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Marie Curie 7
11-18-2011, 09:33 PM
BookBanter Interview with Brandon Sanderson
November 15, 2010

This is a transcript of an interview with Brandon in November 2010 by Alex Telander of BookBanter (http://www.bookbanter.net/episodes4.html#bb038).

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Alex: Welcome to Episode 38 of BookBanter. I'm your host, Alex C. Telander. [paid advertisement not transcribed]

And in this episode, which marks the two-year anniversary for BookBanter, we'll be having our first 'second interview' with an author already interviewed on the show, and that is best-selling author Brandon Sanderson. We'll start first with my review for his book, The Way of Kings, the first in a ten book new fantasy series. And then we'll have the interview with Brandon, done recently before one of his signings, which will be a short one due to him being now so popular and best selling that it was hard to get a long interview with him.

[The book review for The Way of Kings was not transcribed.]

And now my interview with Brandon Sanderson.

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Alex: First off, thanks again for agreeing to do this with me.

Brandon: Yeah.

Alex: It's been two years since our last interview. At that time, you'd just released Hero of Ages and The Way of Kings and Wheel of Time books were in their early stages. What would you say has changed most in your life in the last two years?

Brandon: What has changed most in my life? Professionally? Because in the last two years I've had a child, which change has been quite a bit. I would say I'm more comfortable and relaxed with how things are now. 2007 and 2008 were pretty nerve-wracking years, and 2009 in particular, when I wasn't sure how people were going to respond to my work. And so I think I'm more comfortable now. The last two years have also been extremely busy, and so they kind of passed in a blur. Yeah, Harriet's smiling, because she was in that blur, too.

Harriet: [laughs in background]

Brandon: Yeah, it kind of turns when I hand it off to her and then she has to work furiously, and then she hands it back and then I have to work furiously.

Alex: And then, two years have passed.

Brandon: Yeah, then two years have passed.

Alex: The Way of Kings is over a thousand pages and Towers of Midnight is over 850. The books were published within three months of each other. What's your key to getting this much writing done?

Brandon: It's in part, cheating. The Way of Kings I already had a first draft of done before the Wheel of Time project was offered to me. There would have been no way to do them both in the same year if that hadn't been the case. People don't quite understand a couple of things. Number one: that was a gift; I already had a first draft done. And I wrote it from scratch again, but it went very quickly because I had already done a first draft. The other thing they don't understand is when you're a mid-lister like I was several years ago, when you turn in a book it takes several years for it to come out, because they're giving everyone slots and they're arranging it. And I would even usually work a year ahead, and then I'd turn it in, so it would often be three years until a book was published. An example of this is Warbreaker. It was released last year. I wrote it in 2006, that's when the first draft was written, and it came out almost exactly three years later. When you're working on high profile books, they don't sit on them for three years. And so what happens is I wrote these books that I did beforehand, and then I started working on the Wheel of Time in 2007 and 2008, and I finished the book and then it came out immediately. And so it looks like I'm releasing twice as many books as I am, because books I wrote in 2006 and 2007 come out the same year as books I wrote in 2008 and 2009, which is what's happening here. Which is why there's not going to be any of my books next year because we've now caught up, no solo books. I've been telling people I doubt we're going to have a Wheel of Time book next year, either. They've been spoiled, because if it takes us eighteen months to write a book, but we have a six-month buffer, we can get a book out and it looks like it's only been worked on for a year.

Alex: So when you were kind of working on both books, did you kind of a have a set day for each book? Or how did you work through that?

Brandon: I had deadlines and I had goals. I mean, I'm very goal driven. I say I want to have this done by this date. Which, you know, I give myself plenty of time, but I spend months working on them. Generally, I can only write on one book at a time. Keeping these things in your head is such that even a given book you break into small chunks. And people say, 'how do you juggle all these things?' Well, juggling all the viewpoints in a Wheel of Time book is monumental. And at that point, I pick one viewpoint group, generally. I say, okay we're going to do all the scenes with Perrin and Faile and those who are around them. And in that case, I will go and re-read a bunch of Robert Jordan's work with those characters, and I will do a few test runs to try and get myself in the characters, and then I'll write those characters. And then I'm done with those characters for that moment, and I'll go do it with someone else. And I'll do that with my own books, too. I'll get very into the mindsets of these characters, I'll write them. And then I drop it. It's like I download it all into my brain and it's gone. And then I wipe it and download something else. Does that make sense?

