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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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The covers aren't as bad as we thought they were. The 'extra' character in The Eye of the World really was in the book, but was cut out later, because he had too little to do. His parts were distributed out to the other characters, but they never got around to cutting him from the cover.
There is nothing he would have done basically different with hindsight in the writing of TWoT. Originally The Eye of the World was half as large as it was printed, but the later books have been written so "tight" from the start that it has been impossible to shorten them.
His writing technique with the WoT books he described as "simply stretch out and run".
Both answers on the chat are RIGHT!!!! He knows exactly how Thom managed to escape with only a limp and how he managed to survive that. But he might use it in the next book and doesn't want to give away anything. So we have to do it with the knowledge that both answers, although seemingly conflicting, are both CORRECT.
Before I start a book I always sit down and try to think how much of the story I can put into it. The outline is in my head until I sit down and start doing what I call a ramble, which is figuring how to put in the bits and pieces. In the beginning, I thought The Wheel of Time was six books and I'd be finished in six years. I actually write quite fast. The first Conan novel I did took 24 days. (I wrote seven Conan books—for my sins—but they paid the bills for a number of years.) For my Western, I was under severe time constraints in the contract so it was 98,000 words in 21 days—a killer of a schedule, especially since I was not working on a computer then, just using an IBM Correcting Selectric!
I started The Wheel of Time knowing how it began and how it all ended. I could have written the last scene of the last book 20 years ago—the wording would be different, but what happened would be the same. When I was asked to describe the series in six words, I said, 'Cultures clash, worlds change—cope. I know it's only five, but I hate to be wordy.' What I intended to do was a reverse-engineered mythology to change the characters in the first set of scenes into the characters in the last set of scenes, a bunch of innocent country folk changed into people who are not innocent at all. I wanted these boys to be Candides as much as possible, to be full of 'Golly, gee whiz!' at everything they saw once they got out of their home village. Later they could never go back as the same person to the same place they'd known.
But I'd sit down and figure I could get so much into a story, then begin writing and realize halfway in that I wasn't even halfway through the ramble. I'd have to see how I could rework things and put off some of the story until later. It took me four years to write The Eye of the World, and I still couldn't get as much of the story into it as I wanted; same with The Great Hunt. I finally reached a point where I won't have to do that. For Knife of Dreams I thought, "I've got to get all of that into one book: it's the penultimate volume!" And I did. Well, with one exception, but that's OK. That one exception would probably have added 300 pages to the book but I see how to put it in the last volume in fewer.
I'm hoping to be able to do more than one post per book, but I'd already started The Eye of the World when I finally got time to write this. I'll probably only do one post for the first book, then, which is a tragedy, since it has long been one of my favorites of the series. I also feel that it will be VERY important to writing Book Twelve. The Wheel turns; ages become new again and ideas return. I feel that the last book of the series should have numerous hearkenings back to this first book; that will give a sense of closure to this section of the Pattern and fit with the motif of the Wheel's turning.
That's just my gut instinct, and I'm not promising anything specific or even referencing material from the Twelfth Book. I'm only speaking of my general feelings as a writer, but Mr. Jordan's notes are far more important than any of my instincts.
As I read through this first book again, I was shocked by how well he had foreshadowed the later books in the series. This is the first time I'm reading WHEEL OF TIME all the way through as a professional novelist. I see things differently than I once did. I know how difficult it is to foreshadow across an entire series, and am frankly astounded by how well Mr. Jordan laid the groundwork for his future books. Min's prophesies are one great example, but equally potent is Mr. Jordan's use of mythology and story as a means of preparing the reader for events such as the Great Hunt, future interactions with the Aiel (and the People's relationship with them), and the coming of the Seanchan.
No. When I started this series, there were only two commonly used means of publishing: a single book or a trilogy. I, however, told my publisher: this won’t be a trilogy, but a series of at least four or five volumes, possibly even six. At that time I knew the overall content of the story, I knew what events I wanted to put in them and also had the final completely ready-made in my head. But I soon discovered that I could fit much less in the first book than I thought. That first book was actually supposed to hold the story of The Great Hunt and at least a part of The Dragon Reborn. At that point, I though: “Okay, it will probably be six or seven books.” Exactly the same thing happened to the second book. At this point, I no longer dare make predictions how long the series will eventually become. It will end sometime, I swear, but I don’t know when exactly that will be.
