Meeting Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson is the fantasy author behind successful series’ such as Mistborn and The Stormlight Archive, as well as the writer responsible for finishing off The Wheel of Time after Robert Jordan passed on. I’ve been a fan of his for some time now, so when the opportunity arose to go to a signing and meet him, I took it.

Before we get to talking about the event itself, I’d like to get the inevitable fanboy stuff out of the way first. I’ve been a massive fan of Sanderson’s since I first read the Mistborn books early last year. Since then, I’ve gone on to read much of his output, and I listen to the podcast he co-hosts, Writing Excuses, on a weekly basis. Much of how Sanderson builds worlds and magic systems has influenced my approach to writing The Kraken and the Clock Tower. So, yeah. Big fan.

The event itself took place in Forbidden Planet in London. My friend Hannah and I showed up an hour early, which was fortunate, since the hardcore turned out in droves shortly after, and by around half hour to go, there were close to 300 people in line. The whole thing kicked off at 6pm, where Brandon took the “stage” for an early reading of the third Stormlight Archive book.

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Yes, that is the best picture I could get. I’m not a photographer (you’ll note my finger creeping into the bottom of the frame.)

The reading was fairly good. It had stuff I’ll not talk about here, because it’s a large-ish spoiler for Words of Radiance, something I try to avoid as best I can. There were a couple of dodgy sentences in there, but it’s the first draft of something not due out until 2016, so I have faith it will be up to standard after editing. And it was exceptionally cool to hear a bit of it this far out from release.

After the reading, the signing started. Brandon was very gracious, spending a couple of minutes with every person, encouraging them to talk if they were nervous. Talking is something I’ve never really had trouble with, so I launched right in with two questions. The first netted me this:

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This cool little thing is a Read And Find Out card. This is the reverse:

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The first question actually concerned a fairly big plot element in Sixth of the Dusk, Brandon’s contribution to the Shadows Beneath Writing Excuses anthology. Again, I’m not in the business of spoilers, but I’ll put details of it at the end of the post for anyone curious. My second question concerned an arena fight from Words of Radiance and whether it was supposed to be written like a wrestling match given that it contained (in my words on the day) “run ins, brawling, and faces cutting promos to further the feud going into the next pay per view event.” (Yes, I’m also a wrestling nerd). He confirmed that he did take a lot of inspiration from WWE for that sequence, and that he’s tickled that people notice it. My quick follow up of “So, why were there no steel chair shots?” was met with laughs all around.

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After that, it was time to move along and let the hundreds of people after me have their turn. I’d have loved to have stayed for hours and chatted, but I fear that any more time would have led to me simply gushing about how much I like all his stuff, and that would have been awfully embarrassing. Either way, it was an excellent experience.

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Now, about that first question… Below this point are spoilers for Sixth of the Dusk!

A big part of Sixth of the Dusk are the ‘Ones Above’, heavily implied to be space faring people looking to take the telepathic birds from the archipelago where the story is set. Now, knowing that Brandon plans to write a Mistborn trilogy wherein the characters use Allomancy to power spaceships, I asked him: “Are the Ones Above from Sixth of the Dusk the sci-fi Mistborns from the unwritten third trilogy?” (Yes, I forgot the term space faring.)

Brandon got an expression on his face that I read as mild surprise at the question. Quite a few notches down from deer in headlights (he is a professional, after all) but I don’t think he quite expected it. His response was to hand me the card and say “They are from one of the Cosmere worlds we’ve seen already.” But he wouldn’t say whether that world was Scadrial from Mistborn or another like Elantris, Nalthis, or even Taldain. In a way, I’m glad he didn’t fully answer the question. Now I get to read and find out.

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