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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 'genesis' yielded 66 results

  • 1

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Tibur

    Hi. I love your books and I was just wondering where you got your ideas for the series. It's like nothing ever published before!

    Robert Jordan

    It all started with wondering what it was really like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you are the savior of mankind. Ten years of thinking about that, and I began writing.

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  • 2

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    His plans have not significantly altered from the time of conception. No major scenes have been inserted or left out or substantially altered.

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  • 3

    Interview: Nov, 1993

    Trinity College Q&A (Paraphrased)

    Robert Jordan

    He also spoke for quite some time on the splitting of the One Power into male and female halves, and on the disharmony produced when they don't work together...this came across as one of the core elements in the origin of WoT. (re: Yin/Yang—leaving out the little dots in the symbol is an intentional representation of the lack of harmony between male/female Power in Randland.)

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  • 4

    Interview: 1994

    Grey Culberson

    (question about series genesis)

    Robert Jordan

    RJ responded that the crux of the series was based on a disbelieving boy being told he was the savior of mankind, then that youth reluctantly realizing the truth of the matter but unwilling to admit it, and finally the boy assenting to the savior role and that only left puzzling out what he would do as the savior. When asked why RJ had chosen to go into so much depth and detail so as to confuse and overburden the reader, RJ responded, "It's all right there in front of you. Surely, something I've thought about for fifteen years and written about for nine is something you can work out over a weekend."

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  • 5

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Originally, when I began thinking about the story, Tam and Rand were the same character. The main character was to be a soldier who had gone out to war and returned to a small village.

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  • 6

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    World Design: about 10 years before writing commenced. Stopped being a nuclear engineer to write.

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  • 7

    Interview: Oct 23rd, 1994

    Brian Bax

    Since I lived in the sticks, I decided to differ from the norm and went to the signing thinking there wouldn't be a vast crowd, I was wrong sigh. I did manage to get all of my books signed which was great. I talked with RJ, but he appeared to be very distant which is understandable considering his position. What was really neat was that I was able to talk with Mrs. Jordan for 20 minutes. First off, she was an angel. She talked a lot about things that her husband couldn't since he was busy signing books.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    It turns out that she's an editor for Tor, not only for her husband's work but for others as well. She said that The Eye of the World took four years to write because he had to create all of the countries in Randland first. As has been mentioned by others on the net, his first idea for the series is going to be the last scene; his next was the breaking down of Rand's door in The Eye of the World. The rest has been ad lib. from there.

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  • 8

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Brandon Sanderson (3 January 2011)

    Reading the start of The Eye of the World reminds me that there's an extra person in the cover art. (More obvious in the secondary, inside piece, I think.)

    RINA

    In the cover of The Eye of the World there's only Moraine, Lan, and one boy to the side. Am I looking at the wrong one?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    There are two covers. One ended up on the inside flaps. The outer one wraps around, though, and I think he's in both.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Here's the secondary cover: http://bit.ly/hZu0Uw

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    HCFFs already know who that person is, but it's a fun Easter egg to know that there's a story behind that extra figure.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    By the way, HCFF stands for "Hard Core Fan Freak" for those asking. They're self named. It's what many uber-wot-geeks call themselves.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Mr. Jordan wrote a large chunk of The Eye of the World with a fourth Two Rivers lad going along with Perrin, Mat, and Rand. Was to be a major character.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Harriet talked him out of it, pointing out that the fourth lad never did anything useful. @theoryland, do you guys have a good thread on him?

    TEREZ

    Nah, nothing to talk about really. But here is RJ saying that: http://bit.ly/RJ-BN2000

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I've asked Harriet if she could dig up any of the old manuscript with the fourth ta'veren in it, but she's not certain they have any.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    She said she thinks he was Dannil, but couldn't remember for certain. Many think he was Ewin—a good guess and a possibility.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Cover art was commissioned when he was still a main character, and it was too late to change it when he was removed.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Looks like the fourth ta'veren was Dannil, in another form: http://bit.ly/h0iDIO (Look for Liandra's question.)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Jason from @dragonmount says: "RJ once told me that Daniell's heroics ended up being done by the other Two Rivers boys."

    AZRAL HANAN

    What role would the so-called 'Fourth' ta'veren have played if he had been written into the story? Could you elaborate?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I'd like to see the original drafts if I could. I do know RJ said his part was split among the other three.

    RINA

    Is the fourth boy (Dannil)'s name pronounced [dan-nil] or [daniel]?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I say the first.

    Footnote

    Some fans think this is a BS story made up as an inside joke between RJ and Harriet about the cover art, mostly because the concept of three heroes seems to work better with the mythology that RJ used to develop them.

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  • 9

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Brandon Sanderson (11 January 2011)

    I'm now onto the last part of The Eye of the World. I've mentioned before that I, personally, find this the roughest part of the entire series.

    FELIX PAX

    Worse than books between Lord of Chaos and Winter's Heart? Really?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, honestly. I've mentioned before I don't have the problem with those that others do.

    DOVI JOEL

    Do you mean roughest as in not well written? I love that part, I find it so epic (especially when the Creator talks to him). [Note: this is Dovi Joel's assumption.]

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    None of it is poorly written. In fact, some of the scenes—such as the Ways—are wonderful.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It's just that it seems like we have a different book, with different goals, starting on us here.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    The climax for The Eye of the World doesn't completely click for me. I like the Ways, I like the Blight, but the entire package feels too sudden.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    We spend the entire book with Tar Valon as our goal and Ba'alzamon as villain. Now, the Eye is the goal and two Forsaken are villains.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Personally, I think this is due to RJ planning books 1-3 as one novel, then discovering it was too much and creating a break-point.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    To be fair, I feel I had some of the same problems at the end of Mistborn. Powers manifest that I could have foreshadowed better.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    One of the great challenges as a writer, particularly in fantasy, is to learn that balance of foreshadowing vs. pacing.

    BONZI

    And I would think, foreshadowing effectively vs. giving away too much.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, exactly.

    BRANDON SANDERSON (11 JANUARY)

    For those curious, I'm reasonably sure books 1-3 were one novel at first. Tom Doherty, CEO of Tor, told me in detail of RJ's WoT pitch.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    He pitched a trilogy, but the first book ended with Rand taking the sword (that wasn't a sword) from the Stone (that wasn't a stone.)

    MICHAEL REYNOLDS

    The sword in the stone!!! How on Earth did I miss that? :shame:

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Lol. I missed it the first time too. And things like Caemlyn, Egwene, Gawyn, Galad, Merrilin. I at least got Artur Hawkwing...

    MICHAEL REYNOLDS

    Ever feel like RJ removed any possibility of borrowing from any mythology ever again? He seemingly hit 'em all buffet-style.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Actually, I've felt that very thing.

    JAMES POWELL

    I'd heard that one reason that WOT is so long is that Tor asked RJ for "more books", and he thought they meant "more WOT".

