interested in the way the internet is acting as a medium for entertainment distribution, and I wanted to experiment with that.
I think it's been a successful experiment. I think that a lot of people who were interested in me because of The Gathering Storm and the Wheel of Time announcement were able to try out my books and read one of them for free and therefore somewhat know who I am as a writer. For good or for ill. If they don't end up liking my writing, I'd rather they not have paid for it—I'd rather they not have to pay for something they don't enjoy. I think I'll end up better off—at the very least they'll think, "Well, I didn't really like his book, but he gave it to me for free," and still have a good impression of me. If they do end up liking my book, I would hope that they go and read other copies of my books. And that would increase demand on the libraries or the bookstores. Either way I think I come out ahead.
Do you ever plan to use bio‐chroma again? It'd be a shame to see such an interesting and original idea left with a single book.
It is unlikely that I will use this magic system in a different book because it is distinctly tied to that particular Shard. The sequel likelihood is good. There is more to tell in this world, so there is a decent chance I will return and do a second Warbreaker book (I've been calling it Nightblood when I've mentioned it before). That isn't to say that there will never be magic systems that will repeat across series—in fact there's a decent chance that will happen—but I'm not going to say any more on that right now.
I really enjoyed Warbreaker, especially the history of the Scholars and their relationships. Have you considered writing a prequel novel that would take place when Vasher, et al were much younger?
People ask me for prequels all the time. They've asked for Mistborn prequels, Elantris prequels, and now Warbreaker prequels. My general answer to this is probably not—just because I as a reader don't like prequels. I'm one of those readers that if the ending is spoiled for me, in many ways that can ruin the book. Because of that it's hard for me to decide to write a prequel.
When I plan my books I design them to have a beginning, a middle, an end, and a past and a future. I know what happened in the past. I know what will happen in the future. I could always write that, and I won't rule it out 100% completely. But telling the story of the Five Scholars is not something I sat down to do with Warbreaker. I had that all worked out; I knew what they did. The exciting story I wanted to tell is the one that happened in the book. There is a good chance of a sequel, but a prequel is unlikely. If I did do a prequel it would probably be in short story form posted for free on my website.
I've seen in reviews of Mistborn that a criticsm that pops up from time to time is that you tend to repeat the basic principles of the magic system. I've seen that some feel hit over the head with it. Personally, I liked that fact since the magic system was new and it helped me to remember and understand.
I'm also seeing criticsm now with Warbreaker that the magic system isn't explained enough to thoroughly understand it. I've pointed out in discussions that not even Vasher understands it all.
But here's my question: Did criticsm of the magic system's explanations in Mistborn have anything to do with Warbreaker having considerably less explanation in its magic system?"
Wow, that's a very detailed and interesting question. The answer is no.
...Okay, there's more to that answer. I accepted the criticisms of the Mistborn books with the knowledge that there was really no other way around it—the way I was writing those books and the complexity of the magic system made me feel like I needed to give those hints. It's not like I'm trying to write down to the lowest denominator, but at the same time I want to make sure that the complicated magic system is a force driving the book—and is something interesting rather than something confusing. Across a three-book epic like that I wanted to make sure that I was not leaving people behind. That's always a balance in a book series. And I don't know where to set that balance. In fact, I think the balance is going to be different for every person. Any given book that you read, some people are going to find it overexplained and some people are going to find it underexplained. I'm always trying to strike the right balance, particularly for the tone of a given book, to make that work for the novel.
With Warbreaker, as you've pointed out, the magic system is much less understood by the poeple taking part in it. In the Mistborn books the magic system is very well understood. Even though there are little pieces of it that people don't know yet, those peices are easy to grasp and understand and use once people figure out what they are. In the Mistborn books the world is in a state where people have spend 1000 years using this magic system and perfecting it and understanding it. In Warbreaker, they haven't. They still don't know much about what's going on. It's very mysticized. People haven't sat down and spent enough time pursuing scholarly research about it, figuring it out. Beyond that there's no immortal Lord Ruler figure explaining it all to them—or if there is, it's Vasher and he's not telling anyone. And so the magic in Warbreaker has a very different feel to it. I wanted it to be a little confusing, because it is confusing for the main characters.
I wouldn't say that the criticism of the Mistborn books is what drove me; the needs of the various plots is what drove me.
The paintings (I think there were at least two, right?) that remind Lightsong of his dreams and the Manywar etc. Is the Artist someone we know? If not, will we eventually meet him/her in a later book? Does the artist hope to affect Lightsong this way, or is it just some guy giving abstract art to his God?
Is the artist that painted those paintings Hoid?
Hoid did not make the paintings. The goal of those paintings—and this is spoilery, by the way—the paintings are actually what the text implies that they are. They are abstract paintings which Lightsong, having a touch of the divine, is able to see and read into things that aren't necessarily there.
Beyond that, art is a magical thing in the world of Warbreaker. When an artist creates a work of art, part of the artist's soul ends up in the artwork. Someone who has many breaths and who's Returned like Lightsong has the inherent ability to see into the art and perceive that. So Lightsong can interpret correctly an abstract piece, based on what the artist is trying to convey, in a way that a normal person couldn't.
I was not trying to make the artists anyone specifically important. In the case of those paintings, they are wonderful artists — I think they are two separate artists, if I'm thinking of the two paintings that you're indicating. As Lightsong has a splinter of divine nature inside him, he is able to interpret the paintings—to foresee, using them, and to see into the soul of the person who made them.
Also, does Endowment have some physical presence in the book similar to Ruin=Atium, etc?
Endowment does have such a thing, but it does not appear onscreen in the novel Warbreaker.
All your novels are tied together by an overarching magic system, and we usualy see evidence of this in the form of the too-still pools of water. However we did not see any such bodies of water directly in Warbreaker. Is there such a pool in Warbreaker? Is that where the Tears of Edgli grow?
Wow. I've got some very perceptive readers.
This is speculation that I will neither confirm nor deny.
If a returned gives away his/her breath they die right? So why doesn't Vasher die after he gives his to Denth?
They will die the moment they run out of breath to harvest. Once a week their body needs a breath in order to survive. Each Returned has one single superpowered breath. Imagine it as one breath that propels them up through the Heightenings, but it is only a single breath. It's what we speak of in Shard world terminology as a Splinter. And when the seventh day comes, if a Returned does not have another breath for his body to consume to keep him alive, his body will actually eat his divine breath and kill him. So they don't die immediately after they get rid of the breath, they're sort of put into a state of limbo where if they don't find more breath by the time that their feast day comes, then they will die. (Vasher did not give his Returned breath to Denth, just a number of normal breaths.)
While I loved Mistborn and am excited to see you optioned the film rights already, I think that Warbreaker would translate to film even more easily/successfully
So I guess my question is, do you agree that Warbreaker will translate to film better? Did you discuss this with the Paloppa Guys? Which of your works do you think is most "marketable" as a medium—to—big—budget film?
I think the magic system of Warbreaker is certainly better suited to film than a lot of the MISTBORN magic system. However, I think the plot and storytelling of Mistborn — because of the action/adventure style of it — would translate better to film. Story structure—wise, Mistborn, particularly the first book, is probably the best book-to-film translation I think I've got. I think Warbreaker would make a wonderful graphic novel, and someday I would love to sell rights to it in that medium. And certainly if we make a Mistbron film, the metals would have to work in a very different way. They would probably be understated in the film itself.
This question delves into religion greatly since I spent a good portion of my free time studying theology. Besides that, being a Christian, I sighted many interesting pieces in "Warbreaker," about the pitfalls of blind faith.
I'm wondering if you are criticizing some religious sects who elevate themselves as God though use God or some other deity as a method of control. With more relevance to the Christian faith, are we seeing the consequences of humans who rely on human reasoning for their understanding of God, an often superficial explanation?
Religious themes are interesting to me. I rarely go into a book saying, "I am going to expose this foible of religion" or "I am going to highlight this wonderful part of religion." I go into a book telling stories about characters, and the ways that they believe and the things that they believe have an effect on them. I try to present those as realistically as possible.
I do think that there is a dangerous line between faith and what goes beyond that. You call it blind faith, yet at the same time there is something to be said for trusting those who have gone before and for not having to fall in a pit yourself because other people already fell in that pit. Where that line comes is a subject of great debate between religious people and non-religious people. I do think that questions should always be allowed and should always be asked. It is important to be asking questions.
I don't really mind how people believe, or what faiths people have. I think it's a fascinating part of us, that we all have different faiths. Where we stray into danger is in how we treat people who don't agree with our faiths. That, I think, is a very dangerous and frightening thing — the ways that various people treat others who disagree with them. No matter what side you're on, whether they belittle them, discard them, or destroy them, these various things are one of the great pitfalls of any type of belief or faith. So I deal with that. But again it's not because I sit down and say, "I am now going to write a book about this, or tell a story about this." It's because that's what's important to the characters I'm writing.
That said, when I was approaching Warbreaker, I did think distinctly to myself, "You know, religion's been the bad guy in the past two stories you've told. You probably ought to do something different." That's why the—Spoiler alert!—the religion in Warbreaker is vindicated in the end. I think there are some very good things about their religion, and though Siri is convinced that they are the bad guys, it turns out that indeed they are not. In fact, they are quite good...though there are certain things they're doing that I wouldn't necessarily agree with.
