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Your search for the tag 'vietnam' yielded 44 results

  • 1

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    How does your knowledge of physics influence your idea of channeling and the Talents involved in the books, such as Traveling, Skimming, etc? Do you have other hobbies or talents that influence your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    My knowledge of physics influenced channeling to the extent that I have attempted to treat channeling as if it were a form of science and engineering rather than magic. You might say that the Laws of Thermodynamics apply in altered form. I expect that my reading in history has influenced the books more than my knowledge of physics or engineering. I have not tried to copy any actual historical culture or period, but a knowledge of the way things actually were done at various times has helped shape my vision of the world of The Wheel, as has the study of cultures meeting that are strange to one another, and cultures undergoing change, willingly or, as is more often the case, unwillingly. I used to spend summers working on my grandfather’s farm, a very old-fashioned set-up even then, so I have some feel for country life, and I like to hunt and fish, and spent a good part of my growing up in the woods or on the water, so I have a fair feel for the outdoors and the forests, which also helps. And of course, I can use a little of my Vietnam experience. Not for setting out the actual battles, but because I know firsthand the confusion of battle and what it is like to try to maintain some semblance or order while all around you random events are pushing everything toward chaos.

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  • 2

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Jordan knows something of Southeast Asia; he served two tours of duty in Vietnam from 1968-70, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Bronze Star as a helicopter crewman. He still hopes to one day write a book based on his experiences.

    Robert Jordan

    "But the difficulty of approaching a book on Vietnam may prevent me from doing it. There are an awful lot of people who haven't come to grips with the war, what it did to them, how it changed them."

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  • 3

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Whether his war experiences have influenced his fantasy writing, or more, been translated directly into fiction, is difficult for Jordan to say.

    Robert Jordan

    "I do think the military characters in my fantasy novels are more realistic in terms of how soldiers really are, how they feel about combat, about being soldiers, about civilians. Beyond that, my time in Vietnam certainly has affected a certain moral vision. Not just based on what happened to me, but on the abandonment of a people who had put everything on the line for us. It started me off on a quest for morality, both in religious and philosophical reading, and in my writing. Again one of the central themes in 'The Wheel of Time' is the struggle between the forces of good and evil. How far can one go in fighting evil before becoming like evil itself? Or do you maintain your purity at the cost of evil's victory? I'm fond of saying that if the answer is too easy, you've probably asked the wrong question."

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  • 4

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Erica Sadun

    Erica asked Jordan about Shannon Faulkner, the female attempting to get into The Citadel.

    Robert Jordan

    Jordan immediately said "She's a liar," and explained how she misrepresented herself on her application. The Citadel has an honor code that views lying as a very serious offense. He thinks the military is one role where men are physically more able to do the job, and if one can't meet the same requirements then they shouldn't be accepted. He frowned on the practice of West Point no longer having women march in combat boots. He mentioned that in Vietnam he had to run for twenty-some miles, and if he hadn't been able to make it he wouldn't be here today. He says in some fields though women would naturally replace men if tradition didn't keep men involved, such as law.

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  • 5

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Girl at Citadel: "She is a liar. She and the guidance counselor deliberately whited out all references to her gender." (Followed by about 10 minutes of impassioned talk about how running in combat boots saved his life in Vietnam—fascinating, touching and irreproducible.)

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  • 6

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1994

    Fast Forward

    One of the things I found particularly affecting in this latest book—I enjoy the major characters, I've followed the major characters through six volumes. But there are certain scenes that really strike me as being very real and very personal. For example, in the middle of the book, Mat—who has been sent on a particular mission by Rand—meets a young boy named Olver?

    Robert Jordan

    Uh-Huh.

    Fast Forward

    And their meeting, where as Mat is talking to him, Olver is showing him his possessions: his little cache of coins, the game his father has made for him, and his red hawk's feather and his turtle shell.

    Robert Jordan

    Um-Hum.

    Fast Forward

    That was a very personal moment, that was a very real, very human moment.

    Robert Jordan

    I try to make it so.

    Fast Forward

    Which you don't see a lot in some fantasy. That one, and Rand's looking into the face of one of the maidens after she has died protecting him from an attack. Memorizing her face and name because he has vowed to memorize the face and name of all the maidens who had sworn to give their lives to protect him. Let's talk about that scene in particular, I'm curious about it. You had two tours in Vietnam, you've had military experience, you're a graduate of The Citadel. Does something like that particularly come out of the people you've met in the military and the kinds of personalities you met in the military, do you draw any of that kind of thing from that?

    Robert Jordan

    Some of it. I suppose, actually, that particular thing came from the only time I was really shaken in combat in shooting at somebody, or shooting AT somebody. I had to, uh, I was shooting back at some people on a sampan and a woman came out and pulled up an AK-47, and I didn't hesitate about shooting her. But that stuck with me. I was raised in a very old-fashioned sort of way. You don't hurt women—you don't DO that. That's the one thing that stuck with me for a long, long time.

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  • 7

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 1995

    Interviewer

    Jordan's books have been called a combination of Robin Hood and Stephen King. He manages to create characters that seem real, perhaps because he uses many of his own personal experiences in the telling of these epic stories. Do you ever use your experiences in Vietnam in your stories?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, indirectly. I know what it's like to have somebody trying to kill you. I know what it's like to try to kill somebody. And I know what it's like to actually kill somebody. These things I think help with writing about people being in danger, [or] especially if it's in danger of violence ... which happens occasionally in my books.

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  • 8

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    In your background, you attended The Citadel. And you're a military man, you served in Vietnam. Did that kind of help you with this head for intrigue and the Machiavellian interactions that we have in this book?

