art by Jake Johnson

Theoryland Resources

WoT Interview Search

Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.

Wheel of Time News

An Hour With Harriet

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.

The Bell Tolls

2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."

Theoryland Community

Members: 7653

Logged In (2): tfyhughtiffany, ShadowbaneX,

Newest Members:johnroserking, petermorris, johnadanbvv, AndrewHB, jofwu, Salemcat1, Dhakatimesnews, amazingz, Sasooner, Hasib123,

Theoryland Tweets

WoT Interview Database

Home | Interview Database

Interviews: DragonCon 2012 - AMOL Update Panel

Summary:

Entries

9

Date

Sep 2nd, 2012

Type

Verbatim

Location

Atlanta, GA

TourCon

DragonCon 2012

Reporter

Kristen Nedopak

Links

Theoryland

vimeo

  • 1

    Terez

    There are apparently some bits missing from this, when compared to this report, but here's the transcription of the video that was posted. Thanks to Christopher Averill for helping to transcribe it.

    A Memory of Light - Panel Q&A with Brandon Sanderson (Dragon*Con 2012)
    from Unreal Classy on Vimeo [Kristen Nedopak at Outta This World].

  • 2

    Question

    We have the Asha'man who can only do Traveling and only open very small holes. Are we gonna see him open those holes in front of cannons, and then open it in front of Trolloc armies, A, and B, are we going to see the [kites?] that were developed in Rand's college used by the Seanchan?

    Brandon Sanderson

    RAFO. But I do have a slightly longer answer. One of the things I was excited to do when I was given the project was, I didn't want to invent a whole lot of new weaves—I felt it wasn't [my] place to do so, and Robert Jordan already had a very long list; there are a few that I invented by necessity—but mostly I wanted to take weaves that he had already invented and extrapolate. This is kind of what I do with magic systems, if you can't tell, and gateways were ones of the ones where I was like, "I can do stuff with these." And then Portal came out, and I'm like, "Ah, you're stealing my ideas!" (laughter) But yes, gateways...I do gateways a little more extensively than I think Jim had planned, and sometimes Maria is like nudging me and like, "Let's back off on the gateway stuff, Brandon." I just get really excited about them because I think they can do so many cool things. So, I won't say yes or no, but you will see me playing with gateways for sure.

    Footnote

    Presumably the questioner is referring to Androl, but Androl can open big gateways despite being perhaps the weakest Asha'man; that's his Talent.

    Tags

    ,
    ,
    ,
    ,
    ,
  • 3

    Question

    As sort of a non-plot-related question: You've had a lot of opportunity to compare your writing to Robert Jordan's after three books. What are some things that you felt that Robert Jordan did that you just can't match, and what are some things that you feel that you do in a stronger way than Robert Jordan did?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The primary thing that I think Robert Jordan was really good at that I'm just mediocre at is prose. I've always tried to create very utilitarian prose, prose that gets across my idea and my story. I use what we call Orwellian prose: I try to make my prose a clear pane of glass that you see the story through. Robert Jordan was on a completely different level. He could create very engaging, beautiful prose while not distracting from the story. There are very few writers who are capable of that. Tolkien was another one, and actually, in our current era Pat Rothfuss is one of those. I envy their prose, and I think that they are just really, really good with prose, and Robert Jordan was as well.

    Something that he does very well that I think I've learned better by working this...there are two things. I think he was very good at being subtle with his foreshadowing in a way that I think is really brilliant, and I've tried to learn from, and that's something that I like to do, and so seeing how he did it has been very helpful for me. And, the juggling of lots of viewpoints is something else he did really, really well that is something that I want to be doing in my books, and that I think I've taken steps toward, but working on these books and seeing what he has done has improved me.