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    That's not actually true, from what I know. Tor never pushed RJ for more books. He was allowed to what he wanted, as he wanted.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    People are noting George R.R. Martin expanded A Song of Ice and Fire also. RJ and GRRM are similar types of writers: http://bit.ly/e59ox0 Search for 'gardener.'

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I'm am more of an architect than a gardener. I do more 'gardening' on character, but I plan world and plot very extensively.

    FELIX PAX

    Did RJ have a cluster of concepts, themes or concepts written down in his notes? Mindmaps? To create his story's "garden"?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, many.

    FELIX PAX (17 JANUARY)

    What do you think of the literary method of foreshadowing by saying something is impossible to do or will not occur?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I think it can work very well. RJ certainly did it quite a bit. You need to be somewhat subtle with it, though.

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  • 10

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Sense of Wonder

    From the October/November 1994 issue of Sense of Wonder, a B. Dalton publication

    It's an exciting fall for fans of Robert Jordan's phenomenal series The Wheel of Time. Book Five: The Fires of Heaven, which was a New York Times best-seller, finally came out in paperback this September, and the long-awaited sixth book, Lord of Chaos, will be out in hardcover this October. Since this series has captured the imagination of so many readers, I asked Robert Jordan to talk to Sense of Wonder readers about the inspiration behind his remarkable Wheel of Time series.

    Robert Jordan

    The first inspiration was the thought of what it was really like to be tapped as the savior of mankind. In a lot of books that have somebody who is the "chosen one" if you will, it seems that the world quickly divides into allies who are strongly behind the "chosen one" and the evil guys. It seemed to me that if somebody is chosen to be the savior, there is going to be a good bit of resistance, both "let this cup pass from me," and a lot of people who aren't going to be that happy to have a savior show up, even if they are on his side nominally. That established, I began to think about the world.

    What I'm trying to do here is rather complex. The usual thing is to either tell a sweeping story that is, in effect, the history of a nation or a people, or to tell a tighter story that is very much inside the heads of individuals themselves. I am trying to do the stories of individual people, a large number of them, at the same time as I tell the story of a world. I want to give readers an entire picture of this world—not just its current history and situation, but its past as well. That's hard to do at the same time we're so deeply involved with individual characters. The complexity of that combination is one of the reasons the darn thing has gone on as long as it has.

    There are a number of themes that run through the series. There's the good old basic struggle between good and evil, with an emphasis on the difficulty in recognizing what is god and what is evil. There's also the difficulty in deciding how far you can go in fighting evil. I like to think of it as a scale. At one end you hold purely to your own ideals no matter what the cost, with the result that possibly evil wins. At the other end, you do anything and everything to win, with the result that maybe it doesn't make much difference whether you've won or evil has won. There has to be some sort of balance found in the middle, and it's very difficult to find.

    Another recurring theme is lack of information, and the mutability of information. No one knows everything. Everyone has to operate on incomplete knowledge, and quite often they know they are operating on incomplete knowledge, but they still have to make decisions. The reader quite often knows that the reason why a character is doing something is totally erroneous, but it's still the best information that the character in the book has. I like to explore the changeability of knowledge, the way that, in the beginning, characters see things in one way, and as they grow and learn more, we and they find out that what they knew as the truth wasn't necessarily the whole truth. Sometimes it's hardly the truth at all. When Rand and the rest first met Moiraine, they saw her as an Aes Sedai, and they thought of her as being practically omnipotent. It's only as they go along that they begin to find out that the Aes Sedai have limits. In the beginning everyone says the White Tower makes thrones dance and kings and queens play at their command, but the characters begin to find out that, yes, the White Tower has certainly manipulated a lot of thrones, but it's hardly all-powerful. Characters learn more about the truth as time goes on, and sometimes found out that what they knew before was only the first layer of the onion. That's a major theme, really, in the whole series, that changeability—the way something starts out seeming to be one simple thing, and slowly it is revealed to have a number of very complex layers.

    But for all the grand events and great hoop-la and whoop-de-do going on, the things that really interest me more than anything else are the characters themselves. How they change. How they don't change. How they relate to each other. The people fascinate me. And, of course, there are things happening that major characters sometimes don't even see, and the reader sometimes does. There's a lot going on beneath the surface that major characters don't realize, despite the fact that they do see a lot of what seems very furious activity.

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  • 11

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 1995

    Interviewer

    Do you remember when you conceived The Wheel of Time series?

    Robert Jordan

    The first thought that came to me was what would it be like, what would it really be like, to be tapped on the shoulder and told you were born to be the savior of mankind. And I then very quickly thought, what would happen if the savior of mankind really showed up and he was really there to save the world from impending doom, what would the real response of the world be? And after ten or twelve years of knocking around in my head, because I always give my books a long lead time, that turned into The Wheel of Time.

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  • 12

    Interview: Jun 17th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    The story of TWoT evolved during a very long period, in part beginning in the middle of the seventies with the idea of the Breaking of the World, before he found the "final scene in the final book" and began to actually write The Eye of the World. The main impetus from the beginning was the notion of "men breaking the world" (my emphasis), and that men able to channel must be killed, controlled or stopped at all costs for 3,000 years. This led naturally to a society where women had great power and respect.

    As an example of this, he puts forth Davram Bashere's reaction to Faile being a Hunter of the Horn. His initial negative response does not come from that Faile is a girl, but that she only is 17 years old. Her gender is irrelevant to the issue.

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  • 13

    Interview: Apr 5th, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    Jordan's Writing Process

    Jordan spoke a bit and answered a few questions about his writing process. He said that he originally thought the series would be three to four books. When he was negotiating a contract with Tom Doherty, he told Tom that he didn't know how long the series would be, but that he did know the ending. Jordan says that writers seldom get contracts under those circumstances, but Tom signed him one because he like Jordan's writing. The contract was for six books.

    After Jordan wrote the first book, he increased his estimate to four to five books for the series. After the second, he thought it would be 5-6, then 7 or more, etc. Now he does not give any estimate of the length of the series and is upset that the jacket of Lord of Chaos suggested that the series would end with eight books. (Update: In an open letter sent courtesy of Tor Books, dated 19 May 1996, Jordan said that the series will comprise at least ten books.)

    Jordan says that the idea for WoT came to him about ten years before he began writing. "What would it feel like to be tapped on the shoulder and told, 'Hey, you're the savior of the world?'" He began writing The Eye of the World four years before it was published (and I say that it shows).

    Jordan has lots of notes for the series. He began by writing approximately ten pages (of notes) of history about each of the countries in his story, more for the places he was going to use first. Right now his notes fill more pages than his manuscripts, he says.

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  • 14

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    How did the series come about when you originally started writing it? You started about eight years ago?

    Robert Jordan

    I started writing about eight years ago. The first thought occurred to me, oh, somewhere between 18 and 20 years ago. My books always bubble around in my head a long time before anything gets on paper. Actually, yeah, I guess it is about that.

