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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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Q: Why has the Towers of Midnight progress bar been stuck at the same number for so long?
A: Been doing revisions. Plan to do a blog post soon.
Q: Has the chapter you mentioned earlier (the painful one that is one of your favorites) changed numbers now?
A: Yes. It's #60 now.
All right. I've had a few weeks to rest after the marathon working of Feb, March, and early April. So, it's time to start thinking about the future. The Gathering Storm is turned in. (Quick answers on two questions: First, I don't know if there will be an electronic copy released. Tor doesn't own electronic rights, these belong to Harriet, and I don't know what she and her agent have decided yet. Second, there should be an audiobook released, very close to the initial release of the hardcover.) With The Gathering Storm done, it's time to look at the projects on my plate.
PROJECT ONE: A MEMORY OF LIGHT PART TWO (The working title is Shifting Winds, which WILL change.)
I've gone ahead and added a progress bar for this one. As I've said before, I've got a large chunk of it written—but that writing needs quite a bit of work. I pulled a lot of the cleanest, finished sections to use in The Gathering Storm. The progress bar says 49% completed, but I'd actually put that closer to 25%, if we look at work to be done and not just raw pagecount.
Obviously, Shifting Winds is the most important project for me to finish. It will be getting the largest share of my attention during the next year, and I'm going to do everything in my power to turn it in a little earlier than the previous book, perhaps even allowing for a release earlier next year than November. (I don't know if getting it in early will help that or not, but I'll try.) My self-imposed goal for finishing Winds is November 3rd, so I'll have the rough draft done and turned in before I leave on tour.
PROJECT TWO: ALCATRAZ FOUR
I committed to Scholastic for four books, and I will need to (sometime) think about writing the final volume. Book Three is turned in and coming out this fall. Usually, I write these two years ahead. So I turned in Book Three in fall of 2007, then didn't turn one in Fall of 2008, since I was working so hard on A Memory of Light. But I hate not doing what I say I'll do, and I will need to write this book sometime. Scholastic probably won't start bugging me about it until July or August. But it will have to be turned in by the end of the year or I'll be in breach of contract.
So just a warning to all of you WoT fans out there—I'm sorry, I've put Alcatraz off for much longer than I should. You'll see me take a break this fall for a month or so and work on the final Alcatraz book. My goal is to be writing this in September/October when(hopefully) I will have a rough draft done of Shifting Winds. That way, I can work on new Alcatraz material while using the other half of my brain for editing on WoT. This shouldn't be a problem at all. Normally, I'm working on two books at once—I'll be writing new material on one, then will be editing another. Writing and editing take different types of attention, and I can usually only write new material for four to six hours a day. I can use the other hours for revisions on another book.
So, that's it, right? I think I've talked about everything. Now, some of you may be wondering what this means. Is there going to be no solo Brandon Sanderson book released in 2010?
As early as last summer, Tom Doherty began asking me if there was any way I could get Tor a novel for a 2010 release. He doesn't like going years without releases, and he worried that my readers would feel dropped in favor of the Wheel of Time readers. Plus, he really wants to see something more from me.
When he first mentioned it, I laughed. He was asking me, essentially, to finish the entire Wheel of Time book by spring of 2009, then write him a solo book by fall 2009. Even then, I knew it wasn't going to happen. A Memory of Light was too big a project.
However, now that A Memory of Light has been split, Tom has asked more and more often about getting a Brandon Sanderson solo book to release between the WoT books. He's very worried about there being a period of three years during which I don't release anything of my own. And so, with his questions, he got me thinking. Was there anything I would feel comfortable releasing? Liar turned out poorly, Scibbler isn't epic enough, Warbreaker 2 isn't written. What else is there?
The answer was simple. The Way of Kings.
The Way of Kings was the book I had just finished when I first got offered a book deal for Elantris. I originally signed a deal for Elantris and for Kings. (And because of that, you can still find an Amazon entry for Kings—which has some amusing reviews posted by readers with too much time on their hands. Note that the book was never released, so these are all just made-up amusing reviews.)
