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Your search for the tag 'influences' yielded 533 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.

    Tags

  • 2

    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.

    Tags

  • 3

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    He has no particular real world inspiration for the One Power, at least not that he knows of. He admits that he's read a lot of stuff and at times forgets a source here and there.

    Tags

  • 4

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    While he likes Chalker's and Varley's works, he does not intend to emulate them.

    John Novak

    "Not at all like Balthamel becoming Aran'gar?" I quipped.

    Robert Jordan

    He retorted to the effect that was one character, not a whole host of characters.

    Tags

  • 5

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    He seems to have a half a dozen answers for the question, "Where do you get your ideas?" The one that tickled me was that he sends off to a mail order company from Trenton, New Jersey (I think) for some large amount of money, at three ideas per page.

    John Novak

    I looked askance and remarked that Ellison gave the same answer, except his ideas came from a warehouse in Peoria (which I'm sure I've read somewhere. Think it was Ellison.)

    Robert Jordan

    He shot back, "Yeah, but did you notice that mine are more expensive?"

    Tags

  • 6

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Batlar

    I have noticed some similarities to The Lord of the Rings. Was Tolkien an inspiration for for you?

    Robert Jordan

    I suppose to the degree that he inspires any fantasy writer in the English language, certainly.

    Tags

  • 7

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    J Cool ET

    You seem to have a great grasp of history; what is your background? Do you know how the Wheel will finally turn, yet?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I've been reading history as a hobby since I was five or six, and yes, I do know how it will turn, and how it will end.

    Tags

  • 8

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    MonaS

    I enjoy the many nations and peoples in The Wheel of Time and how richly their societies are detailed! What was your inspiration for the Ogier?

    Robert Jordan

    It's really impossible to say here. The Ogier came from a dozen different sources, at least.

    Tags

  • 9

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Paendrag

    Could you discuss your imagery as it relates to book of Revelation—and other sources/language use?

    Robert Jordan

    Sorry, not in under four or five hours.

    Tags

  • 10

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    How does your knowledge of physics influence your idea of channeling and the Talents involved in the books, such as Traveling, Skimming, etc? Do you have other hobbies or talents that influence your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    My knowledge of physics influenced channeling to the extent that I have attempted to treat channeling as if it were a form of science and engineering rather than magic. You might say that the Laws of Thermodynamics apply in altered form. I expect that my reading in history has influenced the books more than my knowledge of physics or engineering. I have not tried to copy any actual historical culture or period, but a knowledge of the way things actually were done at various times has helped shape my vision of the world of The Wheel, as has the study of cultures meeting that are strange to one another, and cultures undergoing change, willingly or, as is more often the case, unwillingly. I used to spend summers working on my grandfather’s farm, a very old-fashioned set-up even then, so I have some feel for country life, and I like to hunt and fish, and spent a good part of my growing up in the woods or on the water, so I have a fair feel for the outdoors and the forests, which also helps. And of course, I can use a little of my Vietnam experience. Not for setting out the actual battles, but because I know firsthand the confusion of battle and what it is like to try to maintain some semblance or order while all around you random events are pushing everything toward chaos.

    Tags

  • 11

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    Do other authors offer you advice or suggestions on how to write your books?

    Robert Jordan

    I’m not quite sure what I would say to another writer who offered me suggestions on how to write my books. When you are first starting out, you try to learn from other people, but once you get to a certain point, learning becomes more a matter of honing your own skills, and your confidence has usually advanced by this time to the point where you no longer seek the advice of others. (HEADLINE: Mark McGwire attacks Barry Bonds with baseball bat after Bonds offers advice on swing.)

    Tags

  • 12

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    What other authors have most influenced your work?

    Robert Jordan

    Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Robert Heinlein, John D. MacDonald and Louis L'Amour.

    Tags

  • 13

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    Are any of your characters or cultures designed to pay specific homage to any particular work or author?

    Robert Jordan

    No. In the first chapters of The Eye of the World, I tried for a Tolkienesque feel without trying to copy Tolkien’s style, but that was by way of saying to the reader, okay, this is familiar, this is something you recognize, now let’s go where you haven’t been before. I like taking a familiar theme, something people think they know and know where it must be heading, then standing it on its ear or giving it a twist that subverts what you thought you knew. I must admit that I occasionally drop in a reference—for example, there’s an inn called The Nine Rings, and Loial is seen reading a book entitled To Sail Beyond the Sunset—but it isn’t a regular thing by any means.

    Footnote

    To Sail Beyond the Sunset is a Heinlein reference, for those not familiar with his work. RJ is speaking here of references to contemporary culture; obviously the references to myth and legend are rather pervasive.

    Tags

  • 14

    Interview: Nov 4th, 2005

    Question

    Are the Sea Folk marriage customs based on any real culture that you know of?

    Robert Jordan

    No, they were made up in his head.

    Tags

  • 15

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    When Robert Jordan's parents couldn't find a babysitter, they would utilize the services of his redoubtable older brother, who read to his four-year-old sibling from a rich varied repertoire of Mark Twain, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and the like.

    The common thread was a zestful, sometimes wry imagination. And Jordan was an exceedingly quick study.

    Robert Jordan

    "It was galvanizing, better than a movie. I could visualize all of it in my head. By the time I was five, I had taught myself how to read."

    Tags

  • 16

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Since the books meld elements of Celtic, Norse, Middle Eastern and American Indian myth in a largely Medieval setting, obligatory comparisons with J.R.R. Tolkien surfaced almost immediately. Jordan accepts them with resigned good humor.

    Robert Jordan

    "On the one hand, I'm flattered. On the other, I would have to say it's overplayed. On the third hand, Tolkien encompassed so much in The Lord of the Rings and other books that he did for fantasy what Beethoven did for music.

    "For a long time, it was believed that no one did anything that did not build on Beethoven. For his part, Tolkien did provide a foundation while himself building on an existing tradition. Although it's difficult now to forge a singular place in this foundation, people like Stephen R. Donaldson are doing it. I hope I am as well."

    Tags

  • 17

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    He doesn't see the world he elaborates as unreal. Far from it.

    Robert Jordan

    "It exists in our past and our future. These were our legends, but because time is a wheel—according to Hindu legend—we are the seeds of their myths. Because it is a real world in my books, they have certain degrees of technology. The time in which the characters live is our future and our past. Part of what I'm exploring here is what the nature and source of our myths might be."

    Tags

  • 18

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Jordan fantasy adventures in many respects are cinematic in tone, a legacy perhaps of his great fondness for genre films, good and bad. he says he tries to write in a way that impels readers to see the story, as well as hear, and smell and feel it.

    Robert Jordan

    "I approach writing stories as if they were meant to be read aloud. Many books aren't done this way and still are great books, but I try for the effect of a classic story teller. Like most other writers of fantasy, I started out not only reading fantasy but going to fantasy and science fiction movies. In more recent years, I've probably see Excalibur two dozen times. Going semi-out-of-genre, Apocalypse Now certainly had an impact on me. It had almost all the detail wrong, but its fantastic elements nonetheless capture the feel of the place, the experience, the sense of the surreal, of abandonment, of being sold out."

    Tags

  • 19

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Whether his war experiences have influenced his fantasy writing, or more, been translated directly into fiction, is difficult for Jordan to say.

    Robert Jordan

    "I do think the military characters in my fantasy novels are more realistic in terms of how soldiers really are, how they feel about combat, about being soldiers, about civilians. Beyond that, my time in Vietnam certainly has affected a certain moral vision. Not just based on what happened to me, but on the abandonment of a people who had put everything on the line for us. It started me off on a quest for morality, both in religious and philosophical reading, and in my writing. Again one of the central themes in 'The Wheel of Time' is the struggle between the forces of good and evil. How far can one go in fighting evil before becoming like evil itself? Or do you maintain your purity at the cost of evil's victory? I'm fond of saying that if the answer is too easy, you've probably asked the wrong question."

    Tags

  • 20

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    In the realm of fantasy writing, Jordan has been less influenced than simply entertained by such works as Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series and the horror writing of Stephen King.

    He never reads fantasy when he is in the midst of writing it.

    Robert Jordan

    "I read fantasies in between books. When writing, I make it a point to read other genres, plus philosophy, history, biography, mythology."

    Tags

  • 21

    Interview: Nov, 1993

    Trinity College Q&A (Paraphrased)

    Robert Jordan

    He talked for a while about 'reverse engineering' various mythos, removing the culture-specific elements and combining the stories, giving the example of the Wolfbrother idea, which was derived partly from the Native American Coyote trickster/savior figure, of whom both Mat and Perrin reflect aspects.

    Tags

  • 22

    Interview: Nov, 1993

    Trinity College Q&A (Paraphrased)

    Robert Jordan

    He raised the point that Rand's creeping insanity may manifest in much more subtle ways than the people of Randland expect...which leads one to wonder about Rand's increasing withdrawal and possible megalomania. I think he is aware of the net discussion: he expressed surprise at the amount of analysis and comparison with Tolkien, Dune etc. (I felt tempted to mention A. A. Milne) and somebody in the audience compared WoT to Atlas Shrugged, which really seemed to surprise him. His attitude is that once he has written one book (and publicized it) it is time to move on to the next...The only deliberate connection between WoT and any other modern fantasy was giving the first 100-odd pages of The Eye of the World a Lord of the Rings-esque flavor, to start people off in familiar territory.

    Tags

  • 23

    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.)

    Tags

  • 24

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Daniel Rouk

    He mentioned the height of all the characters. Erica wrote those down. Basically repeated PNH's account of why the colors of the covers are always different.

    Robert Jordan

    The Old Tongue is a mix of Gaelic, Russian, Spanish, Japanese. A lot of different sources that are not traditionally used to make up fake languages. He has only a few phrases and a few small guides on usage written down.

    Tags

  • 25

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    All the female characters are based on his wife. I asked if she pulls her hair, and Jordan responded: "She pulls mine."

    Tags

  • 26

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Viren R. Shah

    I'm sure someone's gonna post the whole interview on here, but I caught about 8-10 minutes of it, and I'll try and write down the points I remember [I was kinda occupied at the moment, so my recollection might not be too good].

    Robert Jordan

    RJ feels that the Arthurian legend is very obvious in WoT, so he tried his level best to hide it.

    Tags

  • 27

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    As regards Randland being the future/part of our world, he made a reference to the game 'Chinese Whispers'. He said that, like in the game, the happenings of our time/age will be changed/twisted [my words] into Randland's myths, and similarly the occurrences in Randland will/have become our myths.

    He also mentioned the fact that he tried to 'reverse-engineer' [his word] the current myths that we have into WoT's happenings/history, and our history into WoT's myths.

    Tags

  • 28

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    He said that he used legends from several sources including Arthurian, Celtic, Indian, North American Indian, Oriental, [and some others which I've forgotten].

    Tags

  • 29

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    There was also something mentioned about the songs that he used in the books—John Adcox asked him whether he had deliberately given the songs a Celtic slant. [I can't for the life of me remember the answer].

    Tags

  • 30

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Red Ajah: not all lesbians—just manhaters. RJ knows non-manhating lesbians. Not based at all on Agnes Scott girls. Based on some girls he knew as a child.

    All women in Randland—based on his wife. "Does she tug her hair?" "No. Mine."

    Tags

  • 31

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Language—It is planned. Based on Russian, Chinese and a bit of Spanish with a lot of Gaelic thrown in.

    Cultures of influence—he's real big on Chinese history right now.

    Why the swords?—As in Japan, gunpowder is suppressed so martial arts are developed and are based on the sword and on agricultural implements.

    Tags

  • 32

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Question

    Are the sword forms based on reality?

    Robert Jordan

    Sort of based on Taekwondo and Karate—but from books, not experience.

    Tags

  • 33

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Mat will lose his eye and Rand a hand: yes. (Did not ask right out. Instead, "Did you deliberately make Rand like Tew/Chew, the god of war who loses his hand?" (yes) "And Mat is like Odin who loses his eye..." (yup...but the Arthur parallels are spread around many characters. Merlin is Thom Merrilin, the Amyrlin Seat, Lan, etc...)

    Tags

  • 34

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Ben & Chris

    Is stones based on GO, the Asian game of skill? It is more complex than chess...so it is appropriate if so. And what stones are used (type of stone)?

    Robert Jordan

    Stones is based on Go, and the actual stones used can vary.

    Tags

  • 35

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Mykael

    Are any of your characters based on anyone you know?

    Robert Jordan

    All of the women are based on my wife.

    Tags

  • 36

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Steve W

    Are your books based on any Biblical themes/characters?

    Robert Jordan

    Not directly. Influenced by. And not wholly—there are other influences as well.

    Tags

  • 37

    Interview: Oct 11th, 2005

    Question

    The guy in front of me asked about what accents the Seanchan have.

    Robert Jordan

    And RJ answered that the Seanchan have a southern accent, while the Illianers sound Dutch. He also mentioned that the Tairens have a Spanish accent.

    Tags

  • 38

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Sat

    Is the Hawkwing era and or the Seanchan based on any actual historical era and do you plan on including some more historical data about the Age of Legends and maybe a separate series?

    Robert Jordan

    The first part of your question: no. It's based on several combined. The second part: Only insofar as it affects the story in the "here and now." In a separate series: no.

    Tags

  • 39

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Andrew S

    Did you think you were going to write only the first book without sequels? If your wife is all the female characters are you all the male ones?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I knew from the start that I was writing something that would be multiple books. I just never knew how many, exactly. The last question: Probably, God help me. Never thought of it that way, though.

    Footnote

    In the Starlog interview, RJ seems to have indicated that it was originally intended to be one book.

    Tags

  • 40

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Lou Person

    Hello all and Mr. Jordan. I am a big WOT fan and I am amazed by some of the themes, i.e. struggle between men and women. Mr. Jordan truly sheds some light on differences between men and women. There also seem to be some allusions to Native Americans, weaves of fire, air, etc. The politicking and warring of the Game of Houses and battle scenes are told with the clarity of someone who has military experience. Can you briefly state what from your background makes WOT so realistic?

    Robert Jordan

    Forty-odd years of life. "Briefly?" It's what it boils down to.

    Tags

  • 41

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Ben & Chris

    There is a big influence (already mentioned) from wide ranging source materials. This is a great deal of fun, tracking down all of the various sources whilst reading. Is there a reason that the Arthur and other Avalon legends are referred to so much. Gawyn, Morgase, et al.?

    Robert Jordan

    They really aren't referred to any more than many other legends and myths, but they're simply more recognizable to most Americans.

    Footnote

    RJ was probably hinting that the Americans are generally the least 'cultured' and the least likely to recognize the foreign legends he drew from, Norse and Slavic mythology (very prominent), etc. The Arthur legends are probably better-known elsewhere (i.e. Britain, France).

    Tags

  • 42

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Pug

    Firstly, I'd like to thank you for my mother's autographed The Fires of Heaven, 10/150 and also, what inspires your deft writing?

    Robert Jordan

    Everything!

    PUG

    Specifically?

    Robert Jordan

    Everything specifically!

    Tags

  • 43

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Ami

    Hi Mr. Jordan and everyone. I was wondering about Artur Hawkwing. I notice parallels to the King Arthur legends in particular... But what other stories inspired this?

    Robert Jordan

    Too many to go into—truly too many.

    Tags

  • 44

    Interview: Oct 20th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    He sees some correlation between Randland's "magic" (a term he frowns on) and quantum physics, but he says it is not deliberate. He disbelieves 95-99% of modern physics but says it will be 50 years before it is put in the same file as phlogiston.

    Tags

  • 45

    Interview: 2010

    Brandon Sanderson (30 March 2010)

    Calling WoT derivative of Tolkien is like calling Tolkien derivative of Beowulf. True, but missing the point entirely.

    Tags

  • 46

    Interview: 2010

    Brandon Sanderson (21 June 2010 (Facebook))

    A fanmail tonight includes a request for Gawyn to die, and Egwene to hook up with Galad. At least it's not another begging for Rand + Egwene.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Wow. I did not mean to start an epic Gawyn/Galad/Egwene/Rand thread on my Facebook, but I appear to have done so.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Some interesting reading if you're thinking/talking about Gawyn as a character can be found here: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight—Wikipedia

    (from the comments)

    One other way to think of it is thus: The Wheel will keep on turning, and the Age that we live in (or like unto it) will someday arrive. Legends from what is happening in these books will have survived, and become the Arthur legends during our day. Or, in other cases, stories of other characters have survived in other mythologies. (Look up the Slavic god Perun sometime.)

    Perrin is not a god, nor is Gawyn the knight of that story I linked. But perhaps someone who lived long ago, in another Age, gave birth to rumors about a young nobleman who made a mistake, and bore the weight of that sin for the rest of his days. And that gave birth to stories, which in turn inspired a poet to write a tale.

    Footnote

    The writer of the fanmail in question posted and elaborated at 13th Depository.

    Tags

  • 47

    Interview: 2010

    Brandon Sanderson (10 August 2010)

    @FelixPax You post some curious things. Tell me, did anyone ever ask RJ anything about Ila?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Ila is a very mythological name, though. I suspect you are right about its origins.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Though remember, not all of the names are intentionally from mythology. Some just felt right to him, so he chose them.

    Tags

  • 48

    Interview: 2010

    Máté Csarmasz (13 August 2010)

    Does Tear's name have anything to do with the English word (tear), or is it a coincidence only?

    Brandon Sanderson (13 August 2010)

    Robert Jordan said he got names from mythology or, sometimes, they just sounded right. It might have just sounded right.

    Tags

  • 49

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Brandon Sanderson (3 January 2011)

    The first wind is in the Mountains of Mist; I've always assumed this was a nod to Tolkien's Misty Mountains.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Look in The Way of Kings on the full map of Roshar for something similar.

    SHECKY X

    Well, his Charlestonian background makes the "Two Rivers" the Charleston area, so the "Mountains of Mist" may be...

    SHECKY X

    ... the Smoky Mountains, upstate from his home. (FYI: the Charleston area is defined by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers.)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Nice note. I'd never known that.

    LYNN OLIVER

    Listening to WoT on audiobook, first time through series. Book one seems heavily influenced by Tolkien so far.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, book one is very Tolkien influenced. Very. Book two less so. It's almost gone by book three.

    Footnote

    The Way of Kings map doesn't have the Misted Mountains labeled, but they border Shinovar on the east.

    Tags

  • 50

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Brandon Sanderson (3 January 2011)

    And, here we have mention of Anla the Wise Counselor. For those not in the know, there is theorizing on her: http://bit.ly/f8s2T4

    FELIX PAX

    At least one...problem with that link...in "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" RJ refers to Robert Heinlein in The Great Hunt.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Didn't know that. Thanks.

    SHIVAM BHATT

    Will we see any more of those awesome references (Anla, Mosk and Merc, all the other tidbits) in the last book?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    There were some in my [WoT] books that I don't think have been caught yet.

    Tags

  • 51

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Brandon Sanderson (4 January 2011)

    Yes, early WoT is very Tolkien influenced. But several original things really stood out to me when I was younger.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    1) The magic. 2) Strong female protagonists. 3) A woman 'wizard' figure who was far more human than others I'd seen. 4) Tam lives.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Though I like Gandalf, Dumbledore, Belgarath, & Allanon, I prefer Moiraine as a character. (Actually, Allanon always just annoyed me.)

    HARRISON ISRAEL

    I always liked Allanon :(

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It's okay. I'm fond of him. But he still annoyed me.

    HAMLETISDEAD

    Can you share what it is about Allanon that annoyed you? I can list a few, but the main reason was his decision making...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Mostly the air of mystery and withholding information. Often a problem with people in his role, but he seemed more-so.

    BRYCE NIELSEN

    What about Polgara? :P

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Polgara was awesome. Belgarath was pretty cool too, but Moiraine always feels slightly more real than either one to me.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    But that's modern Brandon. Teenage Brandon might have thought differently.

    CHRIS WOOD

    But which of those early wizards was your favorite? I liked Belgarath, but Eddings was one of my first series.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    As a youth, I often listed Eddings as my favorite author. It wasn't until I was older that WoT took over completely.

    CHRIS WOOD

    I agree, I still read Eddings and suggest him to people who are "new" into fantasy, but it has gone down my list too.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    There is a perfect age to read Eddings, where he resonates best. As you age, something about his characters and plots...stiffens.

    JENN HOGAN

    I am in agreement but I love Belgarath's humor and his devotion to family and his God and his brothers.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Belgarath was interesting also in being an amalgamation of a trickster figure and a wise mentor. By far one of Eddings' most round.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Both him and Polgara. They're both also more powerful than Moiraine. But there's just something about her. True wisdom.

    JOHN STOCKTON

    I was thrown by your "when I was younger" remark until I remembered this series started 20 years ago. Wow.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I started when I was 14 or 15...

    YELLOW

    The WoT names always annoyed me because they're so close to real names. Any chance of dropping a Blixbop into A Memory of Light?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Mr. Jordan did this intentionally, to hint that the WoT world was our world in the future (and the past.)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It's part of the 'feel' of the world. They are close to real names because they ARE real names, just many years removed.

    TADBO

    The females in The Wheel of Time are among the most two-dimensional in the history of fantasy.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I disagree. Case in point: Tolkien's female protagonists. (Which was the comparison I was making.)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    But even beyond that, you have to remember, this is a society with some skewed gender relationships because of the way magic works.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    But Moiraine is hardly two-dimensional. Neither is Nynaeve. They can be annoying, yes, but that's not the same as two-dimensional.

    TADBO

    They scheme, they argue, they tug on their skirts and stamp their feet, or they fall at Rand's feet. Really?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Aviendha is very distinctive. Tuon is very distinctive. Min is very distinctive. Many of the Aes Sedai act as you say, but...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    ...I see this as an intentional effect of the society they live in.

    ZEERAK WASEEM

    Don't you get annoyed with the females in WoT? The female lead I prefer is Aviendha, the rest are full of themselves.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Oh, I didn't say they didn't annoy me at times. I said they were strong, and I'll add that they are interesting.

    TADBO

    Final note. I would argue that Jordan's female protagonists are MAIN characters, whereas Tolkien's are mainly supporting.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    The Tolkien point is valid. However, remember what started this conversation. I was saying things about the WoT that impressed me.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    One was a large cast of female main characters, something a lot of fantasy by men I'd read was lacking.

    TEREZ

    WoT females are caricaturish, sometimes stereotypical, but not two-dimensional. (This from a female.)

    TADBO

    Yes, caricatures. A better description than two-dimensional.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Well, different people read things differently. If WoT's women didn't work for you, I understand why, though I don't feel the same.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    You're not the only one to feel that way.

    TEREZ

    The fact that I see them as caricatures helps me to enjoy them as characters more. It's RJ's own type of dry humor.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I view them more of products of a society where social norms are different, and women have something 'machismo'-like.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It makes them act similar in places, even though when you see into their souls, there is something deeper.

    TEREZ

    In my opinion this is also true, but the caricature part is an important aspect of accepting ALL WoT characters as they are.

    TEREZ

    They, like the story itself, are ubertropes. There is more to them than that, just as there is more to the story.

    FELIX PAX

    It's as if RJ's sense of humor was written for a theater company on stage. Bombastic, perhaps?

    TEREZ

    I think the word you are looking for is 'exaggerated'. But yes, stage-acting a very good comparison.

    TADBO

    I don't know if I ever saw it as 'dry humor'. The Aes Sedai scared the crap out of me in high school.

    TEREZ

    Well, maybe now that you're a big boy... ;) RJ said he'd rather hunt leopards...

    TADBO

    True enough. XD

    TEREZ

    I mean, have you SEEN the map of Tar Valon? It's supposed to be funny, people. And serious at the same time, of course.

    JAMES FURLONG

    Haha! Just clicked on, never noticed THAT before. Hoho!

    HBFFERREIRA

    LOL Never noticed it before either.

    KAREN BASKINS

    LOL! In nearly twenty years of reading WoT, I never took notice of the Tar Valon map. Thank you for the laugh. I needed that. :-)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I've wondered about the map for Tar Valon. That...well, that can't be an accident. I've never asked Team Jordan, though.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Needless to say, it wasn't something I noticed when I was a teen.

    TEREZ

    Someone asked RJ about it. Sort of. His answer was hilarious.

    RICHARD FIFE

    Ya know, for some odd reason, I never really saw the map of Tar Valon. Now I'll never unsee it...

    TEREZ

    Indeed, it cannot be unseen. :)

    MATT HATCH

    ...wow, this really changes how I view the siege, harbor, and the iron chain becoming cuendillar.

    TEREZ

    You are such a perv, boss.

    MATT HATCH

    Showed my wife the map. Her immediate reaction: "Oh, Jim Rigney." Big smile.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    You'd never seen that before?

    TEREZ

    He had. Was just inspired by the moment to show it to his wife. And he'd never seen the quote. :)

    MATT HATCH

    I'd seen it...it was a while back; I remember thinking "really???" This reminded me and the quote made it hilarious.

    TEREZ

    Could give a whole new meaning to 'Rand had daydreamed over Master al'Vere's old map...'

    TEREZ

    '...half the boys in Emond's Field had daydreamed over it.'

    NICHOLAS BROWN

    To the blind... what am I seeing? I see a fish or a submarine. Is there something else?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Hm. How to do this without going places I don't care to go... Maybe a link will suffice. http://bit.ly/gMSLt6

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  • 52

    Interview: Oct 25th, 1994

    Question

    Which of the three (Elayne, Min, Aviendha) do you like best? I'm not asking which one Rand is going to get; which one is your favorite?

    Robert Jordan

    All my female characters are based on my wife. Am I supposed to dislike something about her?

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  • 53

    Interview: Oct 26th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Overheard early during the signing: the history of the Da'shain Aiel is based on the history of the Cheyenne Indians during their several-generation migration from east of the Great Lakes to the Rocky Mountains—a period in which every man's hand was raised against them.

    Don Harlow

    Similarity between words 'shain' and 'Cheyenne' noted by me after hearing this.

    Tags

  • 54

    Interview: Oct 27th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    We talked a bit about the Aiel culture. Robert constantly referred to the Amer-Indian, Arab, and African cultures. In particular, how come they don't show signs of being malnourished? "Belly dancers live in the desert and yet, have been known to be full bodied. It is the people who have had their fields burned that might be a little malnourished."

    Tags

  • 55

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Alex Lund (7 January 2011)

    I was wondering what nation the Seanchan relate to in real life. I can peg the rest...

    Brandon Sanderson (7 January 2011)

    Mix of Japan and Texas, mostly. There's no perfect correlation.

    Tags

  • 56

    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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  • 57

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Thomas Grossnickle (12 January 2011)

    What philosophies have influenced WoT? I feelt a bit of the Hindu Creator, Preserver, & Destroyer ...

    THOMAS GROSSNICKLE

    ...with Lews Therin an avatar of preservation and Rand the Destroyer...

    THOMAS GROSSNICKLE

    Who destroys the world when it is beyond preserving, only to create it anew.

    Brandon Sanderson (12 January 2011)

    I see a lot of that too. I'm convinced RJ blended something from most major philosophies and mythologies into the books.

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  • 58

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Brandon Sanderson (18 January 2011)

    Unless I'm missing one, our first Egwene viewpoint in the series is the way into The Great Hunt. She is our fifth viewpoint character.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Point to @RajivMote: I DID miss an Egwene viewpoint. In "Ravens," the new first chapter of The Eye of the World in the Young Adult repackage of the WoT books.

    ERIN KELLY

    Sixth, if you count Bors and the five seconds of Moraine at the end of The Great Hunt.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I already counted Moraine. Not Bors, though. I'm talking Viewpoint characters, which means characters who commonly have VPs.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Fortune prick me, a Domon viewpoint. Don't know if I'll count him as the sixth VP character, though. We don't return to him frequently.

    HADNAN KADERE

    But you counted Moiraine who only shows up once in The Eye of the World, once in The Shadow Rising, and twice in The Fires of Heaven.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    She's got a ton of VP time here at the beginning of The Great Hunt.

    HADNAN KADERE

    She has exactly five VPs in The Great Hunt. She has exactly nine in the whole series (not counting New Spring). That's only three more than Fain.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I've been asked who was behind the plot to see Domon dead in The Great Hunt. It was Hamlet, obviously.

    BRANDON SANDERSON (19 JANUARY)

    I'll count Fain as our sixth viewpoint character (or, maybe he's fifth and Egwene is sixth.) I love the scene where they find the dead Fade.

    TEREZ

    Your Inquisitors in Mistborn always made me think of that Fade. Sorry if I've said that before; I can't remember, lol.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes I think there's got to be some kind of unconscious thing going on there on my part. (Re: Fades and Inquisitors.)

    Footnote

    Bors/Carridin had four POVs, while Thom only had four before A Memory of Light, and Domon also had four, but all four were in The Great Hunt.

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  • 59

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Brandon Sanderson (18 March 2011)

    This Thom scene in The Shadow Rising chapter 17 is an absolute gem of writing. Wonderful characterizations, excellent motion, powerful reversals.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Guys, when I talk about how to write a great scene, THIS is what I mean.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Notice that the Siuan mentions that the Blight is retreating in this chapter. Hmmm... Wonder why...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I remember reading somewhere that some think this was an effect of the Eye of the World's usage. Hmm...