    The first idea that came to me, the first thought, was what is it really like to be the savior of mankind? What's it really like to be tapped on the shoulder and told you are the savior of mankind, and oh by the way, we expect you to go mad and die in order to fulfill prophecy and save everybody. That was the genesis.

    Dave Slusher

    Originally, had you planned it to be as epic in scope as it has turned out to become?

    Robert Jordan

    Not really. When I went to my publisher originally—and this was about 1986—I said I want to do this set of books, and I have no idea how many books I'm talking about. It is at least three or four, it might be five or six, I don't know. And luckily he was willing to go along with that. Most publishers would not go along with that. Most publishers would not go along with me not giving then an outline for the book, but instead giving them a twelve- or fifteen-page philosophical treatise explaining the themes of the book, and not a damn thing about what's actually going to be in the books. But Tom has always liked what I write, so he was willing to go.

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  • 15

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Jeff Jarrell

    What made you decide to make male Aes Sedai go insane versus female Aes Sedai using magic somewhat safely?

    Robert Jordan

    I'm not sure about the last of that question, but this was part of the basis, the foundation of the story. If women had gone insane using the power and not men, it would be a much different world, a much different story, and not the story I was interested in writing!

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  • 16

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Eric Ligner

    With the scope of this work, it must have been on your mind for a long time. When did you first conceive the story and how many years after that was the first book published?

    Robert Jordan

    I had the first notions for this book, I guess it was 1975 or '76. For these books I should say. But there were a lot of things to think out, a lot of changes I went through. For instance the character of Rand and Tam were originally one. I spent about ten years noodling the story around in the back of my head before I ever put words on paper, but that's rather typical for me. My books have a fairly long gestation period.

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  • 17

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    How long did it take you to plan the Wheel of Time world?

    Robert Jordan

    A very long time. Almost ten years of thinking about it before I began writing. And then four years to write The Eye of the World. Then roughly 14 months each for the next five books, and about 20 or 21 months for A Crown of Swords. You see, I have the world planned out, but quite often details are a work in progress.

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  • 18

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Gurney

    How much of the series do you plot out beforehand, and how much is written as you go?

    Robert Jordan

    Before I began writing the first book, I knew the beginning, I knew the last scene of the last book, I knew ALL of the major events that I wanted to happen, I knew how all of the major relationship would go, I knew how people would be affected by those relationships, I knew who was going to live, I knew who was going to die. You can see, I knew a good bit, including that last scene of the last book and how all of the relationships were going to end up. I have left myself the freedom to change the way that I go from one point to another, depending on what seems best at the moment. You might say it's like sketching in the larger out line of the story and leaving the details to be variable.

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  • 19

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Gautam Mukunda from Harvard University

    Mr. Jordan—I'm a dedicated fan of your series who's bought all of the books in hardback, and first I'd like to thank you for bringing such a wonderful world to life for us. It seems to me that your work is something relatively new in fantasy—you're exploring a situation where there is no known quest or goal to be fulfilled in order for victory to be assured. Instead it seems more like the real world—uncertain, with the heroes fighting a war without knowledge of the 'victory conditions'. Would you care to comment?

    Robert Jordan

    I wanted to write a fantasy that reflected the real world. With characters who reflected real people—not specific people—but characters who were real people. And there are things about the real world that I wanted such as people who end up heroes very rarely set out to be heroes and heroic journeys consist mainly of sleeping rough and going hungry, wondering how you are going to pay for the next meal and wonder exactly what it is you are supposed to do and how are you going to get out of it alive.

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  • 20

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Waldenbooks

    The Path of Daggers is book 8 in the Wheel of Time series. Do you know how many more books there will be? Has that number changed in since you started writing Wheel of Time? Do you have plans for a new or different type of series?

    Robert Jordan

    I believe—believe!—there will be three more books. I am trying to finish up as soon as possible, but I cannot see how to do it in fewer than three books. That isn't a guarantee, mind! In the beginning, I thought that there would be three or perhaps four books total, but it might go to five, or even six, though I really didn't believe it would take that long. It wasn't a matter of the story growing or expanding, but rather that I miscalculated—brother, did I!—how long it would take to get from the beginning to the end. I've known the last scene of the last book literally from the beginning. That was the first scene that occurred to me. Had I written it out 10 years ago, and then did so again today, the wording might be different, but not what happens. It has just taken me longer to get there than I thought.

    I do have another series perking around in the back of my head already. Books generally have a long gestation period with me, so this is not at all too early. There isn't a word on paper, yet, of course. It will be different cultures, different rules, a different cosmology. Nobody likes to redo what he's already done.

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  • 21

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    John Meyer from Plano, TX

    Mr. Jordan, I first wanted to say thank you for such a great series. My question is how long has this story and or series been running around in your head, and do you feel you have the ending picked out?

    Robert Jordan

    I started thinking about what would turn into the Wheel of Time more than 15 years ago, and the first thing that I thought of that was really solid was the last scene of the last book. I could have written that 15 years ago, and if I had, it would differ from what I would write today only in the words. What happens would be exactly the same. So, I've known where I'm going from the start.

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  • 22

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    Matt from Chicago

    Mr. Jordan, how did you go about coming up with the story line of Wheel of Time? Did you think about it over several years or did you have a set time frame in which you had to develop it? Any advice for someone trying to write fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    My advice to someone trying to write fantasy is, go see a psychiatrist. As far as how I developed it, I certainly didn't have a deadline set. Many years ago, more than 15, not as many as 20, certain ideas started poking around in my head, rubbing against one another, and this slowly became what is the Wheel of Time. I really don't know that I could explain it any better than that. At least not if I don't go on for hours. For that matter, if I go on for hours, I'm not sure I can explain it any better than that.

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  • 23

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Sense of Wonder

    The Path of Daggers is Book Eight in the Wheel of Time series. Can you tell us how much is still to come, and if you know yet how the series will end?

    Robert Jordan

    I've known the last scene of the last book from the beginning. That was the first scene that came to me. Had I written it ten years ago, and then again today, the wording might be different, but not what happens. It has just taken me longer to get there than I thought. At the onset, I thought that there would be three or perhaps four books all together, but it might go five, or even six, though I really didn't believe that it would take that long. It wasn't a matter of the story growing or expanding, but rather that I miscalculated—Brother, did I!—how long it would take to get from the beginning to the end. I am trying to finish up as soon as possible, but I cannot see how to do it in fewer than three more books. That isn't a guarantee, mind!

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  • 24

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    Jimbo3

    How did you get the idea for the the Wheel of Time series?

    Robert Jordan

    Well...the first thing I thought of was what would it REALLY be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you had been born to save mankind. And somehow or other I suspect it wouldn't be very much like anyone had said it was so far...and about the same time, I was wondering about the sources of myth. And why there are so many myths and legends that show striking similarities when they're paired with cultural references. Those two things are as clear to a starting point as I can show you. And they bounced around in the back of my head along with 40 odd years of reading everything I can get my hands on. History, Biography, Myth, Legend, Comparative Religion, Social Anthro, whatever I found. And out eventually came the Wheel of Time...but not until a number of years thinking about it.