Do you plan to annotate Warbreaker?
I've written annotations for WARBREAKER already. There is supposed to be a special edition WARBREAKER e-book from Tor.com coming that will include all the annotations right there with the text, but I'm not sure when it will appear. The annotations will still go up chapter-by-chapter on my website, but if you get the special edition e-book you can have them all at once. We'll see when that happens.
That was simply a way that he tells stories—there was no particular theme other than that. He throws puffs of different—colored dust into the air as he's speaking to try and evoke the feelings of the story that he's telling. Sorry it didn't work for you; not everything is going to work for everyone, but this is how he does it.
Well, before I gave this a try, I spoke with Cory and with my editor at Tor. I didn't want to do anything that would jeopardize the book being published. However, the people at Tor felt that it would be good exposure, and a good way to interact with the fans. So, we went ahead with the project.
I had (have) several goals with this project. First off, I wanted to give something as a free preview of my work on my website. I figure that the people who support an author's writing addiction are usually the hardcore fans who read everything the put out. The more people I can convince to TRY my work, the more long-term readers I'll pick up. So, if I give one book away for free, maybe those who read it will end up buying and reading my other books.
Secondly, I really did want to offer something as a "thank you" to those who've already read my works. If I'd just wanted a freebie on my site, I would have simply posted the finished Warbreaker about the same time that I released it in hardback. (This is what Cory does.) However, I get so much email from people asking about my writing process that I figured the best way to help out in this manner was to simply SHOW how I do it. So, I began posting early drafts of Warbreaker, followed by later ones, and so forth. My goal is to post each draft, then finally post the notes program I worked from, allowing people to see the process of how I develop a book.
As for rights, I'm really not worried. Tor is fine publishing the book anyway (they agree that right now, it's better to give a novel away for free and hook more readers.) I've indicated that people aren't allowed to sell Warbreaker copies, or to make money off of the setting. That's all that really matters, as far as I'm concerned.
I'd like to ask what led to this decadence in the Iridescent Tones, what were the social causes? It started out as the Cult of the Returned, and a simple faith in caring for the Returned so they'd live long enough to fulfill their purpose. And I assume the Voice even sends them back without memories exactly to foster this faith and hope in people, so that mortals can be part of their salvation instead of just getting divine hand-outs. That sounds really nice. But by the time we reach the events in Warbreaker, a lot of corruption and cynicism has found its way in, no?
Yes, it has. Part of it is something that Lightsong points out. Their religion encourages the best of the Returned to give up their lives for their people, and they hit a patch where a lot of the best of them have already given up their lives. The rest have their needs and wants seen to. Beyond that, remember this is a society in which they're living in a very temperate climate where there isn't very much harsh weather at all; they're very sheltered, they have an extremely rich resource, and they have a lot of leisure time. So we're mixing leisure time with a somewhat selfish batch of Returned in control, and we're mixing that with a religion that focuses on art and beauty and that sort of thing.
I think one of the dangers this society would have to be worried about would be for this decadence to creep in as has happened at various points in various cultures around the world. The society certainly isn't irredeemable at all, but it is going through a patch of these three concepts aligning in some of the worst sorts of ways. But there are some better Returned than we focus on in the book, and there have been much better Returned in the past.
I would say yes to both. Vivenna ends the book having experienced a great deal of personal growth. However, unlike some of the other characters, she is only a few rungs up the ladder. She's got a long way to go. That's why as I was plotting the book, before I even started, I decided I'd probably want to do this as a two-book cycle. Overlapping and forcing upon Vivenna the level of personal growth that it would take to get her character to completely reach an end point just couldn't happen in the book. Particularly with me doing what I did with Lightsong and the personal arc he has, and with Siri. So Vivenna certainly had a lot of growth, but I planned a separate book where I could really delve into and dig into her psychoses and her psychology.
Vasher still has a long way to go too. His personal growth is more like a zigzag pattern—a line graph with lots of peaks and valleys. He's been around and still hasn't really found himself, though he's thought he's found himself a number of times. Anyway, those two characters led me to think that there was a lot more to explore there. I didn't want to ram them through the paces it would take in this one book. I thought it would ruin the book. So I let them grow at the rate they needed to grow at, or decline at the rate they needed to decline at, and saved a second book in the series to deal more with who they are and who they become.
What do the Pahn Kahl believe in? All we seem to know is that they are similar to the Iridescent Tones. Any more info?
I was going to get into this more in the sequel, because we would have some more Pahn Kahl people. Anytime I'm saving something for a sequel, I feel like I shouldn't say too much because I don't want to lock myself in. Let's say that it's like the Iridescent Tones, but without the god—worship of the Returned. More worship in the concepts, and more of a focus on the voice itself.
One thing to remember about the Pahn Kahl is that they've kind of lost a lot of it. By letting themselves get so focused on the enemy that conquered them, they've actually ended up losing much of who they were. Not everything, of course, but substantial portions of who they were have gotten swept under the rug and consumed in their desire to get their freedom. Which is an important thing, but they've let it consume them to pretty extreme levels.
I was wondering how the animation of the lifeless statues worked, in regard to the use of Susebron's Breath. If they were lifeless, then vasher wouldn't have been able to take his Breath back out of them, nor would susebron have needed such a great deal of breath to revive them—he just would have needed a password. But if they were simply Awakened, no password would have been necessary to animate the statues, just Breath and Command.
It seems like the statues could be neither lifeless nor awakened. Are they unique, because of the use of bone, or am I missing something? The only other explanation I could think of was that they were lifeless, but Susebron's breath wasn't used to activate the statues, he simply had it passed down from vasher, in addition to the statues. If that's the case(and then I've simply been confusing myself with unnecessary, convoluted logic), why was it necessary to keep the breath safe for all these years?
Wow, there are a lot of questions in there. If you follow the drafts, I think you can see the evolution of what became of the Lifeless army. Originally I had planned for the statues to simply have been placed there so that you could Awaken them—just in my original concepts, before I started the writing—and then that became the army.
I eventually decided that didn't work for various reasons. Number one, as I developed the magic system, Awakening stone doesn't work very well. You've got to have limberness, you've got to have motion to something for it to actually be stronger. So a soldier made out of cloth would be more useful to you than a soldier made out of stone, if you were just Awakening something. At that point, as I was developing this, I went back to the drawing board and said okay, I need to leave him a whole group of really cool Lifeless as the army. But that had problems in that the ichor would not have stayed good long enough. Plus they already had a pretty big Lifeless army, so what was special about this one? Remember, I'm revising concepts like this as the book is going along. You can see where in the story I could see what needed to be there. So I went back to the drawing board again.
I think the original draft of Warbreaker you can download off my website has them just as statues, though at the time when I was writing that I already knew it would need to change. I was just sticking to my outline because I needed to have the whole thing complete on the page before I could work with it. A lot of times that's how I do things as a writer—I get the rough draft down, and then I begin to sculpt.
I eventually developed essentially what you've just outlined in the first part, before you started worrying if you were too convoluted. I said, well, what if there's a hybrid? What happens if you Awaken bones? Can you create something? The reason that you can't draw the Breath back from a Lifeless is because the Breath clings to it. If the Lifeless were sentient enough, it could give up its own Breath, but you can't take it, just like you can't take a Breath from a person by force. You have to get them to give it up willingly. So it sticks to the Lifeless. A Lifeless is, let's say, 90% of a sentient being. The Breath doesn't manifest in them, because they aren't alive, yet they're almost there. A stone statue brought to life would be way down on the bottom rung.
Is there something in between? That's the advancement I had Vasher discover—what if we build something out of bone, but then encase it in stone to make it strong, and build it in ways that the bone is held together by the force of the Breaths? That's really what you're getting at there, that you need a lot of Breath, a lot of power, to hold all that stone together. There are seams at the joints. What the Breath is doing is clinging there like magical sinew, and it's holding all of that together.
Vasher left the Phantoms Invested with enough Breath to hold them together but not to move. You needed another big, substantial influx of Breath in order to actually make them have motion, to bring them enough strength to move and that sort of thing. So it's kind of a hybrid.
The "You must give up all of your Breath, not some" line was mostly perpetuated by Denth, who is saying it to Vivenna to stop her from giving away her Breath to all the people she passes. It is a lie. Now, it's a lie that's commonly accepted by a lot of people. But it's still a lie — as we find out midway through the book, you can stick some of your Breath in an object and bring it to life, and then recover that Breath. So it's very easy to give some of your Breath to someone if you know the logical steps to take. Invest most of it into an object, give what you have to someone else, then pull back what you Invested. So it's flat-out proven in the novel that what Denth is telling her is wrong. Now, he could dance around that lie by pretending to be the ignorant mercenary — he's just perpetuating a falsehood that many people believe. But it is a lie. In fact, a lot of the things people believe about BioChromatic Breath isn't true.