In 1984, Jim came to Tom and said, “I’ve got a great idea for an epic fantasy, and it’s going to be 6 books.” Tom says that book one was 5 years late [it came out in 1989]. Tom describes first reading the manuscript for The Eye of the World: “Oh God, I fell in love with it.” He knew it would be the greatest epic fantasy since Tolkien. Tor prepared a marketing campaign unprecedented in those days of 5,000 Advance Reader Copies to send one to every bookstore in the country and a combined hardcover/trade paperback first printing. 40,000 books sold out almost immediately, and when the second book came out, the sales of The Eye of the World shot up again, doubling what it had sold the first time. After that, Tor stopped the trade paperback part of the release and just pushed the hardcover.
Jim always said he knew the ending of the series, Tom says. And when he was working on A Memory of Light, he wrote the ending. That plus the prologue and the rest of what he wrote totaled 200 manuscript pages [that’s about 50,000 words].
Afterwards we went back to the hotel and I got dressed for the ball. I didn't have a costume, but I had my swirly black skirt and burgundy velvet top, and most importantly I had my crystal necklace and earrings, which are my favorite pieces of expensive jewelry—possibly because they're my only expensive jewelry—and which I was thrilled to get a chance to wear.
The ball was a great deal of fun. The music was provided by The Lost Boys, for whom I can't seem to find a website (I keep getting a certain Joel Schumacher film), in all their kilted glory, which was perfect music for the occasion. There was a silent auction in the back, which was selling, among other things, The Hat, and an original manuscript page from The Eye of the World, which Harriet pointed out contained a most significant edit: Where Ba'alzamon says to Rand in the dream sequence, "At last we meet", Jordan had crossed out "at last" and changed it to "Once more we meet". Think about it. All proceeds, of course, going to charity.
(for WSB): The next question is from a Theorylander. Did Ishamael’s healing of Lews Therin back in the prologue of The Eye of the World create the same doctor-patient bond as when Nynaeve healed Egwene?
No, not that I know. I think that I would know, but no.
I believe Moridin was...okay, in The Gathering Storm, he was in his own dream. He at least believes he was in his own dream, and he is usually right on things like that. And in The Eye of the World, he...I believe it was their dreams that he was controlling. But...
That's difficult to do.
That's very difficult to do....so I could be wrong on that. It's easier to pull someone into your own dreams, but it's easier to influence multiple dreams from the outside. So...does that make sense?
So, since he's doing it to all three of them, that makes me believe he was actually controlling their dreams. I'm pretty sure on that one, Terez. [Cut discussion of the pronunciation of Terez.] I could be wrong...but my understanding of the mechanics is that since they're all dreaming the same thing, that it's external, much as a lot of the Forsaken have been not warding their dreams through the early parts of the books, and causing people to dream lots of weird things, and share dreams. Ishamael was doing that intentionally...doing something similar. Does that make sense?
Right, and it also has to do with his ability to find ta'veren.
In my reread I noticed in A Crown of Swords Chapter 10, "Unseen Eyes", that Egwene says it's possible for a Dreamer to pull someone out of their dreams into a dream of her own making in Tel'aran'rhiod; this is something the Wise Ones won't do, but Ishamael wouldn't have a problem with it; I had forgotten that detail for some reason, and the Moridin dream confused the issue. It can be assumed that Lanfear did the same thing; Moghedien has shown no sign of having the ability (or perhaps the desire) to reach others' dreams, but she can trap Dreamwalkers in their own dreams in Tel'aran'rhiod. Aran'gar can do it weakly, and then only if she is sleeping right next to the person. Brandon has a point about the fact that all three of them dreamed the same dream apparently at once, but in once instance, after Perrin found the wolves, it seemed to Rand and Mat that they fell asleep, had the dream, and immediately woke up, when Moiraine says they were asleep for four hours.
I know what that was about. Will it be in the next book? Er...RAFO. Sorry.
Will we know by the end of the series though?
I really can't say yes or no. This is one of the things Harriet has asked me to be very quiet about.
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.
For those who do not know, Darrell Sweet—illustrator of all of the Wheel of Time covers—has passed away.
The first of his covers I can remember seeing was his beautiful cover for The Eye of the World. I'm sure it wasn't actually the first, however. Mr. Sweet was one of the premier fantasy artists for many years in the business. I have a healthy appreciation of what he accomplished, and I'm not sure many new readers realize just how influential and important he was as an illustrator.
