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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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I frequently encounter things that make me laugh out loud. WoT fans are an extremely clever bunch. Once, at Wotmania, someone joined using Harriet's name. That person made a lovely post that included the (false) info that Talmanes was a Darkfriend (I have a crush on Talmanes. Not as big as the Mat crush, but . . .). There have also been many posts regarding Bela that tickled my funnybone (Is she the Creator? A Darkfriend? The Neigh'blis?). And somewhere recently I saw someone aver that it stated flat-out in the text who murdered Asmodean; it had just been transcribed inaccurately. According to this poster, Asmodean didn't say "You? No!"; he said "Uno!" And Leigh Butler's reread posts generally make me laugh out loud as well. It's rare for me to go a-lurking and not lol at some point.
'YouNo' lol. That's brilliant. And I guess it means I don't have to ask the tedious 'who killed Asmodean' question and we can just move on into the fan stuff.
But that's how I was reading him, and perhaps other people read him differently. And my particular biases on the character were manifest. Does that make sense? That's how I've always seen him.
But, one thing that I have to warn Wheel of Time readers... In me you get some interesting things writing the Wheel of Time book. What you get, which I hope is an advantage is someone who has read the books through multiple times, who's read The Eye of the World nine times, who is a very deep, big fan of the series. But what you're also getting hand-in-hand with that is someone who starting reading the Wheel of Time when he was fourteen...and on occasion has used his line edit privileges not for good.
Like, there are certain things that are embedded in my imagination that I have not realized until working on these books that I was wrong all along, one of which you may notice in The Gathering Storm was the length of the bridges into Tar Valon. Which, I had a conception of them, and I didn't look it up because I'm like, 'oh, I know what that looks like,' and so I started describing it and nobody called me on it, and then it comes out and fans are like, 'these are like a mile long, you can't really see the other side, you know, in the way you described it.' And I looked at it and then I read the Big White Book, I'm like, "Holy crap, these bridges are a mile long!" That's enormous! That's not how I imagined it at all. But that's how it is if you look at the maps.
These are some of these things where if I even had an inkling that it would be wrong, I would have questioned it. And in other cases, you'll get things like Talmanes, where I have always been reading him a certain way. And in my head, I'm like, this guy is way...you know, Mat's just not noticing the smirk that this man has in his eyes. That's how I've always read him, and so when I write him that comes out. Is that how Robert Jordan intended it? Well, I'll leave you to decide whether he had the line, 'he actually has a smirk inside,' or if it's just all along me reading him this way that makes me write him that way.
But does that give you some examples of understanding? This is one of the things, the issues we kind of slightly have to deal with me writing the Wheel of Time books is, you know, you can get some advantages. Mat, and Rand, and Perrin, and Egwene...these are my high school friends. I feel like I know these better than I know most of the friends I know in my life right now because I've known these people longer. Really, I mean, you know. You get that, and so hopefully their voices are very close to what Robert Jordan was writing them as, but you also get the preconceptions.
Let's see here. Harriet killed a character in the book that I did not intend to kill. So I wrote the entire book with a character living and she killed this character.
Did she tell you right before you finished, or what?
She sent back the draft and said "This person dies."
So did you have to change a lot?
So they succumb to their wounds. I intended them to live, so there is a character who died unexpectedly. So that's a slight spoiler. There is like a chapter that's over a hundred pages. It's a Super Chapter.
Did you have to invent any of it yourself, or did Jordan leave a lot of it for you?
He left some of it for me, and then I had to make the rest. As you're reading through the books, probably about half and half. Half will be stuff that he wrote notes on, half will be stuff that I wrote.
Do you feel like it comes pretty easy?
Some of it does. I mean I've been reading since I was a kid. So some of the characters like Perrin is very natural for me. And Rand's super natural for me. Others are a little less natural for me.
Yes, like Mat. Mat's harder for me to write.
Why is that?
Because Mat is very complex. Not to say that Perrin's not, but Perrin's straightforward. You know what I mean? Perrin says what he means, and does what he means. Mat says the opposite of what he means, and does the opposite of what he says. Making that tone correct for that is very hard. He's one part rapscallion, the other part Awesomeness. And balancing when he's playing the fool, and when he's just being awesome is very hard to get that balance down, because you don't want it to be silly, you know he can play the fool a bit but he shouldn't be silly. Otherwise it won't match from when he's being Awesome as well, if that makes sense.
I was told that Talmanes was initially introduced as Mat's foil character, just for that purpose. Is that true?
I don't know for sure, but I would bet it is. Just seeing the way that Robert Jordan used things like that. I would bet so.