Yes, the original contract was for Kings—but I decided that Kings needed to be put off. Kings is a great book, perhaps the best I've ever written. But it just didn't FEEL right to release after Elantris. The Way of Kings is a massive war epic of legends, mythology, and magical revolution. It's intricate, complex, and was a bit daunting for me when I thought about readying it for publication. Just to give you an idea, Mistborn has three magic systems, Kings has well over twenty. Mistborn has six main viewpoint characters across the trilogy; Kings has dozens. I wrote about 30k of background material for Mistborn. Background material for Kings is over 300k.
Difference in scope is only one of the reasons Kings wasn't the right follow-up to Elantris. After a stand-alone novel, I felt that I wanted to publish a trilogy, perhaps two, before I offered my readers the first of a big, multi-volume epic. I also worried that the initial draft of Kings just wasn't good enough—because my skill wasn't up to making it good enough.
Working on the WHEEL OF TIME has forced me to grow immensely as a writer, however. Over the last year, the more I thought about it, the more I itched to dive in and do a revision of The Way of Kings. If I could effectively use all I've learned, I might be able to make the book become what I want it to be. And so, I told Tom about Kings, and he eagerly offered me a new contract for it. I've warned him that it might not be ready in time to come out next year, but I'm going to give it a try.
Kings needs a solid rewrite. I've been tweaking it over the years, worldbuilding the setting and so forth. I've been planning, working on, and revising this book for eight years. I think that if I do a rewrite now with my current writing abilities, it would turn out very, very well.
The thing is, I can't be certain. Maybe it won't work as I want. Maybe I will just have too many things on my mind. Maybe I'm not up to doing this book yet. But, because of the pleading of Tom, my readers, and (most importantly) my own heart, I'm going to give it a try.
As I said above, writing and revising take different parts of the brain. I can only write new material for a certain number of hours a day, usually around four or six. But I can revise all day long. Perhaps it's the difference between mental heavy lifting and mental long-distance running. Either way, in order to give this a try, I've hired a full-time assistant, Peter Ahlstrom, to do all the things in a day that normally take my time away from writing/revising. Usually, when I'm not revising, the 'non-writing' hours of the day are spent doing all kinds of tasks associated with being self-employed. Peter is going to be handling all of this, theoretically freeing up a few hours each day during which I can revise The Way of Kings.
This will not take my time away from writing Shifting Winds. If it starts to look like it will delay that book, I will stop working on Kings—not because of any criticism I may get from readers, but because I feel a debt to Mr. Jordan and this project I have agreed to do. I like to keep my promises.
I explain all this because I want you WoT readers to understand that I do have a life beyond the Wheel of Time. I have obligations, both to publishers and to myself. I feel very strongly that the time has come for me to show readers what I've been working on behind the scenes for many years. And so, on my blog I will spend time talking about projects other than the WHEEL OF TIME.
I like to be open. I like you to be able to see what I'm doing, and so I feel I should be up-front with you about what I plan. I've shelved a lot of books for THE WHEEL OF TIME, and rightly so. But there are two projects I WILL be spending time on this year—Alcatraz 4 and The Way of Kings. I plan to add progress bars for each of them, and link the titles here so those who come to my site later can read this explanation.
Sorry to be long winded . . . again. Occupational hazard.
I'm gearing up to dive back into the Wheel of Time next month. To those of you who only check the blog for WoT news, I appreciate your patience with me. I do try to incorporate things into the blog directed at you. I'm sorry there isn't more of it. This is partially because of the strict nondisclosure agreement I'm under. I fear saying much of anything because of how good the WoT community is at pulling meaning out of casual statements. And they're right a shocking amount of the time. So I've held myself back. That, unfortunately, means I often end up posting things like this:
"Gearing up to write the next WoT section; emailing Mr. Jordan's assistants about clarifications on some issues. Can't say which ones. Sorry."
