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  • 1

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    NOTE—TEREZ

    This conversation starts off with some of Brandon's thoughts on the lack of female ta'veren in the story, which apparently inspired some knee-jerk posts on Twitter and Facebook about sexism in WoT. Which inspired a mild overreaction on Brandon's part, and so on, which led to a lot of discussion on semantic distinctions and the like. But it was fun. The greater (and latter) part of the conversation took place when Brandon happened to be on an airplane with a choice between reading WoT and hanging out on Twitter where some HCFFs happened to be online. [That is, people who have spent the last ten years or more (in this case) thinking about WoT more than most things, and who in this case included a gay man and a (quasi? pseudo?)-feminist.] It is, for the most part, what some might perceive to be politically biased, so I offer an apology on behalf of all of us for what might appear to be PC-ness and conservative-bashing.

    Brandon Sanderson (11 March 2011)

    I remember the first time I heard the Egwene/Nynaeve/Elayne trio called the "Wondergirls." I'm pretty sure I was in Korea at the time.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I've often gotten questions from people asking if Egwene was ta'veren. Obviously not, as Siuan would have seen the glow of it.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    People seem to wonder why all three boys, and not a single one of the girls, are ta'veren. I've assumed this was to confuse the Shadow.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    To make it difficult to track down Rand and kill him before he grew powerful, the Pattern made three ta'veren to keep everyone guessing.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Of course, it can be argued that the Pattern doesn't do such things—it simply IS. Still, I've liked that as part of the explanation.

    JONAS MUILWIJK

    Why the hell would the Wheel want to confuse the Shadow? :S The Wheel is good nor bad, so it won't choose a side.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Think of it this way—yes, the Pattern simply IS. But evolution simply IS as well. And some times, species evolve to...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    ...have many offspring in order to increase the chances of survival. Likewise, we have three ta'veren. A survival mechanism.

    TIM MARGHEIM

    Weak analogy? If evolution==Pattern, you'd need "Evolution IS, and evolution itself has DMs." Pattern doesn't have species.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Ha ha. I didn't say Evolution==the Pattern. I was showing an amoral, natural function could create something similar to three ta'veren.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Man, people sure are quick to accuse RJ of sexism on my Twitter feed & Facebook. I think any who do this are blatantly wrong.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It's okay to not like the books, or to think RJ did a bad job with characterizations. I disagree, but everyone's tastes are different.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    But he took great pains to create many strong female protagonists with a variety of strengths, and gave them their own stories.

    KATELYN HECKETT

    I've picked up some funny male bias in the books (lots of "breasts", no male equivalent, etc.) but wouldn't say RJ's sexist.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, I've noticed a few of those too.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, there are (More than a few) sexist people in the WoT. And the culture has been influenced by the male/female interactions of the Power.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    However, if you look at the time devoted to female viewpoints—and the plots of those characters—the "RJ is sexist" theory erodes.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Warning: Long update on this topic. As a nod to those who truly know feminist literary theory, I'll make a less "Twitter friendly" argument. Robert Jordan, by creating a world where the women and men are very aware of gender roles, spent a lot of time delving into these topics. I'm convinced he was aware of male privilege, and though biased—as all of us are—sought very hard to overcome his own biases by creating evocative female characters with plot lines that do not center around the obtaining of favor or romantic interest from male characters. He also sought to create a world where women were not defined by how they were viewed by men, but were instead defined by their intelligence, determination, and accomplishments. In this way, though he exposes some small masculine biases in various areas, he was extremely progressive as a dominant male writer of his era, and should be regarded as anything other than "sexist" for his efforts. /Scholarly Brandon

    BRANDON BALLENGER

    Agreed. Hey, how much more "Scholarly Brandon" is online? Seen your postmodernism in fantasy essay, besides that?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Not a ton. I've had to walk a fine line, as I'm not enough of a scholar to trust myself digging too deeply.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I've got a Master's, so I can talk the talk—but when others spent their time in research, I spent it practicing writing.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I think I have an essay or two on my website. Search for "Sanderson's First Law" and my religion essay regarding Elantris.

    TEREZ

    I didn't read all of the conversations you had about it on Twitter and Facebook, and I didn't really have gender roles in mind so much as other things. I understand what you're saying about how his world requires certain gender imbalances—I addressed that sort of offhandedly in my post by saying that the 'in practice' roles in WoT are often not what you would theoretically expect considering the circumstances. And while RJ often made comparisons to various time periods in the real world in reference to technology in particular, I'm not talking about that—I'm talking about the theoretical result of the history of the WoT world. Many of the gender imbalances are logical, but many are not, which is why they don't feel realistic at all to many readers.

    The main problem I had with your comments is that you said that anyone who accused RJ of sexism for whatever reason was 'blatantly wrong'. You sort of trivialize those things that we are 'left with' after cutting away the complex and subjective debate over gender roles, but those things we are left with are so pervasive in the novels that they give an overall impression of an old-fashioned and often casually sexist man behind the curtain. This is a big turn-off for some people, and while I feel that those who cannot overlook it are missing out on one of the greatest stories of all time, I understand that it is a legitimate complaint.

    As for the female nudity...just no. :p I mean, I know you read all the interviews at one point. 'No Male Nudity' (NMN) was not quite as popular as RAFO, but it was definitely one of his favorite stock answers (especially in reference to movie questions—it was his 'one rule') for a good few years. He was pretty blatant about his preferences there, and while I'm sure he had several cultural influences in mind, in the end it's pretty clear that he just enjoyed writing about naked women more than he enjoyed writing about naked men.

    I agree that it's wrong to judge RJ as a person anachronistically, but at the same time, I think it's wrong to make such a blanket statement about the veracity of our claims of sexism in WoT. It's there, and it's real. I agree that some people take the criticism too far without considering certain things—I've had these debates (on non-WoT forums especially) many times over the years—but it seems to me more constructive to criticize the exaggerations, or to criticize each argument on its own merits, than to denounce any and all claims of sexism in WoT in one fell swoop.

    BRANDON SANDERSON (14 MARCH)

    The "Blatantly Wrong" comment was for those who don't really know feminist theory or gender studies, and who were commenting that sexist characters and culture implied a sexist Robert Jordan. I thought better of it later, however, for the people who actually know what they're talking about. Hence the more scholarly comment directed toward people like yourself. I do not deny that there are things to talk about here. Remember, just like with the word "Racism," there are two meanings of the word "Sexist." There is the knee-jerk usage by people who intend it as an insult. And then there is the more thoughtful, careful usage by people who make a study of such things. In their hands, 'sexist' means showing one's biases and a lack of awareness of certain aspects of male privilege or gender sensitivity—using this word to describe someone is not an insult, but a description of bias. (The types of biases that we all have, and can't totally expunge—though we be aware of and try to compensate for them.) My first comment was directed at the first crowd; my second comment at the second crowd.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    For the record, I'm hardly well-read in feminist theory. I've read far more in queer theory (and most of it since then, for unrelated reasons), and queer theory is often tied up with feminist theory, but even there I'm far from an expert, and so my familiarity with feminist theory is along the lines of a vague acquaintance. I understand the distinction Brandon is making, and it's a good one, but I don't think of it as having much to do with feminist theory.

