There were lots of questions about Brandon Sanderson's expanded cosmology, but the most interesting answer came well after the Q&A. Said cosmology--the tale of Hoid and the Shards of Adonalsium--at this point amounts to little more than wild speculation about a series of easter eggs throughout Sanderson's corpus; Sanderson has confirmed very little, although you can occasionally gauge by his reactions to questions that the fans have figured out more than he intended.
He was asked if he had planned it from the very beginning--even in the 13 books he wrote before getting a single one published. He said yes, that he had. He wanted to write epic fantasy, but he knew he couldn't start a series and hope to get it published--so he created standalone novels and mini-series' that take place in the same universe and have at least one common character. Since he knew he couldn't sell an editor on it, he hid it from the editors.
Last Wednesday at 7, fantasy author Brandon Sanderson did a signing at the Barnes & Noble in Chesterfield. He came onto my radar by way of the Writing Excuses weekly podcast (the hands-down must-listen for anyone interested in writing) that I discovered through my brother-in-law, Bill. We're tremendous fans, so we not only jumped at the chance to get stuff signed, Abby started making things for him to sign (hers are the four on the left). Abby even came in costume:
Around quarter to nine the line was through, so he did Q&A in the store while he signed a few dozen copies of his book that were sitting on a display. Once the store closed at 9, he continued the Q&A in the parking lot for another half hour or so--which consisted largely of RAFO-ing spoilers for Wheel of Time and his cosmology--and then invited whoever was interested back to his hotel to play Magic: The Gathering.
And this was when the real fun began. For starters, I was the first to the hotel, and Brandon was the second, so I had him to myself for about 5 minutes. We chatted about... well, mostly about Dan Wells--who is another favorite author of mine that I discovered through the Writing Excuses podcast--while Brandon checked out some of his fan gifts.
Once enough players arrived, the games began. There were two games--both were everybody-against-Brandon in a Magic variant called "Archenemy" and the players got solidly trounced in the first game by Brandon's "Cthulhu To The Face" deck. Amid the spell-casting there was more discussion, less the form of a Q&A and more of friendly chatter. To a certain point--at the end of the day we were all rabid fans hanging on every word of one of our idols.
The second game went better--Evan brought several decks and a few more of us joined the game. The spoils of our victory were a code for The Great Hunt--a viral-type game leading up to the next Wheel of Time release. As well we got more stuff signed. And more pictures.
I've had the pleasure of meeting several mid-to-low-tier celebrities: Jonathan Coulton, Vienna Teng, Jason Webley, even Max Lucado once (although at the time I didn't have any idea who he was). They're all super-polite and gracious and friendly, but being invited to hang out with ("hang out" here meaning "geek out over nerd games") someone you can normally only admire from a distance was a singularly thrilling experience.
It was one of the most fun evenings I've had in a while, and one of the most interesting for a while to come.