That was posted to my Twitter/Facebook earlier today. (And note, if you're starved for posts, know that I do update my Twitter and Facebook pretty much every day. You can read them on my main blog too; check the left-hand sidebar on the blog page.) Anyway, I don't post such vague things to be annoying or teasing. I just feel compelled by Mr. Jordan and Harriet's wishes to restrain myself. If I tell you what I'm asking about, you'll be able to guess what I'm working on—and from that can guess what is in the second book, and from there guess the contents of the first book. Perhaps I'm too paranoid. But once the first book is out and you all know its contents, I'll let myself be more open about what is in the second book in posts and tweets.
Anyway, I like to be very up-front with readers about what is going on. Waiting for novels can get frustrating because of how long the process takes, and because . . . well, it's an artistic endeavor that relies on the creative output of (usually) a single person. We artists can be flakey.
Or, put more appropriately, the artistic and creative process can be erratic. I don't think George R. R. Martin is flakey, for instance. An artist has to know their process, and work within its bounds. It takes him years to write a book; that's just how it goes. That's pretty good, considering the genius of his prose. If he wants quality, he has to have the freedom to work as he needs to. Writing books is not like building widgets. Forcing it doesn't work.
Coaxing it, however, can be effective. For me, taking a break to do something different—like the Alcatraz books—has proven essential. I don't think it slows down my other books; in fact, it speeds them up, as it keeps my creative process working. Other writers call me prolific. That's only because my diversions (Like Warbreaker or Alcatraz) have so far been successful as publishable projects, where taking four months off to go golfing wouldn't be. But, that's a tangent.
Anyway, I don't think forcing the process can work. However, I think being open about what is happening with readers—giving them transparency and a concrete view on what I'm doing—can be very helpful. When I take a diversion, you'll know what I'm doing, and the progress bars (hopefully) will show you exactly what I'm doing and when.
For now, A Memory of Light 2 (we'll see what it ends up being named; I've chosen what I like for the title, but the final decision isn't mine) stands at having about two hundred thousand words written. There is about 100k left to go. (A little over that.) My goal is to have that done by January 1st, to put us in the same place next year as we were this year for having a book ready by the fall.
The caveat for all of this, however, is what I mentioned above. It can't be forced, only coaxed. I won't release a WoT book just to be releasing a WoT book. This is the end of the greatest epic fantasy series of my generation. It needs to be treated very carefully. If I have to take more time on it, I will—regardless of the screaming from publisher or readers. But I don't anticipate that happening. It looks good so far.
On October 27, Book 12 of The Wheel of Time, The Gathering Storm, goes on sale nationally. Completed by Brandon Sanderson from notes and partials left by Robert Jordan, it is very good. I was its editor, as I was editor on ALL the Wheel books, and Maria Simons, Jordan's right hand for over 12 years, and Alan Romanczuk, Jordan's left hand (just because you can't have two right hands unless you are ... Shiva, is it?) have worked very closely with Brandon as well. We three—Harriet, Maria, and Alan—have really worked as Team Jordan on this book, and will do so on the following two, which will complete the Wheel. Book 13 will be titled Towers of Midnight, and Book 14 will be A Memory of Light.
Even Jordan couldn't have written everything he left in one volume, although he thought he could. But you recall that he thought he could write the entire Wheel in six volumes.
Try The Gathering Storm. I think you'll like it a lot. I do.
Finally, progress on Towers of Midnight is continuing at a fair pace. As always, there are sections that turn out beautifully and sections that don't. (The latter get thrown away and rewritten, the former get kept and rewritten. That's just how this goes.) I'm feeling very good about my deadlines on this one. It's going to be tight, but I think you'll get it next year as planned.
One of the things I felt could be improved on from The Gathering Storm is my use of names. Robert Jordan had a distinctive way of using names, and I think that some of my names for the book didn't quite hit the right mark. We're talking about very minor things—people who are named and don't appear, or maybe who speak one line or another. Anyone more major than that generally had a name already (or if they didn't, I pulled a name from one of Mr. Jordan's unused names files).
