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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.

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2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."

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Your search for the tag 'charleston' yielded 53 results

  • 1

    Interview: Apr 20th, 2004

    Week 11 Question

    I just started The Great Hunt and I find the religious and political aspects very interesting. I notice the dedication for The Great Hunt says, "They came to my aid when God walked across the water, and the true Eye of the World passed over my house." Has your own religion in any way helped to shape the book?

    Robert Jordan

    Only in the sense that it helped to shape my moral and ethical beliefs. My work certainly is not religious in even the sense that J.R.R. Tolkien's was, much less the work of C.S. Lewis. That inscription, by the way, referred to Hurricane Hugo striking Charleston, where I live. The word hurricane comes from the name of a god of the Caribe Indians, who believed that the storm was that god walking across the water. Anyone who has ridden out a hurricane, and I have ridden out several, can well believe that it is. And if a hurricane isn't the Eye of the World, it's as close as we will come in this world.

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  • 2

    Interview: Mar 1st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Hey, don't publish the picture Gerard gave you. Our house has no wrought-iron gates. Also, no renovation has been done here since the fix-up after Hurricane Hugo several years ago. I kid you not. Poor Gerard got the wrong house. I'm glad you don't intend to publish any address, whether or not it is mine. There are fans who write letters, and then there are fans who show up at the front door unannounced. I hate to be rude to people, but with the time I spend writing, I barely have time for a social life with my friends, and frankly, someone who has managed to track you down is going to think you have cheated them if you scribble your name in their book and say, "Now go away. I'm busy." Believe me.

    Well, again, thanks for the letter, Carolyn. Do keep me abreast of what's happening with The Chronicles. I really would like to see copies, if it is possible for you to send them to me care of Tor Books.

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  • 3

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Ben & Chris

    This obviously requires huge amounts of plotting and info outlining. Did you have any pertinent WOT info lost during Hurricane Hugo? (And did your house suffer at all?)

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, my house suffered during Hurricane Hugo, and no, I didn't have any significant information loss.

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  • 4

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Now, when you're writing on this scope, you're writing on many levels at the same time. You've got the individual interactions. You've got the interactions of different cultures. You have the larger interactions of the good and evil, and you have the supernatural characters that are sort of pulling strings all down below them. How hard is it to balance the action through all of these different levels?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, it's not all that hard in my head because I grew up in Charleston, which one writer once said makes Byzantium look simple. But I couldn't do it in a computer. I don't have the time to invest in that much effort on the computer simply to keep track of it.

    There are a lot of layers—everything is an onion. And we're talking almost a four-dimensional onion here. Any particular point that you look at—almost any particular point—has layers to it. It's one of the interesting things to me, is how much can I layer things without making it too complicated. It's quite possible for somebody to read these books as pure adventure, and I actually have twelve-year-old fans who do that. I was surprised to find that I had twelve-year-old fans, but I do and they read it just like that. Other people spend quite a lot of time discussing the layering, and it's fun for me to do.

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  • 5

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    In your background, you attended The Citadel. And you're a military man, you served in Vietnam. Did that kind of help you with this head for intrigue and the Machiavellian interactions that we have in this book?

    Robert Jordan

    Actually, all that really helped me with is that I know what it's like to have somebody trying to kill you. I know what it's like to have a lot of people trying to kill you. And I also know what's it like to kill somebody. These things come through, so I've been told by people who are veterans of whether Vietnam, or of Korea, or combat anywhere—Desert Storm; I had a lot of fan letters from guys who were there.

    As far as the Machiavellian part, as I said I grew up in a family of Byzantine complexity, in a city where there has always been a great deal of Byzantine plotting. The court of Byzantium never had anything on Charleston for either plotting or blood feuds. It came as mother's milk to me.

    Dave Slusher

    Do you think that these books, such as they are, could only have been written by a southerner, and someone with a head for that?

    Robert Jordan

    These particular books could have only been written by a southerner because I write in a somewhat southern voice. My major influence as a writer, I think, is Mark Twain. And, there's no denying the southern voice of the books. If someone from another part of the country had written them, they would sound entirely different.

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  • 6

    Interview: 2002

    Nothing Stays the Same

    Robert Jordan

    I come from Charleston, South Carolina, which is a city that has undergone tremendous changes. The time of the American Revolution, it was the wealthiest city in North America. It was also the site of the Secession Convention that started the Civil War, and as a result of that, it was written out of the histories. You learn, growing up under those circumstances, that nothing stays the same. Even when you look around you and see all of these old houses, and what tourists think of as a stable old culture, it's changed a hundred times in the last two hundred years. You realize that things that people think of as permanent, such as history, are mutable. They are changed by the observer. And what is remembered of history often becomes more important than what actually happened.

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  • 7

    Interview: Jan 11th, 2003

    Dan Olin

    My impressions of the experience were that Mr. and Mrs. Rigney were quite normal people (imagine that!), perhaps bordering slightly on the eccentric. Harriet seemed to have a slight British or New England accent, and you certainly could not tell that the couple must be remarkably wealthy. In addition to his wife, Jordan had a tall blond-haired woman traveling with him, who took photos for the fans, prepared the novels for signing, and was quick to assist Mr. Jordan with any need. [Editor's Note: Her name was Dolores and she was very helpful and kind with everyone in line. She is not from Tor Books but I believe is one of RJ's assistants] All in all, I had a great time speaking with other fans and listening to our revered author speak. Upon departure, I realized that not once that evening was the ubiquitous "RAFO" mentioned by Robert Jordan.

    On a separate note—great thanks to Jason Denzel and the staff at Dragonmount.com for the long hours and excellent website. Keep up the good work!

    Footnote

    Harriet's accent is actually more of a high-society southern accent, perhaps specific to Charleston, but similar to other regional variations.

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  • 8

    Interview: Sep, 2005

    Glas Durboraw

    Where are you both from?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, we both grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. We live in a house that was bought by her grandmother in the 1920s because she had been widowed, and she thought this house was small and manageable, and that house that she'd lived in was too big for a widow. And people laugh when we tell them that, and we laugh bitterly, because it's not a small house, and it's a handful to keep up with.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    We paint it one side at a time.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, because painting all four sides of the house at once is a major expense. Major, maaaaajor.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    And it's [?], so it has to be painted every now and again, particularly since they took the lead out of house paint. It doesn't stick any more the way it used to.

    Glas Durboraw

    I remember the houses of Charleston, when I lived in Columbia, SC, and that is a beautiful area.

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  • 9

    Interview: Sep, 2005

    Glas Durboraw

    What things would you let people know? I know Charleston was one of the old major ports in the South. Is there anything about that area of the South you'd let people know?

    Robert Jordan

    Oh, a number of things. At the time of the American Revolution, Charleston was the richest city in North America. The city of Charleston, when the port of Boston was closed by the British—one of the major turning points of the American Revolution—the city of Charleston sent more food and more money to the city of Boston than all of New England and New York combined. The fall of Charleston in 1780 to the British was the worst defeat that would be suffered by an American army until the fall of Corregidor in 1942. Approximately one quarter of the battles of the American Revolution were fought inside the state of South Carolina. One quarter. And we did not have the typical, 'a quarter of the people are for the revolution, a quarter of the people are against the revolution, the others just wish it would go away'.