    BRANDON SANDERSON (20 MARCH)

    And, looks like I have Twitter on my flight again this time. So much for getting anything useful done...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Re: NMN. I'll give you this point in regards to Rhuidean. No good reason for Aviendha to be nude when Rand/Mat don't have to be.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    As for the Aes Sedai ceremonies, they still feel very similar to sacred feminine ceremonies I've read before.

    TEREZ

    Sure, but most of the female nudity comes in the sweat tents and baths, etc. Though the baths in Fal Dara were egalitarian.

    TEREZ

    The descriptions of how Aviendha squats in the sweat tent, for instance, are really quite vulgar if you think about it.

    TEREZ

    But you don't see anything like that in the bath scene at Baerlon, for example. And even ritual nudity can get vulgar...

    TEREZ

    ...like Amys at the sister-bonding ceremony in Winter's Heart. I mean, come on.

    JAMES POWELL

    There's certainly lots o female iffy WoT nudity, but also quite a lot of male nudity—especially Rand being ogled.

    TEREZ

    Yeah, Rand does get ogled once at least. But it's a matter of balance in my opinion.

    TEREZ

    Greatest Cadsuane line ever: 'I’ve already seen more of your hairless bottomcheeks than I wish to...'

    TEREZ

    '....but if you want to flaunt them in front of all six of us, perhaps someone will enjoy the show.' :)

    JAMES POWELL

    I'm not saying that the nudity issue is balanced—clearly, it's not. But at least some effort was being made.

    TEREZ

    Yeah, @BrandSanderson and I have gone round a bit on this already. We all recognize that some effort was made. Just saying...

    TEREZ

    ...that these things were the product of RJ's heterosexual male preferences, and therefore inherently sexist.

    SETH BAKER

    Based largely upon the male characters being prudes. Doesn't that cut the other way for M/F sexual experience?

    TEREZ

    Not really, since the root cause is still RJ's brain. And Mat. Is far from a prude.

    TEREZ

    But we're at the same time not trying to make RJ out to be particularly sexist. He wasn't, especially for his Age.

    JAMES POWELL

    *nods* I'm more saddened by the almost complete lack of gay WoT characters—but that's just my personal bias.

    TEREZ

    No, it's not just your personal bias. It was RJ's. If there hadn't been lesbians you probably wouldn't care, eh?

    JAMES POWELL

    I actually found the whole issue of some women being "pillow friends", but then growing out of it and mooning over men, quite off.

    TEREZ

    Right, and the fact that the ones who don't grow out of it are for the most part evil bitches.

    LIRA LEIRNER

    There are SOME implications of being gay being equally as normal, as outlined here http://ow.ly/4imXS

    TEREZ

    Oh, we know. But it's a half-hearted implication. Not even close to half really...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Well, at least there wasn't the "Gay=pedophile" implication that some fantasy of the era made...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Of course, being Mormon, perhaps I'm not the best qualified to speak of someone's treatment of LGBT issues.

    LUCKERS

    Are you sure the nudity doesn't play a practical role in the ter'angreal? I note that in both the...

    LUCKERS

    ...Accepted rings and the final test the woman must be nude. Strange, two separate rituals taking the same form.

    LIRA

    And Moiraine, too. I think it's probably the rings. The other testing ter'angreal all require nakedness.

    LIRA LEIRNER

    Aviendha doesn't have to be naked when she goes through the columns. Although I thought they could have told...

    LIRA LEIRNER

    ...them to take off their clothes once they're in Rhuidean; don't see needing to taking them off before.

    TEREZ

    It's not a requirement of the ter'angreal according to them, but a sign of station (humbling).

    TEREZ

    Also, with Aviendha, there was the practical aspect of giving up her cadin'sor.

    TEREZ

    It's the same with the raisings at the Tower—they never wear those clothes again if I remember correctly.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    I suspected I was half wrong when I posted this, and I was—the Accepted get their new dresses right after the test, but in New Spring, Moiraine and Siuan wore their Accepted dresses to swear the Oaths.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I think Terez's argument is that women end up in these situations suspiciously more often than men.

    TEREZ

    Essentially yes. And that the description is more gratuitous. RJ could have chosen to write male nudity rituals.

    LUCKERS

    Mmm. True, but as I've argued in the past re: lack of gay men—we've been more exposed to all female...

    LUCKERS

    ...organisations and rituals. the one exception, I suppose, is the sweat tents, but again that occurred...

    LUCKERS

    ...organically. The Wise Ones were planning, and the sweat tents provided a social medium.

    LUCKERS

    By the way, my original point was simply that Moiraine and Aviendha's nudity may have served a practical purpose...

    LUCKERS

    ...when going through the ter'angreal—Mat and Rand didn't go through that ter'angreal after all.

    LUCKERS

    It's strange that the Aes Sedai and Wise Ones separately built nudity rituals around similar ter'angreal. Necessary?

    TEREZ

    Organically? You say that as if the scene wrote itself. RJ chose to use female sweat tent scenes, female nudity.

    TEREZ

    Even if the nudity does have a practical purpose that doesn't change the fact that he chose to write it that way.

    TEREZ

    He chose to develop the female organizations, and he chose to show lesbians outside those organizations rather than men.

    LUCKERS

    He chose to write the scene with Rand naked and being eyed by a dozen women too. So what?

    TEREZ

    Again, it's about balance. The 'suspiciously more often' bit. I feel you are being overly defensive about it.

    LUCKERS

    Are we to presume he did it lasciviously? To titillate? This is what I meant by it happening organically.

    LUCKERS

    I'm not being defensive—rather I don't see the problem. The female nudity was never vulgar... it just was.

    TEREZ

    As I said, it's clear enough he just enjoyed writing about naked women and lesbians more than he enjoyed...

    TEREZ

    ....writing about naked men and gay men. It's fanservice, but I don't think he thought of it like that.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I've got to side with Terez on this one. It IS there. RJ did a LOT of things with great equality, but...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    ...when it came to nudity, he liked showing naked women more than men. I don't think it was vulgar, though.

    TEREZ

    Depends on your definition of vulgar. RJ was very good at avoiding vulgarity on the surface, but hinting at it.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    I had this scene from The Fires of Heaven in mind, and it sums up many tweets I made on the subject which were omitted:

    Moiraine, seeming slight and small beside the others, also looked unruffled, although sweat rolled down her pale nudity and slicked her dark hair to her scalp, with a regal refusal to acknowledge that she had no clothes on. The Wise Ones were using slim, curved pieces of bronze, called staera, to scrape off sweat and the day's dirt.

    Aviendha was squatting sweatily beside the big black kettle of hot, sooty rocks in the middle of the tent, carefully using a pair of tongs to move a last stone from a smaller kettle to the larger. That done, she sprinkled water onto the rocks from a gourd, adding to the steam. If she let the steam fall too far, she would be spoken to sharply at the very least. The next time the Wise Ones met in the sweat tent, it would be Egwene's turn to tend the rocks.