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    Brandon is probably hinting here that it rather has something to do with the Fisher King prophecies.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Thom, speaking of how future ages may see him: "Not a gleeman—but what? Not eating fire, but hurling it about like an Aes Sedai..."

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Will you believe that, in my youth, it wasn't until around that moment that I caught the Thom/Merlin connection?

    OWENSMTO

    Don't feel too bad. I didn't catch the Mat/Odin connection until very recently. And Perrin is Thor, it seems. heh.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I believe there's actually a Slavic god of the forge named "Perun" or something along those lines.

    NATHAN ANDRUS

    Thom/Merlin connection? I don't see it.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Look really closely at Thom's last name.

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  • 60

    Interview: Oct 30th, 1994

    Question

    About skill comparisons between main character swordsmen:

    Robert Jordan

    "Read the book." About the forms used: I was curious, so I asked if he had studied the sword fighting arts or just researched. It's research, and the forms come from Japanese sword fighting and some European fencing, before the advent of well-designed and well-made guns made swords obsolete. He mentioned one book in particular, but I can't remember the title... :(

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  • 61

    Interview: Oct 30th, 1994

    Question

    Physics/Math background and how it affected his writing:

    Robert Jordan

    —only marginally useful

    —structure

    —Schrödinger's Cat and other Quantum Physics stuff helps with conceptualization of fantasy structure.

    —His editor (also his wife) said that the physics and math was more important than he gave it credit for. ;)

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  • 62

    Interview: Oct 31st, 1994

    Judy Ghirardelli

    Next time through (for my next 3 books): Is the Tower of Ghenjei based on the dark tower from the story of Childe Roland?

    Robert Jordan

    No.

    Judy Ghirardelli

    (Sorry Emma—it sounded like a good idea to me...)

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  • 63

    Interview: Oct 28th, 1994

    Harriet McDougal

    When we got to the head of the line, Harriet was taking the books, and opening them to get them ready. I handed her a copy of Reagan O'Neal's The Fallon Blood, and asked if he would mind signing it. She exclaimed over how long it had been since she'd seen that book.

    Robert Jordan

    He exclaimed over it too, and signed it 'Reagan O'Neal'. I asked him if Lord Valentine's Castle in any way inspired the menagerie scenes and he said, "No."

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  • 64

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    4. I heard about the hoax. Thanks for the printout of the posting. I suppose whoever posted it thought this book—The Westing Game—had some influence on some part of my writing. I'll have to try finding it; it would help, of course, if I knew whether it was fiction or non-fiction, and who the author is. Or maybe it's part of the hoax, too. The Eddings War? The Grin Thingy War? The Lanfear Trials? Elucidate further, my dear. Sorry to hear of so many falling by the wayside.

    A note: Taim, whether you mispronounce it as TAME or pronounce it correctly as tah-EEM, doesn't rhyme with the others. Isn't anyone required to write poetry in school anymore? Of course, that dates me to the Dark Ages by most peoples' view, but I can still knock off a fairly good sonnet, Elizabethan or later.

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  • 65

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    5. Re: the Forsaken working together. Do some reading on Hitler's henchmen. Also Stalin's, and Mao's. There are plenty of other examples, but these are probably the easiest to find. In each case you find that the fellows were out for what they could get and just as likely to try pulling down one of their so-called compatriots, or at least undercut him, as to help if that was the route to greater power. Check out Goebbels-Goring-Himmler and Beria-Molotov-Kruschev, for examples, these are much easier to document than that Chinese tangle.

    The question of what is evil is always difficult on the one hand and easy on the other. Is the sexual abuse of a child evil? I think that it is; I can see no excuse; I would offer no mercy. An octogenarian friend and I used to discuss the nature of evil, until he died. He would protest when I brought up something such as the Holocaust, say (though he was Jewish), because he wanted to keep it all on a level of purely Platonic ideals. It was always an effort for me to do that. To me, evil is real and palpable. The problem is, and always has been defining it. Harming someone without cause? Hitler had cause, a reason, [a carat and line leading to "however moral it was" in parentheses in blue ink] for murdering millions of people; so did Stalin and Mao. At the other end, how much harm? If you tell a lie that causes two people to argue, you have done harm, but was the act evil, or merely wrong? There are infinite shadings of degree, intent and effect to take into account.

    Footnote

    See RJ's next letter to Carolyn for more discussion on this point.

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  • 66

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Dear Bruce et al.,

    Your questions are complex, or at least their answers are, and I'm afraid that the time I put into answering letters is time not put into writing, but I will try to answer you. Though I suspect not as fully as you would like. (I have 60 letters to answer today.)

    What language is the Old Tongue based on? Gaelic, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and some additions of my own—bridging material, if you will. Grammar and syntax are a blending of English, German and Chinese, with some influences from a set of African languages, read about long ago and all but the oddities of structure long since forgotten. There are inverted constructions, for example (as in Mordero dagain pas duente cuebiyar!—literally, "Death fear none holds my heart!") and places where the article is omitted, especially where the word is a title or has gained enough importance to now incorporate the article; the absence of article indicates that it is the important or special meaning of the word that is intended. Though even then, it is not a hard and fast rule; the same inconsistencies of English are incorporated here. I am attempting to create a language which has grown, not one which was made.

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  • 67

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    As for Common, Plain Chant, and High Chant: Common is ordinary speech, of course; telling a story as one man in the street might tell another. Plain Chant adds a rhythmic half-singing to poetic imagery; nothing is ever described plainly; conveying emotion is as important as conveying description. High Chant is sung, really, as though Benedictine monks had been brought up in a tradition of Chinese music; the rhythms are more precise, and emotional content is more important than mere description. High Chant can be all but unintelligible to those who are not used to it; it is a form used only by court bards and the like. I should point out that Common, Plain and High are not language names, but names used by bards for different forms of recitation.

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  • 68

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    The world is nationalistic, jingoistic as you put it, because people have belly-buttons. They are human. Look at the conflicts between different parts of France between the fall of Rome and, say, the Sixteenth Century; they all spoke the same language, differing only in accent, but the Normans and Burgundians, among others, were ready to kill one another at the drop of a hat. For that matter, look at out own Civil War, and various regional differences before and since. We all speak the same language, yet do you believe that a perfect state as achieved totally by local vote would be the same in say, California, Oregon, Georgia and Maine? The differences might not be as large as they once were, but that is largely an effect of radio and TV homogenizing our culture.

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  • 69

    Interview: Apr 3rd, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    Majority rules, my dear? You should know that I am neither Democrat nor Republican; I am a monarchist. For the church for the laws, for the king, for the cause! For Charles, King of England, and Rupart of the Rhine! Ah, for the chance to re-fight Malvern Hill. God send this crumb well down!

    Ah, me. To do evil without doing wrong. What about the law of unintended consequences? An example, partly fictive, but possible. We have passed laws protecting harp seals. The result so far, an explosion in the harp seal population, an explosion in the orca population (they feed on harp seals, among others) and a sharp decline in commercial fishing in those waters (orcas and harp seals both like to eat the same fish that people do). Nothing evil so far, just fishermen and cannery workers out of work and some fishing towns in depressions, but here is the fictive yet possible part.

    Population explosions frequently result in waves of disease, quite often new and deadlier strains of something that has been around in the population with less effect for some time. As witness AIDS, Ebola, Zaire and the Devil's own litany of others, these things can be devastating. So, postulate that the explosion in harp seal population results in the appearance of a virus among the seals—call it Seal Ebola—and the next thing you know there aren't any harp seals left at all. (Some of these things do seem to come close to 100% lethality, and if you only have 90%, which is the rate among humans with Zaire, I think, you are left with 10% of the population weakened and in no shape to escape orcas or sharks and with systems weakened to where they would be easy prey for other illnesses that they usually shake off.)

    Worst case. Seal Ebola does not only infect harp seals. After all, most diseases that affect one part of a species will affect the rest. So seals vanish. All of them. Or maybe it's the orca explosion, and all the whales and dolphins that are wasted. The ecology of the oceans is thrown into a tailspin from which it might never recover. Now, will future generations record what we did as evil? If they use out present manner of viewing history—holding everyone in history to the standards of our time, usually more tightly than we hold most of our own populations, holding them to account as if they had our knowledge and lived in a world with our moral views, and condemning those ancestors who fail to measure up—if thy use that method, they certainly will. Would what we did be evil? I don't know. An act taken with the purest of intentions that resulted in the death of an entire species. The result could not be called other than evil, but does that make the cause evil? Now more than ever, I regret that Robert Marks, an old friend, died some years ago. This is the kind of question that would make him want to open a bottle of good brandy and discuss it for hours.

    "No man is an island, but every one a part of the main. Therefore, send not to ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee." John Donne.

    Don't worry about grinning over the fate of the poor string bean. I have heard people express the belief from the heart. Not from the brain, though; I think that they lacked that particular organ. Then there is the group of rather vocal people who believe that human beings have no more rights than any other animal ("a boy is a cat is a dog is a rat"), though they generally express it by saying that animals should have the same rights as people. To vote, perhaps? To hold elective office? We already see enough jackasses in public office.

    Don't worry too greatly about how much of what you said there that you actually believe. The purpose of the sort of discourse you engaged in is not so much to express belief as to explore ideas and possibilities. you say, if this, then maybe that, and if both things, then this other should follow. None of that is saying that you necessarily believe in any of the points, though it can lead to belief in various things. It is a good way to reason out what you do believe in. Much better than simply taking someone else's word for it. That is fine for 1 + 1 = 2, but not so good on points of morality, ethics, philosophy, or whether monarchist feudalism would function better than the mish-mosh of corruption, self-interest and idiocy we are saddled with at present.

    In the end, I believe that we ourselves define what is good or evil. Several hundred years ago, slavery was seen as good and right. I don't mean just black slavery; there were white slaves in Europe—and slaves in Asia, Africa and just about everywhere else—for thousands of years before the first black slave was brought to America. Helping a slave escape was theft of property at best and an abomination in the eyes of God—or the gods—at worst. Time passes, and our views alter significantly.

    If an Avatar of Pure Good appeared and told us that in order for Good and Light to triumph over Evil and Darkness, the human race must be extinguished, I think we would decide that old Av was sliding us the long con. And I think we would be right to. Not only as a matter of species survival—any species that is ready to slit its collective throats for whatever cause should go ahead and do it now; it isn't up to survival in a universe that, if not malignant (I do not believe that), is certainly neither benign, compassionate nor caring—but also because I would seriously doubt the Good- and Light-hood of whoever/whatever made such a pronouncement. The Devil can quote scripture, and all that.

    Footnote

    See RJ's previous letter to Carolyn for the beginning of this conversation.

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  • 70

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 1995

    Interviewer

    Jordan's books have been called a combination of Robin Hood and Stephen King. He manages to create characters that seem real, perhaps because he uses many of his own personal experiences in the telling of these epic stories. Do you ever use your experiences in Vietnam in your stories?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, indirectly. I know what it's like to have somebody trying to kill you. I know what it's like to try to kill somebody. And I know what it's like to actually kill somebody. These things I think help with writing about people being in danger, [or] especially if it's in danger of violence ... which happens occasionally in my books.

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  • 71

    Interview: Jun 17th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    The reason Robert Jordan chose to write fantasy was its opportunities to build cultures and experiment with them, in a way and with a freedom to comment that is unachievable with a "realistic", domestically based world.

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  • 72

    Interview: Jun 16th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    The Nine Rings Inn in The Great Hunt he readily confessed was a homage to our favorite professor—J.R.R. Tolkien.

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  • 73

    Interview: Jun 16th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    His influence from Mark Twain, mainly Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, he said was in the dialogue. Every person was given a rather natural, personal way of speaking, separate from the "chanting" found in other fantasy or pre-20th-century novels.

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  • 74

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Hi. We're speaking with author Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time series, and the newest book is Lord of Chaos. And . . . welcome to the show.

    Robert Jordan

    Thank you for having me.

    Dave Slusher

    And you're here on a publicity tour, and you're in Atlanta now. We're talking to you just prior to your signing at Oxford Books. Briefly, if you can—I know your series sort of defies brevity in a way—tell us a little about the series and the place of the newest book in the series. It's a very large question.

    Robert Jordan

    It isn't really possible to tell you a little bit about it at this point. When the third book was published, I was asked to do a one-paragraph synopsis of each of the first two books. And I said that isn't possible. And then I was asked, "well then, can you do a one-page synopsis of each of the first two books to send out with the third one to reviewers?" And I said it really isn't possible. You don't realize, I'm doing War and Peace here, except that I'm doing it for an entire continent, not one nation, and I'm doing it in a fantasy world that never existed, so everything is being created. It isn't possible to do it that quickly. A bare bones outline of each of the first two books was ten to twelve pages, and that was very bare bones. Not possible to do a short outline, no.

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  • 75

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Tell us a little about the origins. Basically in any type of fantastical literature, you don't have the crutch of being able to pillage our own history so much. You have to make everything from the mythology and the basis of the culture up. I would imagine this was a pretty tall task for this series.

    Robert Jordan

    It's complicated. My degrees are mathematics and physics, but one of my hobbies has always been history. And also what now is called, I suppose, social anthropology. Those were hobbies of mine from the time I was a boy. It became relatively easy for me to create a "fake" culture simply because I had studied a good bit about how cultures came about. And I was always willing to ask the question of result. If you begin by saying: I want this, this, this, and this to be true in the culture I'm creating. But, you then say, if A is true, what else has to be true? And if B is true, what else has to be true? And more than that, if both A and B are true, what has to be true about that culture? Then you add in C and D, and you've started off with four things that you wanted to be true in this culture, and you have constructed the sort of culture in which those four things can be true—not the only culture in which they could be true necessarily, but one that holds together.

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  • 76

    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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  • 77

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Now, a lot of fantasy, and yours is no exception, deals with the idea of nobility. It's a very old tradition in fantasy going back a thousand years, to have the idea of someone of common upbringing that rises up to the leadership position.

    Robert Jordan

    Oh, further than that.

    Dave Slusher

    And your structure is quite similar to the King Arthur structure.

    Robert Jordan

    It's not only an ancient structure like that. It's in places like, oh, say a country that has a tradition of the common man born in the log cabin and rising to the White House. You know, anybody can be President. And in recent years, anybody has been.

    It's an old tradition, and it's not just American. I've seen it in Japanese and Chinese mythology and African mythology. In Asia and Africa, more often the fellow who's the commoner who aspires to greatness gets punished for it by the gods. It is more—I should say, not exclusively—but more of a European and Middle-eastern tradition that the common man can challenge the gods, the entrenched powers, and conquer, or at least work out some sort of rapprochement.

    And yeah, I work with that. I've tried to mine myths from every country and every continent. And reverse engineer them, of course. The Arthur myths, the Arthur legends, are easily recognizable in the books. I tried to hide them to some extent, but frankly Arthur is, I believe, the most recognizable legend in the United States. More people know about King Arthur than know about Paul Bunyan or Davey Crockett or anything that we have out of our own culture. But the others—myths from Africa and the Middle East, Norse mythology, Chinese mythologies—those things I could bury more deeply, more easily, because they're not very much recognized here.

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  • 78

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Now, let's talk a little about when you first started writing this series. Did you have any indication that it would be as popular and take off the way it has?

    Robert Jordan

    Of course not. Look, I hoped that the series would be successful. Nobody writes a book and hopes it's going to be a flop. But as far as this—no, I had no notion, no notion at all.

    Dave Slusher

    And I'm sure that you're aware of it. For example, on the internet there's a very large group devoted to your work. Very in-depth discussion. Does this flatter you, that people are so willing to discuss in very, very fine detail?

    Robert Jordan

    It's a wonderful ego stroking. And it's also astonishing. I've known it about it for some time, and I'm not certain I'm over it yet, really. It does sort of make me want to drop my jaw. I find it astonishing. And, as I say, it's very very flattering, very flattering.

    Dave Slusher

    Do you find that people's interpretations of the book, do they match up with what you intend? Or do people sometimes bring to you an interpretation that you hadn't thought of yourself?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, more often they're trying to work out details of what I'm intending to do, and what I have meant by things that I've already written. I've been sent in some cases sheets of Frequently Asked Questions and the answers that have been deduced. The only thing is, they're right between 20 percent, and oh, 33 percent of the time. They're almost right maybe another 20 percent of the time, 25 percent. And the rest of the time, they've gotten off into an incredibly wild tangent that makes me wonder if I ought to re-read the books to figure out how they came up with this.

    I do look at what they have said. And by that, I mean I look at it when somebody sends me a print-out. I'm not on the 'nets, normally. But sometimes people will send me a print-out of a couple of days of discussion, or a Frequently Asked Questions list, as I said. And I'll look at that, and it does give me some feedback.

    There are things in the books that I have tried to bury very deeply. And if, from the discussion or from the questions, I can see that they're beginning to get close to something I want to keep buried, I know that I have to be more subtle from now on, that I haven't been subtle enough. Or, on the other hand, there are some times when I realize that they're spending a lot of time discussing something that I was certainly not trying to make obscure that I thought was perfectly obvious. Then it becomes plain to me that I've gone the opposite way. I didn't say enough about it for them to understand. So then I have to maybe reiterate a little bit.

    But I certainly—I don't change the plots or anything like that. I'm certainly not going to alter the fates of major characters or anything of that sort, whether someone has figured out what that's going to be or not. I must say, they've not figured out very much of that accurately, but it's fun to see.

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  • 79

    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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  • 80

    Interview: 2012

    Brandon Sanderson (31 August 2011)

    Dang. I just pulled off something in A Memory of Light that is GRRM-esque. I'm not certain if I should apologize, feel awesome, or go take a shower.

    SARAH WALTERS

    Haven't read GRRM, should I? Also, I recommend feeling awesome and writing more of A Memory of Light, but I'm biased.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Depends on your threshold for content. His writing is genius, but he is very brutal. I could only stomach the first one.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    His short stories are awesome, by the way. I've liked every one of those I've read.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Also, the Minas Tirith theme is playing on Pandora. Perfect.

    TEREZ

    Gah, now you've got me thinking Boromir/Gawyn.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    I have no idea if Brandon saw that tweet, but his next one came after it, for what it's worth. Some more info was given on this in the reddit Q&A, and there might be another clue here.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Some good mythological underpinnings and references in this scene, as I believe RJ would have done.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    If I ever get to write the annotations for this book as I plan, this scene will be a nice one to talk about.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    One of the challenges in writing these books is to get mythology right. Not too overt, with careful references. RJ left help, fortunately.

    JOHANN THORSSON

    You mean like Rand having a wound in his side, a la Jesus on the cross?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    That's one of very, very many. But yes. And, you know, Rand being a sheepherder...

    SIMEN ISAK DITLEFSEN

    RJ used a lot of mythological inspiration. But I haven't seen a lot of Greek myths used. Have you?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It's there. Look where Perrin gets wounded.

    SIMEN ISAK DITLEFSEN

    ahh... The Achilles arrow?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Look up blacksmith gods. Hephaestus, Wayland. And, you know, Perun...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    But I felt RJ thought Greek/Roman was overdone, so stayed away from using it as much as Norse/Celtic/Native American.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Okay, signing off for the night. I need to be up for my Q&A on reddit come noon my time. (I'll tweet a reminder.)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Moved the A Memory of Light progress bar up to 48% complete to reflect work done so far this week. Been a good week.

    ELVAN

    I believe you are trying to kill us by triggering extreme amounts of anticipation and excitement. Some of us don't have the heart to take it you know. Seriously though, can't wait.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Ha. Just trying to keep everyone involved, if only in a small way. ;)

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  • 81

    Interview: Jun 21st, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    He made the Aiel look Irish because he thought it was kind of funny. He doesn't like the fact that hardened desert warriors are always described as looking a certain way, so he used the opposite description.

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  • 82

    Interview: Jun 21st, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    He intentionally started the series out kind of Tolkienesque, so that readers would feel like they already knew the land somewhat. Then he deliberately deviated from Tolkien so the readers would not know what to expect. He tried to avoid too much Arthurian and Celtic mythological references early on because they are so well known.

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  • 83

    Interview: Jun 21st, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    The short reign of Colavaere was not a reference to Jane Grey.

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  • 84

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Searles O'Dubhain

    I noticed that your other pen name is Sean O'Neal. Did you draw Mat's "Band of the Red Hand" from family stories?

    Robert Jordan

    No. That came from my mind twisting certain mythologies that I had read, certain legends.

    Footnote

    The pseudonym is actually Reagan O'Neal, not Sean O'Neal.

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  • 85

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Hopper

    I find your characterization of the relationships between the male and female characters to be interesting, and amusing. Did you model Nynaeve after an older sister or other female that tortured you in your youth? :)

    Robert Jordan

    All of the women are modeled in one way or another after the conglomerate of women I've met in my life...but every single one of them, EVERY one of them, has some element of my wife in her. I won't say what elements are in what characters, we'd get too far afield...I will say it has nothing to do with torture in that particular case.

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  • 86

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Brendan T. Lavin

    Mr. Jordan. I love your series, it is intricate and interesting. My favorite character (other than Rand) is Mat. People have speculated that Odin was the outline for this character. I see Chukullen (misspelled). Could you elaborate?

    Robert Jordan

    There are a number of characters reflected, mythological characters, reflected in each of the books. Because of the basic theme, if you will, of the books, that information becomes distorted over distance or time, you cannot know the truth of an event the further you get from it. These people are supposed to be the source of a great many of our legends or myths, but what they actually did bears little resemblance to the myth. That is the conceit, that time has shifted these actions to other people, perhaps compressing two people into one or dividing one into three as far as their actions go.

    So Rand has bits of Arthur and bits of Thor and bits of other characters. And so does Mat and so does Nynaeve, and so do others. And yes Mat does have some bits of Odin, but not exclusively. He has bits of Loki and bits of Coyote and of the Monkey King.

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  • 87

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Eric Ligner

    I like your use of strong female characters. Was there any inspiration for this?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, I grew up in a family of strong women. Most of the women I knew growing up were quite strong. I very early on realized that—well, it seemed natural, this is how I saw the world. There were strong women and strong men and when weak men came along they were ridden over. But the fact that there were strong women didn't mean no strong men. Again, it's a given, there had to be a balance.

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  • 88

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Martin Reznick

    I am an avid reader of author Ayn Rand. A hero in her novel The Fountainhead matches Rand's physical description exactly. Coincidence?

    Robert Jordan

    Coincidence—I'm afraid I haven't read Ayn Rand since college.

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  • 89

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Ammon

    Have you ever put your own personality in one of your characters, or do you liken yourself to one of your characters?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I expect there's a bit of me in all of the male characters. My secretary thinks that I am Mat. My wife thinks I'm Loial. Other people have said they detected me in other characters, but I think it's just a bit of me in all of the male characters. I'm not sure how I could have written them otherwise.

    Footnote

    It's not clear whether RJ's 'secretary' is Maria or Marcia Warnock. (Marcia seems more likely as RJ generally referred to Maria as his 'assistant'. She started working for him about this time.)

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  • 90

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Eric Ligner

    Do you draw upon your military education for your battles or from general knowledge?

    Robert Jordan

    From both, actually.

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  • 91

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Scott Robertson

    Mr Jordan, I was wondering where you came up with the "old language" and the Aiel language? Are there preset rules to them and it is a functioning language? Or do you just have a set of words that you devised and insert when needed?

    Robert Jordan

    It's a functioning language in that I have developed a basic grammar and syntax, and have a vocabulary list which I have devised, some from Gaelic of course, but from languages less often used...Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese. I try to follow these rules that I've set up, but occasionally I realize I have to invent a new rule because I'm doing something I've never done before. But it all follows the grammar I've devised. As far as the Aiel that I've devised as a culture, they have bits of Apache, bits of Bedouin, bits that are simply mine.

    Footnote

    The Aiel do not have their own language, but they do use some Old Tongue words that have fallen out of use on the other side of the Dragonwall.

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  • 92

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Charles W. Otten

    I find your style similar to Ernest Hemingway in your attention to detail. Do you consciously write this way, or do you find yourself just writing this way? I wish to write in the future after life's experiences and this would be of great assistance.

    Robert Jordan

    I simply write the way I write. I don't try to imitate anyone. I've certainly read—and still read—Hemingway, and admire most of his books, but I think the person with the greatest influence on my style is Mark Twain. The trouble with that is that I've read a great many authors, and I can't say who has most influenced me over the years without my knowing it.

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  • 93

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Karl Schwede

    Is there any particular inspiration for the Forsaken, and the other antagonists in your series, as there are for the women characters? Demandred and how he was always an inch behind Lews Therin (in the Power, in swordsmanship etc...), for example—was there a particular inspiration for that?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, there are—and I won't go into details because I want to keep the mythological and legendary roots hidden—I don't want to have people spending more time discussing the legends than the stories! The thing is there are several legends and myths based on such jealousy, on the man who is just a half a step short of another man. The woman who would have been the greatest of her age, but there was another who was just a bit better. That sort of jealousy leads to the worst kind of hatred. When someone can easily defeat you, there's not that kind of jealousy. But when he beats you in a photo finish every single time, that is when emotions begin to curdle and rancor sets in, and you find yourself with this festering deep inside that can turn into murderous hatred.

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  • 94

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Searles O'Dubhain

    The initiation rituals for raising an Accepted to Aes Sedai seem to be based upon some sort of real-life ceremonies. Where did you get the idea for the three passes through the ter'angreal?

    Robert Jordan

    Trinities and threes and multiples of three or seven turn up again and again in mythologies and legends throughout the world and in ceremonies throughout the world. That part is hardly original. It's something that speaks to us on some deeper level. It's so prevalent, it must. It's all pervasive.

    Footnote

    The 'three passes through the ter'angreal' corresponds to the way in which a novice is raised to Accepted, not how an Accepted is raised Aes Sedai.

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  • 95

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Belsamar

    OK. Let's see if this works. Hello, RJ. Just out of curiosity, do your predictions (Foretellings and Min's viewings) have a well, Delphic quality by accident, or by choice? And did you ever think of writing a copy of The Prophecies of the Dragon?

    Robert Jordan

    There's very little in the books that's by accident—very little...and no, I've never thought of writing out the complete Prophecies of the Dragon. As already stated in a previous book, they would comprise a volume of some 300 to 400 pages.

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  • 96

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Seraph23

    First off, I'd like to say thanks Mr. Jordan for providing my family and I countless hours of reading enjoyment, and I'd like to ask you something about the Aiel, well, who are they?

    Robert Jordan

    You're welcome. And they are the descendants of the pacifists who were in service to the Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends. If on the other hand, you mean the source of the culture...in my mind, they contain some elements of the Apache, some of the Zulu, some of the Bedouin, and some elements of my own including that I rather liked the fact of making the desert dwellers blue-eyed and fair instead of the usual dark-eyed, dark-complected desert people.

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  • 97

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Sarpeshka

    Mr. Jordan, how do you come up with names for characters in your stories?

    Robert Jordan

    I have a huge list of names. Whenever I see an interesting name I jot it down. I almost never use the name as it is, though. I change it.

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  • 98

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Scotty1489

    Are any of the characters based on real people?

    Robert Jordan

    No, not really, except that all of the women have something of my wife in them.

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  • 99

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Argive000

    Mr. Jordan, I want to inform you that a recent graduate of the University of Notre Dame has just completed a thesis on the rebirth of philosophy in literature centered around your Wheel of Time series.

    Robert Jordan

    That's very nice to know. I've had several people send my copies of their master's theses and other undergraduate theses, comparing me to Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. It's enough to swell my head. Luckily, my wife takes care of that little problem. ;)

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  • 100

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Scotty1489

    Is our earth a future or past turn of the wheel?

    Robert Jordan

    Both. The characters in the books are the source of many of our myths and legends and we are the source of many of theirs. You can look two ways along a wheel.

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  • 101

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    JJVORSmith

    There's been some question about how the Aiel sustain their vast numbers east and west of the Dragonwall. How can millions of Aiel live on grubs in the Waste and why don't they scavenge the land clean in Illian, Cairhien, and Caemlyn?

    Robert Jordan

    They can live in the same ways that the Bedouin manage to live in a desert where you or I would die, and the Apache did so. They make very efficient use of what they find. And if they stay in one place for too long in too great a number they would indeed strip the land bare. But there certainly aren't millions of them in Illian.

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  • 102

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Sheriam

    Mr. Jordan? If I may? How did you develop the language?

    Robert Jordan

    The words come partly from Gaelic, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese. The grammar and syntax I believe I invented myself although it's possible that another language uses the same. Of course, just as with English, I have deliberately put in some very illogical inconsistencies.

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  • 103

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    How much did your military experience influence your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    Some, I suppose, but I don't know that it had any great influence.

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  • 104

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    Did you base any of the WOT characters on real life friends, or acquaintances?

    Robert Jordan

    No, with one exception. All of the major female characters have some part of my wife in them.