    Robert Jordan

    Actually, all that really helped me with is that I know what it's like to have somebody trying to kill you. I know what it's like to have a lot of people trying to kill you. And I also know what's it like to kill somebody. These things come through, so I've been told by people who are veterans of whether Vietnam, or of Korea, or combat anywhere—Desert Storm; I had a lot of fan letters from guys who were there.

    As far as the Machiavellian part, as I said I grew up in a family of Byzantine complexity, in a city where there has always been a great deal of Byzantine plotting. The court of Byzantium never had anything on Charleston for either plotting or blood feuds. It came as mother's milk to me.

    Dave Slusher

    Do you think that these books, such as they are, could only have been written by a southerner, and someone with a head for that?

    Robert Jordan

    These particular books could have only been written by a southerner because I write in a somewhat southern voice. My major influence as a writer, I think, is Mark Twain. And, there's no denying the southern voice of the books. If someone from another part of the country had written them, they would sound entirely different.

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  • 9

    Interview: Oct 12th, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    Vietnam/Rand's "No Kill Woman" Thing

    RJ vividly described an experience he had in Vietnam where he killed a female Viet Cong. He said he simply spotted a figure holding a weapon and fired on it, then "acquired the next target." He then realized that he had killed a woman—the first (and I believe only) time he's done that. This provides an obvious basis for Rand's "Achilles' Heel." (I thought he should have offed both the Tower Aes Sedai in the beginning of A Crown of Swords and Lanfear earlier, but I'm rude like that.)

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  • 10

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Waldenbooks

    As a man who served tours of duty in Vietnam, how does your epic reflect your own personal experiences with war, and how difficult is this for you to write about?

    Robert Jordan

    It really doesn't reflect any of my own experiences, except that I know what it is like to have someone wanting to kill you. I don't try to write about Vietnam; I thought I would, once, but now, I don't believe I could make myself. But I know the confusion, uncertainty and out-right ignorance of anything you can't see that exists once the fighting starts; I don't think war will ever become sufficiently high-tech to completely dispel "the fog of war." So I can put these sensations into my writing.

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  • 11

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Sense of Wonder

    Speaking of coming from a different time and place, it has often been said that your military experience leaves a clear mark on your work. It's a matter of record that you served two tours of duty in Vietnam and your decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with "V," and two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry. How would you say your military experience is reflected in your Wheel of Time series?

    Robert Jordan

    My writing doesn't really reflect any of my own personal war experiences, except that I know how it feels to have someone trying to kill you. I don't try to write about Vietnam; I thought I would, once, but now, I don't think I'd be able to. However, I know the feeling of confusion, doubt, and plain ignorance of anything you can't see that exists once fighting starts. I don't think war will ever become so technologically advanced as to completely dispel "the fog of war," so I put those feelings into my writing.

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  • 12

    Interview: Aug 27th, 1999

    Mark Erikson

    Other than that, we just chatted about his life.

    Robert Jordan

    I asked him about the Vietnam War, and found out that he was a cold blooded killer in his youth, and he smoked a lot of pot. He even said that during that time he had someone trying to kill him, personally, and I got the distinct impression that it was someone on his own side. He said his nickname was 'The Iceman'.

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  • 13

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    I've never used my real name on a book. In the late '70s, I used to think I would write a novel about Vietnam, and put my name on that. I had decided I would put a different name on different types of books, different genres, simply to avoid confusion. People would know clearly, this is a fantasy novel, this is a science fiction novel, this is a western, this is a historical novel, and I would put my real name on any contemporary fiction I write. Well, I've never written any contemporary fiction, as it turns out. If I wrote that Vietnam novel now, it would be a historical novel, and I'm not sure anybody's really interested anymore. Vietnam is a long time in the past, almost 30 years ago,' and it struck me that 30 years after my father came home from the South Pacific, not only had men walked on the moon, but the manned space program was already dying. That's a long time! It gives you a little perspective.

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  • 14

    Interview: Dec 9th, 2002

    Question

    You have been awarded with the Bronze Star and other awards in Vietnam. Would you care to tell us how one or all of those awards came about?

    Robert Jordan

    (*sigh*) Everyone knows about one way of winning a medal. That is, to see something which needs to be done and to consciously do it at the risk of your life. I never did this. Relatively few people do, which is why we mark out those who do as heroes.

    But at other times, you can realize that you are going to die in a very few minutes, except that if you do something incredibly stupid, you might just have a small chance of living. And against all reason, it works. Or you take a step without thinking, and then it's too late to turn back, maybe because turning back is just as dangerous as going on, or even more dangerous, or maybe because you know that you will have to look in the shaving mirror, and that every time you do, you will remember that you turned back. So you keep going. Or perhaps it's because you are with your friends, and you have to back their play, even if it's crazy, because they're your friends, because they've backed your play, even when it was crazy.

    I was with a group of men who had a certain air about them, and if you didn't have it when you joined them, you soon absorbed it. A plaque in our day room read: Anybody can dance with the Devil's daughter, but we tell her old man to his face. At a time like that, in a place like that, you're all young and crazy, and if you've been there long enough, you know you're going to die. Not from old age; next month, next week, tomorrow. Now, maybe. It's going to happen, so what does it matter? In the end, for most of us, the medals boiled down to managing not to die. If you're alive when the higher-ups think you should be dead, it discombobulates their brains, so they hang a bit of something on you to balance things in their own heads. That's how it happened for me. That is why I am not I repeat, not! a hero. I just managed to stay alive. And I even managed to get sane again. Reasonably sane, anyway.

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  • 15

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    There are a lot of battles, wars, and great conflicts in your books. Did your military experiences influence that part of your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    To some extent, but mainly the thing that comes out of my experiences in the military is that I know what it's like when someone is trying to kill you. And I know that being in a battle is confusion. You know what you can see; you don't know what is happening beyond your sight. That's what comes from the military. To tell you the truth, the battles aren't nearly as interesting as the people. I like the interactions of the people—the character development, the way people play off one another.