    Now, we invented partisan warfare, we invented guerrilla warfare, we had war to the knife. We chose a side, or you were considered by both sides to belong to the other side. And the war went on so long that at the end of it...people think Yorktown and the surrender was the end of it. It wasn't; the war in the Carolinas went on for another year, and some men were so tired that General William Moultrie—who had held Charleston as a Colonel against the first British assault, and thus insured the passage of the Declaration of Independence—with fighting still going on told the state legislature, "I'm tired. I'm going home. I've fought long enough." When mad Anthony Wayne appeared to bring relief to Charleston, William Moultrie asking him a biting question. He said, "What took you so long?"

    So, there's that, and there's also the fact, on the dark side, that almost all of the slaves who were brought in trade to North America and United States through Africa came through the port of Charleston. Sullivan's Island, outside of Charleston, could be called 'The Black Ellis Island'. It certainly needs to be remembered. It also should be remembered that Charleston, during the Civil War, withstood a siege that ranks with the siege of Stalingrad, or Leningrad in WWII—that is, nearly three years of being under constant bombardment. When the war was over...I've seen photographs of Charleston at the end of the Civil War, and it struck me because they reminded me very much of the photographs of Berlin at the end of WWII. And with that, I think I've told you about as much about the history of Charleston as you need to know, and a lot more than you're going to use.

    Glas Durboraw

    Possibly so. But I know that [?] good chances for a run, [?] so I suspect it might make its way on there.

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  • 10

    Interview: Mar, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    I had a rough outline of a little over 3,000 years of history before I started writing the Wheel of Time books, enough to make me feel like it was a real world where I could drop in casual mentions of historical events. Where I come from, if you want to say something was a long time ago you say it was 'Before Second Manassas'—it's a historical tag that everyone in Charleston understands. I wanted to be able to do that sort of thing with history in the world of The Wheel of Time.

    The history began as a rough sketch with major points inked in. As I went along, I would sometimes look at the chart and say, "If this happened here and this happened there, something like this would probably happen here." It begins to create a real pattern of history. The readers picked up on it, realizing that there's more to the world than just what's happening in the story. The first time I got a letter asking about something like that, I thought, "God, this guy must be a fruitloop! He's talking about this as if it were real." But then it hit me. "Wait a minute, idiot. This is what you want them to feel, isn't it?" So I answered his question. A few times I've had to be fast on my feet, because I hadn't figured out something in the history that was very minor.

    DragonCon has a track that follows my books, and one of the things they asked me to do was hand out the prizes at the trivia contest. In the final round these two women were up there answering questions I probably couldn't have answered without my notes. But they were just popping out the answers, ding ding ding. I never expected this incredible depth of study.

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  • 11

    Interview: Jun 1st, 2007

    Robert Jordan

    For Joshua, Charleston is a wonderful place to raise a family. There are very good schools, and also some that are not so good, so you do have to watch that. But you'd need to do that anywhere, and the good ones are VERY good indeed. It is smaller than Denver, maybe half the population or a third, but it has more good restaurants. Not just my opinion. Folks coming down from New York are always astonished at the number and quality of restaurants they find. There is a lively arts scene, ranging from numerous painter-operated galleries to the Spoleto Festival (17 days each year of international ballet, modern dance, opera, plays etc). And there are other, smaller festivals during the year, ranging from ethnic (Greek, German, African etc) to international film festivals. And there is the Maritime Festival, of course, with its tall ships and the start of various ocean races. The Concert Association brings in national and international companies during the rest of the year. The Charleston Ballet Theater is first rate (and building a national reputation), as is the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. I won't try to list the jazz clubs and the like. It is warmer than Denver, and if you want snow sports, you'll have to drive upstate, but we have terrific beaches, abundant golf courses (we get a fair number of PGA and LPGA tournaments) and tennis courses (again, with a good many pro tournaments). They city is older, of course (founded 1670) and there are a great many historic buildings and gardens. There is fishing, offshore or inshore, for everything from redfish and sea trout to blue marlin, sailfish and king mackerel. Well, that's kind of a thumbnail description. I didn't cover everything, of course. Suffice it to say I have found few places in the world where I felt I could live as happily as I do in Charleston, and one reason I don't live in London, Paris or Melbourne is that I would have to leave Charleston.

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  • 12

    Interview: Aug 9th, 2008

    Tom Doherty

    Moshe starts off the panel asking Tom to talk about how The Wheel of Time got started. Tom says that the story begins with Harriet. Tom was publisher of the Tempo imprint for Grosset & Dunlap back in the ’70s, and Harriet was his top editor. They did so well with Tempo that Grosset & Dunlap went out and bought SF publisher Ace for them to run. Their success continued at Ace, and Tom brought in an editor named Jim Baen to work under Harriet. Sales volume doubled.

    Soon after this, though, Harriet’s parents died and she inherited the family house in downtown Charleston—with a 500-square-foot walled garden, a gardener, a maid, and a cook who had been with the family for years. “Harriet is a Southern Princess,” Tom says. Harriet was divorced and wanted to go home to Charleston to raise her son. Tom didn’t want to lose her as an editor, so Popham Press was created. Harriet acquired and edited books down in Charleston, and production and marketing were done by Ace under a profit-sharing agreement. “It was telecommuting before the word was invented,” Tom says.

    Harriet met Jim Rigney in a local bookstore there in Charleston. Jim was an engineer in atomic submarines who had been injured, and while he was recuperating, he was writing. The bookstore owner knew Harriet was an editor, and he thought the two of them should meet, so he introduced them.

    Jim wrote a book called The Fallon Blood to romanticize a part of U.S. history he felt had been overlooked in popular culture—the Southern role in the Revolutionary War (Swamp Fox, etc.). He decided that he would publish his books under pseudonyms, and use a different one for each series. He used the name Reagan O’Neal for the Fallon books.

    Then Grosset & Dunlap started having problems and they brought in a “financial guy” to run the company. He decided that they should only publish bestsellers. This is part of the reason Tom left to found Tor Books. The opportunity came up for Tor to publish some Conan novels, one of which would be a novelization of the Conan the Destroyer movie. Jim Rigney was interested in doing the book and some other Conan novels, and the pseudonym he picked for them was Robert Jordan. He also took over editing some sword & sorcery books for Tor.

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  • 13

    Interview: Aug 9th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    In Brandon’s final comments on the panel, he tells two stories about visiting the Rigney home. One of them involves two chairs and two computers during his first visit, and the other involves a gift from Jim's cousin Wilson while Brandon was down in Charleston again to work out some plot holes in the outline. [Brandon mentioned wanting to tell at least one of these stories himself on his blog, so I’ll leave those to him.]

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  • 14

    Interview: Oct 6th, 2008

    Wilson Grooms

    Friday was a beautiful day in the Two Rivers. There was a gentle breeze blowing inland and the sky was crystal. Perfect. Unlike the services a year ago, the laying of the ledger stone on Jim's grave was a quiet family affair. So, with apologies, I won't share the details. Jim's resting place is identified with a marker that will last for a few hundred years. I found myself thinking that his work will outlive even the marble on his grave. The stone is simple in form. It is etched with a few words which perfectly describe the gentle giant of a man that he was.....

    James Oliver Rigney, Jr.

    Born October 17, 1948
    Died September 16, 2007

    Father Story Teller
    Soldier Singer

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  • 15

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    I lived in Charleston during Hugo—has that influenced you or the story in any way?

    Robert Jordan

    I don't think your presence influenced me at all! As for the storm, it didn't influence me either, except that I have noticed sometimes, when the wind gets high, I climb up on the roof for no particular reason.

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  • 16

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    You've lived in Charleston all your life. Is there anything here that's affected your novels?