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  • 105

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    How much did Tolkien, or even Eddings' Belgariad chronicles influence the WOT series?

    Robert Jordan

    Eddings certainly not at all, and as for Tolkien, only to the degree that (1) he showed that it was possible to write a very large series of books, a very large story, and (2) the fact that I purposely did the first, oh, perhaps 80 pages of The Eye of the World as an homage to Tolkien in a way, that it was set in the same sort of pastoral country that Tolkien wrote about.

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  • 106

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    Just curious, but what culture(s) were the Seanchan based on?

    Robert Jordan

    A good deal of Japan, of the Shogunites, Imperial China, and in general a good many rigid hierarchical stratified societies. Too many to list really, I suppose.

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  • 107

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    Did you get any inspiration from Arthurian legend?

    Robert Jordan

    Quite a bit, along with other Celtic myths and Norse myths and African and Middle-Eastern, and Hindu and Chinese and Japanese and Native American and even Australian Aboriginal. Plus some others here and there to tell you the truth.

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  • 108

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    Did your purposefully use Neo-Pagan and New Age influences to develop the WOT series?

    Robert Jordan

    Not knowingly no. I don't think so.

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  • 109

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    Are you saying all the characters are based on various cultures around the world?

    Robert Jordan

    Bits and pieces sometimes. Not the characters, but the nations are sometimes based on bits and pieces of actual cultures and quite often it has nothing to do with any culture that I am aware of consciously.

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  • 110

    Interview: Oct 9th, 1996

    Question

    Is "Ogier" from "to sing Ogier"?

    Robert Jordan

    No. It's to sound like Ogre but not be exactly the same. Name of family in Charleston.

    Footnote

    It's also a small street not far from where RJ lived with Harriet in the historic district of Charleston.

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  • 111

    Interview: Oct 12th, 1996

    Mike Lawson

    Also, there's another (non-FAQ-related) note concerning the pre-Bore Age of Legends...

    Robert Jordan

    RJ had mentioned (in response to another question) that what the characters believe does not make it so (Moiraine's statements were used as an example), so I asked whether the pre-Bore Age of Legends was the Utopia that the characters believed it to be. His reply is paraphrased below:

    Compared to their current world, it certainly would be a utopia. However, that doesn't mean that it wasn't perfect. Of course, outbreaks of diseases were kept to a minimum, but it and other disasters of that ilk still occurred. Evil still existed, as well.

    The Forsaken, for example, weren't exactly a stellar bunch to begin with. Semirhage, for example, was a sadist. (I'll skip his description of what a sadist is.) She went into her profession (the equivalent of a surgeon) because it provided an outlet for her sadism. (He then cited some studies that showed that there were more people with sadist tendencies in the medical profession, and surgeons in particular, to support his point.) Aginor (whom he said after some prompting had several elements of the classic mad scientist type) was a biological scientist who never considered the consequences of his actions. Aginor would say, "I wonder what would happen if I took the ebola virus and altered it to be an airborne virus." He'd go ahead and do just that, all without realizing he'd be creating a potentially unstoppable plague. All Aginor would reply to that was, "Hmm. Interesting." (Jordan then mentioned Aginor's creation of the Trollocs, their defects, "It was strong, big, tough to kill, and...... stupid," and that it was the birth of the first Myrddraal that saved the Trollocs from being a complete failure.)

    Even back in the Age of Legends, regular, ordinary folks could do some pretty nasty things. He then cited a study about a small town of ordinary Germans in WWII who did some pretty horrific things (I believe he was referring to the book "Hitler's Willing Executioners").

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  • 112

    Interview: Oct 12th, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    Vietnam/Rand's "No Kill Woman" Thing

    RJ vividly described an experience he had in Vietnam where he killed a female Viet Cong. He said he simply spotted a figure holding a weapon and fired on it, then "acquired the next target." He then realized that he had killed a woman—the first (and I believe only) time he's done that. This provides an obvious basis for Rand's "Achilles' Heel." (I thought he should have offed both the Tower Aes Sedai in the beginning of A Crown of Swords and Lanfear earlier, but I'm rude like that.)

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  • 113

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Kaldric

    I've noticed the influence of Stephen Donaldson in the Wheel of Time. Has he been a great influence?

    Robert Jordan

    No. I'm really surprised.

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  • 114

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Eligar

    What cultures and societies did you base Saldaea on?

    Robert Jordan

    Saldaea is based, in part, on a number of Middle Eastern cultures and several cultures in countries surrounding the Black Sea. In part.

    Eligar

    And *nervous grin*, is the sa'sara supposed to be a sort of belly-dance? *duck*

    Robert Jordan

    The sa'sara, now... You'll need a certificate from your doctor, a note from your mother and a certificate of health for whoever you intend to dance it for before I can give you any more information beside the name.

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  • 115

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Loial

    I've noticed a bit of an influence from the Star Wars series...is there any truth to this?

    Robert Jordan

    (lol) No. I don't read Star Wars books.

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  • 116

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Mel

    Do you put any of your friends or your personal character traits into your characters?

    Robert Jordan

    No, none of my friends, none of me. There is a touch of my wife in all of the major female characters, however, and a good many of the secondary female characters. She's a very complex woman.

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  • 117

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    SamMaEL

    I've noticed a lot of the names in your books are based on historical cultures. Which culture do you think has influenced your books the most?

    Robert Jordan

    I think it's a toss-up between the ancient Celts, the Japanese of the Shogunites, and France of the 17th Century. But then, there are a lot of bits and pieces that have come from a great many sources. I'm not truthfully certain that the three that I gave you really ARE the greatest influences.

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  • 118

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Ishamael

    How much of Jesus Christ is there in Rand? We have the wounded palms, side wound, crown of swords... How representational of Jesus Christ is Rand?

    Robert Jordan

    Rand has some elements of Jesus Christ, yes. But he is intended more to be a general "messiah figure." An archetype such as Arthur, rather than a manifestation of Jesus Christ in any way.

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  • 119

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    borg

    Has your background in physics and as a member of the US Army influenced your books?

    Robert Jordan

    It could hardly help having done so.

    Tags

  • 120

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Lana Trezise from Columbia, MO

    A recurring motif in the Wheel of Time series is the differences between men and women. Why did you decide to make this such an important feature in your writings, and why do you take such a bipolar view on gender?

    Robert Jordan

    I became fascinated with women at the age of three. It's a long story—too long to go into here. But I quickly realized that for everything that was the same about men and women, there seemed to be at least two or three things that were different. Once I had decided that I wanted to use the One Power in the way that I was using it—that is divided into a male half and a female half—it became obvious to me that the differences between men and women themselves should also play a part.

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  • 121

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Linda from Sweden

    I've only had a quick look at the guide so far, but I couldn't find much additional information on Mayene. Perhaps you could tell us which, if any, cultures you have based it on and what the people are like, apart from that they don't exactly seem to suffer from excessive modesty. ;)

    Robert Jordan

    Well Mayene is based culturally on the cities of the Hanseatic league, as well as Venice and Genoa when those cities were world commercial powers and city states in themselves. Of course, I didn't put anything into the guide that I wanted to come as a surprise in the books. You have to remember that. Which is one reason I gave quite as much as I did about the history of the world and considerably less about the "present day."

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  • 122

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Nick Hersh from MVNC

    Mr. Jordan, absolutely fascinating series, I love it. How much do you feel you drew from the Bible in creating the Dragon character, i.e., Moses leading the Israelites from Egypt as opposed to Rand leading the Aiel from the Waste?

    Robert Jordan

    I drew from everything that I have read in the past 40 odd years, including the Bible. It's very hard for me to say—in most cases—exactly what the sources were in any particular instance.

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  • 123

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Joel from Phoenix, AZ

    You have said several times that you based many of the cultures in the Wheel of Time on cultures of history. Do you have a favorite period in history, or a favorite culture?

    Robert Jordan

    The Enlightenment would have been a fine time to live, I think. And there are a few others. But by and large I am happy right where I am . . . and when.

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  • 124

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Joar from Costa Mesa, CA

    You have mentioned that you intentionally tried to recreate some of the feel of Tolkien's Middle Earth, especially in the first book. Considering many of the similar elements between the stories and the fact that time in your world is cyclical, with heroes being reborn through the ages, did you intend to imply that Middle Earth could possibly be "an Age long past, an Age yet to come"?

    Robert Jordan

    Certainly not. In the first hundred pages of The Eye of the World I did try to invoke a Tolkienesque feel. But after that I have certainly not tried to reflect in any way Middle Earth. As a matter of fact, beginning back in that very early part of The Eye of the World, I deliberately took off in a very different direction from Tolkien and I've been running hard in that direction ever since.

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  • 125

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Jonathon from Nebraska

    Mr. Jordan...I play a one of the best telnet games based on your books (cshadow.net port 4000). It runs as close to you books as we can get. My question is this...I play a Seanchan character and have for some time. What was your basis when creating the Seanchan race and the structure of their society? I enjoy the race completely and love the structure of its hierarchy and was just curious as to what they are created from in your mind...? Thank you!!

    Robert Jordan

    Imperial China. Japan during the Shogunites, with strong dollups from the Persian Empire and from the Ottoman.

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  • 126

    Interview: Sep, 1998

    Rajiv Mote

    And once the crowd had cleared out, he was willing to chat (we talked about where he got "Easing the Badger" and the related iconography). But I agree, his wife was by far the more enthusiastic and charming.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, he didn't give a "within-WoT" story explanation. But "Easing the Badger" and the picture of the dancing badger and the man with a golden (not silver, like in his book) shovel came out of a history book RJ had read. (His wife remembered the name, but I forgot it, along with the historical period.) There was a group in England who used that name and had that iconography on a banner. He didn't know anything about the group other than that, but his wife speculated that "Easing the Badger" could be something like the "Upping of the Swans", which was the annual count of the swans living in the royal gardens.

    Rajiv Mote

    For what it's worth, when he signed my book, he wrote "You're too young to know what 'Easing the Badger' means!"

    Footnote

    This report could only be partially recovered from rasfwrj.

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  • 127

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Waldenbooks

    As a man who served tours of duty in Vietnam, how does your epic reflect your own personal experiences with war, and how difficult is this for you to write about?

    Robert Jordan

    It really doesn't reflect any of my own experiences, except that I know what it is like to have someone wanting to kill you. I don't try to write about Vietnam; I thought I would, once, but now, I don't believe I could make myself. But I know the confusion, uncertainty and out-right ignorance of anything you can't see that exists once the fighting starts; I don't think war will ever become sufficiently high-tech to completely dispel "the fog of war." So I can put these sensations into my writing.

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  • 128

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Waldenbooks

    It has been said that the elaborate and rich descriptions you use to create your worlds and characters bring your stories to life. Where do your descriptions come from? Are any of your characters based on real people?

    Robert Jordan

    The descriptions come from years of reading history, sociology, cultural anthropology, almost anything I can put my hands on in any and every subject that caught my eye. Including religion and mythology, of course, necessities for a fantasy writer, though I went at them first simply because I wanted to. It all tumbles together in my head, and out comes what I write. I don't try to copy cultures or times, only to make cultures that are believable. I can't explain it any better than that.

    I don't base characters on real people. With one exception, at least. Every major female character and some of the minor have at least a touch of my wife, Harriet. I won't tell her which bits in which women, though. After all, what if she didn't like it? She knows where I sleep.

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  • 129

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Waldenbooks

    What does your fan mail tell you of the chords you've struck to create such a devoted following?

    Robert Jordan

    In large part, that I've created characters people believe in. One fairly common is that the reader knows somebody just like Mat or Nynaeve or whoever, or that they feel they could meet them around the next corner. Character is very important to me; story flows from character. Also, I suspect that the strong interweaving of mythologies from a number of cultures plays a part, too. Modern society—at least in the West—pretends that we have outgrown the need for myth and legend, but people seem to hunger for them. Where we have forgotten our myths, we create new ones, although today we don't realize what we are doing. But then, maybe people never did truly realize what they were doing in making myth; perhaps it has always been an unconscious act. The cultural trappings surrounding myth and legend vary widely by country, but if they are stripped to the bare core you find among the same stories repeated over and over around the world. However different their cultures, custom and mores, people share many of the same needs, hopes and fears. Anyway, I believe there is a strong echo of myth and legend in my writing, and I think people feel that.

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  • 130

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    Joey from Arizona

    Mr. Jordan, my favorite character is Mat, and I was wondering, do you find it ironic that a Hero of the Wheel, who does not know that he is a Hero of the Wheel, blew the Horn of Valere? Also, where did you get the idea for Mat?

    Robert Jordan

    Oh, Mat is a lot of guys. Mat is Coyote and Trickster and a lot of other characters out of myth and legend. He's the reluctant hero, he's a lot of things. He's the bad boy on the Harley. He's a lot of legends.

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  • 131

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Sense of Wonder

    In a field where J.R.R. Tolkien has been used as a yardstick that leaves most authors far behind, the notoriously discriminating New York Times says you have come to dominate the world Tolkien began to reveal. As your Wheel of Time series has grown, the richness and compelling nature of your creation has also been favorably compared with that of other great masters in creative fields, including the Brothers Grimm, Aldous Huxley, Stephen King, Michael Moorcock, Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, and Beethoven! You are part of a distinguished heritage. What do you feel is most distinctive about your work?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I believe I write with a distinctly American voice, and a distinctly Southern one to boot. There is a great story-telling tradition in the South. My grandfather, father, and uncles were all raconteurs, and I grew up listening to their stories, as well as those of other men. There's a touch of oral tradition in my writing. Maybe that's where Beethoven comes in. A spoken story must flow musically, in words and in structure. I believe that my fiction reads as if it were meant to be read aloud. It certainly goes well in the unabridged audiotape versions. In short, it is a matter of time and place and experience. I grew up in a different place and in a different way from any of those men, and lived a different life. I am none of those men, could not be, and don't want to be. I am myself.

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  • 132

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Sense of Wonder

    Speaking of coming from a different time and place, it has often been said that your military experience leaves a clear mark on your work. It's a matter of record that you served two tours of duty in Vietnam and your decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with "V," and two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry. How would you say your military experience is reflected in your Wheel of Time series?

    Robert Jordan

    My writing doesn't really reflect any of my own personal war experiences, except that I know how it feels to have someone trying to kill you. I don't try to write about Vietnam; I thought I would, once, but now, I don't think I'd be able to. However, I know the feeling of confusion, doubt, and plain ignorance of anything you can't see that exists once fighting starts. I don't think war will ever become so technologically advanced as to completely dispel "the fog of war," so I put those feelings into my writing.

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  • 133

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Kayleigh

    Who is your greatest inspiration?? Your greatest influence?

    Robert Jordan

    I really have to list five authors I believe are the greatest influence on me. Louis L'Amour...Jane Austen...John D. MacDonald...Charles Dickens...and Mark Twain.

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  • 134

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    Tijamilism

    I love all the similarities between Frank Herbert's Dune and WOT. Was this intended? If so, are you a fan of his?

    Robert Jordan

    No, there was no intention to make any similarities between Dune and my writings. And I am certainly a big fan of the original Dune novel. Although I doubt if I've read it since it first came out!

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  • 135

    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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  • 136

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    Slayer

    I noticed how there are many similarities between the WOT and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Is this on purpose, or do great minds just think alike?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, it's not on purpose, though I don't know about great minds. Lord of the Rings has more dissimilarities than similarities to my series. I have no elves, no unicorns, no dragons. Tolkien wrote from a distinctly English viewpoint and voice about myths and legends that came from England. I write in an American voice, in fact a distinctly southern voice, about myths and legends that come from every country represented by the population of the US. And then there's the role played by women...there are only two women in Lord of the Rings....women tell half the story in WOT! There are other differences, and I sometimes find it hard to see the similarities.

    Footnote

    RJ stated in other interviews that he wrote the first part of The Eye of the World to be somewhat reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, as a sort of homage to Tolkien.

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  • 137

    Interview: Nov 14th, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    The Aiel were based on bits of the Apache, Zulu, Bedouin, and Arab(?) cultures.

    Matthew Hunter

    Nothing startling here, but I don't think we've had this one answered as a complete list before. It was fired off really fast, so I may have missed some...

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  • 138

    Interview: Nov 14th, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    I grew up around strong women; weak men were pickled and salted. The women wouldn't waste time raising a weak boy.

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  • 139

    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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  • 140

    Interview: Nov 14th, 1998

    Matthew Hunter

    When China Ruled the Seas

    Evidently, China was a real behemoth in the Middle Ages, right on the track to world domination, until they decided they didn't really want to rule the world. The following is a summary from hastily scribbled notes on a subject about which I am relatively ignorant; if I fuck up, it means I can't read my notes.

    Robert Jordan

    1484

    In the time before Columbus...

    China had a huge fleet of ships (3000 of them, half-million crew), printing presses, generally huge technological advantage over everywhere else. The fleet is commanded by a name that translates as "Three-Jeweled Eunuch" (although he was evidently not a eunuch??). The fleet had superior logistics (well, something about logistics right about here) and had reached Madagascar. They were planning to round the Cape of Good Hope and see what they found.

    1490

    The year they would have reached Europe...and overwhelmed it.

    Unfortunately, bad things happened. The current Emperor died and was succeeded by his son, who was young and had self-confidence problems. The palace eunuchs (evidently a powerful political force) grew concerned over the changes caused by outside influences, believing them to be corrupting Chinese culture. They convinced the Emperor to shut China off from the rest of the world by burning seafaring boats (including that huge fleet!), restricting foreigners to certain cities and killing them if they were caught outside, and killing Chinese who left to see the world and then returned.

    It seems the Japanese also did this—twice, in fact.

    Matthew Hunter

    This was a very long spiel coming from the nonfiction military history books he recommended. There was a lot more detail than I managed to capture, but one thing that stood out in my mind was that he had just told us the origins of Shara and the Seanchan. Or some of them, at least.

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  • 141

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Drollick

    I liked the Conan book you did. On your listed mention of authors who most influenced you, you did not list Robert E. Howard. Is there a reason?

    Robert Jordan

    He didn't influence me, that's why. I enjoyed reading the stories when I was a boy and I enjoyed writing the Conan novels, but Howard was never an influence on my style.

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  • 142

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Moderator (Call)

    What's his favorite sci-fi movie?

    Robert Jordan

    Actually...I think I have to go all the way back to Forbidden Planet. My favorite fantasy movie would have to be Excalibur. There are a lot of good science fiction movies out there, from Bladerunner to The Day The Earth Stood Still to The Terminator, but nothing can touch Excalibur.

    Footnote

    RJ referenced Terminator 2: Judgment Day rather blatantly with the 'new breed' of Darkhounds first encountered by Rand in Rhuidean, to the point that the fans often refer to them as T2 Darkhounds. There are two Excalibur parallels in WoT: Callandor and Justice.

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  • 143

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Strider71

    What do you think of the parallels drawn between you and Tolkien?

    Robert Jordan

    I assume the questioner means the parallels drawn by [Edward] Rothstein of The New York Times. I find them interesting...I was not aware there were quite so many.

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  • 144

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Joni

    You mention different accents, like the Taraboner and Murandian, as well as the slurred speech of the Seanchan. Are any of these accents and dialects at all comparable to those in this world, and if so, which ones sound like which?

    Robert Jordan

    To some degree, some of them are like accents from this world. It would be a bit much to go into here to discuss which ones are like which. Let your mind go free.

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  • 145

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    dancer

    I'm impressed by the scene details, especially the towns; what were your best research resources?

    Robert Jordan

    Too many to go into...forty odd years of reading and studying and traveling... really, too many to go into.

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  • 146

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Question

    Where do you come up with all the names for the cities? Do you just pick them out of your head?

    Robert Jordan

    Ahh, yeah. And I admit to making lists. I read fairly widely and...Newspapers, foreign newspapers, foreign to me, to the States. The Economist and other magazines that have stories about other countries' news stories. And I'll see a name that it isn't the name that I want but I realize if I twist it and turn it inside out and tie it into a knot, it's a name that sounds very nice. It's the name I want. The same way names out of myth and legend that in some cases are twisted or turned or changed and others aren't. I figure that most of you are far enough along that you read, that you know Rand al'Thor, al'Thor, yes he is an Arthur analog. He is also a Thor analog. Some of you might not have picked that one up yet. And Artur Hawkwing is also an Arthur analog. Because what I've tried to do is not give you any sort of retelling of myths or legends but to reverse engineer every one of them so that I can give you some version of what might have happened and then have been changed by telling and retelling and retelling and retelling into the myths and legends we have today.

    Question

    On that point, the cultures from the books, would you say you've used cultures from today's society as a base for the cultures from the books?

    Robert Jordan

    Not a great deal from today's society, no. Not really. The Whitecloaks are based on any number of groups who knew the truth, who know the truth and they want you to believe the truth. They want you to know the truth too. And if you don't know the truth, if you don't believe the truth they'll kill ya. There's been a lot of them, all over the world. They're the basis for the Whitecloaks. The Aiel, for instance, bits of the Bedouin, bits of the Yaqui Indians, the Apaches, bits of Zulu, bits of the Northern Cheyenne, a lot of bits of my own. Some pieces out of Japan, some bits out of China. And then structure it together how these things have all...If all these things were true, all of these bits I wanted to have, and that culture lived in the middle of the desert, a very inhospitable desert, what else has to be true about these people. And thus I get the Aiel culture.

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  • 147

    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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  • 148

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    Have any writers influenced you?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, I think so. I believe that the major influences on my writing are Jane Austen, John D. MacDonald, Mark Twain, Louis L'Amour and Charles Dickens.

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  • 149

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Paul Ward

    Possible question: Languages/accents?

    Robert Jordan

    Seanchan -> Texas accent. Two Rivers -> Irish/English accent. Illianers -> Dutch. Aiel -> somewhat Slavic. Tairen -> Spanish. Domani -> Indian. Saldaean -> Egyptian/North African.

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  • 150

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Paul Ward

    Possible question: Someone found a "Master Knifemaker" Herron. Was he the inspiration for heron-mark blades?

    Robert Jordan

    No... I am not familiar with him at all.

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  • 151

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    Do the events of the outside world (i.e. current affairs, politics and the like) affect what you write in your books?

    Robert Jordan

    They must filter in, to varying degrees. I follow the world news assiduously, and I can’t see how I could keep events in the world from affecting events in the books. But it happens when and as I choose. Refugees in Kosovo, ethnic cleansing, famine in Africa, civil wars, upheavals, floods, whatever—you might say I use those events to give authenticity to similar events in the books. I don’t like preaching, but I always hope my readers will think a little beyond the story, and I think that acquired authenticity helps.

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  • 152

    Interview: Nov 10th, 2000

    Question

    Have you ever seen "Army of Darkness"? There's a scene in there where Ash (the protagonist) smashes the mirror and mini dopplegangers come out of each shard.

    Robert Jordan

    No. When did the movie come out?

    Footnote

    Army of Darkness was released on October 9, 1992...and The Shadow Rising was released on September 15, 1992. Looks like both parties are innocent (not that most fans of WoT would have minded if RJ had referenced the movie).

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  • 153

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Rune from Dragonmount

    Do you have a Languages education? Where did you get the idea for the Old Tongue?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I got the idea for the Old Tongue simply because the core beginnings of this story lie 3000 years in the past—and I've never heard of a language remaining unchanged over that length of time. We could not understand the English spoken by an Englishman from 1000 years ago, and we'd have difficulty understanding him from 500 years ago, and the same holds true for a Frenchman with his language or a German with his.

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  • 154

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    E.S. from Denver

    How did Kierkegard and Sartre influence your portrayal of Bela and can you discuss how the equus/superequus dichotomy played out in the whole Asmodean murder scene?

    Robert Jordan

    (laughs) No, no, neither Sartre or Kierkegard influenced me in the slightest, nor did they influence the development of Bela. My wife thinks that they did influence the development of Bela, but I don't and I'm the one who did it, so there.

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  • 155

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Yanmin from Singapore

    What inspired the Forsaken?

    Robert Jordan

    A great many things—but in large part, people who are willing to do anything at all for their personal aggrandizement.

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  • 156

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Natalie Fylith from Dragonmount

    Did you get inspiration for Be'lal's name from Paradise Lost? (i.e., the fallen angel Belial)

    Robert Jordan

    Among other places, yes.

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  • 157

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Clayton from Hutchinson

    First, I thoroughly enjoy the Wheel of Time series. Is there an actual form of martial arts that inspired the "sword forms", and are the forms you mention in the books part of this art or are they you own creation?

    Robert Jordan

    The sword forms described in the book are my own creation, but they are based in part on the Japanese art of the sword, and also on fencing as it developed, when it was well on its way to becoming a martial art as we define them today (when it was developing in the Renaissance).

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  • 158

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Laure from Montreal, QC

    You said earlier that Mat would get 'stuck' with someone and you mentioned Pink Ribbons. Eighteenth century condoms were attached with such ribbons...is it linked?

    Robert Jordan

    No.

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  • 159

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Jacob from California

    First off, major compliments for sharing your beautiful creation with us. Second off, how do you come up with your characters'/cities' names? Most of the names do not sound like traditional fantasy names, did you do this conciously in order to create a work that was not like the 'norm'?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. I didn't want to simply copy what's gone before. There are some things that are reminiscent, certainly, and I can't say that every name is unlike what might be called "traditional fantasy names," but I definitely wanted names that were different.

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  • 160

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Mathew-E

    Sir, I truly enjoy reading the sword fighting scenes, could you give us some background information on where you got the names for the various forms used?

    Robert Jordan

    The names are creations of my own, but they're based on Japanese and Chinese techniques and European techniques pre-gunpowder.

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  • 161

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    phoenix1356

    Mr. Jordan, as a witch I would like to thank and compliment you on your explanation of the elemental powers.

    Robert Jordan

    I've been reading about elemental powers for years; glad you like it.

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  • 162

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Shawnyve

    An odd question, What exactly does it mean when you describe the clothing in the Wheel of Time as being 'blue slashed with cream'? Is there any historical dress in that still to get a more accurate picture of how you describe it?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. There is a historical dress much like it. A gap that can close or open. It's been used throughout European history.

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  • 163

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Fetch

    Did you draw on folklore and mythologies for your books? Specifically, Mat as a parallel to Odin, with his spear that has Thought and Memory on it (Odin's ravens) and the distinct possibility that he's gonna lose an eye sometime soon?

    Robert Jordan

    I've tried to reverse engineer myths and legends. As if this was a game of whispers. By the time the whisper travels around the room it changes. The legends of the world today are what the last child said. I'm trying to remember what was on the original paper. Yes, Odin, yes Rand has Arthur in him. But the stories have changed so... So the legends are ultimately not at all alike.

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  • 164

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Star

    What religions have influenced your creation of the Creator and the Dark One?

    Robert Jordan

    Christianity. Islam. Judaism. And bits of heretical writing within those faiths. I hasten to add I'm not endorsing anything. I'm just a writer. I tell stories.

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  • 165

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    Moderator

    How did you develop the idea for the Wheel of Time saga, and where did you get the name?

    Robert Jordan

    The name comes out of Hindu mythology, where there is a belief that time is a wheel. Many older cultures believe that time is cyclic, that it repeats. In fact, I believe the best thing the ancient Greeks gave us was (the idea) that time was linear and change was possible.

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  • 166

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    Moderator

    Were you influenced by the Bible book of Revelation? Your works seem to have many scriptural allusions.

    Robert Jordan

    There are a number of influences from the Bible, but from other sources as well. My work is not overtly religious in any way.

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  • 167

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    E_Tej

    I see that many of the story lines are derived (from) mythology around the world. Which culture do you draw from more?

    Robert Jordan

    I'm not certain that I draw from any one culture more than others. Many myths and legends of many different cultures are really the same story when you get to the heart of it. They are often cultural cautionary tales about how we should behave and how we should live.

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  • 168

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    Rodynus

    Was the name of Far Madding a literary allusion to 'An Elegy in a Country Churchyard'?

    Robert Jordan

    No. That straight-out answer shocked you, didn't it?

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  • 169

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    MengLor

    Where do you come up with the original spelling of the names of the characters?

    Robert Jordan

    Some of them come out of myths and legends. And others come because the sound is somewhat familiar, or because I like the sound of the name.

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  • 170

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    Sil7ver

    Is it true that many of your characters are based on Norse mythos?

    Robert Jordan

    Not many. Some. And no character is purely based on one myth or one legend.

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  • 171

    Interview: Jan, 2001

    SFBC

    What subjects interest you the most?

    Robert Jordan

    Oh, Lord. Almost anything. Half the books I read are nonfiction and it can be about anything under the sun. I'm just finishing up a book called Strange Victory, which is about the German defeat of France in 1940. What's fascinating about that is why it happened, because as the author points out, any time computers are allowed to run that scenario—the German invasion, the French defense—the French always win. The French had more tanks and the tanks were just as good. They had more men and the men were just as well trained. They had as many airplanes. Their airplanes were as good.

    But what happened was, the French did a couple of things that were very wrong. One, they had a high dependence on advanced technology and the arrogance, if you will, that comes from that, that says that technology will win for us.