One of the things I was trying with this book was to take a few steps back from Mistborn, where so much was understood. I feel that the approach I took in Mistborn is right for that book, and yet people have so much superstition regarding all sorts of science. I worry sometimes that there isn't enough superstition in my books, regarding magic as science. What people believed and what people knew and what people understood was so varied and confused throughout most of history, that I worry that I lack realism in that. Vasher brings up at several points in the book that they don't know a whole lot and that people perpetuate a lot of myths and stories and lies.
Vasher has learned to suppress his Returned Breath. When it's suppressed, it's as if it doesn't exist to him. He's Invested it into a place within himself, much like you can Invest your Breaths into a shirt, and when he gives away the rest of his Breaths, he doesn't give that one away. He could split off others of his Breaths if he wanted to — he's learned to do that, so that he could give a few Breaths and not all. It's just a matter of practicing as long as he has. But even people who aren't as practiced as him do it all the time when they Invest an object with not all of their Breath but just enough to bring it to life.
Heh. Nightblood will happen someday. Bribes of cookies or Magic Cards at signings might help. More seriously, I do intend to do this—and post it online as I write it—but it probably won’t be for a few years.
Then you shall have both when you come here this winter. Help turn a few years into six months, right?
lol. Well, it can’t hurt. But I DO have a lot on my plate... We’ll see. I want an Elantris sequel out for 2015.
Wow, an Elantris sequel would be awesome too. Where would it fit chronologically after the end of Elantris?
Elantris direct sequel would be 10 years later and use Kiin’s children as viewpoint characters living in Fjorden.
Can a Drab Return?
A Drab can not Return as the Returned are known, and there are things about the Drab that are not completely understood. But a Drab without a Breath, it’s going to be very hard. Drabs do not Return. Good question, by the way. No one has ever asked me that before.
Now, you've talked briefly—I mean, jeez, you've got so much in that conversation that I'd like to jump off from...
Sorry, I'm very verbose, so feel free to cut in any time.
...involved in thing that you did, I mean...I was thinking earlier in your comments about how those who came to start reading science fiction and fantasy in the, you know, 80s, largely—in the post-Lin Carter boom of fantasy and science fiction that came out in the late 70s, early 80s...
There's a whole generation of people older than I am, and older than you are, who read that as short stories as they came out...
Yep. Yep, and I read it as a novel first; I'd never known it in short story form.
Right, and I'm in the same boat, and those even seem, you know, like short novels to me.
You know, those are the kind of books you read in an afternoon, where a Tad Williams novel is something that might take, you know, a weekend of, you know, devoted reading...
...ah, to get through the Bible-thin pages, and the massive length of the novel has become the norm—or an Ian Banks science fiction novel...
...which, you know, if you bought in hardback, you could probably, you know, put a hole in the floor when you set it down...
...it's so weighty. But, I wanted to, since you talked a little bit about internet distribution, and, you know, the kind of expectation of 'free', but also the interactivity on something that maybe, you're not using it as a means to actually distribute, but maybe to work and foment the product. You worked on your more recent Warbreaker novel through a kind of, we'll say, sausage-making process that, if people followed it on the internet, they could see the development of the novel before it was published.
Could you about that a little bit?
And kind of the impetus behind that and, you know, how you feel about the result of that process.
The impetus behind it was really watching how the internet worked with viral marketing and with really the self-made artists—the webcomic community, I pay a lot of attention to, because of how I think it's fascinating the way that this entire community of artists is building up and bypassing all middlemen, and just becoming...you know, I have several friends who are full-time cartoonists who can make their entire living posting webcomics through ad-supported and reader-supported—you know, either buying collections or donations and things like this—I thought that's fascinating. I don't think that it will work, as I said, with long-form or even short-form fiction because of the difference between the mediums, but I like looking at webcomics as a model just to see what's going on there. There's a science fiction author, Cory Doctorow, who's a very interesting author and has a lot of very fascinating things to say, a lot of them very, uh...very...aggressive, and certainly conversation-inspiring—how about that?—and one of the things he started doing, very high-profilely—he's one of the bloggers of Boing-Boing, so he's very high profile on the internet—is that he started posting the full text of his books online as he released them with his publisher. So, Cory Doctorow is releasing his books for free, and he has a famous quote, at least among writers, which says that, "As a new author, my biggest hindrance—the biggest thing I need to overcome—is obscurity."
And, so that's why he releases his books for free. He figures, get them out there, get as many people reading them as possible...and then that will make a name for him, and this sort of thing. Well, that scares a lot of the old guard. Giving it away for free is very frightening to them, and for legitimate reasons, but there was a whole blow-up in the Science Fiction Writers of America on this same topic, about a year or so ago—what you give away for free, and what you don't—and I said that Cory was right in a lot of the things that he was saying, particularly about obscurity. There are so many new authors out there. Who are you going to try, and how are you going to know if they're worth plopping this money down? It's the same sort of problem I have with albums. I don't want to try a new artist, because if I plop $10 down and then hate every track on the album...what's...what have I just, you know, done? I feel like I've wasted the money; I feel annoyed. So, I either wait till I get recommendations—and even then, a lot of times I'll buy an album, and then be like, "Man, I wish I'd gotten something else."—or I'll try the really popular songs, which may not be the songs on the album I like, which just puts you in all sorts of problems where, how do you know if you're going to like this artist or not?
Authors are the same way. You pick up a fantasy novel—a big, thick 600-page fantasy novel—you look at it, and you say, "You know, how am I gonna know if this guy's any good?" Am I gonna spend 30 bucks on a hardcover, or even, you know, 8 or 9 bucks on a paperback, you get home, and then you start reading this and you discover that this is just the wrong artist for me? So, I felt that the thing to do was to release a book for free. Being, just, I dunno...[cut] part of it was wanted to do the [?], try something I hadn't seen before, which was to write the book, and post the drafts online as I wrote them, chapter by chapter, perhaps hopefully to get a little publicity, where people would say, "Hey, he's letting us see the process!" Partially to, you know, to give something to my fans that they couldn't get from other books, which is being able to see the process firsthand, help out new writers, whatever...whatever it could do, I felt very good about the opportunity there, and posting chapters as I wrote them, always with the understanding that this would be the next book I published; I mean Tor had already said that they were going to publish it. It wasn't an experiment in that I wanted to see how it would turn out—I was pretty confident in the story, with the outline I had—but I wanted to experiment in showing readers drafts, letting them give me advice, essentially workshopping it with my readers as I wrote it, and see how that affected the process, and affected the story.
And so that's what I did, and actually I started posting drafts in 2006; it didn't come out until 2009, so it was a three-year process during which I finished the first draft after about a year of posting chapters, and then I did a revision, and then another revision, and they got to see these revisions, and I would post um...you can still find them on my website—brandonsanderson.com—you can still find all of these drafts, and comparisons between them using Microsoft Word's 'compare document' function, and some of these things, and...I think it was a very interesting process. Did it boost my sales? I don't know. Did it hurt my sales? I don't know. It was what it was, and it was a fun experiment; it's something I might do again in the future. Probably if I write a sequel to Warbreaker, I would approach it the same way. It's not something I plan to do with all of my books, partially because not all of my books do I want the rough drafts to be seen. Warbreaker, I was very...I had...I was very confident in the story I was telling, and sometimes, parts of the story you're very confident in, and parts of the story you know you're going to have to work out in drafts, and that's just how it is, and in other cases, it's better to build suspense for what's happening, and...so, there's just lots of different reasons to do things, but Warbreaker, being a standalone novel that I had a very solid outline for was something that I wanted to try this with, and once the Wheel of Time deal happened, which was just an enormous change in direction for my career, I was very glad I had a free novel on the internet, because then, people who had only heard of me because, "Who's this Brandon Sanderson guy? I've never heard of him before," could come to my website, download a free book, read something that I'd written, and say, "Okay," then at least they know who I am. They at least have an experience—and hopefully they enjoy the book, and it will put to ease some of their worries, even though Warbreaker isn't in the same style that I'm writing the Wheel of Time book in, it at least hopefully can show that I can construct a story and have compelling characters and have some interesting dialogue and these sorts of things that will maybe, hopefully, relax some of the Wheel of Time fans who are worried about the future of their favorite series. [chuckle in background]
Right, and it's good that you're working with Tor in a lot of this, because of course Tor is one of the publishers that's kind of renown for attempting to—I mean I don't know, I don't get to look at the numbers either, so I don't know what their success is—but really attempting to get readers to purchase their books, and to read their books, and then purchase follow-up books by, you know, almost using a 'first one is free' philosophy on the internet.
Yeah, Tor is very good at that. In fact the whole science fiction and fantasy market has been very good—as opposed to the music industry—in using the internet and viral sorts of things to their advantage rather than alienating their audience, which I appreciate very much.
Yeah, I mean, obviously the music industry has a disadvantage that the publishing industry in books doesn't suffer from, and that's the brevity of the item.
Yep, yep. Very easy to download a song, and...yeah.
And they have some additional obstacles, but it's, you know, one of the things that they've done extraordinarily poorly is handle any kind of PR, or any kind of the public debate as far as, you know, defending themselves I think against—you know, legitimately it's theft, taking music for free—but, you know, attacking twelve-year-olds...