The thing is, a good epic fantasy like this uses dozens and dozens of new names in a book. I wanted to take a stab at approaching the naming in the way Mr. Jordan did. During my very first ride with Harriet, coming back from the airport two years ago to her home in Charleston, I remember her talking about some of Mr. Jordan's names. One came from a street we passed, another from a person he knew, and another from a word he saw on a sign. His goal was to hint at our world far in the future—or perhaps far in the past—by giving occasional hints to our world through legend, story, song, and name. Hence we get names like Thom or Artur, which are direct adaptations of names from our world.
Therefore, for Towers of Midnight I've been using a list of names from our world as inspiration. I chose the list of donors for the charity event that TarValon.net did last spring, and I've been posting the names on Twitter and Facebook as I choose them. So if you're curious about this, you can watch and see who gets chosen. I'm certain someone out there is keeping a list of them all as well. (I've got one here, and may post it eventually.)
I don't want to make it seem like I'm playing favorites or soliciting praise in order to get people into the Wheel of Time, and so for now I'm using this list ONLY. If we decide to do another charity event, I'll let you know. If you don't want to find out about the names, I won't post them here on the blog, but those who do wish to know can follow along. Remember, these are very small characters, often just mentioned by name but not seen. I'm adapting all the names, so the name I post is not what will appear in the book—it's just the inspiration for what will appear.
Still, I think it will make some people very happy and will allow me to try a method that Robert Jordan used in making these books. Perhaps it wasn't so conscious for him as it is for me, but one of my duties in writing these novels is to try—to the best of my abilities—to maintain the proper feel of the Wheel of Time. I think this will help. We'll see; I've got Harriet and Team Jordan backing me up, and so if any of the names stand out to them, they'll vanish and get replaced with something more appropriate.
(And, as I've said before, remember that the Wheel of Time turns, and people are constantly spun in and out of the Pattern. Those who are alive today could very well live again during the Third Age, and so it's not so odd at all for people who loved these books during our time to get pulled into Rand's ta'veren web and spun out again during the events of the Last Battle. . . .)
I have a very specific question about The Wheel of Time series. One of my favorite characters has been MIA for way too long. I'm assuming Moiraine Damodred returns to the playing field. I'm just wanting to know if it will be in the upcoming book or further on?
This is exactly the sort of thing I've been asked by the Jordan estate to stay quiet about, I'm afraid. (Sorry.) Some things the fans are expecting will happen in this book. But some things had to be saved for the next two volumes. And of Mr. Jordan's instructions were quite surprising, when seen in the light of what everyone expects will happen.
That's really not an answer, is it? Well, let's just call it a RAFO.
There are about 50,000 words of secondary plots that Sanderson wants to include in Towers of Midnight. He's just not sure all of it will get into the book. If something gets cut, he'd like to get to his fans on his website.
This lead to quite a bit of discussion about Towers of Midnight. It will be a very different book from The Gathering Storm. The Gathering Storm was very intentionally focused. Brandon felt strongly that a 'hit' wasn't good enough, that The Gathering Storm needed to be a home run. (At the table, we all thought it was a home run.) Towers of Midnight will need to catch up many plot threads and will be much less focused. This will have its problems and it will be a big struggle to find the right balance—they aren't there yet in the writing process. Brandon mentioned a few plots as examples which strongly suggests they will be in Towers of Midnight—Loial, Lan, Fain, Taim, Logain, Elayne, if Mat does what fans think he will, etc.
Next year, I will be spending a lot of the early months blogging about The Way of Kings. A lot of people have been asking about it, and Tor has nudged me to begin speaking about it more. There WILL be more info about Towers of Midnight too, but I'll probably be holding off on that for a while. I know you're hungry for more information. I'll give you what I can, but I've been asked to be more secretive about these books than I normally am, and (as I have said before) I feel it is respectful to keep to Harriet's wishes.