Into these realms, Darrell's artwork was a breath of fresh air. He's beautiful with colors, his creatures are fantastic and fanciful, and he gets across a truly magical and wondrous feel to his art. When Mr. Sweet came along, that's when fantasy illustration started to change. Now, a lot of Wheel of Time fans like to gripe about inaccuracies in the Wheel of Time book covers. They have that luxury because we, as a genre, have seen huge strides in illustration over the last two decades. However, it would be unwise to dismiss the illustrators who—through their majestic use of imagery and color—lifted us up to this point.
Sir, I picked up The Eye of the World in large part because of your wonderful cover, which is a true masterpiece that I would put up beside any other piece of fantasy art. You gave us beauty, wonder, and magic. You will be missed. Rest in peace.
The next person also asked about the cover art, and he gave a shorter version of the first answer.
Some one asked about the first printing hardbacks of The Eye of the World and how to identify them. He went on to say that the rumor that some of the early trade paperbacks were re-bound as hardbacks was an urban legend. He said that he checked.
...I gotta be honest, the cover for The Eye of the World was what got me into the books in the first place.
What really sucks is that I found out that the larger than normal paperback I have been rereading all this time was the first issue for The Eye of the World. I thought there was a hardcover version. So all this time I have been beating the crap out of a rare first edition. Boy do I feel special.... kinda like the time I found out my sister traded all my first run Uncanny X-Mens for my cousin's ... er "collection" of Archie comics.... kinda like the time... gah...
Been lurking since The Beginning. Although I haven't had the time or the mental capacity/creativity, most days, to contribute in any significant fashion. Although hopefully I can find some more time in the future to do more than Lurk....
However, to all the new posters, regulars and alumni—I'm appreciative of the hours and hours of entertainment you've provided; Kudos to all!
Just a heads up to Sub, that the first printing of the oversize paperback isn't overly valuable (50-150 $) pending condition, and they show up on ebay on a regular basis—but still something worth looking after carefully.
If I've managed this properly—my avatar will have a picture of what I believe is the first bound version of The Eye of the World that I rescued from ebay a couple of years ago (maybe tnh can/will comment). Read the red fine print, if/when you can ... it's really cool.
Edited: for coherency. Deleted a sentence as my avatar showed up as planned. And add—you can't see it well in the picture/avatar, but there is printing along the top of book that reads "Harriet's marked up copy"—no trolling. This book contains some hand written edits by Mrs. Jordan (and someone else whom I have yet to identify although there is a fairly obvious choice), and includes a 3-page letter to tnh from Mrs. Jordan. As I understand it, the advance reading copy was created from this version, as were the final hardcover (yes Sub there was a limited hardcover printing) and oversize softcover both originally printed in February 1990.
How the devil did that production copy wind up on eBay? With, for all love, my correspondence with Harriet still tucked inside? (Is that the letter where we were going back and forth about Nancy Weisenfeld's copyedit, and Jim Rigney's preferred style of ellipses? It's been a long time.)
Did the person who sold it say anything about it?
I'd love to see large high-resolution photos of all those materials, including samples of the interior markup, and all three pages of the letter. I can recognize the handwriting of most of the people that could have marked up the pages, so there's a good chance that I can either identify the person or rule out some possibilities.
I'd very much prefer that you mail me pictures of the letter, rather than posting them somewhere. My email address is on the front page of my weblog, Making Light.
What you have there isn't the first bound edition. It's either a bound galley or a bound manuscript copy—I should remember which, but I don't. Tom Doherty did so much fiddling with the marketing and format of that book that it spent close to a year in production, rather than the normal nine months, and at times drove our department to distraction.
If it's typeset, it's a bound galley. If it's reproduced from the manuscript pages, it's a bound manuscript. Both can be referred to as "advance copies."
Anyway, the advance copies with the plain light-blue cover were superseded by the massive printing of ARCs with the four-color Darryl Sweet cover. An ARC (Advance Reading Copy) is basically a bound galley with a four-color cover that's usually an early version of the cover that will appear on the book. The Tor booth at the ABA that year had so many copies of it that they could have built Vauban-style fortifications out of them. Printing such a large and lavish ARC in such quantities was a gamble for Tor, which back then was a smaller and poorer company.
Is the thing you're referring to as "the first printing of the oversize paperback" the ARC? Check and see whether it has a price printed anywhere on the cover. If not, it's an ARC. IIRC, the ARC also featured the interim state of the cover in which the author of one of the cover quotes was erroneously identified as "Gordon R. R. Dickson."
Thanks for the info, greatly appreciated!