    SFBC

    And they were relying on that?

    Robert Jordan

    They relied on that, and the second thing that happened was that because they had suffered tremendous casualties in World War I, they were very reluctant to suffer casualties again. The politicians were and the country was. And the third thing was that because of the reluctance to suffer casualties, they made all of the decisions be reviewed in Paris. So they had a slow decision-making cycle. If you put those together, does it give you an image of anybody else in the world right now, maybe?

    Anyway, the next book up is called The Code Book, and it's about development of codes and ciphers throughout history. As I said, I read about anything and everything... Whatever catches my eye.

    SFBC

    Does this wide range of interest also help in the development of your cultures and the incredible texture of the history in your books?

    Robert Jordan

    I think it does. History fascinates me. I read a lot of history, and I suppose what you might call cultural anthropology, also fascinates me. I like to read about other cultures. Specifically, not just about cultures now, but historically. You find surprising things.

    SFBC

    Past kingdoms?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, it's that, and more. Well, I'm reading a travel book about China that was written in the 1870s. Travel books at that time often told you everything about a culture that the writer could find out. I discovered that block watches, public self-confession, are very old traditions. If you were accused of something, you were expected to come forward and make a confession before your neighbors of what you had done wrong. And the large character wall posters, things that we think of as being modern and part of the Communist regime, are really very old.

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  • 172

    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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  • 173

    Interview: Jan, 2001

    SFBC

    I read somewhere that The Wheel of Time series has been described as Tolkien-esque ...was this intentional?

    Robert Jordan

    In the beginning, I wanted a little bit—at the beginning of The Eye of the World, I wanted a little bit of a Tolkien-esque feel. For perhaps the first 100 pages, I wanted to have that feel simply to establish that this is the foundation. Tolkien began so much of modern fantasy. Not all of it comes from him certainly, but The Lord of the Rings is this huge mountain casting a shadow over everything. Then, having said this is what you expect and this is the familiar ground, now, kiddies, we're going someplace else.

    SFBC

    You'd better believe it. I was expecting a certain thing in The Eye of the World, and then you started showing the way people use magic, something Tolkien never did. You blew our minds with even Rand destroying cities....Do you see these things in your head? Do you envision them?

    Robert Jordan

    I do. I assume everybody has a large visual component of their thoughts, where you visualize a scene or how things are working out. Our thoughts are not like reading a page. We don't see words in our heads to describe a scene. We see the scene and describe what we're seeing.

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  • 174

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Question

    Is that also where you get your inspiration?

    Robert Jordan

    I don't know, I dont know where the inspiration came from. My favorite authors are ah... Bearly Whitespread [shame on me, this probably isn't the name, but it's the best I can make of it, not recognizing the name], Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, John D. MacDonald, Louis L'Amour. Ah, these are not people you pick up as eh... inspiration for writing science fiction or fantasy, although John D. MacDonald wrote eh, ...was best known for his travel [???] fiction, and did write a book called The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything which is a hilarious science fiction novel.

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  • 175

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Question

    You're a scientist, you have a degree in physics I saw.

    Robert Jordan

    Eh, yes. I'm not sure I'd call myself a scientist, but, my degree is in physics, yes.

    Question

    It'd be logical for a physicist to write science fiction, and not fantasy. How did you come to fantasy and not science fiction?

    Robert Jordan

    Because I write what I want to write, really, but I'm not certain I'd say that it would be logical for a physicist to write science fiction. Are you aware of the paradigm [and now I finally know how to correctly pronounce that English word] called Schrödinger's Cat?

    Questioner

    No.

    Aan'allein

    [This guy just lost all respect I could possibly have for him, and it's getting worse.]

    Robert Jordan

    It's a mind test in a way, really. If you can wrap your mind around it in the right way, believe it, then you are ready for higher physics. Imagine a cat, sealed in a lead box, and there's no way to look into the box. Inside the box there is a flask of cyanide gas. Attached to the flask of cyanide gas is a Geiger counter. The Geiger counter is pointed at an atom. The atom has a 50-50 chance, in any given second, of decay. Now tell me, is the cat alive, or is the cat dead?

    Questioner

    He's fifty-fifty.

    Robert Jordan

    No, no, no, is the cat alive, or is the cat dead? I'm not asking you to give me odds. Is the cat alive, or is the cat dead?

    Questioner

    Ah, he's alive.

    Robert Jordan

    No.

    Question

    Why not?

    Robert Jordan

    If you're an engineer...If you have an engineering mindset, you'll say that the only way to do it is to open the box and check. If you have the mindset that could take you into higher physics, you're willing to accept that the cat is alive and dead, both, and will be fixed in one state or the other when the box is opened. But until the box is opened, the cat is alive, and it is dead, simultaneously.

    Questioner

    Yeah, that's fifty-fifty.

    Robert Jordan

    No, it's not a fifty-fifty chance. A fifty-fifty chance says that it's fifty percent chance that the cat is one way, and fifty percent that it's the other way.

    Questioner

    So it's either way.

    Robert Jordan

    No, the cat is not either way; it is both. It is 100% alive, and 100% that the cat is dead, and both things are true. And must be acceptable as true. If you cannot accept this as true, then you are not ready for quantum...for the most basic quantum physics, much less getting into anything beyond.

    But the thing is that if you can wrap your mind around Schrödinger's cat, you can also wrap your mind around fantasy. As a matter of fact, the thing that I find very interesting is that...I don't really follow theoretical physics to any degree now, and haven't for more than twenty years. But when I find myself talking to a theoretical physicist, I sometimes get stuck on panels with theoretical physicists. I'm always afraid that I'm going to be left way behind because I haven't kept up in the area, but I find that I can keep up quite nicely. As long as...while they're discussing theoretical physics, I discuss theology. And ah, I find myself able to keep up quite nicely, talking about the same thing.

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  • 176

    Interview: May, 2001

    Question

    At one point in the story we see Ishamael talking to Rand, and telling him that they have fought countless times in the past, but this is the final time. Is there anything about his Age that makes it special?

    Robert Jordan

    "No...every Age is repeated, there is nothing that makes this age any different from any other turnings of the Wheel. The Wheel is endless."

    SORILEA

    This leads me to believe that this will not be the LAST BATTLE ever. It probably just comes about every turning of the Wheel, and since it has been such a long time ago, no one ever remembers it.

    ROBERT JORDAN

    RJ explained that that is what a lot of the WOT is about, the source of Legends, and how some legends are based in such a small bit of real history, that no one really knows where they came from. If they are real, or just made up.

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  • 177

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Aan'allein

    (And then the first half of my tape was gone, and I decided to save most of the rest for the audience questions.)

    Jordan mentioned all the different cultures and myths he used in WoT. That he'd mined everything from Europe and Asia and Africa etc...

    Robert Jordan

    [first sentence paraphrased...only started taping again halfway through this] I don't know how it is in other places, but the best known legend for the American audience, that I had in mind ... when I wrote this for ... that legend is King Arthur. I would imagine that more people know the complete story of King Arthur and Guenever and the round table and the whole nine yards than know any other myth or legend, or perhaps more than know all the other myths put together. Now there are Arthurian elements in these books, but I had to try to bury them, for that reason, make them not so readily apparent. And while I had a particular part of the Arthurian legend mentioned from the first book, it was not until the third book that people began to realize what it was. In fact my editor, who is my wife, and who is a very very sharp woman, uhm, had edited the book and was writing the first version of the flap copy for the book, when she suddenly shouted down the stairs to me (if you're young, forgive me):

    [loud] You son of a bitch, you've done it it to me again! [laughter]

    Because she had suddenly spotted, not until reaching this... not until reaching the cover flap, she suddenly spotted by a... chance connection of words, this one particular Arthurian thing. [Jordan never mentioned what this was, but the logical option is of course Callandor.] And that you see, to me it's very obvious that the Arthur legend and all of the others are in there. If you spend time on the net, you find sites where they discuss these legends. [People sitting around me knowingly chuckle] I have to tell you that if you visit any of these FAQs... I haven't seen one in a couple of years, but the last time I was sent copies, I've read the printout of the FAQ, and when I was through it. And about a third of the answers in there were correct.

    Aan'allein

    [Turned the memo off here, this is well known. I did like the way he phrased the other two points here though. Something about "the second part was going in the right direction, but somewhere along the way they spotted something pretty which they followed and never arrived at drawing the conclusions they should have. As to the third part, I think it was written by people who didn't read my books at all."]

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  • 178

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Question

    A question about how Jordan came up with his names.

    Robert Jordan

    Nynaeve is the name of the nymph who in some versions of the Arthur Legend, imprisoned Merlin. Amyrlin is of course a play on Merlin, as is Thom Merrilin, a play on Merlin, and Rand al'Thor is a play on Arthur, as well as on Thor, but then so is Arthur Hawkwing a play on Arthur, because as I said before it's not a retelling of the myths... As things are done by in the myth, in the legend, if things were done by one man, were actually in both done by several perhaps and had become inflated in time.

    But the names come from everywhere. I read the ... in the New York Times, or the London Times, or something mis-seen on the street, I see, I catch a sign from the corner of my eye, and I misread a word on the sign because I only see it out of the corner of my eyes. And I jot it down, because it sounded like a good name.

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  • 179

    Interview: Apr 5th, 2001

    Question

    Are Whitecloaks based on the Ku Klux Klan?

    Robert Jordan

    Amongst others. Any group that believes to know the Truth with a capital T and want you to believe the same. Mostly it's based on groups like the Teutonic Knights, however, since they don't hide behind anything. The Church in the early Christian days, like the Taliban now, are people who know the Truth, and they will kill you if you don't believe the truth.

    He did not pick up bits and pieces of groups like the Ku Klux Klan, but the Whitecloaks are simply that, a group of people who know the truth, Veritas.

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  • 180

    Interview: Dec 9th, 2002

    Question

    Do current events and world politics, such as the tragedy on September 11th, ever end up influencing the events within the books? If so, what are some examples?

    Robert Jordan

    Only by accident. Any writing is always filtered through the writer, and whatever the writer lives through always changes the filters, but I don't consciously set out to mirror current events in any way.

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  • 181

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Rand

    At what age did you start to think that you were going to write books and where did you get your inspiration?

    Robert Jordan

    I knew from the age of five that I was going to write books one day and the inspirations were actually Jules Verne and Mark Twain.

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  • 182

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    aec

    Where do you get your inspiration from?

    Robert Jordan

    I get my inspiration from almost fifty years of reading everything I can get my hands on and thinking of everything I read.

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  • 183

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    There are a lot of battles, wars, and great conflicts in your books. Did your military experiences influence that part of your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    To some extent, but mainly the thing that comes out of my experiences in the military is that I know what it's like when someone is trying to kill you. And I know that being in a battle is confusion. You know what you can see; you don't know what is happening beyond your sight. That's what comes from the military. To tell you the truth, the battles aren't nearly as interesting as the people. I like the interactions of the people—the character development, the way people play off one another.

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  • 184

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    Are there particular historical eras that influence your stories?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, to give you an example of the way these things work... the Aiel. They have some bits of Japanese in them. Also some bits of the Zulu, the Berbers, the Bedouin, the Northern Cheyenne, the Apache, and some things that I added in myself. They are in no way a copy of any of these cultures, because what I do is say, "If A is true, what else has to be true about this culture? If B is true, what else has to be true?" And so forth.

    In this way I begin to construct a logic tree, and I begin to get out of this first set of maybe 10, maybe 30 things that I want to be true about this culture. I begin to get around an image of this culture, out of just this set of things, because these other things have to be true. Then you reach the interesting part, because this thing right here has to be true, because of these things up here. But, this thing right here has to be false, because of those things up there. Now, which way does it go, and why? You've just gotten one of the interesting things about the culture, one of the really interesting little quirks.

    To me, that in itself is a fascinating thing—the design of a culture. So that's how the Aiel came about. There are no cultures that are a simple lift of Renaissance Italy or 9th-century Persia or anything else. All of them are constructs.

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  • 185

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    Are there any characters in the books that are based on historical figures?

    Robert Jordan

    No. The groups are sometimes in ways based on historical organizations. The Whitecloaks have a lot of, say, Teutonic Knights. The Aes Sedai organization comes from the way convents were organized between A.D. 1000 and 1800, a time when there was real political power behind convents.

    There is one real-life individual who has contributed a lot. My wife has given me, involuntarily, at least one major character trait for all of the major female characters in the books. I'm very mean to her, I won't tell her which character traits I have taken.

    Therese Littleton

    That's probably wise.

    Robert Jordan

    As she has pointed out to me, she knows where I sleep! So I consider it wise not to upset her, if I can avoid it.

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  • 186

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    The women characters in your books are really interesting, not at all the cardboard cutouts that appear so often in fantasy. Did you do that consciously?

    Robert Jordan

    In part. In this world, given the history that divides this world, women had to have real political power. But on the other hand, I simply consider women to be more interesting if there's more about them to be interesting. A real live Barbie might be a lot of fun for a weekend if you're 22, but after that there's not much to it. Empty calories.

    They are complex women, strong women, the sort of women I've always found interesting. As my grandfather said, "Boy, would you rather hunt rabbits or leopards?" No choice there.

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  • 187

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Genoveva

    Mr. Jordan, do you weave (existing) mythology or archetypes in your books?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, I weave existing mythology into my books but I reverse engineer it rather than simply retell.

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  • 188

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    Question

    How much are you like the major characters?

    Robert Jordan

    I don't really think that any of the major characters are very much like me, although there's some bits in Mat that remind me of me when I was younger.

    Followed by the regular "I think of myself as Lan; my wife says I'm Loial."

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  • 189

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    Question

    Are the parallels between cultures conscious?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, the parallels are conscious, but I've taken, I've tried to take come care that there's no exact duplication. There are bits from this culture and this historical period, and this sort of other culture and other historical period, fitted together to make this culture or that culture. You cannot look at the Sea Folk for instance and say, "Oh yes, ah well, that's from India. That is the culture of Japan, or India, or China, or England, or whatever." Because there is no single culture in that way. The Aiel (eye-eel) for example have bits of Zulu, and bits of Apache, and bits of Cheyenne Indians, and bits of Bedouin and bits of Japanese cultures, and also some things that I simply thought would be neat. ... So I could fit them into the culture.

    Question

    Which cultures are in the Seanchan? (based on things in the Guide)

    Robert Jordan

    The Seanchan also are the melting of things that have come from many different human cultures to make their culture. There have been many rigid stratified, rigidly hierarchical cultures. It's a very human thing. The concept of being able to climb above your station is a relatively new one in human culture. You were born where you were born for a reason, and that is the place you will stay, that has been the norm for human culture, for most of history.

    I mean, even the groups...the Whitecloaks are the people who know the truth. Not just truth, they know Truth, they know Veritas, they know Truth with a capital T, they're the Taliban, the Ku Klux Klan, they're the people who know the truth and you must believe their truth or they will kill you. but they're not the Taliban, they're not the Teutonic Knights, they're not the Ku Klux Klan. They are simply that concept.

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  • 190

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    Question

    A question about what interests Jordan most in his books:

    Robert Jordan

    In many ways I think of these books, I spy myself in any of these books as being a sort of Jane Austen, but I've added everything, all that stuff about battles and politics and what not more and the Dark One, and what's really fascinating me, what's really interesting is the people. Working on one another, and reacting to one another.

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  • 191

    Interview: Apr 8th, 2001

    Question

    A question about influences in his writing...

    Robert Jordan

    When I started writing I did not think of anybody as being an influence or an inspiration, in any way. There were simply stories I wanted to tell. Long before the Wheel of Time. I now believe I can see writers among my favorite writers, having certain influences on me, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, John D. MacDonald, Louis L'Amour. They certainly influenced me, but again not inspiration.

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  • 192

    Interview: Apr 8th, 2001

    Question

    [Question about reading, research, sources, influences.]

    Robert Jordan

    It's hard really for a figure that I've been researching for the Wheel of Time. I see things, I notice things. I realize, "I can use this." An example I've used to you before, but it's a good one, is that [after leaving Tanchico, Nynaeve and Elayne needed] traveling companions. I wanted them to travel with some people, rather than by themselves. I wasn't too sure exactly what sort of group I was going to use. And I happened to go to the circus.

    And the circus happened to have a lot of acts that... (were) from Asia. I don't know why they seemed to have such a disproportionate number of acts from Asia. They were much different than most European circus acts and American circus acts, which are very similar to European circus acts. And when I went to my desk the next morning, I realized I knew exactly how Elayne and Nynaeve were going to travel. With Valan Luca's show.

    I have read for close on to fifty years, everything I could get my hands on. Various bits and pieces have been stuck in my head. And I use them. And sometimes...and if I see anything that's interesting, and a lot of things interest me, cultural anthropology, development of cities, how a windmill works, how does a waterwheel work? these things interest me, as much as how a modern day skyscraper is built, or how do you go about building a base on the moon?, or how do you go about building an industrial facility in an L5-point? Sometimes I do research and then... Well, I know nothing about blacksmithing really...[followed by that story you've heard before] No matter what you know, if you're an expert blacksmith, I want you to read right past that blacksmith scene, and believe it. And of course very few people will be expert blacksmiths, but that's fine. Because no matter what the scene is, I want you to believe it. No matter what your own knowledge is.

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  • 193

    Interview: Apr 8th, 2001

    Question

    Ah yes, somebody asked about him comparing Randland with 17th century earth as it would have been without gunpowder, but said that there was gunpowder in Randland.

    Robert Jordan

    Jordan explained that the development of something like gunpowder is not as natural as it might seem to us. They had fireworks for a thousand years in China before thinking of using it as a weapon (and then they only threw fireworks over the walls because they'd run out of rocks). Steel was invented time and again with never becoming widely known. Things like that. There's no reason for Randlanders to connect 'wanting to do things Aes Sedai do, but without using the Power' with fireworks. There are currently only a handful of people thinking about possible uses of fireworks as a weapon, and that only because they were around to learn about the damage of a Chapterhouse blowing up or something similar. Besides this, Randlanders aren't thinking about making weapons when dealing with fireworks, they're thinking about making money with it, because it's a luxury good. It's just as if caviar could be used as a weapon.

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  • 194

    Interview: Apr 8th, 2001

    Question

    A question about how autobiographical the books are.

    Robert Jordan

    There is nothing in my books that I can point to and say, "that happened to me," but everything I write is talking about who I am. And who I am is a creation of all the things that have happened to me in my life. So you could say that everything I write was first shaped by my life's experiences. It's a rather tenuous connection, but that's the only one I can find for you, sorry.

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  • 195

    Interview: 2012

    Twitter 2012 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    JD (4 January 2012)

    I played on older computer GSM the other day and came across The Green Man exactly as described by Jordan. Licensed?

    Brandon Sanderson (4 January 2012)

    Probably not, more RJ was drawing on mythology for the Green Man so they did as well.

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  • 196

    Interview: 2002

    My Childhood Influences

    Robert Jordan

    Three books: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, From the Earth to the Moon. I was five years old; I started reading early. I set those books up on a table on end, and I sat in a chair with my feet in the chair, and my chin on my knees—I was a little skinnier then. And I stared at those books and I said, "I'm going to do this one day. I'm gonna make stories like this one day." I can make a living writing books. This is wonderful, this is great. Yes, I love to write. It's sort of like finding out you can make a living eating chocolate.

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  • 197

    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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  • 198

    Interview: Jan 11th, 2003

    Robert Jordan

    One audience participant queried if he wrote down ideas that interested him for possible inclusion in future books, and where did he find all of his character names. He responded that he used to keep a journal of ideas for future projects, but stopped a number of years ago because to cover all of his current ideas along, he would have to live to be age 350. He bases his character names often on myth, giving the examples of "Al'Thor" and "Artur Hawkwing" being based on King Arthur of Arthurian legend. Other times he sees a name in The New York Times or Wall Street Journal that sounds intriguing when pronounced, and he merely changes the spelling slightly to incorporate that sound.

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  • 199

    Interview: Jan 14th, 2003

    Matthew Julius

    We get close up in line and I can start hearing things, but nothing of importance. A lady—clearly a fan—in front of me must have asked him about the female characters in his books:

    Robert Jordan

    His reply is that his whole family is filled with very strong women...

    "All of the men in my family are strong, because the women in my family would kill and eat the weak ones."

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  • 200

    Interview: Jan 15th, 2003

    Question

    Are there any correlations between the One Power and the philosophy of chi?

    Robert Jordan

    No. Sorry.

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  • 201

    Interview: Jan 15th, 2003

    Question

    Is Rand al'Thor meant to be a Jesus figure?

    Robert Jordan

    Um, if you consider King Arthur to be a Jesus figure—the king who must die. [more, indistinct]

    Bradley Staples

    [I'm not positive on the exact wording of that question. It's indistinct.]

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  • 202

    Interview: Jan 16th, 2003

    Question

    Is Olver Gaidal Cain?

    Robert Jordan

    No. I didn't really think that this would last as long as it has. The timing is wrong. He has another reason for being there besides being a red herring, though.

    QUESTION

    He's too old.

    ROBERT JORDAN

    Yes. Time in Tel'aran'rhiod and the real world run at different rates, but it never runs backwards. You may spend an hour in Tel'aran'rhiod, and a day has passed when you get back, or you may spend a day, and an hour has passed when you get back, but you'll never go in on Tuesday and come back on Monday.

    QUESTION

    Is the difference in time constant?

    ROBERT JORDAN

    No. It's fairly random. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes the same as real time.

    QUESTION

    It's different for different people, then?

    ROBERT JORDAN

    Yes. Unless they're together in Tel'aran'rhiod. Then the same amount of time passes for them obviously.

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  • 203

    Interview: Jan 18th, 2003

    Question

    Who do you base your female characters on?

    Robert Jordan

    I take some of the characteristics from my wife, and I distribute them through all of the female characters. I am, however, being very mean and I won't tell her which characteristics those are.

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  • 204

    Interview: Jan 18th, 2003

    Question

    How do you create the names for the characters?

    Robert Jordan

    (He said a really long answer, and I will summarize it. He basically takes names from legends and twists them, mainly King Arthur. The two characters that are based after King Arthur are Artur Hawkwing, obviously, and Rand. For example, the "sword in the stone." He says that the Wheel of Time could kind of be known as the basis of where all of the legends and myths come from. He said he tried to bury King Arthur very deeply, because if people thought that The Eye of the World was just another King Arthur book, nobody would buy it.)

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  • 205

    Interview: Jan 21st, 2003

    SFRevu Interview (Verbatim)

    Ernest Lilley

    When did you start in as a full-time writer?

    Robert Jordan

    That was about twenty-five years ago. I was working as an engineer for the government and I was injured. I had to have my knee rebuilt, and there were complications from the surgery. A blood clot broke up in my lungs and kept me in the hospital for a month. Some sort of infection that gave me a fever. They tell me I almost died, and I decided that life was too short. I had always thought I'd write one day, but I decided that it was time to put up or shut up.

    Ernest Lilley

    When did you first start thinking you'd write?

    Robert Jordan

    When I was five. I learned to read very early. At five I was reading Jules Verne and Mark Twain. I had read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and From the Earth to the Moon, those were the last three books I had read and I propped them up on a table an looked at them and I remember thinking that someday I would make stories like this.

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  • 206

    Interview: Jan 21st, 2003

    SFRevu Interview (Verbatim)

    Ernest Lilley

    I'm principally an SF reader, though I enjoy some fantasy. I think that one of the things I like about SF is that it tackles some big questions...but you write fantasy for the same reason.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, it seems to me that the SF you like, as do I, so often the "ta-pocketa-pocketa" if you remember the old Walter Mitty movie, the ta-pocketa-pocketa takes over and the characters are just there to see that it happens at the right time. The best SF goes much beyond that and there certainly a lot of flaws in a lot of Fantasy as well, but perhaps that's the reason I decided to go with Fantasy instead of SF.

    Also, SF has absorbed something from mainstream literature, and that is something I think of as a moral ambivalence, which is the erroneous application of situational ethics. There really isn't anything that's right or wrong, there is no good or evil, it all depends on the circumstances.

    Ernest Lilley

    Post-Modern ethics for a Post-Human culture.

    Robert Jordan

    And I look at this and say, no, no. There is right and there is wrong and there is good and there is evil, and sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. But it's worth to try to tell the difference...you don't just flip a coin.

    Ernest Lilley

    Do you think that people are getting tired of this moral relativism?

    Robert Jordan

    I think so. Not to one value system. There are lots of value systems in this country. But I think that a lot of people want to believe in something, and they want a set of rules in life, or guidelines for life and behavior for what's right to do, or what's wrong to do and they may argue among themselves about whether this or that is right or wrong, but they want to believe in those things.

    Ernest Lilley

    Tolerance is good, but being not caring is a bad thing.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, there is a difference between being tolerant and being a sponge.

    Ernest Lilley

    So, fantasy allows you to deal with moral issues, while SF focuses you on the technology though it grapples with them somewhat, it is a setting based genre rather than a character based one.

    Robert Jordan

    And the technology is very often much more important than the issues, it seems to me.

    I say this as someone who likes Neil Stephenson. I like Greg Bear. I reread Heinlein periodically...I love Science Fiction.

    Ernest Lilley

    Do you reread the Heinlein juveniles?

    Robert Jordan

    Absolutely. I hate what they did with Starship Troopers. I kept waiting for Heinlein to come out of his grave and beat them all over the head. They made it very blatant that we were going to have a Nazi future there...and it was clear that the people who made it had no understanding of Robert Heinlein, or what made him tick, or what he was writing about.

    Ernest Lilley

    Aside from mucking up the concept, and with all the CGI they used, I really hated that they omitted the central technology in the film, the powered suit.

    Robert Jordan

    Ah, yes. I didn't quite understand why they left that out. I looked at the whole movie and decided I didn't want to buy the DVD on this one.

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  • 207

    Interview: Mar 29th, 2004

    Sci Fi Weekly

    There is a lot of magic in your writing. Do you believe in any form of magic? How much of your spirituality is reflected in your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I don't believe in magic, which is one of the reasons I structured the One Power very much as if it is a science. In fact, the technology of the preceding age was based on the use of the One Power.

    As for how much of my spirituality is in my books, I leave it to anybody else to say whether I have any spirituality. I think I'm pretty grounded.

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  • 208

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    San Diego, CA

    I've noticed that many names, items, etc. are similar, if not the same, as what could be found in material relating to the Holy Grail and other subject matter relating to Catholicism, the Crusades, etc. Is this coincidence or intentional?

    Robert Jordan

    It's intentional. I have intended from the beginning that these books should be a sort of source for all of our legends and myths. That is the conceit that I'm playing with here.

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  • 209

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    Delmar, NY

    Besides your incredibly structured magic system, how would you say that your physics education has influenced your writing? Do you regret at all not taking English and writing classes in college instead?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I don't have any regrets about not taking college English courses. If you major in English, I believe you're well trained to teach English but not necessarily to use it. And my physics background also gave me a view of structure that I think has been very useful in writing.

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  • 210

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    Storrs, Connecticut

    Did you get the name Robert Jordan from the novel For Whom The Bell Tolls? If so, Why?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I got the name Robert Jordan from making lists of names using my real initials and taking one name from one list and one from the other list. I took a pen name because I wanted to keep the sorts of books I wrote separate, and I wanted to write a novel about my experiences in Vietnam and I was going to put my real name on that.

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  • 211

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    NYC, NY

    Why are the women in your series very obnoxious? Does Harriet play a role in the characters of your women?

    Robert Jordan

    No, the women in my books are not obnoxious. The women in my books are strong. I grew up in a family where all of the men were strong, and the reason is the women in my family killed and ate the weak ones.

    When I was a boy, just old enough to be starting to date in a fumbling way, I complained something about girls. And my father said to me, "Would you rather hunt leopards or would you rather hunt rabbits? Which is going to be more fun?" And I decided I'd rather hunt leopards.

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  • 212

    Interview: Apr, 2003

    Budapest Q&A (Verbatim)

    Rhynn

    Are there any religions in the world of the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    No. No religions, no churches: that will change in the next set of books, not in this, but where religion becomes in some ways preeminent, but...

    Mort

    [interrupts] Oh, is that a spoiler?? No, no!

    Robert Jordan

    No, that's not for the Wheel of Time at all, and may change somewhat, as these things do. But the reason is this: I've always believed that our religious rituals our attendance at temples, or churches, or whatever is, in part, a reaffirmation of our faith, and a reaffirmation of our belief, a strengthening of our belief in something that we cannot see. And we do these things in order to strengthen our belief in what we cannot see. God, Allah, whatever...but, in this world, it is a world that...as if we had...prophets walking around...performing miracles. The One Power can be channeled. Occasionally men show up channeling the One Power; the Aes Sedai have been there for 3000 years.

    Question

    But the Creator does not interfere!

    Robert Jordan

    The Creator does not interfere, but there is clear evidence of the theological doctrine.

    Question

    Of the unseen.