    Robert Jordan

    Trying to call them "palmetto bugs" so as not to terrify the tourists has nearly driven me batty. That's about it.

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  • 17

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    Does living in such an old and unique house aid you in coming up with ideas?

    Robert Jordan

    No.

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  • 18

    Interview: Oct 8th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    Finally, progress on Towers of Midnight is continuing at a fair pace. As always, there are sections that turn out beautifully and sections that don't. (The latter get thrown away and rewritten, the former get kept and rewritten. That's just how this goes.) I'm feeling very good about my deadlines on this one. It's going to be tight, but I think you'll get it next year as planned.

    One of the things I felt could be improved on from The Gathering Storm is my use of names. Robert Jordan had a distinctive way of using names, and I think that some of my names for the book didn't quite hit the right mark. We're talking about very minor things—people who are named and don't appear, or maybe who speak one line or another. Anyone more major than that generally had a name already (or if they didn't, I pulled a name from one of Mr. Jordan's unused names files).

    The thing is, a good epic fantasy like this uses dozens and dozens of new names in a book. I wanted to take a stab at approaching the naming in the way Mr. Jordan did. During my very first ride with Harriet, coming back from the airport two years ago to her home in Charleston, I remember her talking about some of Mr. Jordan's names. One came from a street we passed, another from a person he knew, and another from a word he saw on a sign. His goal was to hint at our world far in the future—or perhaps far in the past—by giving occasional hints to our world through legend, story, song, and name. Hence we get names like Thom or Artur, which are direct adaptations of names from our world.

    Therefore, for Towers of Midnight I've been using a list of names from our world as inspiration. I chose the list of donors for the charity event that TarValon.net did last spring, and I've been posting the names on Twitter and Facebook as I choose them. So if you're curious about this, you can watch and see who gets chosen. I'm certain someone out there is keeping a list of them all as well. (I've got one here, and may post it eventually.)

    I don't want to make it seem like I'm playing favorites or soliciting praise in order to get people into the Wheel of Time, and so for now I'm using this list ONLY. If we decide to do another charity event, I'll let you know. If you don't want to find out about the names, I won't post them here on the blog, but those who do wish to know can follow along. Remember, these are very small characters, often just mentioned by name but not seen. I'm adapting all the names, so the name I post is not what will appear in the book—it's just the inspiration for what will appear.

    Still, I think it will make some people very happy and will allow me to try a method that Robert Jordan used in making these books. Perhaps it wasn't so conscious for him as it is for me, but one of my duties in writing these novels is to try—to the best of my abilities—to maintain the proper feel of the Wheel of Time. I think this will help. We'll see; I've got Harriet and Team Jordan backing me up, and so if any of the names stand out to them, they'll vanish and get replaced with something more appropriate.

    (And, as I've said before, remember that the Wheel of Time turns, and people are constantly spun in and out of the Pattern. Those who are alive today could very well live again during the Third Age, and so it's not so odd at all for people who loved these books during our time to get pulled into Rand's ta'veren web and spun out again during the events of the Last Battle. . . .)

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  • 19

    Interview: Nov 9th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    The dragon on the gate at Harriet's and Jim's home was there after it appeared in the books, and the books were given to the carver for a template.

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  • 20

    Interview: Nov 15th, 2009

    Question

    What is Robert Jordan's office like?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He worked on the first floor of a carriage house, the first room was a big library and the second was like a "wizard's workshop." The Brown Aes Sedai whose quarters he describes in The Gathering Storm, with skeletons everywhere, was basically a description of Robert Jordan's office. He had skeletons everywhere, and weapons (though the weapons were left out of the Aes Sedai's room).

    Footnote

    The Brown in question is Bennae Nalsad.

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  • 21

    Interview: Apr 14th, 2010

    Nick Smith

    To the 44 million readers who bought a Wheel of Time book, Jordan was a cross between Tolstoy and Tolkien, a writer of hardcore fantasy fiction who created a believably complex mythos packed with warriors, magic, and prophesies. To McDougal and other residents of the polite pocket of calm that is Charleston, he was just plain ole Jim Rigney.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    McDougal, a kind-hearted film buff with streaks of white gilding her dark hair, says that the couple purposely chose to live off the radar of the New York publishing pundits. "If you listen to [all their praise] it makes you crazy," she says.

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  • 22

    Interview: Apr 14th, 2010

    Nick Smith

    By contrast, Charlestonians tended to treat Rigney like a regular fellow. When his first Wheel of Time best-seller The Eye of the World came out in 1990, they would greet him with, "Hi Jim, are you still writing?"

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    While McDougal admits that they could have lived a quiet life anywhere if they'd chosen, Charleston was their home and a place where Rigney could work at his own, often breakneck, pace. Every day he would get up, have breakfast, then pad down the yard to his desk in his carriage house. The pages he forged there were packed with intense battle scenes, dense interwoven plots, and a vast cast of characters. This material was tempered by McDougal, Rigney's assistant Maria Simons, and series continuity manager Alan Romanczuk.

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  • 23

    Interview: Feb 18th, 1994

    Michael Macchione

    (p 169)

    Piers Anthony

    September 22,1989

    {talking about Hurricane Hugo}...crashing into land...at Charlotte, South Carolina. That was a secondary target; I know an editor at TOR BOOKS who lives there, Harriet McDougal, former senior editor. Her husband is Robert Jordan, author of several Tarzan novels, but don't judge him by that; he's about to get into major fantasy, and will be one of the leading figures in the genre. I know. {...} I read his first huge fantasy epic in manuscript; it hasn't been published yet. {continues on how Harriet helped him publish a book}

    MICHAEL MACCHIONE

    Tarzan—Conan: What's the difference? They are both big muscular men who run around in loincloths.

    JUDY GHIRARDELLI

    ARRGG. I hope this is a mistype by you MPS, and that this was not really printed in a book. Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston, SC, then tracked inland and hit Charlotte, NC. I know—I was living in Charlotte, NC, and the chimney on the apartment above us blew over, collapsing the apartment above us at 5:30 in the morning. That was Friday; they told us to get out on Monday after inspecting. We moved Tuesday. The true eye of the world went over us too...

    Anyhow, when living in Charlotte, much was made about the "ch" effect—people not being able to distinguish Charlotte from Charleston, and Charleston, SC from the same name in West Virginia, so I am a little sensitive. That is why I hope that the Charlotte, SC reference was your mistake Mike, and not Piers Anthony's. I can excuse you, since you live in Delaware, but I would hope that something like a book would get it right.

    Sorry to be venting...

    MICHAEL MACCHIONE

    I just ran to get the book and I'm sorry, but it was Piers Anthony's error. (This is in the same chapter as the Tarzan reference.) Remember, these letters were written freehand and were not proofread, as most books would be. They copied these letters into the book, and edited for style not content.

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  • 24

    Interview: Dec 5th, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    Another question followed about the number of books. Same answer.

    He said that he writes about 8 hours a day 6 days a week when he is not on tour. He said something about when he was fishing, unless he was fly-fishing or was on the boat really having to work at it, he felt like he should be home writing.

    He then answered a question about living in Charleston; about how it was his favorite place to live out of the half dozen or so cities he felt that he would like to live in.

    He said that for this book it took two months from the time he handed in the final manuscript until he went on tour.

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  • 25

    Interview: Sep, 2000

    Tahir Velimeev

    I am very glad to meet you, dear Mr. Jordan! Welcome to St. Petersburg.