I will email pictures in the next 24 hours along with what history I know or have deduced. I agree with you that the letter shouldn't be made public without necessary approvals. The "discussion" you mentioned sounds...interesting...but the contents of this letter are more mundane and simply include info on book formatting, layout and listing of the chapter icons (I've scanned a copy of it too).
While not clear in my avatar, the book looks grey in real life (although if there was a light blue one, that would be interesting as well). I acquired a second one, without markups, that is identical to that pictured, and it is grey as well.
I know the ARC well, as at one point I had five of the things from various bundled purchases I made (the exterior cover of the ARC is the same artwork that is now found on the inside flap, and the inside cover of the ARC is the same artwork that now appears on the current cover). I just picked up one of the ARCs and on the back has a quote attributed to George R Dickson—is that what you were referring to? (Been so long since I'd picked it up that I'd completely forgot that I had the matching bookmark, and postcard inside, a pleasant surprise). I've since donated one to Jason Denzel and one to Jennifer Liang, for helping make a waking nightmare of a trip to the Gathering Storm signing in Charleston end on an awesome note.
In referring to the "oversize paperback"—it is a softcover book with the dimensions of approximately 6" x 9" (matching the size of the arc as well as the other proofs/galleys/bound manuscripts that I have). On this version, the exterior artwork and inside flap match what is currently on shelves everywhere. There are prices (both Canadian and US, etc) and ISBN # listing.
From your perspective—is there a difference between a galley, bound manuscript, or proof? Just curious, as I have various versions of almost all those written by RJ (have never seen a proof/galley/manuscript for Crown of Swords despite hours and hours of searching).
Okay, this is funny. I've been able to confirm that what Kafmerchant has is a one-of-a-kind artifact from the production of the first edition of The Eye of the World. The line written in red ink at the top edge of the cover that says "Harriet's marked-up copy" is in my handwriting.
As far as I know, no. Now, that's the sort of thing that could be buried in the notes, but you know, I've read a lot of them, and as far as I know, no, that's not the purpose.
Did the makers originally have a specific intention? Because I don't think Rand used it in the way they intended.
I believe that they did have a specific intention.
Did Rand use it alright, to their intentions?
That felt like a big waste to me.
Yeah. I was...I will RAFO that. But I will say that they did have a specific intention. How about, here's something I can give you...it's actually backing up a few questions. I've mentioned online that we're probably going to—for a certain anthology, the Unfettered anthology—we are going to be putting deleted scenes from A Memory of Light and some of these deleted scenes will answer some of your questions.
That's exciting. Thank you.
I don't think there's an official announcement; I don't think Harriet has decided 100% to make the announcement, but I've mentioned online before in things that we were considering it, and so, some deleted scenes having to do with some of your questions are actually going to be in this Unfettered anthology, and they may be from the viewpoint of a certain Forsaken that everyone's very curious about.
When did you first start reading The Wheel of Time, and what were your initial impressions of the stories and the writing?
I still remember the first time I saw The Eye of the World on bookshelves, at age 15. I can almost feel that moment, standing and holding the book in my hands. I think the cover of Eye is the best [longtime series cover artist] Darryl Sweet has ever done—one of the best in fantasy. I loved the cover. The feel of the troop marching along, Lan and Moiraine proud and face forward. The cover screamed epic. I bought the book and loved it.
I still think Eye is one of the greatest fantasy books ever written. It signifies an era, the culmination of the epic quest genre which had been brewing since Tolkien initiated it in the '60s. The Wheel of Time dominated my reading during the '90s, influencing heavily my first few attempts at my own fantasy novels. I think it did that to pretty much all of us; even many of the most literarily snobbish of fantasy readers were youths when I was, and read The Eye of the World when I did.
What happened to the fourth boy from the Two Rivers?
Jim originally had good plans for him later on, but when convinced to eliminate him, he realized how easy it was to kill off that story line.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Eleanor Lang
Publication date: February 21, 1990
THE EYE OF
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR THE EYE OF THE WORLD
"This intricate allegorical fantasy recalls the works of Tolkien because of its intensity and warmth."
THE EYE OF THE WORLD (A Tor book distributed by St. Martin's Press/February 21, 1990/$12.95, trade paperback) is a powerful saga of fantasy that focuses on the age-old conflict between good and evil. Author Robert Jordan has created a world so exceptional and magical, with characters and settings so voluminous, readers will feel that they are part of the tale, becoming caught up in the villagers [sic] fear of the hideous Trollocs. Once thought to be mythical, the Trollocs are carnivorous monsters set out to destroy the villagers and -- perhaps even the entire world. The only one to be trusted is Moiraine, a powerful witch whom all have misgivings about. It is she who reveals the only plan of redemption -- a plan that will involve the lives of three very different young men, only one who is destined to be the hero. THE EYE OF THE WORLD is the first volume in what is sure to be an important new series.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert Jordan is a graduate of the Citadel and served in Vietnam. Before becoming a writer he was a physicist and nuclear engineer. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.
