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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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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.
Hi all, this is Brandon Sanderson, fresh off of finishing the last book of The Wheel of Time, A Memory of Light, and I'm here to introduce the story collection Unfettered to you. Shawn Speakman is putting together—actually asked all of us to do something like this, to talk about how we got involved in the project—he first approached me when I was on tour—it was probably I guess for Alloy of Law—and he explained that he was having...he had a lot of medical bills—Shawn has had some health troubles lately—and he's a good friend of a lot of us in the community, and he was looking to put together an anthology to maybe help to defray some of these costs, at the suggestion of Terry Brooks. And he just asked if I'd be interested; he said, "Really, it could be anything." That's why he's calling it "Unfettered", is because he didn't want to put any restrictions; in fact, he said it could be deleted scenes, it could be any sort of material relating to anything we wanted to do. He sounded most interested in something relating to one of my worlds that I've already written in, but he really said it could be anything.
Well, I wasn't sure I'd be able to be involved, because A Memory of Light has taken...it was taking quite a bit of my time. It's quite the big project, and finding any time at all to work on anything else was really difficult. At the same time, however, there's a sequence of viewpoints in A Memory of Light—and I'm not at liberty yet to say who it is, but it's a character that you will know—that I was working on that were somewhat more daring than some of the viewpoints I've done. I wanted to try and give some deeper backstory to someone, and at the end of the day, showing the scenes to Harriet, we all liked them, but they didn't fit in the book. Harriet felt that they were too distracting, because of the new, sort of...new things I was adding, the things I was fleshing out. This is something that sometimes you want to avoid in storytelling, where you're near the end of the climax, introducing new concepts to kind of distract and derail.
She felt that these scenes were doing that, and so after some discussion, we decided that they should be cut. And I always kind of felt sad, because while I agree that they were distracting, I really felt that they were strong and that they added a lot to the character, and give a lot of extra motivation—a lot of extra poignancy to some of the things going on in A Memory of Light—and so I began to think maybe this would be the place for them. I approached Harriet, and she said she thought that was a good idea.
So what we'll be doing, it's a story called "River of Souls" but it's actually a sequence of deleted scenes. They are a complete arc for a certain character; they are meant to be read companionly to A Memory of Light. It's not going to make a whole lot of sense if you haven't read at least the rest of the Wheel of Time, but I find them very exciting; I think you'll really like them, and I think this is a good place for them because they won't be distracting from the rest of the story.
So, "River of Souls" is going to be part of the Unfettered anthology which has lots of wonderful other people in it—in fact I'm honored to have a story in there, to be alongside some of the names that are in this anthology—and I really wish Shawn the best. He's been a wonderful help to me in my career, and to a lot of the writers out there, so I hope you guys enjoy reading Unfettered, and look forward to reading "River of Souls", and once A Memory of Light is out, I'll be able to talk a little bit more about this character, why these scenes were important, and what's going on there.
Peter added a clarification to this on Dragonmount.
It was actually Harriet's suggestion that this go in the anthology. When we talked to her about Unfettered around the time of JordanCon, we asked her about including a completely different and much shorter deleted scene. She said no to that but suggested this sequence instead.
Shawn Speakman has put together a great anthology coming out in early 2013 that features a bunch of big names in the fantasy field (including Terry Brooks, Pat Rothfuss, Tad Williams, and others). He asked the authors to record videos to promote it, so here's my video explaining my contribution.
If you're interested, you can preorder Unfettered here. It will also be available for Kindle and Nook once the book is released.
I've been getting questions about "Unfettered," an anthology next year with a Wheel of Time story in it. Blog post next week, but...
The "story" is actually a deleted sequence from A Memory of Light we cut for pacing reasons. We donated it to Shawn to help pay his medical bills.
As I said, I will blog this soon. It is from the viewpoint of someone you know, but not one of the main characters.
Could you let us know where the "story" would have gone in the book once its released so we can read it in order?
A deleted sequence from A Memory of Light called "River of Souls" will appear in the anthology Unfettered (early 2013). http://youtu.be/UtHQbOMiD-k
Ha. Okay, Teaser: "River of Souls" was a direct result of me trying to do be better at something RJ did well & I did poorly.
Problem is, I overdid it, and the story veered far too "Brandon-ish" as a result, which was why we cut it.
Fortunately, by having done "River of Souls", the added depth behind-the-scenes helped fix the very issue I was worried about.