Right. Or grandmothers, or things like that. Yeah, just a [?] way to approach it. You know, they're just a very different sort of situation. With audio, number one, downloading a song and listening to it, you get the very same experience listening to it that you would if you'd bought it, whereas downloading a book, it's not the same experience; reading it electronically for most of us is not the same experience as holding the book. And beyond that, publishing in today's market is actually kind of a niche thing; it's a niche market. Not entirely of course, but science fiction and fantasy, we are...we have...despite the explosion of science fiction and fantasy into the mainstream, I still think we are a small but significant player in publishing, if that makes sense. We have a small fanbase that is very loyal that buys lots of books, is generally how we approach it, and because of that loyal fanbase, that's really how science fiction and fantasy exists as a genre, because of people who are willing to buy the books when they can go to the library and get them for free, people who want to have the books themselves, to collect them, to share them, to loan them out. That's how this industry survives, hands down. And so, I mean...that's...Tor gets by. The reason Tor can exist as a publisher is because it produces nice, hardcover epic fantasy and science fiction books that readers want to own and have hardcover copies up to display on the shelves, with nice maps, with nice cover illustrations, which, you know, covers on science fiction and fantasy books have come a long way since the 60s and 70s. Just go back and look at some of these...and part of that is because the artists of course have gotten better—there's more money in it—but there's also this idea that we need to create a product that is just beautiful for your shelf, because that's how we exist as an industry. Romance novels don't exist on the same...in the same way; they exist in lots of volume of cheap copies being sold, and romance authors do very well with paperbacks—and some science fiction and fantasy authors do too, just different styles—but with epic fantasy, we really depend on those very nice, good-looking hardcovers, and so, we....giving away the book for free actually makes a lot of sense for us, because...the idea...we're selling for the people who want to have copies anyway, who could've gotten it for free from their friends, or by going to the library and getting it, or now downloading it, I mean...we have a very literate community; they know where to find the book for free online if they want to get them illegally, and we don't really go and target those websites and take them down, because you know what....it's not...the people who are buying our books are not the people who are...how should I say? If they're gonna get them for free, it doesn't discourage them from buying the book, generally. In fact they're more likely, I think, to buy the book if they read it for free first, and then like it, we're the types of people...I mean, we're the types of people who have 5,000 books in their basements, who if they love a book, go buy it in hardcover, and if they just merely like a book, we go buy it in paperback, and loan it around to all our friends still.
And so, that's who we're selling to, and that's who I think we'll continue to sell to. I don't think the book industry is threatened by the internet in the same way that the movie and music industry is, for various reasons, but I also don't think that we can...a lot of people say, 'get rid of the middle man'. I talked about the webcomic industry, and how they're able to just produce it all themselves. It doesn't work with novels. What I think readers don't realize is that most of the cost in a novel is not the printing. Most of what you're paying for when you're buying a book is the illustrator, is the copy-editor and the editor, and the layout and design team and all of this, which you really can't get rid of. Bypassing the middleman means you'd get a book that's unedited, and if you've read a book that's unedited, you'll realize why we have editors and typesetters and all of these people, and so, you know, the Kindle Revolution, if it ever happens—the ebook revolution or this sort of thing—will actually, I think, be a benefit to us, but I think people are going to be surprised that the prices don't come down as drastically as they would've thought, because of that, you know, $25 hardcover, you know, $5 of that is printing and shipping, but most of that is overhead for the publisher.
Yeah, Lord knows I read the unedited version of Stranger in a Strange Land, and I said, "Oh god, give me the edited version again."
"How is a Splinter different from a Sliver?
"Let me see... You have met splinters in Elantris, Warbreaker, and in Way of Kings. You have not met them in Mistborn."
"I feel like we know that. So, qualitatively, what's the difference?"
"Qualitatively, they're reverses of one another. A Sliver is a human intelligence who has held the power and released it. A Splinter has never been human."
"But it derives from a Shard's power."
"Yes. That's not it completely, but there's at least something to think about."
I do remember some things, but the majority of the questions were about WoT.
He said that all of his own books take place in the same universe, but not on the same world per se. The overall magic system was based on the principle of investing, i.e. people and things are invested by magic. So for example in Mistborn, the metals themselves aren't magical, but they become a vessel for the magic.
Also he said that the ways of magic are different. In Mistborn it's genetic (or through ingesting atium, but he didn't talk about that). In Warbreaker it has to do with gathering other people's Breath, etc.
"I loved the character reversal that took place with Vivian and Siri..." and actually I'm enjoying that at the moment "...did you come up with that idea- was that an early idea in your planning or did it emerge as a result of the story writing itself?"
That's a good question, for most of those they were early ideas, my- I had two main themes for myself when writing Warbreaker, one was character reversals I wanted to play with the idea of reversed roles, you see it from the very beginning when the two sisters are forced to reverse roles and also the role reversal between Vasher and Denth.
The other big thing was I wanted to work on my humor and try and approach new ways of being, of having humor in a book and seeing what different types of character humor I could use. It was really me delving into a lot of Shakespeare at the time and seeing the way he pulled reversals and the way he used multiple levels of humor and I wanted to play with that concept in fantasy novels, so a lot of those were planned. Some of them were not, some of them came spontaneously, as you're writing the book, you always come up with great ideas for books while you're working on them so you kind of see the evolution of a few of them.
Warbreaker is posted for free on my website, the complete draft of it and I actually posted the first draft all the way through to the last draft and so you can actually take and compare the first draft to the very last draft and even the chapters as I wrote them you can see how some things were evolving and coming to be and I was realizing certain things while I was doing it and other things were, were very well foreshadowed from the beginning.
Correct me if I am wrong. But has Brandon not been planning sequels for Elantris and Warbreaker?
BUt writing a sequel after the fact does not mean the first book is not Stand-Alone.
The question will be whether the 2nd book is as stand-alone as Warbreaker was, for instance.
Totally true! That's why Fellowship of the Ring, Eye of the World, A Game of Thrones, A New Hope, and The Final Empire were all standalones!
(In less snarky terms, Elantris and Warbreaker may both be less obviously part of a series, but there's pretty obviously a ton of story hooks for potential sequels. Hell, Warbreaker ended with two characters going off on adventures! Brandon has said he's always planned on them being part of series.)
Brandon also adds story hooks even if he never plans on writing more. That's because books with no story hooks feel artificial to him. He wants to give a sense that the characters lived before the book started and will continue to live on (at least, those who don't get killed) after the book ends.
I am currently reading Warbreaker and I am loving what Vivenna is going through, questioning herself and her motivations.
Thank you, I appreciate that. That book, in my mind, the English professor version, is a book about reversals. Different people have to fulfill roles that they didn’t expect they would have to fulfill. Characters that you don’t expect doing things—the twists and turns are about reversing people’s roles in the plot. Hopefully that theme works for you as you finish the book.
Yes, I’m very close. [Shows Brandon the bookmark in Warbreaker.]
Oh, wow, so you’ve hit most of them already.
I was trying to get it finished before the interview, but I’m getting there.
It’s all right. Yeah.
You released Warbreaker by installments on the Internet.
Yes, I did.
The 21st century equivalent of Charles Dickens’ serial publications, except yours were free. Later you edited these chapters, releasing documents comparing the drafts so people can see the changes. What was this process like?
It did send my agent and editor into a bit of a panic. Fortunately I wasn’t very popular as a writer back then; well, not unpopular, but I didn’t have my current notoriety. I was doing all right; my books were selling fine; but I had not hit top gear as a fantasy writer yet. So me doing this did not send them into as much of a panic as it would have if I did that now. I still intend to do it again, but don’t tell them that. It was cool because it was something I hadn’t seen done before. The Web offers us the opportunity to do things like this. I thought I’d give it a try, and so I released it. They use the term crowdsourcing now; I was crowdsourcing my feedback.
Instead of using a writing group, which I normally do, I released it to the fans to see what their reaction was. That’s dangerous because, as a writer, you have to learn to read between the lines when people are giving feedback rather than doing everything everyone suggests you. If you do everything everyone suggests to you, your book will be schizophrenic; it’s going to go all over the place. Some people will want one thing from it; some people will want another. You just can’t write to fan demands, otherwise you won’t have a cohesive story. But it was fun to see the responses and, as a writer, if you can pick between the lines and see the legitimate problems and fix those in drafts, it can be a very big help and it can be fun. I think it did help, and it gave the fan base something.
One thing they don’t talk a lot about in New York but one thing that is absolutely true is that fantasy and science fiction readers are very tech savvy. Every person who buys one of my books could get that book for free if they wanted to. They know how to find it, even if it is not just the library: finding it online. Every one of them can pirate the books. There is nothing we can do to stop that; in fact we should stop jumping up and down about it as much we do. Anytime I want to check, it takes me thirty seconds online to find a free copy of one of my books. Every person who is buying one of my books is doing it because they want to support me as a writer. So I want to do things to give back to those readers, to say: ‘I acknowledge that you are doing this, you are supporting me. You’re not just reading, you’re supporting me as a writer.’
