Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.
2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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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.
Paul recently wrote an article about loving maps in stories and it inspired these questions from me.
How do you come up with and create the maps for your novels? Is it a process of thought while creating the story itself or does it come later once you've written the story as a means to depict the places you've written about? Also do you scetch them yourself before having them drawn or is the process usually entirely done by a separate artist?
Actually, I prefer there to be lots of names on my maps that are never mentioned or written about.
If every point on the map is story-related, I feel it makes the map feel contrived.
I take that sentence of yours to mean, you don't care for RJ's map structure very much at all.
That is not what it means at all, Felix. It means only what I said. "I'm unlikely to explain places RJ didn't give backstory."
My reasoning being that he left them with little or no explanation for a reason, in order to be more realistic.
Realistic or easy for an author?
I guess we're looking at it differently. I feel there are many places that haven't been explored or had more than a mention.
There will be a map in A Memory of Light. (Added something along the lines about not being aware of debate on the location.)
I wish I'd had the full background on the debate on this one with me. As it was, I didn't have enough to describe with any clarity. I know the basics of the contradiction but not the full story.
I think a lot of people have little to no knowledge of how a professional-grade fantasy map comes about. How do you go about designing a world based off an author's ideas? Do you just throw some stuff onto a squiggly coastline and call it good?
Making a map is quite the process. I read the book and make location notes (sometimes I find myself noting geographic references in books I'm just reading for fun—it's become a habit). I really try to make the map match the tone of the book and to make it more than just something for the reader to keep track of where the characters are. I've brought back maps from many of the real-world countries I've visited. I've marked on them where I've been. I've planned trips on them and dreamed about going to some of the places. Fantasy maps are the same way. They're a real thing—souvenirs that the reader can bring back with them when they're done visiting the book.
Anyway, back to the chapter. I planned from the beginning for Sarene to give Raoden this vital bit of information about the magic system. As I've said before, she represents chaos—and chaos isn't always a bad thing. She is able to give Raoden the one simple bit of information that, despite all of his studying, he hasn't been able to find.
I worry, now that we have the map, that the Chasm answer is too obvious. Jeff made the Chasm a lot bigger than I intended it to be. And, since we zoomed in on the map so much, the Chasm dominates a large section of what we see.
Fortunately, I think it's the very next Triad where Raoden figures out how to use Sarene's bit of information. We don't have to wait long for him to figure out the secret—so, hopefully, if the readers figure it out, they won't feel Raoden is too stupid for taking so long.
My biggest worry about these chapters is that people will look at the map we put in the front of the book and realize that it doesn't match the text. I really do like Jeff's map—it's well-drawn, and it has a very cool feel to it. I love the little city designs; they give the map a different feel from many fantasy maps. Overall, I think this map fits the 'mood' of the book quite well.
However, I myself didn't give him good enough instructions on how to develop the map, and now it doesn't completely fit what I talk about in the text. Since the landscape of the land is so important to the development of the book and the magic system, this could be a problem for some readers.
Anyway, yes, Raoden makes the connection here. The Chasm line is what has been missing all along. I tried to emphasize the Chasm several times in the text, reminding people that it's around. However, as I may have said in other annotations (the spoiler sections), I now worry that the Chasm is TOO obvious. Anyway, I suspect the discovery will work for some people, and not work for others. Hopefully, the characterizations and the events in the book are interesting enough that even if some people think this discovery is obvious, they'll enjoy reading anyway.
I haven't actually seen the map yet. I'm curious to see how it turns out. . . .
The person doing it is Isaac Stewart, a guy in one of my writing groups. He's a man of many talents, and works as an animator. He was very excited about MISTBORN, and when I mentioned he could do the map, he was enthusiastic. I've heard a lot of what he's talked about with the book—doing a map that is based on old Victorian-era maps of London and Paris. We'll see what he comes up with!
EDIT: Now I've seen the maps!
Wow, Isaac did a wonderful job with these. One of the things I asked for was a round world map, and he really stepped up. I love the embellishments around the border and the illuminated manuscript type feel for it.
The city map is probably more important to the story. Oddly, I didn't actually do one of these when I was writing the novel. In fact, I only had a very basic sketch for the world map. That meant, of course, that when I sat down with one of the later drafts, some things were inconsistent. It also meant that a lot of things on the map weren't named, such as the gates.
I owe a lot to Isaac on this one. His intricate map is very detailed—each of those slums was hand-drawn with the insane twisting of all the little streets. He was the one who named the gates, building eight of them and naming them after the basic Allomantic metals. All and all, he did a fantastic job. Make sure to check out his website, Isaacstewart.com
What are some of the books you've been a part of, and what exactly were you in charge of?