Oh, excellent question. I should have put this during the frequently asked ones at the beginning. Are there any more plans to do anything else with the Wheel of Time universe?
No, there are not. The encyclopedia was put under contract in my husband's lifetime. He did enter into a contract for a trilogy of novels that are not part of the series but set in the world. He left either one or two sentences about that trilogy, which is not enough for anyone to work with so that it would very much still be his. He also said that—in the trade, it's called sharecropping in somebody's universe—and he said if anybody tries to sharecrop in my universe, I'll take out the hard disk, and I'll rent a semi—or a big rig, you might say, since his name was Rigney—and I will drive it backwards and forwards over the hard drive three or four times to be sure that no one will be able to do it. He really didn't want it done. And since he made it clear in his last months and weeks that he really did want the series finished, you have the end of the series, but there won't be any more done in the Wheel of Time world. [applause]
Along those lines, though, I will mention—people ask a lot—the film rights are held by Universal Pictures, and they're working toward feature films, one film per book. We don't know how far along they are. They have a second draft of a screenplay, which I have not seen. They're on a second draft.
And I haven't either.
Yeah, and Harriet hasn't either. There is one other little tidbit—there's an anthology coming out called Unfettered. It's a charity anthology for a member of our community, in the science fiction and fantasy community, who had huge medical bills. And in order to help pay those off, we donated a deleted sequence from A Memory of Light. It's something that was written, but we decided for pacing reasons did not fit in the book. And so we donated that to Unfettered and so you can read that to see something behind the scenes. I will admit it's much more me than Robert Jordan, but it is something that we cut from A Memory of Light, just it didn't fit, pacing-wise, in the book.
Is there anyone Brandon wanted to include in A Memory of Light but didn't get to?
No, he was able to get to everyone. There were two major sequences cut from the book. One of these will appear in the charity anthology Unfettered. The other character POV just didn't work.
Along with that, Harriet spoke briefly about how impressed she was with Bao the Wyld, aka Demandred, that he was this stunning juggernaut of hatred and destruction, but also that he spent the time creating a life and position for himself among the Sharans. It seems that he went there almost immediately after "waking" from the Bore, and that much of the activities he went through are in parallel with Rand's actions on the main segment of the continent, and that journey of Demandred's is what will be published in the Unfettered volume.
Brandon specified that although it is Wheel of Time material, it cannot be considered 100% canon, because it was cut early enough that it did not get subjected to Maria's detailed continuity validation.
Now, are Graendal's actions in Shara mentioned at all in "River of Souls"?
I don't think we talk about them.
I was just curious as to how that interacted... (crosstalk)
I mean, I considered...Yeah, it certainly helped with what he was doing.
But I mean...yeah. It's...
Because she totally didn't know he was there, so....
Yeah. It certainly helped, and if I had been able to go back, and do—which I wouldn't have done—but if, you can imagine, there's a very cool interaction there, where he's there, and she's doing stuff, and he's taking advantage of it, but she's not seeing him and things like that. Like, the whole Demandred In Shara thing is awesome, because there's like twelve books worth of coolness of him being the hero...
Because all this stuff is in the notes, right?
What's that? Oh, some of it is, not all of it.
Oh, well yeah, because I know you said you had to kind of....you know, extrapolate a little bit...
I had to extrapolate a lot of the Sharan culture and things, which is where "River of Souls" came from. At the end of the day, because I was extrapolating these things, that's what made them distracting from the main plotline, if that makes sense.
And so, a lot of what I was doing was like, it you know...all of Demandred's flunkies. Jim didn't name those; they're not in the notes...but I put them in because, you know, we have to evoke this entire two years of awesomeness....
Yeah, it can't just come out of nowhere, and be nothing.
Yeah, so there's that. But yeah, it was too much me, also.
My YA fantasy The Rithmatist is coming out in two weeks (three weeks in the UK). Tor is doing a Goodreads giveaway of 15 copies of the final book. You can sign up hereâ€”but only if you're in the US. For those of you outside the US, I apologize—hopefully there will be something you can participate in soon. And if you missed the announcement of my book tour, you can find the list of tour cities here.
Included on the tour is Phoenix Comicon, and I will bring my convention-exclusive "Firstborn"/"Defending Elysium" hardcover to the con. Also attending will be Shawn Speakman, whose anthology Unfettered will include the story "River of Souls", a deleted sequence from A Memory of Light. Unfettered doesn't come out until June, but there is a four-story preview (including "River of Souls") that will be available at Phoenix Comicon.