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  • 25

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    Jimbo3

    Did you create Rand, Matt, and Perrin one at a time or all together?

    Robert Jordan

    One at a time...in fact, when I first started thinking of what would turn into The Wheel of Time, Rand and his foster father were one character. Not a 50-ish man and his teenage foster son. But a man in his 30's who had run away from a quiet country village seeking adventure, had become a soldier, and now after 20 years of that, world weary and tired. Who has come home to his pastoral village seeking peace and quiet, only to find that the world and prophecy are hard on his heels. You can see that that's a much different character that what I ended up with when I started writing. I may actually use him someday.

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  • 26

    Interview: Nov 14th, 1998

    Matthew Hunter

    Where did ideas come from?

    Robert Jordan

    What if you were tapped on the shoulder and told you had to save the world?

    What are the sources of myths? "Reverse-engineered" legends.

    The game of "telephone". (He calls it "whisper").

    Proud of the little things that slip up on you, like Callandor being "the Sword in the Stone."

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  • 27

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    I've known the last scene of the last 'Wheel' book since before I started writing the first book, and that's unchanged. I thought 'The Wheel of Time' was going to be five or six books. I didn't think they'd be this long. I was doing this like a historical novel, but I had more things to explain, things not readily apparent. In a normal historical novel, you can simply let some things go by because the reader of historical fiction knows these, or has the concept of them. But this is not the medieval period, not a fantasy with knights in shining armor. If you want to imagine what the period is, imagine it as the late 17th century without gunpowder. I had to do more explaining about cultural details, and that meant things got bigger than I had intended.

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  • 28

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    Where did the idea of the Wheel of Time come from?

    If you mean simply the concept of time as a wheel, that comes from the Hindu religion, though many cultures have or had a cyclical view of the nature of time. If you mean the books, then the idea came from many things. From wondering what it really would be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told, "You were born to save mankind. And, by the way, you’re supposed to die in the end, it seems." I wondered what a world might be like where the feminist movement was never necessary simply because no one is surprised to see a woman as a judge or ruler, a wagon driver or a dock hand. There’s still some surprise at a woman as a soldier—a matter of upper body strength, and weapons that need upper body strength—but by and large, the question of a woman not being able to do a job just doesn’t arise. I wondered what it wold be like if the "wise outsider" arrived in a village and said, "You must follow me on a great quest," and the people there reacted the way people really react when a stranger shows up and offers to sell them beachfront property at incredibly low prices. I wondered about the source of legends, about how events are distorted by distance—either spatial or temporal—about how any real events that might have led to legends would probably be completely unrecognizable to us. This is getting entirely too involved, so let’s just say that the books grew out of forty-odd years of reading everything I could get my hands on in any and every subject that caught my interest.

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  • 29

    Interview: Oct, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit Books

    Was there a single idea that inspired the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    Not a single idea, but many, large and small, which coalesced. I wondered what it would really be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you had been born to carry out a great mission, that this was your inevitable destiny no matter what you yourself wished. I was thinking about the source of legends, about how come must be real events distorted by the passage of time, and also about how similar many legends are between different and often distant cultures. There were many other things involved in this, but eventually they began to come together in my mind, and I saw the possibility of the story.

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  • 30

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Liandra from The Netherlands

    I understand there would be a person in The Eye of the World, but that he was cut out or something. Who was he?

    Robert Jordan

    One of the characters who I have brought in later was a fellow named Daniell in The Eye of the World, and I brought him out because I realized he didn't have anything to do there. I reintroduced him later. At that point, he was simply taking up space.

    Footnote

    There was a detailed conversation with Brandon on this subject during his re-read of 2011.

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  • 31

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    J. Hurt from Chicago

    First off, I absolutely love the WOT series! What I wanted to know was when you originally started writing this series what type of research, if any, did you do to create the world and storyline you have created?

    Robert Jordan

    I started writing The Eye of the World in about 1985, I guess it was. '85 or '86. It took me four years, and I had been thinking about the things that would lead into the world of the Wheel of Time about ten years before I started writing ANYTHING.

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  • 32

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Ethan Hayes from Colorado Springs, CO

    First off, I would like to compliment you on having such a wonderful series. I have one question for you, however, about being a writer. How is it that you made yourself transition from planning the series and what was going to happen in the series and building the history, etc.; into the actual creation of the first novel? How did you know when to stop planning and to start writing?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, in this particular instance, I simply reached a point where I thought I was ready to start, and in some ways I turned out to be wrong! That's why it took four years to write The Eye of the World, I realized that there were a number of things I had to work out very far in advance from what I believed.

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  • 33

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Meg Young from Florida

    In a previous question you stated that it took you so long to write The Eye of the World because you realized a number of things you hadn't yet researched. What sort of things were these, and how did you survive the more tedious aspects of world-building (i.e., lists of government official names, lists of cities and their major imports and exports, etc.)?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, the tedious bits were quite easy, and it wasn't so much a matter of research I hadn't done as things that needed to be worked out—which I thought could wait until later because they were not going to come into the books until later. But I realized once I began writing that I had to realize how those things worked and fit together NOW, because that would affect how things happened in that first book.

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  • 34

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Alystrial

    Mr. Jordan, I know that this series has been your life's work, and great work it is. What I would like to know is how old were you when your had you first "insight" to or for the series, and what inspired you to write the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    I guess I began thinking about what would become the series in my 20s and that was a long time ago. I spent ten years juggling things in my head before I even tried writing it down.

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  • 35

    Interview: Dec, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit

    What started you down the road that led to writing The Eye of the World?

    Robert Jordan

    A number of idle speculations that percolated around in the back of my head. I thought about what it really would be like—really—to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you had been born to save humanity. Even if the danger was real and imminent and everyone knew that someone was...scheduled, you might say...to show up and take care of matters, how would they react when that someone stood up and said here I am? I was thinking about the distortion of information over distance, whether distance in space or in time, and how that applied to both history and legends. The further you are from an event, the less likely you are to know what really happened. I was thinking about what the world would be like if there had never been any need for a struggle for women's rights, or if that struggle had taken place so long ago that it just wasn't relevant any longer. No one thinks it's odd to see women as high ranking politicians, or working on the docks. No one ever thinks that something is or isn't a suitable job for a woman. There were fifty or more lines of thought, and suddenly I saw, in rough form, what turned out to be the final scene of the last book of the Wheel. When I realized that that was what it was, a conclusion, all I had to do was figure out where to start from and how to get from A to Z.

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  • 36

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    El-Loko

    Did you have the entire storyline, bar a few details, before you even started writing Book One?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. There were a good many details I didn't have, but the story line, the major events; those were all in my head. I could have written the last scene of the last book more than 15 years ago. And what happens in that scene would not be any different from what I intend to happen now.

