Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.
2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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Now for the major announcement (and they specifically said we could blab):
Jody Lynn Nye, Todd Cameron Hamilton, et. al., are hard at work on a compendium, "Guide to the Wheel of Time." They have already produced the well-regarded books, "Guide to Pern" and "Guide to Xanth." Todd was at the signing but left early; Jody's husband (Bill Fawcett) arrived quite late and stayed after (which is where we learned this little tidbit).
The Guide to the Wheel of Time is scheduled to be released with the paperback of Lord of Chaos sometime next fall. We will of course have it!
Here's a quote for you:
The Feast of Fools
Celebrated in Tammaz (in Arad Doman and the Borderlands) or Saven (everywhere else), the exact day varying according to locality. A day in which all order is deliberately inverted; the high perform lowly tasks (running errands, serving at table, etc.) while the low do no work and give orders to their usual superiors. In many villages and towns the most foolish person is given a title such as the Lord/Lady of Unreason/Misrule/Chaos or the King/Queen of Fools. Not an honor sought, but for that one day everyone has to obey whatever orders, however foolish, are given by the chosen one. (Called the Festival of Unreason in Saldaea; the Festival of Fools in Kandor; Foolday in Baerlon and the Two Rivers.)
On the question on how he could keep track of every person, culture, nation, etc., Robert Jordan answered that he had a file for every person, nation, city, culture, etc., describing it. In the case of persons, traumatic experiences, origin, favorite foods and colors, family, education, etc., is stored. Every person that appears several times, or has the chance to appear several times has a such file. Similar information is stored on the other entities. This information is used to flesh out the characters etc. and make them three-dimensional before the book itself is written.
Part of this information is going to be given in the Guide to the WoT books that is going to be published this autumn, but far from everything.
The amount of notes he held on persons, countries, cultures, cities, events etc he approximated to be as large as the amount of text in the currently published books. Some of this information, albeit a very small part, will be included in the WoT Guide.
Jordan said that many fans want to know what he'll write next, and many want to know if he'll ever write about the Age of Legends. He said that other than the Wheel of Time series and the forthcoming Illustrated Guide, he's (probably) not going to write anything else in the same setting. The Illustrated Guide to the Wheel of Time will contain:
* The history and rise of Artur Hawkwing
* The formation of the modern Aes Sedai organization (i.e., post-Breaking)
* The Aiel War, especially the Battle of the Shining Walls (which will be told from several different viewpoints)
* Some things about the Seanchan not included in the WoT story
* Art by someone other than Darrell K. Sweet
This is not a complete list of what will be in the Illustrated Guide.
The Strike at Shayol Ghul
Many people have asked about a short piece of writing called "The Strike at Shayol Ghul". Most people want to know: "Is it actually real, and if so, what does it say?"
First, it is real. Robert Jordan wrote it and it was included in the BaltiCon printed program. It's about four pages long in printed form, and is now available on the Web courtesy of Tor Books. Copies of the convention program, which includes the story, may still be available. See Colette Schleifer's announcement for information.
The free availability of The Strike at Shayol Ghul on the eeb makes this summary rather superfluous (I wrote it when Strike was only available in printed form, in very limited quantity) but I'm keeping it here for completeness. Now on with my summary.
In "The Strike at Shayol Ghul", Jordan describes the events leading up to the Sealing of the Bore from the perspective of a Third Age historian (at about the time of the story) who discovered some fragmented manuscripts that were written shortly after the Breaking. The single biggest fact revealed is that the during the War of the Shadow, the Aes Sedai were considering two alternate plans for defeating the Dark One.
Lews Therin proposed that the Dark One be resealed in his prison by plugging the Bore. The plug would be inserted by thirteen linked male and female channelers and would be held in place by the seven seals, which were focus points of the weaving. 20,000 soldiers would accompany them to Shayol Ghul, where the Bore could most be sensed. Lews Therin's plan had supporters and opponents. Opponents argued that the Seals required precise positioning, and that any slight error would tear the Bore open wider.