I’m responsible for all the maps and symbols in the four (so far) Mistborn novels as well as all the symbols, chapter headings, maps, color end pages, and Navani's notebook pages in Brandon's Way of Kings. (The other artwork in the book was done by Michael Whelan, Ben McSweeney, and Ben Call. I'm thrilled to be showcased in the same book with these amazing artists.)
On the design side of things, I've been designing self-published books—covers and interiors—for a while, but recently had the luck to get into the business professionally with the book design for Bryce Moore's YA novel, Vodnik. I've also done covers for some ebook re-releases of some science fiction and fantasy classics from the 80s.
In addition to Brandon's maps, I've also worked on maps in the re-release of Robert Silverberg's Nebula-winning novel A Time of Changes and the upcoming reprint of his very-enjoyable Downward to the Earth.
What's the first thing you'd tell someone looking to get into designing maps and artwork for fiction?
Join the cartographersguild.com. See what's being done today. Work on your craft. Study real maps. Study fantasy maps. Work on your craft some more. Put together a half dozen examples, then start meeting editors, art directors, and authors at conventions. Study the masters of illustration. Work on your craft until your fingers bleed. Find out the art submission guidelines for publishers and submit your portfolio. Draw, draw, draw, draw, draw. Enter your artwork into the shows at conventions. Paint, draw, and keep on working hard.
It's a difficult industry to break into. It's even more difficult if you want to make a living creating artwork. But one thing remains the same. If you are excellent at your craft and you're putting yourself out there, you will find those willing to pay you to create artwork.
Shallan's sketches in The Way of Kings are terrific additions that enhance the epic feel of the novel. What inspired you to push for these illustrations?
I wanted to use the form of this novel to try and enhance what epic fantasy can do, and downplay the things that are tough about it. One of the tough things about epic fantasy is the learning curve—how much you have to learn and pay attention to, how many things there are to just know. I felt that occasional illustrations could really help with that. For instance, how Shallan's sketchbook, or uses of multiple maps, could give us a visual component to the book. Pictures really are worth a thousand words. You can have on that page something that shows a creature much better than I can describe it. And so I felt that that would help deemphasize the problem of the learning curve, while at the same time helping to make this world real. Epic fantasy is about immersion, and I wanted to make this world real since that's one of the great things we can do with epic fantasy. We've got the space and the room to just build a completely real world, and I felt that the art would allow me to do that, which is why I decided to do "in world" art.
I didn't want to take this toward a graphic novel. I like graphic novels, but it wasn't appropriate here to do illustrations of the scenes and characters from the books because I don't want to tell you what they look like. I want that to be up to your own imagination. And so we wanted that in-world ephemera feel to it, as though it were some piece of art that you found in the world and included.
I think it goes back to Tolkien. There's a map in The Hobbit, and that map isn't just a random map, which has become almost a cliché of fantasy books and of epic fantasy. "Oh, of course there's a random map in the front!" Well, Tolkien wanted you to think this map was the actual map the characters carried around, and that's why he included it. He wrote his books as if he were the archivist putting them together and translating them and bringing them to you, this wonderful story from another world, and he included the map because the map was there with the notes. That's what I wanted the feel for this ephemera to be. As though whoever has put this book together—done the translation and included pieces of art and maps and things that they found in the world that had been collected during these events—that's what you're getting.
I was amazed by the language, geography, people, and so on in the books, and I always wondered what Robert Jordan's office looked like. I thought it must be covered with maps and things relating to the books. What was it like to walk in there?
What you saw first when you walked in was a plastic human skeleton. And it wears a Viking helmet. And then you saw the books. There was a bookcase filled with books on religions. There was another bookcase of Westerns. There was a very big printer, and a roll-top desk. But what there weren't were maps. They were all in his head.
There were a lot of weapons, though.
There was a room full of edged weapons!
The Wheel of Time Encyclopedia is dead! Long live The Wheel of Time Companion as it will now officially be called.
The book will be 350,000 words long (comparable to several of the novels in the series; the longest, The Shadow Rising, is 389,000 words).
The book will feature a lot of new artwork, arranged by Irene Gallo at Tor.
Publication date likely to be November 2015.
The book will feature all of the already-published maps and also some new ones, including one of Thakan'dar.
The book will have a large vocabulary of the Old Tongue, with a minimum of 1,000 words.
The book will feature character profiles and sketches for almost every character in the series. Even Bela has her own entry.
The book will be written from a post-AMoL POV. It will have spoilers for the entire series.
The main map of Roshar.
From which book?
Either book, it's the main one that will go in each copy. It's VERY hard and it won't change a whole lot.
Does it have anything to do with the compass?
Not the compass.
That was intentional. You are on to something that no one's figured out yet.
I was thinking it could be connected to people being able to manipulate gravity.
It's not exactly what you think you're on to, but you're getting close to something that they've all wanted to know for a while.