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  • 37

    Interview: Jan, 2001

    SFBC

    I've read your Conan books. I've read The Wheel of Time series, all of it to date. I'm almost finished with your last one, Winter's Heart. How do you do it? How did you come up with such a huge project?

    Robert Jordan

    I had a lot of different ideas perking in the back of my head about the distortion of information. Whether you are distant from an event in time or in space, it doesn't matter. The further you are from the event, the less likely you are to know it actually happened.

    At the same time, I was thinking about the source of legends, that some of them must be connected to actual events, actual people, but of course, would be distorted in that way by being passed orally for generations perhaps, before they were written down. Perhaps for hundreds of years.

    I was thinking about what it would really be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told you were born to be the salvation of mankind, and oh, by the way, you'll probably have to die in the end...There's no rule book, kid, and you can't get out of the game. You've been drafted so get in there and win one for the Gipper.

    And there were a lot of things perking around. The only odd point is, I guess, is that really at the same time, I thought of what had come to be the last scene of the last book and it seemed to me that it was very interesting, and I wanted to figure out how I could get to that last scene. After a number of years of poking this around in my head, I had a rough outline of The Wheel of Time.

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  • 38

    Interview: Jan, 2001

    SFBC

    Considering some of the cultures that you've come up with in your books, like the Seanchan, or the Aiel, even the building up of their history, are there any real world equivalents to them?

    Robert Jordan

    Not one-to-one. Not for any given cultures. Well, the Aiel for instance, there are bits of Berber and Bedouin cultures. Zulu. Some things from the Japanese historical cultures. From the Apache Indians. Also from the Cheyenne. I put these things together and added in some things that I also wanted to be true about the culture beyond these real cultures.

    Then I began to figure out if these things were true, what else had to be true and what things could not be true. That can be very simple. If you have a culture living in a land where water is scarce, well, obviously they value water. It's necessary for human survival. On the other hand, if they live in the middle of a waterless waste, dealing with crossing rivers or lakes is going to be difficult for them. They don't know how.

    SFBC

    It makes perfect sense.

    ROBERT JORDAN

    Those are two very simple and obvious points, but you put together a lot of things like that and you begin to get an image of what the culture is like.

    SFBC

    Even the way you have these characters talking about people who live with a lot of water, calling them "wetlanders" and so forth is very interesting. The concept of the "World of Dreams," Tel'aran'rhiod—when did you dream that up?

    ROBERT JORDAN

    I'm not sure of when that exactly came to me. I'm not certain if I could point to a source, because I cannot remember anything of that sort. It's quite possible that I read about something, some myth or legend somewhere that included this, but by the time I began writing, I had the concept of Tel'aran'rhiod quite solidified, you might say.

    SFBC

    And the concept of the Source and the True Source, the male half, the female half—when did you come up with that?

    ROBERT JORDAN

    Again, I can't point ... I thought about what I was going to write for quite a long time. The first thoughts that would turn into The Wheel of Time, I had perhaps ten years before I began writing. And after the ten years, I realized I had a story.

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  • 39

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Robert Jordan

    He also talked about how the early stages of the story evolved, about Rand starting out as Tam, coming back to Emond's Field (although it wasn't Emond's Field yet back then) after 20 years, realizing he'd outgrown it. And then prophecy tapping him on shoulder with the message that he was fated to save the world, and oh yeah, he'd die in the process. He went for Rand instead, because he wanted an innocent character, a character who could realize how little he knew, and thus could grow a lot more.

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  • 40

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Rand

    Who was the first character you came up with when you were going to write the Wheel of Time—was it Rand?

    Robert Jordan

    I can' t really say who the first character was that I came up with. I was thinking of a number of types of people and how they would work together. And they coalesced into certain characters.

    Munda

    And all the rest of the story developed while you wrote it? Wow. Amazing, and what an imagination! Hmm, I think I'm jealous.

    Robert Jordan

    It was really only the details that have developed as I write the story. The major part of it was there in my head before I began writing The Eye of the World.

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  • 41

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Medin-Sedai

    Maybe this is a stupid question, too: but you told us that when you had your first thoughts about Wheel of Time, Tam and Rand al'Thor were the same person. Now I have a question about Nynaeve. When you first thought about her, was she the same person as she is now? (Did you already think about her tugging her braid???) P.S.: You won't answer this one I think: but was it Demandred who killed Asmodean?

    Robert Jordan

    Nynaeve in the beginning was actually going to be the love interest for Rand/Tam, but she was the same kind of woman—quickly temperamental and not suffering fools gladly.

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  • 42

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    wooga

    How come the first character you came up with isn't a 30-year-old Rand any more? When did this change?

    Robert Jordan

    The first character I came up was not a 30-year-old Rand, it was that the first version of Rand was a 30-year-old man. I changed that because I wanted the character of Rand to find everything beyond his village to be strange and new.

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  • 43

    Interview: Apr 8th, 2001

    Question

    Talking about why the Tam/Rand main character became just Rand.

    Robert Jordan

    [He decided that he wanted to have the character] ...see this world for the first time, so that at the same time as the reader is seeing something for the first time, so are these people from this small town.

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  • 44

    Interview: Jan 21st, 2003

    SFRevu Interview (Verbatim)

    Ernest Lilley

    You've said a number of times that you had envisioned the final scene in The Wheel of Time saga even before you started.

    Robert Jordan

    The scene was part of what made me realize the book. I had thought of how to open it, and then how to end the story. So from there it was a matter of figuring out how the people in the first scene become the people in the last scene, because they are quite different.

    Ernest Lilley

    It seems like a tremendous job to keep herding the characters towards that scene. Some people's characters have a mind of their own.

    Robert Jordan

    My characters do what I want. When it comes to my writing I'm an Old Testament God with my fist in the middle of my characters' lives. They do what I want them to do. The difficulty has been that the story turned out to be larger than I thought it was, quite simply. I thought I could put x amount of the story in the first book and I couldn't. Then when I started The Eye of the World I thought I'd be able to put more of the story in it...and I couldn't. It simple was a matter of size. These are fairly large books, seven hundred pages in hardback. It would simply make the books too large for anyone to carry without a shoulder strap.

    Ernest Lilley

    So it's not that the plot weaves in other directions than you expected, but that it's richer than you realized.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, exactly.

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  • 45

    Interview: Jan 21st, 2003

    SFRevu Interview (Verbatim)

    Ernest Lilley

    I understand that there is another story universe you have in mind after you finish the Wheel of Time.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, something very different from the Wheel of Time. A different universe and different culture and no connection to this world or universe, but it is a fantasy. I have the great story arc in mind, and I've been noodling it around in the back of my head for the last seven or eight years.

    Ernest Lilley

    But you're not giving anything away.