    Robert Jordan

    Of the unseen. As far as it is believed, of the existence of the Creator: Here is the One Power. Here is evidence of everything we believe. There is therefore no need for anyone to undergo rituals to reaffirm or strengthen their belief because it is manifest every day. If we really had prophets walking among us, performing miracles and healing people and raising the dead—and this was a matter of every day that somebody might walk down the street and say 'In the name of...' and lay their hand on you. 'In the name of God be healed,' and your wounds are healed. Or, 'In the name of God rise up and walk,' and your dead brother, just died of cholera or whatever rises up and walks—I believe that organized religion would vanish within a generation, or at least become a fringe within a generation, because there would no longer be a need for most people to reaffirm their belief in God, or to strengthen their belief in God, or Allah, or whatever else their religious belief is. It would be manifest in every day life.

    Wood Sun

    And how about the Whitecloaks? I mean they look like some sort of religious sect.

    Robert Jordan

    Which?

    Question

    (two girls in unison) The Whitecloaks!

    Robert Jordan

    The Whitecloaks? Well, they're meant to look as a religious sect. They began as, an ascetic organization dedicated to preaching against Darkfriends, trying to convince people by example that they should not become Darkfriends. And during the War of the Hundred Years they became a military organization. They are patterned on the Teutonic Knights, a touch of the German SS, and...

    Wood Sun

    [interrupts] And the Spanish Inquisition?

    Robert Jordan

    A touch of the Spanish Inquisition. (laughter) They are in short anyone who believes that they know the Truth—the Truth with a capital T. They know the Truth so well, and its so clear to them that if you don't believe that truth, then it becomes obvious that you are evil.

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  • 213

    Interview: Apr, 2003

    Budapest Q&A (Verbatim)

    Question

    There is a widespread debate on the internet: you mentioned some tales of times like Mosk and Merk...does it have any connection with America and Moscow?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. I thought that one was very obvious.

    Question

    (various mumblings about Anla)

    Harriet McDougal

    Anla, the Wise Counselor, she was the most popular advice columnist in the United States. Do you know Abby and Ann[?]? You write to the paper with a problem, you know, "What shall I do?", and she tells you. But her name was Ann Landers.

    Robert Jordan

    And she was the most widely distributed advice columnist for what? 40 years? In the United States, and syndicated in newspapers all over the country. Anla the Wise Counselor was Ann Landers.

    Question

    We would never have guessed it.

    Robert Jordan

    No, but I try not to throw in everything that that people are going to guess immediately.

    Harriet McDougal

    And Salya?

    Robert Jordan

    No, let's not talk about Salya. [Q confused.] Salya, who walked among the stars? Lenn, who went to the moon in the belly of a fire eagle? Yes? And his daughter Salya who walked among the stars? [much mumbling] No, she didn't—she wasn't on the Challenger. Sally Ride was the first female American astronaut. So, that's Salya, who in this thing has become the daughter of Lenn, who was John Glenn, who did not go to the moon in an eagle, but flies to the moon in the belly of a "fire eagle"...

    Harriet McDougal

    [interrupts] And his relationship to Salya. That's how it works.

    Robert Jordan

    But that's the whole thing, in these books: it's giving you hints, really, and it was the way it was giving you hints, clearly, as to the way things are working in the books, that these are the source of legends, but it's not in any way a straightforward retelling. What two or three men have done will be compressed to make one story, or what one man has done may be split up into two different men—this part's given to somebody else, and that part's given to that one—and he himself is completely forgotten. I put these things there in a way as a clue, a hint to you: this is the way things are working in these books, this is what has come of things that are somewhat recognizable from our time. What myths have risen out of them? So, you see how the distortion has happened. What myths are going to arise out of the events of these books? It's not going to be just another telling of what happens in these books—it's all going to be twisted and woven together in ways that nobody who was there at the events would ever recognize.

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  • 214

    Interview: Jul 22nd, 2004

    Jason Denzel

    We asked about folk songs in The Wheel of Time.

    Robert Jordan

    Robert said that he always has a tune in mind for each song.

    Jason Denzel

    We immediately asked about "Jak o' the Shadows".

    Robert Jordan

    According to RJ, "Jak o' the Shadows" should be sung to the Garryowen, which is the official march of the US 7th Cavalry.

    Here are the lyrics:

    Jak o' the Shadows (Band of the Red Hand version)

    We'll drink the wine till the cup is dry, and kiss the girls so they'll not cry, and toss the dice until we fly to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.

    We'll dance all night while the moon runs free, and dandle the lasses upon our knee, and then you'll ride along with me, to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.

    We'll sing all night, and drink all day, and on the girls we'll spend our pay, and when it's gone, then we'll away, to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.

    There're some delight in ale and wine, and some in girls with ankles fine but my delight, yes, always mine, is to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.

    We'll toss the dice however they fall, and snuggle the girls be they short or tall, then follow young Mat whenever he calls, to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.

    Jason Denzel

    Although he didn't sing Jak o' the Shadows for us (not that we didn't try to get him to do it), he did belt out some "Heartbreak Hotel" for us when we asked. We laughed. Harriet applauded.

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  • 215

    Interview: Jul 22nd, 2004

    Jason Denzel

    One unique subject discussed over dinner was the metaphysical basis for the underlying spiritual topography of the WoT. Specifically, one member of the dinner party asked RJ whether he had intentionally woven core elements of the world's various spiritual/mystical traditions into his work, or whether those ideas were in fact manifesting THROUGH him as pure art.

    Robert Jordan

    His answer was a description of his bookshelf at home, which begins at the left side with the Christian Bible, continues into more Judeo-Christian texts, then picks up with the Quran, with books on Hindusim (I got the sense he was referring to the Bhagavad-Gita, but would need to check with him to be sure), Buddhist texts, and then what he called various "discourses" on world religion and spiritual philosophy.

    Jason Denzel

    In short—RJ is a student of world relgion, which explains much of the religious diversity of his work, not just in terms of the many cultures of his world but in terms of the underlying metaphysical structure of his universe.

    By the way, Robert Jordan also sent me an email recently further describing his book collection.

    Robert Jordan

    The bookshelf I spoke of is one bookcase that holds my books on religion. There are a couple of others for mythology, and a great many covering nonfiction and fiction. At present, the total collection is around thirteen thousand volumes in my study. That's the carriage house behind what is colloquially called "the big house" in Charleston, the main dwelling, whether it is all that big or not; books in the big house aren't part of this total since most of them are Harriet's, and she doesn't catalog her books. I'm trying to pare that number down because I don't have enough room. Unfortunately, as fast as I can give books away, I buy more. Oh, well.

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  • 216

    Interview: Jul 22nd, 2004

    Robert Jordan

    During the course of the meal, we eventually got on the topic of his time in Vietnam. What he revealed to us was deeply personal, disturbing, and moving. Although I will not comment on the specifics (it's his story to tell, not mine), I can say that it was the first time ever that I truly saw and felt the very essence of his books before me. In the days to come Melissa and Brad and I would talk about how it was during these stories that we saw Perrin, and Mat, and Rand in his eyes. We understood where their sad reluctance for war comes from. Their sense of duty.

    A few years ago, Robert Jordan talked about some of these same topics in an interview that he did with Dragonmount and Wotmania. Go here to read it. The part about Vietnam is about halfway down. It's one thing to read it and a whole other thing to hear him tell it. I think war in general is like that. I wouldn't know, because I have never served time in the military. But I have the deepest respect for those who do.

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  • 217

    Interview: 2005

    Experiences as a soldier

    Robert Jordan

    I'm not certain that my background in the military has informed my writing at all really. My experiences in Vietnam certainly did, because anything that you live through really has some effect on who you are and how you write. I know what being in a battle is like. I know what it is like to have somebody trying to kill me personally. I know what it's like to kill somebody. And I know what it's like to believe that you are going to die in the next two minutes. These things are very useful when you're writing high fantasy. Your characters know what it is like to experience these things; you can put that into those characters.

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  • 218

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    ComicCon Reports (Paraphrased)

    Robert Jordan

    Countries—all are bits and pieces of others. None is a direct translation of a specific country.

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  • 219

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    ComicCon Reports (Paraphrased)

    Robert Jordan

    Blademasters vary by style. The most famous Japanese sword fighter developed his form in the Philippines fighting what he considered the deadliest fighters in the world, Spanish fighting with rapier and dagger.

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  • 220

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    ComicCon Reports (Paraphrased)

    Robert Jordan

    Character names—they come from all sorts of places. Some come from historical and mythological references, e.g., Rand al'Thor comes partly from Arthur and Thor. Artur Hawkwing is also from Arthur. Nynaeve is also a direct mythological name if you know the right version of the right myth. Other names are tweaks of foreign names he's seen that piqued his interest.

    Cool moment from the book signing. An artist brought in a drawing of a Maiden of the Spear and asked RJ to name her! He thought for a few moments, then wrote "Ahrmin" on the print.

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  • 221

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    ComicCon Reports (Paraphrased)

    Question

    Someone remarked for Cheyenne Raiders how much they resemble the Aiel.

    Robert Jordan

    The Cheyenne were originally farmers in eastern central North America. They were attacked again and again by more ferocious tribes from the east and pushed farther and farther west. They eventually lost the art of farming and became nomads. In a tribal council they decided to become warriors and defend themselves and they eventually became the finest light cavalry in the world—a pacifist society forced by circumstance to become warriors. The Aiel also include facets of Apache, Zulu, Bedouin and Japanese.

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  • 222

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    Question

    RJ was asked a few questions about swords and fighting styles.

    Robert Jordan

    Lan and Rand's swords are loosely based on the katana, and another style of sword I had never heard of before (sooba? something like that anyway. SilverWarder might know) and that others were based on medieval European styles. He said that blademasters don't follow one particular historical style of fighting, but that different blademasters have different styles depending on their culture of origin.

    At this point he went off on a little tangent about Miyamoto Musashi, a reknowned Japanese swordsman that developed a two-sword style of fighting that was revolutionary at the time. He related that Musashi developed his fighting style after fighting in the Philippines against fighters (Dutch? Portuguese? I didn't write their nationality down, but somebody here might know) that were using swords and dirks in a two-handed fighting style. In any case, I think his point was to demonstrate how fighting styles, like other knowledge, disseminates from culture to culture, but is changed and adapted into something unique in each locale.

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  • 223

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    Question

    Another question asked about the fighting style of Far Dareis Mai, and the questioner referenced a particular form of martial art that I had never heard of.

    Robert Jordan

    RJ responded that the Maidens fight with something that could be considered a cross between Tae Kwan Do and a third style that I had never heard of. It's a style that emphasizes the use of feet, legs and hips over the use of the upper body for obvious reasons. RJ felt that an all-female community of fighters would naturally discover such a style since it focuses on a women's relative strengths and would help them overcome their relative weaknesses.

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  • 224

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    Question

    One person asked, rather impertinently I thought, if RJ had ripped off Tolkien's Middle-Earth map when he created his own.

    Robert Jordan

    Of course, RJ denied that, and said that after he had handed in The Eye of the World, he was asked to provide a map. "Why do you need a map?" RJ asked, and he was told, "Tom Doherty likes maps." So, RJ slapped a couple pieces of paper together and drew in the mountains, then scattered the countries around, added some cities rivers and other geographical features and sent it off to Tor. Tor revised it a number of times until Elise Mitchell produced the version that became part of The Eye of the World. RJ also stated that if you look at a map of southwestern Saudi Arabia you'll see two mountain ranges that intersect at right angles.

    When asked how aware of geography he was while writing, RJ said that he created the city maps whole, but only roughed out the larger ones. The bigger ones were then polished by the people at Tor before being printed in the books. I took it to mean that he wasn't all that concerned with larger geographic features, which might explain some of the geographic discrepencies in the story.

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  • 225

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Question

    As a feminist, one part, the Children of the Light get my goat, make me angry. What are the Children of the Light in the story for? (paraphrased)

    Robert Jordan

    The Children of the Light are all of those people who say I know the truth, my truth is the only truth, you must believe my truth. You must believe my truth, if you refuse to believe my truth I will kill you. I wanted them in there because there are always people like that in any world, and they have a tendency to organize and start killing people that don't believe what they believe, so it is really their similitude. I don't think there can be a world without the haters. Haters exist.

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  • 226

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Question

    In the Wheel of Time there is focus on events occurring again and again throughout history. Is it just history which is circular, or is it time itself which is in a loop?

    Robert Jordan

    If you think of history being in a loop, then time must be in a loop. The Greeks were the first, as far as we know, to think of time being linear which allows for change. Almost every other culture prior to them had believed in circular time, if time is a wheel there is no possibility of change. Whatever I change now, whatever injustices I correct, the wheel will inevitably return, the inequities will return, there is no possibility for change, therefore there is not impetus to change. So time and history are in a loop in this world, a large enough loop...ah...it is really quite immense.

    Question

    So, the sun will never go nova, will never die?

    Robert Jordan

    In this universe, no.

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  • 227

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Question

    How did your background in physics influence how you structured the world of the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    Largely it was to make things realistic, as realistic as I can. Background in physics and engineering; I also tried to structure channeling as if it were a science or technology. No eye of newt, hair of dog. There are real limits, there are rules, there are technological structures to channeling which I think are fairly obvious to anyone who looks at it. That was the major influence.

    Plus making sure that I see that everything is real. Well if I bring about a blacksmith, well I don't know anything about blacksmithing, but I was able to get some nineteenth century books on blacksmithing, and once I had written the scenes I sent them to a woman I met that was a blacksmith and farrier, and she said you need to do this and you need to do that, but otherwise it is okay.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    This woman was at the time the only woman blacksmith on the high council of American smithing. She made a lot of the stuff at Billy Graham's in North Carolina, but she wrote wonderful comments back and said, if you want Perrin to ever have children, you must have a leather apron, which was among her other good bits.

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  • 228

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Question

    I was interested in the physics like with the Mirror Worlds, the Worlds of If?

    Robert Jordan

    The Mirror Worlds of course come right out of physics, and the possibility of (mumble) universes and all of the rest of it. But frankly while I don't follow the literature, I haven't for a number of years, I occasionally get stuck on panels with physicists and I am supposed to discuss physics, which I am twenty-five years out of date. But I find that I can hold my own, although I do not have a doctorate or did I ever intend to get one, I went to work instead. I can hold my own with the PhDs in physics when they are talking theoretical physics if I stop talking physics, at least from my point of view, and start talking theology, and this troubles me.

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  • 229

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Matt Hatch

    Skipped [transcription of] question to Harriet about how Jordan may have tricked her in the past, as he has done to his readers about where he was going with something or another.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    She focused on two incidents when he tricked her with the books. She made a point about the 'Sword in the Stone' coming to her after having read the entire book. She didn't make the connection to Arthurian legend until she was writing the flap cover [of The Dragon Reborn].

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  • 230

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Question

    I was wondering, can you talk about how your lead character would have not one but three true loves, and how does your wife feel about that?

    Robert Jordan

    Um, when I was much younger, before I met Harriet, I had two girlfriends simultaneously, who arranged my dating schedule between them, who was going to date me on which night. They chipped in together to buy me birthday presents and Christmas presents. You know, they just sort of shared me between them, you know. And they had been friends before, and I am not quite sure whether or not they made the decision they were both going to date me or not, on their own, before they first met me, it just came about. But I figured if I could manage two, surely Rand could manage three. Besides there are mythological reasons to have these three women involved with him.

    As far as my view on this, with Harriet, I have many more than three women, there are so many facets to her personality she quite often makes me dizzy, I am quite satisfied there. About how she feels about this, I suspect you want her answer, I seem to remember her saying to me, you do remember this is fantasy right? And I think it was an accident she was holding a carving knife to my throat, just coincidence, but I am not sure.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    In four short words, I am not for it. Four and a half words.

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  • 231

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Question

    Going back to mythology and the way that you reference everything from the western European triple goddess through Arthur to the oriental warrior ethos and everything in between. I was wondering if you could speak to what drew you to any of those particular aspects that you synthesized into this universe, and was this kind of synthesis something you deliberately set out to do?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, I found them all interesting, is what directed me to them. There are many books which are based upon one myth, or perhaps I should say one country's myths. There are many Arthurian novels, there are many novels based on one continent or another, one nation or another. A few, I don't know too many based on Chinese or Japanese mythologies, but there are some. It seemed to me within the borders of the United States, I could find representatives of almost every culture of the world, not just one or two, I could find perhaps communities, and given that, it seemed to me a truly American fantasy would be based on the myths of every possible culture that could be included, so I went gathering. As I say, I was fascinated by many of these myths beforehand, but, myths and legends, and I went hunting for what I could use.

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  • 232

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Question

    While reading the whole series of books, I find myself seeing some aspects of Mat, Rand, and Perrin. I was wondering as you were creating these characters, what parts of yourself did you see in these three characters and then what parts of yourself does your wife see in these characters that you have created?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I dont know, as I like to point out, Lan was the guy I grew up wanting to emulate. Mat is the side of me that at fourteen was passing myself off at twenty and picking up college girls in bars on North Market St. Perrin is the side of me who knew I was bigger than kids of my own age, so I did not have a fight with any single person, there were some times where kids of my own age decided since I was too big to fight one-on-one, it was quite alright to come at me with five or six together, but the only fights I had one-on-one until I got into the army were with kids who were three to six years older than I was, because I was going to hurt the other guys, I was afraid of [hurting] kids of my own age, I would walk away from a fight with kid of my own age because I was bigger than he was, I was going to hurt him, there was that out of me in Perrin. And in Rand, I don't know, I don't know what there is of Rand in me, except that I always felt like an outsider, even when I was an insider, I felt like an outsider.

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  • 233

    Interview: Sep 25th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    I see a number of posts about that, and I find them a little surprising. Anybody out there ever read about the internal workings of the Third Reich or the reasons why the Nazis made some of their major, and often disastrous decisions? It was a zoo. A madhouse! Just for an example, even in the last days, they were sidelining trains carrying desperately needed supplies to the front in order to use the engines to transport more people to the death camps! And yet they came within a whisker or two of winning. There are hundreds of counterfactuals—the historian's name for alternate histories—showing how the Nazis could have won outright as late as Normandy, at least to the extent of hanging onto Germany and quite possibly France, or pulled out a tie as late as the Battle of the Bulge. The internal workings of the Soviet Union under Lenin, Stalin (even more so) and most of their successors often made the Nazis look almost sensible, yet Stalin did manage to defeat the Nazis, though largely with the inadvertent help of the Nazis themselves. And his successors, frequently making decisions in nearly buffoon-like fashion, came very close to pulling out a victory over the Western democracies. Henry Kissinger actually saw his position as negotiating the best second-place position he could for the United States vis-a-vis the Soviet Union and the inevitable triumph of communism. True fact. You can look it up. Both Kissinger's feelings and the view of many intelligent people on this side of the Iron Curtain that we were fighting a losing battle are a matter of record. I lived through a lot of that, took part in some of the skirmishing, and I'll tell you, it was a damned close run thing.

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  • 234

    Interview: Sep 25th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    The Forsaken are a group of power hungry people who don't like one another and vie with one another for power as much as they vie with the forces of the Light. Much like the internal politicking in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. But look at the situation in the world as it actually stands, from the White Tower divided to crop failures caused by a too-long winter and a too-long summer and people fleeing their farms because the Dragon Reborn has broken all bonds, meaning still less food, and that spoiling at a fearsome rate, from chaos in Arad Doman to a large part of the Borderland armies out of position, from the arrival of the Seanchan focusing too many eyes on them instead of the Shadow to the strongest single nation, Andor, riven by civil war in all but name and Tear split by open warfare, from.... Well, take your pick. There are lots more to chose from. Take a step back and look at what the forces of the Shadow have wrought. The world and the forces of the Light are in bad shape. At this point, boys and girls, the Shadow is winning. There are glimmers of hope, but only glimmers, and they MUST pay off for the Light to win. All the Shadow needs for victory is for matters to keep on as they have been going thus far and one or two of those glimmers to fade or be extinguished. The forces of the Light are on the ropes, and they don't even know everything the Dark One has up his sleeve.

    Think of it this way. The bell is about to ring for the fifteenth round, and the Light is so far behind on points the only way to win is a knockout. Our boy is game, but he's wobbly on his legs and bleeding from cuts over his eyes. Now he has three minutes to pull out his best stuff and deliver the punch of his life. The Dark One has taken a few shots, but nothing that has really damaged him. He's still dancing on his toes and talking trash. His head shots can fracture a skull, and his body punches can break ribs. And now he's ready to unveil his surprises. You didn't think all it would take is for Rand to show up at the Last Battle, did you? According to the Prophecies, the Light has no chance without him, but his presence doesn't ensure victory, just that the Light has a chance. Gotta stiffen your legs and blink the blood out of your eyes. Gotta suck it up and find that punch. Three minutes to go, and you gotta find that knockout. That's your only chance.

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  • 235

    Interview: Sep 30th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Rohit and Mand680, Robert Jordan doesn't come out of Hemingway. In fact, when I first made the connection, I had already written three books under the name. My pen names have all been chosen from three lists of names using my real initials. It has been a matter of one from column A and one from column B, or maybe column C. One pen name actually managed to contain all three initials in a first name and a surname.

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  • 236

    Interview: Oct 2nd, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Children of the Light, the Whitecloaks were inspired by the Inquisition, the SS, the Teutonic Knights and others. In fact, they were inspired by all those groups who say, "We know the truth. It is the only truth. You will believe it, or we will kill you."

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  • 237

    Interview: Oct 2nd, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Cooner 1987, I don't think there is any similarity between Hobbits and the Two Rivers folk. The Two Rivers people are based on a lot of country people I have known, and among whom I did a lot of my growing up. I did try to make the first roughly 100 pages of Eye seem somewhat Tolkienesque. I wanted to say, "This is the place you know, guys. Now we're going somewhere else." And then the Trolloc kicked in the farmhouse door. But I didn't take it to the point of trying to make the Two Rivers folk seem like Hobbits. I mean, I love The Lord of the Rings and have read it at least a dozen times, but when you have too many Hobbits together, they can be so bloody cute that I need a stiff drink.

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  • 238

    Interview: Oct 4th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Child of Lir, until I recently learned that there is a fern called leatherleaf, I thought that I had made the name up out of thin air. In any case, mine is a tree. Several of the trees I have named have been, I thought, my inventions. I am surprised that that they actually exist.

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  • 239

    Interview: Oct 4th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    Also for Mr Mashadar, I think, my favorite fantasy novel is The Lord of the Rings, hands down. The largest effect that it had on my writing was a desire to be the flip side of the coin, to take the comfortable old tropes and put a different spin on them. Also, the creation of paradox is one source of balefire's danger. Remember that in the War of the Shadow, even the forces of the Shadow gave up using it because of the fear that reality itself might unravel.

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  • 240

    Interview: Oct 4th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Paetram, the game of Stones is very much like Go. No, I don't play go myself, only go-moku. It is remarkably hard to learn the game when you have no one to play against. I would love to find a computer game to practice against, but I haven't been able to find one. I probably haven't looked hard enough. There must be one out there.

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  • 241

    Interview: Oct 5th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Child of Lir, peaches being poisonous in the world of tWoT is one of the things I did to make the world different. Though peach pits do contain small amounts of cyanide, which was once manufactured through processing peach pits. Several other fruits with pits, such as apricots, also have trace amounts of cyanide in the pits. And almonds may be the first genetically engineered plant since humans bred the deadly, to humans, cyanide levels out them to make them edible for people.

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  • 242

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

    Now, one thing that I find quite interesting about the Wheel of Time...to me it has an almost science-fictional feel. The prime driving force for the world is the ability that many characters possess to channel the One Power. Could you describe your hierarchy of psychic powers and talk about how you've developed it almost as a technology?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I did think of it as a technology. One of the worst things that any writer who is writing about magic or some non-magic method of doing things—some non-scientific method of doing things, I should say—the worst mistake that those writers could make is to think that everything goes, anything goes. There are always rules; there are always limits; there are always prices to pay; there are always trade-offs. Asimov may have been right that, uh...no, actually it wasn't Asimov, it was Campbell? It was...

    Rick Kleffel

    Arthur C. Clarke.

    Robert Jordan

    Arthur C. Clarke; you're right! "Any sufficiently advanced science will seem to be magic."

    Rick Kleffel

    Exactly.

    Robert Jordan

    But it only seems to be magic to you and me; to the people whose science it is, it is actually going to be science, and they will be very well aware of the limits and the constraints and so forth. So I designed this as if it were a technology; I said that the world had been previously powered by this technology; the technology of the Age before the Breaking of the World was based on the use of the One Power. Their machinery used the One Power; their flying machines used the One Power; their toasters used the One Power. The One Power was how they operated their society, their civilization.

    Rick Kleffel

    And yet, of course as the technology in these books has spread to those beyond the select—the Aes Sedai—the old social hierarchies of this world start to crumble.

    Robert Jordan

    Well of course; that always happens. I'm writing about a world at a time of change. Change is uncomfortable, and there are two sorts of people: there are people who don't want change, and there are people who do want change. Both of these people are going to be disappointed. The people who don't want change are going to be disappointed because the change is going to come no matter what. The people who do want change are going to be disappointed because the change is almost never going to be anything like what they want. And what I am writing about is a world where the changes are coming to their society, to their world—changes have been coming now for some time—and the characters have to live through it, ride these changes, and make the best of it they can.

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  • 243

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

    Now, you have a neat solution to one of the old problems of fantasy, for me at least, which is the 'Why don't they have guns?' question. Could you talk about the society of Illuminators, and how that technology has played into your narrative thus far, and maybe give us an idea of how it will play out as the series progresses?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I'm not going to give you any idea of how it plays out. If you spend any time on the net—at least, on any of the several hundred if not several thousand websites that discuss my books—you will have run into the acronym 'RAFO'. R-A-F-O. 'RAFO' means 'Read And Find Out'. Now, I postulated a world where gunpowder is the secret of a guild: the Guild of Illuminators, people who make fireworks. Nobody else knows how to make fireworks—knows how to make gunpowder—except this guild, and they have managed to preserve their secret for quite a long time. And I think part of the reason why I thought that this could happen were two things that I came across in separate places.

    One was evidence of discovery of steel, the first manufacturer of steel, which was discovered—we found countless places where the first smith discovered how to make steel, or at least a smith discovered how to make steel, and by all the evidence, no one else in that area had known how to make steel before him—but of course when he could make steel, his weapons were much better than anybody else's. He had provided steel swords to use against bronze, or iron, and...wow, he had sort of a magic sword here, didn't he? And he sure as hell didn't teach anybody else how to do it, so from the time that men began discovering steel, and the secret began dying with them, to the time when steel began to be manufactured semi-widely, was about a thousand years.

    The first time that gunpowder—that we can find evidence of gunpowder being used as a weapon—was in China, when the inhabitants of a besieged city made huge fireworks and dropped them over the wall onto soldiers trying to climb ladders, siege ladders up over the walls of the Chinese city. It's not a very efficient way to use gunpowder, but what's interesting is that it was something over a thousand years after gunpowder, by the evidence, had been discovered in China, and for all of that time, it had been used for nothing more than making fireworks, firecrackers, just...that was it. That was the whole use. So, we have a world where there are no guns because nobody knows how to make gunpowder, except for this guild, and they're not going to put the secret around.

    Rick Kleffel

    That's very clever.

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  • 244

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

    A large portion of this series involves complex battles and wars fought for a number of reasons. How does your experience of war in the real world feed your portrayal of war in the world you've created?

    Robert Jordan

    Primarily because I know the state of confusion that exists in battle. If people are actually trying to kill you, and you are actively trying to kill them, because that's the way it works, then you usually don't know a great deal except what is right in front of your face. Everything else, even fifty yards away, can become a total mystery, and that total mystery fifty yards away might kill you. But then, that doesn't change.

    Footnote

    It may be that RJ's last comment (which is very clear in the audio) was hinting at the fact that he has no more experience than any modern soldier when it comes to classic warfare. He is often asked this question, and his answers are always along the same lines, suggesting that, because this aspect of battle does not change, it has influenced his depiction of battle, but everything else he has had to research.

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  • 245

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

    Now, the Wheel of Time also describes a world in which there is a spectrum of slavery. Could you tell us how you created this range of relationships?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, when you're talking about a spectrum of slavery...the entire concept of slavery is unknown to the inhabitants of the world in...the central nations where we've met our primary characters. The later appearance by Seanchan—people from over the ocean—bring in complexes of slavery, and I've lifted a number of these out of history in various ways, and various places. There have been many times in which slaves rose to political power, in which entire bureaucracies of civil servants consisted totally of slaves, and of course there have been slave armies, the Janissaries being the most famous and perhaps the fiercest.

