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Home | Interview Database

Interviews: Dragon Page: 'Cover to Cover' Interview

Summary:

Entries

7

Date

2005

Type

Verbatim

Links

Theoryland

Dragon Page

  • 1

    Michael R. Mennenga

    I'm Michael R. Mennenga...

    Evo Terra

    ...And my name is Evo Terra. We're joined on the phone by none other than Robert Jordan. Magical Wheel of Time series is his, and we're going to talk about the latest book which just came out not long ago called Knife of Dreams. Robert, welcome back to the show.

    Robert Jordan

    Thank you. Glad to be here.

    Evo Terra

    And it's a pleasure to have you with us again. So when last we talked, we were chatting about the prequel novel New Spring (which is also available in paperback now if you want to rush out and grab a copy of that).

    Robert Jordan

    It's available in hardcovers too!

    Evo Terra

    Oh, that's true.

    Michael R. Mennenga

    That's right!

    Evo Terra

    You can buy either copy. But Knife of Dreams is the new one, which I understand is now the eleventh sequential story in the Wheel of Time, although it's the twelfth book, since...

    Robert Jordan

    The eleventh main sequence novel, yes.

    Evo Terra

    Exactly.
  • 2

    Evo Terra

    So let's talk a little bit about Knife of Dreams. Where do we pick up in the story?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, we pick up pretty much where we left off in Crossroads of Twilight. But a lot of things that were building in Crossroads of Twilight (and even earlier) come to a head in Knife of Dreams. Elayne gets the throne of Andor in rather spectacular fashion, and Mat...or rather Tuon completes the marriage ceremony to Mat. And we get to see a lot of battles...a lot of battles, probably more than any other book.

    Michael R Mennenga

    Wow.

    Evo Terra

    Cool.

    Robert Jordan

    All in all, I'm afraid there are more deaths in this book than any of the others.

    Evo Terra

    Time to start killing people off as we're getting to the end, I suppose.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, not that exactly.

    Question

    Oh, okay. Actually, since I brought the topic up, let's ask that...

    Tags

  • 3

    Evo Terra

    This is the eleventh in sequence, or twelfth book. Where are we going to? Do you have a definite end point in mind?

    Robert Jordan

    Oh yes. I've known the last scene of the last book for...oh, over twenty years. I could have written it back then, and if I had done so and put it away, and then rewrote it now, the wording might change but what happens would not. There will be one more novel.

    Evo Terra

    One more.

    Robert Jordan

    One more—the twelfth book. That will be so even if that book has to be 2000 pages in hardcover, and require a luggage cart and shoulder strap to get it out of the store.

    Evo Terra

    I'm getting the feeling that you're ready to be done with this.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, it's not so much that I'm ready to be done with it, as—I think I can do it in a shorter book than that—but, you know, I set out in this thing thinking it's a 10K run, maybe a 15K, and suddenly I found out I was in a marathon. Now, if you're running a marathon, running a good 20-mile time or a good 22-mile time is all very well, but it doesn't count until you cross the finish line.

    Evo Terra

    That's exactly right. People want to know where you're going with that. And you know, you say you wrote a marathon, but actually I think you've defined the marathon. There's a lot of people trying to keep up writing series that go this long and have this kind of following.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, you know, the series going this long is a matter of me undertaking to tell more story than I thought I was setting out to tell. In the beginning, I really thought I could do it in five or six books. By the time I finished The Great Hunt I knew five or six books....it wasn't going to happen, but I didn't know how many, and for a number of books, I was frankly pulling numbers out of the air. People would ask me how many it would be, and I'd say six or seven, maybe eight, eight or nine. [laughter] Now I think I can finish it in a twelfth book, and I certainly intend to do so if I can. I believe I can.

    Tags

  • 4

    Evo Terra

    When you have an idea for those first five novels—and obviously you didn't have five novels totally storyboarded out; I would imagine you did not...

    Robert Jordan

    No. I had the major events. I had the opening events in the Two Rivers, I had the final scene, I've had the way things were going to wrap up, and I had major events in between those two. And I thought I could tell that story—get from one event to another—and change these people in the way they needed to be changed so that the people in those first scenes would become the people in the last scenes. I thought I could do that all in five or six books, but even with The Eye of the World, I had certain things I wanted to do in that book, and I realized before I reached the end, I could not do them all. And that was the book took four years to write; it was the longest of them all, because I realized as I was writing it that I had more to work out than I had thought in the beginning.

