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Interviews: Interview With Harriet McDougal by Luckers

Summary:

Entries

15

Date

Jun 30th, 2010

Type

Verbatim

Reporter

Luckers

Links

Dragonmount

  • 1

    Luckers

    Hey guys, Harriet was kind enough to do an interview with me recently. Which was, you know, brilliant. Also thanks heaps to Maria Simons whose facilitated it, and has been so patient with me.

    Hope you guys enjoy.

  • 2

    Luckers

    Ok, I suppose I'll start on the job. How did you come to edit for Jim? Did it just fall into place due to your respective jobs, or was it something you had to discuss first?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    It fell into place as follows: When we met I was editing my own imprint, and I gave him his first publishing contract. It was for the Fallon historical novels: The Fallon Blood, The Fallon Pride, and The Fallon Legacy. We worked on The Fallon Blood all the way through publication before we ever went on a date—so the editor/writer relationship is the older one. We simply found that we worked very well together.

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  • 3

    Luckers

    Could you explain for the fans the sort of things you did for the books in your role as editor? How much has that changed or expanded since Jim's passing?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    By the last of the Wheel of Time books, my role was primarily that of wife: keeping him fed and cared for—because after 20 plus years I had taught him everything I knew about storytelling and prose, and he had really become the wonderful writer that he was.

    Working with Brandon is wonderful, because he is a grand human being as well as a very good writer. My role has expanded a lot—Brandon was amused that I made a cut in The Eye of the World that was exactly the kind of cut I made in The Gathering Storm—and I know these characters very well. They are, after all, a lot like my grandchildren.

    Maria Simons, who has worked with Jim and me for fifteen years, is absolutely indispensable in the creation of these last books. Her memory is much better than mine—and she can often say what chapter of what book includes a particular scene. I cannot. She also has a tremendous memory for the minutiae of how the Power works, and lots of other stuff. And with Maria, Alan Romanczuk is also indispensable. He is a military veteran, which helps a lot with military stuff Brandon is not as familiar with as Jim was, and in general with all the other stuff.

    I am now a member of Team Jordan, as far as the editing goes.

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  • 4

    Luckers

    Could you give us an insight into Jim's writing process? He was clearly quite methodical in his development, but how did he go about it? Were you involved much outside of your role as editor?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    I remember that when he was beginning The Great Hunt, we spent a lunchtime discussing how the child of a Maiden of the Spear would be raised. Consider how far ahead that meant he was thinking! Beyond that, he had a magpie approach to the daily news—I was reading one of his Conans the other day, and was struck by how much it reflects the events in Afghanistan of that time.

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  • 5

    Luckers

    When Jim began working on The Eye of the World did you know it was going to become such a cornerstone in modern fantasy? Did Jim?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    I can't speak for him; I do know I thought it was absolutely wonderful.
  • 6

    Luckers

    Do you ever read the series for fun?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Not at the moment. I did read three of his Conans this summer.

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  • 7

    Luckers

    On to the books themselves, I was wondering...knowing Jim as well as you did, were there any plot points or developments in the series in which he truly surprised you? If so could you elaborate on one?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Well, in editing The Eye of the World, I asked him something about what would happen once they got to Tar Valon, and he said, "They don't get there in this book, Harriet." He surprised (and delighted) me all the time.

    Luckers

    And were there such surprises (to you) in the layout of the next two books?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Yes there were. RAFO.

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  • 8

    Luckers

    What is your favorite aspect of the series?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    The people. And the writing.

    Luckers

    What is your favorite character, and why?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Perrin reminds me of Jim, for as you probably know he was a big man, with 54 inch shoulders. Mat reminds me of Jim, because he is such a delightful rascal. Rand reminds me of Jim because he is a world changer.

    I love them all. I also love Hurin, because he reminds me of Jim's father; Basel Gill, because he keeps a good inn, Thom Merrilin because he is a wonderful storyteller—well, you get the idea. There are about 2,000 named characters, and I love them all. Even Mordeth.

    Luckers

    What is your favorite plot-line, and why?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    That's like asking which child is my favorite!

    Luckers

    Are there any characters you really dislike?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Well, the villains of darkest dye, of course, but actually (see above) I love them too.

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  • 9

    Luckers

    I think one of Jim's strongest talents was the writing of strong women, and arguably the strongest is Cadsuane—and she is also the character that fans seem to either love or hate to great degrees. I'm curious as to your thoughts about her, and her role in the story.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Cadsuane has an important role, for sure; see answer to #10.

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  • 10

    Luckers

    Ok, now the obvious question raises itself. Asmodean. What led to him severing his mother? (Sorry, I was obliged to mention Asmodean, but refuse to pester you with the Asmotastrophy).

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Thank you.

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  • 11

    Luckers

    Can you give us any indications about the contents of the encyclopedia? I'm speaking in terms of the topics it will cover, not the specifics.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Would it be too flippant to say it will be encyclopedic?

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  • 12

    Luckers

    Got any fun anecdotes from behind the scenes of Team Jordan for us?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    It is fun—occasionally exhausting—I guess I don't, not really.

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  • 13

    Luckers

    What's the weirdest thing a fan has asked (or suggested to) you about the series?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    A question this summer: Where did Jim get his hat? The one with the snakeskin band, I assume he meant—and you will love the answer. We were in Billings, Montana, and there was a custom hatter named Rand's Custom Hatters. I kid you not.

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  • 14

    Luckers

    I have this weird thing about random historical tidbits from the series (like the poisonous peaches, or the six-toed Two Rivers cats), so I was wondering if you have encountered anything like that which you could tell us? Or could you tell us why peaches are now so poisonous?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Peach PITS are poisonous here and now. They're full of—strychnine? Arsenic? I've forgotten which, but they really are bad. The flesh is not. You could look it up. But after one encounter with peach pits, a person would decide the whole thing was poison. This is on a par with the eighteenth century belief that tomatoes were poisonous—some people have an allergic reaction to them.

    And in some locations, six-toed cats are common.

    Footnote

    The poison in peach pits is actually cyanide, and RJ commented on the peaches here.

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  • 15

    Luckers

    Thanks again Harriet and thanks all of Team Jordan.