REPORT: Signing with Brandon and Peter OrullianEdit
West Jordan, UT 4 August 2011
Report by Josh and Mi'chelle at 17th Shard
Josh and Mi’chelle (Rubix and firstRainbowRose on the site) this month went to a joint signing with Brandon Sanderson and Peter Orullian, and gasp, now we have audio! We have about fifty minutes of questions and answers, including some interesting cosmere clues at the end. Isaac Stewart (interior artist for Mistborn and the Way of Kings) chimes in about some stuff he’s done, with some info on the Feruchemical Table of Metals. There’s a plethora of content. Mistborn video game info, film info, and exciting news for Alcatraz fans (at least, if you hate the covers that are there).
Audio is split up into three parts. Part One is the general Q&A from the signing, and has Brandon, Peter Orullian, and Isaac all fielding questions. If you like Peter’s book, The Unremembered, there are some cool responses from him about that. There are, of course, Wheel of Time questions as well, but there seem to be an even number of questions for Wheel of Time as well as Brandon’s own novels, too.
Part Two seems to be questions Brandon is fielding during the line, or after the line. I’m not totally sure, but there you have it.
Part Three involves Josh and Mi’chelle throwing some specific, in-depth cosmere questions compiled from the Ultimate List of Questions for Brandon as well as a few new ones. If you listen closely, you can tell that they are asking Brandon these in the parking lot of the bookstore, as Brandon and company decide where to eat dinner. Seriously. (Hey, it’s not stalking if he says it’s okay, right?) Ahem. It goes without saying that these questions have metric tons of spoilers for all of the cosmere! And if you don’t know what that is, surf the wiki or General Theories
Part one (35:46): http://bit.ly/okXDPz
Part two (12:04): http://bit.ly/rnfABl
Part three (4:57): http://bit.ly/p9Oq91
Warning: our server sucks. I remember when we did the Way of Kings interview with Brandon, people (including me) couldn’t download the large file in its entirety. Hopefully splitting it up in three files will minimize this issue, but if not, hey! We have transcripts! We attributed questions as well as we could. Major kudos to Chachel for transcribing this behemoth. Most of the editor’s notes are mine.
(Credit to Dragonmount for the totally unrelated photo of Brandon and Emily in Alloy of Law cosplay)
The first question is cut off. Mi’chelle believes the question is:
How epic is the Last Battle?
Brandon Sanderson: I guess it depends on your definition of ‘epic’. I mean, it feels pretty epic to me. There’s a lot of stuff going on in this book. I hope people don’t get lost, is what I’m worried about. I mean, everything is kind of coming to a head. I can’t say much, but it’s pretty epic.
For the Last Battle how many points of view are you doing?
Brandon Sanderson: I’m using a lot of them. There’s going to be all the mainstays. Rand will get viewpoints again. Perrin, Mat, Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne. And there will be some Tuon, and then there will be some little shots from all over the place. The Great Captains will all be involved, so you’ll be seeing from them. You’ll be seeing from pretty much everybody. I’m trying to give at least one little scene from them if we’ve had a major perspective [from them], we’ll try to do some from them. But, you know, the core is going to be the main characters. So: the Two Rivers guys and the Wonder Girls, basically, if you follow the parlance from the websites.
Peter, I’m curious how many books you wrote before you actually got around to doing this one.
Peter Orullian: This was the second novel I ever wrote; I wrote a horror novel, because, as I am not ashamed to say, I am a huge Stephen King fan. I think that folks who bash King don’t understand the level of craft that Stephen King has.
I wrote this book, and I had an agent who said “Let’s put this on the shelf; fantasy’s not selling,” and asked me to write some thriller novels because he was trying to build some diversity in his client list. So, I wrote two other novels after the fantasy. I realized that was not the right agent and got a new agent who turned me down on the two thrillers (the two splatter books I wrote were thrillers) and then he saw the fantasy, and within a couple of days he had given it directly to Tom Doherty who gave me an immediate offer.
Brandon Sanderson: Who’s your editor at Tor?
Peter Orullian: Jim Frenkel.
Brandon Sanderson: (laughs) Of course, I knew that.
I think I saw on Facebook that you are involved with a Mistborn movie and game. Can you tell us about that?
Ah, yes. The Mistborn movie and game. The movie rights were optioned to a production studio called Paloopa Pictures. We’ll see what happens with that. I mean, they have a screenplay— if you don’t know, getting a film made, there are a lot of ways that it happens; most of them seem kind of chaotic. One of the primary ways is a production company will option rights on something or option a screenplay. In my case, they optioned the rights, they write a screenplay, they do a big pitch, then they go to the studios. And the studios have to fund the thing. The production company would then become the producers on it, with the studios funding and make the film. That’s why what’ll happen, often you’ll see a film that’ll [have] these five production studios at the start. Those are the people who did that sort of thing. So that’s where we are there.
