Brandon Sanderson & Ben Aaronovitch

wakarimasen

Journeyed there and back again
#1
These two chaps are in town in the UK in a week or two for a Gollancz book festival.

We have very kindly been given the chance to put some questions to them. I'll have about 15 mins with each to bombard them with questions from the board.

So... be it Allomantic points of lore, cockney magi crimebusting or general silliness. What do you want to ask them?
 

btkong

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#2
Oh boy, this should be good, especially the Sanderson one! I predict there's going to be a lot of cosmere questions
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#4
Sanderson/Aaronovitch : If you could magically go back and change any parts of any of your books, would you?
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#5
Sanderson. Will there ever be a book written that explains 'the Cosmere' for those of us who have no idea what it is?
 

wakarimasen

Journeyed there and back again
#6
@TomTB do you mean like a sort of series companion thing?

How about sex and death? Personally I'm not bothered by the lack of nookie in Brandon's stuff but does anyone have anything they want to ask about it?

I will of course be asking the staple questions of "Do you have any swords? What's your favourite breakfast?" and @Fatal Rose's perennial "Any plans for a d20 rpg?"
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#7
I'd like to know about the lack of the horizontal tango in Sanderson's books. Is that a deliberate choice? If so, what is his motivation for not including it in his books?

Also, I'm curious as to how he plans to write the Stormlight Archive. Is the story all in his head and does he think 10 books will be exactly right to tell it? Or is 10 books a rough guess? Will he make stuff up as he goes along? And has that already happened (ie. in the first 2 books in the series, did he add any stuff that he originally hadn't planned on writing).

I'd also like to know what Sanderson uses for inspiration? For example, hobbies? Nature? Other books?

I'm also interested in why Sanderson puts so much effort into keeping his fans up to date. I really like that about him. Is his current attitude in regard to this perhaps formed by experiences from the past (ie. has he felt the frustration that millions of fantasy fans share whilst waiting for certain books in certain series to be released)?
 

Maxal

Drinks Elfbark tea with FitzChivalry
#8
I'd like to know about the lack of the horizontal tango in Sanderson's books. Is that a deliberate choice? If so, what is his motivation for not including it in his books?

Also, I'm curious as to how he plans to write the Stormlight Archive. Is the story all in his head and does he think 10 books will be exactly right to tell it? Or is 10 books a rough guess? Will he make stuff up as he goes along? And has that already happened (ie. in the first 2 books in the series, did he add any stuff that he originally hadn't planned on writing).

I'd also like to know what Sanderson uses for inspiration? For example, hobbies? Nature? Other books?

I'm also interested in why Sanderson puts so much effort into keeping his fans up to date. I really like that about him. Is his current attitude in regard to this perhaps formed by experiences from the past (ie. has he felt the frustration that millions of fantasy fans share whilst waiting for certain books in certain series to be released)?
I can perhaps answer some of your questions on Sanderson.

As others have pointed out, he is a Mormont. What others have not mentioned, though, is the fact he wrote Mistborn before he married his wife and had his children (he has 3 little boys). At the time, he was not comfortable with intimacy and thus did not feel he could write it adequately. It is a thing with Sanderson: he only writes what he believes he can rightly convey into words. For instance, Kaladin's depression is strongly inspired by the depression his wife suffered from a few years back. Also, when he wrote Renarin, he asked for autistic fans advice on how best to deal with it. He has been repetitively asked of he would include characters from the LGBT community and he said he was not entirely confident in his ability to write them properly, but he has, despite this, made sure some of his side characters fell into this category. In other words, he makes a lot of research before putting down his characters and he won't venture into areas he is unsure of.

I don't expect Stormlight to remain as prude as it currently is. The kids are bound to get busy under the blanket, eventually, but right now, the deep blushing while kissing is actually adorable, in a way. He designed his world to make such thing possible.

Stormlight Archive is a 10 books series separated into two halves. The second set of five books will happen after an in-world 10 to 15 years gap and will feature different major protagonists. Some will be taken from the side characters of the first halves, others currently are very minor ones. We have the listing, so we basically know what to expect. The first halves will likely have an ending of its own and may also be "stand-alone" in the sense reading the follow-up may not be required.

Yes, he does have a plan. He always has a plan. He is a very meticulous author. He designed a book structure such as to allow himself to avoid the traps Jordan or Martin fell into. His books are, in fact, three books combined into one: you have the flashback sequences, the main story arc and the interludes. The reason he created the interludes was to allow him to explore his world with side characters without crippling or stalling the main story arc. He did this deliberately to allow himself enough liberty to write his story without having to introduce countless of side characters the readers may not care about.

