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Jun 17th, 1995
East of the Sun
Robert Jordan Interview—Made at the East of the Sun fantasy convention, Stockholm, 17 June 1995 by Helena Löfgren.
Summary written by Karl-Johan Norén.
All errors are made by me, and no one else, especially not Robert Jordan. I can't guarantee any quotes, since I didn't have a recorder, but just took notes.
For more recent information, see e.g., Bill Garrett's notes from Balticon XXX.
The reason Robert Jordan chose to write fantasy was its opportunities to build cultures and experiment with them, in a way and with a freedom to comment that is unachievable with a "realistic", domestically based world.
The story of TWoT evolved during a very long period, in part beginning in the middle of the seventies with the idea of the Breaking of the World, before he found the "final scene in the final book" and began to actually write The Eye of the World. The main impetus from the beginning was the notion of "men breaking the world" (my emphasis), and that men able to channel must be killed, controlled or stopped at all costs for 3,000 years. This led naturally to a society where women had great power and respect.
As an example of this, he puts forth Davram Bashere's reaction to Faile being a Hunter of the Horn. His initial negative response does not come from that Faile is a girl, but that she only is 17 years old. Her gender is irrelevant to the issue.
The interview then continued with the communication between the various characters, and Robert Jordan stated clearly that every person keeping a secret, or withholding information, has a good reason for it, even if it in many cases are very personal. He exemplified this with the relation between Birgitte, Elayne and Egwene, where everyone knew that all knew Birgitte's secret (or at least a large part of it), but due to Elayne giving her word, the situation could not be resolved. Robert Jordan also took this as an example of the very great significance on a person's word and on oaths that the people in TWoT places. A word given is something to be kept, at all costs, however the circumstances changes.
On the question on how he could keep track of every person, culture, nation, etc., Robert Jordan answered that he had a file for every person, nation, city, culture, etc., describing it. In the case of persons, traumatic experiences, origin, favorite foods and colors, family, education, etc., is stored. Every person that appears several times, or has the chance to appear several times has a such file. Similar information is stored on the other entities. This information is used to flesh out the characters etc. and make them three-dimensional before the book itself is written.
Part of this information is going to be given in the Guide to the WoT books that is going to be published this autumn, but far from everything.
With the final scene in the final book (which he eloquently said did not have to be identical with Tarmon Gai'don), all major plot lines will be resolved, and most minor ones. Some minor plot lines would still be unresolved, as a way to let the world continue to live and breathe. The surviving characters would still have lives to go on with, even if more "boring" ones. Robert Jordan though stated clearly that if he was going to write another book(s) in the WoT universe (something he thought was not going to happen), it would be placed at least 1,000 years apart from the events in the current books. There would not be any spin-off stories, or stories written by other authors set in the WoT universe, either.
On our FAQ, he stated that 30-35% is fully correct, 30-35% is close, but not quite correct, and the rest is "way off in the left field". He though saw it more as a conclusive document than a synopsis of earlier discussions.
He also noted that some things we have rooted out he thought he had hidden immensely deep in the books, and we still managed to deduce the right "answers", while some things he saw as fully clear we had missed entirely or were totally clueless on.
On the question on the "alignment" of the characters, he said that there are no completely good character in the books, as he thought such a character would be completely boring (right—Galad is boring!—my comment), and would probably be killed rather quickly, like other fully good persons in the world. He took Jesus as example of this. Instead, every person struggles with the good and bad sides of his/her personality.
Another point he pressed was that "no one's going to rescue you", there are not going to happen any miracles. The Creator shaped the world and set the rules, but does not interfere. Humankind messed things up, and have to fix it too, as well as finding the truth themselves.