Sometimes you’ll get lucky and a film will just get optioned by a studio directly. That doesn’t happen as often. For instance, the Wheel of Time books got optioned to Red Eagle Entertainment, which is a production company. They did all of this, then went to Universal and got Universal to buy the rights and fund the movie... We have that. We also have some people with a video game that I can’t announce yet, because I’m sure they want to announce it, but we had a nice offer on a video game that would be slated for around 2013. It will be cross-platform, so it would be on PC, Xbox, and PS3. I will probably be writing the story and the dialogue for it.
Is there any iconography planned for the Twelve Heralds? [Editor’s note: he means Ten.]
Like in what specific way?
Images of them as the (indistinguishable)?
There’s already some in the book. Front cover. Look at the corners.
Maybe eventually. The thing is, the Heralds are... they’re mythological figures of lore. So what you’ll see are things like that. Those are actually large representations of them in the archways.
I remember reading about statues.
Yes, there are statues, and so maybe eventually you will get some drawings from Shallan regarding things like that. We’ll see. It’s a good question, though.
For Warbreaker you did awesome annotations, and I was wondering, are you going to do that with any of your other books?
Warbreaker has, Mistborn has all the annotations. Yeah, if you go look them up. [To Peter:] We have annotations for Alloy of Law, right? (laughter) I did those? Did I send them to you? I’m pretty sure I wrote them. I don’t have annotations for Way of Kings. The project was just too big to do that for at that point. I may eventually do them, but at this stage, there are not annotations for Way of Kings. But, there should be ones for Alloy of Law. And there are ones for all of the Mistborns.
Do you think writing Robert Jordan’s books affected your writing style in any way?
It did. It affected me, you know, It definitely affected me. Robert Jordan was very good at some very important things. He was great with viewpoint, he was very good at foreshadowing and subtlety. In fact, I think he was way more subtle than I’ve been, and I think those are things I’ve learned by working on this project. And also, just being able to balance so many different characters and viewpoints. That’s something I think I learned. Though you know, I consciously when I wrote Alloy of Law, which is next, I consciously said, you know, I think I’m going to use a different style. There are some people who love the Wheel of Time, there are some people who don’t like the Wheel of Time, and I don’t want to become, you know, my style to become the Wheel of Time style. It’s my own style. The Way of Kings is certainly more like Wheel of Time, you know, but also more like all the classic epics and fantasy that I read. Alloy of Law is intentionally not like that. Alloy of Law is more of a fast-paced thriller plotting style than it is epic fantasy.
So in the Way of Kings you had a whole bunch of chapters with different characters. How are you planning on tying these chapters that you didn’t really go into depth with, in the next [book]?
Oh, the interludes?
The whole purpose of the interludes is when I sat down to write this book, I thought: Okay. I want to get across the scope of this world and how big and immense this world is, and how big and immense just all of the different political structures and all of these things are. And looking at what other authors have done, namely Robert Jordan and George R. R. Martin recently as a way to do that, they add new characters to show all this. But then that seems to kind of snowball on them, and by the middle books, there are so many characters that keeping track of them becomes a challenge, which may be the biggest challenge in those books. So when I sat down to write Way of Kings, I said, I want to do that, but I’m going to do that with throwaway characters. Meaning, all of the characters in the interludes are not necessarily characters you will ever see again. You can read the interludes as if they were short stories set in the world in between the main stories going on. Everything in those is important, but those characters you don’t need to worry about remembering who they are because you may not ever see from them again. They may occasionally show up for things like this and if you love keeping track of all these characters— but you won’t have to, in book two try and remember who those two ardents who were working with the spren were, or things like that. That’s not generally going to be that important. I will usually do one interlude with a more major character, though, that I’m introducing like Szeth, in each section. Szeth, the Assassin in White. But most of those, don’t worry about those. The whole point of those is that you can read them and and enjoy that chapter and then jump to something else.
The Assassin in White, you know how he tied into the story, with the crazy king who had people killed—
Don’t give spoilers in case people haven’t read it!
—yeah, is that going to tie into the story?
That’s very important.
Which main character is the most difficult for you to write or create?
In the Wheel of Time or my own?
In the Wheel of Time.
In the Wheel of Time, I would say getting Mat’s voice right was the hardest. Because, Mat is so distinctive, and so... yeah. It’s like he’s funny in a specific way, though. Getting him right was probably the hardest. Second would be Aviendha.