    Robert Jordan

    Thank you! I'm also glad for the chance to visit your beautiful city. I’ve been to not a few places, but this is my first time in Russia. Many thanks to the organizers of the Wanderer Fantasy Convention who invited me to St. Petersburg. And my special thanks to them for the opportunity to visit Peterhof and admire its magnificent fountains. Fountains have fascinated me since childhood ...

    Tahir Velimeev

    What is the proper way to address you?—Mr. Robert Jordan? Or Mr. James Rigney ... Or in some other way?

    Robert Jordan

    Call me, as we do it in America, just James.

    Tahir Velimeev

    Or Robert? ...

    Robert Jordan

    Robert is fine too. I'm used to it. I’m often addressed exactly so in meetings with readers.

    Tahir Velimeev

    By the way, how many names does the multifaceted James Oliver Rigney, Jr. have?

    Robert Jordan

    Not very many, but also not a few. Under the pseudonym Reagan O'Neal the historical novels The Fallon Blood, The Fallon Legacy and The Fallon Pride were published. The events in them takes place during the American Revolution, around my hometown of Charleston. The name Jackson O'Reilly is on the cover of the western Cheyenne Raiders. My critical pieces on theater and dance I signed Chang Lung. And under the pseudonym Robert Jordan the novels of the Conan series and the The Wheel of Time series were published.

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  • 26

    Interview: Sep, 2000

    Tahir Velimeev

    James, please tell us a little about yourself.

    Robert Jordan

    I was born in 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina, where I live now, in a house built in 1797. My home town is famous because of the shelling of Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor during the Civil War between the North and South. My brother, older than me by twelve years, instilled in me an appreciation for books . And when our parents left him to the nanny, he read to me, not children’s books, but those that interested him—Mark Twain, HG Wells, Jules Verne. Along with Twain, my favorite writers became Louis Lamour, Charles Dickens, John W. McDonald. In the years 1968-1970, I served in the Army.

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  • 27

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Matt Hatch

    Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to grow up in Charleston?

    Harriet McDougal

    Photo by Jim Rigney

    Yeah, it was hot! I had relatives all over the place, so there was a wonderful sense of extended family. There were many notions about what girls should and shouldn't do—that was not so hot—but that was very ingrained. I was a late-born child—my mother was forty-two when I was born—so her attitudes were those of an earlier generation. And mostly, I got along...it was a happy childhood.

    Matt Hatch

    What was it that girls could and couldn't do? What comes to mind when you think about that?

    Harriet McDougal

    Well, it was more...I was raised to "marry well", meaning money. And actually not money nearly so much as land, and proper blue blood, which in this case meant Confederate...and not much idea at all of a woman making independent money, unless it was as an artist or a writer. But there were no jobs; you could be a secretary. Wonderful. But that was not what I was raised to do.

    Matt Hatch

    You said you had family, so siblings? How many siblings?

    Harriet McDougal

    I had one sibling, a full sister who was twenty years older than me, and she was the only one.

    Matt Hatch

    And she's since passed away?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah, she has gone. And she was very good to me.

    Matt Hatch

    Yeah? What's your favorite memory of her?

    Harriet McDougal

    Oh gosh, a lot. I loved her Christmas presents. She lived in Chattanooga, not in Charleston; she married when I was three. She was just a nice, younger woman in my life, and with my mother being that much older, she was a friend.

    Matt Hatch

    So did you have any nieces and nephews through her?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yes, a niece and a nephew.

    Matt Hatch

    And they are still...

    Harriet McDougal

    No, the nephew's dead, and the niece lives outside of Charleston. She has two sons.

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  • 28

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Matt Hatch

    So you still have family [in Charleston]?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah, and I've got cousins you wouldn't believe.

    Matt Hatch

    From the quantity of cousins?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah, yeah...and very nice. I love them.

    Matt Hatch

    A lot still live in Charleston?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah.

    Matt Hatch

    Do you have family events?

    Harriet McDougal

    Well we see them at Thanksgiving, Christmas—funerals these days—and also a lot of them, one main group are members of a very peculiar and politically not very correct—actually, it's getting more correct all the time—organization called the Society for the Preservation of Negro Spirituals, which is gaining considerably more attention as a very legitimate preservation society of a very important folk song ethic, and I love to sing the things.

    Matt Hatch

    Oh really?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah, and there are now what are called rehearsals, and they used to have a once-a-year concert which was so peculiar. People dressed up like Miss Ann and Mr. Charlie, you know, in ball dresses, and we'd sit on the stage pretending to sing like African Americans, but not blackface—I don't mean that—but doing a thing called "shouting and lining", which is a traditional way of singing, and the whole point of the one concert was to raise money to buy the booze and the potato chips for the rehearsals throughout the year, which were once-a-month sing-alongs at people's houses, and when I was a little girl I'd hear these voices coming up the staircase. I loved the music from then on.

    Matt Hatch

    So music was always a part of your life?

    Harriet McDougal

    In that way—singing.

    Matt Hatch

    And do you still sing?

    Harriet McDougal

    Only in the back of the Spiritual Society. I sing in church on Sunday. It's not anything people would ever really, really want to listen to, but I love to do it.

    Matt Hatch

    I grew up in a very...my parents were singers, so I grew up around...

    Harriet McDougal

    Oh, so they were good?

    Matt Hatch

    (laughs) They were very good. Well I mean, you can imagine...we had those kinds of moments where everyone...you'd hear that. I mean, you'd hear singing all the time, and they wanted us to sing; singing was very much a part of my upbringing.

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  • 29

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Matt Hatch

    Now, did you grow up in the house where you live now?

    Harriet McDougal

    The carriage house

    Yes. I began...my first memories are of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My father had been stationed at Pearl Harbor when the attack came, but he was on a troop transport going one way or another from Pearl; I don't know which way he was headed. He was then stationed at the University of North Carolina running a huge NROTC program. Two years later, he was ordered to the Pacific, and mother brought me back to Charleston; she had bought the house that I now live in—as we say, she had "bought it in" from her sister and brothers when her mother died the year I was born, and Daddy was fortunately at sea, because she took out a mortgage, and if he had been on land, he'd have killed her. He had a horror of debt, and would never have agreed to that, but she just trotted over to the bank and did it. And so we came back—the house was rented, and we lived in the carriage house, which was Jim's office much later. And then when the tenant—I've forgotten what he did; he left Charleston, or he died, or whatever—we then moved—oh, Daddy came home, is what happened—and we moved up to the Navy Yard, which was a huge...it had had forty thousand employees during the World War. He was made acting Commandant of the Navy Yard, and we lived out there for a while.

    Matt Hatch

    And you held on to the home land, or rented it out?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah, and he was acting Commandant—they didn't make him full Commandant; he had thirty-seven years in, and they knew he wanted to retire in Charleston because of mother's enormous family being there—so we moved all the way ten miles down the road. And I never had the Navy experience of bopping from school to school, and all that stuff.

    Matt Hatch

    How long were you out of the house then, before you moved back in?

    Harriet McDougal

    I don't remember. Maybe a year, maybe two years.

    Matt Hatch

    So it was your mother that owned that; she was the one that went and bought it, and then obviously when your father came back, he was okay with this?

    Harriet McDougal

    Oh yeah, yeah. And he knew he wanted to retire in Charleston.

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  • 30

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Matt Hatch

    Can you tell us a little bit more about your mother? What she did, how she influenced you?

