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Interviews: Dromen and Demonen Interview

Summary:

Entries

9

Date

Apr, 2001

Type

Translated

Location

NL

Reporter

Sarevok

Links

Theoryland

Dromen en Demonen

  • 1

    Sarevok

    This is a translation of an interview presumably conducted in English and put on the internet in Dutch. Because of this, some phrasing may sound awkward. The Dutch version can be found here.
  • 2

    Gerhard Hormann

    When one starts a series like The Wheel of Time, one most likely doesnít know that it would will take over nine book and 6000 pages to tell the complete story.

    Robert Jordan

    No. When I started this series, there were only two commonly used means of publishing: a single book or a trilogy. I, however, told my publisher: this wonít be a trilogy, but a series of at least four or five volumes, possibly even six. At that time I knew the overall content of the story, I knew what events I wanted to put in them and also had the final completely ready-made in my head. But I soon discovered that I could fit much less in the first book than I thought. That first book was actually supposed to hold the story of The Great Hunt and at least a part of The Dragon Reborn. At that point, I though: ďOkay, it will probably be six or seven books.Ē Exactly the same thing happened to the second book. At this point, I no longer dare make predictions how long the series will eventually become. It will end sometime, I swear, but I donít know when exactly that will be.

    Gerhard Hormann

    So there will be some more volumes?

    Robert Jordan

    After Winterís Heart, there will be about three volumes. At least, I hope that it wonít be much more.

    Gerhard Hormann

    Why do you hope that? Because youíre starting to get enough of it, yourself?

    Robert Jordan

    Absolutely not! But because it feels like Iím still working on the same book. What people consider nine volumes of a series, is in fact one huge novel. And it feels like I am only at three quarters of the story. It wonít be finished before I have typed out that final scene. And I really want to finish it. So itís really not a case of me not liking it anymore. Quite the opposite: I love doing it. When the series is finished, I might miss it more than I can imagine right now. For fifteen years, I have been working on the Wheel of Time series. And thatís a hell of a long time for one project.

    Gerhard Hormann

    Most readers will be excited at the prospect of at least three more volumes!

    Robert Jordan

    People have told me that before, and every time I feel a great relief. They might just as well have gotten fed up with it. But that is not happening. People are, like you said, actually excited that it will keep going for a while. In fact: theyíre already asking if there might be a sequel! But on that, I have to disappoint them...

    Gerhard Hormann

    There must be an enormous pressure on you to continue. For many people, the series has become a part of their lives; something theyíre very attached to.

    Robert Jordan

    People will miss it. And I do expect pressure from every side to continue, including from my publisher. It is very tempting to come up with more of the same after this, but I think I am strong enough to resist that.

    Gerhard Hormann

    Your colleague Terry Brooks has succumbed to the temptation and has returned to Shannara with his latest series.

    Robert Jordan

    Correct. There are more writers that do that. But what I always tell my readers, is this: I donít write for you, I write for my own enjoyment. I already have a clear picture of what I want to do after this, and I hope that by that time, my readers will be willing to follow me there.

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  • 3

    Gerhard Hormann

    Are there ever moment where you donít think of The Story?

    Robert Jordan

    Not really. In the evening, before going to bed, I need to read something totally different to get into a different frame of mind. Otherwise, Iíll be awakes all night, with the story going through my head.

    Gerhard Hormann

    Do you have to work on it constantly to keep track of the storyline?

    Robert Jordan

    No, itís more the case that Iím never quite satisfied with what Iíve written. I always think: this part could be a bit better of that part needs to change. When I continue with the rest of the story, Iím always busy rewriting previous chapters. The most extreme example of that, is the prologue of Winter's Heart. Eventually, I wrote 97(!) different versions of it. And I donít mean changing a few small words. That was an extreme example. I normally write no more than eight to ten completely revised versions.

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  • 4

    Gerhard Hormann

    Unintentionally, you may have written the most ambitious work of fantasy in human history.

    Robert Jordan

    Maybe I have. But it is indeed unintentional. I did not know that the series would become this large, nor that it would this incredibly successful. To expect that, one would need an ego even bigger than mine. Every writer has a big ego, donít get me wrong, but to consciously have planned all this, you would have to be suffering from megalomania.