    Robert Jordan

    No, but let me give you an example of why. When I first thought I might have what would become the Wheel of Time ready, the character of Rand, who is about 19 years old, and his father Tam, were one character. A man who had run away from home as a boy of thirteen or fourteen, and in that sort of world that you can get if you've grown up on a farm. He began to work with horses among soldiers and then he became a soldier, and having spent twenty years of his life as a soldier, he's tired, and decides he wants to go home.

    So a man in his middle thirties returns home to his village, and discovers that the place he returns to is not the place he left, and that he is not the young man who ran away, and on top of that the world and phrophecy were hard on his heels. It would have been a very different story than the one I wound up writing. I decided that I wanted to split them because I wanted the major characters to be Candides. I wanted them to look at fresh eyes...I wanted everything to be new.

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  • 46

    Interview: Jul 22nd, 2004

    Jason Denzel

    Another question was about why he chose, out of all of his ideas, to write the story of the savior of a world.

    Robert Jordan

    While he didn't go into great depth as to why he chose it, he did discuss how the story originally formed. Some of you reading may probably know that originally Rand and Tam were basically the same character. This character came home to Emond's Field (which was not yet then called Emond's Field) after having fought in many wars. He was not the prophesied savior, but the guy who was—wasn't up for the job and was unable to do it. RJ said that he still would like to maybe tell that story someday (presumably in another world, not his WoT world), and said he may write it some day.

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  • 47

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    Question

    When asked about how he came up with the magic system for WoT, RJ said it began in kind of a strange way.

    Robert Jordan

    He had read a book a long time ago, he didn't provide a title or author, where the women of that world were not allowed to use the magic. RJ said that started him thinking about a world where it was the men, not the women, that were forbidden magic. Then he needed a real reason for denying men the use of magic, and that the Source, its division into male and female halves, and the taint on the male half all grew from that original line of speculation. As he was designing the concept, he tried to devise it as a science and engineering concept with the use of the different elements in weaving and such.

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  • 48

    Interview: Sep 3rd, 2005

    Question

    When you first starting thinking about the series and thinking about writing it: when you were naming things, and places and people, did you have any sort of process or did you say, hey that sounds cool?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I don't know, it is a combination of things. I gave this recently, so it is probably already on the net. How did I come up with the division of the One Power, the male and female half? I had seen a novel, there are a lot now, but this was the first I had seen like this. Young woman wants to be whatever it was, a magician, whatever, but she can't because she is a woman, and women aren't allowed to do that so she is going to struggle through it.

    I thought it was interesting, one of the earlier novels of the feminist struggle, and all that. I put it back, because it didn't seem something I cared to read, but I thought about it because the thought that occurred to me is okay, that's real easy, women aren't allowed to do this, it is historically based or grounded at least, what if it was men who couldn't, now how would that be, as my wife points out to me, we have the upper body strength, and she is convinced all of the inequities in the world vis a vis gender, are subject to the fact that we have all the upper body strength, and I am sorry about that baby, I ain't giving it up. So, how could there be a situation where men were not allowed to do this, and it does not somehow get itself reversed over time, add into this I wanted a near gender equal world as I could, and how could I have a situation where women could maintain gender equality?

    Okay, now I split men and women, have different sources of power and the male source of power is tainted. Okay, you've gotta stop men and at the same time, out of this beginning came the division of the One Power, the White Tower existing as the political center of power for three thousand years, false dragon, the destruction of the world by men, false dragons arising periodically to remind humanity exactly why men can't be allowed to channel and why the White Tower must remain the center of political power. A lot of stuff came out of that one notion.

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  • 49

    Interview: Sep 2nd, 2005

    Question

    Someone else asked a question about the development of characters. Something about that Mat is his favorite character and that he has forgiven RJ for leaving out Mat for a whole book. (laughter of all the people) And then about how characters grow in RJ's perception/imagination as the series progressed.

    Robert Jordan

    Not so much growing in my perception. I had a thought about how I wanted those people to grow. The first vision that came to me was the ending of the last book. The next things that came to me was Emond's Field. And I realized the book was going to take these people to turn them into those people you see in the last scene in the last book. So I knew how I was going to change them. Not all the mechanism of the changes but I knew how I was going to change them.

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  • 50

    Interview: 2005

    Evo Terra

    When you have an idea for those first five novels—and obviously you didn't have five novels totally storyboarded out; I would imagine you did not...

    Robert Jordan

    No. I had the major events. I had the opening events in the Two Rivers, I had the final scene, I've had the way things were going to wrap up, and I had major events in between those two. And I thought I could tell that story—get from one event to another—and change these people in the way they needed to be changed so that the people in those first scenes would become the people in the last scenes. I thought I could do that all in five or six books, but even with The Eye of the World, I had certain things I wanted to do in that book, and I realized before I reached the end, I could not do them all. And that was the book took four years to write; it was the longest of them all, because I realized as I was writing it that I had more to work out than I had thought in the beginning.

    Evo Terra

    When you were exploring these new things that needed to be worked out—obviously you focus much on character development and tell the story of the people there—but were there also events that kind of cropped up which kind of seemed like a good place to take the story, and that's also caused some of the diversion?

    Robert Jordan

    No. I've stuck pretty much to the events that I had listed, although in some cases I've done away with some because I realized there was a better way to do what I wanted to do, to effect the change in the character. There was a more economical way to do it, and something that perhaps made more sense in terms of the story, the way it was going.

    Michael R. Mennenga

    Now, since you have basically...you had a beginning and you knew where the end was, and you said you had these points in here. Don't you feel as though maybe you may have locked yourself into a path that you could have explored different directions or different paths? Do you have any regrets to locking yourself into that and not giving yourself the freedom to go where the story takes you?

    Robert Jordan

    No. No, because I knew where I wanted the story to take me. If you're a writer, you do that; you control it. I like to say I am an Old Testament God with my fist in the middle of my characters' lives. If you just sit down and start writing and see where it takes you...well, God knows if it's ever going to take you to a story that's worth anything.

    Michael R. Mennenga

    You like to know where the end is before you get started, huh?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, I do.

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  • 51

    Interview: Oct 4th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Gillmadin, I actually had comparatively few notes when I sold the books to Tor. They built up considerably over the writing of The Eye of the World, and still more later. To give an example, for Eye, I had considerable notes about the Aes Sedai, about Andor, the Two Rivers, Shienar, the Ways and the history of the world, but my notes on, say Cairhien, were much sketchier. When I needed to write about Cairhien, though, I fleshed those notes out. I didn't begin writing the Wheel of Time until after I was finished with writing the Conan novels, but some of the ideas that would become tWoT were kicking around in my head before I began The Fallon Blood.