    Harriet McDougal

    Louisa McCord Popham

    Yeah. She was a beauty, and she sang and whistled, sort of like the Irish song about the Whistling Gypsy. She was quite an irresistible character; tremendous charm. She was a wonderful cook and hostess. She wasn't much on intimate warmth, but she was great really, in every way. She sewed. They never had a whole lot of money. We had a grand house at the Navy Yard, and I remember going with her—I was getting on, like, five at this point—to Woolworth's to buy great lengths of some horrible rayon for her to make curtains for the huge windows. But as somebody said to me later who came to visit, he said, "I bet when your father married her, his career took off like a rocket!" And I think it did! That was of course so many years before I was born. But she was a charmer and a half—just darling.

    Matt Hatch

    How old were they when they got married?

    Harriet McDougal

    Daddy was in I guess his mid-twenties, and she was eighteen.

    Matt Hatch

    In what way do you think she influenced you the most?

    Harriet McDougal

    Well, I don't know; I've never really thought about it. I know that I never really thought I was pretty—not next to her. And she also had a very...she had a great way of turning her hand to what needed to be done. There was no stuff about,"Oh, I don't know how to do this." She would pick up a hammer—do a poor job of hammering in the nails, but she'd do it. And also, a sense of "Housekeeping is really important as a form of stage management." She said—somebody said—"Weeza!"—her name was Louisa but she was called "Weeza", or "Gay", in the earlier sense, and apparently—I've been told that came about in her childhood because she was said to look like some politician of the day named John Gary Evans. It was not about her gaiety, but that was really inborn. And on her tombstone, my sister and I chose "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine," and she had one. So I've forgotten what you asked me.

    Teri Hatch

    That's beautiful.

    Matt Hatch

    No, the influence...what you said, that she would just pick up a hammer...

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah! She sewed all the time; she did cross-stitch. I have some table mats she made for me, which she did for brides—she made them a set of linen table mats with their initials stamped inside—and also camisoles, which people used to wear.

    Matt Hatch

    Sounds like she was very productive.

    Harriet McDougal

    Yes, she believed in that.

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  • 31

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Matt Hatch

    How do you think Jim's experience of childhood in Charleston compared to your own?

    Harriet McDougal

    Well, Jim grew up real poor, and we were not, and I didn't...I mean I grew up in the house I live in now, which is in the best part of town—BIG—I've forgotten whether you were there for the (TarValon.net anniversary visit to Charleston)—

    Matt Hatch

    I...I haven't. I am coming!

    Harriet McDougal

    Well anyway, and it was...mother did a lot of yardwork, but she was a snob about food. My best friend lived down the street, and in that house, there was post-WWII margarine, which the dairy people, they controlled it, and it was white stuff in a bag with a yellow pill, and you'd have to mash it through the plastic to make it go yellow, you remember that horrible stuff?

    Matt Hatch

    Interesting...

    Teri Hatch

    I remember hearing about it.

    Harriet McDougal

    Oh, it was...yeah, awful. Mother wouldn't have it in the house, and the only bread she would have in the house was Pepperidge Farm. She really ate and cooked and all of that, and Wilson was saying the other day, he remembered sitting at Jim's mother's table, and supper was mayonnaise sandwiches.

    Matt Hatch

    (laughs) I loved mayonnaise sandwiches.

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah, but mother didn't do that. I lived, really, a live of privilege as a child. Jim's life was not. His father came back from the War, and when they married, his father got a job on the police force, and also painted houses on the weekend to make extra money, so it was pretty hard scrabble. And they then built a house with their own hands outside of town, and unfortunately put chlordane down in the cellar, in the foundation to kill bugs—nobody said it was not such a good thing to do—so it's possible Mr. Rigney's health problems might have had something to do with that. But I think Jim had a happy childhood.

    Matt Hatch

    Did your mother know Jim?

    Harriet McDougal

    No; neither of my parents ever met him.

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  • 32

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Matt Hatch

    How about your days at school? Were you involved in clubs, organizations...?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yes. In high school I was just determined. My parents were talking about sending me off to boarding school, and I thought, well, if you sent me to Putney, I would love that; Putney was the hippie school of the time—and you could go on an experiment of international living, and they had a greased pig race—but they were talking about sending me to St. Timothy's in Virginia, where I knew they would make me wear white gloves, and I wasn't going to go, and I thought, "Well,"—communication was not really a big thing—"I will be so successful at Ashley Hall that they won't send me away," so I did; I joined everything, and was president of everything I could get my hands on, all because I'd figured out home was better. And so I did; I was really a nasty little overachiever in high school, president of the student body—it was a girls' school—French Club, Latin Club. I didn't take part in synchronized swimming, which a friend of mine did; sports were not my thing. I wore the glasses, mostly—besides, you can't play basketball and read at the same time. (laughter) Anything that involved reading was my cup of tea. I think there was a drama club...I don't know.

    Matt Hatch

    You were everywhere.

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah. Anything. See, "Well you can't; I really can't go away; I'm so busy!" It worked!

    Matt Hatch

    Was it your mother or father that really wanted you to go away? Was it both of them?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah, kind of. I think they thought they were doing a nice thing. And in those days, girls' boarding schools still existed, and I think they must have grown up because they were thought to be better than anything that could be gotten locally, wherever you were locally.

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  • 33

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Matt Hatch

    What was it like to be a female student at Harvard in the age of Harvard-Radcliffe?

    Harriet McDougal

    That's an interesting question. I thought, "Oh, I dunno, it just was." When you're doing it, in your own experience, it's just sort of there. It was indeed second-class citizenship, but I was very lucky to be there, all at the same time.

    Matt Hatch

    Did you sense that?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah, both! "Boy, I'm glad to be there", and, "Boy they look down their noses at me." And the president of Radcliffe spoke to the freshman class that I later joined—I transferred in; I went as a sophomore, but I've heard about this—but he said, "Well, we know that the men are here to get bachelor's degrees, but you are here to get the MRS. Let the men...let your husband buy the house for you, and you raise the children."

    Matt Hatch

    What was the general response from women?

    Harriet McDougal

    I don't know. That was what he said to the incoming freshmen of Radcliffe; I was not present that day. Actually, the experience of my mother's family after the Civil War was kind of useful, because so many men had been killed, but the women really had to root hog or die. And it was...I think it's why mother picked up a hammer. Nobody's going to do it for you; do it.

    Matt Hatch

    Did you feel like you were a part of that change, to a place like Harvard-Radcliffe?

    Harriet McDougal

    No. I was just there.

    Matt Hatch

    How did you feel about opportunities for women? Did you feel like there were going to be more at the time?

    Harriet McDougal

    No. It was just—"hmm!" There were no opportunities. When I got home from college, I spent a year at home, getting engaged and unengaged, behaving generally badly. I had a job, and it paid me $42.50 a week. I was assistant archivist at the South Carolina Historical Society. My Uncle Sam, who I loved dearly, shoehorned me into this. There were two employees—the archivist, and the assistant archivist—and we cut the paper, to make a carbon copy, in half for short letters, because that was thriftier—position it behind the carbon copy, type very carefully—and the archivist was a woman. I thought partly because I could see that the job opportunities for me in Charleston were essentially nil, and also because I was behaving badly, and I saw no sign of stopping this, that I had better go to New York to find work, and my bad behavior would be less noticeable. I mean, I had three engagements that year; this is not what was expected behavior. So I did go to New York. Some guy I met at work, actually, said he would give me a letter to the head of copyeditors at at John Wiley & Sons, and I ended up going to work there.