This being said, while his plan do exist, it is not rock solid. He purposefully allows his characters room to grow. Having a plan does not preclude some characters from out-growing their original planning. Characters such as Elend and Spook were not originally designed to be POV characters nor to take up so much place in the story, but it happened nonetheless because Sanderson felt the story was richer this way. Stormlight Archive's Adolin Kholin also is an unplanned character who initially died early on in the first tome, but has since grown in importance. His future is perhaps very insecure due to fact Sanderson has promote some of his up-coming planning, but we'll see.

He is a very generous author. He tries not to deceive his fans. For instance, when he wrote the Dalinar's flashback sequences for the next book, he clearly said he knew what his readers wished to find out and he won't deceive them. I have never heard him say this attitude derived from Jordan's lack of communication or the fact he purposefully did not offer closure on many story arcs, but it may very well be it.

Hope that answers some of his questions.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#9
I can perhaps answer some of your questions on Sanderson.

As others have pointed out, he is a Mormont. What others have not mentioned, though, is the fact he wrote Mistborn before he married his wife and had his children (he has 3 little boys). At the time, he was not comfortable with intimacy and thus did not feel he could write it adequately. It is a thing with Sanderson: he only writes what he believes he can rightly convey into words. For instance, Kaladin's depression is strongly inspired by the depression his wife suffered from a few years back. Also, when he wrote Renarin, he asked for autistic fans advice on how best to deal with it. He has been repetitively asked of he would include characters from the LGBT community and he said he was not entirely confident in his ability to write them properly, but he has, despite this, made sure some of his side characters fell into this category. In other words, he makes a lot of research before putting down his characters and he won't venture into areas he is unsure of.

I don't expect Stormlight to remain as prude as it currently is. The kids are bound to get busy under the blanket, eventually, but right now, the deep blushing while kissing is actually adorable, in a way. He designed his world to make such thing possible.

Stormlight Archive is a 10 books series separated into two halves. The second set of five books will happen after an in-world 10 to 15 years gap and will feature different major protagonists. Some will be taken from the side characters of the first halves, others currently are very minor ones. We have the listing, so we basically know what to expect. The first halves will likely have an ending of its own and may also be "stand-alone" in the sense reading the follow-up may not be required.

Yes, he does have a plan. He always has a plan. He is a very meticulous author. He designed a book structure such as to allow himself to avoid the traps Jordan or Martin fell into. His books are, in fact, three books combined into one: you have the flashback sequences, the main story arc and the interludes. The reason he created the interludes was to allow him to explore his world with side characters without crippling or stalling the main story arc. He did this deliberately to allow himself enough liberty to write his story without having to introduce countless of side characters the readers may not care about.

This being said, while his plan do exist, it is not rock solid. He purposefully allows his characters room to grow. Having a plan does not preclude some characters from out-growing their original planning. Characters such as Elend and Spook were not originally designed to be POV characters nor to take up so much place in the story, but it happened nonetheless because Sanderson felt the story was richer this way. Stormlight Archive's Adolin Kholin also is an unplanned character who initially died early on in the first tome, but has since grown in importance. His future is perhaps very insecure due to fact Sanderson has promote some of his up-coming planning, but we'll see.

He is a very generous author. He tries not to deceive his fans. For instance, when he wrote the Dalinar's flashback sequences for the next book, he clearly said he knew what his readers wished to find out and he won't deceive them. I have never heard him say this attitude derived from Jordan's lack of communication or the fact he purposefully did not offer closure on many story arcs, but it may very well be it.

Hope that answers some of his questions.
Hmm I see. Thanks for this, but I'd rather hear it from Brandon Sanderson himself (which was the point of this thread). There are several threads where speculation and conjecture about Sanderson is currently ongoing in which this post is more at home.

You seem to be well informed, and I don't mean to disrespect you. It's just that this is a cool opportunity to hear some answers from the man himself.
 

Maxal

Drinks Elfbark tea with FitzChivalry
#10
Thanks for this, but I'd rather hear it from Brandon Sanderson himself (which was the point of this thread). There are several threads where speculation and conjecture about Sanderson is currently ongoing in which this post is more at home.
Oh sorry. I misunderstood the purpose of the thread. I take my information from Q&A from Brandon Sanderson himself. These questions have been asked in the past. There are audios (and transcripts) available where he explains all I have said. I can pin-point you where to look for them, if you are interested, but it is rather scattered around. It takes time (and a certain amount of dedication) to move through all of the appropriate Sanderson stuff and find what you are interested in, but it is out there.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#11
Oh sorry. I misunderstood the purpose of the thread. I take my information from Q&A from Brandon Sanderson himself. These questions have been asked in the past. There are audios (and transcripts) available where he explains all I have said. I can pin-point you where to look for them, if you are interested, but it is rather scattered around. It takes time (and a certain amount of dedication) to move through all of the appropriate Sanderson stuff and find what you are interested in, but it is out there.
In that case, thanks for your comments. I'll trust you on the veracity of the answers (I'm certainly to lazy to go digging myself). You're quite the Sanderson expert I must say. Do you keep tabs on more writers, or is he one of your favorites?
 

wakarimasen

Journeyed there and back again
#12
so @Maxal , as someone who has traversed the great seas of Sanderson knowledge... what would you like to know about that hasn't been covered in those other interviews?
 