In a lot of ways it takes us back to this interesting image of Dickens, because during that era a lot of writers, in order to be an artist, would have a patron. That was how you became an artist in an earlier era. Now we are kind of moving back toward that model: the readers are our patrons; they choose to give us money. They don’t just read us, they choose to support us. So I try to do things like Warbreaker. The annotations of my books are another way I try to do this. I try to go chapter by chapter and write an annotation, an extra like a behind-the-scenes DVD commentary, if you will, on my books. And for anyone reading this interview, Warbreaker is still available for free on my website: the actual published version. DRM-free, just download it. And once you read it you can compare it to the first draft. I do this as a thank you to all the readers who support me in this.
Since you've had this other career—which has helped, I'm sure, in a lot of ways—what impact has this been on your original writing career, I mean I know you had to have slowed down your progress and your series, but you've still been writing those. What are the biggest impacts you've seen on your writing career because of taking on the Wheel of Time?
It's definitely done some...it's made me have to put down projects. In fact, next year, I have coming out the projects I was working on in 2007 when this came my way; The Rithmatist and Steelheart are both books that I did way back then that I didn't feel that I was able to release in the middle of the Wheel of Time books, even though I had them done, because I wouldn't have been able to do the revisions on them, and because I wouldn't be able to support them; I wouldn't be able to do sequels and things like that. They're both YA books. And that's, you know...when I accepted this, I said "Okay, I'm shelving these things." I did get to do a couple of books, I got to do The Way of Kings, which, granted, I already had a draft of that done. So really, the only book in these last years, the last five years that I've been doing this, that I've written from scratch and released was Alloy of Law. And so it's going to...it did kind of slow me down. The only reason it didn't slow me down as much as it could have was because I had all of this stuff done already. I had a great big backlog of books, because I enjoy writing, and I've been writing for years, and back then I wasn't as popular as I am now, so Tor would put things in slots later on, like...while I've been working on these, Warbreaker and Mistborn 3 came out, both of which were done years before I was offered the Wheel of Time. And so...yeah, all of this stuff that I had been working on long ago got delayed, and that was just fine—I went into this eyes open—but it is going to be nice to be able to go back to these things and give them some of the support that I've wanted all along.
You know, this project took more time than all of us expected it to. I had to say yes sight unseen to knowing how big it was. I knew what Jim had said, but I didn't know how much of it was done. I didn't know that we had two hundred pages out of two thousand. There was no way for me to know how much would need to be done. So yeah, it's been a big long deviation, but not a distraction, because I think my writing has grown by leaps and bounds. It's kind of like I had to go pump iron, because writing in the Wheel of Time has been much harder than writing on anything else I've done, and I have been forced to grow, and you can see my being forced to grow between the books in the Wheel of Time books. I think my writing is way better in Towers of Midnight than it was in The Gathering Storm, particularly in some of the ways that that Jim was strong. And so, I think that's helped me. It's certainly not an experience that I would trade for anything. I got to read the ending in 2007, so there's that. (laughter) But yeah, it's been a wonderful experience, but boy, it's been a big, big, big deviation. It's not where I thought my career would go at all.
Was it daunting seeing just that small amount of work that was taken care of before you stepped on?
Well, it's daunting in two ways: First, I got that. It was really nice to have the ending. Like, having the prologue and the ending basically done—those were the two things that he did the most work on—meant that I had the bookends, which is how I build an outline anyway. I know where I start, I know my ending, and I build an outline out of that. But at the same time, there's three million words of notes about the series, which is daunting in another way. Yes, there's two hundred pages of work done on the book, and then there's this stack over here of all these other notes that include all of these things that are just mind-boggling, the stuff that's in there. We released a few of them last year for you guys. Was it last year that we released the notes?
Yeah, we got the page on Cadsuane and...
Yeah, the page on Cadsuane and stuff like that. You just see all of weird things that he had in his notes. I have all the same sort of weird stuff in my notes about like Stormlight and stuff, but it's just fun to see. You go pore through these notes...he has the most random stuff. Lists of trees, lists of people, lists of this, and just millions and millions and words of this stuff, more than I can keep track of at all. It requires Maria and Alan to keep track of all this stuff. So it was also daunting in that, yes there are two hundred pages written, which actually nice, because as I've said before, if the book had been 80% of the way done, they wouldn't have needed to hire me, they wouldn't have needed to bring me in. When a book is 80% of the way done, that's when you get a ghostwriter, or Harriet just does it herself. She really could have done it in-house herself and finished that and said "Look, here we're going to do a few patches and stuff, but the book is mostly done."
And so, getting there and saying "Hey, I actually get to do something with this, I have an opportunity to add the scenes that I've been wanting as a fan for years and years, so I get a chance to actually write these characters, rather than coming in and just patching some holes," was very thrilling for me at the same time. You know, I worried that I would get there and it would just be patching holes—"Write these five scenes," or something like that—and that would have meant I wouldn't have really had a part in it. Granted, that would have been better, because it would have meant there was more Jim in it, and it would have made a better book, but at the same time, when I got to see those two hundred pages, I was saddened but excited at the same time.
I've read a bit online about how you have an overall storyline covering all of your novels, but I really don't know much about it. I was wondering if you could expand and explain.
Okay. The overarching story of all of my novels. This warrants some backstory. If you weren't familiar, I wrote thirteen novels before I sold one. I spent a lot of time practicing and learning, and I love big epic grand series. However, you know, you can't grow up reading the Wheel of Time without loving big series, but advice I heard early on was, selling a big series is actually pretty hard from a new author and if you, for instance, spend your life and you write like six books in the same series, and you send off the first book to someone and they don't buy it, you can't really send them the second book because, you know, they've already rejected that, and so it's really putting all of your eggs into one basket, and that doesn't end up working out for some people. I didn't want to do that; I wanted to expand my chances, and so I wrote thirteen novels in different worlds, all with their own different magic systems and own characters. But secretly I loved the grand epic, and so I started connecting all these worlds during my unpublished era, and telling a hidden epic behind them all that I was setting up for.
Well, eventually I sold book number six, and embedded in book number six was a bunch of this stuff for the hidden epic, of course, and six is actually one of the ones where I first started doing this. My first five were kind of throwaway novels. It was six, seven, eight, and nine that were really involved in this. Six was Elantris; seven was a book called Dragonsteel; eight was a book called White Sand; and nine was a book called Mythwalker, which eventually became Warbreaker, which I eventually rewrote and released as Warbreaker. So that four-book sequence was very ingrained in this kind of hidden story behind the stories. When I started publishing these books, I just kept it going, the hidden story, the hidden epic.
Now one aspect of this was that I didn't want people to have to know all the books that came before to understand what was happening in any one of them. So, for instance, if you read these you don't need to know anything about the hidden epic. It is back there behind the scenes for some day when I actually write a series dedicated to it, that there will be all this foreshadowing, but it will never directly and in really important ways influence a given series. For instance, you don't have to have read Elantris to understand Mistborn even though technically they're sequels; Mistborn is technically a sequel to Elantris, just set on a different planet.
There is one character who has appeared in all of my novels, and several other characters who have jumped between novels. For instance there's a character from Elantris who is in The Way of Kings—one of the main characters from Elantris shows up in Way of Kings under hidden auspices, but it's pretty obvious; the fans found it really fast, those who were watching out for it—but that sort of thing. So, there is a story going on behind all of this that I will eventually tell, but what do you need to know about it right now? That all of these things are basically Easter eggs right now. None of them are dominating the storyline at all; it's just a bunch of cool Easter eggs that eventually will mean something to you. So the character to watch out for is called Hoid; it's a pseudonym he usually uses—pseudonym is I guess the wrong term; the alias he normally uses—and he's all over in the books, so if you watch out for him you'll see him.
The Fantasy Series
I'm in the middle of an experiment. My newest book, Warbreaker, is a stand-alone epic fantasy, much as my first book Elantris was. Obviously, I'm not the only one to release stand-alones in this genre. There's a grand tradition of it, and some of my personal favorite books are stand-alones. I'm curious to see how readers react to me jumping away from a series and doing another stand-alone, as it's something I want to do fairly frequently.
And yet, though I don't let the sales choose what I write or publish, I do let them worry me. Really, releasing this book should be like releasing any other. I'm excited about it, I put my soul into it, and I think it represents some of the best writing I've ever done. And yet, at the same time, I know there's going to be less excitement about it from the readership than there was for the final Mistborn book. Stand alones tend to get reviewed more and better, they tend to make fans happy, and yet they just don't tend to sell as well. (I don't know for certain—I won't see numbers on the release week until next Wednesday.)
Ever since Tolkien had to split Lord of the Rings, there has been a strong tradition of the fantasy epic coming in installments. We fantasy readers like lots of worldbuiling, lots of depth of character, and lots of viewpoints. And yet, at the same time, it seems that we like to complain about the length of the series. We want them to be long—but we don't want them to be TOO long. The problem is, we all seem to have a different definition of what makes a series "too" long.
If you look at the figures, the Wheel of Time didn't start hitting #1 on the New York Times list until its eighth or ninth book. It took Goodkind longer, with Sword of Truth. I believe the eleventh book was the first to hit #1. Even while people were complaining about these series, they were buying more and more copies of them. Perhaps that's what was making them complain—they really wanted an ending, and were willing to read until they got to it. They just wished they could get the ending sooner.
