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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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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.
Now, on to the read-through. I'm far into Book Three, but I thought I'd stop and give some more reflections on The Great Hunt. I know that this book is the favorite of a lot of readers, and as I re-read it, I can certainly remember why. The ending was fast-paced and dramatic and contained several of my favorite scenes from the series.
One of these is the experience of using the Portal Stone and letting us see all of the different lives Rand could have lived. I loved the variety of the scene and the power of ending each one with the Dark One's words. I win again. . . .
I thought that would be my favorite scene of the book until I hit the climax with the horn sounding and the Dragon Reborn riding to battle beneath his banner. As many of you know, I am an endings guy. A great ending makes a book for me, while a weak ending can really ruin a story. This ending was a great one—plenty of powerful imagery and good conflicts.
There's one interesting that happened when I was reading this book. I remembered and anticipated a lot of the moments in this book, one of the most important being Egwene's capture by the Seanchan. The strange thing is, I kept waiting and waiting for the event, and it never came. I'd remembered with detail the chapters and chapters of torture she'd gone through as one of the leashed ones.
Finally, I reached the last fifth of the book and the capture came along. I was surprised to see that the time I'd remembered as filling 'chapters and chapters' was really only about thirty pages worth of material.
This says a lot, I think, about the depth of the conflict in those thirty pages. What Egwene went through was traumatic enough for her that it left a strong impression on me. The fact that Mr. Jordan was able to do that in just a few chapters says a lot for his ability to give depth and power to a scene.
On Falme, Rand and the Seanchan.
Question: In Falme we saw Rand fighting Ishamael and the Heroes of the Horn and the Seanchan were mirroring the progress of the battle. Does this mean that there is something inherently evil about the Seanchan Empire?
Answer: Nobody in WoT is inherently evil, except for Shadowspawn. At the time, the Seanchan were being led by a Darkfriend.
I almost didn't include this, it's so nitpicky, but you said you liked that. Feel free to ignore. Is this then to imply that the reason the Seanchan were paralleled with Ishamael in the fights was because Suroth was leading them? I always assumed that it was Rand's personal enmity that caused the correlation—he saw both Ishamael and the Seanchan as the bad guys, and therefore, under the effect of the Wheel's push for the Dragon event, combined with the influence of Rand's ta'maral'ailen and the 'loose reality' resulting from the sounding of the Horn, the two got linked in the weaving of the moment? Was it then more involved with the links between Suroth and Ishamael?
Kafmerchant@323—I admit your posts were glazing my eyes over as I'm not much of a collector, being broke all the time and whatnot. But that is an amazing bit of info about The Shadow Rising. I've always found the approach to be rather odd in comparison to the rest of the series. Not only is there no prologue, but the wind hangs around for quite a bit, and what he did at the beginning of Chapter 9 is pretty unique too. I'm going to put this whole conversation in the interview database, just for that tidbit. If you'd like to post reviews of each book one day, I would put them all in there. It's designed to be a database of all non-canon canon, so to speak, which is of course usually in the form of interviews, hence the name. But there are exceptions.
There are so many small but interesting things in my WoT collection that I'd really like to share with anyone who is interested (including books of course, but also have promo literature, and marketing materials such as posters, bookmarks, WoT "postcards" etc . The risk is that I'm seen as just showing off when my intent is far from it.
An example of promo literature is from a letter dated 15 Aug 1990 included with the Great Hunt galley, from Eleanor Lang (Tor publicist) that states that The Eye of the World "...was the first volume in The Wheel of Time, a six part series to be published by Tor Books." The print run for The Great Hunt is stated as 200,000 copies in this letter.
Just to clarify that the The Shadow Rising prologue in the advance uncorrected proof was called, "Seeds of Shadow" and started approximately halfway down the page and ended on the next page with just a single paragraph on that second page. The next (first) chapter was simply called "Seeds".
While searching for something tonight I've found some items that may be of interest to you—I assume you have copies of the audio of the Budapest interviews? Do you have the 2003 Toronto audio file? Also found a word file with a list of interviews starting with Starlog in 1991, followed by letters by Carolyn Fusinato and ending with blog posts/interviews somewhere in 2006 with lots in between (the word file is 2M in size)? I may also have a couple of old floppies, somewhere, with various old interviews and other miscellaneous files from the mid-late 90s although not sure if I can find anything that can read it...or if my memory of what may actually be on them is correct.
I'll keep the offer to post additional content in mind for the future.
I also found what I was looking for—a list, in excel, of chapter revision numbers and titles from the Path of Daggers manuscript—do you want this? And if so, where should I send it (gmail account)?
Padan Fain's power has morphed through time, going one way and then another (Shadar Logoth to the Dark One and back), which is why Moiraine was able to sense him at the end of The Eye of the World, but no Aes Sedai were able to sense him during his time in Tar Valon. He gained much of his power battling the Fade throughout The Great Hunt. Padan Fain is also now a powerhouse in the series.
Sure, this is information we all know, and it's not canon as it's not in the books, but it was cool hearing people in the know say it.
Was the "innocent" foreshadowing in early The Great Hunt—that you mentioned on Twitter when you were doing your reread—do you remember that?
Yeah, I do remember it, and people have asked me this, and I can't remember what it was! (crosstalk)
And you don't remember what it was. And then there's the one in The Dragon Reborn Chapter 27.
Yeah. Oh, I can probably remember that one.
Can I email you about those two?
Yeah, you can email me about that one, because I can find that one. Because I know which one that one was, but I can't remember the other one. I feel so bad! It's like...
Well, was it Leane and Perrin, with the crown and the High Chant?
Like, she said something about, "Next the blacksmith is gonna be wearing a crown and speaking in High Chant..."
Ohhhhh, yeah! I bet it's that one, because...yeah.....
It's kind of an innocent foreshadowing....
...No, you're right.
I think you kind of avoided my question, and then you later kind of...
Yeah, I think it's that one, because it's Perrin becoming king.
Which finally happened in this book.
Was it actually Egwene talking to Rand, after...
Oh, I've left this one intentionally ambiguous.
I figured that's what you did.
That, and whether Lan actually died or not, are both ones that I'm not going to answer.
Yeah, and whether Perrin actually died or not, because he's in the dark prophecy too.
Yes, but do remember that the dark prophecy people are misinterpreting that one a little bit, by intention.
Yeah... [Amusingly, Brandon is talking about the dark prophecy in Towers of Midnight, and I'm talking about the one in The Great Hunt.]
You know, they're supposed to misinterpret it, but one of the lines doesn't refer to Perrin; it refers to Hopper, and then the next line...
Well, not her new lover!
That's not Hopper, is it? (laughter behind)
She's not into...okay. Good. (laughs)