Alex: Yep. So you kind of mentioned you'd have no books coming out in the next year. So when do you plan on having the next Stormlight Archive book?

Brandon: I will start writing the next Stormlight Archive book as soon as A Memory of Light is done and we're satisfied with it. And so, I haven't been able to give people a strict date on that. What I've been telling people right now is January 1st I'm starting back on the Wheel of Time. I'm going to re-read the entire series. And then I'm going to start working on A Memory of Light, and it's however long it takes. In the past, it's taken working on these around a year to eighteen months to get them all finished and turned in. And who knows how long this last one will take, because the Wheel of Time books take me much longer than my own books because of that need, before I write every viewpoint, to spend time re-reading Robert Jordan's books. And so, I've just been telling people one year from the publication date of A Memory of Light looks like a likely bet for the next Stormlight book.

Alex: And what about the Alacatraz books?

Brandon: Alcatraz books: the fourth one is coming out this month some time. The official date is like in December, but they always release early. And then that's the end of that contract, and I actually don't have time to write any more of those right now. They've been released at the same time, but again, these were books that were written before one of them was written before, one of them was written in between Wheel of Time books but I just don't have time for those right now. So, eventually I will pick up that series and finish. There's one more book I want to do.

Alex: And you don't have any other projects you're working on, right?

Brandon: I have lots of other projects, but that's because I'm an artist. And you know, most artistic types I know like this we always have lots of things buzzing in our brains. One of the ways I stay fresh is in between books I usually take a break and I work on side projects. I don't always release them; in fact, I usually don't. These are things that I do just to experiment with my style, to try and learn things and teach myself things. And so I do. If people follow me on my Twitter feed, last month I worked on a bizarre book about a pizza delivery man who finds out he's a necromancer. This month I worked on a Mistborn novella that I'm wrapping up now. That was October. November I'll do a Nanovel, I'll do something. And then I do have in December I will be revising a book called Scribbler, which was the last book I finished before Harriet's phone call, which is a young adult very fun alternate history steam punk novel. And Tor is interested in releasing that, and so I'm going to take a month and revise that for December. And so all of those things are buzzing around, but none of them are in a state where they could be released next year. They're all too far off for that.

Alex: I recently did an interview with Dan Wells, and he confessed that you write your own RPG campaigns.

Brandon: I do write my own RPG campaigns.

Alex: Do you ever think you'll get publishing those at all?

Brandon: If I did it would be just a labor of love because they're so scatter-brained. Like, my notes for them are so scattered-brained that the amount of work it would take to get one actually in a shape where I could publish it would be so astronomical. I won't say no, but I'll say it's highly unlikely because this is something I do just to relax and have fun. It's mainly something I do every other week so that I have something scheduled that I spend time with my friends and my brother. You know, I sit down and have to schedule these things in my life these days. And it allows me to just be bizarre. Some of these things are pretty bizarre. You don't even want to hear what is happening in these campaigns.

Alex: [laughs] I'm sure.

Brandon: You know, maybe. For years I've wanted to do something that I don't see a lot in gaming, which is really self contained, one volume, kind of like we have one volume epic fantasies. One volume campaign, rules, story that only the DM has, or the GM has, and make learning the rules part of the fun of the exploring the world. Instead of having everyone read all these rule books ahead of time, and then sit down and play.

Alex: Right. You kind of discover as you go.

Brandon: You discover as you go, and you learn the rules as you go, and build an RPG that does it that way. Like, I usually start my campaigns with the characters with having no memory, they're blank slates. They all wake up and they discover a world, and even the mechanics of the world, as their players do, which is a very fun way to do it.

Alex: Okay, well I think that wraps up the interview. Okay, thanks a lot.

Brandon: Well, thank you.

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Alex: And that was my interview with best-selling author Brandon Sanderson, and it about wraps up this episode of BookBanter. Thank you once again for joining me. And please join me next time when I hope to be interviewing author N. K. Jemison of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and most recently The Broken Kingdoms. Also be sure to check out the BookBanter site at www.bookbanter.net and the BookBanter blog, where I'm having a special give-away going on right now. Thanks for listening. See you next time.