    As for the other question, I'm not sure honestly if there is a right answer for this, because the primary thing that we do differently is more of a 'different' as opposed to a 'better/worse', and one of the big ones is action sequences. Robert Jordan wrote action sequences in a very specific way: he was a soldier;—he was in combat; he had been in combat before—and he wrote battle scenes...like that. I write very cinematic battle scenes. My battle sequences, I write to have a certain feel and energy, and it's different from the complete chaos and sense of terror that are in a lot of his battle scenes where you never know what's going on, because that's how real war is. And I haven't been in real war; I could try to imitate that, but instead I use my methodology for battle scenes.

    If there is one strength that I have in my writing it is endings, and so coming out of this project at the end has allowed me to apply some of my skill set toward tying things up and focusing, and trying to make sure that we have really powerful endings to each of the sequences that are happening in the books.

    Tags

    ,
  • 4

    Question

    My question is actually for a friend of mine who was planning to come and had some health problems, but he asked me to ask you, with regard to Mat, whether or not in the upcoming book or any that we've already seen that we're not aware of, any of Mat's memories are contemporary with each other in essentially opposing sides of a battlefield.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ah. Yes. You have before. [To Maria] You're wanting to nod. [To questioner.] Maria's here. [To Maria] Do you want to handle this one?

    Maria Simons

    I can't remember details, but there's a scene where Mat remembers being on both sides of a battle.

    Fans

    Because he rode for and against Hawkwing.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. So in this last book, Mat's memories will certainly play a part. That's a very nice RAFO.

    Tags

    ,
  • 5

    Question

    How much of your own writing has been influenced through your reading of Robert Jordan?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, when I decided I wanted to be a writer—this was in my teens—I had no idea how to go about doing this. And one of the things I actually did is I broke out my Wheel of Time books and I did a reread, and I took notes on things Robert Jordan was doing, specifically with regards to viewpoints and whatnot, and I did actually make a classic mistake in doing that, in that after I finished the reread, at one point—this is kind of later and after I'd written a few books—I'm like, "Oh, I see; you juggle lots of viewpoints..." and I started with a lot of viewpoints in a book, and it just crashed and burned. I hadn't realized that if you go back to the beginning of the Wheel of Time, it's really only Rand for half of the first book, and then I think you get, what, Perrin? And then you really don't have any other viewpoints, and even when you do, people are mostly together—they split off like into just two little groups, and then come back together—so, that was one thing that, you know, it actually, I'm like, "Ooh, I'm gonna do all these viewpoints like Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin!" And yeah, that's a really hard thing to do—to do right—and you usually have to have a lot of infrastructure, but I learned—through reading Robert Jordan—I learned about viewpoint, is basically the main thing that during my early years I learned, and that's where, you know I [later] read books that talked about it, but I didn't know anything about this. I learned the third person limited. Like, when you jump into Aviendha's head in the books, you see the world so differently from when you are inside Perrin's head, and when you jump into Mat's head, you see the world so different than when you're in, you know, someone else's head, like Nynaeve's. And this ability to change the perspective based on who you're writing is really key to having a large cast, and is actually really key to kind of the whole epic fantasy...thing—getting it right—I've called it in my class the 'grand skill' to learn if you're writing epic fantasy, is how to tell your character's personalities just by the way they describe a room, and I studied that from Robert Jordan in the early years.

    Tags

    ,
  • 6

    Question

    I was wondering if it's possible for scholarship in future generations if we at some point could get a copy that's annotated so that we can tell which passages came directly from Robert Jordan—like color-coded or something—because as you've been intermingling them I think it would be interesting to be able to go back and say, "This is what he originally wrote."

    Brandon Sanderson

    It will be very hard to do simply because, you know, you would have a lot of sentences that would four colors in them (laughter), because, here are three words from Brandon; here are a couple of words from Robert Jordan; the rest are from Harriet, that she has edited, and then here's the insertion by Maria as she's doing the copy-edit, that something needed to be [put] in. It would be very difficult to get right.