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  • 34

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Matt Hatch

    How long did you work at John Wiley & Sons?

    Harriet McDougal

    Seven...seven lean years! It's funny the way the...to come back.

    Matt Hatch

    When exactly did you graduate?

    Harriet McDougal

    '60, 1960.

    Matt Hatch

    And when did you marry?

    Harriet McDougal

    '64.

    Matt Hatch

    And your first husband was...?

    Harriet McDougal

    Ed McDougal, and I married him in 1964. And Will, my son, was born in 1968, and I left Ed in 1970, at which point the women's movement had begun to take on steam.

    Matt Hatch

    And you met him in New York?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah.

    Matt Hatch

    Was he also in the same industry?

    Harriet McDougal

    No. He worked at Equitable Life Insurance.

    Matt Hatch

    And after 1970, when is it that you met Jim?

    Harriet McDougal

    I think I met him in '78? Yeah. I moved back to Charleston in '77, so...'78, '79, something like that.

    Matt Hatch

    So in that break between '70 and '78, were you still in New York at that time? You said you had seven lean years; where were you working during that period of time?

    Harriet McDougal

    Then I moved into trade publishing, which was a lot more fun. I started at Harcourt Brace, where I worked on the first textbook of science fiction ever published. We had a wonderful big editor named Mr. Pullen, and it was his project, and I said, "Can I work on it? Please, please?" And I did; it was fun. And from there, I went to World Publishing, and I've forgotten what they hired me to do...oh, run the copyeditors. And then it was...having one paroxysm after another. And they put me in charge of children's books, having fired a very distinguished children's book department, and it was nuts, which is of course a wonderful learning opportunity. And from there, I went freelance for a while, living in downtown Brooklyn, and realizing Will was, actually, turning four—I didn't have any health insurance, and neither did he, and maybe it was time to stop doing freelance and get a corporate job. And somebody had just left Grosset & Dunlap, and I said, "Well, who's replacing you?" and he said, "I can't even recommend that job to a friend, Harriet." I said, "Nevertheless..." and went and interviewed and got it, and that was where I met Tom Doherty, when I was hired as editor for Tempo Books. But then I began to get angry, because not long after I started working, the President of Grosset said in my presence, "Thank God we've got her instead of Dummy _____!" who was my friend I was replacing, and he had been making fifteen thousand a year, and I was making eleven. "Let me see if I can fight to get a raise to twelve," because I was paying six thousand for child care. Daycare just didn't exist back then. And I began to get pissed off.

    Matt Hatch

    What did you do?

    Harriet McDougal

    I put my head down and worked. (laughter) And began to think about how I could get out, and it finally came...what did happen? It was a big mess of family stuff and all, but I could move back to Charleston if I could figure out how to make a buck, and I'd met a guy named Richard Gallen who had been general counsel at Dell, and he had figured out how to tax shelter books, and needed books to tax shelter—there's nothing crooked about this—so he said, "You find the books; I'll give you the money to pay the advance, and see if we can't make money together," and I said, "I'm sorry, I can't; my monthly nut's too high, and I have a child to support, and no help from Ed. None, nada." But the chance to live in the house in Charleston...my sister's child—you don't want to know; it was a real can of bait—and I called Dick and said, "Is your offer still good?" And he said, "Yeah, I'll meet you for lunch tomorrow, and bring a contract." And he did; it was double-spaced, one page. I signed it, and armed with that—and I think I had two thousand dollars in the bank—off Will and I went to Charleston! So it was a pretty wild adventure, but it worked. It had some real poor moments, I'll tell you that.

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  • 35

    Interview: 2008

    Jack Bass

    Harriet McDougal

    My keen-eyed neighbor Harriet Popham Rigney says a visitor should check out the tombstone in the Huguenot graveyard that always has flowers on it—"and on Sunday a glass of wine." Among the old families of Charleston, most of whom have sold centuries-old family dwellings, she’s fascinated by the feuds that linger. For visitors "of standing," she adds, "you should definitely go to the St. Cecilia Society Ball—but you can't." Admission to this holiest of holies is restricted to bloodlines of the color blue. One of the city's great scandals occurred three-quarters of a century ago when an upstart newspaper dared to print a story about the ball. It is a matter not of secrecy, but of privacy. Those who go are those who know.

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  • 36

    Interview: Nov 9th, 2009

    Old (Peter) Salt

    There was a question about the Dragon Gates on the Rigney house.

    Harriet McDougal

    They had the gates made after several of the books had been published.

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  • 37

    Interview: Mar 15th, 2003

    M. L. Van Valkenburgh

    Robert Jordan scores big with his tenth Wheel Of Time novel—but is he really Tolkien's heir?

    Robert Jordan has lived his whole life in Charleston, as did his forefathers. It is his home, and he is very attached to it. He and his wife (and editor) Harriet have considered a host of other cities, many with brighter lights than our own, but they always come back to Jordan's roots.

    Robert Jordan

    "We've just liked it better than anywhere else. Other cities we've considered have been Paris, London, San Francisco, Melbourne—Australia, that is; I'm sure Melbourne, Florida is very nice, but I've never been there—but what's stopped us from moving is, Charleston is home," said Jordan in a recent phone interview granted prior to his whirlwind tour promoting his tenth book in the much acclaimed Wheel of Time series.

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  • 38

    Interview: Mar 15th, 2003

    M. L. Van Valkenburgh

    It's here that Jordan's passion for history comes through. His love for Charleston and his frustration that Charleston continues to be overlooked as a major player in the American Revolution are evident in the way he crafts the history of every city in the world in which his characters live—and the way that history gets twisted by the leaders of his cultures.

    Robert Jordan

    "There are bits and pieces (of Charleston) here and there, though I continue to stress that the Two Rivers (home of the series' three main protagonists) has no relation between the Ashley and the Cooper, but of course things filter through. It's impossible to write without keeping who you are and where you're from out of it," says Jordan.

    "History is mutable. It's so dependent on who you remember and what you remember. For instance, with the American Revolution, Charleston was written out of the history books because of the secession. You know, during the Boston Tea Party, we sent more food and aid to Boston than any of its neighboring colonies. But that's not something that children read about in school. The solid tones of the past are not that solid. They are a thin facade placed by partisan observers," he says.

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  • 39

    Interview: Mar 15th, 2003

    M. L. Van Valkenburgh

    Another thing that sets Jordan apart from Tolkien is an ever-present sense of hope—something that has kept readers reading for 7,000 pages and will keep them reading 'til the end of the series, which Jordan says will take a minimum of two more books. No matter how bad the odds are against his characters, no matter that the world draws ever closer to its final battle with the Dark One, Jordan slips in enough events to stop readers from becoming fatalistic.

    Tolkien, on the other hand, was a profound fatalist himself. And, indeed, while his characters did, for the most part, achieve their ends, there is a sense of bittersweetness that pervades his works. His attitude is evident even in his relationships with the young children he left at home while off fighting World War II (and dreaming up his master work). Speaking metaphorically of the war with the Germans, he wrote his youngest son Christopher, saying, "We are attempting to conquer Sauron with the Ring. ... The War is not over (and the one that is or the part of it, has largely been lost.) But it is of course wrong to fall into such a mood, for Wars are always lost, and The War always goes on; and it is no good growing faint."

    It would be hard to picture Jordan announcing that wars are always lost to a young child; instead, he has a childlike sense of wonder and enjoyment of the world around him that his predecessor lacked.