Question for Peter: I know you’re a musician as well. So I was curious: does one or the other influence you when you’re writing, like are you ever writing a song and think ‘this could work’ or the opposite, you know what I mean?
Peter: Actually, one of the best stories I have about music and writing is I writing the first book, I was two-thirds of the way in and I was listening to a Dream Theater tune, and I’m not going to tell you the tune because it might give away some of the actual book, but I had this moment that was sublime where the entire series coalesced as I was listening to this song. It’s absolutely the case that when I hear music, it’s very visual for me. I don’t write to music, but the book I’ve written, there’s a music magic system, and it all ladders up to some unifying principles. There will be as many as six or eight different magic systems in the series by the time I’m done. But, music will factor heavily. There’s some of that in book one. In book two, it just starts to steamroll.
Yeah, I love that in the book, the music worked into it.
AND— I have to say this before your next question— I’m doing a concept album, so I’ve got a guitarist who’s also a multi-instrumentalist, and we’re doing a concept album. It’s not a retelling of the book, but it’s actually additional story. So, one of the characters in the novel who is steward over a particular song of power— it tells his early life and it also tells some of what I call the Song of Suffering, which is this song of power, it tells some of that actual song in a series, a series of songs. So, that will be coming out in a couple of months.
This is for Isaac, actually. What are you working on right now? Are you working with anything with Brandon or with someone else?
Isaac: Yeah, I am. (To Brandon: can I tell them about the Feruchemical— Brandon: Yeah.) I just finished a version of the Feruchemical table. If you’ve seen the Allomantic table, it’s very similar to that. New frames. I actually created it a different way, and I think it looks nicer than the other one. It makes me want to go back and redo the other one (laughter) but it also has new symbols and some new information.
Brandon: That’ll debut in the Mistborn RPG, and then we’ll sell prints.
Question for all three of you guys. I know there’s a lack of artwork to be able to put as [desktop] backgrounds— I know Way of Kings has some really neat ones, but like I love the artwork on yours... I know a lot of the stuff you’ve done with Mistborn, with Way of Kings symbols, I’d love to have good hi-res stuff, so if you guys ever have time, put something like that on your websites because—
Isaac: I’ve actually got that. I can totally put that up [online], yeah.
Brandon: We keep meaning to, for the people who bought the ebooks. In the ebooks you can’t see the interior art really well; we’re going to put up hi-res versions of it. It is planned, but we’ve just got so much stuff to do. (laughter) And I of course don’t own the rights to Michael Whelan’s artwork, so we can’t do much with that. But we can put up Isaac’s artwork.
One thing I want to have is, after the Warbreaker annotations finish, next week is the last one, is to start putting up chapters of Mythwalker—
Brandon: Oh, yeah... (groans) that book is bad.
But what I’d want... is like art annotations. Like for each of the Shallan things and then, Isaac’s stuff, have Isaac write annotations for his art.
Brandon: That would be cool! The hi-res thing, and then that, that would be way cool. We also should start putting up some of the RPG art. I think they said we could do that so we might have to start putting up some of that. You know, drive people to look at the RPG.
Do you have a sequel for Warbreaker in the works?
Someday. Warbreaker was a side-project and so... the Wheel of Time has dominated a lot of my time recently, and so, eventually yes.
With Szeth, the Assassin in White, is he tied to the stone or is it a genetic thing or is it kind of like a spren?
You mean his oathstone?
Yeah, his oathstone.
Aah. You will get, here, have one of these. (laughter) Proudly presented to you, the first RAFO card of the night. You may pick that up if you want.
So, Michael Whelan did the cover for The Way of Kings, and I read that Tom Doherty called him up personally and asked him to do it.
Yes, he did.
Are there any plans for him to continue to do them, like Darrel K. Sweet has done for the Wheel of Time?
He’s a very busy man. He said that, if it fits in the schedule, yes he will. But since we don’t even have book two written yet, we don’t know. He’s my favorite artist, so that would be wonderful. But, we will see.
Two questions, actually. First, on Alcatraz, she wanted to know when the next book will come out.
It will come out eventually. It’s probably about a year or so away at the earliest. We are in negotiations to move the books over to Tor from Scholastic and put new covers on them. So that negotiation started this week and I don’t want to do the last book until we know what’s going on there.
Second question kind of goes to your Alloy of Law book. I was wondering: what was the inspiration for using Breeze’s relative, and just kind of the time frame of the thing.