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  • 246

    Interview: Oct 6th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Anonymous-George, long ago I saw one of the first, I believe, novels about a young woman who wasn't allowed to use magic or whatever because she was a woman, and the thought occurred to me as to how it might go if men were the ones who were denied the right to do magic. Or whatever. I hate using the word magic. From that long ago thought grew the One Power divided into saidin and saidar with the male half tainted and the reasons for and results of it being tainted. Now in most of these societies—Far Madding is the obvious exception—I did not and do not view them as matriarchal. I attempted to design societies that were as near gender balanced as to rights, responsibilities and power as I could manage. It doesn't all work perfectly. People have bellybuttons. If you want to see someone who always behaves logically, never tells small lies or conceals the truth in order to put the best face for themselves on events, and never, ever tries to take advantage of any situation whatsoever, then look for somebody without a bellybutton. The real surprise to me was that while I was designing these gender balanced societies, people were seeing matriarchies.

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  • 247

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

    Now, how would you bring someone who has never read your books—and indeed might only have become aware of the high potential of the fantasy genre with the recent motion picture adaptations of The Lord of the Rings—to start the Wheel of Time? What would you tell them?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, if they liked The Lord of the Rings, I'd tell them The New York Times claims I'm the American heir to The Lord of the Rings—to Tolkien! The American heir to Tolkien; that's what Ed Rothstein said in The New York Times. But you would have to imagine Tolkien with no elves, no dwarves, no unicorns, no dragons, no hobbits—just people, written with an American sensibility instead of an English sensibility, and where Tolkien drew on the myths and legends of the English countryside and Norse myths and legends, I have drawn on the myths and legends of every country in the world based largely on the fact that we're a melting pot, and there are very few nations in the world that do not have people from the nation living here in the United States.

    Rick Kleffel

    That's great; the Wheel of Time is the melting pot fantasy!

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, you might put it that way.

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  • 248

    Interview: Oct 13th, 2005

    Allen Bryan

    Introducer gave a five-minute laudatory speech, empathizing with the long suffering of the fans and making reference to Hemingway's character and the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia as other famous Robert Jordans.

    Robert Jordan

    RJ himself thanked him ("the check is in the mail") and stated that the name was generated so that he could have different names in different genres. All the names were generated from his initials; his real name is reserved for contemporary fiction, originally for a novel on Vietnam that he will now never write. (Everything that needed to be said about Vietnam has now been said many times, he said.)

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  • 249

    Interview: Oct 13th, 2005

    Allen Bryan

    Dyelin is like Cincinnatus of Rome. True or false?

    Robert Jordan

    True, pretty much, except Dyelin was never really offered power; she had it for a little while as Elayne's not-quite-authorized regent, but otherwise wasn't really called upon to save Andor the way Cincinnatus was called upon to save Rome. Otherwise, yes.

    Allen Bryan

    (Be'lal, whoever you are, I win a cookie.)

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  • 250

    Interview: Sep, 2005

    Glas Durboraw

    What influences you and your writing? Can you pinpoint anything in particular?

    Robert Jordan

    I believe the major influences on my writing style were Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Louis L'Amour, Robert Heinlein, and John D. MacDonald. They also happen to be my favorite authors of all time, but I believe they probably had the biggest influences.

    Glas Durboraw

    Sounds like very notable influences.

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  • 251

    Interview: Sep, 2005

    Glas Durboraw

    What sort of influences do you find—not just in fiction and things like that—but, as you do your research, what sort of things influence what you write?

    Robert Jordan

    All sorts of things. Quite fascinating, I read a book called Salt, which was an actual history of salt. Fascinating book; a subject that I would not have thought would have been fascinating, but it was interesting enough that I picked up the book and read it in a night and a half, and a salt town appeared in one of the books. It was interesting enough that I said, "I'm going to have this salt town, and this next town you come to is going to be that."

    Glas Durboraw

    Isn't that in book ten?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. Crossroads of Twilight includes a visit to a town where salt is produced. And other things pop in. I needed a way for some characters to get from one place to another sort of stealthily; I wanted them to be able to move without being noticed much. And I just happened to go to a thing called the Circus Flora, which was a recreation of a 19th Century American traveling circus, a small one-ring circus. And I was fascinated by it, and as a result of going to that show, Valan Luca's traveling show appeared, the original version, which was in effect a small-time circus. It became something much larger later as he earned money and built it up, but in the start, it was a small-time circus with a few acts and a few animals, and it was a way for these characters to be able to move from one place to another because nobody noticed them; they were looking at the show.

    Glas Durboraw

    I do like it when influences like that make their way in. And can you point to it and say, "Oh, maybe it's squeezed out of history," or something like that, or you see something similar in a favorite author, and it's like, "Oh, that's very cool to see that sort of thing brought in."

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  • 252

    Interview: Oct 21st, 2005

    Question

    Were the Kin inspired by some real-life group?

    Robert Jordan

    No, as far as I know, I made them up.

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  • 253

    Interview: Oct 21st, 2005

    Question

    Was Mat's use of crossbows in Knife of Dreams based on the way crossbows were really used?

    Robert Jordan

    The thing that made crossbows better than longbows was that you could train someone to use a crossbow much faster than you could train them to use a bow. Then when muskets came along, they were better because they didn't require much training, and the firing rate was improved.

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  • 254

    Interview: Nov 22nd, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Son o'merc, I came up with the Almurat Mor character without benefit of the fan sites. In fact, until I saw your question, I wasn't aware that there were any particular postings about Mor.

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  • 255

    Interview: Nov 22nd, 2005

    Question

    Have you ever found yourself working on and formulating an idea ... but then read it, or something very similar, in someone's else's book and thought "damn, they got there first!"?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I haven't.

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  • 256

    Interview: Nov 22nd, 2005

    Question

    Have your experiences in Vietnam helped to give a psychological depth to the Wheel of Time series?

    Robert Jordan

    I think they must have. I've certainly used some things from Vietnam. I know what it is like to have someone trying to kill me. Me in particular. Not some random guy. Me. I know what it is like to kill someone. I know how the first time feels, and how that is different from the fifth, or the tenth. These things certainly went into the characters I've written. That wasn't deliberate. Who you are is constructed in large part from what you have experienced and how you reacted to those experiences. Whatever you write is filtered through who you are. So the influence has to be there.

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  • 257

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    For Anonymous (The Grey Jedi), the sword forms are all my creations, but they, and their names, are patterned on sword forms used by the Japanese and Chinese. No, I am not a student of any of these sword forms. I own books illustrating a fair number of them, however.

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  • 258

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    For those of you who think the razor that Mat gave to Tuon is a zebra, it isn't. I was thinking of a horse I once saw a picture of, an American paint, which in memory seemed to fit my description (white meeting black along dead-straight lines) very closely. In fact, the memory fit so well that I decided not to check whether the actual horse looked the way I recalled it. The recollection made a terrific image.

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  • 259

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    Now, regarding knives and the use and throwing of same. For NaClH2o and File Leader both, the blade length depends. I just did a quick survey around my desk and environs, coming up with six knives that qualify if you allow the one-piece Ek with the parachute-cord wrapped hilt. The balance of it is just right. All have at least a slight protuberance demarcating the end of blade/beginning of hilt or vice versa. Blade length varies from five inches to seven inches. The protuberance is all you need to keep your hand off the blade in a fight, really, and as for blade length, you'll have be pretty thick if I can't reach all of your vitals with five inches of steel. Heart or kidneys are all that really count in the trunk. Plus which, more often than stabbing I would be going for the blood vessels on the inside of the wrist, the inside of the elbow and/or the outside of the neck. Easier and quicker and surer to reach. If it isn't a knife fight, just a killing, then you come up from behind and insert your blade, parallel to the ground, into the side of the neck below the earlobe (distance to be adjusted per size of target), and thrust clear through to the other side thus slicing through the carotids, the jugular, the windpipe and the vocal cords. Some like to sweep the blade outward, slashing open the throat, but this is overly flamboyant, allows a lot of blood to escape (you might want to hide the sucker, after all), and sometimes allows him to get out something like a loud grunt, perhaps sufficient to alert others you would just as soon remained unalerted for the moment. Some people prefer doing a Wingate, but I think it's iffy, myself. You give the guy that added split second to react. And as for getting cut, one reason for throwing a knife rather than getting in close is to avoid getting cut. That doesn't always work, of course. Witness Mat after the visit to the hell.

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  • 260

    Interview: Mar, 2006

    Steven Steinbock

    Decorated Vietnam War veteran Robert Jordan began putting quill to parchment in 1977, and hasn't stopped since. Storytelling is in Jordan's blood. The South Carolina native, who taught himself to read at age 4 and began reading Jules Verne and Mark Twain at age 5, has written novels set during the American Revolution, a dozen adventures featuring Robert E. Howard's Conan, and, most notably, 12 epic novels (11 primary novels and one prequel) in his Wheel of Time fantasy series.

    Robert Jordan

    "The spoken word is the basis for all storytelling," he told us from his 1797 home in the historic district of Charleston, South Carolina. "My father and my uncles were storytellers. When we went fishing or hunting, there was always storytelling at night. I grew up with that oral tradition. I've always thought that my writing lends itself to being read aloud for that very reason."

    Steven Steinbock

    We asked him about the advantages of listening to a book as opposed to reading it.

    Robert Jordan

    "When reading an actual book," he answered, "it's possible to skip over things. You make connections in your head, and you find you're not registering every word. But when it's read to you, there's a difference. You hear every word."

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  • 261

    Interview: Mar, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    I've been asked why there's no organized religion in my books. (My fans ask me questions about everything!) The main point of organized religion is our gathering together in one place to undergo rituals, reaffirm our own belief, and testify to others that we believe, thus strengthening their belief and our own. But in a world where miracles are a daily occurrence, where anybody walking down the street could see the Hand of God lifting up dead men from the grave, suddenly organized religion becomes less important. This manifestation of the Creator as something they may be able to see on any day at any given hour, anywhere. Still, my character Rand is a messiah figure, prophesied to save mankind and to die for it.

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  • 262

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    For a fan of rolan_dcs, no characters in my books are based on any real people, living or dead. With the possible exception of myself, anyway. And the bits I took from Harriet for various female characters.

    By the by, I've seen a lot of comment, apparently from men, that my female characters are unrealistic. That's because women are, for the most part, consummate actresses who allow men to see exactly what they intend men to see. Get behind the veil sometimes, boys, and your hair will turn white. I've been there, and mine went white and didn't stop there; a great deal of it actually turned dark again, the shock to my system was so great. Believe me, I mild it down so as not to scare any males into mental breakdowns.

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  • 263

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    For those who think I have adapted some name or other from another novel or series of novels, I have not. The names come from my head, from mythology and legend, from history, from the foreign news, often with a twist I give them to make them less a reflection of reality or less familiar. But never from anyone else's novels. Never.

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  • 264

    Interview: Nov 15th, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    For Kris Lorenzini, I'll remember that phrase. In the mouth of the wolf. I like it. You may see it turn up in a book some day.

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  • 265

    Interview: Apr 26th, 2007

    Robert Jordan

    For Paracelsus, I had two nicknames in 'Nam. First up was Ganesha, after the Hindu god called the Remover of Obstacles. He's the one with the elephant head. That one stuck with me, but I gained another that I didn't like so much. The Iceman. One day, we had what the Aussies called a bit of a brass-up. Just our ship alone, but we caught an NVA battalion crossing a river, and wonder of wonders, we got permission to fire before they finished. The gunner had a round explode in the chamber, jamming his 60, and the fool had left his barrel bag, with spares, back in the revetment. So while he was frantically rummaging under my seat for my barrel bag, it was over to me, young and crazy, standing on the skid, singing something by the Stones at the of my lungs with the mike keyed so the others could listen in, and Lord, Lord, I rode that 60. 3000 rounds, an empty ammo box, and a smoking barrel that I had burned out because I didn't want to take the time to change. We got ordered out right after I went dry, so the artillery could open up, and of course, the arty took credit for every body recovered, but we could count how many bodies were floating in the river when we pulled out. The next day in the orderly room an officer with a literary bent announced my entrance with "Behold, the Iceman cometh." For those of you unfamiliar with Eugene O'Neil, the Iceman was Death. I hated that name, but I couldn't shake it. And, to tell you the truth, by that time maybe it fit. I have, or used to have, a photo of a young man sitting on a log eating C-rations with a pair of chopsticks. There are three dead NVA laid out in a line just beside him. He didn't kill them. He didn't choose to sit there because of the bodies. It was just the most convenient place to sit. The bodies don't bother him. He doesn't care. They're just part of the landscape. The young man is glancing at the camera, and you know in one look that you aren't going to take this guy home to meet your parents. Back in the world, you wouldn't want him in your neighborhood, because he is cold, cold, cold. I strangled that SOB, drove a stake through his heart, and buried him face down under a crossroad outside Saigon before coming home, because I knew that guy wasn't made to survive in a civilian environment. I think he's gone. All of him. I hope so. I much prefer being remembered as Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles.

    Footnote

    RJ told this story at Archon where he did a panel with GRRM in 2001, and there is a report from Westeros.

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  • 266

    Interview: Feb 1st, 2008

    Jeff VanderMeer

    What about his fiction do you particularly enjoy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Robert Jordan's genius, in my opinion, was in his ability to blend the familiar with the original. When I read his books, particularly during my younger years, they felt like fantasy to me without reading like the same fantasy books I'd read so many times before. By now, he has become his own archetype, but at that point he was just so much more fresh than anything I'd read before. To this day, I love his world-building and his ability to get deep inside a character's mind and show you who they are and how they feel. As I've grown older, I have come to appreciate his ability to work lavish description and extensive world building into his stories without breaking the narrative. Reading his books is a treat for both the senses and the mind.

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  • 267

    Interview: Apr, 2001

    Gerhard Hormann

    Could this series have been written if The Lord of the Rings had not existed?

    Robert Jordan

    Hard to say. The Lord of the Rings is a milestone in the genre and in a sense laid the groundwork for what we currently call fantasy. The first 100 pages of The Eye of the World are quite similar to it. In it, you’ll find the idyllic, pristine world as in the world of Tolkien. But from that moment on, the story takes a completely different turn. My series doesn’t only touch back to British folklore, but to all religions of the world. Women don’t play a secondary role, but make up at least half the story. And it doesn’t include any elves, nor unicorns, dragons, dwarves or hobbits.

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  • 268

    Interview: Nov 8th, 2008

    Alex C. Telander

    What was the beginning spark that gave you the idea for Elantris?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The beginning spark was reading, actually, about people in the olden days who would be quarantined together because of their disease.

    ALEX C. TELANDER

    The plague and stuff like that?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yeah, locked in a building because of the plague, or even leper colonies—forced to live only among other people with their same disease—and that would probably be the seed that made me want to write a book. Now, I put it in a fantasy world because I wanted to tell a story about a magical disease. It actually started more as an 'undeath' sort of thing, and then evolved into a magical hybrid between leprosy and undeath that people could catch, and the story of what it's like to have to live with this disease. Almost a little bit of wanting to tell to a story that was a put together the mystery, the pieces, of what made the disease take in the first place. Maybe a magical version of Andromeda Strain, or something like this.

    ALEX C. TELANDER

    Right, right. Yeah, that's what I like about it, because you go straight in the beginning, you're in the guy's head, and he's trying to figure out what is going on and not taking the answer of we've got it and we're doomed sort of thing.

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  • 269

    Interview: Nov 8th, 2008

    Alex C. Telander

    How did you come up with the idea for the Mistborn series, and did you know it was going to be a series from the start?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I did know it was going to be a series. When I was writing Mistborn, it came because—well, I had sold Elantris, and my editor came to me and said, "What do you want to do next? Do you want to do an Elantris sequel?" And I said, well, I really like Elantris being a stand-alone. But I had this unique opportunity where the next book didn't have to be in for about two years. Sold Elantris in 2003; it was coming out in 2005. That meant my next book had to be turned in in 2005. Two years' time, I thought if I write really hard, I can finish an entire trilogy before the first one has to be turned in, which would let me write a whole series, and have it all work together and be internally consistent and all of these things. And so I did know it was a series from the beginning.

    The ideas are varied, they came from all over the place. One of the ideas was the desire to tell a story about a world where the dark lord had won. I love the classic fantasy stories, but I think that it's been done really well, and doesn't need to be done any more. I think Robert Jordan nailed it. I think, even if you look—you've got Tad Williams, you've got Raymond Feist, you've got David Eddings, you've got Terry Brooks—all doing this hero's archetype journey. It's been done, it's been covered, what else can I do? And so, the story where the hero went on a quest, and then failed and the dark lord took over, that was a fascinating idea.

    Another idea was my love of the heist genre, where you get a gang of specialists who each have a different power. I had never seen a fantasy book do that in the way I wanted to. There are some that do it, and do it well. But you know, where everyone had a different magic system, every person a different magic power, got together and did something. One of my favorite movies is the movie Sneakers—something like that, but with magic.

    And those two ideas rammed together with an idea for a magic system that I'd been working on, and an idea for a character I'm working on, Vin's character. Those were all developed independently. All started to ram together. I explained, ideas are sometimes like atoms and when they ram into each other, you get a chemical reaction and they form molecules. Cool different things happen when ideas ram into each other, and that's where those came from.

    ALEX C. TELANDER

    Do you think there's ever going to be any more stories or future books set in the Mistborn world?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I always know what happens in the futures of the worlds in my stories. I don't always write those books. I think there probably will be, but they would take place hundreds of years after this trilogy, or hundreds of years before. It would be great separation of time and space. It would be more books set in the world, not a continuation of the characters or sequels. I won't do that for a while. One of the authors who I really respect is Orson Scott Card. I like that he's able to do such different things, and new things, and he's not locked into. . . even though he keeps writing Ender's books, in between, you'll have all sorts of different, cool things. And I really respect that. I would rather do that than be someone who's writing in only one setting. And so, while you probably will see more Mistborn books, it's when I'm excited about them. I want to do something else for a while.

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  • 270

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    Are your Arthurian legend parallels intended or were they written in and only realized afterwards?

    Robert Jordan

    They were intended.

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  • 271

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    From what sources did you develop the concept of Wolfbrothers and the "powers" Perrin has developed in the series?

    Robert Jordan

    Any number of myths from Europe, North American Indians, and the Australian aborigines.

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  • 272

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    Did you intend to have an extreme tone of Arthurian/Biblical references?

    Robert Jordan

    Do I have an extreme tone of same? I thought it was a mild tone of same.

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  • 273

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    Am I seeing things that aren't there, or are there several references to the Arthurian Legends in the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, there are. Among many others. The Arthurian legend is the most recognizable in the United States. The others are much less so and you don't pick them out as easily.

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  • 274

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    How did you develop the female characters in your series? They are a strength to the series, and are interesting because they seem to contain genuinely "feminine" thought patterns?

    Robert Jordan

    I spent forty-odd years listening to women, and besides that, they're all based on my wife.

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  • 275

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    Was there anyone that helped you develop the characters?

    Robert Jordan

    No.

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  • 276

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    carmen22

    How long did it take for you to complete the Mistborn trilogy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I wrote the entire trilogy, straight through, starting in the beginning of 2003 and ending in early 2006.

    carmen22

    How much research, if any, went into the making of the Mistborn trilogy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I did quite a bit, mostly reading about the era of the industrial revolution, alongside researching alchemy and eunuchs.

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  • 277

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    Clippership14

    I'm really curious where the inspiration for Elantris came from. I really enjoyed that book. =)

    Brandon Sanderson

    As with all of my books, there wasn't one single inspiration, but a number of them. A few of them here were: Chinese and its writing system, and how it relates to Japanese and Korean. The difference between teaching others of your faith in order to help them, as opposed to teaching them in order to aggrandize yourself. What it would be like to live in a leper colony. A king made into a beggar. A woman who, like a friend of mine, felt she was too tall and too smart for men to find her attractive. Magical servants that didn't look like any I'd read about before. And the thought of telling a story about someone who was basically a good, normal person—without a deep, dark past or terrible hidden flaw—who got trust into the worst situation I could imagine.

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  • 278

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    Jared_A

    Brandon, how do you feel your identity and upbringing as a Mormon has affected your work?

    Elantris, for instance, centers around a magic system that has essentially been broken because something in the world has changed—a "new revelation" if you will. And then Mistborn has at its core a set of holy writings that have been altered by an evil force.

    These things seem decidely Mormon to me, or at least informed from a Mormon perspective. Do you feel that is the case?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't set out to put anything specifically Mormon into my books, but who I am definitely influences what I write and how I write it. I'm always curious at the things people dig out of my writing—neither of the two points you mention above are things that I was conscious of, though they certainly do make interesting points now that you look at them.

    My goal in storytelling is first and foremost to be true to the characters—their passions, beliefs, and goals. No matter what those are. I'm not trying to make a point consciously ever in my writing—though I do think that good stories should raise questions and make readers think.

    Who I am as a person heavily influences what I write, and I draw from everything I can find—whether it be LDS, Buddhist, Islamic, or Atheist. It's all jumbled up there in that head of mine, and comes out in different characters who are seeking different things.

    In other words, I'm not setting out to be like C.S. Lewis and write parables of belief. I'm trying more what Tolkien did (not, of course, meaning to compare myself favorably with the master) in that I tell story and setting first, and let theme and meaning take care of itself.

    Fiction doesn't really exist—certainly doesn't have power—until it is read. You create the story in your head when you read it, and so your interpretations (and your pronunciations on the names) are completely valid in your telling of the story. The things you come up with may be things I noticed and did intentionally, they may be subconscious additions on my part, or they may simply be a result of your interaction with the text. But all three are valid.

    Jared_A

    On a different but related note, I really love that you honestly look at religious convictions in your books and that you don't portray such convictions in a shallow way.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Regardless of a person's beliefs, I think they would have to admit that religion and spirituality has played a large part in our development as a people. It's a very important thing to so many of us—and I also think that for most of us, our beliefs are nowhere near as simple as they seem when viewed from the outside. I appreciate your praise here, though I think I still have a lot to learn. There's a real line to walk in expressing a character's religious views without letting them sound preachy—the goal is to make the character real, but not bore the reader.

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  • 279

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    Theodor

    Brandon, with you being a writer specialized in cool and unique magic systems, how was it to use and write with the magic system in Wheel of Time? Hard or easy? Did you have to come up with new weaves, or did Jordan already have unmentioned weaves written down somewhere? And how did it work for you to write channeling battles?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, the Wheel of Time magic system was one of those that inspired me to make magic systems the way I do. I've long loved the magic in Mr. Jordan's books, and think he does a very good job of walking the line between having it feel scientific and still feel wondrous. He does tend to go a little bit further toward wonder—as opposed to science—but that has a great number of advantages for his story.

    In answer, I've come up with just a few new weaves, but mostly I wanted to use his weaves in new ways. I think there's a lot of room to explore the use of weaves and how people interact with the magic. Don't expect a LOT of this though. The focus is on the characters and the Last Battle at this point, but there were a few places where (mostly in throw-away, background moments) I was able to explore the magic a tad. I actually found it one of the easier things in the book, though I DID have to keep looking up how specific weaves were created. It gets confusing, particularly since men and women often do the weaves differently.

    As for channeling battles...well, I can't really tell you if there are any of those in the book without giving anything away, now can I? So we'll have to RAFO that. ;)

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  • 280

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    BenFoley

    One common theme in magic systems across fantasy is the use of artifacts to focus, increase or do something specific with the magic. Inclusion of artifacts is something you have avoided in your magic systems (although I will say I haven't missed them). Is there a reason for this? How has your writing changed with the 'forced' introduction of artifacts (i.e. finishing the Wheel of Time)? Do you plan on using artifacts in your own works after you finish the Wheel of Time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've not done artifacts for the same reason I've not yet done a lot of things—not because I don't want to, but because I like to keep the focus in a given book or books. There wasn't room for yet another extrapolation in that direction when writing the Mistborn books, and the magic system didn't really allow for it.

    However, I think there is a lot of room to explore magic artifacts. I've long been wanting to do something that refines magic and uses technology based on it, in kind of a magic-punk sort of way. Kings, for instance, does use artifacts and magical items—very specific kinds, mind you, that are built into the framework of the magic system. But they're there. One of the big elements of this world will be the existence of Shardplate (magically enhanced, powered plate armor) and Shardblades (large, summonable swords designed to cut through steel and stone.)

    This isn't really because of the WoT—I wrote the original draft of this book long before I was published, let alone working on the WoT—but I have always lilked the use of artifacts in the WoT world, and it has been fun to use some of them in that setting.

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  • 281

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    MarlonRand

    Is there any information about Way of Kings that you can give us at this time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've wanted to do a long epic for a while. I guess that's what comes from reading Jordan and the others while growing up. And so, way back in the late 90's—when I was experimenting with my style—I started working on ideas for a longer form series. I knew the real trick for me would be to do it in a way that it didn't feel stale after just a few books; there needed to be enough to the world, the magic, and the plot arcs that I (and hopefully readers) would keep interested in the series for such a long time.

    What it gives me (the thing that I want in doing a longer epic) is the chance to grow characters across a larger number of books. Dig into their pasts, explore what makes them think the way they do, in ways that even a trilogy cannot. In Kings, I don't want to do a longer 'saga' style series, with each book having a new set of characters. I want this to be one overarching story.

    One of the things that has itched at me for long time in my fantasy reading is the sense of loss that so many fantasy series have. I'm not complaining, mind you—I love these books. But it seems like a theme in a large number of fantasy books is the disappearance of magic and wonder from the world. In Tolkien, the Elves are leaving. In Jordan, technology is growing and perhaps beginning an age where it will overshadow magic. It's very present in Brooks, where the fantasy world is becoming our world. Even Eddings seemed to have it, with a sense that sorcerers are less common, and with things like the only Dragons dying, the gods leaving.

    I've wanted to do a series, then, where the magic isn't going away—it's coming back. Where the world is becoming a more wondrous place. Where new races aren't vanishing, they're being discovered.

    Obviously, I'm not the first to approach a fantasy this way. Maybe I'm reading too much into the other books, seeing something that isn't there. But the return of magic is one of the main concepts that is driving me.

    Well, that and enormous swords and magical power armor.

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  • 282

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    Dare2bu

    How difficult was it to come up with new magic systems considering the wealth of fantasy out there with already established magic systems(that seems to just get re-used in different formats by various other authors)? Do you have more systems to be used in future novels? If so how do you go about envisioning them and creating the rules in the first place?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've got a few very nifty ones reserved for the future. Don't worry; I'm not nearly out of ideas yet. And I'm constantly having new ones I don't have time to use.

    There IS a lot of fantasy out there. And yet, I think there's a great deal of room left for exploration in magic. The frontiers of imagination are still rough-and-tumble, unexplored places, particularly in this genre. It seems that a lot of fantasy sticks very close to the same kinds of magic systems.

    One of the things I've come to believe is that limitations are more important than powers in many cases. By not limiting themselves in what their characters can do, authors often don't have to really explore the extent of the powers they've created. If you are always handing your characters new powers, then they'll use the new and best—kind of like giving your teen a new car every year, rather than forcing them to test the limits of what that old junker will do. Often, those old cars will surprise you. Same thing for the magic. When you're constrained, as a writer, by the limits of the magic, it forces you to be more creative. And that can lead to better storytelling and a more fleshed out magic.

    Now, don't take this as a condemnation of other books. As writers, we all choose different things to focus on in our stories, and we all try different things. Jordan's ability to use viewpoint, Martin's use of character, Pratchett's use of wit—these are things that far outshine anything I've been able to manage in my works so far.

    But I do think that there is a great deal of unexplored ground still left to map out in some of these areas. (Specifically magic and setting.) A great magic system for me is one that has good limitations that force the characters to be creative, uses good visuals to make the scenes more engaging while written, and has ties to the culture of the world and the motivations of the viewpoint characters.

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  • 283

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    Sensitivemuse

    Are you going to write more about the Mistborn? There's still those mysterious metals, and it's a brand new world out there now so many possibilities you could do with that!

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will, someday, write a follow-up trilogy to Mistborn. It will be set several hundred years after the events of the first trilogy, after technology has caught up to where it should be. Essentially, these will be urban fantasy stories set in the same world. Guns, cars, skyscrapers—and Allomancers.

    That's still pretty far off, though. The other metals are being revealed on the poster I'm releasing of the Allomantic table. Should be for sale on my website sometime soon, though someone here can probably link to the image I posted of it, which has the other metals explained. (I can't remember where exactly that link is right now.)

    Hero of the new trilogy would be a nicrosil Misting.

    Sensitivemuse

    Also, was there an inspiration for Vin and if so who/what was it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin has been hard for me to pin down, inspiration wise. I tried so many different variations on her character (even writing her character as a boy) that it's hard to pinpoint when I got it right. There was no one single inspiration for her. (Unlike Sarene, who was based on a friend of mine.) She's a mix of my sisters, a good writer friend of mine, and a dozen different other little bits of people.

    The time when I got her character RIGHT was when I wrote the scene that became her first in Mistborn, where she's watching the ash blow in the street, and envies it for its freedom. That, mixed with Kelsier's observation that she isn't a bad person—she just thinks everyone else is—were the big points where her character took form.

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  • 284

    Interview: Oct 27th, 2009

    Question

    Robert Jordan uses a great deal of mythology and lore in his books.