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  • 16

    Interview: Jan 16th, 2003

    Robert Jordan

    He served all over Vietnam. When asked, he rattled off about 15 or 20 different places. The only ones I caught were the delta and the rubber plantation. He was a gunner. He said he wanted to be a point, but his eyesight wasn't good enough.

    He was in the Army, and he talked about how the Air Force is full of slackers. He went to an Air Force base once and he was driving a car that had Admiral's stars on it (his dad's?) When he pulled up to the guard at the base entrance, the guy was about to give him a typical lazy Air Force salute, then saw the stars on the bumper of the car, and levitated a couple of feet off the ground. He asked the guard where the hospital was and got directions. When he got to the hospital, people were running in all directions, doctors were hyperventilating, running around holding paper bags over their mouths, and the place was chaos, all because there was a two-star on the base, and nobody knew who he was because the idiot at the gate didn't think to ask.

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  • 17

    Interview: Jan 22nd, 2003

    USA Today Article (Verbatim)

    Robert Jordan

    The South Carolina native dropped out of Clemson University after one year. ("I didn't know how to study.") He served two tours in Vietnam. Afterward, he attended The Citadel, becoming a nuclear engineer. A fall from a sub at the Charleston Naval Shipyard left him hospitalized for a month. His knee was rebuilt, and he suffered a near-fatal blood clot.

    The avid reader decided it was time to try writing. "Life was too short," he says. He decided to quit his job after a bookstore manager pal told him that a famous bodice-ripper romance writer made $3 million on two books. Jordan decided to pump purple prose. But there was a problem. "I couldn't quiver," he says.

    He met Harriet, a Manhattan editor who had moved home to Charleston. She told him he could write but to bag the bodice-rippers, suggesting instead he write historical novels. He published several under the name Reagan O'Neal.

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  • 18

    Interview: Jan 21st, 2003

    SFRevu Interview (Verbatim)

    Ernest Lilley

    You served in Vietnam, and I was wondering how you felt about it?

    Robert Jordan

    I'd say, ambivalent. I wouldn't say, I was glad that I went...but it was something I could not have done otherwise without being someone other than I was.

    Ernest Lilley

    Where were you stationed and what did you do?

    Robert Jordan

    I was a gunner in Hueys. I was in Saigon in the beginning, and then out of Bien Hoa, and we flew everywhere. Zone C, The [Phu Rieng] Rubber Plantation, down to Cu Chi in the delta, over to Nui Ba Dinh, Black Virgin Mountain, and we were flying into Cambodia long before the "Parrot's Beak". (misspellings are mine, feel free to correct me - Ern)

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  • 19

    Interview: Jan 21st, 2003

    SFRevu Interview (Verbatim)

    Ernest Lilley

    Here we are on the eve of another war, do you have any feelings about this one?

    Robert Jordan

    I wish we didn't have to do it, but I think it's the best chance we have for making some sort of turnaround in the Arab world. That means forcing a settlement to the Palestinian question. Iraq, before Saddam took over was the most secular and educated nation, and it is the one that has the best chance, despite the difficulties, of moving into something we would recognize as democracy.

    If that could be done, it might mitigate, to a great extent, a lot of the street hatred of the west. It really is hatred. We let women think, we let them drive cars, we let them get jobs...we tolerate Jews...we do all of these things that are nasty...and we are nasty ourselves. There's a great deal of hatred that stems from something that we in the US haven't seen since the Civil War, and possibly not even then. It's something that the Western World really hasn't seen in the last three of four hundred years.

    It's a hate of the other, because they are the other...and not like me, therefore we will kill them.

    Ernest Lilley

    Where does the hate come from?

    Robert Jordan

    A lot of it comes from awareness. Satellite television has made a lot of places in the world aware of Europe and the US, that thirty or forty years ago were barely aware of us.

    Ernest Lilley

    And we undermine their authority.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, by merely being here we threaten them. An expert was asked after 9/11 what we could do to wipe out these people's hatred of us...and he paused a moment and then answered, "We could move off the planet."

    It's something we need to be concerned about. You may say, why do we care if a third world nation has a few A-Bombs, but you know, the Soviet Union was a third world nation. Once the wall came down, we realized we were looking at a Third World Nation...that had held the world in the Cold War for all that time simply because they had nuclear weapons.

    I don't even want to think about a world in which North Korea and Saddam Hussein have nuclear weapons. Both of those governments have people which would be quite willing to use these things.

    Ernest Lilley

    And yet, we often are ugly Americans. Our biggest ambassador to the world is "Baywatch".

    Robert Jordan

    Well, yes, but our TV has been moved to the wee small hours. Movies are still popular, but the people aren't watching it...unlike a government edict...they just seem to want to watch something else.

    Ernest Lilley

    Possibly cheap video technology has allowed them to make their own content.

    Robert Jordan

    Possibly.

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  • 20

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    Hellertown, PA

    I was in Iraq in '91 when I received a copy of The Eye Of The World. It was a spectacular read in the desert—wonderful fun reading. You went to The Citadel. Why did you choose that school?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I went to The Citadel as a veteran student. And I was, frankly, going somewhere else, but Col. Bunch at The Citadel kept calling me after I came back the last time from 'Nam, and I went to talk to him, and he told me about the veterans' program there. And I knew they had a good reputation in engineering and the sciences, so I ended up going. I sometimes had the suspicion I might play football for them, but I was beyond that by that time.

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  • 21

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    Storrs, Connecticut

    Did you get the name Robert Jordan from the novel For Whom The Bell Tolls? If so, Why?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I got the name Robert Jordan from making lists of names using my real initials and taking one name from one list and one from the other list. I took a pen name because I wanted to keep the sorts of books I wrote separate, and I wanted to write a novel about my experiences in Vietnam and I was going to put my real name on that.