Shawn is also auctioning off several signed books, including a signed limited edition of Legion, to benefit Duane Wilkins of the University Book Store in Seattle. Duane is a very cool guy who has supported my career from the very beginning.
The ebook for Unfettered, which contains the A Memory of Light deleted sequence "River of Souls," has now been released. Details below.
Tor.com's reread of The Way of Kings reached chapters 16 and 17, the first flashback with Laral and Tien, and Kaladin leading Bridge Four from the front. Also, Writing Excuses' latest podcast episode features us talking about middle grade fiction with E.J. Patten, author of Return to Exile and The Legend Thief.
If you haven't heard about Unfettered before, here's a bit of an introduction. When I was on tour probably for The Alloy of Law, Shawn Speakman (webmaster for Terry Brooks and Naomi Novik, and who also runs the booksigning service The Signed Page), approached me about an anthology he was putting together (at the suggestion of Terry Brooks) to help defray Shawn's medical bills stemming from his 2011 diagnosis with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Shawn has been a friend and supporter to the careers of a lot of writers, so I was interested in helping out. The question was what to contribute to the anthology. The title Shawn gave it was Unfettered, because he didn't want to put any restrictions on whatever the authors wanted to contribute.
When I was writing A Memory of Light, there was a sequence of viewpoints I was working on that were somewhat more daring than some other viewpoints I had done. The character I'm talking about is known as Bao in the book, and if you've read it you'll know who that is. I wanted to try to give some deeper backstory to Bao, but after I showed the scenes to Harriet, though we all liked them, we decided they they didn't fit in the book. Harriet felt that these scenes were distracting and derailing the narrative too close to what was to be the climax of the entire series, because of the new elements I was adding and fleshing out. So after some discussion, we decided that they should be cut.
Though I saw the need for this, the fact that this was necessary left me feeling kind of sad. I felt the scenes were strong and added a lot to the character, giving a lot of extra motivation and poignancy to some of the things going on in A Memory of Light. So when the opportunity for Shawn's anthology came along, I began to think this would be the place for them. I approached Harriet, and she said that was a good idea.
The result is "River of Souls", labeled as a Wheel of Time tale by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Since it's actually a sequence of deleted scenes, it's meant to be read as a companion to your read of A Memory of Light. It's not going to make a whole lot of sense if you haven't read at least the rest of the Wheel of Time, but it's a complete arc and I find it very exciting. I think you'll really like it, and I think this anthology is a good place for these scenes because they won't be distracting from the rest of the story.
Unfettered also has stories from lots of other wonderful writers in it. I'm honored to have a story in there, to be alongside the names that appear in this anthology. It's great to see so many people pulling together to support someone in the community, and I wish Shawn the best.
The anthology is available now in ebook form, and as a hardcover direct from Shawn's Grim Oak Press website. He'll be shipping books out over the next three weeks (he has a very small operation and it will take him time to get through so many orders). Also note that the long-sold-out special edition signed by every single author will take even more time to deliver. The signing pages are currently being shipped around the country from author to author for all of us to sign, and that will take a while. Once all of those are back with Shawn, the pages will be bound into the books, which will then be delivered.
Here is the complete list of stories appearing in Unfettered:
Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks (a precursor to the Word/Void trilogy)
How Old Holly Came To Be by Patrick Rothfuss (a Four Corners tale)
River of Souls by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson (a Wheel of Time tale)
The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams
Game of Chance by Carrie Vaughn
Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey (a precursor to the Kushiel series)
Dogs by Daniel Abraham
Mudboy by Peter V. Brett (a Demon Cycle tale)
The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian (a Vault of Heaven tale)
The Coach With Big Teeth by R.A. Salvatore
Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood (a Summer Dragon tale)
Heaven in a Wild Flower by Blake Charlton
The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne (an Iron Druid tale)
Select Mode by Mark Lawrence (a Broken Empire tale)
All the Girls Love Michael Stein by David Anthony Durham
Strange Rain by Jennifer Bosworth (a Struck epilogue tale)
Nocturne by Robert V. S. Redick
Unbowed by Eldon Thompson (a Legend of Asahiel tale)
In Favour With Their Stars by Naomi Novik (a Temeraire tale)
The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan (a Riyria Chronicles tale)
The Duel by Lev Grossman (a Magicians tale)
Walker and the Shade of Allanon by Terry Brooks (a Shannara tale)
The Unfettered Knight by Shawn Speakman (an Annwn Cycle tale)
If you missed it, here's the video where I explain my part in this anthology.