The alternate plan, which also had its share of supporters and detractors, was to build two large sa'angreal (one for saidin, one for saidar) and use them to build a new prison around the old one for the Dark One. The sa'angreal were so powerful that special "key" ter'angreal had to be constructed for channelers to use them safely. Opponents of this plan expressed concern that the sa'angreal could fall into the control of channelers following the Shadow or be misused accidentally by channelers serving the Light. Either way, the sa'angreal were expected to be powerful enough to destroy the world and beyond. Opponents also worried that while the sa'angreal might enable the building of a wall strong enough to contain the Dark One's strength right then, the Dark One was gradually chipping away at the Bore and gaining more power in the world. At some point, he might become powerful enough to tear down the new wall.
Supporters of each plan began preparation, even though the Aes Sedai as a whole failed to reach a consensus.
Latra Posae, an outspoken female Aes Sedai, considered Lews Therin's plan so dangerous that she organized support amongst the female Aes Sedai against it. In fact, she obtained the unanimous agreement of every female AS of significant power—in other words, every female Aes Sedai who could possibly be asked to assist in the force that would place the seven seals into the Bore to seal it shut. They believed this effectively halted Lews Therin's plan, as the men who supported him could not link without any cooperating women. (It was believed that correct placement of the seals required a linked group of the most powerful male and female channelers.)
While the Aes Sedai were fighting over which plan should be used, the Shadow advanced rapidly. Lews Therin decided that something had to be done right away, so he covertly organized 113 male channelers who supported his plan (they were later called the Hundred Companions, a slight miscount) and over 10,000 soldiers who were also loyal to him. The force stormed Shayol Ghul, when all thirteen Forsaken were there, and put the Seals into place.
At the moment of the resealing, the Dark One drove all of the surviving Hundred Companions (about 68, at that point) instantly insane. The Dark One also tainted saidin, although this wasn't discovered until after hundreds of other male channelers had been driven mad from it.
Reads the introduction of the manuscript: "Whoever reads this, if any remain to read it, weep for us who have no more tears. Pray for us who are damned alive."
The possibility of a companion book with all the terms defined is fairly strong—once the series is done of course!
As far as prequels, that would depend entirely on my coming up with a story I'd like to tell that is set there. It's not enough to say, "I just want to write what came before this." I tell the history of this world in great detail already. I will add that we're putting together an illustrated guide which will include some things that are not in the books such as the story of Arthur Hawkwing's rise and fall.
Yes, in a way. Next October, there will be "An Illustrated Guide to the World of The Wheel of Time". Released by Tor Books. It will have a great deal of information about the back history of the stories and the world. And also, some 80 or 90 full color illustrations including maps of the entire world of the Seanchan Empire, maps of the nations of the Compact of the Ten Nations, and the nations as they existed at the time. As well as pictures of a number of the individuals from the books. In some cases those pictures look exactly as I envision the person. In other cases, the artist and I just couldn't come to a full agreement on what I was trying to describe. All in all, I am very satisfied with the pictures, though.
There will also be about 120-130,000 words of text telling about things like how the White Tower was founded and why the White Tower looks monolithic from the outside and so very fractured from the inside. There will be a good deal of the history of people like Artur Hawkwing and the Amyrlins for the last thousand years or so.
Well, the difficulty with the pictures was something that I did not discover until far too late, the artist who was hired to do the pictures... see, this was done by a packager. Someone who came to me, and done guides before, and came to me and said, "I would like to do this, and here is one I did for Marion Zimmer Bradley, and here's the one I did for Bob Silverberg, and here's the one I did for Jack Vance, and would you, you know..."
I said alright, this looks good, and I called up these people and they said that things went well, but my publisher...the artist was hired to do a certain number of black and white drawings. And as soon as this guy got the package together he went to my publisher, my ... who said yeah, I'd like to publish this. And my publisher said, "No, I'd like to have color drawings, not black and white, and you want to do x number of drawings, but I would like five times as many illustrations."
And that was all good, except that the artist contract...what I did not know was that the artist contract called for a flat fee. And the man who put the package together did not increase the amount of money that he was going to pay the artist. The artist was then asked to do five times as many drawings, in color, instead of in black and white for the same amount of money. His enthusiasm dwindled. [laughter] Now if I had known about this, I would have given the artist some money out of my own pocket, to get better pictures. I couldn't understand why the man who had sat in my study, and drawn such wonderful sketches just from my off-the-cuff descriptions, was suddenly making drawings that seemed very...not very good. But, that was the reason.
Teresa, as always, was a very funny, interesting lady to talk to. She spoke about some of her upcoming projects and her work as a balloon sculptor.