Or maybe the ones complaining are just a vocal minority. Still, the genre's love of the huge series does worry me a little. The length of a story shouldn't be dependent upon what the market wants, but what the story itself demands. If I write a story that I feel takes one book, I want to (and will) release it as one book. If it takes three, I'll do three. If it takes ten, I'll do ten. I hope to have the flexibility to be doing a little from each of those piles during my career.
Yet even as it worries me, there's a piece of me—that fantasy novel lover who grew up as a teenager reading Eddings, Williams, and Jordan—that pushes me to do something BIG. Something grand in scope, something massive, long, intricate, and...well, epic.
So what are your thoughts? Short series? Stand alone? Big epics? Why do the long series sell so much better when people are vocally claiming they wish there were more stand alones and trilogies out there?
Brandon, thank you for sharing your time and thoughts with us here at Babel Clash. Would you like to take your last post or two and share with us why Warbreaker is an essential summer read and a perfect addition to any book lover's collection?
All, attached is a YouTube interview with Brandon. Please check it out, and then, if you haven't done so already, track down your copy of Warbreaker: YouTube Video.
This is the part where I pitch my book, apparently. Only, I'll admit, I've never been that great at this part of the whole process. I once heard a wise man (Robert Jordan) say something along the lines of "Well, I wrote the series as long as I did because that was how long it took me to tell the story. If I could tell the story in a one-page summary, that's what I'd have written in the first place." I always had trouble writing a query letter or synopsis for one of my books. (Note how I cleverly worded that sentence in such a way as to keep from having to figure out how to spell the plural of synopsis.)
But if you'd like a summary, here's a page where I posted some things my editor wrote about the novel:
That page also includes a nice long list of reviews from top tier media sources, including some glowing words from:Publisher's Weekly (They call the book Powerful, extraordinary, and highly entertaining.)
Are the words of those nice people why you should read my book? Well, I guess it depends. What and what are your personal tastes? Warbreaker is a stand-alone epic fantasy, self-contained in one book with an original magic system. The story focuses on reversals and witty dialogue, along with some (hopefully) deep and interesting characters. Is that why you should read the book? Perhaps.
If you've liked what I've had to say on the blog, if you enjoy epic fantasy that tries to take a few steps away from the cliché, if you like to support people who post their books on-line for free alongside the store product, or if you're simply curious who this guy is that is finishing the Wheel of Time, maybe that is why you should read the book.
But it's hard for me to explain to people what they 'should' do. You make that call yourselves. It's been a pleasure visiting with you all for these two weeks, and I hope to do it again some time. If you're curious about my work, check out the link above. If not, then you're fine by me. Not every book is going to appeal to every reader, and we can like different things and still get along.
Thanks for listening to my random rants!
You posted the chapters of Warbreaker on your website at BrandonSanderson.com as you wrote them. The first and some subsequent drafts of the novel are still available for download to help aspiring writers study your revision process. What are some of the positive and negative consequences of posting your work in progress?
For one thing it lets people see all of the pops and bells and whistles that go into a book, meandering, sometimes, toward becoming a better novel. My agent and editor's big worry is that readers would read an unfinished work and therefore have a wrong taste in their mouth for how my books are. So I'd say that's the biggest disadvantage. I don't think personally that there has been any sort of sales repercussion. I can't say for certain.
I would like to say that it has been better for my books, particularly releasing it when I did, when a lot of Wheel of Time fans were discovering that I was taking over their series and wanting to know what kind of writer I would be. They were able to download the book for free and know a little about me and my writing. I think it was helpful. I think the big advantage is that I was able to give something back to my readers. I'm always looking for something I can give back. They support me; I get to do this job because of them, so I like to add as much value as I can to the books for them.
Moving on, another of your projects is the standalone fantasy novel Warbreaker. What's cool about this book is that you're offering it as a free download while you're writing it, giving readers the opportunity to witness & provide feedback on the book as it evolves from its roughest stages to eventually, a final version and publication, all in the name of publicity. Personally, I love the concept and just wondered if you had any other innovative ways for authors & publishers to promote books, especially with newer writers?<.p>
I like the multimedia idea. I've often wondered if offering a CD with a book might be good—an audio book with some of it read by the author, or music inspired by the story, or something like that. I post excerpts of different drafts of my books on my website, and readers, especially those who are aspiring writers themselves, seem to like that. I think there are many kinds of "bonus material" that writers could include with their books in the way of special features that are often included on the DVD versions of movies. This is what I try to do on my website with my annotations and deleted scenes.
Are you thinking about anything else in the Elantris world? Or Warbreaker?
Yes, Elantris will be sooner than Warbreaker. Warbreaker will be a ways off. You may want to find Emperor's Soul; it's in the Elantris world.
Is there a Cosmere-specific term you use to describe, say, a Shard's power inside someone? For example, people on Scadrial had little bits of Preservation in them that made them sentient (and, with enough Preservation, Allomancy). This obviously doesn't make these people Slivers or Splinters, so I was just wondering if you had a word for it.
In my own terms, I refer to all of this as types of investiture. The degree, and effects, can be very different - but those people are invested. I term this Innate Investiture, and it is similar to what happens with people on Nalthis. That is also innate.
A lerasium Mistborn's kids would surely be Allomancers. If such a lerasium Mistborn traveled to, say, Nalthis, fell in love and had kids with a native Nalthisean, would those kids be Allomancers? Or something else?
In most cases, they would still be Allomancers. Mixed, potentially, with something else depending on the native innate investiture. That mixture could do some strange things, though.
I just want to start out by thanking you for writing such wonderful books, one read-through TWoK made you my favorite author. I cannot wait for Emperor's Soul so I can get some new cosmere information! As a 17th Sharder I have to ask at least two timeline questions.
When is Emperor's Soul set chronologically in relation to Elantris? Because if its around the same time Teod and Arelon might not have to stand alone against the Fjordell Empire.
My other question is also a timeline one. (There are a lot of those tonight haha) I heard you had to move TWoK a little bit due to some plot constraints. So does Warbreaker still fall around the same time as AoL or has that shifted as well?
I understand if you don't have time to answer these, I know authors are busy. Its great to see one such as yourself interacting with your fans. Thanks again for providing me with books that I've speculated for hours about!
Thanks for the kind words! Emperor's Soul is after Elantris, but not too long after. It is before Mistborn.
Second question is that I've moved things so that TWoK is around the same time as AoL, forced by some behind-the-scenes events. Warbreaker now happens before AoL.
Some great projects there Brandon and I'm really excited to hear you've decided to publish some of your own books.
Firstly, thank you so much for stopping by! It was great meeting you in England last year (despite my nerves!) and that interview we did still picks up tons of hits on youtube! It was truly a great day. Remembering how many question I hit you with; it probably won't surprise you I have more
1. So, now that you are self publishing - has it given you a new found respect for those who have been self publishing from the beginning? I mean, now you are do doubt speaking with printers, typesetters, cover artists, reviewers, convention organisers. I guess you are having to market your own titles as well (although you've always been a great author for self promotion). Also, has the amount of work surprised you?
2. I remember you saying originally that a lot of your work you wrote from your heart and based upon your own interests. I believe you struggled to get much attention from this early work and I believe your said Mistborn you wrote for the market as opposed to for yourself. Now that you are self-publishing certain titles, do you think we will be seeing more 'unique' and 'out-there' projects? I.e. Fantasy that is quite unlike things we have seen before?
Thanks for your time, Brandon!
1. Well, I get to cheat. I've done well enough that I ave a full-time assistant with a lot of experience in desktop publishing. So, I can hand him the book, and he can take it to design town. That said, we on the more traditional track have had to do some eating of our words in recent years. Once upon a time there was a large stigma to self-publishing, and we all kind of got infected by it. So when it became viable as a real, serious alternative for authors, we had trouble getting rid of our biases.
I wouldn't say the amount of work has surprised me, as I've paid attention to those self-publishing. I teach a writing and publishing class, and I've found that as publishing changes, I've had to keep my eyes on what it takes to publish reasonably on your own. I also know how much work goes into publishing a book on the publisher's end, and had no illusions about how much work it would take us.
2. You've got the story mostly right, though it was the original draft of Mistborn (that did not get published) which was a 'For the market' book. It was awful. The Way of Kings was the book I wrote after that, giving no care to the world, writing only from my heart--and so you can say I've already started doing that. I would like to point out, though, that the second version of Mistborn (the one that got published, in which I tossed aside everything but the magic system and some original character concept) as in my mind a 'return to form' of the books like Elantris that I'd been writing and feeling were not getting attention.
There are connections in the things you mentioned above, though I don't want to speak of specifics yet for risk of spoiling future revelations.
As for blurring the line between what makes sense and what is fun...I err on the side of the fun. However, part of my meticulous planning is about how to make the fun make sense. I feel that is part of what makes this genre interesting. I decided I wanted to do a story about the Knights Radiant, with the Plate and Blades. From there, I spent a long time thinking about what would make those kinds of weapons reasonable and important to a society.
You can do anything, but do try to focus on laying your groundwork and being consistent.