    Brandon Sanderson

    My answer is, I’m doing my darndest. One thing I love and always have loved about the Wheel of Time is Robert Jordan’s use of mythology. He doesn’t use mythology in kind of almost, how should I say, the bubble gum pop version of it that you see in some other fantasy works. There is a depth and a reality to his mythology that has always amazed me. One of the greatest concepts is what he says in that first paragraph: an Age long past, an Age yet to come. I didn’t get these things the first read through, I was a fifteen-year-old kid I didn’t know what’s going on. I didn’t notice the first time I was reading it that Buzz Aldren and the Cold War are referenced as mythological events in The Eye of the World. [...] I love how he’s used mythology as his history and just how Mat in particular but a lot of them are founding myths that become our mythology. I don’t know if you guys have read up on Odin and Locke. Go read up on the mythology of Odin and Locke. They were actually thought to be one person in all of the original myths. See the things attributed to them, including things like ravens and the spear of Odin and things like this. And then see what Mat is doing. The idea is that Mat is actually founding these myths and by the time our Age comes we remember Mat but we have all of this other mythology associated with him and we’ve forgotten that he was even known as Mat. That’s just genius So, I’m doing my best to continue that. It would be very easy to over do it in fan sort of a way. I have to be very careful to not put a reference to something like that in every chapter just because it’s fun. But if you search through The Gathering Storm you should be able to find a few things that are happening. Particularly, I don’t want to give any hints, but the things happening in Hinderstap were intended as things that through a lot of mythology later on become myths in our time. There are references to writers from our world being referenced in The Gathering Storm among books people are studying.

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  • 285

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    Joshua_Patrao

    About research: What, if any, research for your novels have you done, and how did you do it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The calling of a fiction writer, particularly a fantasy writer, is to know a little bit about a lot of things—just enough to be dangerous, so to speak. I tend to read survey books that talk about history—things that give overviews, such as the history of warfare, or the history of the sword, or navigation. That kind of thing. I would say I do a fair amount of research, but mostly it's an attempt to dump as much into my brain as possible for spawning stories and writing about things intelligently. For Mistborn, I researched canals, eunuchs, and London during the mid 1800's.

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  • 286

    Interview: Nov 7th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    Brandon relates Tam to Bilbo and Rand to Frodo.

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  • 287

    Interview: Nov 9th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    We will most probably not be seeing any actual dragons in the series—the naming of Aludra's cannons is not because of the shared fire breathing, but simply a general association with power.

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  • 288

    Interview: Nov 9th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    When asked if his religion played a part in his books, Brandon replied that it was a part of him, and that as a consequence it did.

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  • 289

    Interview: Nov 9th, 2009

    Ted Herman

    Maria Simons

    She also answered a few questions as follows: about symbology, she said that RJ had some notes on that, and that the posts on 13th Depository are pretty accurate regarding this.

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  • 290

    Interview: Nov 9th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    States he did not see "Guys and Dolls", responding to a question about something similar in The Gathering Storm that I did not quite catch in one of the chapters with Mat. A blank die?

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  • 291

    Interview: Nov 15th, 2009

    Question

    What myths influenced Robert Jordan the most?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Native American and Norse mythology are featured prominently, but there are obvious influences from the Fisher King and Grail legends. Brandon also mentioned that Odin and Loki were thought to have originally been one person in the early myths, but was split into two. He noted that Odin had a spear and that Loki was pictured with ravens. Also, Brandon would sometimes ask Harriet about a particular passage and ask where Jordan got his inspiration. Harriet would pull out a book of myth, turn to a page and point it out.

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  • 292

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2009

    Question

    What medieval Arthurian texts were in RJ's library?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Harriet didn't remember anything specifically Arthurian, but there were a lot of books on mythology, religion, Asimov's guide to the bible, Norse, Greek, Cheyenne Indian. RJ wrote about the Cheyenne under the name Jackson O'Reilly. The Aiel are based on the Cheyenne.

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  • 293

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2009

    Question

    Is there any history to the term 'blood and bloody ashes'?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    No.

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  • 294

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2009

    Question

    Does RJ work out things like conservation laws, since he was a physicist?

    Brandon Sanderson

    From what I've seen, he considered it, the power that is doing all these things is coming from somewhere. They discovered the Dark One by finding the power (True Power). (They are) not aware of the source of the One Power. The Law of Conservation of Energy works, it's coming from somewhere, we're not sure where. It's not something the characters were considering, so it wasn't appropriate to include in the books.

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  • 295

    Interview: Nov 16th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hinderstap is a re-imagining of the old ‘Stone Soup’ folk tale.

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  • 296

    Interview: Apr 30th, 2010

    Richard Fife

    Stepping back, we have just passed the twentieth anniversary of the series and The Eye of the World. Some people have gone so far as to compare The Wheel of Time to Tolkien and his influence on fantasy. How do you feel it has affected fantasy in general?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Yes, certainly The Times compared them. But, it's just damn good. That is really how it has affected it. A writer friend said he thought the thing that Jim did special was to take Tolkien at one end of the fantasy spectrum and Conan on the other end and combine them, which is interesting for its time.

    Richard Fife

    So, a middle-ground of low, pulp fantasy and high fantasy?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Well, not low pulp, but barbarian fantasy. The muscular Cimmerian, and those books are really quite good. I am rereading them, and in Conan Chronicles number one, it is very obvious to me, looking back, that Jim was brooding about the events in Afghanistan at that time. He's got them right in there. That is not something you usually find in pulp fiction very often. Where the author is incorporating thoughts about current events into a fantasy world, and of course he has done that: Children of the Light, hello?

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  • 297

    Interview: May 12th, 2010

    Richard Fife

    That is a very impressive feat. So, it has been twenty years since The Eye of the World. Looking back, has there been anything that surprised you that the fans clued in on, similar to Asmodean's murder? Or perhaps anything they missed that you thought they should have been all over?

    Alan Romanczuk

    One thing that strikes me is people's perception of the Wheel of Time. The Wheel of Time is just a structural device: it has seven spokes which represent the seven Ages. The Wheel turns; people forget about the previous Age and a new Age is entered. It goes around seven times and it starts again from square one. Very similar patterns of events occur in each Age, but they are changed, just as two people can have very similar personalities but still be very different people in many other respects. The same way with the different Ages.

    So the Wheel does not have a specific purpose. It does not have a motivation. It is not a conscious being. The Wheel is just there, operating as an organizing principle of the world. Jim played down the religious aspects of all this. There is a creator, but there is not even a notion that the creator is God. The creator, of course, is God, but it is the creator. And the creator is not given much of a personality in these books. The creator is a stand-back kind of entity, less so than the Dark One, which opposes the creator and everything the creator has created, which is mankind.

    And so, that's all I'm saying: don't read too much into the Wheel of Time. I think the Wheel of Time is also drawn in part from the Buddhist concept of the Wheel of Life. The Wheel of Life is something that we are on. In creation, we are created in who knows what form, evolve through many, many lifetimes, until we no longer have to be on the wheel. We have reached our goal, which in Eastern Thought is being one with God, part of the infinite ocean. In Jim's world, it is not so cut and dried. As far as we know, individuals stay on the Wheel of Time forever.

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  • 298

    Interview: Jun 30th, 2010

    Luckers

    Could you give us an insight into Jim's writing process? He was clearly quite methodical in his development, but how did he go about it? Were you involved much outside of your role as editor?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    I remember that when he was beginning The Great Hunt, we spent a lunchtime discussing how the child of a Maiden of the Spear would be raised. Consider how far ahead that meant he was thinking! Beyond that, he had a magpie approach to the daily news—I was reading one of his Conans the other day, and was struck by how much it reflects the events in Afghanistan of that time.

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  • 299

    Interview: Jun 30th, 2010

    Luckers

    I have this weird thing about random historical tidbits from the series (like the poisonous peaches, or the six-toed Two Rivers cats), so I was wondering if you have encountered anything like that which you could tell us? Or could you tell us why peaches are now so poisonous?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Peach PITS are poisonous here and now. They're full of—strychnine? Arsenic? I've forgotten which, but they really are bad. The flesh is not. You could look it up. But after one encounter with peach pits, a person would decide the whole thing was poison. This is on a par with the eighteenth century belief that tomatoes were poisonous—some people have an allergic reaction to them.

    And in some locations, six-toed cats are common.

    Footnote

    The poison in peach pits is actually cyanide, and RJ commented on the peaches here.

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  • 300

    Interview: Sep 9th, 2010

    Question

    The Seanchan? How does their drawl sound?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Robert Jordan actually answered how the Seanchan are supposed to sound. They are actually Texans. Really, he actually said that. He came out and said in an interview they have a Texan drawl. I don't know, you know we're used to hearing Texan accents, or deep Texan accents, and so they're just natural to us. But perhaps someone who never has before would have problems. Like, I've been in other countries before where someone who's not native to the language—slightly different example but again, linguistics fascinate me—not native to the language who's learned to speak English listening to British English speakers will have a huge amount of trouble understanding American English speakers or vice versa. I was once in Korea and there was an extremely fluent Korean speaker of English that we were talking to, and someone came over as a friend who had a Boston accent which is very soft, you know, I don't even hear it. And the Korean could not understand him. He just could not understand a single word, just with that slight addition of an accent. So if you're not familiar with an accent it can actually play havoc with your ears. Sometime when you're not expecting it, try it, I guess, you have to find someone who's fresh out of Australia, or even better Tasmania because they actually tend to have thicker accents. And get a fresh Tasmanian right over, not having been over here long enough for the accent to weaken, and try and speak with them. You will have an eye-opening experience.

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  • 301

    Interview: Sep 13th, 2010

    Patrick

    The settings of your novels often seem to be something quite different. It seems the majority of fantasy are basically earth with magic and maybe some cool animals to go along. The Way of Kings just feels different (and the Mistborn books for that matter)—harsher, darker, almost like what we would like call a wasteland. How and why did you create the world The Way of Kings in this way? The landscape of the Shattered Plains is especially unusual and evocative. Was it inspired by the landscape of the American Midwest?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Southwest, particularly. My visits to places like Arches National Park, relatively close to where I live right now, certainly influenced me. More than that—and I've said this in numerous interviews before—I'm a fantasy reader foremost. Before I was a writer I was a reader, and I'm still a reader. As a reader, I grew a little bit annoyed with the generic setting that seemed to recur a lot in fantasy. I won't speak poorly of writers who used it very well—there are certain writers who used it extremely well—and yet a lot of other writers seemed to just take for granted that that's what you did. Which is not the way that I feel it should be done. I think that the genre could go many places it hasn't been before.

    When I approached writing the Stormlight Archive—when I approached creating Roshar—I very consciously said, "I want to create something that feels new to me." I'm not the only one who does this, and I'm certainly not the one who does it best, but I wanted a world that was not medieval Europe. At all. I wanted a world that was its own thing. I started with the highstorms and went from there. To a person of our world, Roshar probably does look barren like a wasteland. But to the people living there, it's not a barren wasteland. This is a lush world full of life. It's just that what we equate with lush and full of life is not how that world defines it. In Roshar, a rock wall can be a lush, vibrant, and fertile place. It may look like a wasteland to us, but we're seeing through the eyes of someone who's used to Earth's flora and fauna. I've also said before in interviews that science fiction is very good at giving us new things. I don't see why fantasy shouldn't be as good at doing the same. Perhaps even better. So that's what was driving me to do what I did.

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  • 302

    Interview: Oct 19th, 2010

    John Ottinger

    Are there any "Easter eggs" that the well-versed Wheel of Time reader might find contained in Towers of Midnight, and can you name at least one?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh boy. Well, one person's Easter egg is another person's very obvious thing. In Chapter One, "Apples First," in which a character from The Eye of the World shows up, I intended that to be more of an Easter egg and not tell people who that was. But Harriet asked for a big reminder near the end of the chapter of where the characters had met. So there are things like that, where characters return, but most of the time we have erred on the side of giving a little bit of an extra reminder of who these people are. If you look in Lan's plotline, several characters from New Spring make reappearances. The well-versed Wheel of Time reader is not even going to consider that an Easter egg, since it's going to be pretty obvious to them, but to other people I think it will be surprising. Will there be an Easter egg on the level of The Gathering Storm's reference to Plato? I'm sure that there are a few things like that embedded in there, as Robert Jordan always liked to embed references, but I can't think of any off the top of my head.

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  • 303

    Interview: Sep 12th, 2010

    Brandon Sanderson

    THIS APPLIES TO FANTASY

    Before postmodern literature can start appearing in a genre (and therefore, before deconstructionists can start pointing out the irony inherent in that postmodern literature) you need to have a body of work with dominant themes and concepts. You need an audience familiar enough with those themes to recognize when they are being molded, changed, and built upon.

    Fantasy (and the epic in particular) hit a postmodern stage with remarkable speed. Tolkien was so remarkably dominant, so genre-changing, that reactions to him began immediately. And, since so much of the audience was familiar with his tropes (to the point that they quickly became expected parts of the genre), it was easy to build upon his work and change it. You could also argue that the Campbellian monomyth (awareness of which was injected into the veins of pop culture by George Lucas) was so strong in sf/f that we were well prepared for our postmodern era to hit. Indeed, by the late '70s, the first major postmodern Tolkienesque fantasy epic had already begun. (In the form of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever.)

    During my early years writing, I mixed a lot with other aspiring fantasy novelists. A great number of us had grown up reading the Tolkien-reaction books. Brooks, Eddings, Williams, Jordan. You might call us of the rising generation Tolkien's grandchildren. (Some of you may have heard me call him, affectionately, "Grandpa Tolkien" when I talk about him, which is an affectation I think I got from a David Eddings interview I once read.) A lot of my generation of writers, then, were ready for the next stage of fantasy epics. The "new wave," so to speak.

    During those years, I read and heard a lot of talk about "taking the next step" in fantasy. Or, "making the genre our own." It seems that everyone I talked to had their own spin on how they were going to revolutionize the genre with their brilliant twist on the fantasy epic. Unfortunately, a lot of us were a little unambitious in our twists. ("My elves are short, rather than tall!" or "I'm going to make orcs a noble warrior culture, not just a group of evil, thoughtless monsters!") Our hearts were good; our methods were problematic. I remember growing dissatisfied with this (specifically with my own writing, which was going through some of the same not-so-original originality problems), though I couldn't ever define quite why.

    I think I have a better read on it now. It has to do with a particular explanation one writer gave when talking about his story. It went something like this: "Well, it starts out like every other 'farmboy saves the world' fantasy novel. You know, the plucky sidekick rogue, the gang of unlikely woodsmen who go on a quest to find the magic sword. But it's not going to end like that. I'm going to twist it about, make it my own! At the three-quarter mark, the book becomes something else entirely, and I'll play off all those expectations! The reader will realize it's not just another Tolkienesque fantasy. It's something new and original."

    There's a problem in there. Can you spot it?

    Here's the way I see it. That book is going to disappoint almost everyone. The crowd who is searching for something more innovative will pick up the book, read the beginning, and grow bored because of how familiar the book seems. They'll never get to the part where you're new and original because of how strongly the book is relying upon the thing it is (supposedly) denying. And yet, the people who pick up your book and like it for its resonant, classical feel have a strong probability of growing upset with the novel when it breaks so solidly out of its mold at the end. In a way, that breaks the promise of the first three-quarters of the book.

    In short, you're either going to bore people with the bulk of the book or you're going to make them hate your ending.

    That's a tough pill to swallow. I could be completely wrong about it; I frequently am. After all, I've often said that good writing defies expectations. (Or, more accurately, breaks your expectations while fulfilling them in ways you didn't know you wanted. You have to replace what they thought they wanted with something so much more awesome that they are surprised and thrilled at the same time.) But I think that the above scenario exposes one of the big problems with postmodern literature. Just as Jewel's music video is likely to turn off—because of the sexual imagery—people who might have agreed with its message, the above story seems likely to turn away the very people who would have appreciated it most.

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  • 304

    Interview: Sep 12th, 2010

    Brandon Sanderson

    THE WAY OF KINGS

    The Mistborn books were successful. Many readers liked the idea of a world where the Dark Lord won, where prophecy and the hero were not what we expected them to be.

    Because of how well it worked, however, I fell into something of a trap. When it came time to rewrite The Way of Kings, I floundered. I knew the story I wanted to tell, but I felt I needed to insert a major twist on the fantasy genre, along the lines of what I'd done in Mistborn. What would be my twist? What would be the postmodern aspect of this book? It literally kept me up nights. (Not hard to do, since I'm an insomniac, but still.)

    Over time, I wrestled with this because a larger piece of me resisted doing the postmodern thing in Mistborn again. That piece of me began to ask some difficult questions. Did I want to be known as "The guy who writes postmodern fantasies"? There would be worse monikers to have. However, one of the major purposes of deconstructionism, is to point out the problem with self-referential material. There was a gimmick to the Mistborn books. It was a very useful one, since it allowed me to pitch the book in one sentence. "The hero failed; this is a thousand years later."

    There are a lot of very good postmodern stories out there, and I love the Mistborn books. But my heart wasn't in doing that again. In order to write Mistborn the way I did, I also had to rely on the archetypes. My characters, for example, were very archetypal: The street urchin. The clever rogue who robs to do good. The idealistic young nobleman who wants to change the world. My plots were very archetypal as well: a heist story for the first book, a siege narrative for the second. I believe that a good book can use archetypes in new ways without being clichéd. (The Name of the Wind is an excellent example.)

    In fact, it's probably impossible not to reflect archetypes in storytelling. I'm sure they're there in The Way of Kings. But I found in working on it that I didn't want to intentionally build a story where I relied upon reader expectations. Instead, I wanted to look for themes and character concepts that I haven't approached before, and that I haven't seen approached as often in the genre.

    There's a distinction to be found. It's much like the difference in humor between parody and satire. (As I define them.) In the first, you are funny only if your audience understands what you are parodying. In the second, you are funny because you are innately funny. Early Pratchett is parody. Mid and late Pratchett is satire. (Not to mention brilliant.)

    And this is why, in the end, I decided that I would not write The Way of Kings as a postmodern epic. (Not intentionally, at least.) Mistborn felt, in part, like a reflection. There were many original parts, but at its core it was a study of the genre, and—to succeed at its fullest—it needed an audience who understood the tropes I was twisting about. Instead of making its own lasting impression and improvement on the genre, it rested upon the work done by others.

    In short, I feel that using that same process again would make it a crutch to me. There is nothing at all wrong with what Mistborn did. I'm very proud of it, and I think it took some important steps. But it's not what I want to be known for, not solely. I don't just want to reflect and study; I want to create. I want to write something that says, "Here is my addition, my tiny step forward, in the genre that I love."

    To couch it in the terms of the Jewel video that started the essay, instead of creating a piece of art that screams, "Hey, look at those other pieces of art and hear my take on them," I wanted to create something that says, "Look at this piece of art. This is what I think art should be in this genre now." Part of me thinks that a video that was beautiful for its own sake, that didn't rely upon the follies of others, would do more toward undermining those follies than would a video that pointed them all out.

    And so, I tossed aside my desire to confine The Way of Kings into a single, pithy sentence explaining the slant I was taking on the fantasy genre. I just wrote it as what it was.

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  • 305

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    He spoke about magic system creation and that he had a science background that inspired him in creating Allomancy which has a scientific basis, and elements of chemistry, biology and physics. He also mentioned a podcast he is a part of, Writing Excuses, and that one episode was about creating magic systems.

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  • 306

    Interview: Feb 28th, 2011

    staircasewit ()

    I really enjoy your books, and I can only think of one question at the moment, perhaps I'll come back with more.

    I suppose my question is about how you name your characters. I've been reading WoT and notice some similarities, for example Cenn, and Sarene, and Shalon (different spelling, but they probably sound the same). Is it purely by accident that you have characters with similar names, or is it a homage to a recent master of the fantasy genre? Or is it just that with RJ's 2000+ names, it's impossible to escape some overlap? :) So I guess I'm curious about how you name your characters in general (and even places. Urithiru is an awesome name.)

    Thanks for your time, and your books!

    Brandon Sanderson

    I ended up with a lot of unconscious similarities in Kings as I was working on it for such an extended period of time. Cenn wasn't actually intentional. (At least, I don't think so; sometimes, it's hard to remember back to which names pop out intentionally and which do not.) The eyebrows of the Thaylens were, however, an intentional homage, as is the name of the mountains by where Szeth's people live.

    There is going to be some overlap. Sarene is a great example of this; I'm pretty sure that one is just coincidence, though I'd lay odds on Cenn being an unconscious influence.

    Some of the names in the book were constructed quite intentionally to fit linguistic paradigms of the setting. Urithiru, for example, is a palindrome—which are holy in the Alethi and Veden tongues. Some names, like Shallan, are intentionally one letter off of a holy word—as to not sound too arrogant. (Shallash would be the holy word; nobility will often change one letter to create a child's name to evoke the holy term, but not be blasphemous.)

    With many, I just go for the right feel. I've worked these names over for years and years at this point. Dalinar's name has been set in place for a good ten years or so, but Kaladin used to be named Merin and Szeth used to be named Jek. (The first changed because I didn't like it; the second changed because the linguistics of the Shin people changed and I needed a name that better fit.)

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  • 307

    Interview: Feb 28th, 2011

    Blackrabite ()

    My friend and I read Mistborn when we first heard you were going to take over on The Wheel of Time. We've been hooked ever since and you are definitely one of our top authors now.

    The friend I spoke of grew up in a Mormon household, as did my wife, and both of them say that a lot of your work seems to borrow or at least use ideas from the Mormon idea of an afterlife as building blocks. Are those just similarities or is your world building influenced heavily by those ideas?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Most of what people are noticing isn't so much intentional as inevitable. Just like people see WWII influences in Tolkien (though he denied that there were such parallels) there are going to be LDS parallels in my books.

    I don't seek to expunge them; they are part of who I am. If I'm reaching into mythology and history for my foundations, I'm going to dip into LDS sources more often than others. So tell your friend and wife that they're seeing real things, most likely—though it's not intentional allegory.

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  • 308

    Interview: Jun 4th, 2011

    Question

    Several fans wanted to know how Sanderson felt about picking up the baton and continuing the Wheel of Time series.

    Brandon Sanderson

    He felt daunted to begin with, mainly over the fear of not doing a good enough job. He knows it isn't perfect (like how Jordan would have written it), but he has loved the challenge—and I am sure us fans do like what he has done. He was initially surprised at the hardcore nature of Wheel of Time fans. He jokingly viewed himself as a stepfather to the fans! I got the impression that Sanderson was blown away by the level of detail and research Jordan undertook for the mythologies etc behind the books. He said there were shelves and shelves of textbooks on the mythology, and Harriet was able to pick the necessary books should he need to do some background or further reading.

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  • 309

    Interview: Jul 16th, 2011

    Brandon Sanderson

    He confirmed the mythology connection to Perrin being wounded in the leg in the fight with Slayer in Towers of Midnight that was suggested by Hael Me in this thread.

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  • 310

    Interview: Jul 16th, 2011

    herid

    I asked about Galad and his parallels with Mordred that I discussed here.

    Brandon Sanderson

    He started nodding before I finished describing the parallels and said that yes, he was aware of those. But he of course didn't say anything specific about how exactly this might play out. He did say that he has much less freedom with Galad than with some other characters as Galad's plotline was mapped out in detail by RJ.

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  • 311

    Interview: Aug 29th, 2011

    Literatopia

    The focus of the Mistborn trilogy and of Warbreaker is on lived faith and various deities. What do these topics mean to you and why did you choose to deal with them?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm very interested in the concepts of religion and the ideas that surround it, and I often find myself writing books that deal with things I'm interested in myself. I allow the themes of books like these to grow naturally out of the world I've built and out of the stories that I want to tell. Specifically, I kind of let the characters decide what the themes of a book are going to be. I don't go into it saying, "I'm going to write about this," but the worlds that I create betray my own interests very strongly. What is it about faith and deity? This is something that is unique about us as human beings, something very interesting to me, and it felt like this area was an open space to explore in fantasy in ways that hadn't been done before. I always find myself gravitating toward things that I feel haven't been explored as much as they could have been. That interests me and fascinates me.

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  • 312

    Interview: Aug 29th, 2011

    Literatopia

    Is there a character whose development in the course of the series was surprising to you?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Most surprising, honestly—and this is a minor character—was probably Gawyn. I remember as a kid reading the books and expecting, "Oh, Gawyn, he's obviously going to be this super cool main character." I felt all sorts of things about him, and then they just never materialized. Which is not unexpected if you look at the literary roots that Robert Jordan was using for Gawyn's character, but it was surprising to me as a young kid because you read certain tropes in fiction and you expect them to be used always the same way. You know, the young, handsome, charming prince doesn't usually turn into what Gawyn turned into.

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  • 313

    Interview: Aug 29th, 2011

    Reader's Question

    People like to measure any fantasy literature against The Lord of the Rings. Do you see this as motivation or pressure within the genre? Do you think it's still possible to write really good High Fantasy without it being called a bad rip-off or it being criticized for breaking with too many of the conventions?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh boy. This is something I have talked about quite a bit from time to time. I wrote a whole essay on it here: http://www.brandonsanderson.com/article/22/

    Recently, the New York Times had a review of Martin's A Dance with Dragons which declared that it was far better than the Lord of the Rings and that Tolkien was dead. Tolkien is the measuring stick that everyone uses. In some ways he shouldn't be, because the fantasy genre has so much potential beyond just being like what Tolkien did. And in other ways, fantasy as we know it today would not exist without Tolkien. He is a giant, and we all stand on his shoulders. In that respect, comparing everyone to Tolkien is not really fair.

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  • 314

    Interview: Aug 21st, 2011

    Brandon Sanderson

    He worries about repeating himself in writing and tries to vary his writing.

    As research for his writing he has variously: bungee jumped to feel what like to fall off a building; gone to self-defense class; watched sword-fighting at Cons and of course read broadly.

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  • 315

    Interview: Aug 4th, 2011

    Question

    Do you think writing Robert Jordan's books affected your writing style in any way?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It did. It affected me, you know, It definitely affected me. Robert Jordan was very good at some very important things. He was great with viewpoint, he was very good at foreshadowing and subtlety. In fact, I think he was way more subtle than I've been, and I think those are things I've learned by working on this project. And also, just being able to balance so many different characters and viewpoints. That's something I think I learned. Though you know, I consciously when I wrote Alloy of Law, which is next, I consciously said, you know, I think I'm going to use a different style. There are some people who love the Wheel of Time, there are some people who don't like the Wheel of Time, and I don't want to become, you know, my style to become the Wheel of Time style. It's my own style. The Way of Kings is certainly more like Wheel of Time, you know, but also more like all the classic epics and fantasy that I read. Alloy of Law is intentionally not like that. Alloy of Law is more of a fast-paced thriller plotting style than it is epic fantasy.

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  • 316

    Interview: Aug 4th, 2011

    Question

    Are there any author's skills that you envy, besides Robert Jordan?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah! (laughter) No, there are. There are things that Pat Rothfuss does that I think are wonderful. Mostly, his poetry of language, that, I envy his ability to do that. Jim Butcher's ability to pace is just fantastic, and so, I look at him and say, wow, I want to have the ability to pace like that. You know, there are a lot of authors that write really good books that I look at and say, wow, I want to learn from that. And then you do, because that's what you do as a writer. You're like, I learned from this.

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  • 317

    Interview: 2004

    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, on other peoples' parts.

    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 inevitable 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, or whatever—the wise old fellow shows up in a small country village, and says, "You must follow me to save the world." And the villagers say, "Right then, guv, off we go!" And 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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  • 318

    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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  • 319

    Interview: 1997

    Laura Wilson

    What about this notion of time as a wheel? Is that your idea?

    Robert Jordan

    No. It's not mine. It is from Hindu mythology that time is a wheel. But actually, most eastern cultures believed that time was circular. The Greeks gave us the great gift of believing that time was linear. And that's a great gift because if time is circular, if everything repeats in cycles, then change is impossible. No matter what you do, it's always going to come back to what is here. But if time is linear, then change is possible. But I wanted the circularity because I wanted, again, to go into the changes by distance. So, the myths and legends and a few of the stories that these people tell, well, some of them are based on our own current events, on the present. What they are doing is based on our myths and legends. So they are the source of our myths and legends, and we are the source of theirs.

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  • 320

    Interview: 1997

    Laura Wilson

    So what religions or mythological traditions are your stories based on?

    Robert Jordan

    Different religions, different mythologies. I felt that because America is a melting pot, I had at least some right to mine the mythologies of any nation that is represented in the United States, and also religion. So there are elements that come out of religious books, and there are elements that come out of mythologies, as well. Not done in a mythological way. I try to present these things so that you feel you are in a place that is quite real, and this could actually happen.

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  • 321

    Interview: Nov 19th, 2011

    Question

    Has Brandon (and Team Jordan I think) done any research on the battles/armies etc.?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, a lot. Brandon didn't want to give me specific examples to avoid spoilers for those who can guess. They contacted one very well known author who helped them with this research. Anyone can guess? I'll give one easy clue: Boromir.

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  • 322

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    sleepinghour (14 November 2011)

    You already mentioned the Perun-Perrin connection. Any other myths we should read up on before A Memory of Light?