There were a lot of inspirations for a lot of different things. You’ll kind of have to wait until I post the annotations. I talk a lot about it in the annotations. Basically, I wanted, since we’re jumping forward so far, I wanted there to be some roots in there of the series you already read and loved. And for those who have read the earlier series, there will be at least one Easter egg per chapter about things like that. If you haven’t, I didn’t want it to be a big deal that would keep you from reading the book, but I want a lot of that to be in there. And so, when other characters are mentioned you’ll see the characters of the first three books become the mythology to the people there.
On your site, you have kind of a newspaper sheet for Alloy of Law...
You mean this? (Holds up a broadsheet)
You’ll be able to pick one of these up when you come through the line.
I just want you to say yes or no: does either Marsh or Sazed show up in the Alloy of Law?
Oh, you get a RAFO card! There you go...
In (?) someone told me about the switching over from Scholastic to Tor. I know you’ve mentioned before with Alcatraz you were unhappy how Scholastic portrayed the covers. So is changing the covers what you wanted it to be, or just to differ the Tor versions?
We’re going to try and get them to something more like I envisioned originally. I originally wrote the Alcatraz books with Alcatraz at fifteen, and Scholastic pushed for him to be thirteen, and I’m not completely convinced that that was the right thing for his personality. So I may actually move him up a little bit in age. It would probably be Peter doing it: go find all references to ‘thirteen’!
Mi’chelle: Would Bastille’s age go up too?
Yeah. They were both fifteen in the original draft. In the book they bought, they pushed it down to thirteen.
With changing the covers, will Alcatraz have different comments on the cover of book two?
Boy, I don’t know. I’ll have to watch that one. Maybe we’ll have to put the original one in there, the original cover of book two. Oh boy, that cover... it was like: this in space! This is a fantasy book. Why are they in space? O...kay.
How will Bela be important at the end of Wheel of Time?
You know, Bela is either the Creator or the Dark One. We’re not, you know... (laughter). And so basically, Bela will be important in all aspects of the book, and none at the same time. Kind of like Vishnu.
I’m not up-to-date as much as everyone else, but with Elantris, is there something happening to that with a second book or...
I had the second book planned for 2015, at the ten year anniversary. We’ll see if I still manage to make that or not. If it’s going to do that, I’m going to have to write it in the next couple of years here. But my goal is to release a nice trade paperback edition of Elantris and a sequel at the same time. With maybe a redo of the map done by Isaac or something like that.
Do any of you guys have plans, after your current works, to do graphic novels?
Peter Orullian: Graphic novels? I have actually been contacted by a couple of graphics guys as a result of that webisode series I was talking about earlier. Through work I actually know some of the companies that do that so the answer is yes.
Brandon Sanderson: There is always talk about doing Mistborn as a graphic novel and we never quite get it off the ground because every time, it would require enough work from me to make it happen that I could write another book and so I might as well write another book, if that makes sense. We keep kicking it around. We’ll see.
Peter Orullian: I should add, though, real quick: what I wouldn’t do is a retelling of another novel. I would go into the world to expand the world and so your experience with the novel is resonant, but not the same.
Brandon Sanderson: See, that’s the problem with graphic novels. Do you just retell the book? If you do that, then people who’ve already read the book, they may be interested in a graphic novel, that would be fun, but it’s not that compelling because you already know what’s going to happen. That’s the easy road. The hard road is write a completely new story but in that case, I would be the one wanting to write a completely new story, which would mean doing as much work as writing another book. And so that’s the problem we’ve run into every time with graphic novels.
To Isaac, the... artist?
Brandon Sanderson: Isaac is the interior artist for a lot of my books.
So my wife is an artist. When you do the cover art, do you actually go through and read the book before you design the art, because her biggest problem is that the covers don’t actually reflect what’s going on in the inside of the book.
Isaac: I haven’t done any of the cover art.
Oh, you’re the interior art.
Isaac: However, I’m in the process of designing a book for a New York publisher and I’ve found that in some cases the cover that the author wants and the cover that the publisher wants is something different. And the publisher in most cases knows better where they want to sell it and who they want to market it to, than the author. So that’s why, a lot of times there’s a discrepancy between what’s inside and what’s on the outside.
Brandon: I’ve heard from publishers that they consider the cover art to be a poster for the book, not an illustration of the book, and those are two different things.
Do you have any plans to write any type of science fiction...?
Brandon: I’ve got lots of ideas but I have no plans in the near future. I have done one military science fiction coauthored with my buddy Ethan Skarstedt, my buddy in the military. We’ll see if that ever coalesces into a book that we can ever publish. We did write a cool military SF together. Nothing big, epic science fiction. I’ve got enough on my plate right now.
Just real quick: the short that’s in the RPG, the short story. Is that ever going to be available outside the RPG?