When I launched into this book, I'd just finished Towers of Midnight and was in a very "Perrin is awesome" mood. I wanted to keep writing Perrin, so I did his sequence for the book first. It worked, to an extent. I love the Perrin parts of this book. However, by the end—and after finishing the other viewpoints—we found that the book had way too much Perrin in it. Cutting the sequence where Perrin travels through the Ways to try to close the Caemlyn Waygate from behind was one method of balancing this out. The sequence was also cut because Harriet felt I'd gone too far in the direction of returning to previous themes in the series, bringing back something better left alone so we could focus on the Last Battle. (In addition, Maria thought my descriptions of the Ways just didn't fit the story.)
This was a 17,000-word sequence (and it ended with the Ogier rescuing Perrin and his company from the Black Wind, driving it off with their song). I love the sequence, but unlike the sequence with Bao (the deleted scenes named "River of Souls" and included in the Unfettered anthology) it is not canon. It couldn't happen for a multitude of reasons, and got trimmed.
Otherwise, Perrin ended up as I wanted him. A lot of people were surprised that I knocked him out of the fighting for a big chunk of the Last Battle, but I felt it appropriate. The fighting armies were Mat's show, and Perrin's focus for the fighting was to join Rand and protect him in the Wolf Dream. There was so much else going on, I decided to bench him for a chunk of the warfare—and I'm pleased with the result. It brought real impact to the Slayer fight, where Perrin was left wounded.
Without delving too much into specifics, because I'm not sure exactly what's going to end up in the encyclopedia and what's going to end up in the notes, and things like this. Without going too much into specifics, for the Last Battle itself a lot of what Robert Jordan left me are concepts: concepts on this is how I want this to feel, the big crux of the Last Battle comes down to this question, this is where someone's crowning moment is—these sorts of emotions. It was like he was laying down the emotional beats, and the actual how to put it together—a lot of that was left in my hands. He did have some brainstorms on that, but some of those brainstorms were from years ago, before he wrote... For instance, I've mentioned before that there is a brainstorm we have on "here's how Rand is going to do it"—here's a brainstorm that Robert Jordan had left. But he'd written this brainstorm around book 7 or 6 or something, and it involved the Choedan Kal—both of them. And we're like, well he obviously threw that out the window and decided not to go with that. But some of these brainstorms that he'd had, we can say, oh this is the emotional resonance he's going for. Looking at the idea between we want to have the different powers work together, to work in this way from his brainstorm, even though we can't do it in the way that he was thinking of doing it ten years ago, we can still see the sort of thing that he was going for.
And the scene that Terez mentioned at the end mentions Rand's big revelation that needed to happen so that the last moments could occur—he's reflecting on that when he comes out. And so we knew this emotional resonance that Robert Jordan wanted. And we had all these sort of other things where he talks about just the feel he wants and things like this. And so a lot of the specifics—how to put these things together—were things that I pitched to Team Jordan to fit the framework of the notes, and then we tried out and saw if they worked. Which is kinda how you do writing, at least if you're an outliner like me. I pitch ideas at myself, I build an outline out of it, and I try it out and see if it works. And what ended up in the book are the things that did work. What didn't end up in the book are the things that didn't work. For instance, "River of Souls", which was in the (Unfettered) anthology, is one of the things I mentioned—that's the sort of thing that we tried that doesn't work. And the reason a lot of times that these things are being cut is because we are striving for that balance between "let's push the story in new and innovative ways" between "let's make sure we're not straying too far from Robert Jordan's vision". And something like "River of Souls" strayed too far, and also kind of was distracting from the main point of the book—there were two big reasons to cut that sequence. But you see us doing things like that, and so the ones we end up with... A lot of these things about the actual Last Battle are me looking to put together what I feel creates the emotional resonance and the plot structure that Robert Jordan wanted for this ending.
I've said before that the main bulk of the writing we had for this last book involved three main areas: the Epilogue, the scene at the Field of Merrilor where Moiraine shows up and things like this, and the scene at the beginning in the Town, the village in the Waste—what does he call it? Does he call it the Town? The Town is what he calls it. Yeah. And those are three places where we have kind of unchanged Robert Jordan writing. Granted, all through the books, each of the books, you'll find sprinklings where I'm able to use a paragraph or two, or a page, or something from his notes that spawns a chapter, but that's where we have untouched Robert Jordan writing in this last book—I think those are the three main places.