Happy Sunday guys! Today I am absolutely THRILLED to bring you an interview with the ridiculously AWESOME Brandon Sanderson!
For those of you who don’t know Brandon Sanderson’s latest release Steelheart is my favorite book of 2013. And I do mean FAVORITE. It was beyond amazing and I demand that you all rush out and grab a copy. Like now. No not “now”, RIGHT NOW. Erm sorry about that… on to the interview!
The answers below are a transcription from audio Brandon recorded specifically for this interview.
1. With Steelheart every superhero I’ve worshipped as a kid, was pretty much blown to bits and replaced with the scariest bunch of “supers” I’ve ever seen. How did you come up with the idea to take superheroes (and even today’s, not even close to epic level, villains) and make them so amazingly evil?
I was on book tour, driving a rental car up through West Virginia when someone aggressively cut me off in traffic. I got very annoyed at this person, which is not something I normally do. I’m usually pretty easygoing, but this time I thought to myself, “Well, random person, it’s a good thing I don’t have super powers—because if I did, I’d totally blow your car off the road.” Then I thought: “That’s horrifying that I would even think of doing that to a random stranger!”
Any time that I get horrified like that makes me realize that there’s a story there somewhere. So I spent the rest of the drive thinking about what would really happen if I had super powers. Would I go out and be a hero, or would I just start doing whatever I wanted to? Would it be a good thing or a bad thing?
2. Newcago was a HUGE surprise for me. I expected to see Chicago, but roughed up in a dystopian way. Instead you took a major city we all know, and made it completely new and interactive. The catacombs, in particular were really interesting to me. Did you base Newcago’s catacombs off of a “real” place?
Newcago’s catacombs were actually based more off of mid-eighties cyberpunk stories where you’ve often got this sort of techie underground, and I love that visual. I intentionally didn’t want to take Steelheart in a dystopian direction, even though it technically is a dystopia. I just feel that the whole “wasted world” dystopia has been done so well by so many writers that I wanted to have something that felt new and different.
When I gave Steelheart this sort of Midas power to turn Chicago into metal, I thought it would be cool to have these catacombs dug underneath it because the visual was so different and cool. The catacombs I’ve visited in various cities are, of course, awesome, but really I’m looking back at those cyberpunk books.
3. Steelheart makes you feel a few pretty intense emotions. Were there any scenes in particular that you found difficult to write, because of these intense moments?
One of the very first scenes I imagined for Steelheart is where the main character David is trapped and pinned down. Certain things have led him to that moment and the events that happen right after that. (I’m not giving any spoilers, but those of you who have read the book will know what I’m talking about. It happens right after the motorcycle chase.) When I’m developing a book, I often go for a walk or walk on the treadmill and listen to cool music, my eyes closed, and ask myself, “What is the emotional resonance of this book? What’s it going to feel like to read it? What scenes will make that happen?” This was one of those scenes. For me, it was the most important scene of the entire novel, so getting to it was a pleasure, but it was also an emotional and powerful scene to write because I’d been planning it for so long and wanted badly for it to turn out well. That can be really difficult for a writer when you’ve got something in your head and you worry. Can I make it turn out on the page?
4. If Calamity did come (and most of us did not turn evil), what power would you want? Would you be a hero? Villain? Switzerland?
What power I would choose depends on how rational my brain is that day. It makes the most sense to have Wolverine’s regenerative powers. At the same time, it’s not like I’m jumping off cliffs or getting into fights. So I probably wouldn’t do much with this power.
But in the back of my mind, there’s a part of me that says, “Boy, would I really love to be able to fly!” Which is why a lot of the magic systems in my books wind up dealing with people having powers that let them soar in the air.
Honestly, I want to think I’d be a hero, but as I’ve mentioned, the reason I wrote Steelheart was because of a moment where I had intense anger toward someone else. And that moment of me imagining myself destroying someone else because of a minor annoyance is part of why I wrote this book. I was frightened of myself. I’d like to think that I’d be a hero. I’m worried that I wouldn’t be.
5. I know the second book in the series isn’t due out until next year, but can you tell us how many books there will be total in the series?
A trilogy. As for it being open-ended, I can’t reveal the ending of the third book, or anything about it, while the first book is just barely out! So, you’ll have to wait and see.
SEE!! Isn’t he awesome!?! Look at those answers! LOOK AT THEM! They scream of awesomeness! But enough of my gushing, on to what you all have been waiting on…. A GIVEAWAY!!!! One lucky INTERNATIONAL person will win a e-book copy of one of the hottest books of the year…. STEELHEART!