Anything infused (regardless of the world or magic that infused it) is resistant to magic. So you'd have a lot of trouble pushing or pulling on a spike, unless you had access to a boost of some sort to overcome the resistance.
So, Nightblade would be resistant to steelpushing? Good to know ;-)
My friend and I asked him something like this at a book signing, but for some reason it never seemed to make it onto 17th Shard. We asked if a shardblade or Nightblood could be used as a hemalurgic spike (i.e.: two different investitures of magic). Brandon said that yes, in theory you could do that, but objects have a limit to how much investiture they can hold, and that it could be argued that things like Nightblood and Shardblades are already "full."
What influenced the creation of the writing system in Warbreaker?
He'd been writing a lot of kind of grungy booksâ€”Mistborn and Elantris are all sort of grimyâ€”and his (editor? agent? one of the two?) pointed that out and suggested he write something colorful.
I think I didn't phrase my question clearly enough. He answered with an explanation of the magic system's origins instead, which is interesting but not what you wanted.
All of the keeps in the Mistborn series are based on real structures I've visited. The mists are based on a trip to Idaho, were I drove through a fog bank at high speeds.
Warbreaker's setting was inspired, in part, by a visit to Hawaii.
Much of Roshar is inspired by tidal pools and coral reefs.
BOOKS YOU WILL SEE SOON: (The books that are done.)
The Rithmatist (once named Scribbler): Summer 2013
Steelheart: Fall 2013 or spring 2014.
BOOKS YOU WILL SEE SOMEWHAT SOON: (Working on right now.)
Stormlight 2: Hopefully Fall 2013.
Shadows of Self (New Wax and Wayne): 2014
Alcatraz 5: I own the rights again now, and hope to write this book sometime in the near future.
Stormlight 3: Goal is to write this soon after Stormlight 2
Steelheart and Rithmatist Sequels: I will probably try to do one of each of these between Stormlight 2 and 3.
Elantris 2: I'd still love to do a sequel for 2015, the 10th anniversary of the book's release.
Warbreaker 2: Long ways off.
Dark One: Unlikely any time soon.
The King's Necromancer: Unlikely any time soon.
I Hate Dragons: Unlikely any time soon.
Death By Pizza: Turned out mediocre. Won't be released anytime soon.
The Silence Divine: Will be written someday.
White Sand: Will be written someday.
Mistborn modern trilogy: Will be written during the gap between Stormlight 5 and 6.
The Liar of Partinel Didn't turn out well. Scraped.
Dragonsteel: Won't be written until Stormlight is done.
Not a lot of changes from back then, except that Steelheart got finished and Rithmatist got a release date for certain.
Just wanted to ask how you come up with all your different universes?
You know, it’s hard to say where specifically where they come from. You can point to certain ones and say, Mistborn, Mistborn came from me driving through a fog bank at 80 miles an hour and saying, “Wow that looks cool, can I use that?” And you can point at Warbreaker with me saying, “I’ve done this whole world of ash and I need to do something colorful, let’s build a color based magic system.” Way of Kings is definitely influenced by tidal pools and things like that. And so, each one’s different, it’s just things I see that I think will make interesting stories and settings.
Is the risk of Vasher dying from wielding Nightblood unsheathed too long because Nightblood would consume his divine Breath or does that also extend to those who are not Returned?
Yes, and yes, it does apply to others.
I remember reading you answer earlier that a person being used to charge a hemalurgic spike does not necessarily have to die. Would that victim be similar to a Drab from Warbreaker?
Well, making a spike rips off a piece of someone's soul. So...yeah. I'd need to see my exact quote from before, but let's say it's not going to leave a person in good shape.
Hey Brandon. Just now finding out about this AMA so I don't know if you will answer this but I really must know something.
I'm just wondering if you still plan on doing a sequel to Warbreaker one day. I just want to say that Vivenna was my favorite character and had my favorite arc. I remember you saying in the annotations that you were worried that people would be disappointed with a sequel starring Vivenna but I just wanted you to know that at least this guy would not be disappointed.
Good to know! Thanks.
Yes, the Warbreaker sequel will happen—but it's near the bottom of my list at the moment. (I'm sorry.) I want to make certain the Stormlight Archive doesn't languish first.
Hey Brandon, just one question I have.
Why didn't you continue with Warbreaker as a series? Seriously the best characters you have made are in that book IMO (though I haven't read Elantris yet, I've read everything else you have made).
The primary reason is because the story doesn't cry for an immediate sequel, while Way of Kings did. That forces me to prioritize Stormlight. But I will eventually get to another Warbreaker book.
If Denth had let Vasher erase part of his memories, would he still retain the skills he had learned during that time?
To an extent. He would still have the reflexes and such, but skill isn't entirely reflexes, so he would lose the parts actually associated with memory. It would be easier for him to re-learn, due to his already having the reflexes, but he wouldn't be nearly as good at these skills without the memories or re-learning them. As a side note, Denth almost did it. Like really really close. He decided not to because he felt that he would be losing part of himself. And he would be right.
Other Happy and Exciting information on various books:
Nightblood: Would mostly be about Vasher and Vivenna hunting down the last of the Five Scholars. Apparently.
Over-arching thing with the Shards of Andonalsium: Brandon told me tonight that he actually has a chart/list thing with all of the books that he's planned in the shards universe. His exact words were something about having an arch over thirty-six books involving the shards of Andonalsium. Which makes me wonder if we're going to get some of the story about Andonalsium. He also said that there were only a few lines in each book to give us clues. Apparently there's something in the HoA, but I didn't notice anything when I read through it. Of course, I wasn't looking for it. He mentioned that there were 36, or possibly 38 (he couldn't remember which) books that would be in this universe. They included all of the Mistborn books (all 3 trilogies), all of the Stormlight Chronicle, all of Dragonsteel, Elantris, Warbreaker, White Sands, the other book that I mentioned but can't remember the title of, and others. I'm excited.
So, are you planning on doing anything else with Elantris or Warbreaker universes?
I am. I don’t know if you read Emperor’s Soul but it’s in the Elantris universe. It’s set on a different continent, so you have to keep your eyes open to see the connections but the magic systems are working on the same fundamental formula. You will enjoy that one if you liked Elantris and Warbreaker I will get back to eventually.
Here’s an interesting one. Why do some Breaths flare when people die? Vasher mentions it in the book.
I will answer that in the next book, if I ever get to it.
A lot of your works that are stand alone novels or seemingly completed stories, you have announced or started working on sequels for. Are there any stories that you feel complete and don't need to work on the same world or characters again? Or do feel there is always some new tale to tell about every world you make?
Thanks for being involved in the reddit community so much, and for writing books I've enjoyed very much.
It's hard, because the way I plot I always have to know what happened before the book and what will happen after the book. Knowing that doesn't mean that I have to continue. It's also hard, though, to say no to fans who are so passionate about a specific project.
The Vin/Elend story is most certainly done. As is the Raoden/Sarene story, as is Siri's story from Warbreaker. So there are completed threads. There might be other stories to tell in those worlds, though, so I'll avoid closing the door on them for now. (That said, it did feel very good to finish the Wheel of Time for good, and look forward to putting some of my own works to rest in a similar way.)
I've seen thrift store advance reader copies before. Fun to have in the collection.
Are you interested enough to read the whole thing and tell us what changed between the advance and the mass market copy?
If you really want to know this sort of thing, I posted one of my novels (Warbreaker) on my website in each of its incarnations. You can compare the last draft version with the printed version. In fact, you can just plug them both into Microsoft Word and have it "Compare documents" and it will highlight any changes.
Link to Warbreaker
I think it's great that you respond to this sort of post—thanks for that—it really makes me happy to be around in this day and age where the authors really interact with their fan base.
EDIT: question—on the back of the book it says "9-copy floor display (November 2011; $224.91)". What does that mean? Does that mean 9 copies of the first edition hard cover and a floor display for that amount? Just wondering.
Wow! Slow to getting back to you, aren't I? Sorry about that.
This means that if a store wants one of those nifty floor displays that they put in bookstore sometimes, they can buy one from the publisher. The prince there is the retail prince, I believe. They'd actually buy it wholesale, for about half the cost listed. (Though I don't know a ton about the marketing side, so I could be wrong.)
The Retail Prince, noblest of all retailers.
Do you think "movie potential" for your book is an important factor in the YA market?
I know this applies across the board, but many YA books are being given the book-to-movie treatment nowadays. As YA is an emerging market, it feels like many stories are lined up for their movie adaptation before they even hit the shelves.
Do you think that "movie potential" is more important for YA books? Do you think the YA market is being used as a vessel to more easily find big-bucks action movies?
I don't think that "movie potential" is more important for YA books, because movie deals are SO nebulous, and everyone in the business is very aware of that. Movie deals are often rather small, and remember, a movie deal =/= a movie, and movie deals are different from book deals in a few key ways: typically, with a book deal, you get an advance and then royalties when your advance earns out. With a movie deal, you get paid at each stage. They buy the rights; you get a small amount of money (and sometimes we're talking VERY small—like, maybe you could buy a used car small). They decide to buy a script, you get some money. They take the script into development, you get some money. They produce it, you get some money. So, movie deals CAN be lucrative—if they actually make the movie. But if they JUST buy the rights...not so much.