Well, I'll never forget when my husband handed to me the first section of The Eye of the World—it was about a third of the book—and it knocked me off my perch. And I'll tell you, I called Tom Doherty, and said, "Tom, you'll have to read this one," and he said, "Why?" [laughter] When he founded Tor, he said he wanted a company where he could always read everything that he published, and Jim said, "It's not going to be long before he said, 'I want to read all the "read" books that I publish.' " And he had been—at that point, Robert Jordan had been writing Conan the Barbarian, which were not significant record-breaking novels. They were very good, but they were what we call midlist. [?] I said because either after—I've forgotten what it was; seven years of marriage?—"Either after seven years of marriage, I have fallen into the 'wife trap' and can't tell whether it's good or not, just cause I've married Jordan—and either that, or this thing is wonderful. That's why."
And so, he did read it, and I started—he was my working [?] publish it, but he did support the book. And as it went on, he was giving it to me in [?], and at one point I said to him, "Now, when we get to Tar Valon...." He said, "We don't get there in this book." [laughter] I said, "Okay." And then, when they go to Rhuidean—that surpassed the beginning....[?]....just absolutely gorgeous, gorgeous writing. So that was high. And in one of the books—and I've honestly forgotten which one it was—I said, "Honey, this is a boring section. You've got talking heads, talking heads, talking heads. Can't something happen?" So somebody gets killed. [laughter]
Harriet has told this story before here.
And you know, Tom once told me—this is the guy who founded Tor, Tom Doherty, and it was his company all through the 80s—he once told me he sold the company in order to get the capital after reading The Eye of the World, that he thought, "I need money to promote this book, to make it a best seller." And that was one of the main things, he said, that convinced him to sell the company.
I never knew that. That's a hell of a story. Anyway, he did do a splendid job in publishing it. There used to be something called the American Booksellers' Association, and there was a huge convention in the spring. He had gone to Dallas to hand out previews to booksellers, which was common in those days, but what was not common in those days is that he had done a double, full-color cover on the book. Nobody did that—they had those gray covers, with plain type—and that startled all of them. It just really did; he just did what he does better than anybody else, and he did it with The Eye of the World. He was just a wonderful publisher all through the series.
What was your first encounter? Did he read you a little bit of it? Did he show you a manuscript?
He showed me the first half of The Eye of the World, and I read it. (laughs) You'll love this—as I was reading it, I said, "Well, when they get to Tar Valon . . ." He said, "They don't get there in this book, Harriet." And I just looked at him. (laughs) But by that time, I had called Tom Doherty. I was at that point editorial director of Tor Books, and Tom was the publisher and founder. I said, "You've got to read this one." He said, "Yeah, why?" I said, "Because either after eight years of marriage, I've fallen into the 'wife trap,' or this book is absolutely wonderful." So he did read it, and the second half came toddling along, and Tom did a wonderful job of publishing it. Really, when we talk about 'going the whole hog,' well, Tom Doherty went the whole hog and all the piglets to launch the series. And the rest, I guess you'd say, is history.
So what was your role? I know you picked the chapter titles, but describe for our listeners your role in sort of the creation and editing of the series.
Well, in The Eye of the World in particular, in the beginning there were four boys leaving the village, but one of them didn't have anything to do. And my husband said, "Well, I had plans for him for the fourth book." And I said, “If you bore people, then there never will be a fourth book. Cut that boring kid out.” So he did.
Yes, that's right. The original cover art—the kind of brownish cover art that was on the inside cover—does show four, which is rather ghostly.
And another thing . . . Nynaeve . . . I helped him develop her by saying, "Why on earth is she always riding up there to talk to Moiraine? She doesn't seem to have anything to talk about." And I said, "Maybe she's trying to show her that she knows her way around herbal remedies." So a major piece of Nynaeve's character slid into place with that.
Oh, that she was the Healer and the Wisdom.
Yes, the village Wisdom—for people who haven't read the books, we're getting into some detail—but you might be interested that the village the main characters come from has a mayor and a Council, who are all men. But the village Wisdom (laughs) is the wise woman of the village, and generally represents the power of women. It's a very egalitarian world as far as gender is concerned.