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  • 22

    Interview: Jul 22nd, 2004

    Robert Jordan

    During the course of the meal, we eventually got on the topic of his time in Vietnam. What he revealed to us was deeply personal, disturbing, and moving. Although I will not comment on the specifics (it's his story to tell, not mine), I can say that it was the first time ever that I truly saw and felt the very essence of his books before me. In the days to come Melissa and Brad and I would talk about how it was during these stories that we saw Perrin, and Mat, and Rand in his eyes. We understood where their sad reluctance for war comes from. Their sense of duty.

    A few years ago, Robert Jordan talked about some of these same topics in an interview that he did with Dragonmount and Wotmania. Go here to read it. The part about Vietnam is about halfway down. It's one thing to read it and a whole other thing to hear him tell it. I think war in general is like that. I wouldn't know, because I have never served time in the military. But I have the deepest respect for those who do.

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  • 23

    Interview: 2005

    Experiences as a soldier

    Robert Jordan

    I'm not certain that my background in the military has informed my writing at all really. My experiences in Vietnam certainly did, because anything that you live through really has some effect on who you are and how you write. I know what being in a battle is like. I know what it is like to have somebody trying to kill me personally. I know what it's like to kill somebody. And I know what it's like to believe that you are going to die in the next two minutes. These things are very useful when you're writing high fantasy. Your characters know what it is like to experience these things; you can put that into those characters.

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  • 24

    Interview: Oct 13th, 2005

    Allen Bryan

    Introducer gave a five-minute laudatory speech, empathizing with the long suffering of the fans and making reference to Hemingway's character and the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia as other famous Robert Jordans.

    Robert Jordan

    RJ himself thanked him ("the check is in the mail") and stated that the name was generated so that he could have different names in different genres. All the names were generated from his initials; his real name is reserved for contemporary fiction, originally for a novel on Vietnam that he will now never write. (Everything that needed to be said about Vietnam has now been said many times, he said.)

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  • 25

    Interview: Nov 22nd, 2005

    Question

    Have your experiences in Vietnam helped to give a psychological depth to the Wheel of Time series?

    Robert Jordan

    I think they must have. I've certainly used some things from Vietnam. I know what it is like to have someone trying to kill me. Me in particular. Not some random guy. Me. I know what it is like to kill someone. I know how the first time feels, and how that is different from the fifth, or the tenth. These things certainly went into the characters I've written. That wasn't deliberate. Who you are is constructed in large part from what you have experienced and how you reacted to those experiences. Whatever you write is filtered through who you are. So the influence has to be there.

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  • 26

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    Now, somebody says that I said I am conversational in Spanish and French and can read German. I didn't say exactly that since it isn't exactly true. I used to be able to get along fairly well in Spanish and French, and when I spend a week or ten days in France my French starts coming back. I think the same might happen if I spent some time where Spanish is spoken. Long, long ago I could read German after a fashion, but I was intent on being able to read papers in physics and mathematics, so I could barely slog my way through a German menu, something I wouldn't want to even attempt now. I know very little Russian, mainly obscenities and curses. Purely soldier's Russian, you might say. Frankly, I was more fluent in Vietnamese than in Russian, and my Vietnamese was never more than enough to get by.

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  • 27

    Interview: Aug 15th, 2006

    Wilson Grooms

    All:

    The dynamic duo has returned from the Mayo with mostly good, but certainly mixed results. Amyloidal deposits are measured as monoclonal free light chain fragments. There are "good and bad" light chains. The good news is that the ratio of good to bad has definitely improved. The mixed news is that both numbers were up. We are ecstatic that the news is positive, but would have liked the offending Lambda light chains to have stayed level or decreased in number. Overall though guys, this is very good news.

    The computer has been relocated from the office to the house and RJ was working, some. Not right now though guys. In preparation for the trip, the docs pulled him off of Lasix, a diuretic, which resulted in a gain of almost 12 pounds in three days. At the Mayo, he went back on the Lasix and dropped 5 pounds in 2 days. Then the Lasix was stopped for the trip back home and a gain of 7 pounds was achieved. Through it all, RJ figures he has about 20 to 25 pounds of excess water on him at the moment. The extra weight was causing the difficulty in sleeping he described to you before. Result: the docs have him back on the Lasix to get rid of the water weight and have enforced strict rest. Sorry, no writing, not even on the blog at the moment. He is reading your posts however.

    He hit me with something on the phone today that I never knew about. Like many soldiers, he had a nickname while serving in Vietnam. RJ overheard a group discussing something and one said they should ask Ganesh what to do. He walked into the discussion and asked who this Ganesh was. "You.", they told him. You see, RJ was considered a good luck charm by those he served with. He and the crews he served with always made it back. It got to where pilots would ask for him by name for their crew. Ganesh is the Hindu Lord of Good Fortune. RJ referred to Ganesh as the Remover of Obstacles. To this day, he has no idea who gave him the name. I still consider him my good luck charm. Heck, he brought Harriet into my life. A man can't get any luckier than that. Truth be known, both of us married above our station. Bitter truth guys, we all do.

    To Sue fighting the same menace, prayers go both ways. Stay the course.

    To Johannes in Sweden, when RJ recovers and revisits your beautiful country, hopefully you'll get the chance to chat with him about both his worlds.

    To Jennifer Sedai, Harriet is all you said and more. Elegant, intelligent, a worker not a watcher, interesting and interested, a friend to all, a hell of a cook, a gardener extraordinaire, unpretentious, the defender and provider of those in need, tough, tender and above all, REAL. My life is better for having her in it. Know I'm not speaking out of turn, RJ's is too.

    To all of you who've asked me to pass on your love to them both, done and will continue. Please don't stop. Long live the Dragon and his Queen!