    Evo Terra

    When you were exploring these new things that needed to be worked out—obviously you focus much on character development and tell the story of the people there—but were there also events that kind of cropped up which kind of seemed like a good place to take the story, and that's also caused some of the diversion?

    Robert Jordan

    No. I've stuck pretty much to the events that I had listed, although in some cases I've done away with some because I realized there was a better way to do what I wanted to do, to effect the change in the character. There was a more economical way to do it, and something that perhaps made more sense in terms of the story, the way it was going.

    Michael R. Mennenga

    Now, since you have basically...you had a beginning and you knew where the end was, and you said you had these points in here. Don't you feel as though maybe you may have locked yourself into a path that you could have explored different directions or different paths? Do you have any regrets to locking yourself into that and not giving yourself the freedom to go where the story takes you?

    Robert Jordan

    No. No, because I knew where I wanted the story to take me. If you're a writer, you do that; you control it. I like to say I am an Old Testament God with my fist in the middle of my characters' lives. If you just sit down and start writing and see where it takes you...well, God knows if it's ever going to take you to a story that's worth anything.

    Michael R. Mennenga

    You like to know where the end is before you get started, huh?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, I do.

    Tags

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  • 5

    Evo Terra

    So outside of this...How many years? From when you first sat down to write the first story, how many years has it encompassed?

    Robert Jordan

    About twenty-one years.

    Evo Terra

    And in between that time when you're not working on Wheel of Time...or has that been to dedicated strictly to Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    That has been dedicated strictly to Wheel of Time.

    Evo Terra

    No short stories have come out? No...

    Robert Jordan

    I wrote a novella for Bob Silverberg's anthology Legends—that was the origin of the novel New Spring, and I wrote a short piece for a BaltiCon program book—"The Strike at Shayol Ghul"—but everything else has been Wheel of Time. As a matter of fact, Jack Dann just asked me to do something non-Wheel-of-time for an anthology he's putting together, and I've been noodling around with ideas for that, but it'll be twenty-one years that I have written anything non-Wheel-of-Time-related.

    Michael R. Mennenga

    Now that has to be a little bit frightening, since you've spent so much time inside this world, and you know this world so well, to break out into new territory. It's exciting at one point, but at the same time, it's not the same, right?

    Robert Jordan

    It's not frightening. It's very exciting. For about ten years, I've been bouncing around ideas in the back of my head. Nothing on paper, but quite a bit in the back of my head, as to what I will do when I finish Wheel of Time. I have a good bit of that already planned out. A trilogy, actually two sets of trilogies, to be called Infinity of Heaven.

    Evo Terra

    So we'll have to see that, but we have to wait a little bit until the other book comes out.

    Robert Jordan

    A little bit, yes.

    Footnote

    The Jack Dann anthology was probably The Dragon Book, though likely RJ had to back out when he learned he was ill (presumably around this time).

    Tags

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  • 6

    Evo Terra

    Now, the folks at Tor, your publisher—you know, Tom Doherty and crew—have obviously stuck behind you as you've increased this from five to six books all the way to twelve.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes.

    Evo Terra

    Have they been a good support all the way through?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, good support.

    Evo Terra

    Have you had the same editor all the way along?

    Robert Jordan

    I have had the same editor for every book that I have ever written with one exception. My wife Harriet is my editor. As a matter of fact, our professional relationship predates our marriage, predates our going together even. She was the editor and publisher of my first novel—The Fallon Blood, a historical novel—and it was after that was published that we began dating.

    Michael R. Mennenga

    Now, that is a brilliant move.

    Evo Terra

    I'm telling you, that's how to get an editor to do what you want. Marry them.

    Michael R. Mennenga

    That's right.

    Robert Jordan

    Oh, is that what you think? [laughter] She keeps reminding me that she knows where I sleep.

    Evo Terra

    Yeah, or it's the other way around, where that's the perfect way for the editor to get the writer what she wants him to do.

    Michael R. Mennenga

    Mmm, I wonder how that works.

    Evo Terra

    We'll leave that for speculation. We're not going to try and answer that question right here, Robert. If you don't mind, Robert, we'll take a very short break. We'll come right back and continue our conversation. We're chatting with Robert Jordan. The new book in the Wheel of Time is out, kids. It's called Knife of Dreams, and we'll be back to talk about it in just a moment, here on the Dragon Page with Michael and Evo.

    Tags

  • 7

    Terez

    The audio from which this transcript was made was a re-broadcast of the original interview, which is no longer available. Only the first part of the interview was re-broadcast.