    The other thing is, Harriet has several times expressed a reluctance to let people see the notes because she doesn't want people focusing when reading the books on what was me and what is Jim. I do still kinda tend to work on her and see if I can get her to let us do something with the notes. I'm not too expectant—if it doesn't happen I'm gonna be fine—but I tend to ask on behalf of the fans, people like yourself, and if I can do that I can then bring them out and I will talk a little bit more about that.

    One thing that I've said to people a number of times, that in each of the three books there is a prologue [scene] that Robert Jordan wrote almost completely, or completely, for the prologue of the book, then since we split it in three, I took one scene from each completely that is Robert Jordan's—and there are a few fragments in each prologue as well that were also his—but there's one complete scene in the prologue. In the first book, it was the farmer sitting on the doorsteps watching the storm; that was one of the scenes he dictated, and we actually at JordanConI got to listen to that dictation. In the second book it was the Borderlander tower with the soldier and his son; that was one of the more complete scenes we had from Robert Jordan which had some minimal revision and editing during the process but was basically a complete scene that he gave us. And there's one like that in the third book as well.

    In The Gathering Storm, I've said before that, as the notes went, Rand was a little more me; there were fewer notes on Rand. There were more notes on Egwene. We're both involved in all the viewpoints, but Rand from that is a little more me, and Egwene's a little more Robert Jordan, and then in Towers of Midnight, Perrin's a little bit more me, and Mat is a little more Robert Jordan. And maybe we'll be able to release more than that, but so far that's about all I've said. There are certain scenes that he did write, by the way—I'll give you everything; this is what I've told people; I haven't told people much—but there's a certain scene in The Gathering Storm where Egwene has an unexpected meeting with an old friend in the Tower. That one was done by Robert Jordan. And in Towers of Midnight, there is...most of the Mat stuff including the ending where a certain engagement happens was Robert Jordan.

    Tags

    ,
    ,
    ,
    ,
    ,
    ,
    ,
    ,
    ,
    ,
    ,
    ,
  • 7

    Question

    I was kind of wondering about the accents. I'm sorry if you've been asked this before, but I always sort of imagined that the Seanchan had like Texas accents. Is that right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, he said Texan for Seanchan.

    Question

    Oh, okay. And the Aiel. Do they sound like Vikings?

    Jennifer Liang

    They sound Slavic. The accents is in the Wheel of Time FAQ, so if you go to wotfaq.dragonmount.com, one of the articles there is, "What are the accents?", like what are their real world analogues, and so Seanchan is Texan—that's why I joke that my husband is Seanchan, because he is a Chinese-Texan that's got the accent; his name is James if you haven't caught that yet—and the Aiel are Slavic, Andor is British Isles...um...I can't remember the others, and it's straight from Robert Jordan; someone wrote him a letter like back in '96 and asked like what are the accents, and so this person got a letter back, and they posted it to the Wheel of Time newsgroup that was like the main group for Wheel of Time discussion back then, and so [they put it in] the WoTFAQ because this was something that people had been asking about, so it's there.

    Tags

  • 8

    Question

    I was actually talking to some other fans outside who are fans of your other works obviously as well as the Wheel of Time, and something that kind of occurred to me when we were speaking was you have a recurring character named Hoid. Is he going to sneak his way into A Memory of Light?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um, Hoid will not make an appearance in A Memory of Light. (laughter) I chose this very consciously. It felt like enormous hubris of me to sneak my recurring character into the Wheel of Time. There was a little bit of temptation there since the Wheel of Time is—we've got this kind of indication that it is the kind of almost Amber-like in that it is the true world, and there are all these Mirror Worlds where people are living—so it's possible to conceive that even our world is a Mirror World happening, and that...or, you know, we don't know if our world is the real world in a different Age, or if our world is a Mirror World, or...what do you call them, Shadow Worlds? There's all sorts of different...yeah—but it's plausible that there could be a connection, but at the end of the day I really just decided, no, this was not something I wanted to do.

