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Will You Ever Publish Your Unpublished Novels?

Some backstory might help you all. I began writing in earnest in 1997. During those years, I shared the books I wrote with a group of friends. This group worked with me on The Leading Edge, a science fiction fanzine/semiprozine at BYU. Eventually, once we graduated, we founded the Timewaster’s Guide, partially as a forum where we could hang out. Tage and Ookla from the TWG forums–aka Ben and Peter–are among them, and are still very good friends of mine. A fun easter egg is to watch how Ben Olsen and Peter Ahlstrom are treated in the acknowledgements of many of my books.

The overarching story and theme of my books, what I wanted to accomplish as a writer, and how I approached the fantasy genre, all took shape during this time. These readers read many of my most important, and influential (on me as a writer) novels while in draft form. The biggest three of these during this era were White Sand, Dragonsteel, and Elantris. (On the tail end, I wrote–but never finished–the foundations of what years later became Warbreaker.)

The next era of my unpublished writing was when I worked on the worlds, stories, and themes that eventually became Mistborn, The Way of Kings, and a book called the Aether of Night. Many of my writing group friends have read these books, including the first draft of Kings(which is very, very different from the current draft.)

Anyway, these unpublished books are NOT cannon yet. I don’t canonize a novel until I publish it. But some of the hidden themes (including Hoid and Adonalsium) of my books are present in these novels. Dragonsteel and Aether of Night are particularly connected. Of the unpublished Shardworld books, White Sand is probably the best written.) Again, none of this is cannon yet.   For instance, I’ve taken chunks out of Dragonsteel to use in the revision of The Way of Kings. However, these old books do contain clues that aren’t available to the average reader.

Dragonsteel Used to be available by inter-library loan through the university library system.   There were only four or five hard copies in existence, and most of them have gone missing. The BYU library has one (the book was my honor’s thesis). I believe the honors department has one.   My thesis chair has one (and maybe the committee has one, I can’t remember). I’ve got one in my basement. And I believe Ben’s sister may have sneaked a copy out of the trash when I was cleaning out old manuscripts (though that might be White Sand).

I do have intentions of rewriting these books and publishing them eventually. They each have pieces of the story. I may decide to shift certain themes from one series to another as I eventually write and publish them. I’ve been known to email White Sand or Aether of Night to readers who email and ask though it does make me cringe a little to do so. In many of these books, I was experimenting with magic, theme, and narrative style–some experiments were a success, some were failures.

Dragonsteel is frozen; I don’t send it out any longer, as to not spoil the parts of The Way of Kings that I decided fit better in that world. So the only way to get it now is to borrow it from BYU.   I’ve been told that Dragonsteel is the only undergraduate BYU honor’s thesis ever to have been be read so often that it needed to be rebound. A dubious honor, I’m not sure how I feel about so many people reading a book of mine that is that mediocre.

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