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  • 5

    Gerhard Hormann

    Could this series have been written if The Lord of the Rings had not existed?

    Robert Jordan

    Hard to say. The Lord of the Rings is a milestone in the genre and in a sense laid the groundwork for what we currently call fantasy. The first 100 pages of The Eye of the World are quite similar to it. In it, youíll find the idyllic, pristine world as in the world of Tolkien. But from that moment on, the story takes a completely different turn. My series doesnít only touch back to British folklore, but to all religions of the world. Women donít play a secondary role, but make up at least half the story. And it doesnít include any elves, nor unicorns, dragons, dwarves or hobbits.

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  • 6

    Gerhard Hormann

    Can a newcomer to the series read any random book from the series, or does one have to start at book one.

    Robert Jordan

    You absolutely must start at the first book. Someone who simply starts with Winterís Heart, has no idea what everything is about. I never give explain things again halfway through; youíre expected to know it already. So anyone who have become curious, should start with The Eye of the World. If you donít like it, itís still not a waste of money, because I think itís quite readable as a stand-alone book. And history has shown that everyone who has read that book, starts looking for the next books.

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  • 7

    Gerhard Hormann

    Are there people that save all the single volumes to be able to read all of them in a row?

    Robert Jordan

    Incidentally, I have indeed spoken to people that do that! I really canít understand that. The there are also people who, whenever a new book comes out, first re-read all the previous volumes before starting the new book. Every time. There are people who have read the entire series eight or nine times. I always ask: donít you have anything else to do? In that regard, the series has had a bigger impact than I could have ever guessed.

    Gerhard Hormann

    Thatís almost scary...

    Robert Jordan

    Scarier stuff happens. There isóor wasóa website that compared my book to the Bible and the Koran. As if they are in any way comparable. It was madness. The Wheel of Time series is a story of fiction, not some kind of religious text. I am a storyteller, not a Messiah or guru.

    Gerhard Hormann

    That last bit may be true, because you hardly honor Sunday as a day of rest! I read somewhere that you literally work on your books seven days a week.

    Robert Jordan

    I usually do, yes. In principle, I work eight hours a day. That does not include just the actually typing, but also the thinking I do while staring at the computer screen, or take a stroll for inspiration. The last six months I have imposed a murderous workload on myself, of fourteen hours a day for seven days a week. I had to, because of the deadline for Winterís Heart. It took more effort than usual to determine exactly which events had to happen in this book and what I wanted to keep for later.

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  • 8

    Gerhard Hormann

    Is writing a hobby for you, or is it an obsession?

    Robert Jordan

    I think you could call it a kind of obsession. I love to write, but itís not as compulsory as breathing.

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  • 9

    Gerhard Hormann

    Many people that like reading fantasy, are secretly aspiring writers. What is your advice to them?

    Robert Jordan

    To people that want to write, I always say: write. Start easy. Write something you would like to read yourself. Pick apart your favorite books and see how they are put together. Do the same with books that are praised by critics. Take a book you like, and rewrite it. Remove parts, change how it is built up, whatever. Not to get the results published Ė that would be plagiarism Ė but to get experience. Then proceed to write a summary of a book. Make a prologue for an imaginary book. That would, you get closer and closer to the real work. But seriously, donít start with a series of over ten books. (laughs)

    Gerhard Hormann

    A bad childhood doesnít hurt either, Iím told...

    Robert Jordan

    Indeed. Not and then, parents approach me to ask: ďMy child is talented, how do I encourage him to write?Ē My advice is always: ďGive them an unhappy childhoodĒ. All writers I know personally, and also painters and other artists, have all had an unhappy childhood. Or at least a very insecure childhood. You really donít need to hit your child for that: moving every six months is enough. I canít guarantee that they will actually become writersóthey might as well turn into psychopathsóbut it is a condition. Also, it might well be possible that a psychopath writes perfect books. In that regard, I canít vouch for the mental health of myself and my colleagues.

    Gerhard Hormann

    Is writing therapeutical? Or is a bad childhood an inexhaustible sources of inspiration?

    Robert Jordan

    The latter. Children who experience what things in some way, often tend to seek refuge in the save, trusted world in their head. They become dreamers. And that budding creativity can later be turned into books or paintings.

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