    Wilson
    Brother-Cousin, 4th of 3

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  • 28

    Interview: Nov 8th, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I've been offline for a while, but I thought you had the news pretty well from Wilson, plus I needed to rest up, frankly, having had a stretch of in the hospital, then out of the hospital, in and then out, in again, and this time out on a Saturday so I could get on a plane on Sunday, have my tests done at the Mayo on Monday, talk with the doctors on Tuesday, then drive to Minneapolis to speak at Mike Ford's Memorial service. Frankly, I got home in some ways stronger than when I left, but in others, well, I was ready to lie down and sleep as long as I could get by without having an ice cube slid down my back. I really needed some rest, in my own bed not a hospital or hotel bed. And every time I've thought about posting here the last week or so, I just couldn't find the energy to do more the most cursory sort of entry, likely dull-witted with weariness at that, and I thought you deserved more than that.

    You might find a small interest that I codified a list of things to be done once I have regained (1) over-all strength, (2) hand-eye coordination, and (3) some degree of balance. I am convinced that I will recover these things—the strength seems the easiest—and have even agreed, after some urging from Harriet, to submit my hands and feet to acupuncture! Go figure. Me, the Great Skeptic! Well, she's a cousin of sorts, through marriage—it can get complicated in Charleston—and she is fully qualified and all of that.

    Anyway, the list.

    1) Purchase Harley. I already have this picked out, as I think I've told you, and though Harriet SAYS she won't mind riding postillion, I'm figuring a sidecar is my future, too. That's okay. But not quite as soon as I hoped. It won't be under the Christmas tree this year. Maybe next.

    2) Sky diving qualification. I'm not talking buddy-jumping strapped to some guy's belly like a kangaroo trying to escape from it's mother's pouch. I mean to take the whole nine yards so that I can walk into any place where such a thing is possible, rent a chute, rent a plane to take me up, and go jump, no questions asked. Wilson says we are too old, and my knees are too bad, for this sort of thing, but the thing is that having achieved that qualification, I doubt that I will ever use it. I will have done it, however, and that will be enough. When I was young, before my first tour in the Nam, I volunteered to airborne. I got turned down on account of bad eyes, and that is something I have regretted ever since. That I've held on that regret so long indicated something to me, because I have always operated on Lan's rule, bury your dead and ride on. I don't hold onto regrets. This one remains, however. So I will try to lay it to rest once and for all. Besides, I WANT to jump out of the bloody plane!

    3) Take up ball-room dancing lessons with Harriet. Funny, after saying that I don't hold onto regrets, that I should come to this one straight away. You see, before I began having nerve problems with my feet and loss of balance, I was a pretty good dancer. Good enough to have 20-something guys complimenting me on my moves and women of various ages cutting in on Harriet to dance with me. It was also neat to be addressed on the street, sometimes by women I could swear I never met in my life, with cries of "Hello, dancer!" Well, I want that back. And, since I am completely untrained—I grew up poor; there was no childhood dance class in my background—I want to take the lessons because I want some dances, the tango, the rumba, the cha-cha, that you just can't fake. And not that Dancing with the Stars baloney, either. That is strangely entertaining, one might say weirdly entertaining, much like a train wreck involving Borat and Rush Limbaugh in clown makeup, but in most cases, the dances they do have no resemblance whatsoever to the dances they claim to be. Let them take their so-called tango to Argentina. And see if they can get out of the country alive. Anyhow, #3, dance lessons.

    And 4) Take up golf. This something I had just begun to get into when things when blooey in general. You need balance to make a good swing, and I found out I have a pretty good natural talent for the game. My drives are straight—in two rounds with Wilson and his son, Jonathon, both golf fiends—I lost fewer balls than either of them, and if the length of my drives has been somewhat erratic, I was beginning to get that straightened out. I figure if I can get the occasional but not uncommon 200 yard plus drive without golf shoes, which means no proper swing, I can match and top and that with the shoes and with practice. It only needs the balance back a little. And you know, it's fun reading the greens for puts. I got a few tips from a pro who was earning some extra money by caddying at a club where I'd won a round in charity auction, and he had some wonderful tips for that.

    So there you have it. Oh, finishing A Memory of Light, of course, and getting started on Mat and Tuon, and some others, five to ten years after the Last Battle. Those go without saying. Not a bad plan for the coming year, eh? And fishing. I'd like to call Billy Glenn and run up to Cape Romain, where the beaches are so pristine you can walk for miles without seeing a footprint not your own, where the truly big redfish, 40-pound, 50-pound, 60-pound, are cruising down the coast in the surf, too big to keep, of course, but great fun to catch and release, using circle hooks for survival of fish, and if a little time goes by without a redfish, then a 6 or 7-foot blacktip shark is sure to grab hold, leaping like a bloody tarpon. It's a great day's fun, with the wind cutting in directly off the Atlantic and nothing but water between you and Portugal. But Thanksgiving is almost here, and Christmas is acoming in, Lud sing God damn, with lots of house guests for each and also in between. No time for fishing. Unless I sink to trying an ultralight fly rod in the goldfish pond. I don't think that would play well with Harriet. Besides, there's no real way to get a decent backcast. I know. I've checked, and believe me, I can find a backcast in a china closet if one is to be found.

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  • 29

    Interview: Apr 9th, 2007

    Wilson Grooms

    For Major Jim. First, thank you for your service. A correction however, RJ flew IN helicopters, he wasn't the pilot. Volunteered he did, to be a door gunner on a huey. Freaking insane. Imagine if you can a rather large 19 year old tethered to the chopper, standing outside on the skid, laying suppressing machine gun fire on the landing zone in front of and below the helicopter. On one occasion, one of the times he knew he would be dead in seconds, an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) was fired at their ship as they were slowing to land. The business end of the grenade is smaller than a football and travels at blinding speed. RJ saw it approaching and knew they were all dead. The only thing he could do to defend his crew was to fire his machine gun at the rapidly approaching object. What are the chances of hitting it? With the luck of Ganesh, his bullets found the target and it exploded, close enough that shrapnel rained on the helicopter.