She explained that the Guide was written with deliberate inaccuracies. One of the reoccurring themes of the series is that people don’t necessarily know all they think they do, but still have to make decisions based on what they know. They decided the book would be written from the point of view of a historian who had good, but not necessarily great information on a variety of subjects. So Jordan withheld information from her while she was writing the book, or he would tell her things, but then ask that she not include it.
She said that she would love to work on another project like this again, but that was up to the publishers.
For DomA, I can't be sure that the logical patterns you see in the election of Amyrlins are the same that I used in making the list, but there are logical patterns to them. If Harriet adds to the Encyclopedia who was a strong Amyrlin, who middling and who weak, you might see more patterns.
We were fortunate enough to get hold of Teresa Patterson, Co-Author of The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time (commonly referred to as "The Guide"). Teresa keeps a very busy schedule, so we were thrilled when she agreed to sit down with us for a few minutes and answer our questions.
Mr. Jordan "verified" the facts, in that he had final approval over the manuscript and everything that went into it, but we wrote it as a "living" history—in other words, we wrote it from the point of view of a learned scholarly person living during Rand's generation who had some unusual access to rare books relics, and materials. Whether this person's assumptions about the true nature of those artifacts or the histories that were uncovered were the truth is only as certain as it is for any of our own present day historians and archeologists. This is doubly complicated because some facts are always lost to time, even in Rand's world, and that not all truths are recorded accurately—especially of the Aes Sedai have decided to muddy the waters.
The result is that we wanted each reader to take away his or her own interpretation of the veracity of the information. Does the book reflect what R.J. intended? So far as I know, it does. Does it reflect the last and only word on Rand and his world? Perhaps. We also believed the dinosaurs to be cold blooded reptiles for many years. Now the current belief says they were warm blooded and related to birds. Which is canon? Who knows? Will it change again? As with Rand's world—wait and see.
I was a little disappointed with the final version of many of the character pieces, but I guess it should be no surprise that the characters as they appeared in my head look different from Todd's vision of them. I think most people have their own vision of how the characters look. I know that R.J. had approval over the initial sketches, but I was disappointed that the finished pieces were not tighter. I can say I would have done them differently—but not necessarily any better. Todd has received a lot of criticism for his pieces in the book. I know Todd was under a lot of stress and pressure, and I suspect it affected the final product more than he would have liked.
The inserts with the Darrel Sweet covers however, are wonderfully reproduced—even though R.J. says Mr. Sweet's covers are not necessarily accurate. Darrell Sweet did the cover of the anthology for my first story, so I have a particular fondness for his work. Elisa Mitchell did a great job with the cover art—though I will never understand why they shrank her piece down and surrounded it with gobs of white space. I guess it was some kind of marketing choice. I was also happy with most of the spot illustrations, ornaments, and maps that she and John Ford and Thomas Canty contributed.
The Encyclopedia's already been published [BWB], but we have the raw notes. To keep track of what I've written, I have all sorts of "Remember" files. Every nation has a file listing culture, customs, everything about that country I might need to know plus every character who has been mentioned as a native of that country, all the information that's been given about him or her in the books, even some things that haven't been used yet. There's a file for everyone: named and unnamed, living, dead, historical, whatever! "Who Is Where" is a file that lists, country by country, the last place every character in the book was seen. "ABC" (which used to be called "The Glossary") has every word or term or name I've created including every word in the Old Tongue. If I printed out all the "Remember" files, they'd be somewhere between 1,300 and 1,500 pages—but there are limits! They would probably be insanely boring for most people, but I want to make sure I remember what I created on the fly.
Tor has set up a website with a Question and Answer of the week. And Jason Denzel at Dragonmount.com set up a blog for me. When I'm not touring I'll post maybe once every week or two. I haven't been flamed yet on my site and trolls haven't shown up, but I don't know that I expect them to. My fans are generally pretty nice, polite people. In their discussion groups they say who they hate and what they hate about what I've written—that's OK; if I can create somebody powerful enough that people really hate them, I'm doing my job even if I didn't mean for them to be hated. The characters don't have lives of their own, though. Whatever my readers may think, I'm an Old Testament God with my fist in the middle of my characters' lives: I created them and they do what I want, when I want them to! I do figure out why they're behaving that way, as if they werereal people, and that helps the reader believe in them.