(Progress on Towers of Midnight is going well, but this is—in many ways—a much BIGGER book than The Gathering Storm. There are a lot more viewpoints and plots to wrangle, including many people who were not seen in The Gathering Storm. The Gathering Storm was very focused by intention and design. Towers of Midnight is going to feel very different, as we're going to be expanding the scope a little to include all of the things we need to see to get ready for the Last Battle. That's making the editing and revision process of what I've done go more slowly than I would have liked.)
First off, Towers of Midnight. The progress bar has been stopped at 82% for about two months now. Why is that? Well, mid-to-late December, two things happened. First, I decided that I couldn't work any further on new material for Towers until I did some substantial rewrites to the book. This happens frequently with my novels; it's not something to worry about. I did this twice on Hero of Ages. The more complex the book and the series, the more often I find myself doing midbook refining drafts like this one, making certain I've got the voice, motivations, and plot sequences right.
Towers of Midnight is going very well. I'm very pleased with how it's turning out, and I'm confident it will be ready in time for a release later this year as promised. It will be longer than The Gathering Storm, which is another reason the progress bar stopped. I'm just not sure how long the book will end up being, so a percentage is harder to judge right now. The actual length of the book right now—after putting together all the pieces I've been working on over the last six months—comes to 291,294 words. The Gathering Storm was around 300,000 words. I estimate this one at around 320,000 or so after revisions and edits. (It might get as high as 350,000, then get sliced back down. I always trim a lot off books in later drafts when I tighten up the language.)
I figured that since I was doing revisions, and since getting to "100%" at 300,000 words would give the wrong impression, I'd just let the progress bar sit for a time. As long as I turn in the book by this summer, it will still be ready for a late fall release. So there's no need for anyone to panic yet.
I'm afraid I can't say much about what I'm working on in the book. Out of respect for Harriet's wishes, I need to remain tight-lipped. I know it's not very satisfying to hear, "All is well, please keep waiting." But . . . all is well, please keep waiting.
I am working on two major projects right now. The first, and probably of most interest to most people watching this, is the second of the three books that will complete the Wheel of Time. I have a large chunk of the actual writing done, and right now I am fine-tuning some of the character viewpoints and things like this to make sure they feel right. The soul of the Wheel of Time, the reason I love it so much, is because of the strength of characters, the strength of the viewpoints of those characters. And I want to make sure I'm writing them as they should be, as they really are. The goal is to have that book out by November of this year, which is still likely that it will happen. It will depend on how long it takes me to do the revisions, but we're looking like we'll be on target.
The other book I'm working on is called The Way of Kings. It is a book I've been working on for about ten years now. It is the start of a longer epic, a story I've been wanting to tell for a very long time. I did that over the summer last year. I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and that is coming out in August.
Brandon's assistant Peter here. He's hard at work on Towers of Midnight, which you know if you've been following on Twitter or Facebook. And I've been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work for The Way of Kings release (the book is being composited as we speak and is due back from proofreading on Friday). So we're a bit behind on updates.
The most recent Mistborn 3 annotations cover Allomantic secrets including atium Mistings and the kandra coup and Sazed's decision. I've got the next four annotations queued, which should tide you over until we've got the KINGS proofs approved and I can line up the rest.
There are three new episodes of the writing advice podcast Brandon does with Howard Tayler and Dan Wells that haven't been mentioned on the blog. First up is a talk with Isaac Stewart, interior artist for the Mistborn books and one of the artists for The Way of Kings, about the visual elements of storytelling. Next up is breaking the fourth wall, again with Isaac (who is also half of the team behind the webcomic Rocket Road Trip with Warbreaker map artist Shawn Boyles). And finally is Living with the Artist which features Sandra Tayler, Dawn Wells, and Kenny Pike talking about what roles they play in their spouses' careers, among other things. (Kenny is a former student of Brandon's whose wife Aprilynne's book Wings hit #1 on the New York Times list. Who Sandra and Dawn are should be obvious.)
OK, I’ll start by saying Brandon did not tell us any names/characters who are going to be where, so I will have to be as vague as him. Although, I think I saw a chart somewhere that will give us an idea, if someone wants to be investigative.