João Ribeiro

Journeyed there and back again
#13
I'd like to know if Sanderson would be game to finish another series if the author would become "permanently unavailable".
 

Maxal

Drinks Elfbark tea with FitzChivalry
#14
In that case, thanks for your comments. I'll trust you on the veracity of the answers (I'm certainly to lazy to go digging myself). You're quite the Sanderson expert I must say. Do you keep tabs on more writers, or is he one of your favorites?
I am kind of a Sanderson fan myself... I have spend the greater part of the last year deeply digging into anything related to the Stormlight Archive. While I am unable to attend myself to signings, I do avidly follow up every single one of them. Interviews, WoB, Q&A all end up being posted on the Internet by his most avid fans.

I keep tabs only on Sanderson mainly because he is my favorite.

so @Maxal , as someone who has traversed the great seas of Sanderson knowledge... what would you like to know about that hasn't been covered in those other interviews?
I do not recall reading anything pertaining to his hobbies or his inspirations, though I do know he loves the play Magic the Gathering and he has a liking of Anime. It may be there, but I may not have been paying enough attention.

I am personally mostly interested in character development, so one question I would ask is if he has noticed how he tends to feature similar characters. I would like to know if he would be willing to take a plunge and focus on characters widely differing from his standard mold, by this I mean not as side characters, but as main characters. I do not believe anyone ever asked him this question. For instance, nearly all of his main protagonists are introverted and most share some form of society awkwardness. Would he be willing to feature someone more on the extroverted side of the spectrum as a major protagonist? Either in Stormlight or any future piece of work. I am deeply interested into those aspects of writing characters.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#15
so one question I would ask is if he has noticed how he tends to feature similar characters. I would like to know if he would be willing to take a plunge and focus on characters widely differing from his standard mold, by this I mean not as side characters, but as main characters. I do not believe anyone ever asked him this question. For instance, nearly all of his main protagonists are introverted and most share some form of society awkwardness
This is a good question. I have probably not read nearly as many of his books as some of the other people here, but I have noticed this as well. I feel like he is capable of writing other character types (saw this in WoT) but would be interested in seeing him come up with some on his own instead of carrying on with ones that someone else came up with.
 

Maxal

Drinks Elfbark tea with FitzChivalry
#16
This is a good question. I have probably not read nearly as many of his books as some of the other people here, but I have noticed this as well. I feel like he is capable of writing other character types (saw this in WoT) but would be interested in seeing him come up with some on his own instead of carrying on with ones that someone else came up with.
Thanks. I am glad I was not the only one who noticed this. His characters are not all identical, that would be an unfair criticism, but they all share similarities. It would be great to see him take a chance with someone who is the complete opposite. He has a few opportunities, most notably in Stormlight Archive, but I do not know if he'll go down that road. As of now, he has generally reserved his most "extroverted", his not prone to "internal struggle", his "not part of the oppressed minority", his "not socially awkward", his "not reluctant heroes" characters as the side-kicks or the very minor ones, which removes him from the pressure to develop them furthermore. It'd be massively interesting if he tried.

WoT is a good example, though he has admitted, in interview, writing Mat has been difficult for him. I also believe it is one of the recurring critic he received for his collaboration to WoT: the hard-core fans did not enjoy his portrayal of their favorite. I do not share the sentient, but it was great to see him explain why some may have felt this way. He did struggle. Mat is admittedly very different than his normal cast of characters.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#17
Does Ben Aaronovitch ever worry that some things (which are, presumably, authentic for people living in London around the current time) won't translate for non-UK readers? I'm on Rivers of London book 3 now and I had to Google "taking the piss" because that is not a phrase in American English and the closest equivalent does NOT mean the same thing...
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#19
Yeah I notice a few colloquialisms in them which I wonder how they go down on other shores. Especially as their use tends to be instances of typically London dark humour, I wonder if some of that humour gets lost.
I wonder if this is why I don't think Rivers of London is as funny as Dresden? Jim Butcher has a lot of inside references to growing up in Independence, MO, whether he realizes it or not (character names, etc.). So I totally get all of that (we went to the same high school, but graduated 6 years apart). But a lot of it is going to fly by most people. The humor in Dresden, though, definitely makes sense to an American.