    I did write in a cameo for myself—Robert Jordan wrote one for himself into the books. In Knife of Dreams there is an appearance by Robert Jordan; the fans know where it is if you ask them. I also have an appearance in a different way—we are both objects actually—and when I visited Charleston, I think it was the second time, they were getting ready to auction and give away Robert Jordan's spear collection. And, Wilson, his cousin and very dear friend, invited me to go in and said, "Pick one, any one, and it's yours." And so, I was like blown away. I went in there and like, it's like a kid in a candy store, there's like swords everywhere and spears and ashanderei, and just everything, and in the middle of them I found a katana with red and gold dragons painted on the hilt, and I had to choose that one. And so I took the katana—they're twirling around the hilt, just kind of like you know I always imagined them on Rand's arms—and I took that one, and I framed it actually in a sword box and put at the bottom, "Let the Dragon ride again on the Winds of Time," and then "Robert Jordan," and his date of birth and date of death underneath and it hangs in my room in kind of our gallery down below, and I wrote that into the books. I haven't officially said that before, but yes, I wrote that into the book. That's my kind of cameo. And so, when you see that sword, you know why that sword is in the books. That's my equivalent of his cameo.

    Tags

    ,
    ,
  • 9

    Question

    Okay, first of all, I'd like to say I was a little scared with a new writer coming into the series...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Justifiably so... [laughter]

    Question

    I'd like to say, when I read the first book, it was like he didn't pass.

    Brandon

    Well, thank you.

    Question

    How did it feel to be the chosen one?

    Brandon

    I've told this story, some of you have heard it before. When I got the phone call, I...it came out of the blue, like I really had no idea. Everybody knew before me. Paul knew before me, I'm pretty sure—yeah, he's nodding; he's an editor for Tor; he's like "Yeah, I knew"—everyone knew before me, and I was foolish enough to be asleep when Harriet called me, so I just got it as a voicemail message. "Please will you call me back; there's something I want to talk to you about." And so I had to spend hours trying to get ahold of Harriet, being like "Robert Jordan's wife just called me," and I was so nervous I couldn't speak. And I eventually called up Tor because nobody was answering—my editor and my agent—nobody. And I got hold of Patrick Nielsen Hayden and and it really is, what he said is "Oh yeah, you...it's probably what you think it is, I'll have her call you back." And I'm like, [makes a distressed face, audience laughs], "What do I think it is!?" He didn't even tell me, he wouldn't even tell me, he just said that.

    And so, I eventually....Harriet calls me back and says, "Well, I was just wondering...we're putting together a small list of authors that we'd like to consider for this—finishing my husband's series—and I was wondering if you would be interested." She later mentioned that the short list included one name, which was mine. [laughter] But she didn't want to be backed into the corner until she made her final decision. And so in that one she asked, and I said yes. And for those of you who have heard this story, I'm sorry, but I'll repeat it. That night, I was scared out of my wits. I laid in bed—is that the right term?—I lay in bed just completely terrified of what I'd just done. And I really, seriously considered backing out because I realized that nobody could write the books that Robert Jordan was going to write. And so, in taking this project, I was going to fail. And I believe I have failed in a slight amount, in that nobody can replace him, right? As good of a job as I can do, I cannot do the job he was going to do, and by definition, the job he was going to do is the right book.

    And because of that I almost said no, and then in considering that, I had this like even deeper fear that I would say no, and that they would get someone else and those people would screw it up way more than I would screw it up. [laughter] And the phrase I frequently use—and I do believe this—laying there that night, I said, "How many authors out there have read the books as many times as I have? There probably aren't many, if any. I'm not the best author out there, but I'm a pretty good one. I'm not the biggest Wheel of Time fan out there, but I'm a pretty big one. And if you do the intersection of pretty decent authors and pretty decent Wheel of Time fans, there's not a lot of people in that. And I really feel that if Robert Jordan can't write the book, that kind of writer in me said, "Well, I wanna do it, because I feel like then at least somebody who cares has ahold of it. And I feel that I will screw it up the least."

    Tags

    ,