So, the story as stands at the end of Knife of Dreams has four "plot arcs" that are more or less related through "geography, fate, thought, etc." At the end of each of those arcs was a giant chunk of joined material that was "Tarmon Gai'don" and made up roughly 1/3 of the story. Brandon started writing these plot arcs like four separate novels with the intent to intersperse them. He had finished the third arc and hit 400k words when they decided they had to split it.
So, what they are doing: the first two plot arcs he wrote are going to be MOSTLY included in The Gathering Storm, as well some set-up/teaser of the other two. Then, in the second book (Working title The Shifting Winds, by the by, but we were promised it is going to be changed) is going to continue from that set-up/teaser of the third and fourth plot arcs, and including the final setup of the first two so that everyone hits at the same point and is ready for Tarmon Gai'don. Book three (working title is Tarmon Gai'don, but it might be A Memory of Light), will be, yes, Tarmon Gai'don. So, there ya go.
I've had to balance those things, for sure. I spoke a little of this above; it's a lesson I've had to learn as a writer across my career, not just with the Wheel of Time books.
The best stories—stories the fans are going to like more in the end—are the ones where the author stays true to his or her vision. That's not always what the fans say they're going to want.
This is particularly poignant with me, because I am a fan on this series. I had to balance letting the fan inside me say, "Ooh, ooh, I want to see this, I want to see this," with what was going to make the best story. I had to preserve Robert Jordan's original vision for the books, while adding what I could add to the narrative. I couldn't, therefore, dally too much with fan satisfaction moments.
For instance, I intentionally kept cameos from minor characters to a minimum. The little voices inside my head screaming, "Ooh, wouldn't it be cool if?"—I had to be very careful about those. When the time came to divide the book, the balance of which characters got major viewpoints in this volume really came down to the narratives I felt would go well alongside one another.
Note that if there are missing characters in The Gathering Storm, you will likely find them in Towers of Midnight. I didn't think who got cut and who didn't get cut was a really large-scale issue. It just came down to what made the best story.
The reason I divided the book the way I did was because of the way that I felt the themes would play well with one another. Towers of Midnight certainly has its own themes, and you will be able to notice them. There will be some carryover. But it's going to be a different book. We need to expand and look wider about the world to catch up with other characters we haven't seen for a while. And there are quite a number of them.
So, it's a yes and a no. The themes will be there, but there will be a lot more going on around them, so they'll be diluted in favor of scope. I've had to be careful not to make Towers of Midnight simply a "jump back in time and catch up" book. I don't want to do that. It does move forward.
Rand and Egwene will be there. But the themes are going to be different because of the different mix. We are going to see a lot more of Perrin, and we are going to see a lot more of Mat. And what's going on in their plotlines will influence theme in a different way.
Now to the main announcement, which appeared on my Twitter/Facebook feeds last week: Towers of Midnight, book 13 of the Wheel of Time, is finished. All of the drafts are done, the final revisions made, the book turned in. (And for those who don't watch Twitter/Facebook, we're hoping to eventually post a weekly "best of" or something here on the website for you to read through.)
Getting the book done on time (or, well, close to it) took a lot out of me. I was basically worthless Wednesday and Thursday of last week recuperating. And I'm not a guy who often needs to do things like that. However, I feel that the book turned out very well. The publication date is set for November 2nd, and at this point, there's basically no chance we'll miss that. So go ahead and preorder and make your plans to come see me on one of my upcoming tours. Things look good.
Now that it's done, I can sit back and look at the book as a whole. As I said, I'm very pleased with it. For months I've been telling people that I feel that in many ways, it's even more true to the Wheel of Time than The Gathering Storm was. I hope to maintain the pacing that made people enjoy The Gathering Storm, but at the same time Towers of Midnight has a much expanded scope than the previous novel, showing a larger picture and getting back to many characters who were ignored or had reduced parts in The Gathering Storm. Though we are jumping back in time for a few viewpoints to catch them up, it does also continue Rand/Egwene and other characters who had a large focus in The Gathering Storm.