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  • 52

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

    The Wheel of Time series is a huge achievement, running somewhere in the vicinity of eight thousand pages. What were your thoughts when you began this epic?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I thought, 'I'm starting something rather large here, and I hope it works.' It was not, when I began, as large as it is now—that is, I didn't think it was going to be as many pages. I believed, at the start, that I could tell this story perhaps five volumes, maybe six...but I thought five. And I had worked very hard to talk my publisher into letting me do that. He was willing to accept it, but five volumes...that's unusual; you don't do that. It was a single volume, or a trilogy, was the acceptable thing. And I was also afraid that once I got into it that the earlier books would go out of print, because that happens. Hardcover goes out of print normally when the paperback comes out, and then after a few years the paperback goes out of print, and since I knew I was writing something that you had to start reading at the beginning—you must start this with The Eye of the World; you cannot begin with the new book, with this latest book—I was afraid in the beginning that The Eye of the World would be out of print by the time the last book came out. But I managed to luck out. The Eye of the World has been in print continuously in hardcover for thirteen years now.

    Rick Kleffel

    That in itself is certainly a huge achievement!

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  • 53

    Interview: Mar, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    Before I start a book I always sit down and try to think how much of the story I can put into it. The outline is in my head until I sit down and start doing what I call a ramble, which is figuring how to put in the bits and pieces. In the beginning, I thought The Wheel of Time was six books and I'd be finished in six years. I actually write quite fast. The first Conan novel I did took 24 days. (I wrote seven Conan books—for my sins—but they paid the bills for a number of years.) For my Western, I was under severe time constraints in the contract so it was 98,000 words in 21 days—a killer of a schedule, especially since I was not working on a computer then, just using an IBM Correcting Selectric!

    I started The Wheel of Time knowing how it began and how it all ended. I could have written the last scene of the last book 20 years ago—the wording would be different, but what happened would be the same. When I was asked to describe the series in six words, I said, 'Cultures clash, worlds change—cope. I know it's only five, but I hate to be wordy.' What I intended to do was a reverse-engineered mythology to change the characters in the first set of scenes into the characters in the last set of scenes, a bunch of innocent country folk changed into people who are not innocent at all. I wanted these boys to be Candides as much as possible, to be full of 'Golly, gee whiz!' at everything they saw once they got out of their home village. Later they could never go back as the same person to the same place they'd known.

    But I'd sit down and figure I could get so much into a story, then begin writing and realize halfway in that I wasn't even halfway through the ramble. I'd have to see how I could rework things and put off some of the story until later. It took me four years to write The Eye of the World, and I still couldn't get as much of the story into it as I wanted; same with The Great Hunt. I finally reached a point where I won't have to do that. For Knife of Dreams I thought, "I've got to get all of that into one book: it's the penultimate volume!" And I did. Well, with one exception, but that's OK. That one exception would probably have added 300 pages to the book but I see how to put it in the last volume in fewer.

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  • 54

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    Whats it like to write a protagonist who frankly is going batty? How do you balance likeability with fading competence?

    Robert Jordan

    I just try to do it in the book the way I do it in real life.

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  • 55

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    How long did it take you to come up with the world for the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    About ten to twelve years.

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  • 56

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    What was your inspiration for this series? Anything specific?

    Robert Jordan

    For First Cause: I suppose the question of what it would really be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you were born to be the savior of mankind. Beyond that, two or three hundred things.

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  • 57

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    When did you first develop the idea for Wheel of Time? How long had you been working on it before it was accepted by a publisher?

    Robert Jordan

    The very first notion came to me nearly twenty years ago; I spent ten or twelve years mulling it over, told my then-publisher about it, and he offered me a contract.

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  • 58

    Interview: 1997

    Laura Wilson

    Hi, This is Laura Wilson of Audio Renaissance, and I'm speaking with Robert Jordan. How did you decide to start writing the Wheel of Time series?

    Robert Jordan

    I began writing the Wheel of Time because a great many notions had been bouncing around inside my head and they started to coalesce. I wondered what it was really like to be tapped on the shoulder and told you were born to be the savior of mankind. I didn't think it would be very much the way it is in so many books where someone pops up and says, "Hi, I was born to be the savior of mankind, and here's the prophecy," and everybody says, "Oh well, let's go then." I thought self interest would play a big part.

    And, I was also wondering about the source of legends and myths. They can't all be anthropomorphizations of natural events. Some of them have to be distortions of things that actually happened, distortions by being passed down over generations. And that led into the distortion of information over distance, whether that's temporal distance or spatial distance. The further you are in time or space from the actual event, the less likely you are to know what really happened.

    And then finally there was the thought about something that happens in Tolkien and a lot of other places. The wise old wizard shows up in a country village and says, "You must follow me to save the world." And the villagers say, "Right then, guv, off we go!" Well, I did a lot of growing up in the country, and I've always thought that what those country folk would say is, "Oh, is that so? Look here, have another beer. Have two, on me. I'll be right back. I will, really." And then slip out the back door.

    There were a lot of things that came together, and even once I started, of course, a lot of things built in, and added in, and changed.

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  • 59

    Interview: 2001

    Thus Spake the Creator (Paraphrased)

    Question (How did the series originate?)

    To the books then. The Wheel of Time is a fantasy series epic in size and scale. How did it all begin—and what was your inspiration for it?

    Robert Jordan

    It's really hard to say. There's all sorts of things that come about before you start writing a series. You don't have "an idea" that becomes a short story, or a book. A short story is maybe hundreds of ideas that have come together, a novel is thousands of ideas that have come together. But The Wheel of Time—I was thinking at one point about what it'd really be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told "You were born to be the savior of mankind. And oh yes—you're probably going to die in the end and no, you can't resign—it's your job, you're stuck with it".

    Then I had been thinking about the source of myths, the source of legends. About whether some of them might not have been personifications of natural events, the way we say some of them are supposed to be. What if some of them were things that people had done, and had simply been told and told until it became a myth and legend?

    At the same time, I was thinking about the degradation of information over distance. The further you are from an event in either space or time, the less reliable your knowledge of the event. Information inevitably degrades over distance, whether it's spatial or temporal.

    I was thinking about lots of other things too, and it began to coalesce. It was the beginnings of what would become the Wheel of Time. I let it mull over for four or five years, then I thought I was ready to sit down and write. But it took four years to write The Eye of the World because I discovered there were a lot of other things I had to think and sort out.

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  • 60

    Interview: 2001

    Thus Spake the Creator (Paraphrased)

    Signing Report (How did the series originate?)

    Robert Jordan

    Rand and Tam al’Thor originally started out as one character.

    He is a man in his 30s from Emond’s Field in the present.

    (Earlier, when his story ‘starts’) There isn’t much for a kid from a small village out wherever to do that does not involve backbreaking work. At about 15, he runs away to become a soldier (yes, a field that does involve backbreaking labor). After 20 years or so as a soldier, Rand/Tam wants to go home, but when he does, he realizes he’s no longer the boy that left that little village. “And prophecy is on his heels”. Maybe something of the sort will be done in a future series.

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  • 61

    Interview: 2001

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    How long did it take you to formulate the Wheel of Time series before you started the first book? Had you had this ruminating in your mind?