    Egwene cautiously sat down cross-legged next to Bair—instead of layered rugs, there was only rocky ground, unpleasantly hot, lumpy and damp—and realized with a shock that Aviendha had been switched, and recently. When the Aiel woman gingerly took her own place, beside Egwene, she did so with a face as stony as the ground, but a face that could not hide her flinch.

    To call these descriptions 'gratuitous' is, of course, only in comparison to RJ's (incredibly rare) treatments of male nudity (and not in comparison to, say, GRRM).

    LUCKERS

    @BrandSanderson I still think that implies a little too much premeditation in the depiction, but I'm happy with your description.

    LUCKERS

    I'm not denying its presence, I'm denying the implications that the depiction is wrong. It flowed naturally...

    LUCKERS

    ...from the plot, and wasn't lascivious. I certainly don't think RJ worked to include it.

    LUCKERS

    Besides... if you wanna have a gay male character in A Memory of Light I'd not complain. :)

    TEREZ

    Okay then. Do you think that RJ's insistence that there be no male nudity in the films was 'organic'?

    Footnote—Terez

    I was wrong about the film distinction, though I do believe there is an older report somewhere mentioning this that I am missing. However, there is a 'no male nudity' tag for all the times RJ mentioned it at signings; it was a running joke for him.

    TEREZ

    That is where this little debate started, because it is essentially the proof of the point.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Ha. Well (though I'm on your side) it could be argued that's a marketing decision.

    TEREZ

    LOL. Many things could be argued. Some arguments are more logical than others, though. :)

    LUCKERS

    I didn't know about this insistence. That's a little... weird, honestly. No, ok, a lot weird.

    TEREZ

    See, if you had actually read my debate with @BrandSanderson we wouldn't have to catch you up. ;)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It's cultural, unfortunately. You can have female nudity and get a PG-13. But not male. Of course, that...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    ...leads us to the whole topfreedom debate, which ISN'T something I really want to get into.

    TEREZ

    It doesn't necessarily lead there. Again, I bring it up mostly for cultural awareness reasons.

    LUCKERS

    That's really stupid—but does make some sense. Also, I don't know if you remember Terez but for a while there were...

    LUCKERS

    ...some fairly rampant pockets of homophobia amongst the fandom—I had this discussion with @zemaille at WorldCon.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    I had the same discussion with Linda before Luckers did, at the previous JordanCon. I think she was a little shocked by the number of people at tor.com who refuse to even recognize that pillow friends are lesbians.

    TEREZ

    There still are. It's mostly visible at tor.com—some staunch conservatives there.

    LINDA TAGLIERI

    Oh yeah!

    TEREZ

    Which is unfortunate considering Leigh's views. There is a ruckus every time she brings it up.

    LUCKERS

    *nods* And as sad as it is to think that RJ was wary of this—it's reasonable to avoid alienating your fans.

    TEREZ

    Well, if he was trying to avoid alienating THOSE fans he wouldn't have included lesbians either.

    LUCKERS

    Mmm. Lesbians have always been the safer homosexual depiction—which says a lot about our society.

    SETH BAKER

    In the end, you're indicting modern Western society, not RJ himself. He knew what you can't do and sell.

    TEREZ

    The first bit, yes. The second bit...I don't think that marketing was his only motive.

    SETH BAKER

    There're people who are not morally opposed to homosexuality, are fine with reading FF, but not MM for what it's worth.

    TEREZ

    And that is exactly the problem that is being addressed. Not judging RJ so much as ourselves.

    LUCKERS

    I hesitate to ask—but what's topfreedom? My mind went to an icky place. :S

    TEREZ

    LOL. I imagine it has to do with the fact that men can go shirtless but women can't.

    LUCKERS

    OH! That's... much nicer than what I was thinking. Hehe.

    LUCKERS

    I will say this, though—the complete lack of any sort of hetero-normative assumption in WoT gets RJ my vote.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I wish this plane would let me use Tweetlonger to jump into this with more teeth.

    TEREZ

    Feel free to jump in with teeth later. We're not going anywhere. :)

    LUCKERS

    Yes. More teeth would be awesome! But we aren't going anywhere.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    This whole issue—homosexuality, conservatism, and the WoT—deserves a serious, thoughtful post.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I just can't do that in 100 character bursts.

    TEREZ

    Cool. I am looking forward to it.

    LUCKERS

    I respect that Brandon. Still, post what you want—we understand it's not your full argument.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I will say that there IS a gay male in Towers of Midnight, placed there on my part as I felt similar to you on this issue.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I was going to tell you who it was, but figuring this out is the sort of thing you guys love, isn't it?

    TEREZ

    YAY! But of course, then you have to be careful not to make him too throw-away....

    TEREZ

    I considered Androl earlier, when I considered you might do this. lol. But I will think on it some more.

    LUCKERS

    Oh. Hey! Awesome. Ok, now we have to figure it out.

    LUCKERS

    Hopefully not Denezel or Hatch—their wives would be furious. :D

    FOOTNOTE

    Jason Denzel and Matt Hatch, webmasters of Dragonmount and Theoryland respectively—they were recognized as innkeepers in Towers of Midnight.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I'll note that references to his sexuality were cut merely because I moved the chapter with mention to A Memory of Light.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I won't say if it's a new character or one I made a decision on, since there weren't notes either way.

    TEREZ

    And he seems to have ruled out Moridin, alas. But that would be sort of Dumbledore-y anyway.

    TEREZ

    (And yes, I have read @BrandSanderson's thoughts on Dumbledore. Just saying. And we're not talking kids' books here.)

    LUCKERS

    I'm beginning to think it somewhat strange that I'm the one defending RJ the heaviest given your points...

    LUCKERS

    ... and the fact that I'm gay. Does that mean my loyalty to RJ defies reason, or that I'm so used to accepting...

    LUCKERS

    ...the dribbles that are depictions of homosexuality in fantasy? A disturbing thought.

    TEREZ

    Nah, not weird at all. You're pretty anti-activist in a lot of ways. Overcompensation, of course. ;)

    TEREZ

    I believe you are sensitive to the right-wing idea of the Gay Agenda.

    TEREZ

    So you seem to have a reluctance to champion your own causes too loudly, internally as well as externally.

    TEREZ

    In some ways it's a healthy reluctance. In some ways, it's sad that it is necessary.

    LUCKERS

    Well the gays are plotting world domination—we discussed this in our last High Council. But that's another conversation.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    You have good reason to defend him, Luckers. There ARE good examples. Arrela is one.

    TEREZ

    Seonid isn't bad either. Right? :D I think they might have been responses to the criticism.

    LUCKERS

    *nods* Arrela's love was beautiful. And your scene in The Gathering Storm was heartbreaking.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, gay men are few and far between. But it could be much worse. See: Eddings, or worse, Goodkind and Newcomb.