I hope that you enjoy it. There are some scenes in it we've been waiting to read for a long, long time. Scenes that made my heart break to write, and others that bring a smile to my face every time I look through them again.
Before the 21st I'll have turned in the final revision of Towers of Midnight, which I'm currently working on. You can follow my progress on Twitter or Facebook; the deadline is August 16th and I need to finish over 10% of the book each day until then. I did the first 12% yesterday. This final draft mostly focuses on issues the beta readers noticed.
The biggest difference is that in The Gathering Storm I took two tight narratives and built them both to an enormous crescendo. In Towers of Midnight I had to make each chapter have more of an impact. In Towers of Midnight there are these amazing scenes, chapter after chapter—BAM BAM BAM, this incredible scene you've been waiting for, this other incredible scene you've been waiting for, this majestic scene you've been waiting for—but at the same time we're showing the scope around the world. Now, the book has one of those tight narratives that builds to an enormous crescendo that I'm very pleased with. But a lot of the rest of the book is this sequence and that sequence and this sequence and that sequence, so it's a very different book. Book twelve felt more like books one, two, and three to me. Book thirteen feels like books four, five, and six. This expands the vision and goes back to places we've been before.
It was a wonderful process. I actually think that Towers of Midnight is a better Wheel of Time book than The Gathering Storm was. But it made for a much more difficult write, because tying all of these elements together was a big challenge. Tying two narratives together is challenging, but then suddenly when you have eight narratives and have to make sure that they thematically work together, and all of that, is that much more of a challenge.
We'll see what readers think. In these books I am particularly beholden to the Wheel of Time fans. I feel these books are for them. So I won't really know if I've been successful until they read it. But I feel very pleased with the book.
Got any fun anecdotes from behind the scenes of Team Jordan for us?
Other than Butt Trollocs?
Here's a typo from Towers of Midnight for you. I wrote: "Butt Trollocs are cowards at heart." Beta reader highlights and asks: A new tribe of Trollocs? :)
I don’t know. They’re fun people. Alan makes really really bad puns a lot of the time, which is quite amusing. Watching their commentary on the drafts as we’re passing them back and forth (and they’re writing out their thoughts and responding to each other’s thoughts) can be a hoot and can be frustrating at the same time.
PART TWO: BUFFERS AND MY WRITING SPEED
Because of this, and because of my writing style, I need a little bit of a break before I tackle it. I pushed myself very hard to get both Towers of Midnight and The Way of Kings ready for publication this year. Even then, it was only possible because I had written a sizable chunk of Towers of Midnight while working on The Gathering Storm AND because I'd already finished an early version of The Way of Kings.
People have mentioned before that I am somewhat prolific. Some of this is an illusion. For a while now, I've been warning people that we've been chewing through my buffer at a frightening rate. Once upon a time, I would turn in a book three years before it was scheduled to come out. This gave me a lot of wiggle room. If a book wasn't working, I could shelve it and think about it, then get back to it. Working that far ahead prevents most big crunches.
However, the books I've been working on lately were a little more high profile than previous ones—and high-profile books get released when they get turned in, not three years later. So, though I took eighteen months finishing The Gathering Storm, it looked like I finished it very quickly. (I turned it in during the summer of 2009, and it came out in the fall of 2009. Warbreaker came out that same year, though I'd turned it in back in 2006.) The very long write of that book was invisible to a lot of readers because books I'd written years before continued to come out while I was working on it.
The buffer is gone now. I'll talk more about that later. However, I want to mention something else that helps me be productive—and that's allowing myself deviations to keep myself interested. I've told people before that I wrote the Alcatraz books to give me a break between Mistborn novels. If I'm able to refresh myself on other projects, I don't get burned out on the big epics. (Which are my true love, but can be very demanding on me mentally.)
