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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 for other books I've written, let's see...I ghost-wrote a novel, an international thriller that shall remain nameless. Well, not a bad book, but it is generally believed that somebody else wrote it, so we'll let it go at that. I wrote what I consider I guess a Western, although it was set in the 1830s and 40s; there was only one major character who was not a Cheyenne Indian. It has been reissued—five or six years ago, I think it was—in hardcover as a novel of the Western experience, and it was received quite nicely. And I wrote three historical novels, the first set during the American Revolution, following the same family. I had intended to do a Southern arc of history. The general arc of history that is studied in the United States and recognized is the move out of New England—Pennsylvania and New York—into the Ohio valley, and from there west to California, but there was a southern arc, which was the move out of Virginia and the Carolinas into Louisiana and Mississippi, and from there into Texas, and from there through New Mexico and Arizona into California. And I wanted to follow that in a series of novels that I originally intended to go from the American Revolution through the Vietnam War, but I'll tell you the truth...I got tired of them. They were doing nicely, but I just got tired of them and said, "I want to do something else."
Now, we invented partisan warfare, we invented guerrilla warfare, we had war to the knife. We chose a side, or you were considered by both sides to belong to the other side. And the war went on so long that at the end of it...people think Yorktown and the surrender was the end of it. It wasn't; the war in the Carolinas went on for another year, and some men were so tired that General William Moultrie—who had held Charleston as a Colonel against the first British assault, and thus insured the passage of the Declaration of Independence—with fighting still going on told the state legislature, "I'm tired. I'm going home. I've fought long enough." When mad Anthony Wayne appeared to bring relief to Charleston, William Moultrie asking him a biting question. He said, "What took you so long?"
So, there's that, and there's also the fact, on the dark side, that almost all of the slaves who were brought in trade to North America and United States through Africa came through the port of Charleston. Sullivan's Island, outside of Charleston, could be called 'The Black Ellis Island'. It certainly needs to be remembered. It also should be remembered that Charleston, during the Civil War, withstood a siege that ranks with the siege of Stalingrad, or Leningrad in WWII—that is, nearly three years of being under constant bombardment. When the war was over...I've seen photographs of Charleston at the end of the Civil War, and it struck me because they reminded me very much of the photographs of Berlin at the end of WWII. And with that, I think I've told you about as much about the history of Charleston as you need to know, and a lot more than you're going to use.
I have a window on the right side of my desk that looks out over what we call the side garden. If I turn my head slightly to the left, I'm looking at a door that's made up of little glass panes looking out into what we call the long garden—that's where the driveway runs through the back to the garage—and I can remember a day when I got up and walked outside into the long garden, and I looked around, and it amazed me, because not only was everything wet...there were branches that were drooping and dripping water, I mean they were so heavy with water that some branches were drooping. There were broken branches as much as two inches in diameter, I think there was one that was as much as three inches in diameter, lying in the driveway. We'd had a major rainstorm—a major windstorm—and I hadn't known it. I was that tight into the work, that I didn't hear the wind, I didn't hear the rain, I didn't see any of it. It was just the work, and I didn't know it till I went outside.