I did notice that, yeah.
Let me start by saying that if they hadn't been happy, it wouldn't be in the book. But anything where you work with an editorial team, you'd show them a scene, and they may say that's great, or they may say that it doesn't feel right or wouldn't be a good fit for the story. And sometimes you'll say "I'll change it" or "let me finish this draft, and we'll see what it looks like at the end". As far as the gateways, I felt it wouldn't be realistic otherwise. I've wanted to do with gateways since I was a kid, doing things like I showed in the book. If I had them, what would I do with them? I asked this when I was a kid, so there was a lot that I wanted to do with gateways that were in my own notes that I wanted to do that I couldn't do in my own books, so I stayed away from things that the Wheel of Time had done. So when I got to write WoT I broke out those files. The gloves were off; it was time to do things that I wanted to do but didn't want to rip off the Wheel of Time. At the end of the day, I convinced them to do it. They kept saying "they're all over the place!" so I said "if you could use them, you'd use them a lot". I didn't intend it to be a shout out of any kind, it's things I've wanted to do with gateways for like 15 years. It wasn't a shout out to the fandom. It's been an interesting experience. A lot of people think that I just wrote what the fans thought, but it's things that I felt the characters and the world would do, and if the fans happened to have talked about it, it's because it's what I thought would happen. In fact, as I wrote the books, I read very little of the fandom in order to prevent those exact thoughts from taking root.
During and after the signing, we had the discussion with Brandon about Dannil Lewin. Originally, Dannil had actually gone with Rand, Perrin, and Mat from the Two Rivers on their journey, and played a major role in events of book 3 or 4. In the end, Harriet convinced RJ that it may be better without Dannil, so some of Dannil's comments in A Memory of Light are a shout out to that of sorts. Just a fun story I thought you all might find interesting.
None. What was done was that there was a forward, I guess you'd say, or a prologue written by my husband for the first volume of The Eye of the World in the YA version.
Yeah, but they didn't actually cut anything out; they just split the books into smaller volumes to entice the young readers into reading them. (laughter)
That's right. And they got bigger type.
When editing both Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, were there any scenes that needed to be cut because they were "too ridiculous"?
No, for either of them. They are fabulous storytellers and did not show her ridiculous scenes. One scene of Brandon's she cut for pacing reasons. She did have some disagreements with Robert Jordan, different opinions. Some scenes that he absolutely loved, she did not like, and vice versa. She emphasized the importance of having your editor as a trusted first reader.
Brandon mentions Dannil, the fourth Two Rivers boy, and Harriet explains that he was cut because he had nothing to do in The Eye of the World and he was boring. Robert Jordan said that he had big plans for him in the fourth book, and Harriet's response was that if you bore your readers now, there won't be a fourth book. Later, Robert Jordan admitted "how easily he [Dannil] unzipped out of the book."
I like the Fallon books. I like the Conans he wrote. But when I read The Eye of the World, I just thought, boy, this is just wonderful. This is special.
Harriet and I decided we were going to make this a bestseller. We did it in trade paper because we were afraid we couldn't get enough out of a fat hardcover book. Trade paper wasn't anywhere near as big then as it is now, but we thought that's good, too, because it will call attention to itself. It'll be different. So we did it in trade paper and sold 40,000 copies, which was huge for trade paper in those days, for the first of a fantasy series.
When I called you the first time, I was about halfway through reading the partials Jim was handing me. I said: "Tom, you've got to read this one." He said: "Yeah, why?" [To Irene Gallo] You know Tom. I replied: "Because either I've fallen into the wife trap after seven years of marriage, or this book is wonderful." I sent it to Tom, and you didn't just go the whole hog, you did the whole hog and all the piglets. A truly magnificent job of publishing.
Oh, we had so much fun with that. You know, it's funny. People think that, when you get a success like that, you don't want to mess with it. The second book doubled the sales of the first in trade paper. So when we got to the third book, we decided to do it in hardcover, and sales just screamed. People asked: "Why would you do that? Look how wonderfully it's growing where it is." And that was our first book to hit the bestseller list.
Yeah, it hit the New York Times, not high up, but it did. And from then on, always up. How about you, Irene? You've been working on the covers for a lot of years.
It's hard to say. I came on in '93, when Maria [Mellili, former Art Director for Tor Books] was here. It was already the big book of the year. Many of the cover decisions were set. My earliest memories were that the production schedules were set by hours, not days.
There would always be four different versions of the production schedule, based on what day it came in. Contingency plans on top of contingency plans.