    Robert Jordan

    "I like the Battery. The High Battery, particularly. (As a child) I liked its rickety nature. Now that they're fixing it up I'm not sure how I'll feel about it. But I loved the sense that at any moment the slates might drop you into the High Battery. My friends and I used to run through the streets and alleys, and things weren't as spruced up as they are now. Everything was overgrown with bamboo. It was wonderful," he recalls.

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  • 40

    Interview: 2012

    Alyeska2112 (August 2012)

    Brandon Sanderson (August 2012)

    Harriet drove me by here on one of my visits. Pointed at the sign and waited for me to get it.

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  • 41

    Interview: Dec 7th, 2012

    Narrator

    Before the tale of Rand al'Thor, the epic story of the Wheel of Time humbly begins with a man named Jim, known to the world as Robert Jordan, author of the best-selling Wheel of Time series. James Oliver Rigney, Jr. was born October 17, 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina.

    Harriet McDougal

    Growing up, he'd often told about lining up I think Jules Verne, Mark Twain and Jack London, and thinking, "I want to write books."

    Jason Denzel

    He joined the Army in 1968 and served two tours in Vietnam as a helicopter gunner.

    Harriet McDougal

    He returned to begin college at The Citadel as a veteran student and took a job as a civilian nuclear engineer working for the United States Navy.

    Jason Denzel

    And it was during this time that he took a hard look at his life and decided to become a full-time writer.

    Harriet McDougal

    He was in the hospital with a blood clot when he did the famous—the thing so many people talk about doing—he threw a book across the room and said, "I can do better than that." He wrote something called Warriors of the Altaii. I read it, and...no, it wasn't what I was interested in. But it showed he could do it. So I gave him a contract for a book that became The Fallon Blood. We'd been seeing a lot of each other. He brought a tiger claw from Vietnam to show my son. Will came running upstairs to my office one day and said, "Mom, he'll take me to see the Star Trek movie." And I said, "Can I come too?" And he said yes. And I guess that was our first date.

    Tom Doherty

    She edited Jim, and they fell in love, and they got married, and we all became friends.

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  • 42

    Interview: Jan 9th, 2013

    Marie Curie

    Brandon always tells the story about going to your house in Charleston for the first time, and you had some soup on the stove, which you offered to him. But he just wanted to read the ending. My question is: Did he ever eat the soup?

    Harriet McDougal

    (laughs) Yes.

    Brandon Sanderson

    (listening in) Yes, I did have the soup later. And it was very good.

    Marie Curie

    It was bean soup, wasn't it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, it was black bean soup.

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  • 43

    Interview: Jan 9th, 2013

    Jhirrad

    The event started for me when the other Memory Keepers began to trickle in around 3:00 p.m. By 5:30, four of the seven had arrived. We were expecting Brandon, Harriet, and Maria at 6:00, but Harriet and Maria decided to arrive a bit earlier (at 5:30), which ended up being an incredible gift for us. When the Barnes & Noble CRM told us that Harriet had arrived, I felt my heart start beating a little faster, and I remembered what it was like to be genuinely nervous for the first time in quite a while. I was about to meet the woman that helped guide the creation of one of my favorite things in the world! We met her at the top of the stairs, and then escorted her and Maria to the room where we would get to hang out.

    For the next hour and a half, that's what we did. We really just hung out. There was a little talk about the book, but not much, since most people hadn't finished reading yet. Harriet asked if any had finished, and when I said I had, she asked for my opinion. I gave it openly and honestly, telling her of my love for this book, as well as the entire series. I expressed my gratitude to her, Brandon, Maria, and of course forever to Robert Jordan, for what they brought to us. But most of the time, we just talked about life.

    Harriet McDougal

    Harriet talked about South Carolina. We heard stories about their lives there, about the "Night Hell Froze Over" as Harriet called it, and so much more.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Brandon talked about what Magic decks he likes to play.

    Jhirrad

    We literally talked about the weather, comparing Chicago to Charleston. In so many ways I find myself grateful that we were so early and that most people hadn't finished reading yet. If they had, the entire time would have been spent discussing specifics of the book. Instead, we were able to spend time with these three incredible and amazing people who have touched our lives, and to do so just as regular people, as friends, sitting around the table and trading stories. It was mesmerizing.

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  • 44

    Interview: Jan 12th, 2013

    Question

    Did Charleston have a lot of influence on the Ogier?

    Harriet McDougal

    The Two Rivers? Ogier Street?

    Maria Simons

    Actually, it was later revealed that Ogier was a subconscious thing, as Jim wanted something close to the term "ogre".

    Harriet McDougal

    And, Jim grew up in a small town, much the same as the Two Rivers in their treatment of strangers.

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  • 45

    Interview: Jan 16th, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    On my tour I've been stopping to sign books in airport bookstores as usual. Years ago some of my fans nicknamed this "Brandalizing." Grammar Girl did a quick blog post about the term this week.

    Here's a video of Harriet reading the wind scene from A Memory of Light at our signing this past weekend at the College of Charleston. Thanks, Jessica Crout! The Addlestone Library there is the home of Robert Jordan's papers. They had on display this very early draft of The Eye of the World with Jordan's handwritten edits on it. (Sorry my photo is so blurry.)

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  • 46

    Interview: Feb 15th, 2013

    Rebecca Lovatt

    Most of the questions during the Q&A centered on the writing process in one way or another, either of these last three Wheel of Time books or of his other works. I had never before had a grasp on the sheer size of what Mr. Jordan had thought about and committed to (digital) paper about this series, all the details that will probably never see the light of day, until Brandon commented that his attempt to put Jordan's massive document onto his own computer resulted in it crashing after 32,000 pages. If we ever need a metric to relate how real the world Jordan created was, that is as good as it gets.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Brandon also shared the funny and idiosyncratic way Mr. Jordan would get his inspiration for names; it wasn't all just Norse and Hindu myth all the time, but apparently also everyday objects—streets in his home town (Ogier Street!), his washing machine, and random strolls through the phone book. If you've lived in Charleston in the past 23 years, who knows, you may have made an appearance as an Andoran Noble or the Old Tongue name for an Aiel warrior society!

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  • 47

    Interview: Feb 20th, 2013

    Question

    I was amazed by the language, geography, people, and so on in the books, and I always wondered what Robert Jordan's office looked like. I thought it must be covered with maps and things relating to the books. What was it like to walk in there?

    Harriet McDougal

    What you saw first when you walked in was a plastic human skeleton. And it wears a Viking helmet. And then you saw the books. There was a bookcase filled with books on religions. There was another bookcase of Westerns. There was a very big printer, and a roll-top desk. But what there weren't were maps. They were all in his head.

    Brandon Sanderson

    There were a lot of weapons, though.

    Harriet McDougal

    There was a room full of edged weapons!

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  • 48

    Interview: Mar 18th, 2013

    Harriet McDougal

    Tom and I were just discussing yesterday that we were doing "telecommuting" before it was even a term.

    Tom Doherty

    She was the first one.

    Harriet McDougal

    I had already moved back to Charleston when he was starting Tor. He asked me if I would be the editorial director. He said: "I'm not asking you to move back, I'm just asking you to edit." And I said okay.

    Tom Doherty

    She's the best editor I've ever worked with.

    Harriet McDougal

    Oh, thank you.