    SETH BAKER

    I'm with you on that. I got bored reading Goodkind because of how annoyingly ANTI-PC it was.

    SETH BAKER

    In the end, I want my stories to refrain from editorializing. Tell the story, and tell it to your audience.

    BRANDON

    Goodkind is...well, let's not go there. It's good, sometimes, to be anti-PC, as the world isn't PC.

    BRANDON

    But if you're going to delve in and editorialize, I believe it important to look at the other side too.

    TEREZ

    I haven't read Newcomb, but yes, Goodkind's inclusion was of the worst sort.

    TEREZ

    Again, few people think RJ is all bad on this. But the fact that we are so appreciative of his rather biased...

    TEREZ

    ...and gratuitous inclusion shows how far behind we are as a society.

    BRANDON

    Ha. Terez, you NEED to read Newcomb. If only because I want to see your head explode when you do.

    TEREZ

    LOL. Well, I will bring it along to JordanCon then, so you can observe. ;)

    BRANDON

    It is an incredible experience. Goodkind times 1000 in the anti-feminist department. And it seems unconscious.

    LUCKERS

    Goodkind disturbs me on more levels than that, but I do take your point—it was what I meant by accepting dribbles.

    BRANDON

    The thing is, [RJ] tried. And in the end, that's the most important thing can ask. The second is that they listen.

    BRANDON

    And I do think RJ listened. I think he grew more sensitive on this subject as time passed.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    RJ was in many ways very responsive to fan criticism, but he seemed to play the Eelfinn in that he liked to make jokes out of granting our wishes. A good example: Fans complained that characters never had to use a privy while in POV. RJ added a couple of references (including an 'if you must know' from Tuon), and he even threw in urine-tasting in Crossroads of Twilight. Clearly that was RJ getting a laugh on us. He made passing mention of male homosexuality in a couple of the later books (including New Spring), and while it wasn't quite a balance for his lesbians, it was an improvement. He also made public statements that homosexuality was all around not a big deal in Randland, for either gender. He made it clear that, in general, writing about male sexuality was just a squick for him, but he tended to be rather open and modern about his sexuality (even in the family-friendly context of WoT) and so the gender bias sticks out to many modern readers.

    TEREZ

    Agreed, as I noted before re: the response to criticism. Again, it's more about us than about him.

    LUCKERS

    Interesting thought—about listening and changing. Kind of beautiful as well—that fans can give back to authors.

    LUCKERS

    That RJ touched on it at all was good—especially when we remember when he was writing these books.

    LUCKERS

    It does well to remember just how much the degree to which homosexuality is depicted has changed recently.

    TEREZ

    This is true. I just feel that now is the time to blow it out of the water, for that very reason.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I'm curious if either of you read Rose of the Prophet, and what you thought of it. (Because of the gay male character.)

    TEREZ

    hmm, nope, haven't heard of it. I was told Deathgate was the only thing by [Weis and Hickman] worth reading.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    To explain, I rarely find myself overly desirous of reading new books since WoT occupies so much of my time these days, so I tend to go by friend recommendations and not worry much about whether or not I would actually agree.

    LUCKERS

    Do you guys realise how much Rand's early arc resonates with a gay teenager?

    LUCKERS

    A young man who—through no choice of his own—finds himself to be something hated and feared.

    LUCKERS

    Something judged to be morally wrong though no moral choice has been made on his part.

    LUCKERS

    The whole arc—the 'men's pride, men's sin' resonated very heavily with me.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    That's FASCINATING, honestly. I'd never thought of that.

    TEREZ

    I bet RJ never thought of it either. :D But yes, it's a good comparison in many ways.

    LUCKERS

    All of this is why I never liked Mat in my first readings (when i was like 13). His reaction to Rand was...

    LUCKERS

    ...a little to close to home. And no I haven't read [Rose of the Prophet]—I will now though. (sorry for going on this tangent).

    LUCKERS

    It doesn't really matter to me if RJ meant the comparison—that he depicted something similar with such...

    LUCKERS

    ...visceral realism is the value of a great writer, because then the fans can take what they need from it.

    LUCKERS

    And in truth Rand's arc in dealing with it taught me how to. In fact its one of the reasons I love Cadsuane...

    TEREZ

    Because Cadsuane was Rand's faghag? No wait, that was Min! No, she was his beard...

    LUCKERS

    She doesn't feel sorry for Rand, or try to coddle him—she treats him like she would any other person...

    LUCKERS

    Her refusal to let Rand allow circumstance to victimize him was a powerful and subtle theme.

    TEREZ

    Indeed, that's why I like her. And why most people hate her. Because she should respect his authoritay!

    LUCKERS

    And I think it is the greatest service anyone in the books has done him. Even if Rand couldn't appreciate it.

    LUCKERS

    Re: Parallels between Rand's early arc and being gay...[from The Great Hunt]

    "No, I can't. I mean . . . I didn't do it on purpose. It just happened. I don't want to—to channel the Power. I won't ever do it again. I swear it."

    "You don't want to," the Amyrlin Seat said. "Well, that's wise of you. And foolish, too. Some can be taught to channel; most cannot. A few, though, have the seed in them at birth. Sooner or later, they wield the One Power whether they want to or not, as surely as roe makes fish. You will continue to channel, boy. You can't help it. And you had better learn to channel, learn to control it, or you will not live long enough to go mad. The One Power kills those who cannot control its flow."

    "How am I supposed to learn?" he demanded. Moiraine and Verin just sat there, unruffled, watching him. Like spiders. "How? Moiraine claims she can't teach me anything, and I don't know how to learn, or what. I don't want to, anyway. I want to stop. Can't you understand that? To stop!"—Chapter 8, 'The Dragon Reborn'

    That desperation is something I remember. Then this...

    He paused, frowning, thinking things through. Finally, he said quietly, "Rand, can you channel?" Mat gave a strangled gasp. Rand let the banner drop; he hesitated only a moment before nodding wearily. "I did not ask for it. I don't want it. But. . . . But I do not think I know how to stop it."

    —and finally...

    Mat hesitated, looking sideways at Rand. "Look, I know you came along to help me, and I am grateful. I really am. But you just are not the same anymore. You understand that, don't you?" He waited as if he expected an answer. None came. Finally he vanished into the trees, back toward the camp.—Chapter 11, 'Glimmers of the Pattern'

    Potent scenes. Especially Mat's last lines. *shrug*

    TEREZ

    Yeah, I knew exactly what you were talking about as soon as you mentioned it. Perrin isn't much better.

    TEREZ

    Perrin is just not as thoughtlessly hurtful as Mat is. He's more the silent disapproval type.

    LUCKERS

    Though Perrin does realise the hypocrisy, and feel bad, so I didn't mind so much. :)

    LINDA TAGLIERI

    Yes, I appreciated Perrin's sympathy and tact—like when he said Rand is now a dreaded figure.

    LINDA TAGLIERI

    For instance he suggested that while running was understandable, it might not be possible.

    LINDA TAGLIERI

    Of course, Perrin is coming to terms with being a werewolf, so understandable he knows how Rand feels.