For one of the books, Jim and I stayed at the Murray Hill Hotel, with twin laptops. He'd do a chapter and give it to me, I'd read and edit it, and then I'd bring a disk in. I had a terrific carryall I'd bought at the Morgan Library, but it was not up to carrying my laptop and gave up the ghost in the middle. That was, I think, the craziest.
I remember Jeff Dreyfus, our production manager at the time, spent the days walking back and forth from the office to the hotel.
And Jim ended up having to stay up here to proofread. It was going to take a week or more, and I had to go back and deal with stuff at home. That's funny about the production schedules by hour, though. I'd never heard that.
They would set up four of them: if it comes on Monday, it's this, but if it comes in late Tuesday, it's this.
But hey, you know, it worked. We did a book each year, and each book built. By the time we got to the fourth book, we were selling the first book in mass market paperback. It was hooking people and bringing them in. Then the next book would grow, because people wouldn't want to wait.
I get a lot of questions about Dannil, the character who was cut out of The Eye of the World. Dannil sort of figures in that cover painting. [Referring to a painting of an Eye of the World poster in Tom Doherty's office.] There's an extra character in there. He has a ghostly life.
Darrell Sweet was doing many of the biggest fantasies in the 1990's.
Yes, using his work was a big expense for a little company. It was one of the ways in which you did such a superb job of publishing. Also, what's so nice about the gorgeous Michael Whelan cover for the last book is that it's obviously a Michael Whelan, but he very tactfully made it so that when you rack them all out, they look like family. That was a lovely thing he did.
It is. He did a good job. The palette and compostion really works with the other covers. I didn't envy him the job and he turned it into a nice tribute as well as a conclusion.
And Sam Weber is so nice. I keep trying to call him Sam Weller because of Dickens. He said Whelan called him once and asked: "What's a ter'angreal?"
Looking at The Way of Kings, I had an extraordinary coincidence. A friend of mine's former wife is a curator at the Phillips Collection in Washington. She's a descendent of John Martin, an English painter also known as Mad Martin. He was the highest paid artist in Great Britain in the 1840's, and then he sank into total obscurity until a couple of war refugees rediscovered and resurrected his works after World War II. One of his paintings is the cover of The Way of Kings, except that there's a big pantheon where the guy is in the distance.
I'm going to look that up.
His skies are very much like Michael Whelan's. He was doing all that stuff way back then. I don't know if Whelan's ever looked at him, but it looks as if he has. Those fabulous skies of Whelan's.
I don't know.
I asked Brandon about that one too.
I would have to really look at it and check the notes; it's not something that I know right off the top....
I recently saw something about that in the notes, but I'm not remembering exactly what it said.
Do you happen to know anything about Ishamael's plan with the Eye, because it seems like he was trying to lead them there; why did he keep mentioning the Eye? Did he have a dream about it or something? You don't know?
Yeah. Because a lot of people thought it was Lanfear, and RJ said it was Fain.
So I guess you don't know the answer to that question. (repeats self) ...and that kind of blew everyone's theories out of the water...
Yeah, because I thought it was Lanfear.
I am assuming so, but again, I don't know.
I got the impression (because of this conversation) that Brandon kinda tried to explain that one.
In the prologue it sounds like Lews Therin balefires himself, and then is reborn as Rand al’Thor.
He does not balefire himself, so I can answer that. He does not.
So it’s just something that sounds a lot like balefire?
Yes- well there’s various interpretations of what happens there. He um- yeah there’s various interpretations of what actually killed him. If you go look and read closely, what actually killed him may be- could be subject to some debate.
Irene at Tor also sent me this beautiful poster (the scale may not be obvious in the photo, but the frame is about 22" by 30") with a long quote from chapter 4 of The Eye of the World. Robert Jordan truly was a master at making a story come alive before our eyes.
So, at the end of The Eye of the World, the all caps voice? Will we ever find out who it was, or what they were looking for?
The all caps voice at the end of Eye of the World makes an appearance in A Memory of Light.
What about what wasn't there?
What about what wasn't there?
What do you mean, what wasn't there?
Maybe it'll be in the encyclopedia. I can still RAFO things, Harriet is working on an encyclopedia of The Wheel of Time, which is coming out maybe in two years or so.
I remember those little half books of The Eye of the World. I was already a fan by then, but those became collectors' items among the fans.
We gave away over a million of them. I figured anybody who read that couldn't stop.
Wow. A million of them? Really. That's a lot.
