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  • RIK HOSKIN talks WHITE SAND VOL. 3 OGN HC, on sale in JUNE!

    RIK HOSKIN talks WHITE SAND VOL. 3 OGN HC, on sale in JUNE from Dynamite!

    BYRON BREWER: Rik, White Sand has been a part of your life for about five years now. What has it been like to bring to life a crucial, unpublished part of Brandon Sanderson’s sprawling Cosmere universe?

    RIK HOSKIN: It was daunting to start with – I was handed an unpublished Brandon Sanderson manuscript that ran over 1,000 pages and asked to adapt it ... my first thought was “Where do I start?!”

    But Brandon and his team were on-board with making this superior to the original manuscript, and were very supportive of what I could bring to the story as a comic book writer. On top of that, we always knew from the very start that we were going to change aspects of the story, refining parts that hadn’t quite landed how Brandon had wanted – a major reason behind his never publishing the book – and that was very exciting.

    Over the three volumes, I’ve refined my process, too, because I’ve been able to see what has worked well in the adaptation.

    One of the nicest things about doing this adaptation has been working with the great people involved. Not only those credited in the graphic novels, but Brandon’s team, including his art director Isaac Stewart who spearheaded the push to get this into print, and who’s become a good friend, despite our living about 4,000 miles apart.

    BB: Talk more about working with Brandon on these special books.

    RH: I mentioned that Dynamite came in with the remit to refine the original story, which was an incredible opportunity. Imagine being asked to improve on an original Brandon Sanderson story – it’s like being asked to “fix” the Mona Lisa! But Brandon gave lots of notes, and was also flexible with how we incorporated the things he had hoped to do – it was a very organic process, with a lot of leeway to zero in on what would work.

    Brandon’s a very disciplined and hard-working author with a clear sense of his Cosmere universe, but he’s also a really nice guy, which makes for an excellent collaborator. We’ve only spoken a few times – most of the day-to-day running of graphic novels falls to editors and production people – but he’s been very generous and enthusiastic about what we’ve been able to achieve.

    BB: White Sand Vol. 3 brings a very complex trilogy to a climax. Besides reading the preceding volumes, can you summarize what new readers might need to know from Volumes 1 and 2 to truly enjoy this latest White Sand book?

    RH: Oh, please read Volumes 1 and 2 first, that’s really going to help.

    The story of White Sand focuses on the users of magically-charged sand – the Sand Mastrells – and how society turns against them at the same time as an ambush cuts down their numbers to just a few dozen. Left leading the Sand Mastrells is Kenton, possibly the least powerful of them all, and he’s given just two weeks to turn the fortunes of his Guild – the Diem – around and convince everyone that the Sand Mastrells deserve a chance to continue.

    BB: What can you tell readers about Kenton as a character, a hero? And what challenges does he face in this new hardcover original graphic novel from Dynamite?

    RH: With this final volume we find our hero – Kenton – at his lowest ebb, with his sand powers limited and assassins waiting for him at every turn, while he’s run ragged trying to rally political support for his cause. He’s obstinate and flawed, but he’s learning to be a better and more diplomatic person.

    BB: What other characters might we need to know about, ones primarily of importance in this Volume 3?

    RH: Most of the characters in White Sand have the capacity to turn on Kenton, even those he most trusts. Everyone has their own agendas in this story, where betrayal comes easily.

    Kenton’s assisted by a foreign noblewoman called Khriss, who’s known to readers of the Cosmere books as the writer of the Ars Arcanum, a kind of in-universe guidebook that appears in most of Brandon Sanderson’s works. Here, we’re meeting Khriss before she wrote that guide, when she’s just becoming the inquisitive person she will be.

    Kenton’s other allies include Aarik, his oldest friend and the son of the head of the military. Aarik’s a man haunted by the sense of responsibility his father has instilled in him, and I find his story fascinating.

    Then there’s Drile, a Sand Mastrell who’s the same age as Kenton, but much more powerful. Drile’s resentment and arrogance have been thorns in Kenton’s side from Volume 1, and things come to a head in this volume where the two finally cut loose in a battle of magic users that looks incredible.

    The one person Kenton should be able to trust is Ais, a Senior Trackt – a kind of policewoman – who’s been assigned as his bodyguard during these dangerous times. But Ais is conflicted in her role, because her religious faith insists that Kenton’s sand power is heretical.

    BB: Rik, one of my sources tells me you are currently adapting White Sand for Graphic Audio. That entity has a history with Brandon Sanderson material and I believe you have a history with Graphic Audio. Tell us what you can about all this.

    RH: Yes, it’s true! Graphic Audio will be releasing a three-volume, full cast audio adaptation of the graphic novels, which I’m currently in the process of scripting. For this, I’m using my scripts but also going back once more to the original manuscript for a sense of the world, and also to reinstate some parts which we had to cut from the graphic novels for reasons of space.

    I’ve worked with Graphic Audio before, and known them for about a decade now. They adapted a lot of my work when I was writing under the pen-name James Axler on the Deathlands and Outlanders books. A few years ago, they started producing new Deathlands books exclusively for audio, and I’ve been involved in those along with an amazing producer called Rick Rohan.

    Graphic Audio has a long-standing relationship with Brandon’s books, they’ve adapted most of them now into full cast audio plays, so when they found out there was an original graphic novel series, they wanted in.

    BB: Talk about the amazingly beautiful and captivating art of Fritz Casas (Red Sonja, Miss Fury).

    RH: We have had a few artists involved in White Sand over the years, most notably Julius Gopez who handled the majority of books 1 and 2. Julius wasn’t available for Volume 3, but we landed on our feet with Fritz Casas, who brings a delicate touch to this world of magic and intrigue.

    I love Fritz’s work, he’s come in on what must be an intimidating project for an artist – 250 pages into a story set in its own world – and he just keeps producing these exceptional pages. There are moments where the Sand Mastrells’ powers are in use that look incredible, he’s brought them to life in ways I could only dream of when I began writing those panel descriptions. But everything – everything! – looks amazing.

    We also have a brilliant colorist on-board, and that’s adding another layer to the artwork.

    Comics are a team effort, and everyone is really bringing their A-game to this, from editor Joseph Rybandt to letterer DC Hopkins – who’s also one of the nicest people around, with a keen eye for balloon placement. It’s just been a pleasure to work on.

    BB: What’s up next for Rik Hoskin?

    RH: I live in a world of non-disclosure agreements so this is always a tricky question to answer. I have another graphic novel coming from Dynamite, a sequel to last year’s Red Rising: Sons of Ares called WRATH. I also have two graphic novels coming from Campfire, including a historical one about the construction of the Taj Mahal.

    I have work with Graphic Audio, so once the White Sand audio script is complete I’ll be doing something else for them. Their last two Deathlands books – Glory’s Stockpile and Killville – were scripted by me.

    I have some short stories this year from Ahoy Comics and Games Workshop.

    Besides that, some secret projects including something comic book-related. And I was approached last year about creating a TV series, but that’s at a very early stage and it’s a business I’m unfamiliar with, so it’s very slow, tentative steps right now.

    Wish me luck!