Maybe eventually. The idea is that we gave it to them exclusively for a certain period; I don’t know how long the period is. It’s probably a couple of years. The idea being: the short story is there as a goodie for the RPG. You know, the RPG guys, RPGs are not big sellers. These are an independent company making it because they love it. It’s not their day job. They all have other day jobs. Though, we wanted to put something in there that would attract people’s attention to look at it and be interested in it. They will eventually, probably be available elsewhere. If you can read other languages, it’ll probably be in the translations of Alloy of Law. But that’s only if you want to read it in translation.
This is a question for both of you. I was just wondering how you organize and plan such huge worlds and how you get about planning and writing your books.
Peter: Do you want to start?
Brandon: No, you go ahead!
Peter: Actually, you and I talked about this when we did that interview. I learned about this from Brandon, I haven’t gotten this first hand from George Martin, who talks about Gardeners and Architects who kind of are free writers, and just start and have their story come out of their writing session, and those who do just an amazing amount of worldbuilding before they even start to put the fiction down. I’m a blend of this. I do a lot of worldbuilding beforehand. But the analogy I use is kind of like coloring. Once I get the framework, then it gives me kind of a latitude to color outside the lines, and I’ll find lots of discovery and worldbuilding occurs inside the writing. So I don’t ever find myself pigeonholed by an outline, but I definitely have a bit of a roadmap before I start. And then for the series itself, I have the first three books pretty clearly mapped out, and I know the end with a great deal of clarity, and then, Tor’s got to buy more books so I can finish it.
Brandon: I do an outline and a lot of worldbuilding. I use, most recently I’ve found a wiki software most useful. It’s called wikidpad. I use that to keep my setting in because there are hundreds of thousands of words of worldbuilding that I do. So, it’s between those two things. Organizationally, I work from an outline, a bullet-point outline meaning: here’s a list of things I want to have happen, and they don’t always have to happen in this order, and that’s how I approach it.
So, apart from writing the short story for the Mistborn RPG, how involved were you in developing it?
The Mistborn RPG? I sat down in several brainstorming sessions with them and gave them all of my notes from the world and now they have sent me what they have come up with and it’s actually half rules, half world book, is the idea. Now I’m going to go through and revise it to make sure there’s nothing wrong with it. But, you know, I did a lot of brainstorming with them, but they’re the game designers so I let them kind of design the game as they wanted to.
How much influence do you have over audiobooks? I know some authors that get really good audio...
Brandon: You can replace that question with: how much influence do you have over X? You can replace the X with anything and the answer’s going to be the same: how many books do you sell? Nowadays, I have a lot of influence over what happens with stuff. I can ask for things. Early on, I had very little influence over these things.
I asked specifically for Michael Kramer and Kate Reading, yes. I like their style, and I know, I’ve met Michael and I really like him. So, yeah.
I have a question for both of you: with your writing, what is the most difficult thing and has it evolved as you’ve grown?
Brandon: Most difficult for me was to learn how to revise. I was not a natural reviser, and my books didn’t start getting to publishable level until I learned actually how to do that. I didn’t know how to take something good and make it better.
Peter: You know, I would say a lot the same. The other thing for me, early on was realizing that it’s like any other thing that you do, that you have to practice. If you’re a musician, you don’t just sit down and play a concerto, and it’s okay to do things badly. I like to tell people that you need to dare to fail spectacularly. I was told early on: don’t try and write great big epic stuff. Don’t try to write best— because bestsellers, when you get into the depths of publishing, ‘bestseller’ exists as its own genre. There are elements of what make a bestseller. And I’ve been told: don’t try and write that kind of a book. And I ignored all of that. And what it meant was, I wrote a lot of stuff that I threw away. And that was the other thing that I learned: it’s okay. You can write stuff and put it away. I think it’s Heinlen that said, “The first million words don’t count.” It’s all practice.
Brandon: He just gave you very, very good advice.
Peter: So write a million words and then it’s okay to feel like you should be publishing something. Till you hit a million words, it’s okay.
Isaac, how closely do you work with someone like Brandon when you make the maps?
Isaac: Pretty closely. Brandon has a lot of say of what’s on there, because of course it’s his world. So I defer to him or Peter in everything as far as the maps come out.