    Robert Jordan

    Extending back to the first clear thought I had that I can say led into the Wheel of Time was maybe 10 years before I began writing. I'm not saying I knew 10 years before I began writing what it was going to be, or that I was actually on to something that would become the Wheel of Time.

    I thought I had a story set in my head, a set of stories, fixed. And when I began writing the Wheel of Time—The Eye of the World in particular—I realized I didn't have as much of it as clear as I thought I did. There were things that I needed to work on. So The Eye of the World took me four years to write. I guess you could say, in a way, it was about 14 years of development to get the thing set.

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    Did you ever think it was going to turn into this epic series?

    Robert Jordan

    No. The story is the same story that I set out to tell. I knew before I began writing what the story was. There were details of how it worked that I didn't have fixed that I thought I knew and suddenly realized I didn't. But, I knew the beginning and the end and the things that I wanted to happen in the middle. I literally could have written the last scene of the last book before I began writing The Eye of the World. The problem has been over-optimism.

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    In what way?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, when I went to the publisher with this at Tor Books and I said, "Look, this isn't a trilogy that I'm talking about. It's going to be four or maybe five books." I said. "It could be six. I don't think so, but it could be." And I really believed that. But the over-optimism has been, "How much of the story can I get into one book?"

    With every book I start out thinking I can get more of the story into this book than I actually turn out to be able to. I suddenly realize that I have to stop here or I'm going to have to write another thousand pages to really make it fit together. Or I realize that I'm going to have to take some things and do them later or I'm going to write a 2,000-page hardback, which they really would have to sell to people with a shoulder strap.

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  • 62

    Interview: Aug 31st, 1999

    Robert Jordan

    His own reading list includes Jane Austen and Louis D. L'Amour. "I think I write with a southern voice as we reckon things in America." Underneath the fantasy adventures, Jordan says his writing is about "the struggle between men and women ... not for control, the struggle to understand the rules of the game ... the interactions between men and women. We're all still playing it by ear (and) you're never really sure you've got it right. I've managed to hold on to my wife (Harriet) for 20 years, and she's pretty special, so I must be getting something right."

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  • 63

    Interview: Aug, 1996

    Hailing Frequency

    The last time Hailing Frequency had the privilege of interviewing Robert Jordan, he had just released the fourth volume of his vast fantasy tale, "The Wheel of Time." At the time, we asked him to give a brief summary of the story thus far. He laughed—it had already grown so complex that no easy summary was possible. Now with the release of A Crown of Swords, "The Wheel of Time" has grown to seven volumes. Since each new volume has leaped to the top of the Waldenbooks bestseller lists almost on the day of its release, it would appear that a remarkable number of readers are already familiar with the story to date. So rather than ask the impossible once again, we decided to ask Jordan about the project as a whole—its origins and its overall shape, as the author sees it from somewhere in mid-course.

    Robert Jordan

    "The Wheel of Time" is in effect a recreation of the source of legends. I gathered together a lot of legends, fairy tales, and folk tales from around the world and stripped away the cultural references, so that just the bare story was left. The I reverse-engineered them.

    You might recall a game: I've heard it called "Whispers," I've heard it called "Telephone"—a child's game. If you remember, the last child in the row stood up and said aloud, and what actually happened is what's on the piece of paper. So I've reverse-engineered to try and get back to something like what the piece of paper says. King Arthur is there, but most people don't recognize him right off. And there are a lot of other myths and legends too, although King Arthur is the most easily recognizable. As a matter of fact, I was shocked that some people didn't realize that Arthur was in the books until they read the third volume.

    The story begins with The Eye of the World. That's the first book. And it begins in a very pastoral setting, with people who are very...well, innocent is the word. They are rural, they are themselves pastoral. And I tried to make the beginning almost Tolkienesque, as a homage, and as a way of saying, "This is the foundation that we're all jumping off from." But it begins to change, because I'm not trying to do a Tolkien pastiche in any way. And as we leave that pastoral setting, things begin to change. You begin to move away from the style of Tolkien. The characters begin to learn more about the world. They become more sophisticated, in the sense of having more knowledge, and thus they see the world in a more sophisticated way. They're not as innocent, as time goes on, as the books go on, as they were in the beginning. And so the tone of the books changes slightly with their worldview.

    As to where the books are going—I know that exactly. I've known it from the beginning. I've known from the beginning what the last scene of the last book was going to be. I know how I intend to tie up the major threads. I know who's going to be alive, who's going to be dead, who's going to be married to whom, all these things. I know the details. I could have sat down six or seven years ago, and written the final scene of the books. And there wouldn't be a great deal of difference in what I'd write when I actually do reach that point.

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  • 64

    Interview: Dec 7th, 2012

    Harriet McDougal

    I've edited every single one of his books except for his Cheyenne Raiders. An agent said to me once, "What if he gave you a real piece of [crap]?" And I said, "But he never would!" Tom Doherty called me; he had gotten the rights to do a Conan the Barbarian novel. And I said, "Well, Jim could do it." And he liked doing it so much, he ended up writing seven of them.

    Tom Doherty

    He was using a new name. As you know, Jim used pen names.

    Narrator

    Over the next decade, Rigney wrote under many pen names: Jackson O'Reilly, Reagan O'Neal, and of course, Robert Jordan.

    Harriet McDougal

    J.O.R.—That was his initials, and I guess the rest just grew because, the way his mind worked, he'd be working on current stuff, but on the back burner, things were cooking away.

    Tom Doherty

    Jim said that he had just dreamed to write a big fantasy.

    Harriet McDougal

    He said his first thought was just, how would it be to be told that you are going to be the savior of the world, but you're going to go mad and kill everyone you love in the process?

    Tom Doherty

    We bought the book in the mid-80s.

    Harriet McDougal

    It was four years of actual work, with words on paper, before he finished The Eye of the World.

    Tom Doherty

    God, I fell in love with it. I read it, you know, and I said, you know, boy, this is big. This is the first thing I thought could sell like Tolkien.

    Harriet McDougal

    The New York Times called Robert Jordan the American heir to Tolkien.

    Tom Doherty

    Pretty strong statement for the times.

    Jason Denzel

    In a matter of three books, Robert Jordan had developed an international following.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Robert Jordan was a genius. He kept so much in his head. He had so much depth and wealth of worldbuilding for this series, it's mind-boggling. We've got somewhere around three million plus words of text. The notes are just as big.

    Tom Doherty

    There are very few things to which people had been willing to give this enormous commitment.

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  • 65

    Interview: Jan 4th, 2013

    Petra Mayer

    Describe for me sort of the beginning of the series. What was the spark? What made your husband think, "This is the story that I want to tell"?

    Harriet McDougal

    Well, he said to himself, "What would it be like to be told that you have to save the world, but in the saving you will murder everyone you love? What would that feel like?" That was the spark that started him.

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