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  • 30

    Interview: Apr 26th, 2007

    Robert Jordan

    I think I need to put a few things straight about this whole shooting down an rpg in flight thing. First off, it definitely comes under do not try this at home even if you ARE an expert. Expert is defined as anyone who has tried it once and is still breathing. You see, there aren't many reasons to try such a thing. But when looking right shows certain death coming hotfoot, and looking left shows a crack in the wall that you couldn't scrape though one time in a million...one in ten million...you instinctively make a dive for the crack. Now I was very lucky. Very lucky. I just happened to be laying down suppression not very far from Mr. NVA when he took his shot, so I only has a small arc to cover. Just a quick shift of the wrist. Still, a lot of luck involved. When the pilot asked what happened, I just said an rpg went off prematurely. I figured he wouldn't believe what happened. Even some guys who saw it all from other choppers didn't believe. I heard a lot of "You know, it almost looked like you shot that thing out of the air" and "You were really lucky that thing went off prematurely. I never heard of that happening before."

    Now there's the matter of actually seeing the rpg in flight. That came from being in the Zone. An RPG is a rocket propelled grenade, and it is fast, fast, fast. I've heard a lot of athletes and sportscasters talk about being in the Zone, but I think most of them simply mean they played their A-game. But they weren't in the Zone, because in the Zone, you don't make mistakes. None. I discovered this playing baseball and basketball and later football. You can't always get there, certainly not at will, but when you do.... What happens is that while you are moving at normal speed, everybody else, everything else, is moving in slow motion. Passes float like they were drifting through honey. You have all the time in the world to position yourself. And your vision improves, sharpens. The quarterback has carried out a perfect bootleg. Everybody thinks that fullback coming up the middle has the ball. But even if you didn't catch the motion when the QB tucked the ball behind his leg, you spot that tiny sliver of ball that just barely shows, and you're right there to meet him when he reaches the line. Maybe you drop him for a loss before he can get his pass off. In the Zone. That's the only reason I could make this play.

    On another note, I was riding an M-60 on a pintle mount, not a .50 cal. We only had a limited number of Ma-deuces, and we had to be careful not to let any IG inspectors see them because we weren't authorized to have any at all. Don't know whether I could have done it with a .50, frankly. A matter of just that much more weight to swing, that much more inertia to overcome. It was damned close even with a 60.

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  • 31

    Interview: Apr 26th, 2007

    Robert Jordan

    For Paracelsus, I had two nicknames in 'Nam. First up was Ganesha, after the Hindu god called the Remover of Obstacles. He's the one with the elephant head. That one stuck with me, but I gained another that I didn't like so much. The Iceman. One day, we had what the Aussies called a bit of a brass-up. Just our ship alone, but we caught an NVA battalion crossing a river, and wonder of wonders, we got permission to fire before they finished. The gunner had a round explode in the chamber, jamming his 60, and the fool had left his barrel bag, with spares, back in the revetment. So while he was frantically rummaging under my seat for my barrel bag, it was over to me, young and crazy, standing on the skid, singing something by the Stones at the of my lungs with the mike keyed so the others could listen in, and Lord, Lord, I rode that 60. 3000 rounds, an empty ammo box, and a smoking barrel that I had burned out because I didn't want to take the time to change. We got ordered out right after I went dry, so the artillery could open up, and of course, the arty took credit for every body recovered, but we could count how many bodies were floating in the river when we pulled out. The next day in the orderly room an officer with a literary bent announced my entrance with "Behold, the Iceman cometh." For those of you unfamiliar with Eugene O'Neil, the Iceman was Death. I hated that name, but I couldn't shake it. And, to tell you the truth, by that time maybe it fit. I have, or used to have, a photo of a young man sitting on a log eating C-rations with a pair of chopsticks. There are three dead NVA laid out in a line just beside him. He didn't kill them. He didn't choose to sit there because of the bodies. It was just the most convenient place to sit. The bodies don't bother him. He doesn't care. They're just part of the landscape. The young man is glancing at the camera, and you know in one look that you aren't going to take this guy home to meet your parents. Back in the world, you wouldn't want him in your neighborhood, because he is cold, cold, cold. I strangled that SOB, drove a stake through his heart, and buried him face down under a crossroad outside Saigon before coming home, because I knew that guy wasn't made to survive in a civilian environment. I think he's gone. All of him. I hope so. I much prefer being remembered as Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles.

    Footnote

    RJ told this story at Archon where he did a panel with GRRM in 2001, and there is a report from Westeros.

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  • 32

    Interview: Apr 26th, 2007

    Robert Jordan

    For Doug Hall, thank you for your service. For Cindy Oberschlake, I know the area where you father was killed, but I never met him. I'm afraid that he died before I reached 'Nam.

    For Kathy, I'm afraid I didn't know your father. Sorry.

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  • 33

    Interview: Jul 23rd, 2007

    Wilson Grooms

    To All,

    2:58 pm (1458 hours, hooah!), 23 July 2007

    I'm stealing a line from a friend and big WOT fan, "leave the imagination to RJ."

    He's fine! Having one of those "rough patch" days today, but fine. In fact, he had a hearty breakfast of Sauerkraut and a Hamburger. You read that right. Yuck! Not to my liking, but gives you an idea of the cast iron nature of his stomach. I guess eating cold C rations in the rain and mud of Vietnam will cause you to think anything is good. In fairness to his taste buds, he would season the Cs with a few dashes of hot sauce, a secret his father shared with him.