    Tom Doherty

    You know, I've worked with a lot of them, as Publisher, as Vice President of Sales at Simon and Schuster, at Grosset and Dunlap. Harriet's the best. I just couldn't do without her and, you know, just because she was in Charleston wasn't going to stop us from working together.

    Harriet McDougal

    Well, thank you, Tom. A week ago in Provo [at the first A Memory of Light signing event on January 8th, 2013] I walked into the high school auditorium where everybody was gathered for a pre‑event, before the book went on sale at Midnight. [Dragonmount.com Founder] Jason Denzel introduced me in lavish terms, using words like "wonderful". The crowd, which was wall‑to‑wall, gave me a standing ovation and moved me almost to the point of tears. They just weren't stopping. I began speaking over them and said: "Thank you very much. Thank you for the lovely introduction, Jason, but I don't think all those words are true. I'm here to tell you I put on my shoes one foot at a time, just the way you do." I actually got them to sit down.

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  • 49

    Interview: Mar 18th, 2013

    Tom Doherty

    The first Robert Jordan novel Harriet published personally, we did as a joint venture under the imprint and the company Popham Press. Popham is her maiden name.

    Harriet McDougal

    Well, it was distributed by Ace.

    Tom Doherty

    It was distributed by it, yes. I was Publisher of Ace at the time.

    Irene Gallo

    What was the title of that book?

    Harriet McDougal

    His first published book is called The Fallon Blood. It's a novel that covers the American Revolution in the South. At the time, I thought: "If I have to look at one more book about the Civil War, I'll just throw up. I've had it with crinoline. There are too many. Margaret Mitchell did it once and for all. Let's go for the Revolution instead." So he did—the revolution in Charleston, South Carolina, in particular.

    He followed that with The Fallon Pride, which covered the War of 1812, and The Fallon Legacy, which took the Fallons into the brand new Republic of Texas. At that point distribution dried up, otherwise he could have just gone on. He had a dream in which a man is holding Michael Fallon's sword, standing next to the grave of the Fallon who has died in the Vietnam conflict, and I thought, oh, boy. Anyway, with those books he wanted to write the Southern sweep of American history, in the way that John Jakes wrote the Northern sweep. Taking people across the continent. And they were good.

    Tom Doherty

    They were.

    Harriet McDougal

    I would like to the point out something to the fans. Every single book Robert Jordan wrote begins with the wind. "The English wind blew the dust into Michael Fallon's face on his Irish road." That was the beginning of The Fallon Blood. The Fallon Pride begins, "The August winds scorched across Tripoli harbor." There is always a wind. I think it was very conscious that he was breathing life into his characters. Breath and wind have the same root, I think, at least in Hebrew.

    Irene Gallo

    That's wonderful.

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  • 50

    Interview: Feb 13th, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    And I . . . I tell this story a lot, but it's a fun story. I flew in. Harriet herself picked me up at the airport. I had been really nervous to meet Harriet—like, you know, really nervous. I knew Harriet . . . like, she was one of the big editors in the field, and authors have this kind of—even, you know, published authors—are sometimes kind of scared of editors, right? And Harriet . . . I don't know if you guys know . . . I mean, she edited Ender's Game, okay? She edited—and discovered—Robert Jordan, and she's behind the two biggest books in fantasy and science fiction of the last 30 years—Ender's Game and Eye of the World. So I was really nervous.

    And so I'm like . . . and then I meet her, and as you can tell, she's like this wonderful, just so nice, awesome person. It was such a relief. I'm like, oh good. I actually called Emily that night and I'm like, ahh, I didn't need to be worried. Like, take your favorite grandmother and mix her with a southern gentlewoman and you have Harriet.

    Harriet McDougal

    I've hidden the whips.

    [laughter]

    Brandon Sanderson

    And she drove me to the house there in Charleston, which is this wonderful house, built in the 1700s, right?

    Harriet McDougal

    Barely. 1798.

    Brandon Sanderson

    And we walk in the door, and Harriet had been cooking dinner, and it was a bean soup. I still remember all these things where she said, well I put some soup on, and I can warm it up, and would you like to have some food? And I said, I would like the ending, please.

    [laughter] [applause]

    Because I didn't know . . . You know, I just signed the contracts without knowing. You know, you guys work for Microsoft, NDA stuff, you got to say yes first, and then you get the NDA, and then you get to be a part of it.

    And so, I knew that there was an ending, because Robert Jordan had talked about writing the ending. I knew, and Harriet had confirmed, the ending had been written. And so I walked in, and it was like ten o'clock at night. But I got that ending, and I sat down in the front room—sitting room—and I read what you now have as primarily the epilogue of A Memory of Light. Almost all the epilogue was in there.

    Also contained in there were several big important scenes from the prologue, which we split among the three prologues. There were a couple of the really cool scenes in there. There was the Tower of Ghenjei. There was a place where Egwene gets a special visitor, and—I think it's called A Cup of Tea—that scene, but really it was the ending that I wanted to read.

    Harriet McDougal

    And there's the blank in the blank.

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's the blank in the blank, yes, which is in the prologue of A Memory of Light—one of the prologue sequences. And I read all of this and read his ending, which you now have in your hands.

    And Harriet afterwards—she said, well what do you think? And I said, it was satisfying. That was my word for it. It was the right ending. I felt a huge sense of relief. In a lot of ways, there wasn't a lot there. There were 200 pages, and so it wasn't huge. But at the same time, it was a huge relief to me, because the ending had been done, and it had been done right. And my job, then, was not so impossible, because all I had to do was get from well-written book to well-written ending without screwing it up too much.

    And having that ending in hand is really what has made this possible, and made me able to work on these books in a way that I really feel conformed to Robert Jordan's vision for them, because I knew where he was going. And I tend to work from an ending—that's how I write my books, is I always have the ending in mind first. And so, that is the story of how you came to get A Memory of Light. And it has been an awesome and daunting and horrifying and extremely hard and wonderful experience all in one.

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  • 51

    Interview: Oct 9th, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Notes

    As I've said before, I signed the contracts with Harriet to finish this series before I was given the notes. Therefore, going into this, I knew very little of what had been done for A Memory of Light already. In fact, the only thing I did know was that Mr. Jordan had written down the ending—the one he'd been promising for years that he had in his head. (Though, being the gardener-type writer that he was, he always noted that the ending could change shape as his view of it evolved over time.)

    Eager, daunted, I flew to Charleston in December 2007 to meet Harriet. I knew her by reputation only—the editorial director of Tor Books during its foundational years, the woman who edited Ender's Game and who discovered Robert Jordan. I was rather intimidated. Turns out, Harriet is quite grandmotherly—in a southern gentlewoman sort of way. She's confident, capable, and has this air of knowledge about her. However, she's also kind, quick with a smile, and remarkably genuine. I don't know that I've ever met someone who so effortlessly blends self-confidence with compassion.

    Once I arrived at Harriet's house, I asked for the ending, which she gave me. I spent hours picking through the notes and reading—I was at it after Harriet retired for the night, though before she left, she pointed to the computer in the front room where I was sitting. "That's Robert Jordan's," she noted to me. "That's where he wrote many of the books, on that computer, that keyboard. We recently moved it in from the office into this room."

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  • 52

    Interview: Feb 20th, 2015

    Question

    At the end of Firefight when it says that if you overcome your fears that the corruption kind of ceases to exist. Does that mean an Epic’s weakness is resolved [also?]

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is a question for the sequel.

    Question

    So would that imply that maybe David has a power but he doesn’t know it because he overcame the water fear?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That’s entirely possible… You’re asking good questions.

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