Calamity author Brandon Sanderson answers Goodreads’ fan questions about The Reckoners series
It started with Steelheart, and then Firefight, and the third book of the series was just released. Goodreads took to getting fans asking Calamity author Brandon Sanderson about the books in this superhero-type trilogy, The Reckoners.
Caleb: What was it that inspired you to write a superhero series in which all the super-powered heroes had become so corrupt? AndSzilvi also wonders: What made you think about people with superpowers that could destroy the world, since most people make people with super powers the good guys?
I did it exactly because I hadn’t ever seen anyone do it! I’ve enjoyed the superhero genre quite a bit during my years, and as a writer I’m generally looking to do something similar to stories I’ve loved in the past. At the same time, something in me rebels at just doing “the same thing” again. This is the conflict of fan against artist inside me—and the result is usually that I spend time thinking about a genre of stories, and try to find a take on it that feels fresh and original. It’s like eating my cake and having it too! I feel that I can add something to the genre, giving people a new story, yet also incorporate some of the things I love about the genre—the things that make it really work.
Cassidy: What was your premise behind the main character David [in the Reckoners]? Why did you create him as he is, scared yet fearless at the same time, smart about specific things yet totally ignorant about others, etc.?
I built David around two pillars of personality. One is his interest in the Epics, which balances between hatred and fascination. The other one is his fierce determination, which leads him to be impulsive and bull-headed at times, but also pretty inspiring at others.
I feel that as people, sometimes our greatest strengths are also our greatest liabilities. In this respect, every human being is a conundrum in at least one or two ways. With David, his fixation on the Epics is a huge strength—but he’s been so narrowly focused in his interests that he neglected many other areas of study. So he’s both smart and stupid. At the same time, he’s impulsive and determined, which leads to acts of great bravery, but he lives in a society that beats people down—so if he stops and thinks too long, he can often psych himself out.
D.I: I’ve heard you are a plotter, yet chose to write The Reckoners as a pantser. What were some of the unexpected difficulties or advantages of pantsing?
I “pantsed” the first few chapters of Steelheart, but I quickly went from there to creating an outline. The early part was exploration, the first three or four chapters. That’s not uncommon, even for an outliner. However, I did then stop and produce a really solid outline for the book. (Actually one of the most solid I’ve ever made.)
When you’re discovery writing, you often have a lot more success creating and discovering characters, in my experience. That’s why I often free-write a few opening chapters to a book, so I can get a feel for who these people might be. However, a difficulty with discovery writing (pantsing) is plotting—it’s very difficult to create a tight narrative without an outline. (That said, many people who love to discovery write can fix this problem in revisions.) The fantasy and sci-fi superstar answers your questions about keeping all his series straight, the mechanics of world building, and the conclusion of his Reckoners trilogy, Calamity. Will the world now be free of evil superheroes?
E.D.E.: If you could have an Epic power in your everyday life—you know, just every once in a while, not enough to corrupt you—what would it be?
I would love to be able to fly. It’s not the “right” decision, which would probably be some kind of healing/comforting power to make myself and those around me more healthy. (Even if it is to get rid of the common cold.)
Read the full interview on Goodreads, where he talks about his other books and writing in general.