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Interviews: Fantasy Magazine Interview with Robert Jordan

Summary:

Entries

10

Date

May 24th, 2004

Type

Verbatim

Location

IT

Reporter

Chiara Codecà

Links

Fantasy Magazine

  • 1

    Chiara Codecà

    You have a degree in physics and you were employed by the Navy as a nuclear engineer: why did you decide to become a writer?

    Robert Jordan

    It doesn’t seem to me such a big step, maybe because I’ve always wanted to write. When I was an engineer I got seriously injured, I had a very long convalescence in which I read a lot and I got bored with what I was reading. It was then that I said to myself that I had been waiting long enough, and if I wanted to write it was time to do it or shut up. So I did it.

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  • 2

    Chiara Codecà

    What was that book about?

    Robert Jordan

    It was called The Fallon Blood, and as I said it was set during the American Revolution in the state of South Carolina. It's been said of the colonies as a whole, a quarter of the people supported the revolution, a quarter of the people opposed it and the rest wished it would go away but in the Carolinas and Georgia there was quite a bloody civil war fought between partisans for the two sides.

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  • 3

    Chiara Codecà

    But why did you decide on fantasy literature?

    Robert Jordan

    Are you familiar with Schrödinger’s cat?

    Chiara Codecà

    I was not, but I checked when I found out that you mentioned it in another interview.

    Robert Jordan

    (Smiles) You did your homework. It’s quantum physics. It’s a theory that says that if a cat were put into a steel closed chamber filled with radiation you can’t know if the feline is dead or alive until you open the door. Until you do, because of the superposition of possible outcomes that exist simultaneously, the cat would be dead and alive at the same time.

    Schrödinger's Cat is really a test in a way. If you can wrap your mind around Schrödinger's Cat and accept that, then you are ready to take on quantum physics. I also think, if you can wrap your mind around Schrödinger's Cat and accept that, than you are ready to write fantasy.

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  • 4

    Chiara Codecà

    A curios reader cant’t help but notice that the Forsaken are named after fallen angels and demons from the Judeo-Christian tradition. All the Wheel of Time series is full of themes and motifs from religions and myths from different parts of the world…

    Robert Jordan

    Oh, yes. I used Arthurian legends, Chinese and Japanese mythology, Indian mythology, traditions from Latin America and Africa. Some myths from Europe, but not much of Celtic because it’s been done so much.

    Chiara Codecà

    This means you’ve read about all of these subjects?

    Robert Jordan

    I read about everything. My knowledge is this wide and much less deep. I truly like to read about a lot of things.

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  • 5

    Chiara Codecà

    Do you think that your writing has been influenced by other authors?

    Robert Jordan

    I do in my writing style, not in the stories I tell. I believe six writers to have influenced the way I write: Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Louis L'Amour, Robert Heinlein and John D. McDonald. I know it’s a very wide range group of writer….

    Chiara Codecà

    Well, it certainly tells a lot of the wide range of your readings.

    Robert Jordan

    (Laughs) Jane Austen gave me an insight in the relationship between characters and in what we might call “social relationship”.

    Mark Twain did something that was unheard of, in his time: he had people speak the way people really spoke. I think it was revolutionary. Twain was the first to use the common language of the day, he taught me to use language the way I wanted. Dickens did some of the same, but later.

    L'Amour, John D. McDonald and Heinlein all gave me something about the use of language, mainly a certain freedom in using words, a lack of rigidity.

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  • 6

    Chiara Codecà

    I don’t mean to intrude on something that may be a personal matter to you, but I know that you served two tours of duty in Vietnam. Did that experience affect in any way your work?

    Robert Jordan

    No, it didn’t have an effect on my work. In my family going into the military was a tradition, sometime as a career, sometime just for one tour of duty. I choose the Army and because there was a war going on, I went where the war was. Simple.

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  • 7

    Chiara Codecà

    How many more books will you write for the Wheel of Time series?

    Robert Jordan

    I hope that there will be only two more books in the main sequence and then two prequels, the first prequel, New Spring, is already published. I said “I hope” because when I started out I thought it was only going to be five books, then it grew on it’s own.

    Chiara Codecà

    So when you began The Wheel of Time you knew where you where heading?

    Robert Jordan

    I know exactly where I'm heading. I've known the last scene in the last book for about 20 years.

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  • 8

    Chiara Codecà

    I know that you are working on the eleventh book of the Wheel of Time series, Knife of Dreams.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, but there’s no way I’ll tell you anything else about it.

    Chiara Codecà

    Tell me something about the prequel, then, New Spring. I know it was originally a short novel you published in 1998.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, but it’s not an expansion. The novel New Spring is what I wanted to write in the first place, but I realized that Robert Silverberg would get very angry if I’d sent him a 120,000 words to put in his anthology! So I did a lot of cutting and I made it fits into the anthology, but I still had that novel waiting to be written and I wanted to write it because there was a lot to be said that really fits into the rest of the series.

    Even if the prequel has only two storylines while my normal books have four or five storylines there are things that you will not see anywhere else, such as the test for Aes Sedai. You actually see someone take the test for Aes Sedai and you learn how that is done: I have no intention to ever showing it anywhere else.

    Also there are clues in New Spring not only as to why certain people hate each other in the main sequence books, but why certain people die in the main sequence books, and I’m not going to put the evidence anywhere else because I’ve already given it here.

    Chiara Codecà

    That’s why you decided to publish the prequel before the end of the series?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I decided to published New Spring before going on because my publisher asked me to do it, but in retrospect that was probably a mistake. I shouldn’t have. It won’t happen again, though, I’ll work on the next two prequels only after I’ve finished the main sequence books.

    Chiara Codecà

    And then what will you do? Do you already have another series planned?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, a much more compacted sequence of books. Set in a different universe, different world, different rules and different cultures. Nothing that will be reminiscent of The Eye of the World or The Wheel of Time at all.

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  • 9

    Chiara Codecà

    I’ve read that Red Eagle Entertainment LLC is interested in your work and has acquired the exclusive production rights to the first book of the The Wheel of Time series, The Eye of the World.

    Robert Jordan

    Red Eagle Entertainment has signed an option to create a feature film based on The Eye of the World. I hope that this will happen, but we’ll see.

    Chiara Codecà

    Will you be involved in the production?

    Robert Jordan

    To some extent. The contract I signed asked me to be a consultant but how much movie makers consult writers….well.

    Chiara Codecà

    Are you worried about what can become of your work?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, you always worry because once they get their hands on the book they can do almost anything they want with it. For all I know they could re-release Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-a-rama under the title of this book.

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  • 10

    Chiara Codecà

    You said before that if you can wrap up your mind about Schrödinger’s cat then you can probably write fantasy. Could this lead us to say that a creative mind doesn’t resolve itself in only one area of expertise?

    Robert Jordan

    I think that if you’re truly creative you can be so in different areas, yes. Not in all them equally, of course, but a truly creative person isn’t bound to a single area, yes.

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