Brandon: Yeah, but he adds a lot himself. He’s really good, so we give him free reign. My favorite thing that he did in Way of Kings, there’s actually a map that is of the warcamps, the ten warcamps if you look at that one. And it’s actually done in the style as if a famous artist came and toured them and then went home and did an idealized representation of them, and so you can read, you know “done by the artist blah blah blah”. But the fun thing, Isaac kind of just did this, is yeah, I figured since he’s probably got this big ego he’s going to name stuff after himself, so there’s a river that’s named after the artist. That’s not really, the artist just put it in his artwork as being named after him and you just have to notice this. You have to look and say, “by the artist such-and-such” and then at the bottom in the description is “and that goes past the mighty river...” what’s his name? Vandonas, yes. Stuff like that where he’s just naming stuff after himself. Yeah, Isaac gets a lot of free reign to do things like that because all the art, particularly from Way of Kings we wanted to be in-world and so the different artists doing them have different personalities and different goals. One is, you know, an official survey and another is an idealized representation, and everything in between. So you have to wear a bunch of different hats like I do when I write a book. He was becoming different artists.
Isaac: It’s also fun too because Brandon will say things like “eh... there’s a bunch of cities over here. Why don’t you name them and I’ll see if they fit.” So there’s some cities on the Way of Kings map I wrote down and he let them stay there. Who knows if people will actually go there.
I was actually wondering where to get a Mistborn shirt like the one you’re wearing.
Isaac: I don’t know if we actually sell these, but we do sell, my wife and I—
Brandon: Isaac does my t-shirts.
Isaac: —we have a t-shirt website called “InkWing.com” and we also do monthly contests too— my wife has set up a blog and she does a contest and she gives away around 3 t-shirts a month. So yeah, just go there and we have a bunch of different things. There will be some more t-shirts.
Brandon: And we link them all on my website, right?
Isaac: I think so, yeah.
Brandon: The store button on my website. We’ll eventually do a rebuild of my website where I’ll make it easier to find things. But that’s on the list, way down the list. We’re all wearing kind of official swag t-shirts today. That’s kind of cool. I’m wearing the Wheel of Time one and he’s wearing a Theoryland one— you can’t buy those because you have to be crazy to get one (laughter). Theoryland’s a Wheel of Time website.
Some of Robert Jordan’s characters, the female characters especially, are very much alike. Are they similar to Harriet?
Brandon: No, they’re really not. He, when asked on tour which character was most like her, he said Bela (laughter). And this is what Harriet said, it’s an indication of Harriet’s sense of humor, the shaggy mare that just won’t give up. No, she’s really not much like them. She is like... imagine in your head your kindly, nice grandmother and mix her with a stately Southern belle, and that’s Harriet. She’s just very polite, kindly Southern grandmother.
Is there a link with the fact that we know that Szeth is truthless and the fact that Honorspren are what cause Surgebinding? Is there a connection there?
Brandon: There may be. I won’t say. That’s a RAFO. Do you want a card?
This might seem kind of silly, but is there ever going to be a pronunciation guide for your work, perhaps? I argue with my brother on how the cities of Mistborn novels are pronounced.
Yeah... maybe. I’m not so strict on pronunciation as some other authors are, because when I read books, I just pronounce things however I want in my head, and then I ignore what they said, how they should be pronounced. I can’t do that anymore with Wheel of Time. Fans are like, wait a minute, Robert Jordan said it, and I say, “oh, I mean...”. Though I once got Harriet and Maria--who is Robert Jordan’s assistant--into an argument about how Robert Jordan said one of the names. So even they can’t get them all right. Maybe eventually... there is one for Elantris, I believe. Or at least, there’s a linguistics guide. Elantris names are easy, though. That’s mostly predictable. Yeah, the Aons.
Do you have any considerations for ever turning any of your works into a movie?
Yeah, I’ve sold rights on Alcatraz and those eventually lapsed. They had the option for three years. I’ve sold rights on Mistborn. That’s still going strong. I’ve had inquiries about a couple of others. I can’t say, though, because there’s nothing sure. Though we did do the Mistborn video game and the handshake, is essentially a done deal now. We’ve just got to get the contract, fine details nailed down. Yes. Mistborn video game is a go. It’s for sure.
I can’t say that, though it is going to be cross-platform, all three major platforms, so PC, 360, and PS3. The plan right now is that it is going to be a prequel. (Everyone “oooohs”) So it’ll have new story and I’ll be writing the story.
Speaking of videogames, I don’t know if you or anyone else here have noticed the similarities in the storyline of Fable III and Mistborn.
You know, people have said that to me and I haven’t played Fable III.
It’s really uncanny. Yours was written first, obviously, but going through it I was just like “I wonder if he knows how parallel this runs.”
I’ll have to play those.
I can actually get you a copy.
You can get me a copy? Hey, get me copies! Yeah, hey, he works for Microsoft!
Okay. I’ve got a 360. Epic Games sent me a 360 so I might as well play with it!