    Brandon Sanderson (14 November 2011)

    Oh, let's see. Lots. The Valkyrie myth makes a brief cameo. Have a look at that one.

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  • 323

    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.

    Tags

  • 324

    Interview: 2001

    Thus Spake the Creator (Paraphrased)

    Question (What are his sources and inspirations?)

    Are the names "Dragon", "Coramoor" and "Car'a'carn" based on chess openings?

    Robert Jordan

    No.

    REPORTER

    This surprised me, there has been a thread around here in which was stated that Dragon, Caro-Kann and the Coramorant (I'm not sure of the last one) are chess openings. If he had answered with a yes then I would have asked why because they're all variants played by black and rather defensive but I needn't.

    Footnote

    It's Cormorant.

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  • 325

    Interview: 2001

    Thus Spake the Creator (Paraphrased)

    Question (What are his sources and inspirations?)

    Have you ever studied comparative religion? (influenced WoT, inspiration, etc.)

    Robert Jordan

    No. RJ did make a comment on how he never studied comparative religion, but rather lived it. (He put forth a list of people that he knew in his life, with each person being a different religion. Sorry, I couldn’t write it down, since it was much too fast, and 80+ people in a small bookstore are LOUD.)

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  • 326

    Interview: Apr 10th, 2001

    Kurafire

    Do you enjoy listening to music, and if so does it aid you in acquiring inspiration for your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    In many ways, yes, I listen to every sort of music. Classical, Rock, Jazz, Country, Western, Ethnic music from various countries... I do not write to Jazz, or Rock. I like all country western, I like to listen to it, or blues, but I can’t write to it. I write, or at least maybe I can write to some Jazz, I mainly write to classical music, and some jazz. I usually have music playing when I write.

    Kurafire

    If a well-known composer would like to compose a musical score for your entire books, what would your opinion about that be? Would you like it?

    Robert Jordan

    I’d be very interested to see what he or she would do! [smiles]

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  • 327

    Interview: Apr, 2001

    Robert Jordan

    I asked how he comes up with names for all of his characters, and he gave a nice explanation, with some examples as well—like Nynaeve is directly from the Arthur myths, Rand Al'Thor is from Arthur (and from Thor), as is Artur Hawkwing, Merlin became Thom Merrilin and Amyrlin... He keeps a list of names he sees everywhere, in myths, street signs, newspapers, or things he misreads that might be nice for a name.

    Tags

  • 328

    Interview: Apr 10th, 2001

    Kurafire

    Who has been, in the past, your major role model, idol or source of inspiration?

    Robert Jordan

    I think I’m going to surprise you. I don’t know... if I have a role model or inspiration as a writer. The people who have had the most influence on my writing would be Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Lewey Lamore, and John. D. McDonnel.

    Tags

  • 329

    Interview: Jan 21st, 2003

    Sean

    Sean asked Robert Jordan if the gypsy language influenced his language.

    Robert Jordan

    He said it did not, however the Old Tongue was taken from Danish, old English, Welsh as well as Eastern European, and Asian. Which explains the familiarity, Sean told me later, the gypsy language is influenced by the aforementioned areas also.

    Tags

  • 330

    Interview: Aug 31st, 1999

    Question

    Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

    Robert Jordan

    Charles Dickens, John D. MacDonald, Louis L'Amour and Mark Twain.

    I've learned different things from different ones.

    Tags

  • 331

    Interview: Jun 16th, 1995

    Hans Persson

    After this, the only thing left that seemed interesting and that was "The uses of myth in fantasy" that was a conversation between Stephen Grundy and Robert Jordan.

    Robert Jordan

    Stephen Grundy bases his novel on the legend of Sigrid. Robert Jordan said that he instead took all the myths he could get his hands on, read what he could find, put it all in a large pot and stir and see what floats up to the surface. I have to admit I got a little jealous when he said he read about 300 books per year. At the same time he apparently seems to be able to write a whole lot too. The subsequent debate started with the authors arguing a bit for their respective views on how to use mythology in novels. Stephen Grundy thought that you should keep yourself to one example and keep more or less true to that one. While Robert Jordan thought it was OK to borrow material from loads of different myths. "If you find something you like, you should use it," he said; "if you then don't like the rest of the myth, just throw it away. You could either borrow something more fitting from other sources or just write in the holes yourself."

    Tags

  • 332

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Andrew Gelos

    I have a kind of a question which…so much doesn't connect directly to the Wheel of Time world except that it also connects Wheel of Time to the broader scope of our world, and I've just been itching to ask this: I've recently been in a course in Restoration Literature, and in the historical studies there, I noted that there seem to be connections between Cairhien and London around the time of the mid-to-early 1600s: the fact that the city is part built against a river, the city burns when the Aiel attack, and there are various cultural features that seem to reflect London around that time period, and I was wondering, am I just completely imagining this? I know occasionally Mr. Jordan would take things from various different places and kind of merge them together to create a unique, individual space, and I just was sort of wondering if there is actually any of historical London in Cairhien, and if there is, is there any more anywhere else in the major cities?

    Alan Romanczuk

    Yes, yes. One thing you have to remember about Jim is he never did a single reference in any of his descriptions, whether it's a military uniform, a city, a character—everything seemed to draw from multiple sources. So yes, Cairhien was most likely in part based on London, but you look at the map of it, and you can see it's very different as well. It's laid out in a very rigid grid fashion. You could say in that case, well, maybe it's based on New York City in part as well, and it has a palace up on the highest hill within the bounds of the city. That's not true of London, but it's true of other places. And London wasn't the only city burned by attack; there were many others. But yeah, I mean Jim had a huge number of books in his reference library, and he traveled a lot as well, so he saw many of these places, and in typical Jim fashion...you know, I wouldn't be surprised if he had eight or ten or twelve influences in the creation of Cairhien.

    ANDREW GELOS

    That's great, because what actually caught my notice—because, even the Great Fire of 1666 probably would have passed me by in connection to the Wheel of Time world, except for the fact that, then I looked at the semi-Puritanical dress that the nobles in the city were taken to wearing, and then we were…I actually on the day I thought of this question was sitting there looking at a screen with the picture of Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector, and I was just like, "You know, that's like, almost what I kind of envisioned the Cairhienin nobility to kind of look like."

    VIRGINIA

    Well, one thing we've never seen in any of the Wheel of Time history that I can recall—and London, just talking about it brought it to mind—is, we've never seen a large-scale plague in history, like with the Great Plague of the year…I've forgotten now.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Mmhmm.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Well, of course, so many of the rats have been eliminated, but they're back now.

    VIRGINIA

    They're back! Maybe your plague is coming, like they need more trouble. [laughter]

    MARIA SIMONS

    The Last… (cross-talk)

    VIRGINIA

    No, go ahead…

    MARIA SIMONS

    The Last Battle is…

    JENNIFER LIANG

    It's funny that you brought up London as an influence, because most people when they're talking about influences on Cairhien, they really pick up on the court of the Sun King and Marie Antoinette because the style is very, you know, 1700s, late-1700s and Marie Antoinette, and there's also a lot of Japanese influence, and that tends to be what people pick up on. So this is the first time I've had somebody say, "You know, I think there's a London in Cairhien," so that's kind of interesting.

    VIRGINIA

    I guess everybody brings something different to the books, and interprets them in their own way.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Oh yeah, definitely.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Yeah, another interesting point: anyone remember what the name Cairhien means in the Old Tongue?

    ANDREW GELOS

    Hill of the Golden Dawn.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Hill of the Golden Dawn. The Order of the Golden Dawn was an occult society in London back before the beginning of the 20th Century.

    FOOTNOTE

    This particular society was Kabbalistic, and their hierarchy is based on the Tree of Life. Many other parallels can be drawn.

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, that's right. I'd forgotten that.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Which I just bring out as, you know, yet another thing that Jim latched on to and threw into the mix.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Most people think 'the hill of the golden dawn' is like, 'Oh, the land of the rising sun!' which would be Japan, because there's a heavy Japanese influence in just the style of the buildings and things like that seem very Japanese.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Sure. And the Sun King of France.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah. It's kind of like he just pulled everything that was related to the sun and just kind of melded it together to make Cairhien.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Yeah.

    MARIA SIMONS

    He liked mixing things up.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    And it works really well. That's the surprising thing to me is that he was able to pull from so many different sources and make things seem very coherent and logical for the cultures.

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, I like the fact that everything that you read as you're going along, all these things sort of tug at the back of your mind and you're thinking, 'Oh, this reminds me of this, and this reminds me of that', and it makes you really think that it adds a depth to the thing that you can come back later and explore it again.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Okay, I've got a game for you. Go to Wikipedia. Put in something like 'golden dawn', let's say…or just anything. Pull anything from the Wheel of Time books that's distinctive. Put it into Wikipedia until you find a hit. I almost guarantee, within that article, you're going to find yet another reference from the Wheel of Time. Track that. See how many hits you can go before you run out.

    VIRGINIA

    I'll have to try that.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    I did that the other day, and I wound up spending an hour and a half of just going from one thing to another. It was really amazing.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah, I can see myself losing an afternoon doing that.

    VIRGINIA

    Oh yeah, easily.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Very easily.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I've lost too many hours to Wiki-walking already.

    VIRGINIA

    I guess that's why it bothers me so much about that library ter'angreal…if I had that, I'd never be able to put it down, and I guess I just don't understand how somebody could…if they can't deal with it, then delegate, but this is me. It's the equivalent of having a computer hooked up to the internet; I could not walk away from it. It would be a Mindtrap for me. [laughter]

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  • 333

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Andrew Gelos

    I guess part of the thing that is interesting to me, and I guess being a student of Literature, I am horribly fascinated with fictional languages. How extensive is the vocabulary of the Old Tongue as it exists right now? I'm assuming that there is more of it than we have seen in the novels. And do you know if there were rules set down to explain the creation of the vocabulary? And kind of alongside that, is there—obviously I kind of take the answer about London to be a similar question, or a similar answer towards whether or not there's an actual philological basis for the Old Tongue—part of what I'm wondering is…I've been using the Shienaran phrase "Suravye ninto manshima taishite" as sort of our closing for the podcast. I'm tentatively wondering how badly I'm butchering that.

    Alan Romanczuk

    Oh, you're spot on. Spot on.

    VIRGINIA

    Yay Andrew!

    ANDREW GELOS

    Sweet!

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Jim actually spoke pretty extensively in public about the Old Tongue, and I even pulled up a letter that he had written about it in which he says, "The Old Tongue is based on, for example, the languages: Gaelic, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and some additions of my own—bridging material if you will. Grammar and syntax are a blending of English, German, and Chinese with some influence from a set of African languages read about long ago, and all but the oddities of structure long since forgotten." He has converted constructions…the thing about the Old Tongue, the way that it's constructed…it is a very loose language, like Latin I guess; it can be presented in almost any order and be intelligible to someone who knows it, and there are several conventions involved in it which could be explained for a longer podcast, but those are the basics. He really did pull them from a lot of different areas, and he started by constructing the language—as I recall there is a list of 850 or 880 common words that you need to know to be able to speak in English, and I don't know who created these, but he had that. We have file, and he modified that, kicking out some words like 'electricity' and so forth that wouldn't be useful in this, and adding some others, and putting definitions to them in Old Tongue. I never added it up, but he said we had a file of about a thousand words, and this dictionary will be published at a later time.

    VIRGINIA

    Great.

    ANDREW GELOS

    That is awesome.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    And that will be part of the encyclopedia, actually.

    ANDREW GELOS

    That'll be great.

    VIRGINIA

    I can't wait. That sort of leads me into my next question which is something that, two years ago when Brandon was out on the Mistborn tour—the last Mistborn book tour—during an interview, I asked him if he could please come up with some way for us to say phrases having to do with the Light, such as 'Walk in the Light,' or 'May the Light illumine you' in the Old Tongue, and he said he would do his best, and I think he just forgot. But we do have the audio; he kind of sort of promised us. We're hoping that maybe you can bail him out on this one. [laughter]

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Well, I think all will be revealed in the encyclopedia.

    VIRGINIA

    Aww, I can't wait that long!

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Except what isn't revealed.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    How far is the encyclopedia coming? People ask me about it occasionally, and I'm like, 'I dunno; they're working on it.'

    MARIA SIMONS

    Well, it's been back-burner recently because we're doing Towers of Midnight, but that's my next project to get back into, doing basically the skeleton for it, and after A Memory of Light we will go full bore on it.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Oh, excellent. I remember Harriet saying that it was due one year after the final book, whenever the final book is out.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Right.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    And we're working on it in between when we get time, when we're not doing podcasts and so forth. [laughter]

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, now you're making us feel guilty. [laughter] But not very.

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  • 334

    Interview: Dec 5th, 2011

    Helen Lowe

    The Alloy of Law also deals with the influence of commerce and industry on events, an element I found in Daniel Abraham's The Path of Dragons as well. Do you see this as a new trend, broadening the traditional fantasy scope—or is it something that has always been part of the mix?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think it's always been part of the mix. Dune, which is one of those hybrid fantasy/science fiction books, is all about this, and is—I would say—the great example of this. It's the foundation for a lot of modern science fiction and fantasy. A fantastic book, and it deals with the idea of how commerce affects a fantasy and science fiction world.

    So I don't think it's a new trend, necessarily, but what is a new trend in fantasy is digging into nonstandard (for the genre) types of plots. Moving away from the quest narrative and focusing more on political intrigue, or focusing on the effects of different fantastical elements on a world and its economy. Basically, George R. R. Martin is going this way too, and he's been doing this for 15 years so I can't say that it's a new trend. But it certainly is an exciting direction for the fantasy genre.

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  • 335

    Interview: May 19th, 2004

    Robert Jordan

    I asked him where the phonetic choice in the naming of characters, names, places came from, given that they are so "unheard of"; he replied that for some of them he got his inspiration from American "mythology" (...), as with Nynaeve which is the name of a really existed historical figure, while for other ones he created them out of nowhere, trying to keep consistent.

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  • 336

    Interview: May 19th, 2004

    Robert Jordan

    Someone else asked if while writing the Aiel he got his inspiration from Herbert (re: the native inhabitants of Dune [the Fremen people]); he answered that it was not that, that the real source of inspiration is the Cheyenne people, originally shepherds and forced to became warriors and to flee into the desert when the white man came.

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  • 337

    Interview: May 24th, 2004

    Chiara Codecà

    A curios reader cant’t help but notice that the Forsaken are named after fallen angels and demons from the Judeo-Christian tradition. All the Wheel of Time series is full of themes and motifs from religions and myths from different parts of the world…

    Robert Jordan

    Oh, yes. I used Arthurian legends, Chinese and Japanese mythology, Indian mythology, traditions from Latin America and Africa. Some myths from Europe, but not much of Celtic because it’s been done so much.

    Chiara Codecà

    This means you’ve read about all of these subjects?

    Robert Jordan

    I read about everything. My knowledge is this wide and much less deep. I truly like to read about a lot of things.

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  • 338

    Interview: May 24th, 2004

    Chiara Codecà

    Do you think that your writing has been influenced by other authors?

    Robert Jordan

    I do in my writing style, not in the stories I tell. I believe six writers to have influenced the way I write: Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Louis L'Amour, Robert Heinlein and John D. McDonald. I know it’s a very wide range group of writer….

    Chiara Codecà

    Well, it certainly tells a lot of the wide range of your readings.

    Robert Jordan

    (Laughs) Jane Austen gave me an insight in the relationship between characters and in what we might call “social relationship”.

    Mark Twain did something that was unheard of, in his time: he had people speak the way people really spoke. I think it was revolutionary. Twain was the first to use the common language of the day, he taught me to use language the way I wanted. Dickens did some of the same, but later.

    L'Amour, John D. McDonald and Heinlein all gave me something about the use of language, mainly a certain freedom in using words, a lack of rigidity.

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  • 339

    Interview: Nov, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    During the era when I was trying to find my voice and find out what I was going to do as a writer, I felt that Robert Jordan had really captured the story of the hero's journey, the monomyth type epic fantasy, and done it about as well as it could be done. And so I started to look for things that I could add. This was very good for me to be doing, to be spending this time thinking about, not just retreading what had gone before, but really doing what some of the greats in the past had done.

    One of the reasons I love the Wheel of Time is because I felt that when it came out, it best blended what was familiar about fantasy with a lot of new concepts. A lot of the books that were coming out were using the old familiar tropes: elves, even if they called them a different name, and dwarves, and even dragons, and these sorts of things. And then you came along to the Wheel of Time, which didn't use any of those things, or if it did, it twisted them completely on their head. No one knew what a dragon was, and a dragon was a person. And you know, the magic system having a logical approach to it rather than just being something that happened. And he really took the genre in a different direction. And I said, I have to do something like this. Not that I ever wanted to, or intend to, or think that I could be revolutionary in the genre in the way he was, but I wanted to add something. I wanted to take a step forward rather than taking the same steps that people had taken.

    And so I began to ask myself what hadn't been done. And so you end up with me, Brandon, who...sometimes I look at myself as a postmodern fantasy writer. If you read the Mistborn trilogy, it's very much a postmodern fantasy epic. It's the fantasy epic for someone who's read all these great fantasy epics. And the story's kind of aware of all of those. It's the story of what happens if the dark lord wins? What happens if the prophecies are lies? What happens if all the things we assume about the standard fantasy epic all go horribly wrong?

    I don't want to simply be someone. . . to be postmodern, you have to be a little bit deconstructionalist, which means you're relying on the very things that you're tearing apart. I think there's a level beyond that, which is actually adding something new, not just giving commentary on what's come before. But I do love the whole postmodern aspect. I love delving into that. It's something that I think can be unique to my generation because we've grown up reading all these epics, where the generation before us didn't.

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  • 340

    Interview: Nov, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    I go into books trying to present characters who are real. That said, some things in the real world that have influenced me are these questions of, what are you willing to sacrifice in the way of freedom in order to have security? I think that's a big theme recently in the Wheel of Time that Robert Jordan was dealing with, and that The Gathering Storm deals with a lot.

    I was most fascinated with Egwene's progress as a leader through the entire series. And the things I was allowed to do because of what Jordan had done in Knife of Dreams and the set up in previous books, and then what was in the notes, was really exciting to me because she was able to come to encapsulate what a leader really is, I think. There are some great scenes in Gathering Storm that I got to be part of, where, you know, we've had Aes Sedai acting kind of as bullies, some of them. And we've had various people through various factions acting as bullies. And there has been this sense in the Wheel of Time that people believe that might makes right. And yet it doesn't, and the books imply that it doesn't. And Egwene is the first chance we've really got to see of someone with no might making an even better right.

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  • 341

    Interview: Jan 18th, 2010

    Elise

    I really loved the character Lightsong, he was my favorite and probably one of the most interesting characters I've ever read about. Did you have anyone in particular in mind when you came up with him? How did go about developing him as a character?

    Brandon Sanderson (Goodreads)

    Rupert Everett was sitting in the back of my mind.

    Actually, in order to develop Lightsong's character well, I didn't want to imitate any one voice. That's something we always stay away from. But I had been wanting to work on writing humor in a different way from what I'd previously used. I spent a lot of time watching and analyzing the movie The Thin Man, the old comedy/mystery/crime film with an emphasis on very witty characters making wisecracks as they investigate a murder. If you haven't seen it, it's delightful. Along with An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, those were my three sources of inspiration. I was trying for a blend of those two styles—and then of course added my own sense of humor.

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  • 342

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    onelowerlight

    What first gave you the idea for Warbreaker? What was your first inspiration for it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Warbreaker came from a lot of sources. Siri and Vivenna were side characters in a book I never finished. Vasher came from the line that starts the book. No space to post it here, but give it a read. Nightblood came because...well, I just wanted to have a talking sword.

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  • 343

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    mnehring

    How did you come up with what metal would give what powers in Mistborn?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The metals just worked out right. [later] I see I misunderstood. The assignment of metals to powers was done mostly randomly. I started by trying to mix and match colors and hues, but that ended up not working. I also originally wanted the physical to be more common, and then move toward less common with mental and others. Hence, iron is physical, Gold is mental, [sic] Atium is temporal. The mentals don’t quite fit this, though.

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  • 344

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    jamesgubera

    Where do you get your inspiration to create new worlds & characters?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Inspiration comes from all over. Often things I see. Color magic in Warbreaker came from watching b/w movies. The mist in Mistborn came from driving through a foggy night at 70mph. Sazed came from a Buddhist monk I met in Korea. Sarene came from a friend, Annie, who complained that she was too tall and too smart for men to want to date. If you want more, send me an email and ask for my “Ideas” essay. @PeterAhlstrom will send it to you.

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  • 345

    Interview: Oct 15th, 2010

    17th Shard

    What's it feel like to finally have your baby released to the public? It's probably a very different feeling from any of your other book launches.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    17TH SHARD

    Are you more nervous than usual or have the positive ARC compliments made you feel fairly confident?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I'm more nervous than normal. It has been my baby for a long time, and I got Tor to invest so much into it, what with the cover, the interior art, the end pages, the really nice printing, and the sheer length of it. Tor would really rather not publish books of this length. The rest of the series will be shorter; I promised that to them. I do want to warn readers that the 400,000 word length is not going to be the standard for the series. They're probably going to be more like 300,000 words, which is what this one should have been, but I just couldn't get it down. It was right for the book for it to be this length.

    I'm worried about it for a couple of reasons. Number one, it is a departure for me in a couple of ways. I've been planning a big massive epic for a long time but I only wanted to have one or two big massive epics. My Adonalsium mythos couldn't support multiples of something this long and so a lot of my other books are much more fast-paced and I do wonder what readers are going to think of a much larger more epic story, because it is going to have a different feel.

    It's happened every time I've released a book though; Warbreaker felt very different from Mistborn, which felt very different from Elantris. Way of Kings feels very different from all of those as well so I'm worried that there are a lot of readers who are not going to like it as much. I hope that there are a lot of readers who are going to like it more, but we'll have to just see what people think of it.

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  • 346

    Interview: 1993

    Hailing Frequency

    In many places in "The Wheel of time," a careful reader will spot echoes of other myth cycles—the sword in the stone, for example. Do these things happen fortuitously or are they laid on in advance, intentionally as it were?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, they were laid on in advance. There are elements from Norse, Chinese, Japanese, and American Indian mythologies, to name just a few. I think it adds resonance to the story, although I've taken great care not to follow the older material in any slavish way. Occasionally, I will add in details here or there, and then discover that I have done something that is absolutely authentic to the myth I was working from. This is not automatic writing or channeling or being guided by something from the Great Beyond, it's simply that I have done a great deal of reading on these subjects and things bubble up in the back of my head all the time.

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  • 347

    Interview: Oct 15th, 2010

    17th Shard

    Please explain the arches and symbols that are seen at the beginning of each chapter and why you decided to do them.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The arches and symbols are a series of arches and symbols at the beginnings of chapters.

    17TH SHARD

    (laughter)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    There's an explanation for you. They rotate and change for every chapter. What they mean should be intuitively obvious to the casual observer, as Robert Jordan used to say.

    17TH SHARD

    (laughter)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I decided to use them because I wanted to have interesting things at the start of each chapter. These were done by Isaac. I originally sat down with Isaac and said, "I want to be able to build symbols at the beginning of my chapters. Something like in The Wheel of Time, which I really like, but I don't want to imitate them, I want to go somewhere different. I want to have different pieces that interlock together that form some stonework symbol that's at the beginning of every chapter." I also told him what I wanted the symbols to mean (among other things) and he actually transmogrified all that into an archway. I had originally been planning it to be some sort of inscribed rock stamp or something like a little relief at the beginning of each chapter, but he persuaded me that an archway with a different kind of symbol in the center [would be better]. So, they became arches through Isaac's working with the art and changing things and deciding what would look good visually.

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  • 348

    Interview: Oct 25th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    I asked him of the three women in love with Rand who he (RJ) preferred; he said because all the women characters were based on his wife, he couldn't say which he liked most. Maybe I was getting too personal. Dunno.

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  • 349

    Interview: Nov 23rd, 2011

    Tortellini

    Someone asked if it were hard to write Jasnah, an atheist character, for a devout Christian.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Brandon said he read a lot of atheist message boards for inspiration. Also, it sounded like he'd had the character in his head for a while, but hadn't found the right book to put it in—e.g. he said it would make no sense to put an atheist in a world where gods walk around (i.e. Warbreaker).

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  • 350

    Interview: Nov 19th, 2011

    Fejicus

    I made a comment about the role mythology plays in WoT, and if Brandon was planning on using any real world mythological parallels for the Stormlight Archive.

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, he said that while they play a huge role in WoT, that if he were to include mythological parallels in Stormlight, that they would be parallels of Roshar's own mythology. (So perhaps were going to see Kaladin/Dalinar paralleling the Heralds?)

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  • 351

    Interview: Dec 5th, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    The next question prompted him to discuss how he drew from many different cultures and mythologies for his inspiration. This has all been reported on before.

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  • 352

    Interview: Jan, 2012

    angryundead (Reddit.com)

    As I read the book (The Alloy of Law) I started to get a very strong vibe of western combined with a Sherlock Holmes rip-off. Then I realized I was being a whinging baby and decided that such a thing was awesome. (And not a rip-off really, and probably intended.) Did you have moments like that yourself or is that part of the normal creative process for a writer anyway?

    Brandon Sanderson

    When I write a book on a whim like this one, my influences (such as the ones you mention) tend to be more overt. I don't have the time to refine the influences and distill out the essence of the story and really, REALLY put my stamp on it. I didn't mind it here, since my goal was to just write a fun story, even more of a pulp type story.

    I wanted to do something along the lines of what Lucas and Spielberg originally did with Indiana Jones--that is look at some of their powerful influences, then write an action-adventure story that played off what had come before. This was a dangerous road, since Mistborn had been about subverting tropes before. I wanted Mistborn to be more than that, however. I wanted to simplify for this series while expanding its scope, if that makes any sense.

    What you talk about was actually my biggest worry for the book. I tried to prepare people, and tell them that this was more pulp, more fun than anything else. Part of my desire to do this was to let myself blow off some steam from other books, TWoK and the WoT, which are more serious and solemn. I worry a little about fantasy (particularly epic fantasy) becoming too self-important. Sometimes, it should be okay to just have a fun adventure story.

    Anyway, in answer to your question, yes I thought about it and I do have moments like that. Often, they worry me, and so I set about refining out the influences. In this case, I didn't let myself worry as much.

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  • 353

    Interview: Jan, 2012

    RedRiotRoses (Reddit.com)

    What would it take for me to successfully bribe you into writing a sequel to Alloy? I think you may have answered this one before, but where do you come up with your names for all your characters? Thank you! I really love your work.

    Brandon Sanderson (Reddit.com)

    I will probably do one anyway.

    It depends on the series. For Mistborn, I build a 'feel for certain regions and develop names using the linguistic rules of that region. The Central Dominance (and Elendel in this book) had a slightly French feel to the linguistics, and many of the names came from that paradigm.

    However, unique to the Mistborn world was the need to give people simple nicknames in a thieving crew sort of way. Wax, Clubs, Breeze, Mr. Suit, all of these are along those lines.

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  • 354

    Interview: Sep 26th, 2007

    Aidan Moher

    Another of your complex creations are the Aons you created for Elantris. Where did the inspiration for this symbolic language come from? Did you create all of the designs yourself as you wrote the novel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I spent two years in Korea as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. One aspect of Korea that particularly interested me was the written language. This interest in Asian writing systems later sparked the idea of Aons. The Aonic symbols at the beginning of each chapter of Elantris increase in complexity as you continue through the book. I did create the designs myself, though luckily Tor had someone who could make them look better than my original messy sketches!

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  • 355

    Interview: Oct, 2008

    Dalenthas (15 October 2008)

    With all the talk about action and reaction and whatnot, will some force form to counter Sazed's new Ruin/Preservation mix? It seems to me like the whole nature of the world can't stand to have one person unopposed.

    Brandon Sanderson (16 October 2008)

    Ruin and Preservation were not the only Shards of Adonalsium, though they are the only ones on Scadrial at the moment. Sazed's ability to be both at once is actually something I drew from Eastern mythology, where it is believed that the ability to contain two opposing forces at the same time represents ultimate harmony. The Buddha, for instance, was said to have performed the miracle of producing both fair and ice from his hands at the same time.

    CHAOS

    Is "Scadrial" the proper name to refer to the Mistborn world?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Scadrial is indeed the name of the planet.

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  • 356

    Interview: Oct, 2008

    AhoyMatey (15 October 2008)

    Brandon, I just wanted to confirm that you did have a couple of cameos as Slowswift? Or was that mean to be someone else?

    CHAOS

    I'm pretty sure Slowswift is Hoid. The Ars Arcanum says he "bears a striking resemblance to a storyteller", which I take to mean Hoid.

    Brandon Sanderson (16 October 2008)

    Slowswift is an homage to Grandpa Tolkien. A study of his personality will reveal why that name was chosen for him.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Hoid appears in that same chapter, but Vin