    LUCKERS

    And with Perrin the parallel stops—Rand is a genuine threat, whereas homosexuality isn't.

    LINDA TAGLIERI

    Both Perrin and Rand loathe themselves because they feel they are a threat to society.

    LUCKERS

    Just got a rather abrupt tweet from someone who I think thought I was implying Rand was gay.

    LUCKERS

    Which clearly is accurate. The Harem are the red herring to end all red herrings.

    TEREZ

    LOL. Yeah, well...ignorance and prejudice go hand in hand (or so they say). ;)

    TEREZ

    You know you're gay when you need THREE beards to maintain your cover.

    LUCKERS

    Lol!

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    And...half of my in-flight WoT reread time was sucked up by a great Twitter conversation about gender and LGBT issues in the WoT.

    TEREZ

    Ohhhh, blame it on us will you! :p You knew as soon as you saw you had Twitter you weren't getting any work done. ;)

    LUCKERS

    Haha. Yeah—I've written a hundred and fifty words in three hours. Today was gonna be my productive day too. *sigh*/

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I have a new goal: to get Terez and Leigh Butler to do a feminist review of Newcomb's Fifth Sorceress for Tor.com. How can I make this happen?

    PETER AHLSTROM

    Sadist.

    TEREZ

    LOL. If you can talk Leigh into it, I'm so down with that.

    LUCKERS

    Lol. A gay, a feminist and a Mormon walk into a bar—whereupon they have a deep and meaningful conversation about sexuality in WoT. #NoJokes

    TEREZ

    LMAO. It's funny, though...I don't really think of myself as a feminist. Just an equalist.

    LUCKERS

    I was just being funny with the no jokes thing—the reality of us three having that conversation struck me.

    TEREZ

    Not to mention, you were raised Catholic, and I was raised Southern Baptist. Now we need a Muslim...

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  • 2

    Interview: 2012

    Twitter 2012 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Daniel Shepherd (13 July 2012)

    @Terez27 Trying to figure out who the gay character was that @BrandSanderson put in Towers of Midnight. Was it Androl?

    Terez

    That is my best guess. I wonder if we scared him away from going through with that...'twas very controversial.

    Brandon Sanderson (13 July 2012)

    The place wasn't right in Towers of Midnight. Gay character is in A Memory of Light. It's really not a big deal; just a small mention.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will say, at this point, that it is a character RJ mentioned was gay in the notes, so I noted it in the text.

    Terez

    [Links to following tweet from this conversation.]

    Brandon Sanderson (20 March 2011)

    I won't say if it's a new character or one I made a decision on, since there weren't notes either way.

    Terez (13 July 2012)

    I'm guessing that's a product of Twitter being a bad place for trying to say things clearly. The older tweet was confusing anyway.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Wow, that was indeed confusing. I don't even know what I was trying to say.

    Brandon Sanderson

    What I remember typing was "I won't tell you if it's something RJ had in notes or not."

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  • 3

    Interview: Sep 2nd, 2012

    Question

    We have the Asha'man who can only do Traveling and only open very small holes. Are we gonna see him open those holes in front of cannons, and then open it in front of Trolloc armies, A, and B, are we going to see the [kites?] that were developed in Rand's college used by the Seanchan?

    Brandon Sanderson

    RAFO. But I do have a slightly longer answer. One of the things I was excited to do when I was given the project was, I didn't want to invent a whole lot of new weaves—I felt it wasn't [my] place to do so, and Robert Jordan already had a very long list; there are a few that I invented by necessity—but mostly I wanted to take weaves that he had already invented and extrapolate. This is kind of what I do with magic systems, if you can't tell, and gateways were ones of the ones where I was like, "I can do stuff with these." And then Portal came out, and I'm like, "Ah, you're stealing my ideas!" (laughter) But yes, gateways...I do gateways a little more extensively than I think Jim had planned, and sometimes Maria is like nudging me and like, "Let's back off on the gateway stuff, Brandon." I just get really excited about them because I think they can do so many cool things. So, I won't say yes or no, but you will see me playing with gateways for sure.

    Footnote

    Presumably the questioner is referring to Androl, but Androl can open big gateways despite being perhaps the weakest Asha'man; that's his Talent.

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  • 4

    Interview: 2012

    Memories of Light (Verbatim)

    Day 14

    That, she replied back, is something one should never, never say to an Aes Sedai. Ever. (p. 700)

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  • 5

    Interview: Jan 11th, 2013

    khaosbringer

    So, I was lucky enough to get to go to the Memory of Light signing in Lexington at Joseph-Beth on January 11th.

    When I was getting some books personalized, I told him how much I really liked the characterization of Androl and Perava.

    Brandon Sanderson

    He told me that Androl was a fun character for him to write, because it was his "own" Asha'man.

    When he agreed to finish WoT, as he was looking over his notes, he asked if he could create an Asha'man to do with what he wanted. Thus, Androl.

    He also talked about how Perava was his idea of how the Red Ajah would make their way in the world after the taint was gone from saidin.

    khaosbringer

    Granted, they were relatively minor characters, but they had the best side story in the final three books, IMHO.

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  • 6

    Interview: Jan 9th, 2013

    Question

    Is there a character you took in a different direction from what Jordan had intended?

    Brandon Sanderson

    In terms of a character, and what would happen to them ultimately, no, not really. However, there were times when some things had to be adjusted, specifically some plot points, in order to make the narrative as a whole flow better. Brandon did mention that he wanted a character that he felt was his own, which he got to do the most development on. That character became Androl. A lot of what Androl did were things which Jordan said had to happen. Brandon picked Androl to do them, and gave the character his own touch more than any other.

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  • 7

    Interview: Jan 9th, 2013

    Question

    Was there a character that you took in a different direction than Robert Jordan had originally intended?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Not specifically against his wishes. If it was in the notes, talking about a character...one of our first requirements, and I put it on myself on this, was to avoid going in different a direction from Robert Jordan with anything, specifically because I didn't want these books to become about me. I wanted them to remain the Wheel of Time. Now, I had to be nudged by Harriet at several points early on. She would tell me, you have to change some of these things. You do have to be willing to write the book as it needs to be written; Robert Jordan wouldn't have stuck to this outline exactly, and if you did stick to it exactly, it would feel like it doesn't have any life to it.

    And so, there are times, when I was working, and mostly these are plot things—I would say, "You know what, we need to change this." An example of this is in The Gathering Storm, there's a scene—it's not too bad; it's not a big spoiler [laughter]—but there are several scenes where Egwene is having dinner with the Amyrlin. Well, that was originally in Robert Jordan's notes as one scene, and I split it to two scenes, where there's a dinner, it breaks, and then we come back, and I put some things in between because with the narrative flow of that sequence, it felt more powerful for me to work with it that way. I didn't remove any of the things that Robert Jordan said to have happen, and used several of his scenes that he'd written to construct those, but in that case, I felt that moving it around like that made for a better book. And so that's the sort of thing I would change.