Is that for the Mistborn...?
No, I’m working with Epic on something else. I’ll be able to announce that eventually, but Epic’s got a studio in Salt Lake and so I’ve been working with them on something. But that’s not official so I can’t say anything about that.
Are they any new fantasy novels that you’d recommend?
You know, this year I’ve been reading pretty much exclusively Wheel of Time. Other than Wheel of Time I’ve only read three books. Two were Terry Pratchett books, and one was The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which is a really solid book. So, Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a really good book. I... it’s been nominated for the Hugo and for things like that so you don’t need me to tell you that. But, yeah, that’s the only one I’ve read. Oh. And Wise Man’s Fear. But I started last year on that, I think, because I got that early. But really, I haven’t read a ton this year because I’ve committed to rereading the whole Wheel of Time, and when you do that, your reading time just kind of vanishes and I also wanted to read for the Hugo awards, so I read all of their short fiction, for the Hugo awards, and so... I did vote.
In the prologue in the Alloy of Law, it talks about how the guy actually spikes people to the wall. Is there going to be Hemalurgy involved?
That’s a RAFO. Hey, RAFOs! I will say, in Alloy of Law time, Hemalurgy is not well-known and that’s not been spread around, and Feruchemy as an art moved like Allomancy did in that you can have just one of the powers. And we decided... Chemings? What did we decide, Peter? Oh, Ferings. We decided Ferings. We couldn’t decide bewteen the two of those. It’s in the book somewhere. [Editor’s note: Um, I don’t think so.] But anyway, you can have one Allomantic and one Feruchemical. But not a lot of Mistborn and not a lot of full Feruchemists anymore.
Do you explain how the Feruchemists came back, because at the end there were a lot of eunuchs and...
Yeah, well, that’s one of the reasons why Feruchemy has been split because it’s very diluted now. The Terris people did survive because they made it. And so, the genetic code is there.
And so, every once in a while, hereditarily, the gene will come up.
Yeah. But that’s why there aren’t very many full-blooded Feruchemists anymore. A thousand years of the Lord Ruler trying to breed it out of the population followed by a cataclysm that destroyed most of the population of the world did them in, yeah.
Your class that you teach at BYU, can you tell us more about it, like writing, when do you teach it...
I teach it Thursday nights, one night a week, for three hours. It is half-lecture, half-workshop, so, an hour and a half (supposedly) of lecture (it goes long sometimes) and an hour and a half of workshopping. It... you can get most everything I lecture by listening to Writing Excuses, which if you haven’t listened to, is my podcast. I cover a lot of it on there, but it’s just, you know. I do a lecture on magic systems. I do a lecture on sympathetic characters. I do a lecture on plotting and my goal is just to give you a bunch of tools that a bunch of different writers use, and to just say, “here is how they do it, you can try these different tools and see what works for you” because not every tool is going to work for every writer. In fact, a lot of writers have opposite processes from one another for accomplishing the same goals.
I’m just getting back into reading in general, and I’m compiling a list of books I want to read after the Wheel of Time, and going through them, there’s a lot of sex in them. You know, you and I as members of the Church, how do you deal with that when you come across that.
I don’t know. It depends on the book and how it’s treated. I personally couldn’t read Game of Thrones, I tried it once and put it down, and tried again because he’s such a good writer, and I finished the first one and decided “I can’t read more of these.” they were too graphic for me, despite him being a brilliant writer. Other writers... [loudspeaker obnoxiously covers sound]... has very tastefully done. So it just depends on the book. I’ve never been pushed to put anything in my books. I think it’s a myth that publishers do that. People always worry, but, well, they just want you to write great books and they’re looking for greatness. They don’t say “this will sell more, this will sell less”. In fact, they actually like it when there’s less of that because it has a broader audience. Publishers do, at least. Same reason PG-13 movies sell more than R movies. I just write what I want to write and people seem to like it.
But books, something to read, you know?
Yeah, I’ve put down books before and I think that’s just a personal choice. You know, everyone’s line is going to be in a different place. There are certain books I won’t read, and so, yeah.
Is there any author’s skills that you envy, besides Robert Jordan?
Yeah! (laughter) No, there are. There are things that Pat Rothfuss does that I think are wonderful. Mostly, his poetry of language, that, I envy his ability to do that. Jim Butcher’s ability to pace is just fantastic, and so, I look at him and say, wow, I want to have the ability to pace like that. You know, there are a lot of authors that write really good books that I look at and say, wow, I want to learn from that. And then you do, because that’s what you do as a writer. You’re like, I learned from this.
I’m relatively new to fantasy. For the Mistborn series, I’m curious: do you find out the origins of Ruin and Preservation?