It was. It wasn't quite half of the novel. It was a natural break that Harriet agreed on.
It was Shadar Logoth, I seem to recall. Wow. A million. That's crazy. I mean, most authors don't have a million books in print, and Robert Jordan had a million of his promo books in print. That's just crazy. You did that right around the third book, wasn't it?
Yeah. The first book sold 40,000 trade paperbacks. We launched it as a trade paperback, because not many people were doing major promotions on trade paperbacks in those days. We ended up selling 40,000 of the trade.
Which is really good.
Which was very good, yeah. I had the hardest time with the sales force when, on the third book, I wanted to make the major promotion in hardcover. They said, "Well, you've got such a winner. Why would you want to change?"
See, as a reader, when I picked up The Eye of the World, I picked it up in mass market paperback. My bookstore first got it in mass market. I was just a new reader, and all the books that I had read up to that point had been series in progress that people handed to me, like David Eddings. Fantastic stuff, particularly for a teen boy. And Tad Williams, and Terry Brooks. I found the Dragonriders on my own and loved those, but it was already done. I was on the lookout for something to discover then. I didn't want to always just be handed something that everyone else loves. "Where's my series?"
When I saw The Eye of the World, I was on the lookout for big, thick books, because you got more bang for your buck. As a kid who didn't have a lot of pocket change, that was an important thing. So I bought The Eye of the World, and I read it, and I said, "There's something really special here. I think this is going to be mine."
Then my bookstore got the second one in trade paperback, and I said, "A‑ha! I've spotted it!" Because as a kid, that told me that this book was popular enough that my little bookstore was willing to order in the trade paperback. Then, when the third one came out in hardcover, I thought "He's made it, and I called it." I was like the Wheel of Time hipster, right? "From the get‑go, this is my series and I found it, and all you other people didn't see it in the beginning." Even still, I'll go on signings and ask, "Who picked it up in 1990?" and we'll get a cheer for those of us who waited 23 years for the series to end.
So after Ender's Game, the second Tor book that I can remember reading was The Eye of the World and the other Wheel of Time books. There were all these rumors out there about how many books it was planned to be and what it was originally pitched as. Tom, I think we need to hear it from your mouth: the first-hand witness of that pitch when James Rigney came in. Was it this office right here?
Well, actually we'd already done three books with him. The Fallon Blood, The Fallon Pride, and The Fallon Legacy. He did them under a different pen name.
Right. Reagan O'Neal.
They had started out to be one book. He was going to do a big historical novel of the American Revolution, but it ended up being three fat books.
When he came in and said he wanted to do a big epic fantasy novel, we said, "Well, a big epic fantasy?" He said, "Well, maybe it'll be a trilogy." So I suggested a six book contract, and when he said no I said "Okay, you know if you finish it in three, we'll just do a different trilogy." He said, "Well, all right, if you insist."
Didn't you tell me that, when he gave the pitch on the first book, it really ended where the third book now ends, with the sword that's not a sword being taken from the stone that's not a stone?
Well, he didn't actually, no. He didn't give me a very detailed outline, but I didn't really need one because he'd done such a great job with the Fallon trilogy and Harriet [McDougal, Robert Jordan's widow and editor] was sold on it. Harriet had edited the Fallon trilogy.
Right. She tells the story that she called you after reading the few chapters of The Eye of the World that she'd read and said, "You need to look into this thing, because either I've fallen into the wife trap after all these years, or this is the best thing I've ever read." [Note: Harriet McDougal told the same story during her conversation with Tom Doherty.]
I don't remember her saying that, but she did call me and say, "Hey, this is special." And I read it, and it was special. We did some things with those books that were pretty major for a small, independent company.
Also, there is an even greater oddity: travelers, a man and a woman. She goes veiled, and is dressed more richly (though not ornately) than anyone remembers seeing in Emond's Field before. He wears scale armor and carries a pair of swords (one long and one short), plus a third, longest of all, tied to his saddle. They arrive on the day of the beginning, causing great wonder, for the road from Emond's Field south leads only to Parry Coomb. They give no reason for their arrival, nor do they say how long they will stay. The woman's name is Moiraine, and the man is called Lan.
Nyneve is suspicious of them, but they offer to pay in gold, and that is reason enough in Owyn al'Vere's mind to allow them to stay. It is not that he is greedy, but few people come to rent rooms at the tavern. He sees no harm in them. He is a friendly man, always ready to see the best in anyone and often able to bring it out, even from those others thought had no good qualities at all. This is one of the reasons he was chosen Mayor.