    I will say that, early on, when I first met with them, I did say, "I would like to have a character that I can just kind of do whatever I want with," so that I have, you know...it was kind of, maybe hubristic of me or whatever—I wanted to do that, I'm like, "Can I have one to play with? I want an Asha'man to play with." And it was actually Maria who suggested Androl, and said "Go look at him; there's not a lot written about him. The personality, Robert Jordan doesn't have much written down for who he is, and he seems like he's well-poised to do this. That would be a very good one." So Androl, almost everything that's happening with him, Robert Jordan didn't say "Do it with him." There are things I have him doing that Robert Jordan said, in this notes, "This has to happen." But I specifically took Androl as a character and went places with him.

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  • 8

    Interview: Feb 1st, 2013

    Question

    So what were some of the holes that you filled in with that creative freedom?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I tried to avoid talking about this much before because I don't want you to focus on what's Brandon and what's RJ, but now that it's all out, I do have a little more freedom. One thing is that early when I went to Charleston, I felt RJ was always adding characters, so I didn't want to add too many. I wanted to show something happening at the Black Tower, so Androl became my character that I took and expanded on from minor to main character. Androl himself and his relationship with Pevara was me. I felt the series needed it, and I’ve always wanted an Asha'man to play with, so to speak.

    More generally, for The Gathering Storm I have said RJ worked a lot on Egwene's viewpoints. Not as much on Rand. Rand was more me, Egwene was more RJ. In Towers of Midnight, RJ worked a lot on Mat and not much on Perrin. So if it's Mat, it's more likely to be RJ. If it's Perrin, it's more likely to be me. In A Memory of Light he worked mostly on beginning and end, not much on the middle. Merrilor and the last few chapters are a lot of RJ. In between, it's a lot more me.

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  • 9

    Interview: Feb 6th, 2013

    Question

    About Androl and Pevara, the dynamic and internal dialogues were right on, and his unique skills made for some of the most remarkable scenes since the cleansing. I know that RJ had some things lined out for many of the characters, but you sort of took Androl on as your guy, can you speak to that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    (Prefaced his answer by reminding everyone to avoid spoiler questions, and made it clear that this one did not cross that line) When I began to work on the books, I felt that with each book, it seemed that Robert Jordan usually took a side character and made them more of a main character. As I was outlining the series, I decided I wanted to take a side character and make them into more of a main character, but there wasn't a specific person in the notes designated to do that with. But I felt that we really needed somebody at the Black Tower, because of all the things going on at that time in the notes, and we needed another viewpoint there.

    During my second trip to Charleston, this would be April/May of 2008, we used big sheets of butcher paper, outlining what was going on with these as a visual aid. I wanted an Asha'man to have a sequence of major viewpoints. Maria and Alan, who were Robert Jordan's assistants, and are now Harriet's assistants, chatted about it a moment and said you should use Androl, because there's not a lot about him, he's pretty much a blank slate and you can go wherever you want with him, which was really exciting for me. I then pitched the Talent of gateways for him, and they liked that.

    Shortly after I got home, I got in the mail a printout or photocopies, of magazine or book pages from Harriet about leatherworking, and she had written on it, "I know that Jim had planned to use this in the book somewhere, is there anywhere that you can fit it in". Well I'm developing this character, let's make him a leatherworker. So I used that in building the personality of who this character was, and in that way, there was some of Robert Jordan in the character, even though I was taking a blank slate and going my own way with him. And that's where Androl came from for the last three books.

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  • 10

    Interview: Feb 9th, 2013

    Birgit (@43)

    Will the type of telepathy that Pevara and Androl share through their bond be affected/impacted by distance?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Brandon answered (paraphrasing) that distance would affect the strength of their communication.

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  • 11

    Interview: Feb 9th, 2013

    talinthus

    We went out to the signing, and it was overwhelmingly crowded without being oppressive. The questions and answers were almost identical to those asked at other signings, as my fellow keepers have already reported on. No outriggers, WoT encyclopedia next year, and stories about the notes and the writing process.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    The most interesting piece was on Androl, who was almost wholly Sanderson's creation. Jordan had many view points at the Tower, and Sanderson collapsed it into one, giving the soldier a power that Sanderson wished had been in WoT since his youth. Apparently, Jordan had a book of leather working he had intended to use somehow, and Sanderson gave that skill to his character in homage.

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  • 12

    Interview: Feb 11th, 2013

    Kathy

    I don't know if you remember me, but I was a Stormleader for The Gathering Storm...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Thank you.

    Kathy

    ...and I got that first RAFO part, which was then answered in this book. And I was wondering if that question that I gave to Robert Jordan so many years ago, and he gave that wonderful answer, was the reason [?] or was it...[?]

    Brandon Sanderson

    (laughs) You're dog girl. Yes, you are! I will say...there's an inside joke here. Once, this wonderful young woman asked Robert Jordan what would happen if you balefired yourself through a gateway, and what exactly did he say?

    Kathy

    He said, "Young woman, I need you to go have an affair—with man, woman, or German Shepherd; it doesn't matter. Either way, you need to get a life." (laughter, applause)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Now, I, uh...(laughter continues)

    Kathy

    I also happened to then, several years later, marry a man who also read, and this is our daughter Aviendha.

    Harriet McDougal

    Awwww! (applause)

    Kathy

    See...[?]. (laughter)

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't have one either, and I'm worried...my big question was always about gateways, and when I began reading the series, as soon as I discovered them, I started to think about what would happen, cause I'm a magic system guy, right? And I'm like, "Oooh, what could you do with this? What could you do with this?" In fact, I started taking notes on what I could do, and they sat there in my notes file for years and years because I eventually started moving away from things I had seen done by other authors, and that meant, specifically the few things I was most interested in in the Wheel of Time. I didn't end up ever writing a magic system using. gateways and the World of Dreams, the way Robert Jordan had it. I avoided these things intentionally. And yet I had all these notes of things that I would like to have done, if I ever did a magic system with them.

    Lo and behold, I got that opportunity, and so I found ways to....when I got the project, I didn't want to come in and make any sweeping changes—that wasn't my goal—but there are some places where I felt it appropriate to add some of my touch to the books, and one was with the gateways. I didn't want to be spending a lot of time doing anything with the magic system, you know—inventing a lot of new weaves, or anything like that—but I did want to expand some parts.

    And so I actually....I went to Charleston, and we needed a new viewpoint character, specifically someone in the Black Tower—we hadn't had...we didn't have the right viewpoint character for the Black Tower—so I said, is there an Asha'man you guys think that I could take over, so to speak, and really flesh out and make into a more...you know, elevate a side character to a medium level character, which is something Robert Jordan frequently did in the series, and they came to the decision that Androl was the person that I should take, and I gave him the gateway Talent because I wanted to explore what happens with gateways.

    And so, right there....we are all on the same wavelength; it wasn't necessarily me trying to answer your question. It was me answering questions to myself as a young man reading the series, wondering a lot about gateways. And so, Androl was a lot of fun.