...Eventually, eventually. You should talk to these guys. (signals to 17th Sharders) They’ll talk your ears off, and then some. Eventually perhaps you will.
Mi’chelle: (laughter) Liar!
But not yet.
Well, they know some things.
Mi’chelle: Just go to 17thshard.com and plan a LOT of time.
They’ve got big theories because all my books are connected, so yes. They have lots of theories talking about that. Last question:
It’s actually not a question. It’s: thank you.
Oh! My pleasure.
I follow you on Facebook and that really helps. Thank you. It makes you real.
My pleasure. Yeah, follow me on Facebook or on Twitter, I try to post at least one thing a day. Often I’m posting more. Some of them are stupid. Some of the things are dumb things my kid does, but I also do updates on writing and things like that.
I would have to disagree. You’ve never posted anything stupid! Thank you very much.
Thank you guys very much for reading!
Part Three - CosmerepaloozaEdit
Eric’s note: I compiled and wrote these questions, then emailed them to Josh and Mi’ch. There’s an instance where I completely flubbed writing the question. Oops. There’s also a question related to Alloy of Law, but it references a sample chapter.
Josh: Is Aona's Shard name Devotion?
RAFO, but that’s more of a “Email that question to me” because I would have to look at my computer to see which term I settled on, but you’re basically there. [Note: we have emailed him, haven’t heard a response yet]
Mi’chelle: We’ve got the right idea.
I think it actually may be Devotion. So I’ll have to look. It may be a synonym.
Josh: Is Skai Unity?
(Brandon seems confused by the pronunciation. It is apparently more like “Skae”)
What? RAFO. I’m not going to tell you. You already kind of pulled out of me what Aona was.
Josh: Is Galladon the Dula in Way of Kings?
Yes, he is.
Josh: Is Soulcasting a subset of Surgebinding?
Yes, it is.
Mi’chelle: If an Elantrian were to get Aon Rao tattooed to them, would it increase their ability to use the Dor, or would it make it so they can use the Dor outside of Elantris?
Josh: Is the focus for Surgebinding the Body Focuses?
Mi’chelle: Is the body the focus for Surgebinding, I think is what he meant [Eric’s note: Well, I meant what I said, but whatever ]
Oh, okay. The Physical?
Surgebinding is... Yeah, kinda. That’s a “yeah, kinda.”
Mi’chelle: We’ll figure it out in more detail later.
Josh: Do Splinters have their own Intent, in addition to the Shards’?
Splinters often have their own intent.
Josh: Why can Sazed read minds in Alloy of Law when Ruin can't?
RAFO. Well wait, who’s mind is he reading?
Mi’chelle: Eric argues he talks directly to Wax.
Josh: Is Preservation is a force of stability? [Eric’s note: Sorry, this is my bad. I emailed Josh these questions and um, I clearly did not complete my sentence... Now it’s just a stupid question. Oops.]
Yes, it’s unchangingness. It’s the opposite of Ruin.
Josh: Are the Dahkor magics powered by the Dor?
Josh: If Elendel is named for Elend then who's Lutha?
Mi’chelle: I know that you’ve answered this before, but we don’t have citation yet. Was the earthquake caused by Odium’s visit to Elantris? You’ve answered that one before, I believe.
I don’t know if I have. I think I’ve given implications without a strict, direct answer on that one.
Mi’chelle: And what are the implications, so I can know if I’m thinking of the right answer?
What do you think I’ve said?
Mi’chelle: I think you’ve said, no it isn’t.
The Seons existed before the earthquake.
Mi’chelle: But was the earthquake caused by Odium?
When Odium visited there were no Seons.
Mi’chelle: But that doesn’t answer the question about the earthquake, so that’s interesting to note.
See what I’m saying?
Josh: The Allomantic metals are separated into four quadrants. Do the Shards have classifications as well, in groups of four?
This division, the Allomantic division is a thing researchers and scholars placed upon it.
Josh: How does one detect a new Feruchemist?
Feruchemists, when they touch metals, have an empathy for the metal that they can use.
Josh: When non-god metals are burned Allomantically, what happens to the metals? Are they crushed into tiny specks? Do they disappear?
The metals become a key conduit through which the power is delivered. So they are actually sort of vaporized, and the atomic code is a key by which the power is drawn in.
Josh: Why was AonDor forbidden around the pool ascent? If the pool is the essence of AonDor, why can’t the power be used near it?
Did I... it doesn’t say that it can’t be used, it’s just forbidden there.
Mi’chelle: Why is it forbidden?
RAFO. I’m going to go to dinner, guys.