Now compare the number of books that have movie deals versus the number of books that are actually made into movies. Sure—there have been a lot of movies from YA books, but there are a LOT more without.
If I had the choice between just selling movie rights and selling to a larger foreign country, such as Germany or England or Brazil, I'd rather sell foreign. For most authors, foreign deals are far, far more lucrative than selling movie rights. (Exception: some high profile deals, movie rights sales that turn into movies.)
TL: DR: movie rights aren't important enough, nor are they guaranteed, to make writing a book for a movie worth it.
There ARE a lot of YA books-to-movies right now—I think this is more a reflection of the movie market, though, than the book market.
I think you are correct—that thinking of the movie potential isn't worth the effort—but for a different reason.
My experience is that the author can't do much to make film deals happen. Of the deals I've done for my books, in only one case was I able to go out and shop a property and sell it. The other four times, everyone ignored our attempts to sell the books for film—until someone came to us. My impression of Hollywood has been that they want to find it on their own, not have you go to them pitching it.
Every one of my five deals has been an option agreement. For those who aren't aware, an option is kind of like a lease on a property. You do a big deal, but the producer/studio doesn't have to pay out the entire amount at first—instead they make an option payment, which is often somewhere around 5-10% of the buyout price. That lets them reserve the rights for a period (usually 12-18 months) where you can't sell it to anyone else. They usually have two chances to renew the option, and often the option money paid is deductible from the final buyout price if they decide to exercise their option to purchase.
The vast majority of film deals I hear about from friends are deals like this, with very few films actually being made. But that doesn't mean they can't be lucrative. If the buyout is 10k and you're getting 1k every 18mo...sure, that's not much. If the buyout is 500k, and you're getting 50k every 18mo though, it can make a nice supplemental income.
However, bethrevis is right—translation deals are far more plentiful, and far more reliable. Beyond that, I'd suggest that developing a story for its film potential can draw your attention away from writing the book the way it needs to be written.
So, like metal inside a person’s body?
It depends on how strong the investiture in them is.
Is that going to be the answer for all of these?
How about a spike charged with Hemalurgy? Not in a person.
Not in a person? It depends on how strong—yeah. A spike is moderately—in the realm of these sorts of things—moderately easy to push on, because a spike does not rip off very much investiture. Only enough to short circuit the soul, and it loses that over time. So I would put that at the bottom—with the top being very hard—to be one of the easier things.
How about a metalmind? A feruchemy metalmind that is "full."
That is going to be middle of the realm. Generally easier than, for instance, a shardblade, which is going to be very hard.
But a shardblade isn’t actual metal. Ish?
Ish. Is Lerasium a metal? Yeah.
So would that be the same for Shardplate, too?
Shardplate and blade are very hard. Blade is probably going to be harder. [...]
Halfshard? Like a halfshard shield?
Halfshard shield is going to be in moderate.
Nightblood? I imagine is going to be very difficult.
Very hard. Of all the things you’ve listed, he’s the hardest. Far beyond even a shardblade.
Far beyond metal inside a person?
Yes, depending on how invested the person is.
If someone was invested as much as Nightblood I’m pretty sure it’s going to be very difficult.
Yes, for instance, the Godking, at the end, with all of those Breaths. Pushing on something inside of him? Getting through all that? Gonna be REAL hard. Average person on Scadrial? You’ve seen how hard that is. A drab? Much easier.
That was actually going to be my next one- No, sorry, not a drab, a Lifeless.
A Lifeless. Lifeless are kinda weird, because they’ve had their soul leave, but then they’ve had a replacement stuck in, in the form of Breath, which puts them in a really weird position compared to a Drab, which has had part of their investiture ripped away, but the majority of it remains. So anyway, I’m going to give you one more. Pick your favorite.
Okay, a soul-stamped piece of metal.
A soul-stamped piece of metal is going to be on the lower, easier side. Not a lot of investiture going on in a soulstamp.
Each spren is based on the Ideal of Fire.
And is that sitting in the Spiritual Realm?
Yes, we're using sort of a Platonic Ideal, and that concept is in force, so < sounds hesitant > "yes", but [spren] are manifestations of it.
So these Ideals in the Spiritual Realm: Divine Breath, does that heal by accessing some Ideal of Human Health: so a guy who had never had a tongue and doesn't know how to speak all the sudden has a tongue and can speak? [Note: Talking of Susebron here]
You are... < LONG pause > You are, um, on the right track.
Because the Breath is... eh. How can I explain this? You are, yeah... So... So each Breath is a shade of deity, right?
And each Breath incorporates into it this sort of idea of being endowed by the deity Endowment, correct?
And so each Breath you hold brings you one step closer to becoming like that, and so what you're saying is... is "yes", kind of true, yes.
But it's like within the Breath, not sitting off by itself—
Yes, yes yes exactly.
Perception is a very important part of how these things all work, and remember, the Honorblades work differently from everything else. Everything was based upon them. Why don’t you read and find out what’s going on there, but remember, the characters’ perception is very important.
So then that’s why at one point Shallan requires ten heartbeats and now she doesn’t.
Right, just like—it’s the exact same reason why Kaladin’s forehead wounds don’t heal, because he views himself as need—as having those, somewhere deep inside of him, and that can’t heal until that goes away. And it’s the same reason why in Warbreaker, when you bring something to life your intention, rather than really what you say, is what matters. It’s all about perception.
"If a native of Sel or another Shardworld travelled to Nalthis, would they be a drab?"
Brandon almost answered quickly, but then got a thoughtful look and paused to consider with a "hmm." After a moment, he replied:
"No, they would not be a drab. But, no one would be able to take their breath."
"If such a person died on Nalthis, could they Return?"
"No, they cannot Return."
"If such a person received breath, could they use BioChroma?"
I was probably grinning like a looby at this point, but I didn't care. Brandon complimented me on my questions, saying that I had asked some good ones and that nobody had gotten so much information out of him in a while. I don't know whether he meant it, or was just trying to give me some confidence and make me feel good about myself as an amateur realmatic theorist (very, very amateur), but either way it made me feel like a million bucks.
Brandon’s good at that. I’m consistently amazed by his positive attitude, and just how much attention he lavishes on his fans.
Vasher misses Nightblood and feels responsible for him.
How many worldhoppers have we seen?
Oh, I haven't kept track, you've seen quite a few. There's one from Mistborn, did you catch him? I don't think people have really picked out the Terriswoman yet, who makes her way into them, but they're mostly not supposed to be noticeable yet, until you get to know them as characters and you look back and be like "oh that was that person."
Is it the Terriswoman I think it is?
I don't know which Terriswoman you think it is.
Speaking of the Terriswoman, is she the nurse in Warbreaker?
< Pauses; gleefully says > RAAAAAAFO!
In a more transparent vein, Sanderson differs from his fantasy peers in that he has a progress bar on his blog to keep fans updated on the status of his manuscripts.
"When I was getting into reading, I would often get into a big series and have no way of knowing when the next book was coming out or even if the author was working on it," he says. "Having a progress bar on my website lets readers see what I'm working on and that I'm not sitting idle while they wait for books to come out."
Sanderson also chose to post Warbreaker, one of his stand-alone novels, for free on his website in 2007. Many people, including his agent, thought the idea was crazy, but he stood firm.
"Your time is probably more valuable than your money, so I'll give you the money part for free if you'll give me your time," Sanderson explained.
Zahel/Vasher is in Roshar for Nightblood? Will we know in Stormlight Archive why these two were separated? or in the sequel of Warbreaker?
The Warbreaker sequel will give clues about this, but the actual event happened between that and TWoK. So I'm not sure where I'll slip it in.
If Endowment were killed, would the Returned still come?
Somebody needs to hold the magic. If no one holds the magic, the magic will start to gain sentience. Interesting and bizarre things happen then, so I would say yes, but with the caveat that with whoever picks up the power or what happens with the power could end up changing that.
Can Breath be used to power Surgebinding?
They are very similar Investitures, and most of the magics can be powered with the other magics if you are capable of making that happen.
What would happen to the Breath?
The Breath would be consumed in the same way that Stormlight is. A renewing resource, much like Atium is.
So Nightblood and Shardblades are both kind of powered by Investiture?
Yes, in fact you can call Nightblood kind of a miss-made, evil Shardblade-- more miss-made than evil but yes.
But a Shardblade wouldn't shear through Nightblood.
Yes a Shardblade would not shear through Nightblood. In fact I wrote The Way of Kings first and then I wrote Warbreaker and The Way of Kings came out after Warbreaker but in my mind Warbreaker is a prequel to The Way of Kings, where I was telling Vasher's backstory.
Oh really, so the Warbreaker we know takes place after The Way of Kings?
No, it takes place before, it's a prequel meaning I wrote The Way of Kings and then I went back in time and told Vasher's backstory but Warbreaker ended up coming out first because The Way of Kings wasn't ready yet.
Yeah, there will be... You will see much more of that. Definitely.
So we'll be able to see the actual Elantris again? Shining and beautiful again?
Yes, you will.
It was very sad, to see them all in pain, the continual pain and...