    In fact, there's another story there. At one point, I'm working on the series, and I get in the mail this envelope—it's a manila envelope from Charleston, and in it are a bunch of photocopied pages, and Harriet has written on the front of them: "Jim planned to use this somewhere. Can you fit it in?" And what it was was a detailed explanation from the viewpoint of a leatherworker about how one goes about using leather, and leatherworking. And this is the sort of detail, craftsman-style sort of things that Robert Jordan really liked to find places for that sort of detail in the books, and meanwhile, I've been sitting here trying to build a character for Androl, and I'm like, "Okay! I've got a place for it." And that's how Androl became a leatherworker, is from that stack of pages from Robert Jordan; it was just a photocopy of a leatherworker talking about their work.

    So, there's some Androl stories. And so the answer is, it's half to you, but it's mostly to me (laughter). It's to both of us.

    Footnote

    Kathy met her husband at tarvalon.net

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  • 13

    Interview: Feb 7th, 2013

    Question

    Did he get to include anything from his "Cool Stuff" list in the series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A few things did end up in the book, but he won’t expand due to spoilers. He did say that he had ideas about gateways long before he was selected to finish the series. He wanted to include some of these ideas in his own work but he was too worried about copying Robert Jordan, so they just stayed in his file. He was able to pull these ideas out and use them with Androl in A Memory of Light.

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  • 14

    Interview: Feb 19th, 2013

    Question

    Which WoT character did BWS take the most liberties with?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Androl. BWS told the story of how he asked HM if there was a character for which the notes did not have a role for and if BWS could make his. HM was receptive to the idea. One of them (I cannot remember who) mentioned that RJ had in his notes material on leatherworking. HM had asked BWS if he could incorporate this into the books. BWS felt it would be perfect for Androl.

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  • 15

    Interview: Feb 22nd, 2013

    Terez

    There was a signing table report on Reddit where you mentioned some research RJ had done on leatherworking, and how you worked it into Androl's character. Anything else you can tell us about that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm not sure what I can say here that will be all that interesting. While I was working on the outline for the book (what eventually became the books) Harriet found something she'd forgotten about until then. It was a photocopied stack of sheets from what appeared to be a magazine about craftsmanship. In it, a leatherworker went into depth about what he did in his art. Harriet had written across it "Jim planned to use this somewhere." We didn't know where.

    Previously, in visiting Team Jordan, I'd suggested that I would enjoy having an Asha'man character who had previously been a side character that I could make into a main character. I wasn't planning to add any other characters in significant roles, but I did want an Asha'man to add some viewpoints in the Black Tower. Beyond that, I wanted as a storyteller to have a character I could use that had very little baggage, one I could develop fresh. It's something you will often find me doing in my own books, something Jim himself did, in expanding a side character in later books of a series.

    They'd suggested Androl, who was basically a blank slate in the notes. I took him and made him my gateway-Talented Asha'man, and the leatherworking sequence seemed to work very well with how I'd been developing him. And that's how the Androl of these later three books came to be.

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  • 16

    Interview: Feb 19th, 2013

    Rob B

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Brandon also indicated that he felt selfish about asking if he could create a new character or work with a character which was mostly his own creation for the books. Harriet immediately shushed him for hinting that he was selfish for thinking such a thing, then Brandon continued to tell of the creation of Androl, which allowed him to play with the magic in ways he'd hoped (fannishly) to explore (i.e. Portals). Harriet also provided Brandon with a folder about how leathermaking works in Randland which was perfectly timed to provide Androl with more depth as a character.

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  • 17

    Interview: Feb 22nd, 2013

    Question

    Androl—is he yours?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He is mine. From the beginning, I asked Team Jordan if there was an Asha'man that had a blank slate that I could take over, because I wanted to have a viewpoint in the Black Tower, and I wanted to do some of these things with gateways.

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  • 18

    Interview: Feb 22nd, 2013

    Question

    We have Androl has a very interesting past, he has gone a lot of places and done a lot of things. There is one line in there where it says, where he prepares tea for Pevara, he is talking about things that remind him of things, and he says, "Spring water reminds me of Jain." Is that Farstrider?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes it is.

    Question

    So now we know a little more about...

    Memory Keeper

    He's met everybody. He's gone everywhere.

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  • 19

    Interview: Feb 1st, 2013

    sleepinghour

    Was anything new revealed during the Q&A?

    TsorovanSaidin

    Not really.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    He said Androl was strictly him, no sorta fan shout out. But as fans, we all sorta have those things we see as "should be" possible. And for Brandon, Androl was like playing Portal. That's why Androl came across as such a real character. Androl Is Brandon thrown into the world.

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  • 20

    Interview: Nov 1st, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    Androl and Pevara

    In working on the Black Tower plot, one thing I realized early on was that I wanted a new viewpoint character to be involved. One reason was that we didn't have anyone to really show the lives of the everyday members of the Black Tower. It felt like a hole in the viewpoint mosaic for the series. In addition, each Wheel of Time book—almost without exception—has either introduced a new viewpoint character or added a great deal of depth to a character who had only seen minimal use before. As we were drawing near to the end of the series, I didn't want to expand this very far. However, I did want to add at least one character across the three books I was doing.

    I went to Team Jordan with the suggestion that I could fulfill both of these purposes by using one of the rank-and-file members of the Black Tower, preferably someone who wasn't a full Asha'man and was something of a blank slate. They suggested Androl. The notes were silent regarding him, and while he had been around, he so far hadn't had the spotlight on him. He seemed the perfect character to dig into.

    A few more things got spun into this sequence. One was my desire to expand the usage of gateways in the series. For years, as an aspiring writer, I imagined how I would use gateways if writing a book that included them. I went so far as to include in the Stormlight Archive a magic system built around a similar teleportation mechanic. Being able to work on the Wheel of Time was a thrill for many reasons, but one big one was that it let me play with one of my favorite magic systems and nudge it in a few new directions. I've said that I didn't want to make a large number of new weaves, but instead find ways to use established weaves in new ways. I also liked the idea of expanding on the system for people who have a specific talent in certain areas of the One Power.

    Androl became my gateway expert. Another vital key in building him came from Harriet, who mailed me a long article about a leatherworker she found in Mr. Jordan's notes. She said, "He was planning to use this somewhere, but we don't know where."

    One final piece for his storyline came during my rereads of the series, where I felt that at times the fandom had been too down on the Red Ajah. True, they had some serious problems with their leadership in the books, but their purpose was noble. I feel that many readers wanted to treat them as the Wheel of Time equivalent of Slytherin—the house of no-goods, with every member a various form of nasty. Robert Jordan himself worked to counteract this, adding a great deal of depth to the Ajah by introducing Pevara. She had long been one of my favorite side characters, and I wanted her to have a strong plot in the last books. Building a relationship between her and Androl felt very natural to me, as it not only allowed me to explore the bonding process, but also let me work a small romance into the last three books—another thing that was present in most Wheel of Time books. The ways I pushed the Androl/Pevara bond was also something of an exploration and experiment. Though this was suggested by the things Robert Jordan wrote, I did have some freedom in how to adapt it. I felt that paralleling the wolf bond made sense, with (of course) its own distinctions.