    RJ and Harriet are off to the Mayo tomorrow for the 90-day check up. Her biggest concern is that their flight departs during the time frame that the President of the US is due to arrive in Charleston for the debates to be held at the Citadel tomorrow evening. They also have a family affair to attend during this trip. So, they are not due back in Charleston until the middle of next week.

    He'll let you guys know the results of the trip after their return. Not exactly sure when, but after.

    FYI: A woman that I adore whom shall remain nameless, but whose initials are... HARRIET, will be celebrating a birthday on 4 August. You might want to extend her a Happy Birthday message.

    For Sadie: Jason at Dragonmount has my personal contact info. If you will email him a "ship to" address, I will personally get RJ to sign some bookplates "to Sadie"(about business card size, peel off stickers) to place in your books. Consider them my birthday gift to you, a survivor. Kudos girl. Figuratively of course, but keep the dresser in front of the door. Throw yourself headlong into your schoolwork. Thanks for your prayers for my brother/cousin. I will offer prayers for your continued success and that your Mother and Sister find their way back into the light.

    I ask you to keep the prayers coming, they are still needed. Please toss in a few for our men and women in uniform.

    Blessings on you all,

    Wilson
    Brother/Cousin
    4th of 3

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  • 34

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 2008

    Wilson Grooms

    The memorial dedication was begun by a brief introduction of the event from Angie LeClercq, the Director of the Library. The introduction of the panel was made by our own Harriet. Sitting with her were Michael Livingston (Assistant Professor of Medieval Literature at The Citadel), Brandon Sanderson (Elantris, Mistborn) and Dave Drake (Hammer Slammers series, Lord of the Isles series and at least 60 other books).

    Michael Livingston began by offering what he thought Jim had meant to literature. He compared the body of writers to that of waves on the ocean with peaks and troughs, with the last peak being JRR Tolkien. After him there was a long period in the trough of the wave, then came Jordan. Brandon then waded in with the impact Jordan had upon him as a 15 year old reading fantasy for the first time. He said that his parents were directing him towards Chemistry and Medical School. But Jordan's fantasy world hooked him so much that he too wanted to write. But every time he'd try something, he'd say to himself, "I can't. Jordan already did that." (For you writers of the future out there, Brandon wrote 12 books before getting one published. Never quit.)

    This prompted questions about Jordan's impact on other writers, "were there people following his style?" I think you all know the answer to that question, there are many. Dave Drake added the observation that there are those who write about something and there are those who write about something that they know because they've lived it. He used his own experience from Vietnam to illustrate his point. He said that when you read Jordan you are privy to Jordan's experiences. The question was asked about who might be the next wave peak. Brandon offered a wonderful bit of insight. It won't be someone who imitates another's work. Brandon said that the one(s) who get it right will look not at what Jordan did, but how he did it. If they are successful in applying the method to their own experience, then we may see the next great writer.

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  • 35

    Interview: Oct 5th, 2001

    Reporter

    Other than that, it was about Jordan. Not even mostly about his series. Just himself.

    Robert Jordan

    The highlight is that he served in the Vietnam war and he was, apparently, quite an efficient soldier. It did a job on his psyche, it seems. One thing he mentioned was that there was a picture that his friend took of him, where he was sitting on a log eating his ration, with 3 or 4 dead bodies around him. One of them was a guy with half his brain blown off by a grenade or something. Quite gruesome.

    Footnote

    RJ told this story on his blog in 2007.

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  • 36

    Interview: Oct 22nd, 1994

    Scot T. May

    I only got a chance to ask one question.

    Robert Jordan

    Jordan was in Vietnam from '68-'70, apparently.

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  • 37

    Interview: May 24th, 2004

    Chiara Codecà

    I don’t mean to intrude on something that may be a personal matter to you, but I know that you served two tours of duty in Vietnam. Did that experience affect in any way your work?

    Robert Jordan

    No, it didn’t have an effect on my work. In my family going into the military was a tradition, sometime as a career, sometime just for one tour of duty. I choose the Army and because there was a war going on, I went where the war was. Simple.

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  • 38

    Interview: Sep, 2000

    Tahir Velimeev

    And as far as I know, the two tours [in the Army] were fighting in Vietnam. In what capacity?

    Robert Jordan

    I flew in a helicopter as a gunner. Then I was a Sergeant and trained recruits.

    Tahir Velimeev

    On sorties, it most likely became necessary to shoot?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes ... But understand, on assignment you usually do not see people—you open fire as soon as you notice any movement, and do not think about it being a person. Otherwise, it is impossible—this is war, and the morals of a military person are other than those of a civilian: for a Commander the main thing is to perform his mission and save his soldiers. Reflection in the middle of a fight is dangerous—you will be killed before long.

    Tahir Velimeev

    Were you ever wounded?

    Robert Jordan

    Fortunately, no. A couple of times hurt ... Once, during a hard landing I knocked out teeth on the back of the pilot's seat in front of me. And another time a tiny splinter hit me in the eye. At first I didn’t notice anything and felt no pain, but then the blood flowed. Then the piece was drawn out with a magnet ...

    Tahir Velimeev

    Thus, the "Purple Heart" among your military decorations, right?

    Robert Jordan

    No—don’t even suggest such a thing! But there is a Distinguished Flying Cross for service, Bronze Star, and two Vietnamese Crosses for bravery.

    Tahir Velimeev

    Yeah, the bouquet* on a blazer really makes an impression ...

    Robert Jordan

    Thank you.

    Footnote

    *Literally "fruit salad".

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  • 39

    Interview: Sep, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    After military service I entered the Citadel—The Military College of South Carolina. Despite its name, it is, in fact, a university. At the Citadel I received a degree in physics and worked as a nuclear engineer for the Navy. Doesn’t it seem to you that that a fantasy author having an education in physics is somewhat out of the ordinary?