He mentioned that doing Towers of Midnight and rewriting/editing The Way of Kings the same year was quite intense in terms of time. He is still committed to getting books out quickly and regularly, but The Way of Kings and Towers of Midnight in one year was more than he wants to do on a regular basis.
He is going to take three months to reread the series and plans to have A Memory of Light done by end 2011 for a release in early 2012.
This entry is a collection of tweets by Brandon announcing the names of the fans who won the charity contest to get their names in Towers of Midnight. Also named in the book were Matt Hatch, webmaster of Theoryland (innkeeper at The Dusty Wheel); Melissa Craib, webmaster of Tar Valon (innkeeper at The Seven-Striped Lass); and Jason Denzel, webmaster of Dragonmount (innkeeper at The Happy Throng). Also included were Kate Nepveu, an old rasfwrj fan and blogger for Tor.com, and Anthony Aziz of TarValon.net, who won the JordanCon 2010 auction. According to Linda's article on the subject, Padra was named after Tricia Erikson, a JordanCon publicist who passed away recently from cancer.
I missed these tweets by Brandon (date unknown), but Linda kindly shared them with me:
Oh, one more. Joel Derby, you're dead too.
Also, Nick Okamoto, I used your name in Towers of Midnight this morning. Congrats.
Also, John Sloan, you survive.
Now that…obviously no one can fill the hole that Jim Rigney did. I mean, no one can take his place. But we have Brandon now, and you're working with Brandon, but now it's a long-distance relationship. How is that working out? And he's such a maniac for work; I cannot imagine how any human being gets the amount of writing that he does done, and all the other things that he does.
I'm convinced he's a robot. [crosstalk]
He's an android, yeah; he's an android; I'm sure of it. He's a big cuddly android, but I think, you know…really suspect!
He's pretty amazing, I mean…but the work ethic he has is just incredible. I mean…The Way of Kings and Towers of Midnight, the same year. It's amazing.
I know! And Alcatraz too, I think…and a tour! Two tours!
Oh yeah! Two tours, and a couple of cons—or more, actually, than a couple. But the long-distance thing…you know, living in the future makes it easy, and we actually, here, all of us, um…older farts in Charleston made the jump to digital editing for Towers of Midnight which made it a lot easier than The Gathering Storm when we were still doing everything on paper.
Oh, wow! I didn't realize you guys did that all on paper!
Oh yeah…oh yeah.
I can't even imagine how complicated it would be to do it on paper.
It was pretty, uh…it worked. We got it done, but we made [?], and it was still kinda complicated because I had no idea how to do some things, and I have to email, and Peter—Brandon's assistant—would tell me how to do it. Peter's great; Peter is fabulous, and…
I know; I heart Peter.
I wish I could have been at DragonCon, just so I could have met him.
Oh, me too.
But, um…you know, it's…it works. You know, we've got email, we email back and forth; occasionally we do the phone call; occasionally we actually get together, and it's...
Yeah, probably the most difficult thing is the time difference, and…not only is he, what, three hours behind us, but Brandon does so much of his work, ah, in the evening, and in the early hours, and consequently doesn't get up at five in the morning…
That's usually when he goes to bed.
…and so, if he has to ask us something quickly in the middle of work, or if we have to ask him something quickly, you know, we might have to wait for one or the other to wake up and get to the office.
He might as well be in New Zealand, as far as the time overlap.
Yeah. But, you know, we made it work.
Cool. Well, I think Peter's probably got Dream Job #2.
Oh, I dunno, how do you keep up with somebody who's like that? He's just…I mean, just talking to him in person—and I'm sure that probably Robert Jordan was the same way—I think it's a little overwhelming. There's so much creativity going on, and you can see that the mind is working so fast, it's almost like two or three different things going on at one time. And you know it's not, but it just almost seems that way, and you can almost get a little overwhelmed just trying to keep up with the flow of ideas, you know.
And that's very true, with Jim, and especially Jim and Harriet talking together sometimes. [Alan laughs] You know, it would be like, "Wow. What…what? Wow." Because they're just so incredibly bright, and it was just…very cool.