    Finding a place to put the Pevara/Androl sequence into the books, however, proved difficult. Towers of Midnight was the book where we suffered the biggest time crunch. That was the novel where I'd plotted to put most of the Black Tower sequence, but in the end it didn't fit—partially because we just didn't have time for me to write it. So, while I did finish some chapters to put there, the soul of the sequence got pushed off to A Memory of Light, if I managed to find time for it.

    I did find time—in part because of cutting the Perrin sequence. Losing those 17,000 words left an imbalance to the pacing of the final book. It needed a plot sequence with more specific tension to balance out the more sweeping sequences early in the book where characters plan, plot, and argue. I was able to expand Androl/Pevara to fit this hole, and to show a lot of things I really wanted to show in the books.

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  • 21

    Interview: Jan 10th, 2013

    NutiketAiel

    When asked about his own contributions to the Wheel of Time, Brandon related a request he had made of Harriet.

    Brandon Sanderson

    "I wanted an Asha'man of my own… Androl had been in the books, but there was no personality with him, just a name." "I took him wherever I wanted to go." He clarified that Androl was not an author surrogate, or a way of inserting himself into the books, but that he was a character that Brandon could develop and write as he pleased.

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  • 22

    Interview: Apr 10th, 2014

    Question

    A certain male channeler who liked portals—how much of that was you just thinking of portals?

    Brandon Sanderson

    (laughs) So I had not played Portal at that point (laughter), which is actually very advantageous. I've told this story before, so I apologize if this is a repeat. Growing up reading the Wheel of Time and being a magic systems guy, certain aspects of the Wheel of Time magic system were very evocative to me. And I would list the two that were most interesting to me being the World of Dreams and portals themselves, gateways. These were two things that...you know when you... We've all done this, we've read these books. You put down the books and you keep dreaming, right? You keep thinking. And for me it was often what would I do if I were there, and devising aspects of the magic. I often inserted characters of my own into books I was reading as a kid, very frequently. I think I can trace back Hoid, one of my character's origins, to my always kind of saying, "Well there's a character behind the scenes who's doing all this."

    And imagining what I would do with gateways...Actually, it's one of these things that I sat down and started devising a magic system based around for a book. And eventually I did all this work and decided I just can never write that book because it's too similar to Robert Jordan. As I've said many times, I wanted to be very conscious of staking my own claim in the fantasy genre in doing different things because I feel that one of the places that the genre went in the late 90s was very much trying to mimic and copy Robert Jordan, who did really awesome things and I felt had covered the area, right? And I said I don't like that this is where the genre is going. I want to be covering new ground, be doing new things.

    And so reluctantly I kind of put aside some of those ideas, and then I got asked to work on the Wheel of Time. And I said, "Well, guess what I have in my little quiver back here, is a desire to really play with some of these magic systems." And so the meeting I did during my second visit to Charleston was in April or May of 2008, where we sat down. You guys remember that—we got out the butcher paper. I asked for butcher paper. We gotta see if we can dig those out. But I like sometimes to do visual outlining, and I took these big sheets of paper and wrote down character names and started making connections and building an outline. Wrote Team Jordan saying, "What if we did this? What if we did that?" It's where I threw out some of my weirdest ideas and I think terrified them, sometimes. Some things worked. Some things I threw out there, and there were like the whites you could see around their pupils. They're like, "What have we gotten ourselves into?" I'm like, "What if Perrin adopted the Way of the Leaf?" I remember Maria just flipping out about that. She's like, "Please, please don't do that!" [Looks at Maria:] Yeah, you remember that one, don't you? And throwing out all kinds of things because I feel that being brought on, one of the big dangers in working on the Wheel of Time books would be to play it too safe. Robert Jordan would have expanded the world, and the characters would have taken risks, and things like this. And one way we could fail is by not following his vision. But another way we could fail would be by creating bland books. And I think this is where a lot of media properties, like people who write on some big television movie—these books are really bland. Where they fail a lot is because they can't make any changes. They don't feel they can change the canon, they can't take chances, they can't push the stories In new directions, and the books often because of that will end up very bland. And I said we can't fall into that trap. We have to be willing to shake things up. We have to be willing to do things on the level of the things Robert Jordan did, where you know, look at Rand cleansing saidin and things like this. We have to be willing to do this.

    (indecipherable)... One of the things I said I really want to do is, I said I want a character who has a Talent for gateways, because I love gateways and I want to play with them. And I also kind of want to add a new character—well, do a Robert Jordan and take a side character and make them more a main character for these last books because I feel he would have done that with somebody. It's what he does. And so, Androl was... I said, "Is there an Asha'man I can have?" And I think...was it Maria? It was either you or Alan said—I think it was you—who said, "What about Androl? We know almost nothing about him. How do you feel about him?" And I said, "That's perfect, exactly what I was looking for." And I took him. And so this is kind of a place where I was allowed to take some of what I like to do about fiction in the fantasy genre and play with it in a way that wouldn't dramatically change a main character, and which would allow me to push the magic system in some new and interesting directions without overwhelming and dominating it. One danger I felt for me was if I took the whole magic system and dealt with it, it would go too off the wall. But taking one little aspect and kind of doing what I love to do, and really explore the ramifications of what this would do to a world, was something that really excited me and I felt would allow me to have some fun, but not take over too much. And Androl filled that perfectly. I really am pleased with how he turned out. And all these things that I dreamed of as a kid: "Ooh, if I had gateways, here's what I'd do. Oh, I'd do this. I'd use them as a weapon. Ooh, bottom of the ocean—what do we do if we go to the bottom of the ocean?" You know, and things like this, and whatnot. And it was just a lot of fun.

    So yes, that's what it was. And I give a lot of credit to Team Jordan for things like this. When I was doing this, I felt part of my job in these situations was to be the one pushing this toward that level of let's not play it safe. During this time, Maria and Alan kind of became the ones to say let's make sure we're not going too far. And that balance worked really well. They let me get away with on gateways a lot of stuff that I appreciate them letting me get away with. I know at some points, they were like, wow, I'm not sure if this is...yeah, this is a lot of gateways. I remember you [Maria] saying to me once, "This is a lot of gateways, Brandon." But I think in the end that push and pull between us ended up making the book very strong. And Androl became a really great character to add to the Wheel of Time canon, and so I'm very pleased with how that all turned out.

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  • 23

    Interview: Feb 20th, 2015

    Question

    Was Androl, from Wheel of Time, your own creation?...I love his use of Gateways.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. When I went into the trilogy I actually asked them “Is there a character I can have to just do whatever I want with?” and they looked through for one Robert Jordan had left no notes on and they gave me Androl. I went crazy... He was a little bit of a pressure valve, for me, being able to do the things I like to do in a novel, in the Wheel of Time, so I didn’t then take over other characters too much. A bunch of me creeped into Perrin too but...

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