    Tahir Velimeev

    I would not say that. I know several Russian science fiction authors with an education in the natural sciences that have been successfully working in the fantasy genre ... By the way, we now come to how the writer emerged from the engineer.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, maybe there is more prosaic level—the abundance of free time. After an unfortunate accident I found myself in a hospital bed with a lot of time, and I read everything I wanted. And one day I thought that could well try to write myself. Having started writing in 1977, I’m determined to do so right up my dying day.

    Tahir Velimeev

    And why fantasy? Why not works about, say, the Vietnam War, which would seem more logical?

    Robert Jordan

    In my opinion, fantasy allows you to create new cultures, experiment with them, and apply a freedom to them that is impossible in the real world. Fantasy enables a brighter, clearer portrayal of the struggle between good and evil, allows you to speak more freely about what is right and what is not, and no one can say that your opinion doesn’t fit with what is generally accepted. And I think one of the cornerstones of fantasy is the belief that any obstacle can be overcome, and that if things did not work out today, they will tomorrow. Also in today's world fantasy concerns itself with myth, directing us to the deep layers of the human soul, and teaches people to believe in miracles ... The popularity of this literary genre is to a large extent determined by humankind’s aspirations for Justice...

    As for books about war ... I have a desire to write about the Vietnam War, about my comrades, and I hope that God will give me this opportunity. And for myself, I decided that this book will be released under my real name—James Oliver Rigney, Jr. ...

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  • 40

    Interview: May 15th, 2003

    Dario Olivero

    You were in Vietnam, you know war. What do you think of Bush's war? Is it good versus evil? Was it avoidable?

    Robert Jordan

    This morning I read in the paper that a mass grave has been found in Iraq in which there were three thousand bodies. Saddam Hussein murdered them, murdered his people. Yes I think it was a war of good against evil. That was evil.

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  • 41

    Interview: Apr, 1997

    SFX

    That battle's inevitably violent, and Jordan's own background in the military has enabled him to bring a paradoxical perspective to the subject.

    Robert Jordan

    I know what it's like to be in the middle of a battle and I know what it's like to have somebody try and kill you... I can put that in. There's a balance between the moments when you can look back and say that was a magnificent thing and when you say, 'What the hell is going on here?' In the aftermath you're so relieved you're still alive that you can walk among the dead laughing, and people who haven't been there will say that's insanity. It's not; it's the sort of thing that happens...

    SFX

    Which presumably makes it easier to understand characters' motivations in combat?

    Robert Jordan

    I try to get into their heads. Sometimes it's difficult—it's hard for me to imagine being a five-foot three female, but I work at it and think I've done a fairly effective job. When I was touring for The Dragon Reborn a group of women told me I'd settled an argument they'd been having about whether Robert Jordan was a pen name for a woman!

    But I can get into anyone's head—I'll walk out of my study and my wife will say, 'Been into someone nasty today, haven't you?'

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  • 42

    Interview: Jul 9th, 2012

    Phillip Carroll

    Okay. One of the—probably the last question that was brought was, how has your own...have you placed your own footprint, or fingerprint, on the Wheel of Time? And I think you brought it up here, in this last panel about worldbuilding, with the cannons.

    Brandon Sanderson

    My goal in the Wheel of Time was not to put my own fingerprint on it. I wanted to finish Robert Jordan's series as close to the soul of the series as he would do, and yet I realized as part of the process quickly that I couldn't imitate him, and that I would have to make it a little bit my own—it would have to be a collaboration—and that's a necessary evil. I really do wish that Robert Jordan were here to finish the books the way that they should have been finished, but there are certain things that he does that I can't do. For instance, he was in Vietnam. He was a soldier. He understood battle in a way that I never will. I instead have watched a whole lot of Hong Kong action films, you know, things like that, and so the way I approach an action sequence is very different from him, and the way I look at magic is a little bit different from the way he looked at magic. That's one thing that is different [between] us. So, the action sequences, things like that. My goal has been to make the characters still feel like themselves, but you will see my fingerprint on things: the way I treat some of the worldbuilding and the action sequences are the two big ones.

    Phillip Carroll

    Okay, great.

    Footnote

    The link for cannons is from DragonCon a few months later, but it's probably safe to assume Phillip was talking about something along the same lines.

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  • 43

    Interview: Dec 7th, 2012

    Narrator

    Before the tale of Rand al'Thor, the epic story of the Wheel of Time humbly begins with a man named Jim, known to the world as Robert Jordan, author of the best-selling Wheel of Time series. James Oliver Rigney, Jr. was born October 17, 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina.

    Harriet McDougal

    Growing up, he'd often told about lining up I think Jules Verne, Mark Twain and Jack London, and thinking, "I want to write books."

    Jason Denzel

    He joined the Army in 1968 and served two tours in Vietnam as a helicopter gunner.

    Harriet McDougal

    He returned to begin college at The Citadel as a veteran student and took a job as a civilian nuclear engineer working for the United States Navy.

    Jason Denzel

    And it was during this time that he took a hard look at his life and decided to become a full-time writer.

    Harriet McDougal

    He was in the hospital with a blood clot when he did the famous—the thing so many people talk about doing—he threw a book across the room and said, "I can do better than that." He wrote something called Warriors of the Altaii. I read it, and...no, it wasn't what I was interested in. But it showed he could do it. So I gave him a contract for a book that became The Fallon Blood. We'd been seeing a lot of each other. He brought a tiger claw from Vietnam to show my son. Will came running upstairs to my office one day and said, "Mom, he'll take me to see the Star Trek movie." And I said, "Can I come too?" And he said yes. And I guess that was our first date.

    Tom Doherty

    She edited Jim, and they fell in love, and they got married, and we all became friends.

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